Kadaisi Vivasayi review: Apart from Vijay Sethupathi and Yogi Babu in cameo appearances, the film only features newcomers.
Summary: M Manikandan is one of the most unique voices in Tamil cinema and he has time and again proved it with his films, which have always gone beyond the entertainment factor and touched upon interesting themes. His latest release, Kadaisi Vivasayi, which has hit the screens after a long delay, is a moving drama about farming as a dying occupation. Several Tamil films have been made over the years with farming as the backdrop, but they’ve all been unbearably preachy. Manikandan’s film is appropriately moving but it also infuses humour to keep the treatment mostly light-hearted, giving it the treatment of a satire in some parts.
The film closely follows Maayandi (Nallandi), an octogenarian farmer who lives by himself in a small village. For nearly 20 odd minutes, the film only focuses on Maayandi’s day-to-day activities which he does with all his heart. From grazing his bulls to feeding his chickens and cooking simple meals, he lives a life of contentment. It is with clockwork precision that Maayandi goes about doing his day-to-day tasks without anyone’s support.
One day, lightning strikes on an old tree in the village. The villagers see this as a bad omen and they feel that in order to prevent anything bad from happening, they have to offer prayers to their village deity. As the villagers get ready to organise the festival, they approach Maayandi with the request of growing grains for the special offering as he’s the lone and last farmer in the village. Maayandi accepts the request and starts farming. After a few days, Maayandi finds three dead peacocks in his farm. He decides to bury them in his patch of land. A day later, when a policeman arrives in search of Maayandi, and what follows next forms the crux of the story.
As much as the film is about the state of farming in our country today, it is also about the inefficiency of the police and judicial system. There are also some interesting sub-plots about land grabbing, loan shark agents and how genetically modified seeds are killing farming. Instead of elaborating on these issues, Manikandan subtly shines the spotlight on them while making us empathise with his 83-year-old lead actor who is a real-life farmer. I doubt if the film would’ve been this impactful, had it featured any known face as the central character. Apart from Vijay Sethupathi and Yogi Babu in cameo appearances, the film only features newcomers.
Without ever talking about farming as a noble profession, the film successfully manages to convey its message loud and clear – to change our general perception about farming. Kadaisi Vivasayi stands testimonial to the fact that even a simple story, when told with unparalleled sensitivity, can leave a lasting impact.