Sarvam Thaala Mayam has this broad stroke narrative which sort of dilutes the impact of the break free agenda it has towards true music. Rajiv Menon’s third directorial is an engaging musical drama that sort of talks about breaking the conventionalities in music and explore it organically. Even though the template like
Peter Johnson is this young man who has this interest in music. His father is a Mridangam maker but Peter, who was an ardent fan of actor Vijay never passionately approached music and was always the drums player of his gang. At one point in life, he happens to listen to the performance of legendary Vembu Iyer and that creates a passion in him to learn Carnatic music from Iyer. Sarvam Thaala Mayam is showing us the journey of Peter from being trained by Vembu Iyer to exploring true music through his life experiences.
The movie does address some of the inequalities that exist in the system. Such political stands are the thing that gives this movie a texture of quality. The entire Ding Dong song sort of elevates that aspect of Sarvam Thaala Mayam. And towards the climax, the way the movie adds a contemporary approach to music by elegantly breaking the conservative style of things is also pretty appealing. Music has to be beyond the rules set by humans and it should be accessible to everyone without any sort of social hierarchy. The scripting of the core story is on the weaker side. The straight forward narrative of the story can’t really add much depth to the backdrop of Peter, his relationship with Iyer, his self-exploration to learn music and even that weakly clubbed love track which was supposed to be his source of faith.
If the character of Peter Johnson was conceived like this by Rajiv Menon, I think there is nobody other than GV Prakashkumar who can play this role. The kind of on-screen image he has managed to create gets an extension here with the same old eccentric heckler kind of behavior. Menon slowly changes this character and Johnson becomes more and more disciplined as the journey progresses. And GV Prakashkumar was able to pull it off convincingly. Nedumudi Venu as the veteran Vembu Iyer was really graceful with all the stubbornness of an orthodox musician. Vineeth as the greedy and insecure disciple doesn’t make his character a caricature. The extremely talented Elango Kumaravel was memorable as the father Johnson and the Ding Dong song being his song in the movie felt like a good way to honor this actor who has not been used effectively by Tamil Cinema. Aparna Balamurali as the Malayali nurse is very convincing, but the writing of her part doesn’t really merge with the narrative.
The realistic approach Rajiv Menon applied to Sarvam Thaala Mayam by incorporating quality music all over the movie sort of covers up the flaws of the speedy narrative. Even a musical novice can sort of understand the very musical things they mention in the film. The template of the rising underdog could have been done in a subtler way and that would have made this movie a classic worth revisiting. AR Rahman’s music I believe is still on the slow poison side. Because prior to watching the movie I wasn’t really into any particular song and right now both Ding Dong and Varalama are stuck in my head. Ravi Yadav has handled the camera and it was a real change from his usual set of movies that preferred visual glossiness.
Sarvam Thaala Mayam is more of a political statement about the need to set music free and break the conventional rules and discrimination that limits the access to many talented musicians. As a story, the narrative demanded a little more depth and subtlety.
Sarvam Thaala Mayam is more of a political statement about the need to set music free and break the conventional rules and discrimination that limits the access to many talented musicians.