22 July 2017 | TejasNair
Socialism For Dummies. ♦ Grade D+
Sidhartha Siva's films often touch topics that no one else dares to. While his brilliant 2014 film "Ain" ended up being dust in the wind, his newest venture, a political drama, is just a long, unsolicited exercise on the basics of communism.
Krishna Kumar (Nivin Pauly) is a young slacker who considers himself a staunch believer of communism but lacks the determination or ideals of a true communist. He is a good for nothing fellow whose only motivation is improving his personal life even if that means not fighting for what's right. One day, just after creating a nasty plan to beat up one of their own party members, Krishna Kumar and Mahesh (Altaf Salim), his dim-witted sidekick, find themselves in a hospital. They were asked by the party to go there and help with a rare blood group for a wounded veteran communist also named Krishnan. What follows is Krishna Kumar's harried attempts to use his puny powers as a party member to display authority in front of the patient's kin and kith. Things go for a toss when he realizes that the person lying in intensive care is somewhat of a big deal...
The primary story occurs in a single, present day, whereas the parts that have some substance is in the backstory of Sakhavu Krishnan from the time he goes to a Kerala village in the early 80s to spread canons of communism and build a party/union to the time that leads to his current undesired hospital stay. While the narration successfully tries to showcase the current state of socialist politics in Kerala, it is the tried-and-tested elements that hamper the viewing experience. The introductory duologue between Krishna Kumar and Mahesh is not the most happening thing to start a film with. From then on, it's just below-average comedy produced primarily by Salim until the time when the film plays out Sakhavu Krishnan's awe- inspiring escapades as he challenges a couple of fascist plantation owners in an uphill Kerala village.
It is clear with Sakhavu Krishnan's backstory as to what the makers had wanted to convey, mostly to today's politics-inspired youth. The film uses Krishnan's activities as ways to educate its audience about real socialism. Thankfully there's no hint of nationalism here, but if the film works a little as it does, it's because of this middle part. Strong dialogues and interesting stunts involving fire torches are a pleasure to watch, but then again, the clock ticks for long here. It's a terribly long film (at two hours and 45 minutes) that gives much importance to background score and dialogues. The second half is again a stretch, shifting the focus to another episode that reiterates Sakhavu Krishnan's greatness.
Weighing the number of plot holes and issues with good points gives me a negative ratio, which is good. It is borderline preaching, in a way, but extra points for reminding us that politics is a part of all our lives since birth even if we are not interested in it. It's absolutely true.
Pauly is good as the lead protagonist. Most of the audience are going to able to complete watching this film because of his charm. Altaf is an average comedian who will need to work harder if he intends to stay. Supporting cast do not have much to do, and so do the actresses. It stumps me how they cast Aishwarya Rajesh in such a prominent role. Her haphazard dialogue delivery aside, her acting skills are below par, especially when she has heavier frames to handle. Gayathri Suresh is a puppet while Aparna Gopinath comes out directly from the ABCD (2013) sets. However, it was good to see underdogs being cast.
Although with a weak start and a less weaker end, Sakhavu as a film manages to entertain sporadically. There are some good scenes here and there, but as a whole, it does not pass muster. Despite Pauly's above-average performance and the seasonal ingredient of communism, the film fails to grip its audience. Poor editing and clichéd plot elements are to be blamed. Nonetheless, it is still a better film than Tom Emmatty's Himalayalan blunder called Oru Mexican Aparatha (2017).
BOTTOM LINE: Sidhartha Siva's "Sakhavu" is a lengthy tutorial about communism, intended for today's youth who have a very short attention span. It does not really work, you see. Rent a DVD if you are into politics or are a Pauly fan.
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES