Saivam visitor review

Saivam visitor review

By Ashutosh Mohan isn't responsible for the views expressed by the visitor in this column. The visitor claims that this column is his/her own. If the column infringes any copyrights that you hold, please email us at

If done right, a story is the best way to drive home an idea; otherwise, it might trivialize—even cheapen. Saivam, directed by AL Vijay, is a decent attempt to try and convince people over to vegetarianism, but as a film it lacks… well, meat. 
Kathiresan (Nassar) is a prosperous farmer in a village. Of his three children, two are settled in Chennai and Dubai. A son, son’s wife, and their daughter Tamizh (Sara Arjun) live with him. Standard grandfather-grandaughter chemistry is worked out between Kathiresan and Tamizh who is deeply fond of a cock (Pappa) that is kept in their backyard. Kathiresan invites everyone in the family over to a temple festival. Relatives arrive from notvillage. After all the camaraderie and cute bonding, the big family decides to visit the village temple. This, according to me, has to be symbolic. A film that was until now good fun, is going to turn into a tribute to the late Rama Narayanan, maker of a multitude of divine flicks. As a last ditch attempt at divine intervention, the cast is taken to a temple to pray.
As it usually happens in temples, Tamizh’s frock catches fire. Kathiresan panics and drops a platter bearing god’s offerings, a natural reaction—but, for god this explanation is not good enough, announces a priest coming out of the sanctum sanctorum. Surely there must be a vow they had made to god that they haven’t fulfilled yet, he hazards. Once they fulfil their vow, everything should be superfine—no more fires or anything. The family remembers that three years back they had indeed vowed (Voila!) to sacrifice Pappa as thanks when they escaped an accident—and forgotten. 
Everyone in the family starts looking back at the last three years like Dumbledore with a Pensieve. They aver that, of course of course!, all their problems (not able to get pregnant, not able to get a tender, not able to manage a boss et al.) must have been due to this deiva kuththam. They resolve to sacrifice Pappa ASAP. The daughter from Dubai even calls her husband over the phone and tells him that good days are coming, just wait until the sacrifice. Tamizh is naturally shocked. The rest of the movie is about whether she can save Pappa or not.
The problem with Saivam is not simply its harking back to deiva kuththam-type tropes; it is assuming that everyone will invest in unselfconscious characters trying to fulfill a vow… made to their local deity… by killing a fowl… which can act quite well. This has been a general problem with AL Vijay’s films: he gets on with the story and assumes that the audience will believe everything his characters do as if it were real life. But since, most people who go to films know that it's not real, they need characters that are well-rounded; they aren't going to believe in stuff just because you assure them that that is what really happened. For example, suddenly in a matter of two minutes, everyone in the family decides not to sacrifice Pappa simply because Tamizh asks them. Sure, she asks them in one of the cutest ways possible, but we feel cheated; we, who have invested in these characters for one and a half hours just for them to decide to casually drop the whole matter and move on.
What about that elusive tender, that impossible pregnancy, that tyrant boss? Post-climax, all problems solve themselves magically. Even the impossible pregnancy: a visit to village and non-killing of fowl solved problems which years of medical attention couldn’t. Eventually, the film’s central conflict—whether to sacrifice Pappa or not—had nothing to do with whether the characters got what they wanted; the film and it's characters moved in different directions. 
AL Vijay has the distinction of being the first filmmaker to adopt mega-serial type cinematographic techniques: whenever an event occured, everyones’ facial reactions were meticulously recorded and beamed out to cinema halls with no editing whatsoever. Before end credits, he mentions: “Back when I was a kid, this story was how I became a vegetarian, according to my mother.” That makes sense. If he had actually remembered the incident firsthand, the film surely would not have the consistency of a castle he constructed using plastic playing cards... during a journey in an auto rickshaw... with a missing wheel... during a storm... with Pappa driving the auto. 
Ashutosh Mohan

Want to publish your column too?
Please send your column to



Tags : Saivam, Sara, Vijay


This page has information about Saivam visitor review, Saivam, Vijay.