Cinema

Does Seven make complete Sense?

Mammoth Canvas: A still from 7aum Arivu. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The magnificent opening module of 7aum Arivu (U) has Suriya striding like a colossus. As Bodhidharman, the warrior, spiritual leader, savant and medical practitioner, his bright eyes, telling silences, robust physique and expressive body language will remain with you for long! And later, be it portraying the part of a circus artist, or performing stunts, Suriya's tremendous hard work permeates every scene. The actor has literally sweated it out for 7aum Arivu — a thumbs-up show!

But is the hero's toil, albeit bolstered with remarkable support from experts in the various departments (viz., camera person Ravi K. Chandran, art director Rajeevan) enough to make the necessary impact?

Director A. R. Murugadoss, the man who made heads turn with Ramana, and won wide acclaim with the two Ghajnis, returns amidst tremendous hype, with this Suriya-starrer spread out on a mammoth canvas, and partially succeeds. Initially, the director mesmerises, till of course, the product plateaus out into predictability.

It's a catch-22 for Murugadoss, who wants to explore hitherto untouched areas of our history and also not give up the safe route of duets in exotic locales and jigs on crowded streets! Apparently confused, he has a screenplay that throws up quite a few loopholes. Listing them is redundant but when you have a Chinese casually roaming around town wreaking havoc at will, a Law and Order wing in deep slumber, a handful of young researchers taking on an entire enemy nation and making huge decisions that the Government seems unaware of … you begin to wonder whether such greenness is really from Murugadoss!

Rarely is a heroine given near-equal footing in our films. Luck has favoured Shruti Haasan this time — the ravishing heroine plays a solid role of a scientist and also speaks the Tamil tongue! What more can you ask for? True that she ought to work harder on spontaneity, and fine-tune her Tamil accent. But honing can be done in due course — the point is the actor shows promise.

Johnny Tri Nguyen, who plays Dong Lee, the one-man army from China and a harbinger of death, is an excellent choice. Martial arts expert, stunt-double of the Spiderman franchise and action performer of X Men: First Class and Mortal Kombat: Conquest and many more — the Vietnamese actor's credentials are imposing indeed! And a villain shown to be on a par with a Tamil hero in agility and physical strength is refreshing, though it tires you to watch him on a hi-speed hypnotism drive most of the time.

Why is the Bharatanatyam exponent Sudharani Raghupathy made to play a mere supernumerary? Abhinaya is another talent in a blink-and-miss appearance! Unfair, Mr. Murugadoss!

If Peter Hein's awesome action choreography in the climax is reduced to a state of mild humour, blame Harris Jeyaraj's re-recording for it. The hero and villain are engaged in a bloody combat, but the sounds in the background are akin to mewing of cats and trumpeting of elephants! The melody of ‘Mun Andhi' appeals. But why the sad refrain of unrequited love, when the viewer is waiting for the story to move on? For all that this romance doesn't seem hopelessly profound! Songs are speed-breakers of 7, which may have otherwise been racier.

Transcending the mundane, the first 20 minutes scale the subliminal! But sustaining the impact poses problems. The promising take-off to seventh heaven is beautiful, but the quick and sudden descent to a plane of predictability disappoints. And the voice-overs lend a strong docu-feel to 7.

Science and religion, reality and fiction, heroism and high education are juxtaposed in a story that tries to familiarise the viewer with jargon such as bio war, genetic memory and disorders, DNA and viruses. And these culminate in the scientific significance of our ancestors' practices of using turmeric, and our traditional kolam! Phew! Has Murugadoss tried to cram too many things into a single film?

As long as 7aum Arivu sticks to the authentic history of Bodhidharman attaining immortality, the line is pellucid. The viewer's restlessness starts only after the story travels 1600 years to the present. And that's when you begin to feel the lengthiness of 7!

Probably, Murugadoss could have started off with a credible line at a lesser level, before trying the seventh. All the same, plaudits to him for a sincere attempt to steer clear of the usual!

7aum Arivu

Genre: Science fiction?

Director: A. R. Murugadoss

Cast: Suriya, Shruti Haasan, Johnny Tri Nguyen

Storyline: A scientist traces the lineage of Bodhidharman to Aravind, a circus artist. Aravind has to gain the power of his ancestor and fight the danger that awaits our people…

Bottomline: Stupendous beginning, novel attempt — will that do?

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 9:21:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/does-seven-make-complete-sense/article2579928.ece

Next Story