Verdict: Rajiv Menon tunes it to perfection.
Written and directed by Rajiv Menon, Sarvam Thaala Mayam is a musical that was in the making for a long time. Rajiv’s last film was Kandukondein Kandukondein (2000) starring Aishwarya Rai, Mammootty, Tabu and Abbas. The director was probably fine-tuning the film all this while but has all this fine tuning really worked? We believe it has. The director was adamant that the lead would be played by an actor who has knowledge of music and can play instruments too. That’s how G. V. Prakash Kumar, an accomplished music composer, and an accomplished keyboard player was roped in. Sarvam Thaala Mayam also stars Aparna Balamurali, Nedumudi Venu, Vineeth and Kumaravel.
What’s Sarvam Thaala Mayam About:
Sarvam Thaala Mayam follows the life of an ardent Ilayathalapathy fan and a Vijay fan club member named Peter Johnson (G. V. Prakash Kumar). Son of a mridangam (drum) maker named Johnson (Kumaravel), Peter does not want to follow in his father’s footsteps. He shows no interest in the craft nor in the instrument until he sees Vembu Iyer (Nedumudi Venu) perform live at a Carnatic music program.
A true maestro, Vembu holds on to age-old traditions tight and like many traditionalists, detests change. Peter, mesmerized by Vembu, follows him around and pleads him to take him under his wings. Soon enough he manages to do just that much to the annoyance of Vembu’s right hand Mani (Vineeth). Mani grows jealous of Vembu’s fondness of Peter and gets himself thrown out of Vembu’s house for his harsh treatment towards Peter. Raging with hatred, Mani seeks revenge.
Nedumudi Venu as Vembu is spectacular. His screen presence is simply amazing. With subtle gestures, he completely nails the act of a mridangam maestro. Peter Johnson, from a young man desperate to learn Carnatic music to a man who masters his instrument, this role was tailor-made for G. V. Prakash. No other actor would have had the same wide smile as he did while playing the mridangam and also no one else would have looked as convincing as he did holding the various instruments. Malayalam actress Aparna Balamurali is an underrated artist who looks effortless in Rajiv Menon directed Sarvam Thaala Mayam. A special mention to actor Vineeth who delivers superbly as the vengeful Mani. While the cast delivers wonderfully, the writing and direction by Rajiv Menon are exceptional. Many a time, especially with larger-than-life characters, films stop being realistic. However, these characters written by Rajiv Menon are simple and that’s what makes Sarvam Thaala Mayam extraordinary. Using small episodes, Rajiv shows us the various issues in our society. The film makes you question a lot of “normalized” actions and ideas – why is the Carnatic music scene dominated by the upper class, why are there two sets of glasses at a tea shop and so much more. Rajiv does not make the film preachy but intrigues the audience.
A. R. Rahman’s music is the soul of the film. This is a perfect film for the musical phenomenon who will stun you with the heart-thumping music, especially at the end of the film.
What Could’ve Been Better:
Peter’s country-wide journey to learn the different forms of music seems a little rushed. The love track between Peter and Sara (Aparna Balamurali) also seems hurried. The reality show bit seems a little over-dramatic especially for a film with characters so real.
Why You Should Watch:
A sheer musical entertainer, this will be loved by all for the director’s treatment of the characters and the music which does not seem unrealistic or disconnected even for a split second. Watch Sarvam Thaala Mayam for the brilliant performance by all the cast members.