Sarvam Thaala Mayam Movie Review: Soothingly pious, melodiously heartfelt

Sarvam Thaala Mayam Movie Poster

Sarvam Thaala Mayam Movie Review: Soothingly pious, melodiously heartfelt

SARVAM THAALA MAYAM movie review is out. Marking the return of noted cinematographer turned filmmaker Rajiv Menon into direction and his reunion with A.R. Rahman for a musical after eighteen years, which is enough to keep the enthusiast of Rahman and Menon excited. Does Rajiv Menon delivers the magic of KANDUKONDAIN KANDUKONDAIN (2000) and does the winning combo of Rahman and Menon recreate the magic of music seen and heard in MINSARA KANAVU (1997) and KANDUKONDAIN KANDUKONDAIN?!. Let’s find out in SARVAM THAALA MAYAM movie review.

The most astonishing/unique/rare thing about SARVAM THAALA MAYAM

After a long time, a movie devoted to Carnatic music told in a soothingly feel good manner that sings the power of music, the divine reach of rhythm with an ode to the Indian tradition of guru and shishya (master and his pupil) with a melodious echo.

What is the plotline/story of SARVAM THAALA MAYAM?

A born Thalapathy Vijay fan Peter Johnson (G. V. Prakash Kumar ) finds solace in preparing for the FDFS ( first day, first show) of his idol, putting banners and playing drums in glee ecstasy. Peter is the only son of Johnson (Kumaravel) a lower caste poor mridangam maker. A chance encounter results in Peter delivering the mridangam to a leading genius Vembu Iyer (Nedumudi Venu) at a Carnatic music concert. Peter who is remarkable in his in born talent and raw knowledge/talent of beats which he displays at every release of his idol outside cinema halls and street gatherings, gets awed by the sheer magic of the maestro Vembu Iyer’s rhythmic control and flow of hands. A strong desire to play the traditional mridangam like Vembu Iyer and learn under the guidance of the genius starts developing inside Peter’s heart and mind. Will Peter be able to break the barriers of caste and his social status, will the staunch follower of customs and tradition, the upper caste Vembu Iyer agree to pass his art/knowledge/legacy – his rich Carnatic music to a street - smart drum player whose world revolves around his silver screen idol and his escapist heroisms?, forms the crux of this musical coming of age drama.

Analysis

The core idea of Rajiv Menon’s SARVAM THAALA MAYAM (Omnipresence of Rhythm) has a tiny resemblance to K. Viswanath ‘s 1980’s Telugu musical drama SANKARABHARANAM (English: THE JEWEL OF SHANKARA), which was later remade in Hindi as SUR SANGAM in 1985 starring Girish Karnad and Jaya Prada. Girish Karnad plays a genius in Carnatic music who finds the true prodigy of this divine music in the son of Tulsi (Jaya Prada) a dancer who is a devdasi by birth. Rajiv Menon in SARVAM THAALA MAYAM makes some striking comments on caste system, the irony between fiction and reality (Peter’s relationship with Thalapathy Vijay and his relationship with Vembu Iyer is intriguingly juxtaposed with the relationship of Vembu Iyer’s trusted loyalist Mani (Vineeth) with a television music ‘reality’ show. The sequence where Johnson explains how skins of different animals are used to make the instrument sound better strikes the requited thought provoking chord on the caste and cultural divide.

Rajiv Menon’s direction in SARVAM THAALA MAYAM

Rajiv Menon’s narration is simple, free flowing & effective with occasional drops of genius in a movie which uses metaphors to convey the message. The passing of rudraksh from Vembu Iyer to Peter ( it’s not just a transfer of legacy, it has more to it), the shot where Peter is lying upside down, immersed in learning the work of Vembu Iyer, shown with a reverse angle ( transformation of Peter from a fan boy to a dedicated student of music), the scene where Vembu Iyer while giving lessons to his students goes into a trace of rhythm and comes back to continue the lesson ( only knowledge is not enough, knowledge of art should be ruled by passion). The relevant message to value culture and the rich music tradition of India is put forward nicely in a pleasingly feel good manner. The ode to Indian tradition of the divine relationship between guru and shishya (master and his pupil) is also respected.

Performance

G.V. Prakash gets into the scene of Peter with tremendous ease. The actor musician is pitch - perfect. The genius of Vembu Iyer is at display one again and the actor proves once again why he is regarded as one of the finest talents alive today in Indian cinema. Vembu Iyer is class apart. Kumaravel as Peter’s father is outstanding; he stands out in that dance sequence. Vineeth is excellent. Aparna Balamurali has her moments and Divayadarshini makes her presence felt.

Music

A.R. Rahman is in top form. The music mastero in SARVAM THAALA MAYAM comes with an illuminating mix of Carnatic, folk, and classical tracks sung by singers such as Chinmayi, Bombay Jayashree and Sriram Parthasarathy. Dingu Dongu and the recreated version of Maakelara Vichaaramu stand out. And last but not the least, the thumping, rhythmic and soothingly melodious sounds of mridangham that constantly fills the minds and soul of a true music lover with happiness and rare solace.

Flaws

The narration filled with metaphors and striking class and social comments, suddenly dips into mediocrity and unnecessarily indulges in a show of forward thinking in the relationship depicted between G.V. Prakash and Aparna Balamurali. The realty show drama is cliché. Somewhere the cinematographer in Rajiv Menon takes over the director and we see Peter travelling all over India from the snow capped mountains of Himalayas to Kerala to the sands of Rajasthan in his zest to find music. All this stops Sarvam Thaala Mayam from turning into a cult.   

Technicalities

Ravi Yadav's cinematography is a treat to your eyes. Antony's editing is rhythmic. Production values are excellent.

Final verdict

SARVAM THAALA MAYAM is certainly not to be missed, if you value good art, support culture and respect Indian music and the guru shishya parampara, the return of noted cinematographer turned filmmaker Rajiv Menon into direction and his reunion with A.R. Rahman for a musical after eighteen years is melodiously tuned for the right ‘ears’ and its heirs.

Rating 3.5/5

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Movie Cast & Crew
  • Actor: G. V. Prakash Kumar, Nedumudi Venu
  • Actress: Aparna Balamurali
  • Director: Rajiv Menon
  • Music Director: A.R. Rahman
  • Production house: Mindscreen Film Institute
  • Release Date : 01 Feb 2019
  • Movie Duration : 2 hrs 11 mins