Language : Tamil
Director : M. Manikandan
Writers : M. Manikandan
Cast : Nallandi, Vijay Sethupathy, Yogi Babu, Raichal Rabecca
Genre : Drama
Streaming on Sony LIV.
Director Manikandan’s films are synonymous with being thought-provoking entertainers where its message remains as the subtext without interfering with the main narrative. His latest drama, Kadaisi Vivasayi (transl. The Last farmer), follows a similar template by addressing a serious issue in a heartening manner.
The film revolves around Maayandi, an 85-year-old farmer who diligently goes about his job every day even when the people around him have given up on their lands for better prospects, making him the last farmer of his village. Kadaisi Vivasayi tracks a particular episode of Maayandi’s life where he’s forced to stay away from his land for a brief period.
Themes around the plight of farmers and their exploitation by corporates have been a dear subject to Tamil cinema in the last decade. Vijay’s Kaththi in 2014 set the trend and numerous films followed suit. While some of them were genuinely impactful, a majority of them failed miserably, thanks to their extremely preachy narrative and repetitive formula. And this is where Kadaisi Vivasayi feels like a breath of fresh air. It stays away from all the genre cliches and tries to tell a humane story that looks and feels genuine. There are scenes addressing the adverse effects of using hybrid seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers along with the current environmental impacts on farming, which draws a grim picture of the future of the profession. But at no point does this become the primary motto of the film and neither does it try hard to drive sympathy within the audience.
Manikandan’s screenplay largely focuses on keeping the events as realistic as possible. Right from the dialogues to staging, everything feels like a documentation of the regular day-to-day activities of Maayandi and his folks. It successfully manages to pique one’s interest towards farming in addition to instilling a desire to go back to your roots; when a character says ‘this is the most peaceful 2 hours of my life’, referring to his stay at Maayandi’s field, you feel every bit of his emotion. However, on the flip side, the film runs for almost 150 minutes which is a tad long for a film of this kind. Also, the relevance of the Vijay Sethupathy character to the plot is questionable even though he gets an emotionally pleasing pay off.
Among the numerous other positives of Kadaisi Vivasayi is its exquisite cinematography. Manikandan employs multiple wide angled shots to capture the beauty of the milieu along with its inherent calmness. The sound design plays a crucial role in keeping the realness intact. The cast, predominantly consisting of natives of the village, deliver believable acts. The late Nallandi, who played the titular character leaves a lasting impact with his honest portrayal.
Overall, Manikandan weaves his magic yet again through an earnest drama that is both thought-provoking and enjoyable.
Verdict– 6/7 stars.