You don’t need a set-off or several years to bring a change in your character. A single day or a complete stranger whom you have never met before in life can do that for you. Sidhartha Siva takes this simple concept and converts to a neat movie in Sakhavu. Sakhavu tells the story of a young opportunistic and self-centered comrade Krishna Kumar who visits a hospital on a morning to donate blood for a patient but the events on that day change his perception towards communism.
What strikes most about Sidhartha Siva’s writing is how well structured it is. He has high clarity on how he wants to knit the flashback scenes of the older comrade Krsihnan ( also played by Nivin Pauly) in between the events in hospital leading to the slow transformation of Krishna Kumar. Krishnan is a wonderfully written character as there is terrific build-up to the man even before he appears on screen. Sidhartha also does his transition from the off-beat cinema that he is known for to commercial cinema almost smoothly.
Nivin Pauly is at very ease portraying Krishna Kumar, the kind of role he is mostly used with. Its during his act as the comrade Krishnan where he gets out of the safe zone that people usually complain he is in. At first he looks little shaky especially giving you a feeling that he is trying too hard to look mature. But then surprisingly the performance keeps growing on you as the movie progresses. He brings out beautifully the internal conflicts of the character like when marriage comes in his life unexpectedly. He is quite convincing playing the old man too. Mass scenes is his forte like we saw in Premam and a particular scene where he is denied chairs in the manager’s room is whistleworthy. By the end of the movie when Krishna Kumar walks out of the hospital, Nivin Pauly had hit a home run.
Prashant Pillai’s background score almost plays the second hero in the movie as it has a resounding effect in invoking goosebumps in several scenes. Tamil Cinematographer George C Williams makes a grand entry in Malayalam. I loved where he placed his camera in a scene where old Krishnan’s friend tells Krishna Kumar that he looks like Krishnan and Nivin tilts his head to look at a mirror nearby. When Krishna Kumar arrives at the hospital and shouts at people, the camera lets you only notice Aparna Gopinath. Later when you realize who is the patient admitted, it zooms and shows you the old lady who was sitting next to Aparna but yet you didnt see before. This is the kind of output that you get when a director and cinematographer are in amazing sync. Among other actors, Althaf who plays Nivin’s friend leaves a huge mark and even scores above Nivin in some of the comedy scenes.
Sakhavu is not without negatives and its length of 2 hours 45 minutes won’t go well with most viewers. The action scenes are unnecessarily stretched and it is surprising the editor hasn’t acted on shortening those. An unbelievable action scene involving an old man whose body is half paralyzed tries to spoil the respect we had for the character. Sidhartha should really do something to cut that scene short in coming days.
Though Sakhavu has its heart at communism, the movies that ran to my mind while I was watching it were Vinodayathra, Usthad Hotel and Ayalum Njanum Thammil. All these also told stories about how an immature youth gets inspired and changed from elders or others around him. Not as lasting mark as the other three , but Sakhavu also lets you leave from the cinema halls giving something to ponder about. For the young comrades out there, the movie could stir their thoughts even further and longer. As for Nivin Pauly, Sakhavu once again re-affirms his stature as a minimum guarantee hero, at the same time making giant strides as an actor.