Something that I have observed during the course of this ongoing education called movie watching is that when characters are faced with loss or suffering or even an unattainable dream eventually tend to receive it in some form.
This as I see it, is to bring about balance to the character, the way in which this cycle happens can be as direct as a revenge drama or something as poetic and long drawn as Gollum losing it before the lord of the rings begins, only to hold it again in his last moments at the very end.
It here refers to the one ring of course.
(My god what a precious arc!)
If there is loss, there is gain; unless we are watching some harrowing tragedy. Which is a different topic altogether
This loss and gain, of course I assumed was a part and parcel of story writing and very noticeable, and this can happen to supporting characters as well and when done well, resonates.
Let us now come to Anbe Sivam, one of the few things we know about ad filmmaker Anbarasu is that he is currently in love and had lost his brother earlier in a cricketing accident; this at face value seems like a backstory to explain his nervousness around bloodshed; the fact that a character has lost his brother and is now almost about to get a new brother didn’t strike me till today.
(Slow mind eh)
Waitees, but Anbarasu doesn’t get a brother back!
His loss is not actually balanced, he almost gets a brother back. Difference, small yet key to this post.
Waitees again, we are still with Anbarasu; there is again a disturbance at balance.
An unknown kid caught in a horrendous train accident and fortunately shares the same blood group as Anbu; the blood is obviously the connect here since Anbu’s brother’s bloody death was in many ways the biggest loss that Madhavan’s character has faced (or at least this is what the movie tells us)
In a usual film of course this would have been the balancing point, matching blood groups and saving the kid which will make Anbarasu overcome his fear and grow for the later part of the film.
Waitees, but Anbarasu does grow and become a different person through the course of the story but the outcome of these almost balancing points are exactly the opposite of the usual.
Nalla (Kamal) doesn’t stay and fill the void of a fallen brother nor is Anbu’s blood enough to save a boy’s life.
Summary: so you have a structure or a road-map , you almost reach the end but then turn the other way; this I see it as a way to introduce some amount of randomness, even if controlled into the story.
A point where the screen writer knows what should be done next if the film is to take its usual course, but doesn’t (want?) do it.
I imagine at these balancing points, the writer putting down his hand on the table, hoping the pen would somehow write down the next few words.
It is amazing. Really.
I guess that this didn’t strike me on previous viewings because I was not looking for it and of course there are other very fulfilling themes in Anbe Sivam which is why it has endured for me.
Small addition to this ‘aberration’ from usual is the name of Poun, which here denotes two characters, one of course is the street theater artist who dies in the bus accident which also disables Kamal, and also the aforementioned small kid who mumbles the same name.
Again the lead comes close, but doesn’t quite make it.
Doesn’t quite get what he is wanting.
Important to note that Anbe Sivam is not a tragedy.
While loss is not balanced by gain, loss by itself is not tragic, whenever a character in Anbe Sivam gives away or loses something it feels heroic and it feels real because there is no return of this ‘giving away’ much like in real life.
Real life doesn’t have the comfort of a writer’s balance. Real life is really random but filled with common folk out there making choices beyond their imagination.
Maybe the film is about giving after all.How else would we experience Anbu?
Maybe, we are just over-reading as usual, let us know what you think.