Once in a while, there comes a simple film like director Manikandan’s ‘Kadaisi Vivasayi’ that doesn’t scream for attention and yet manages to make its point in the most powerful and compelling manner that one never thought was possible even for films boasting of a big budget and a huge star cast.
AT A GLANCE
Director: M. Manikandan
Starring: Nallandi, Vijay Sethupathi, Yogi Babu and Raichal Rebecca Philip.
The spark for the story, written, directed, shot and produced by Manikandan himself, came from a real-life incident that happened in southern Tamil Nadu.
The film revolves around Maayandi (played by Nallandi), a farmer who lives by himself in a small village deep inside Tamil Nadu. The octogenarian’s daily routine involves grazing his bulls, feeding his chickens and cooking a simple meal, which he prepares himself without anybody’s assistance.
Life, for Maayandi, is bliss. He has no worries in the world whatsoever.
One day, thunder strikes down an old tree in the village. This sparks fears of an impending misfortune. The villagers decide to offer prayers to the deity of their ancestors to prevent any misfortune befalling them. However, for the festival the villagers plan to organise, grains grown in the village need to be made as an offering. Unfortunately, everybody else in the village has stopped farming for one reason or the other and the only one who still can and knows how to farm is 83-year-old Maayandi.
The village elders approach Maayandi with a request to give them some grains and the elderly farmer points out that there is very little water in his well. But despite that, he agrees to begin farming to provide them the grains.
Simultaneously, real estate agents are looking to get Maayandi to agree to sell his land. The man won’t give up his land no matter what. It is under these circumstances that one day, Maayandi finds three dead peacocks in his farm. Taking pity, he buries the dead birds on his patch of land. Soon, a policeman arrives in search of Maayandi…
To the untrained eye, this film might come across as just a heartwarming tale of a simple villager looking to care for his fields. But if you are someone who is into current affairs, you’ll know that there isn’t a significant topic that this film hasn’t touched upon.
From self-sufficiency to MNREGA to land sharks and real estate agents to genetically modified seeds to judicial and police reforms that need to be carried out, ‘Kadaisi Vivasayi’ shines the light on everything that matters without actually bothering to lecture people on any of these topics.
There are no violent fights, no song and dance sequences and no sinister plots.
At the end of the day, it is a heartwarming tale of a simple octogenarian who lives a peaceful, healthy and content life, unmindful of the chaos around him. And what Manikandan does while looking to narrate his story is, remind us of a glorious era when our villages had no television or for that matter, even electricity and yet, offered peace and contentment to its inhabitants.
Every scene in the film has another layer to it which communicates a really deep idea. Take for instance, a sequence in the film where Maayandi goes looking for farm help.
Maayandi and an elderly woman, who offers to help him, spot a large group of women sitting idle under a tree, whiling away their time. They ask the women if they will be interested in helping transplant the freshly sprouted crops in Maayandi’s field.
The women are willing to work but the government officer, a lady, who is in charge, stops them from doing so saying they are “working” for the government and can’t be seen working elsewhere. The women go back to doing what they were doing, which is idling away their time.
The old woman accompanying Maayandi offers to help him. However, after transplanting just one row, the old lady pulls out citing back problems. This doesn’t deter Maayandi who begins planting the crops all by himself. Before long, he finishes the task single-handedly!
The sequence is a powerful one. It shows how Maayandi is not just self-sufficient but also self-reliant. It also shows how programmes like MNREGA, 96 per cent of the beneficiaries of which are women, are actually implemented at the ground level.
Maayandi does not have a ration card, does not have a voter ID or even an electricity connection in his home. Yet, the life he leads is more peaceful than the lives of those who possess all of these.
There is another lovely sequence in the film, where a police constable, who is forced to take care of Maayandi’s fields as punishment, has a change of heart. The man, who initially forces other youths, to water the fields in his stead, at one point chooses to do it himself. When one of the youngsters tells him, “Why don’t you go back to the police station where you might have more important work and let me take care of this,” the constable replies that he likes it here.
There’s nothing spectacular, extravagant or flamboyant about ‘Kadaisi Vivasayi’. In fact, that exactly is its strength. The film wins your heart through its simplicity and honesty. It gently tells a moving story that is steeped in reality. Director Manikandan must be congratulated for just the thought of making a film like this. ‘Kadaisi Vivasayi’ is a gem that dazzles.
Watch the trailer here.