Rajiv Menon is back in the direction game 19 years after the release of Kandukonden Kandukonden, way back in 2000. Sarvam Thaala Mayam is a musical drama with GV Prakash playing Peter Johnson, the son of a poor musical craftsman who gets inspired by a veteran mridangam legend (played by Nedumudi Venu) and dreams of striking it big in the demanding, orthodox world of Carnatic classical music.
The theme is quite delicate as it involves showcasing two diverse communities; Rajiv Menon passes the test with flying colours. He doesn’t take sides, doesn’t portray one section of people in demeaning light and puts forth an inclusive message that Carnatic music is a universal ocean which is not just meant for the forward communities. That Rajiv knows the Carnatic music world and the Brahmin community inside out can be clearly seen in the film’s nitty-gritty and other little nuances.
GV Prakash turns out his career-best performance. Since he is a musician by birth, he must’ve got inspired by this plot and looks extremely natural and endearing on screen. Nedumudi Venu puts out a masterclass as the proud mridangam ‘vidwan’ who is rigid in his mindset but is progressive enough to accept Peter Johnson as his student. The guru - shishya angle works in a big way, and the emotions click resoundingly.
Kumaravel (playing GV’s father) is fantastic as always while VJ DD and Vineeth also impress with slight gray shades in their role. Popular Carnatic singer Sikkil Gurucharan has a punchy cameo which he plays with panache; Unni Krishnan and Srinivas also mark their presence when the film gets into a reality show routine. Aparna Balamurali is a natural beauty from Kerala and catches our eye with her subtle performance skills. Her romance track doesn’t stick out from the core plot too much.
The fact that GV plays a Thalapathy Vijay fan gives the film plenty of gallery pleasing scenes which are sure to excite Vijay’s fans. The ‘Peter Beatu Yethu’ song has been filmed in a lively manner and will mesmerize Vijay’s fans. In plenty of frames, one can spot a Vijay reference as a prop.
A.R Rahman puts to rest all doubts and worries that he may have lost his mojo. He has clearly been inspired by the musical genre and his longtime confidante Rajiv Menon, and delivers lovely songs like the title track, ‘Dingu Dongu’ and ‘Maya Maya’. ‘Varalaamaa’ is a lilting melody composed by Rajiv Menon himself. Rahman’s fine understanding of re-recording also aids the film’s cause. It’s a memorable outing for the legend.
The film does have its minor drawbacks like the all too convenient reality show plot device, and some overly dramatic sequences involving Vineeth, Venu, and GV. But the feeling while coming out of the theater would be one of satisfaction and happiness that the underdog has made it! The film is likely to particularly impress the so-called ‘class audience’.