A Murugadoss is the latest claimant to being a creative movie king, straddling north and south India. His last offering “Ghajani” was immortalized (in movie lore) by Aamir Khan in Hindi and by Murugadoss in Tamil. His next offering “7aum Arivu” (Seventh Sense) was released yesterday (2011 Deepavali day).
In the list of duties of a caring husband , what comes somewhere at the top is to ambush the wife by booking tickets for a much awaited movie in advance and displaying them with flourish ( today it is the internet printout or the SMS Message to be displayed). Out of considerable experience (and a personal curiosity to see this movie as Ghajini had incredible stunts and I love stunt movies) I booked tickets in the nearby multiplex for a night show.
The movie stars Surya and Shruti Hasan- both children of established actors. The story starts 1600 years before with the hero being a master of martial arts, medicine, hypnotism who travels to China ( seems to be favourite destination in those days -probably Chinese visa was easier then) to teach these skills. In true filmi manner, he takes blessings of his family, rides off into the yonder alone on a striking horse. He travels thru rivers, valley, forests, deserts in the same horse. No servants or followers accompany him. He does incredible things – cures an infectious and fatal disease, throws out invaders with out of the world powers and is buried there. He is Bodhi Dharma- respected and venerated by Chinese. However, we Indians do not know these important aspects. The director shows some Indians (speaking Tamil) displaying ignorance of such glorious achievements of Bodhi Dharma, and some Chinese looking persons saying “yes- Kung Fu master”. I felt they were referring to some black belt film “Action Director” or “Stunt Master”. There are some startling references to Tamil being 20,000 (yes, twenty thousand years) old. The movie emphasizes the glorious achievements of “Tamils” in all these centuries which we, in ignorance, have not cared to know or understand.
I felt that the power to hypnotise still exists. Andimuthu Raja’s colleagues in Governments may , after seeing this movie (shown now with helpful English subtitles ) testify to Raja’s power in this field.
The villain is a Chinese Government Agent bent upon inflicting germ warfare on India and then giving cure for it after extracting some favours. The villain obviously has to look like a Chinese individual. However, for us any Mongoloid face would do. So a Thai artiste with knowledge of martial arts steps in. He has great powers in hypnotism. So he lands in India and does strange things. He injects a stray dog with some disease and wanders around trying to kill the hero ( at present he is a circus artiste) and heroine ( a genetic engineering scientist). In the middle of all this , the hero and heroine break out into modern songs in exotic foreign locales at pre-determined intervals ( villain is about to kill these two chaps, but then they have to sing a song before we come to know what would happen next).
Murugadoss, the director, is an ordinary looking individual of less than average height and slim body. No one would associate him with movies containing graphic violence and blood shed ( we imagine directors to be tall, well built with a dash and flamboyance). He overcomes this disadvantage by bringing gratuitous violence into the story. Any body who has seen Ghajani in Tamil would testify that it was incredibly violent with heavy impact on the viewer’s senses.
7 Aum Arivu does not fall behind. Blood spurts out of forehead, neck, cars and vans fly across roads towards the hero and slim heroine (due to their drivers being hypnotized by the evil Chinese villain) , who naturally escape. Policemen shoot each other on the instigation of this same evil villain who smiles with satisfaction ( what you would feel if you eat a great quality Pani Puri or Pav Bhaji). A great many people die before the hero defeats this villain is a fight to finish (finish the viewer’s senses – what is left of them). The film ends with a lecture by the circus artiste hero (who is a lineal descendant of Bodhi Dharma) espousing the wealth of knowledge which was in Tamil which has vanished in the mists of time.
The viewers were all emigrant Tamilians who were thirsting for a flavor of their mother tongue and the ethos and culture of their homeland. So to replicate that, there were whistles when the hero appeared on the scene, when the past glory of Tamil was explained by the heroine ( in very labored Tamil). The distinction between fiction and fact , the character in the movie and the actor playing that role seemed to be blurred for the viewers. There seems to be desperate need to hero-worship an individual (film stars like MGR, Rajanikant, Vijay etc.) , Tamil (as a language, culture, background ) to the exclusion of the larger context of our existence. There is a lot that could be written on this aspect. The comments of the worshippers of these stars found in various websites make sad reading and shows the ugly side of the hero-worship.
Suffice it to say that there are thin layers between pride, arrogance and chauvinism. Also, the larger and closer context in which we live as Indians first and then in various sub-categories should be constantly considered.
Movie started late and hence ended late. The only family member (we were four of us watching the movie) looking refreshed after the movie was the one who had slept thru it with legs comfortably folded on the seats.
I wondered what the title meant. My son told me , it meant that the sixth sense is intuition and the seventh is DNA related (as the hero as the same DNA as Bodhi Dharma. Perhaps he is right.
If Tamil is 20,000 years old, I am sure Tamilians were all living in Thanjavur, Trichy, Tirunelveli or Kanchipuram then onwards. My ancestors too should have been around (they are a sturdy lot and “survivor” type). If only they had left their wealth of knowledge for all of us (as explained to us in the movie), then I would not have to struggle like this to earn a living. All this left over/spillover knowledge would have helped me to lead a good life, the way the hero Surya is shown ( he does not go back to being a circus artiste) in the movie.
Sigh.. if only reality aped movies….