Kadaisi Vivasayi Movie Review: In telling the story of an aged impoverished farmer whose only concern in life is his little plot of land which he tills till kingdom-come, writer-director K Manikandan has assumed a tone of narration and a texture of framing which are as basic simple and unadorned as the protagonist himself.
80-plus Mayandi(played by a real farmer Nalandi) leads an absolutely austere life . There are no adornments of any kind around him. His life is his plot of land which he nurtures like a child. The fact that he can hardly hear makes Mayandi even more blessed-out in his single minded devotion his farmland.
The tribal village where the film is shot makes use of the local population to enhance the sense of documentary rather than a drama,until Mayandi is summoned to the local police station for killing and burying a peacock in his land.
Through the police and court proceedings Mayandi has only one thing to say: “May I go back to my land?”
The presiding judge, a kindly young woman (Raichal Rabecca Philip) soon senses she in the presence of heightened innocence that comes naturally only to those who are eternally wedded to Nature.
The protective shield that she tries to build around the vulnerable old farmer is never constructed into a convenient melodrama.This is a film on the poetry of poverty where austerity of expression and economy of execution are paramount.
What I found a little disconcerting is the uninterrupted sweetness and kindness that Mayandi generates in those around him. All the villagers including old women , young wastrels and potbellied cops have a secret crush on Mayandi. Soon the female judge too joins the admiration club, personally supervising Mayandi’s release, expressing a filial concern about his health .
Towards the end she flings all professionalism aside and joins the villagers in their ritual celebrations. By the time we arrive at this point in the sparse story the mood is so artless and so filled with a sense of reclaimed heritage that it is no longer an issue whether the mood of realism is buried under heaps of fantasy.It is. But so what?
Kadaisi Vivasayi is about getting back to the roots.And this is where Manikandan scores big. He also serves as the cinematographer of his own idealized perception of Man and Nature which makes the task of identifying the basic essentials of the film’s main premise easier to accentuate.
Manikandan has a marvelous support system in the actors(most of whom don’t even know what acting is) and technicians. Vijay Sethupathi brings in a stirring magic surrealism as a psychologically disengaged wanderer grieving for love. His story could be a whole film in itself. I would have preferred Manikandan to focus entirely on Mayandi.Yogi Babu with an elephant by his side is an annoying distraction.
Kadaisi Vivasayi is a work of tremendous elegance simplicity and emotional integrity. It doesn’t have a single artificial bone in its body.Even the all-pervasive benignity that embraces the mood of the narration, is finally not an obstacle but a reminder that all you finally need is love.And a bit of farmland.