Kollywood is brimming with extraordinary talent these days. This period possibly represents the apogee for the industry in terms of audacious experimentations in themes and unparalleled cinematic craftsmanship by unheralded directors haling from non-descript small towns of Tamil Nadu. Conventions, grammar and aesthetics of film making is undergoing a dramatic transformation and movie buffs are relishing it all
One of the year’s highly anticipated Kollywood movie 7 aam arivu( 7th sense) was released this Diwali with much fanfare. This movie generated tremendous interest thanks to its central theme – biogenetically linking a rare passage from history of an Indian prince to a current day persona . Heightened interest generated by the movie can also be attributed to the fact it was directed by Murugadoss, a notable name in what looks like an inexhaustible assembly line of Kollywood directors endowed with fine blend of creativity storytelling skills and craftsmanship.
7am arivu takes its inspiration from few glorious pages of Indian history – back in the 6th century when Pallavas ruled the Southern kingdoms of India. Who then was Boddhi Dharman? He was a famous Pallava scion affectionately known as Damo. Legend suggests that this South India Prince was adept in martial arts, a pioneer in Indian medicine and Nokkuvarmam(hypnotism). Apparently Boddhi Dharman received a divine command from his Guru Matha him to leave his country to serve China on a mission to cure the ailments of a hazardous virus, Hong Se that has afflicted an entire village in China. But his mission turned out to be much beyond that. He decided to inculcate the skills of the exclusive martial arts which later sought its reputation as Shaolin. Finding the resident clergy weak and prone to the depredations of local bandits, he taught them exercises and self-defense, from which evolved the famous Shao-lin style of martial arts. He then sequestered himself in a cave for nine years and sat gazing at the wall. Till today, the Shaolin temple of China proudly portrays the statue of Boddhi dharma , the founder and the seminal master.
The film then take a time leap into the 21st century AD and narrative is now build around a circus artiste Aravindh (Suriya), who works for the Great Bombay Circus and his fortuitous encounters with Subha Sreenivas ( insipidly played Shruthi Hassan), a genetic engineering student. They turn out to be good friends in the due course of time. Soon, Aravindh deciphers her inner motives in tracking him down –basically to establish bio genetic link with Boddhi Dharman. The plot thickens with the Chinese government sending Dongli (Johnny Tri Nguyen), a martial art expert to India to accomplish the mission of Operation Red (to incite a bio war) and eliminate Subha as her research reveals that the DNA pattern of Aravind and Boddhi Dharman are almost similar. How they go about eradicating Operation Red and transcending the skills of Boddhi dharman to Aravind through DNA mapping forms the rest of the story.
Murugados deserves kudos for his daring imagination in conjuring up such a creative storyline The director has deftly juggled multifarious themes including science, fiction, and biowars etc. Eclectic mixture of bio war, kungfu martial arts, hypnotism, DNA mapping get blended quite well and results in heady commercial cocktail. However the movie is also letdown occasionally by weak screenplay. Surya has carried an enormous amount of weight in his shoulders and comes up with a brilliant performance. Johnny Tri Nguyen as Dongli performs some daring action sequences towards the end. It’s out and out a Surya’s movie and he doesn’t fail to entertain. But the chemistry between Surya and Shruthi is missing big time. And the biggest let down in the movie is the music director-Harris Jayraj. The background scores appear very ordinary and so too are the songs. Ravi.K.Chandran’s cinematography is spellbinding.
Overall the movie is a laudable effort to cinematize glorious period in Indian history when Indic rulers and traders combined soft power and hard power to exert extraordinary influence over many parts of world. As Hu Shih said “India Conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border”. Its unfortunate that these days even taking justifiable pride in civilizational achievements is derided and disdainfully dismissed by the leftlibtards as regressive brand of revivalism. For instance our country did have an great tradition in medicinal system. A medicinal encyclopedia was compiled as early as 500 CE. Vedas have ample references to medical practices. Ayurvedic practitioners developed a number of medicinal preparations and surgical procedures for the treatment of ailments. Southern India had very well developed system of martial arts . Sangam literature is dotted with references about it. Akananuru and Purananuru provide in great detail use of spears, swords, shields, bows and silambam.
Though 7 aam arivu is a flawed at several levels , movies like this will help in limited way to rediscover and revive interests in Boddhi Dharmans and Karma Yogis who are left to languish in inconspicuous corner of our history books.
(Rohini is a friend of CRI)