If the director so badly wants to beat up on privilege and the abuse of it, why make a polite film then? What is privilege in the first place? Privilege as I have come to understand is the mother of ignorance and the comfort, lethargy and indifference that is born out of it. The waiter served too much of that dish on my plate. He should have asked me for quantity. Now I have no choice, but to dump it into trash. Now I have no choice, I tell myself. Now I have no choice, I convince others. Instead, what if I stepped back and packed it home for a post-meal hunger pang? That would be one less blame in my daily blame counter. One less dissatisfied customer for the waiter. One less moment of awkward silence for the group. I now realize that this is a bad example. Or is it?
It is a classic case of privilege where my thoughts were revolving around myself – my needs, my hunger level, my group, my image, my meal and my money going into a parcel box or the trash. As a kid wasting food, family would often remind me that there are thousands of kids of my age, who don’t get to see a plate of food for months together. But those episodes were never all that intense, and so I cared enough only to forget it later. Sarvam Thaala Maayam reminds you of that lesson that you should have nailed into your head. A class of people who are the veterans of mridangam making are casually denied an opportunity to learn it. But why? – Privilege. STM’s first beat – soft yet strong.
Every time Kandukondain Kandukondain was played on TV, or if the name got mentioned anywhere, that was it. The following weekend would be a KK weekend .. more precisely Rajiv Menon weekend. Rajiv spoke in colors back then. This time it was all in beats. Every time he makes a movie, I wonder what else is hidden inside this man of treasure!? Writer, Cinematographer, Director, Music buff or I thought so until I heard Varalaama and assumed it for ARR. Varalaama, an addiction was looping in my playlist, profusely thanking ARR until a friend pointed out that it was Rajiv who penned and composed it. I should have been surprised right? I was thrilled because now there is another reason to celebrate my most favorite director-writer-music composer-cinematographer-my favorite – ok that’s not a legal item in that list. That was the second beat – melting sir!
As a dancer, I adore the Guru-Shishya relation. I consider it the most important and the most intricate of all the other bonds in life. Rajiv Menon has explored this in ways beyond comparison. Peter, a deserving and a lucky man to have found a guru like Vembu Iyer. Vembu Iyer, a maestro with all the good karma to get a student like Peter. GV and NV extremely lucky to have been found by Rajiv Menon. What do I say? The shruthi, laya and the tala are all in place .. impeccably positioned to trance us into Rajiv’s world of beats. Casting – the heart beats of the film – well-played beats sir!
Why do I like his works so much? I wonder. This could have made a sensational, strong and an emotionally riding, mass appealing Pa. Ranjith movie. That may have bashed one or more communities biasing the voltage towards secularism arguments. Of what with ‘The Casteless Collective” surfacing as a statement to the anti-brahmin, anti-domination and anti-privilege collective more than a platform for amazing artists, Rajiv Menon has had the guts to defy all negativity and narrate a story of everything dark. He has moved on from sensationalizing polarized views and cashed in a lot of positivity that stems only from pure love for classical arts. Any other director would claim this to be a raging view against arts that aren’t classical but Rajiv Menon has showcased what it means to perceive things with a pristine angle in life. It is not just a script with a perception. It is a trait per se. One that is the need of the day. Stay positive and learn to look at things the right way, with zeal and positivity.
Not all brahmins are bad. Not all lethargic students are to be taken at the flicker of a light. Art forms deserve penchant, clarity, conviction, love for pain(yes) and above all, endurance. Peter was ready for it all, and thus Vembu Iyer chose to be by his side. They simple earned each other in their lives – always a case for every Guru and Shishya. At every point, Vembu Iyer did not hold back from disciplining him (for the sake of art) and never got in his personal life or ways. That’s how great gurus are trained. That’s how great gurus train. They don’t nose around unless asked for advice. They don’t let anyone take their students for granted. They do not get embarrassed when their students demonstrate more prowess instead they beam in pride to learn about it in private – enjoying their mark in their student’s life.
With every beat hit to perfection and touching the notes with finesse, why wouldn’t I remain a fan of this man? I could go on and on, but for now I am going to cherish this feeling and maybe make newer posts as I re-watch and re-rewatch the movie in future. Sarvam Thaalamayam – A masterpiece.