Anbe Sivam – Jewel in the Dinosaur’s Crown

Yaar Yaar Sivam…Nee Naan Sivam…Anbe Sivam.

That even lobotomized dinosaurs once made dazzlingly beautiful movies is easily apparent after watching Anbe Sivam.

Featuring the dinosaur Kamal Haasan and the nai-kutty faced Madhavan in key roles, Anbe Sivam is that rare gem of a Tamil movie, the bewitching aberration that makes its welcome appearance in the cooum hellhole of Kollywood once in a decade if we are lucky.

The highlight of Anbe Sivam is of course Kamal Haasan’s electrifying performance and a moving story that rarely flags, both elements conspicuously absent in this dinosaur’s recent repelling freakshow Dasavatharam (if you are wondering what happened to Kamal Haasan between 2003, when Anbe Sivam was released, and 2008, when Dasavatharam debuted, take it from us – either this dinosaur pawned his brains in the interregnum or the noxious Cooum gases short-circuited the synapses in his brain).

Besides Kamal Haasan’s non pareil performance and a compelling tale, Anbe Sivam owes its well deserved reputation as one of the highpoints of Kamal’s looong career to a tight screenplay that treats its audience with respect and outstanding execution overall by director C.Sundar.

What’s not to like about Anbe Sivam?

Speak now or forever hold your tongue.

Acting, story, screenplay, music, decent photography, enough display of skin in the fair-skinned Kiran Rathod to keep our flagpoles up – Anbe Sivam has ’em all and more.

C.Sundar, Kamal, Madhavan, Nasser et al have brought us an all sizzle and all steak movie in Anbe Sivam.

Absolutely riveting, like few Tamil movies before or after, Anbe Sivam carefully builds scene-by-scene upon the chance encounter of two strangers whose paths cross when their Bhubaneswar-Chennai flight is cancelled – an union leader Nallaร‚ย Sivam a.k.a. Nalla or Sivam (Kamal Haasan) and a querulous yuppie ad executive Anbarasu (Madhavan), who likes to be known as A.Arasu.

The hyperactive, suspicious, whining, snobbish, selfish, English-speaking ad executive Arasu stands in stark contrast to the gregarious, Tamil loving, helpful Sivam with the slow gait and a slower cadence, the limp and slow speech attributable to injuries sustained after a bus accident.

Much of the movie is narrated in flashback on a desolate railway station platform in Andhra Pradesh as the unlikely pair wait for the Coromandel Express to arrive and take them to Chennai.

The picture of the red-shirted, Marxist-leaning Kamal Haasan sitting on a bench on that deserted platform idly flinging stones into a puddle just before he takes us along on his journey into the past is one that’ll remain with us a long, long while.

As the movie tells us in flashback, Kamal Haasan was a labor leader Nalla Sivam who falls in love with the company owner’s pretty daughter Bala (Kiran Rathod).

The course of love never did run smooth and the violent opposition comes here in the form of Bala’s father Kandasami Padayachi, played as usual with elan by Nasser.

An average actress, Kiran Rathod is pretty but not dazzlingly pretty. She’s fair and she’s willing to show some skin – Tamil move fans seldom ask for more in their heroines.

Fortunately, the engrossing story and powerful performances by Kamal Haasan and Madhavan (but for stray scenes of overacting) compensate for any shortcomings in Anbe Sivam.

What would Kollywood be without those asinine fights that are a must to attract the acid freaks that make up much of the audience-base of Tamil movies.

So you have one absolutely nonsensical fight of Kamal Haasan routing a whole gang of thugs with only the humble umbrella for assistance even as his enemies fight with sickles and other weapons of individual destruction. But that’s a minor irritant in this gorgeous movie.

Mercifully, Anbe Sivam spares us from the second must-have disgusting element of Tamil movies – the pathologically pathetic Vadivelu or Vivek comedy track.

Just as Anbe Sivam is heading toward its denouement, director Sundar throws in a nice twist adding to the movie’s allure and raising its entertainment quotient manifold.

In a Kollywood choc-a-bloc with buffoons like Ajith, Vijay, Simbhu, Cheran and Vishal, Kamal Haasan – his recent Dasavatharam nonsense notwithstandingย  – still stands out as a rara avis.

Now if only this dinosaur could fly again.
N.B.: After frequently encountering outright theft by Tamil film-makers, we’ve to add the caveat here that we haven’t checked whether Anbe Sivam is yet another instance of plagiarism but there’s some negative buzz on the Internet about this movie.

If you live in the U.S., Anbe Sivam can be rented from Netflix. Need we even say that we strongly recommend Anbe Sivam.

23 Responses to "Anbe Sivam – Jewel in the Dinosaur’s Crown"

  1. gandhiji   September 30, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Said to be loosely based on Planes, Trains and Automobiles.. but not as blatant as some of the other movies, I think. Responds:

    You write: Said to be loosely based on Planes, Trains and Automobiles

    We were aware of that but didn’t mention it explicitly (although we hinted about it when we talked of some negative buzz on the Internet about this movie in the Nota Bene section) because we have yet to see Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

  2. mallukuttan   September 30, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Thanks a lot searchindia guyz! At last, you reviewed +ve (just kidding, you are the best ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And what i request you is to add Swades and Iruvar to your netflx Q ๐Ÿ™‚ As you guyz are prakashraj fans and me a mohanlal fan, it might be a treat for both of us ๐Ÿ™‚

    And about this movie, yes, one of the gems among the piece of shit. I found Hey Ram interesting as well. Kamal hassan is disappointing everyone by delivering “worser than bollywood crap” script in dasa. Waste of money, time and tallent. Here, a good movie was made, and was bombed @ BO (i think?) miserably. Pity ourselves. Has to admit that Kamalhassan is the best, but he is inconsistent. But cant blame him, craps like DASA is want tamilians want, Paithyakaran Rajni proved it! And he is proving it! And how long he will survive with the wig? OMG, hope he is not planning harry potter (tamil) ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    And i would like to see Subrahmaniapuram review. Nothing great, but it’s fine movie to watch.

    And r u guys lazy nowadays? Rock on Review? ๐Ÿ˜›

    Just joking. Jai searchindia. Peru kettale summa athuruthulla ๐Ÿ˜› ( ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Responds:

    Rock On was released during the Labor Day weekend…We didn’t want to brave the heavy traffic. Subsequently, we got preoccupied with other movies.

    Let’s see if we can get Subramaniapuram at the Indian grocery store.

    We should be having Swades & Iruvar in our collection. Otherwise, there’s Netflix.

  3. StrYngLad74   September 30, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    The movie is indeed loosely based on “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, especially when you consider that both movies have two strangers with different and opposing traits forced to journey together due to transportation malfunction. Diego Rivera’s controversial “Man at the crossroads” mural (due to Communist depictions) at the Rockefeller center in 1933 was also imitated in Anbe Sivam.

    That said, the movie is ‘paisa vasool’ (money’s worth) merely for Kamalahassan’s interpretations of God. Very profound and deep. Responds:

    We enjoyed it….will probably rent Planes, Trains, and Automobiles to see the extent of similarities between the two movies.

    Wonder how much credit ought to go to director C.Sundar?

    In a Kamal Haasan or Rajinikanth movie, the director is ignored unless he’s someone of Shankar’s stature.

  4. bhaceg   October 1, 2008 at 11:16 am

    what pleasure do u derive from calling kamalhassan a dinosaur? [Trash Talk] kamal fans ll be feeling the same when u call him a dinosaur..A few bad movies ll not make some actor a dinosaur..if u want tat loooong list of his good movies then i ll give you tat..go and watch those first…the u ll understand the real calibre of kamal..

    michael madana kamarajan
    aboorva sagothirargal
    devar magan
    kuruthi punal
    avvai shanmugi
    oru kaithiyin diary
    Pathinaru Vayathinile
    Sathi Leelavathi
    Maro Charithra
    Sigappu Rojakkal
    Simla Special
    Moondram Pirai

    he s the only actor in india to have received 3 national awards.. Responds:

    If you could only extricate your head from Kamal Haasan’s derriere, you’d have realized that this dinosaur is not so worthy of admiration.

    Look at the number of Kamal Haasan movies/scenes that have been ‘inspired” by Hollywood/foreign movies. Read the various comments on the Dasavatharam review.

    Kamal Haasan, like most Indian film stars, is a shameless beneficiary of theft.

  5. mallukuttan   October 1, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Kamal hassan’s Hey Ram was also inspired? Is his upcoming project MArudanayagam inspired?

    He is the better of the lot! You gotta agree that!

    I am his fan, just because, he know to do sensible movies.

    ๐Ÿ™‚ And if you consider plagiarism, you’ll get 70%+ of the top movies filtered ๐Ÿ˜›

    He is definitely one of the gems among the trash. Nothing great to boast about ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. navaraj   October 9, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    I too am a BIG kamal fan. his HEY RAM was inspired by the real life story of Nathuram Godse……… Responds:

    Do not post the same comment twice. We usually process (almost) all comments.

  7. StrYngLad74   October 13, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    I have to wonder if these FANBOYS of Kamalahassan ever note these facts:

    a. Even though he has the “distinction” of being the actor with the most number of films submitted by India to the Academy Awards, NOT ONE of his movies has been nominated yet. I believe only ‘Mother India’, ‘Salaam Bombay’, and ‘Lagaan’ have had that distinction.

    b. Despite his FANBOY-proclaimed ‘BEST ACTOR ON THE PLANET’ status, he has not been invited to act in a SINGLE foreign film. Never mind that Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Irrfan Khan, Tabu have acted in at least ONE critically-acclaimed foreign film (UK, USA or other), even Gulshan Grover (seriously…Gullu??) has acted in a fair-share of Hollywood films. Looks like someone really needs to re-think his “Ulaga Nayagan” tag.

    c. He has (to the extent I have researched) NOT received any recognition from any foreign nation or institution for his acting prowess or artistic contributions. Sivaji Ganesan (Chevalier), Om Puri (Honorary OBE), Satyajit Ray (Oscar- Lifetime Achievement) have duly received theirs. Did someone say “Ulaga Nayagan”? Responds:

    The Tamil worldview is narrow.

    When Tamil audiences look at Kamal Haasan, their acting frame of reference is Suralirajan, Ajith, Vivek, Simbhu, Vijay, Vadivelu…Well, we suppose compared to these cartoons, Kamal Haasan does seem like a Ulaga Nayagan.

    Dasavatharam is an ugly joke, a cruel trick played on fans.

    In Bollywood, the irony is that talent has always been relegated to the fringes. While Naseeruddin Shah, Kunal Khemu, Irrfan Khan, Om Puri, Tabu, Shabana Azmi et al are pushed to the periphery, buffoons like Abhishek Bachchan and Tusshar Kapoor occupy centerstage. JFK was right – Life is unfair.

  8. gandhiji   October 13, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Speaking of Sivaji Ganesan.. Daniel Day Lewis and his screaming and overacting remind me of Sivaji. Responds:

    Sivaji Ganesan at his comical best – Hitler Umanath & Pilot Premath (his co-star was the Sri Lankan actress Malini Fonseka).

  9. shuaib68   October 14, 2008 at 2:12 am

    What was the story behind him being awarded the so called “Chevallier”? for what did he get that for?

    SOme of his late 70’s & 80’s movies are horrible to watch. Too much sentiments and over acting. Vivek imitates the man comically at best.

    In that sense I have seen some B&W movies of 60’s of Nagesh. He performs very well. “Sarvar Sundaram, Major Chandrakanth” are lovely movies with unforgettable songs. Jayalalitha was gorgeous in Major Chandrakanth.
    I love the song “Oru Naal, Yaaro, in the paadal solli thandaaro” (P.Susila) Responds:

    You write above: What was the story behind him being awarded the so called “Chevallier”? for what did he get that for?

    Following excerpt from Wiki:

    [Sivaji Ganesan] was awarded the title of Chevalier, the Order of Arts and Literature by the Ministry of Culture, Government of France. This is one of the main decorations of the French Republic which is conferred to honour the most original and talented personalities, for their remarkable contributions in the field of Arts and Literature in France and all over the world. On 22nd April 1995, at a glittering ceremony held at the MCA stadium, Madras, Dr.Sivaji Ganesan was presented the Chevalier Title and Medallion by the French Ambassador to India Mr.Philip Petit. Ms.Jayalalitha, the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest of the function.

  10. shuaib68   October 14, 2008 at 4:19 am

    Oops! He has some achievements! I must respect Sivaji for that.

    Mudhal Mariyadhai is a movie I still love to watch. It’s memorable performance by Sivaji. I have a VCD in my collections.

  11. StrYngLad74   October 14, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Shuaib and Gandhiji,

    Trust me…I am not a Sivaji fan at all. My grandfather just couldn’t get enough of him, and I (like you two) called him out for what he is- a hamming over-actor. However, my grandpa did say that he being brought up on the old theater scene (without mics and technology) had to resort to loud monologues and exaggerated expressions, which he couldn’t eschew for subtle mannerisms when it came to movies. With all due respect to his talent, his inability to tone down his histrionics when transitioning to the silver screen is his biggest drawback. However, I’d be damned if “Mudhal Mariyadhai” and “Thevar Magan” aren’t two of his most restrained and best performances of his career.

    As for Daniel Day-Lewis, his performance in “There will be blood” was indeed over the top, but his style of method acting is simply one of the best in the field. His ability to slip into different characters in each of his movies is amazing. Check out “Last of the Mohicans”, “Gangs of New York”, “The Crucible”, “My Left Foot”, or “In the name of the father.” Each character in those films is a uniquely different entity to behold. Personally, I don’t see Sivaji Ganesan ever capable of being as repugnantly evil as Lewis’ Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting in “Gangs of New York.” Responds:

    Gangs of New York is one of our favorite Martin Scorsese movies though we are not sure if the movie did well commercially.

    The visual appeal of the movie and Daniel Day-Lewis’ bloody awesome act as “Bill the Butcher” Cutting make Gangs of New York a must-watch.

    We saw it on DVD…wished we’d seen it in the theatre.

  12. gandhiji   October 14, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Strong, young lad.. Trust your opinion. For some reason, I haven’t watched any of those movies you mentioned.. I think “My left foot” was featured in the first live oscar ceremony I have ever watched.

    Watched a few scenes from Gangs of New York.. thought his performance was over the top.. I probably should watch the whole movie to like/hate the character better.

    Did watch “The Boxer” a long time ago .. remember it as a fine movie.. I don’t remember his performance as being over the top in that one.

    Incredibly, he has acted in only 26 movies.. over 28 years.. but he raked in so many nominations and awards with just those 26 movies. His imdb bio entry makes an interesting reading.

    Mudhal Mariyadhai and Thevar Magan are two of my favs too.. SI, any plans to review them? Great songs. Responds:

    Unfortunately, Netflix doesn’t have both. They have others like Vasanta Maligai, Uyirintha Manithan (Sivakumar, i.e Surya’s father, looks comical and weird in this movie with his wide-open eyes), Ooty Varai Ooravu (Balaiah is absolutely hilarious in this movie…gifted comedian), Pasa Malar, Paava Manippu…

  13. StrYngLad74   October 14, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Actually, gandhiji, my id means STRAPPING YOUNG LAD :). It was a brilliant industrial/progressive/death/thrash metal band headed by the mad Canadian genius, Devin Townsend. It’s sadly disbanded now :(. Check them out if you do like heavy music.

    As for “Gangs of New York”, you absolutely must watch the whole movie. You will hate Day-Lewis’ character for his conniving, bigoted, brutal, and vicious attitude, and yet you will find yourself admiring him (just a wee bit) for his purported ‘warrior’s code of honor’ and the rare display of benevolence (which he discards as the movie progresses). I also recommend another movie of his- “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.”

  14. gandhiji   October 14, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    oh, never heard of them.. listening to them on youtube now.. They sound too extreme for my taste.
    But sounded good. He sounds so sane and calm in this video!

    Metallica is the heaviest that I like.. anything past that is unbearable for my already weak eardrums.
    Did you like the new metallica album.
    Is it just me or does it’s cover art..
    resemble a vagina.

  15. StrYngLad74   October 14, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Gandhiji, If Metallica is the heaviest you listen to, then I needn’t go any further. The new album was decent and better than St. Wanker and yes, the album art looked like a vagina :D. However, the album is another victim of the Loudness Wars where record companies are making the recordings loud at the expense of clarity and dynamic range. The drums still sounded a little bad, but a vast improvement over St. Wanker.

    If you find STRAPPING YOUNG LAD way too heavy, try listening to Devin Townsend’s solo work (Devin Townsend Band). Check out tracks on youtube like “Storm”, “Seventh Wave”, “Christeen”, “Nobody’s Here”, “Gaia”, “Fluke”, “Deep Peace”, etc. very melodic progressive metal (occasionally heavy), incorporating diverse elements including swing music. You’ll be shocked at the complete anti-thesis of SYL when you hear DTB. BTW, he looks like a mad scientist(with a “skullet”), doesn’t he? ๐Ÿ™‚


  16. gandhiji   October 14, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    thanks bro.. those songs do sound good.

  17. shuaib68   October 15, 2008 at 1:04 am

    Hey, StrYngLad74 Thanks,

    I must confess something here. I was a great fan of Sivaji when I was a kid and when I reached teenage as I grow up and having been able to watch others perform I felt that Sivaji was over acting in his movies, But I still watched most of his movies. There were some movies in which he looks comical with all those safari suits and all.

    Lately, I happened to watch a movie on TV (SUN TV) with my family. My son (11 yrs) started laughing at the costume worn at that time and he does not like that much to watch Sivaji movies because of too much sentimental scenes and lot of sadness.

    So, now at this stage I was forced to admit that he was doing extra in his acting. But nobody can deny his contributions to Kolly.

    My father and mother both are great fans of Sivaji. They rarely took us (Children) to see MGR movies. So, we were grown up to like more Sivaji films than anybody.

    Anyway, thank you for reviewing my opinion. Responds:

    You write above: My father and mother….rarely took us (Children) to see MGR movies

    Likewise here.

  18. vqtor   October 17, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Finally Sivaji learnt acting from Ulaga Nayagan (Artist of the Earth)
    That was the biggest award he can ever dream off.

  19. raghavan00   October 24, 2008 at 5:56 am

    How come I do not see any reviews on Telugu movies? They are as ridiculous as the Tamil and Hindi ones. Tollywood deserves a bash-up too.
    ( I am new to this blog and enjoy the reviews a lot) Responds:

    You write above: How come I do not see any reviews on Telugu movies? They are as ridiculous as the Tamil and Hindi ones.

    A big injustice, right?

    Although even we can endure only so much pain, we’ll see what we can do.

  20. moviefan   November 24, 2008 at 5:59 am

    Anbe sivam sure is one of the finest movie in Tamil. Fabulous performance by Kamal and Madhavan (I don’t know why you call him naai-kutti face. Post your photo, we’ll tell you how ur face is.)

    Dialogues in this movie are the real strength…. Be it spreading Atehism or Theism, dialogues are really good. Kudos to Madan. I love each and every dialogue that comes whenever an arguement pops up betwe madhavan and kamal. Responds:

    You write above: I don’t know why you call him naai-kutti face

    It was not an insult.

    Au contraire, it was an affectionate expression. Like when one Black calls another Black, Yo, Motherf*****, it’s actually a friendly greeting.

  21. oortcloud domicile   April 16, 2009 at 8:03 am

    naai-kutti face? lol. i heard from my cousins in chennai that they call him “thayir-sor madhavan”… fine actor. anbe sivam is one of my all-time fav. tamil movies along with pithamagan and few others. i wonder if you guys have reviewed madhavan’s “evano oruvan”. you may watch it here – [link deleted] Responds:

    You write above: they call him “thayir-sor madhavan

    Why? Is he a Brahmin?

    Unfortunately, Netflix does not have Evano Oruvan.

  22. oortcloud domicile   April 16, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    yep. i am one too.
    sad. you cannot suggest stuff to netflix? Responds:

    We doubt it but we’ll check later just to be sure.

  23. MAK   May 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Can you review Hey Ram?? Responds:

    Here’s the pre-SI blog review of Hey Ram.

    Of course, we’d do it differently but then the night shift coolie had/has a different style of working. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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