SARVAM THAALA MAYAM: rhythmic castaway of caste

That what casts a longing impression never castaway! Rajiv Menon’s Sarvam Thaala Mayam abides the former sentence while presenting a melodious musical clashed with casteism. Last year, Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal featured a hard-hitting casteism while Pa. Ranjith’s Kaala dealt in a commercial manner. Recently, singer TM Krishna openly discussed about inclusivity while Carnatic Music’s exclusivity regarding upper caste is wide-known, Sarvam Thaala Mayam beats the drums of caste by putting forward talent. While it evidently takes “adjusting” route, but depicts a rigorous art form which requires innate talent – here, the “adjustment” takes a backseat for “talent”. Sarvam Thaala Mayam lives up the expectations until one digs in deep!

Peter (G V Prakash Kumar) is a Dalit-Christian, who tries making a mark in Carnatic Music (mridangam) as he seeks learning from Padma Vibhushan Vembu Iyer (Nedumudi Venu). Though, the narrative is too plain and simple, there are elevating levels unravelling simultaneously. “We are mere makers of mridangam, we shouldn’t consider ourselves as players!”, exclaims Peter’s father which taunts the class-system. While players takeaway all the limelight, the makers are left in poverty-ridden conditions for survival. Sarvam Thaala Mayam never goes blazing over the issues, but Rajiv Menon steps forward from stating the problem and breaks the barriers in terms of solutions. With a terrific first half depicting the struggle, the second half takes a conventional route – it’s like tradition (art as divine form) fused with contemporary tradition (reality show).

“Life is about rhythm. We vibrate, our hearts are pumping blood, we are a rhythm machine, that’s what we are.”

There’s a rhythm in mundane elements, from the two distinct halves till the inner-calling of Peter. Even the character writing has an elevating thought-process, Vembu Iyer considers talent over caste as he succumbs to the contemporary situation of the Carnatic Music. There’s Vembu Iyer’s wife who makes Iyer realise the progression, while also exploring the existence of females in Carnatic Music. Rajiv Menon’s approach is nuanced, he seeks character development with a simple uprising story. With a chain-reaction and a Karate Kid-like climax redemption, Sarvam Thaala Mayam’s cause-effect relationship sprinkles brightly with optimism. While the film would’ve been tighter, it never loses the steam but feels disjointed at places.A R Rahman’s musical flair has a result of an eclectic blend of an enchanting fusion with Carnatic, Classical and Folk. The background score amplifies the narrative while mridangam pieces will lilt you into the divine aura with rhythm. G V Prakash Kumar delivers an earnest performance, he perfectly captures Peter’s childish greed and passionate hunger. Nedumudi Venu delivers a nuanced and subtle performance while Vineeth fine tunes himself in an arrogant character.

Mridangam is a symbol of expression, Peter beats the caste obstacles and tunes himself in deft of Carnatic Music. It’s about exploration and understanding of an art form which sprouts from personal experiences. Director Rajiv Menon gazes at a broader perspective by depicting tradition in realm of popularity, while the simplistic nature came off surprisingly – whose magnanimity shredded rhythmic castaway of caste.


Language: Tamil
Release: 01 February, 2019
Rating: 3.5/5


Copyright ©2019 Ninad Kulkarni. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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