Unless you routinely speak to people whose lip movement does not match what they are saying, it’s hard to find Sivapuram entertaining. There is a reason that this film was a hit in Malayalam. We don’t know what it is, but it certainly doesn’t hold true in AP. If a film has people we can’t recognize, dressing in ways we do not identify with and saying things that makes it look like there’s some technical problem somewhere, it should have some special something to work here. And no, Santosh Sivan’s name in bold doesn’t count.
Sivapuram’s main claim to fame is that it is a Santosh Sivan directed film. If you don’t know who he is, it’s okay – there are lots of other people you don’t know either, and they are not even famous. If you’re wondering about some logical problem in that sentence, spare the effort – you’ll need a lot of it for this film.
Sivapuram is a tale of occult and black magic. There was a time when people enjoyed such films a lot – Kashmora and Tulasidalam were runaway hits – but those were horror films that gave you some thrills. Where you did not know what was happening right till the end, and you were scared most of the time of the unknown.
Sivapuram has the script narrated right at the beginning. There’s a murderer witch-doctor in a village who’s after some supernatural powers, he is powerful, he has to be stopped, and the film has no hero strong or smart enough to fight him. Now you have to wait 2-1/2 hours. It’s like watching Chandramukhi without Rajnikant in it – and without the ghost in it.
Anyway, here’s the tale. Anand (Pruthviraj) is a US-returned. And it is not just grammar that’s the problem there – he’s come to the wrong place. For, Sivapuram, his native village that he’s entered for the first time, to get to know his relatives and inform them of his mother’s death, is terrorized by Digambar (Manoj Jayan), a young siddha yogi, who is after some powers that come only upon sacrificing a maiden, and who is bent upon destroying Anand’s family due to some old rivalries (that are incidentally never revealed anywhere).
Anand falls in love with Bala (Kavya Madhavan), his uncle’s daughter, who is the only one who can lead Digambar to the snake god who has the jewel that can grant him his powers. Anand is also threatening Digambar that he will light a thousand diyas at the snake temple where Digambar performs his rituals, which will render Digambar powerless.
So Digambar incapacitates Anand and starts entering his body at will, and kills people who are coming in his way. And once his main obstacles are all through, he takes Bala, in the guise of Anand, to the temple to make her get the snake to part with the jewel. But then things start going wrong for him.
For starters, Sivapuram is too slow, and too devoid of thrills for a film of this genre. Digambar is made to look like a lunatic at times instead of a loathsome villian. And considering he is the main character in the film, there isn’t enough of a character-sketch to make this a professional effort. All others seem like support cast, including Prithviraj. The plot itself is too far out.
Let’s not forget who made this one, however – the visuals are brilliant, picture perfect. The film is based in interior Kerala, and the viscous lakes, the dense greenery, the crumbling storybook structures where Digambar perfoms his rituals, and the artistically shot songs are all a visual feast. However, there’s only so much you can take of good presentation – as a film, this one cannot entertain audiences in another land who need something to make up for the unknown faces and customs.
The performances are all good, especially Manoj’s as Digambar. Riya Sen is in a non-speaking role, which suits her just fine – she looks very good, though. And using Kalabhavan Mani is overkill for what his role demands.
En fin, this is a film you’d watch only if you haven’t asked or heard anything about it. It’s too late now!