Daivam Sakshi movie review: Suraj Venjaramoodu lends his name to amateurish stereotyping disguised as communal amity

Anna MM Vetticad

Mar 12, 2019 13:43:46 IST

0.25/5

(Our software does not permit us to give less than 0.25 stars in the graphic above. The actual rating assigned to this film by our critic is -10 stars.)

Language: Malayalam

When the closing credits of a film spell "choreography" as "corriography", it does not require much imagination to guess what went before. For evidence of Daivam Sakshi's extreme amateurishness, look no further than that misspelling.

To say that director Snehajith's film resembles something a kindergarten kid might roll out would be to insult kindergarten kids. Daivam Sakshi is not just a juvenile sermon on Hindu-Muslim amity that switches midway to Muslim stereotyping, the production quality is C-grade and it features the most insistent, meaningless, irritating background score I have heard in a Malayalam film in recent times.

The point then is, what is Suraj Venjaramoodu doing in this low-brow project?

Daivam Sakshi movie review: Suraj Venjaramoodu lends his name to amateurish stereotyping disguised as communal amity

Suraj Venjaramoodu in a still from Daivam Sakshi. YouTube screengrab

This is not a casual question. Too often we let character artistes off lightly for participating in rubbish, with the excuse that everyone has a home to run, loans to repay and so on. Sorry, that excuse should not cut ice here because Venjaramoodu, who seems to be in every second Malayalam film being made these days, sometimes in small roles and occasionally playing the lead, is clearly not short of work.

When the star of Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum appears on the poster of any film, he guarantees it attention. With great power, great respect from the audience and great critical acclaim comes great responsibility, Sir. Apologies therefore for not excusing you for lending your name to this rag called Daivam Sakshi.

Venjaramoodu here plays an autorickshaw driver called Sethu, a kind Hindu man whose Muslim friend Iqbal runs a shop selling pooja materials to devotees visiting the temple across the road. Iqbal's choice of business raises eyebrows among conservatives in both communities, a response that seems to surprise the gentleman and his wife. Their naivete is part of the film's effort, which lasts throughout the first half, to build up Iqbal as the golden-hearted stereotype of a minority community member seen in cinemas across the world.

Positive stereotyping is perhaps the most dangerous form of othering because it is deceptive, and in this case is a set-up for the rest of Daivam Sakshi that throws up that other Muslim stereotype, the currently prevalent one of the Muslim as a (potential) terrorist.

That all this comes in a Malayalam venture is surprising and disappointing, because one of the great things about contemporary Malayalam cinema is the extent of representation of religious minorities in stories. Minority community members are not treated as curios by Mollywood, but as regular people - good, bad, beautiful and ugly.

The team of Daivam Sakshi is clearly incapable of that kind of finesse, intelligence and open-mindedness.

The film's 'story' is nothing but a potpourri of plot points and clichés, it is abysmal in every technical department, and the editing is over-enthusiastic to the point of being laughable (just stop those pointless wipes, please).

The audio quality of Daivam Sakshi is so bad, it is shocking that mainstream theatres have actually given this film a platform. And then there is that poorly shot, terribly lit song and dance sequence in a nightclub that tries very hard to ape 'Entammede Jimiki Kamal' (the superhit from Velipadinte Pusthakam) to embarrassing effect.

I remember once writing in a review that Kerala is so beautiful, you could place a camera at any random spot and come up with spectacular frames. I was wrong. Daivam Sakshi has zeroed in on perhaps the only cinematographer in existence who could make even God's Own Country look unremarkable.

This is not "cinema", this is nothingness. Why did you agree to be a part of such nonsense, Mr Venjaramoodu?

Updated Date: Mar 12, 2019 13:46:51 IST