“Sakhavu” means Comrade. In Siva’s directorial film featuring Nivin Pauly in two distinctive roles, we get to witness the making of a true comrade. In the times of changing political scenario where selfish motives are prevailing, this film reminds us of leadership, association and celebrates the bygone era (activism, where change started taking place). “Communism”still prevails in the state of Kerala, India and the story is not a convenient one even if it seems. The film smartly deals with dictatorship, lawlessness, selfish motives and rights in rightly manner.
Krishnan Kumar (Nivin Pauly) is a young Sakhavu (basically a student political leader), who aims to secure power and his upliftment greedily. He even teaches his sidekick, how to be a deserving Sakhavu in wrong-way. One day, his party office asks him to donate blood to another Sakhavu. His life changes when he slowly gets to know about the senior Sakhavu Krishnan (Nivin Pauly), who once gave justice to the people with his leftist ideals. The story mainly deals with a making of Comrade and how an inspiring life-work is deeply affected on an upcoming one while the story takes place in two timeline, recent and 30 years ago. Nivin Pauly not just plays the double role but it has a strong reason: Sakhavu Krishnan was a spirit like him- hence the Krishnan Kumar imagines himself as the senior Comrade.
The film educates about the rights, the conceptual ideologies and thoughts, not in a utopian way (how it is generally conceived) but in a practical manner. Sakhavu Krishnan fights for the rights of workers and peasants in the times when the labor law was just established and the people were kept unaware of. The company owners play the dictators, while that part feels identical in today’s times. In an early set up, the comrade states that they should dwell into the minds of people (sorrows, feelings, etc.) and not just wages.
While the recent Comrade, Krishnan Kumar is a selfish man who has hatched a plan to beat the Secretary (also his best friend) so that he acquires his position. The flashback of the senior Comrade plays as a lesson to his false beliefs and sprouting true ideals inside him. The storytelling gets quite tedious in the latter second half, but you can bear it. Just when you notice that love story is missing, though not a typical love story (it actually starts near 1 hour 40 minutes)is shown but whatever is shown is limited- doesn’t kill the intensity. In one scene, the Comrade states that “being Comrade is beyond caste or faith”. The biographical sketch of a Comrade is shown in a true perspective as possible. The typical ingredients found for mass appeal are found less because it’s a film about the plight of poor people and for the fight/justice, the heroic tactics (though less) are used. Some scenes get dragged a bit like after the Workers protest, they take up the Peasants’ protest.
The narrative is kept simple and travels back forth easily without disrupting the feel and the experience of the life. Director who has nurtured this film very well, plays with the Screenplay maturely and flows into the changing emotions smartly. The Cinematography by George C Williams is aesthetically giving a soul to the visuals and look, the use of red tint makes you live the life of Comrade. Prashant Pillai’s songs and background score work well and lift the film at times. Though the film could have been chopped but running at 2 hours 40 minutes, I didn’t get bore excluding the small love story. The film soaked deeply inside and made me live the life (such effective films and brilliant directors keeps my love for Cinema intact and alive).
The highlight is its protagonist Nivin Pauly, who appears in two distinctive roles and three looks. His first young look is quite reminiscent of what he usually does and evokes laughs as Krishnan Kumar. As the senior Comrade, he holds the character tightly and as the 70-year old he is terrific. Nivin Pauly is surely India’s most marvelous actor with his versatility. The female characters are strong where Sakhavu Krishnan’s daughter (played convincingly by Aparna Gopinath), a JNU pass out is actively leading the leftist ideals or his wife (played effectively by Aishwarya Rajesh), who is an active Comrade. Tony Luke, Binu Pappu and Althaf Salim are effective in their respective roles.
If you don’t look at the film as a Communist preach, which does preach its ideal in a good way which can be applicable in other ways too- the film draws a good biographical sketch and an excellent lesson. It’s a terrific ensemble of film-making through an unforgettable cinematic journey.
Release: 15 April, 2017
Director: Sidhartha Siva
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