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A tribute to Visu: How Lakshmi was the moral centre of ‘Samsaram Adhu Minsaram’

Last updated on March 25, 2020

“You cannot choose your family,” says a personality in the Academy Award-winning film Parasite. However, the Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda — who has a fetish for writing heartwarming household dramas — put a improbable spin on this, steering clear of the perceived beliefs of a ‘family’ along with his gorgeously-shot Shoplifters, whereby the lead characters got the liberty to decide and select their relations, leading to a spectrum of characters and an affecting drama.

Long earlier than Kore-eda’s Shoplifters, there was Visu’s Samsaram Adhu Minsaram whose particular person characters — Ammaiyappan Mudaliar, Godavari, Chidambaram, Uma, Siva and Kannamma — appeared to have been deported from Visu’s personal universe, to ship a bigger level on familial values with out romanticising the social situations through which they dwell. What we obtained was a heightened drama and an intimate portrait of the household system, in the type of Samsaram Adhu Minsaram.

A screenshot of Lakshmi from ‘Samsaram Adhu Minsaram’  
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Any artwork, if considered underneath the purview of at this time’s fashionable lenses, could seem stale and ‘problematic’. But what is especially placing about Samsaram Adhu Minsaram, even in spite of everything these years, is the quantity of sensitivity that went into fleshing out Lakshmi’s Uma. Now, allow us to not get into the progressive/regressive debate and analyse the existence of Lakshmi inside the movie’s context. Samsaram Adhu Minsaram, basically, is an ego conflict between Ammaiyappan and Mr Chidambaram. But the protagonist is neither of them, however Uma. She is the moral centre of the movie’s universe and is the binding drive that ties the household construction collectively. She is the nucleus of Samsaram Adhu Minsaram and the relaxation of the characters are handled as protons and neutrons, orbiting round Uma. Where Visu’s genius as a scriptwriter comes into play is the method he designed Uma’s character, which triggers a trigger and impact for different characters.

One nice shot

You should have a good data on the Godavari’s line of management, which was drawn following a dispute between Ammaiyappan and Mr Chidambaram, on the pretext of returning ₹18,000 that the latter borrowed from the former for his daughter’s marriage. Ammaiyappan requested a easy query: “Don’t you know of the Ammaiyappan who pledged his gratuity savings for your security deposit?…” But Chidambaram’s reply was a convincing “no”.

When Chidambaram crossed the line with Ammaiyappan

Chidambaram realises his cocky perspective in direction of his father and the battle is resolved in the finish. But Samsaram Adhu Minsaram, I apologise for saying this, is lifeless meat with out its brilliantly-staged climatic bit, shouldered by a terrific Lakshmi (it’s unhappy that she by no means obtained her due and was relegated to taking part in mom characters). She might have effectively been awarded ‘fatafat’ Lakshmi for the key takeaways she espouses in the climax.

Up until this level, Visu’s screenplay performs to the conventions of what Kodambakkam expects. But right here is the place Samsaram Adhu Minsaram subverts its personal tropes and finally ends up being barely greater than a message-heavy film. With Uma making loud and uproarious statements, taking over each member of the household, Visu destroyed Tamil cinema’s apply of upholding the sentiments of the joint household. Therefore, in that single sequence, Visu gave one of the biggest classes on a) the worth you pay, should you cross borders and b) that it is necessary to draw a boundary and provides one another their very own house, even in a household.

Messiah to the middle-class

This, I suppose, was Visu’s largest achievement — one thing even the ‘auteur’ administrators failed to obtain. Of course, this isn’t to denigrate the works of different filmmakers. Hear me out: no one spoke to the middle-class like how a Visu film did. And it’s protected to say that no different filmmaker got here remotely shut to depicting the travails of the working class and their typical ‘middle-class’ mentality the method Visu did — it ain’t restricted to Samsaram Adhu Minsaram, however all his creations together with the gloriously-underrated Simla Special.

In that sense, Visu did extra to the bourgeois than Karl Marx himself. An perfect instance of this ‘middle-class’ mentality could be the scene the place Ammaiyappan nearly calls for that Godavari put together 4 varieties of bajjis, as well as to kesari and Peaberry espresso. This is casually slipped in as a type of comical reduction. But should you dig deeper, it reveals the insufferable disappointment of the working class — a sect that exploits the matchmaking ceremony as a gateway to rejoice in easy pleasures of life, like consuming Peaberry espresso or asking for an additional scoop of kesari. Having grown up in an prolonged household himself, Visu understood the dynamics, energy construction and politics of a joint household. He introduced the bourgeois out of their cocoon and gave them consolation by means of motion pictures, even when it had been for fleeting durations.

There is a LOL stretch in Samsaram Adhu Minsaram the place Ammaiyappan describes every of the characters in the opening act. He reserves a cheeky comment for his youngest son, Bharathi, saying, “Ivan 12th ezhuthinan…ezhuthinan…ezhuthirkan and ezhuthuvan (he wrote, has written and will write).”

Who would have thought that this seemingly witty jibe would ultimately turn into Visu’s personal legacy with a slight modulation, of course? As lengthy as the center class exists, Visu will dwell on.

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