April 15, 2009

Demystifying Naan Kadavul

~ I read this excellent writeup about the much talked about movie "Naan Kadavul". Thanks to Arvind.~

Naan Kadavul is a guided tour of the largely unknown world of aghori sadhus and beggars. From a bird's eye view, the two tales would appear largely disjoint and one might get an impression that there is not much in common between the two groups. But, there is actually a strong connection between beggars and aghori sadhus - only that Bala has played it subtle. Both aghoris and beggars belong to the same fictional seventh world. In a way, aghoris are beggars too, only that they chose their destiny. Bala has scripted a few scenes to convey this - the scene where a police constable mistakes Rudran for a beggar when he gets cocaine crazy. There are also sequences where the 'poli-samiyargal' talk about Rudran in the same breadth as beggars. While beggars are depicted as slave workers, Aghoris consider them to be super natural. Naan Kadavul is a tale of two extreme groups belonging to the same dark world. It serves as a meeting point of the contrasting lives of Rudran and Hamsavalli.

Naan Kadavul believes that there is No God in the Seventh World. Bala has emphasized this belief throughout the tour in the form of various scenes and dialogues with a tinge of dark humour. A lot of the explicit content has been censored. Jesus and Buddha were supposed to be present as spectators in the scenes where the beggars get beaten up by Rudran & Co. The Gods of the world were supposed to be present when Hamsavalli begs Rudran for death. The objective was to take a dig at ALL religions. However, the censor board had other thoughts. To stress the point further, the physically disabled beggars were in the costumes of Lord Sivan, Parvathi and Murugan. This is a subtle way of saying that the gods of the world that we are in, are nothing more than handicapped helpless people in the seventh world. This is brilliant character sketching and symbolism from Bala. The beggars who never go inside the temple, however, consider the 'Mangandi sami', who is a beggar himself, as their God. Another way of saying that if there is any God in the seventh world, he has to be a beggar too. The character of Hamsavalli is sketched in a way to convey that in the dark world, even the people who initially believe in god would eventually be forced by their situation to give up their belief. She surrenders to a nun and gets converted to christianity but eventually Thandavan manages to *buy* her. This puts her in a miserable situation and she loses her faith in god and believes that only Rudran can relieve her from this world of misery. She conveys this to Rudran when she gets to meet him and her belief (or the lack of it) is conveyed to us by the dialogue where she accuses that no god cared for her miseries.

Naan Kadavul, for the most part, revolves around the life of beggars - the citizens of the seventh world. One may get a feeling that the film spends way too much time here. But, this is where the film remains honest to its intentions. The dark world is symbolically represented by the underground facility of Thandavan. The first few scenes in their story provide enough detail on their miseries and establishes the various characters. Once we get acquainted with them, we get to see their lighter side as well and enjoy the dark humour. There are a lot of small sub plots scripted as well. The objective behind the detail is to drive the message that the beggars, in spite of not having much control on their life, still manage to lead a happy life . In spite of their own miseries, they care for each other's sufferings and live like a happy family. And Bala wanted to clear the general misconception that the beggars have a soft corner for people who give alms to them. Beyond a point, they are not concerned much about the money and as shown in various sequences, they derive their humor by mocking at the people who visit the temple. The characters dressed like gods, mocking and laughing loud at the people visiting the temple is symbolic to Gods mocking at their superstitious beliefs.

Naan Kadavul is anything but judgemental. It doesn't preach atheism nor does it say that it is better to die than to lead a miserable life. It leaves the judgemental part to its audience. As a movie in its true ART form, Naan Kadavul choses to show the lives of two contrasting groups of people * as is*, goes one step higher by establishing a strong connection between the groups symbolically and stops there - true to its intent.

1 comment:

  1. Hey dude - I landed on this accidentally - Thanks a lot for posting my blog here - I love this movie to the core and I would do anything to spread the greatness of this movie


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