‘Sakhavu’ is a talkathon of a movie that could inspire a few with those odd invigorating moments. And then there are people who believe that a piece of cinema should be much more than that, for whom it comes across more like an overly dramatic moral science lesson on communism, than anything else.
With a history of fine political films that had celebrated the communist ideology to fall back on, it has come to a point where it requires some extraordinary resourcefulness to keep viewers in Kerala engaged in a film that overtly claims to belong to the genre. Sidhartha Siva’s new film ‘Sakhavu’ is a plain rehash of those films of yore, and coaxes the viewer into the belief that all the obviousness that is on show is nothing but an authentic exultation on a dogma that is rooted in revolution.
Krishna Kumar (Nivin Pauly) is a comrade and a member of the SFK, who has clearly charted out his route ahead as a promising young politician. At the Medical College hospital where he has arrived to donate blood to a veteran comrade who is all set to have a surgery, a revelation lies in store. As an eventful life is unfurled before him, Krishna Kumar himself emerges a transformed man.
The intent that Sidhartha Siva has in mind is apparent. The very visible barbs in the beginning that are aimed at SFK, wherein a senior comrade walks in and asks Krishna Kumar if he is still a student lay the ground. Krishna Kumar sheepishly grins and mumbles that he’s doing a course on DTP, while at a later point, an SFK activist from JNU (Aparna Gopinath) asserts that she was a central committee member who had moved on, once she was done with her PG.
A revolution is what probably Siva has in mind; a revolution that would see the younger brigade give up their personal aspirations for a greater good, like scores of their predecessors did. He also believes that Sakhavu Krishnan and his struggle saga is what would positively alter the perceptions of a new generation that is at odds with its own political viewpoints.
It’s at Peermade that Sakhav Krishnan (Nivin Pauly again) sets up his base at several years back, where he leads a tea plantation employee strike to success. Not much later, he wages another triumphant battle that sees an adamant landlord (P Balachandran) giving in to his workers’ demands. A few decades later, the radical spirit in Comrade Krishnan is still intact, when he decides to take on the land encroachers at Peermade.
This tale however, is one that has an aura of blandness written all over it, and almost every scene in it remaining an instance that we have been witness to, time and again. The oppression, the rise in revolt and the final victory are all there; and yet Siva’s script lacks the zest that would bring in the goose bumps. The recurrent reiterations of the communist doctrine are there; and yet they blatantly fail to emotionally connect with the viewer as in films as ‘Lal Salaam’ or even the recent ‘Thalappavu’.
The first forty five minutes of the film look amateurish, what with a comedy track that involves Krishna Kumar’s bestie Mahesh (Althaf) going terribly haywire. Most of the jokes end up bland and downright garish, and when Mahesh lets out a never ending guffaw at the end of a pretty grave episode, it sounds out-and-out distasteful. This mishmash of comedy and sobriety that ‘Sakhavu’ strives to achieve does not work, and merely leaves back a sense of sheer hollowness.
The what’s-wrong-with-new-age-communism angle is what the film strives to dwell upon, and it sadly endeavors to do so through crafting a striking contrast between two generations. In this attempt, Comrade Krishnan gradually rises from the stature of a young comrade with a steel spine to a disabled septuagenarian who flings away his assailants with a single arm. Attributing even more humanist traits, someone whispers that the man has been left with a single kidney, having donated the other one to a child in need.
Krishna Kumar on the other hand, is a conniving individual with clear cut strategies all laid out in life, who suddenly embraces righteousness when he hears a stirring tale. As much far-fetched his makeover into an honest man might seem, ‘Sakhavu’ would want us to believe the stagey episodes that lead to it. And this is where the sincerity of the film maker shows; sincerity that is sadly neither buoyed by energy or life.
Nivin Pauly is perhaps the sole redeeming factor in ‘Sakhavu’, and the young actor gives it his very best, enacting three different roles self-assuredly. The movie also has credible supporting performances from the likes of Aparna Gopinath, Aishwarya Rajesh and Tony Luke Kocherry, while Sreenivasan appears in a cameo. Prashanth Pillai’s musical score is thunderous, and George William’s frames stripped of embellishments.
‘Sakhavu’ is a talkathon of a movie that could inspire a few with those odd invigorating moments. And then there are people who believe that a piece of cinema should be much more than that, for whom it seems more like an overly dramatic moral science lesson on communism, than anything else.