7 Am Arivu – Keppaila nei!

We should have known from all the promotional activity of the film that is going to be some sort of rhetorical hogwash trying to ride on the legacy of some strange fact in history.  It is the story of the (scientifically constructed) revival of a 16th century warrior/ saint/ medical practitioner (5th- 6th century AD – as promptly corrected by Muthukumar – Edit made on 30 Nov 2011.).

I generally abstain from bringing in film theory into my writing (though I am more convinced by the day that I should). 7 Am Arivu, however, is by far the best example of what Marx called false consciousness. In very simplified form, Marx’s argument that the proletariat is always kept in a state of false consciousness (of a fair treatment in society) to ensure status quo in a capitalist economy is the premise of most Marxian film criticism.

Spoiler alert: on @Psankar’s request!

Bodhidharman – the Tamilian Superman

7 Am Arivu (the Seventh Sense) begins with a (heavily opinionated) documentary film about Bodhidharman, a 16th century prince who has mastered multiple forms of art, who was sent to China to save the country from the evil. He goes there and saves a village full of Chinese from a deadly disease. He also fights a single-handed war against invaders and protects the country from them. He goes on to become Damo, the father of Shaolin and Kung Fu and hypnotism and such other.

The first 10-12 minutes are showered with generous references to veeram (valour), nermai (honesty), mariyadhai (respect – for elders), thiramai (skill) and such other attributes that established Bodhidharman as god and Tamil-ness as godliness.

Udal mannukku uyir Tamizhukku

After a few decades, 7 Am Arivu has brought back the blatant Tamil rhetoric to cinema. Throughout the film, practically everyone (apart from the Chinese villain and his Indian support) talk in immense pride about being Tamil. Suba (note that it is not the north-Indian Shubha) talks in details standing inside a museum in front of ancient weaponry about “nijamaana Tamizhargal” that only our ancestors are. However, it is important to note that the name Suba Srinivasan and her clearly upper class looks leave out the Dravidian rhetoric out rather tactfully. Also, the professor who first supports her and then turns out to be a traitor is one ‘Mr. Rangarajan’.

Convenient Tamil-ness, perhaps!

The scene where she meets big heads about her thesis on DNA research (written over 1000 years ago) based on scriptures by a Tamil man is carefully carved to get whistles from the audience, purely tickling their (inferiority and) superiority complexes about being Tamil. The exaggeration of her desire to speak in Tamil, her being ill-treated for being young (but noticeably not ill-treated for being a woman), and the tangentially equating Tamil – the language – to a monkey Vs. English – to a man all go on to prove the total lack of premise for the film to rest on. There is also a lesson on – remaining in India (and not moving abroad) in the end of that scene. Wonder if the director didn’t consider that Bodhidharman was an NRI himself!

Aravind, played with a lot of conviction by Suriya, also reads out pages about Tamil culture throughout the film. The scene in the forest where they all decide to bring back the Bodhidharman in Aravind is a loosely written ideological discourse. References to Ealam and the war in Sri Lanka are totally out of place and more importantly, trivialise the situation in Jaffna. I hope 8 Am Arivu won’t be a story in Sri Lanka!

China is the new Pakistan

The most shameful of all things about 7 Am Arivu is the use of ‘China’. Suriya saving India from the Chinese is no different from the Arjuns and Vijaykanths who saved India from Pakistan.

Bodhidharman (as the film itself says) went to China out of volition and chose to train the Chinese against training Indians in Kung Fu. After a thousand years and more, the Chinese waging a biological war against India is such a disgusting connection drawn by the most flimsy thinkers of our time.

Bringing a Chinese man to kill a helpless woman in some corner of the Tamilnadu and portraying him as a monster is such stereotypical load of crap. The Chinese paying Rs. 300 Crores to one man who is helping the Chinese kill a researcher does not sound much of political warfare to me. Even worse, there is a scene where Suba says (something to the effect that), “Ungalaala mudinja Indian army kuda sanda podunga da. Yen da makkal mela ipdi noya parapparinga?” (If you can, fight our Indian army. Why are you spreading diseases among the people?) Director does not read history unless it is less that a 1000 years old, I gather!

The censor board has gone out of the way to mute the word ‘Government’ after every time someone says ‘Chinese’. Good effort, I must say. But the scene where Dong Lee (the infamous Chinese villain in the film) is introduced, there are men in blazers and uniforms sitting around a table plotting the complete surrender of India to them. Does the censor board think that was all right for our bilateral relations? Really?

The woman is a manipulator

Suba, played by the synthetic Shruti Hassan, is the only woman character to speak of in the film. She is doing some sort of research in genetic engineering.

Through the first half of the film, Suba follows Aravind, collects samples of his blood, and uses him as her research sample without his own knowledge. Strangely in Tamil cinema, such people happen to be women, especially when they use ‘love’ as a weapon against harmless men. Why didn’t the writer see the researcher as a man – a brother, a friend, a father figure or some such?

One day when he finally finds out that he was being used for research (even when he has no idea what research it is), Aravind feels cheated and sings a song that is the peak of Tamil rhetoric about women. We’ve seen a million like this. Just a few sample lines here.

Aanoda kaadhal kai regai pola. Pennoda kadhal kaikuttai pola.

Ponbalaiya nambi kettu ponavanga romba. Andha varisaiyil naanum ippo kadasiyil ninnen.

Vandhu ponadhaaru oru nandhavana theru. Nambi nondhu ponen paaru ava poo illa naaru.

In summary,

7 Am Arivu is a pretentious rhetorical disaster that tells the viewers what to think about themselves, what to take pride in and what to be like. The camera work is pleasant to watch, a few songs are interesting (though all of them misplaced in the film), the stunt work is gory (intended, I presume), the dialogues are pretentious (Shruti Hassan needs to take some Tamil pronunciation lessons too) and the acting (apart from Suriya’s) is average.

But what bothers me most is the fact that Tamil cinema is going down the drain with rhetoric, condescension and unfounded arguments. All (allegedly) thinking directors taking this easy route to success aches my heart. In the least, such trash should stop being pitched as world-class cinema.

7 Am Arivu – Keppaila nei!

48 thoughts on “7 Am Arivu – Keppaila nei!

  1. I completely agree with your last paragraph. There is a deluge of ordinary/tasteless/copied films becoming hits in the recent times. Directors like Murugadoss, Venkat Prabhu etc. are giving commercial hits and bringing the quality of overall films to very low standards. Good films with nice substance and more importantly originality (like thenmerku paruvakatru, azhagarsamiyin kudhirai, cheran’s films etc.) are getting affected by the marketing power and star-value of these bad (but hit) films. It is not possible for more Radhamohans to get created unless the producers and fans start supporting good films (like prakashraj) If there is a healthy proportion of bad and good films, it will be acceptable. However, most movies that get released these days are blatant copies of English/Japanese/Korean films. Velayudham went one step ahead and copied even a video game bit-by-bit (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXLJILhao5I ) Sorry for the long rant.

    சொந்தமா யோசிச்சு படம் எடுக்க வக்கிலாத இவனுங்க திருட்டு சிடில படம் பாக்காதீங்கன்னு நமக்கு அறிவுரை சொல்லுவானுங்க.

    1. Totally. I agree. But you know it’s not like all commercial films are bad films. Even Aadukalam was such a nice film. When copying Vietnamese or Korean films, it beats my logical abilities to comprehend how they can be made badly.

      Well, that velayudham copying a video game – roflmao!

    2. Saar ! Radhamohan oda Payanam was making a movie to the lowest standard. Imagine a scene where they round up the flight with each commando having a counterpart pointing a gun at each other. Hopeless…

      Ofcourse your point is taken. Everyone gets smitten by the commercial bug where they think they can get away with great promotion. Thats something we got from the bollywood makkal !

  2. ***I havent watched the movie yet but i was absolutely ok reading reviews coz it sets my expectations and removes the hype it intended to create***

    Came here thru multiple twitter references – and i dont think there is a spoiler in your review. The only good movie of Murugadoss was Ramana with Vijaykanth [can you believe that?]. I hated Ghajini for misusing Nolan’s creation.

    I think what Tamil film industry needs – like Selvaraghavan very clearly [and late ah] pointed out were screenwriters and Pre Production [Planning]. English padatha paathu copy adikkalaam .. konjam screenplay sense-eyum copy adikkanum.

    I am just afraid that i am going to skip 7Aam Arivu.

    That said, his production – Engeyum Eppodhum was absolutely enjoyable. Some Saving face somewhere in Tamil Film industry…

  3. I have seen this movie and read this piece here. Thought I would put in my opinion here. While reading your review I had one question in mind, did you watch 7am arivu treating it as a movie? because I did. I agree it is flawed, but why is everyone using a hollywood yardstick to measure its goodness. Use the one on tamil-scale. It was in 6th century and Bodhidharma was not an NRI. He was sent for a purpose according to the movie and not returning wasn’t to work for Microsoft. Heck, there was no India then, for your kind notice. And for your information, Murugadoss was right on the new Pakistan, China. You should read current affairs more before bashing him. China is already fighting a proxy war with India on multiple levels, the recent one being ranting on International forums about Indo-Vietnam co-operation for oil exploration in South China Sea. I am not criticizing you, just giving my feedback. Writing is a gift, but it can only be as good as its content.

    1. Devanaadh….You’ve just said what I felt while reading the review…! Ranjana, the review is good no doubt – I do enjoy criticism (when someone else is criticized – obviously ;) ) … but as Devanaadh here rightly pointed out, 7 am arivu is far better than many other ‘movies’ that do well @ the box office… All I cud say is, probably if murugadoss and surya had spoken a little less about the movie, it would have fared much better…

      btw…@psankar…radhamohan?! seriously?! how many more directors do we need to remake the father of the brides and the my big fat greek weddings for us?!!!!

      thanks for the good read though! :)

  4. U pointed it out!!
    I dont know what was inside Murugadooss’s head while writing such a stupid story showing ( leave china! ) even the buddhist monks as the villains!!!
    Is the censor board that much dumb!!

  5. rehan says:

    In this movie they didn’t show that buddist monks are villains, when villaian hypnotism doesnt work he calls his guru and clarifies the reason. The monk tell him to come back immediately, but the villain doesn’t listen. So friend nachiketha it seems that you didn’t understand the movie. 7am arivu is good entertainer. I am a mumbai tamilian. In north people don’t know vijay, ajith. They know only surya. And in south indian states they know ajith and vijay but they have a question. How these two guys are in top position when vikram and surya is there. Surya is good actor and movie is worth to watch.

    1. Don’t mask the fact that they aren’t shown like villains because monks don’t talk directly about it! If the villain asks the monk means that monk knows about the operation previously itself!!
      However im not disagreeing that its not a good entertainer, and surya saves it in a great way by his great performance!

  6. Nagesh says:

    Couldn’t be reviewed better. The moview would have been better if it was cut only to the first 15 minutes and released as “Fakumentory” on discovery channel.

  7. Nithya says:

    I was confused whether my taste of movies went to the drain…oru poi ya 10 thadavai sonna unmaiyakathu…such a hopeless screenplay….

  8. doomsday says:

    t the screen play is bad. Agreed. But the review which has been made here is biased. Intentionally, the reviewer is trying to ridicule the maker of the film and most importantly about a real buddhist monk who hailed from tamil nadu. This reviewer also tries to make tamil people as inferiority and superiority complexed. Why is it hard to digest som historical facts as they are. What is the problem with the reviewer if tamil people take pride of the fact that bodhi dharma is a tamilian. How the hell is it miss placed to talk abt eelam tamils in the movie. Oly ur review is mis placed. The reviewer is havin a problem with the fact that ar muruga doss is tryin his part as a true tamilian to re kindle the sprits and hopes of tamil revival. Why is The reviewer is not comfortable with the fact that the indian spy is named mr.rangarajan:-)?. No prize for guessing. Its written clearly on the wall:-). To conclude, this review’s sole intention is to de fame the movie as much as possible:-).

    1. buddy… she has hit the nail right on the head when she talked about ‘rangarajan’ and ‘convenient tamil-ness’… many of the tamil movie directors are fans of convenient ‘tamil-ness’…sadly murugadoss isn’t an exception!

  9. doomsday says:

    the effort of murugadoss to show case the forgotten hero must be well received. Having said that, it is not a documentary. The movie has to be commercially viable to make it a success on all fronts. Its a decent mixture of commercialism and true history. This mix is far better than the masala mix of vijay movies.

  10. Tharak.......... says:

    “”””””””””Bodhidharman (as the film itself says) went to China out of volition and chose to train the Chinese against training Indians in Kung Fu””””””””””””””

    reviewer did not understand the story…………. man need to work on your listening and understanding skills ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, utter rubbish ………

    1. Kir says:

      Hahaha. Gots to agree with you Tharak. To the reviewer, you certainly seem like a very negative and unhappy person. I used to be a tiny bit like you. Till one day I got involved in the production of a shortfilm. And trust me since doing it, I have grown to appreciate film making even more. All we do is sit and criticize every bit of their films. But only when I got a feel of their jobs, did I know how freaking hard it is to even get one shot accurately. Even the shot of the hero getting off from his bed could take a million shots for a good one. Film making is no easy task. Perhaps you should try making a movie someday. Only then you’d know how much work is put into these films. Or you should just stop watching films. Be a little more appreciative, you could be a happier person then.

      And apologies if my reply sounded harsh or anything. Take care. :)

  11. Prashanth says:

    This movie was not made for entertainment, it used entertainment as a tool to deliver a good message, which I think stems from the frustration that Tamil Nadu could do nothing to stop the war in Eelam..It is true that Tamils do not know their history and the effort by Murugadass to realise that should be appreciated!

  12. Sujai says:

    I see why you didnt like the movie. Your problem was with traitor having the name Rangarajan. I’m sure you would have appreciated if Bodhidarma’s name was Rangarajan.

      1. Krt says:

        Because people whose names are like Munuswamy or TamizhVaendans or Joseph don’t hate Tamils and their language. Neither people with such names will support genocide. Mostly people with names Rangarajan, Ram, Subramaniaswamy, Ramaswamy, Raghunathan, Mukundhan, Parthasarathy, Iyengar, etc turn out to be Anti-Tamils. These people will take pride in being a Hindu but will not take pride in being a Tamil. Neither, they can tolerate other people taking pride in being a Tamil. Infact, we would have been happier if the director has named the professor character as ‘Ram’

      2. m says:

        Can you explain why the Professor’s name needs to be Munuswamy?

        After that you can explain how Sruthi looks “upper class”.

  13. doomsday says:

    sujai hits the bulls eye:-). But logic is bodhi dharma cant be named rangarajan even if the reviewer wished. Because rangarajan is a proxy name for lord vishnu. Lord vishnu was non existent in the culture of tamils in 5th century.

  14. Ranjani.. for once I agree with you. No more comments on the review. One of the worst things that stemmed out of the marketing is that comparing this to world cinema. Wish they at least saw a few movies that are screened in Chennai International Film Festival every year to know what’s world cinema. By the way, I also see a long list of celebrities, fans and Tamil aficionados trying to save the movie. I wonder why!!!

    1. For once, you agree, eh?

      International standards – I think they mean Hollywood. That is another whole load of rhetorical rubbish. Bringing a chinese villain and basing the story on Ancient history does not making anything international, no?

      The best ploy bu Murugadoss is hitting the ‘proud to be Tamilian’ chord! Damn good move. That way, who, I mean WHO can say anything against the film? You can be written off as an ass who is not proud of his identity! Just like the comments we both got on our posts! So, it’s the best bet for anyone to just say the film is great! Works well for everyone.

  15. boywithbrain.... says:

    well from my perspective the movie does have a nice message but a bad execution in every way. well i was expecting this movie to be a milestone for indian cinema yet falls hardly in the name of fame. the movie is merely a show off stating that even i(arm) can create a box office storm..first of all songs are not necessary in this movie and same goes to the romantic scenes where it ruined the movie flow. well as stated by the director where he had done research but it’s only for the part of bodhidarman and not the whole story. The scene which irked me was the dna matching which is above 80% which is scientifically not true as surya in that movie was the latest descendants of the saint and the probability of getting more than that should be the true blood of the saint…dna activation within 12 days is absurd and lame..another one is where talents which bodhidarma possess such nooku varmam(hypnotism) and martial arts are something that were learned by him and not acquired genetically and its impossible also..the part where everyone states that i am proud to be a tamilan is kinda biased and self arrogance..if yes it should be like wow you’re a tamilan well i am proud to see one…which comes out of others..we are proud of who we are but do others is feeling the same towards us that is very important…

  16. Athul says:

    The finest review of any film I’ve read in recent times. Especially important since the movie has its intentions all over the place, even venturing into provocative territory. Good one, and thank you.

  17. Thivya says:

    Wondering who has inferiority complex, and who has superiority complex. How do you have both? Truth be told, I have yet to watch this flick. However, this didn’t look like a review to me! It seems like the author has issues with the ‘Tamilness’ portrayed in the movie. Anyways, why is that Tamil movie has to be realistic and logical to be believed, but we have no problems believing in hobbits, red pills/blue pills, time machines, spaces ships, rt, etc.

    Ps: I hate remakes deeply and passionately. As long as 7am arivu is not a remake, I believe it needs to be defended for trying to do something differently.

  18. Dinesh says:

    Yesterday i saw the movie with my friends. This is a good movie. I am not a tamilian, but if a tamilian who wants to be proud of what he did then let him be. A stupid review like this is clearly shows that the author has issues with the ‘Tamilness’ .

  19. Balaji says:

    There is one thing which no one seems to have mentioned here: Not just Velayutham, 7am Arivu too is a copy of the same game- Assassin’s Creed. It just took me one look at the trailer alone to realize it. I even saw the film to confirm it(all the time hoping that I might’ve been wrong). Whereas Velayutham copied the lead character Altair’s costume(that too a rather ridiculous gay-looking copy; you must see the original costume, it’s awesome), the DNA thingy used in 7am Arivu is actually same as the device called “animus” used in the game. Surya’s character is same as the lead in the game, Desmond Miles; it is just modified to match our Tamil audience. Bodhidharman is Altair, except the former was from 16th century and apparently real, and the latter was from 12th century and fictional. Both the game and the movie have two groups chasing the protagonist: one is the heroine’s group and the other is the villain’s group. Basically, it went something like this: ARM saw this game, thought he could make a movie out of it, so he built a story around it and released it.

    So @Thivya, 7am Arivu is nothing different, it is your average copied-from-outside Tamil movie. As if we could expect anything else from ARM after Memento-Ghajini.

    All these aside, if there is one thing I hate more than a copied film, it is a film which is copied badly. With such a brilliant concept in hand, ARM could have made a great movie. Instead, he goes on to make what should have been a racy movie into a movie filled with unnecessary romance, bad fight scenes, etc. Seriously, when all those policemen in the movie were pointing their guns at their own heads, I wish I could’ve done the same, just to escape from the absurdity being shown onscreen.

  20. hemanth kumar says:

    all you people who critisize or comment this movie must understand movies are not made only for handfull of guys like you.its a huge medium.and there are other middle class sections around there for whom the movies are made.if you are so much fascinated with some hollywood movies and other korean movies then why do you people watch indian movies.any way about the movie its a good effort and you cant expect a logic in every scene(for ex:- some one mentioned how can one convert as bodhidarma with in 12 days take for instance in avarar a guys gets into a closed box and suddenly he turns into a alien when this is accepted why not this)and about the superior or inferior complex about tamil you must understand tamil was the few ancient language

  21. Nice post!
    I searched for ezham arivu stupid movie in google and reached your blog :-)
    Finally found somebody who shared my thoughts.

    I just can’t understand what people found in this movie to like. It was a waste of three hours!

  22. Krt says:

    Why Ms.Ranjani hate Tamil? What’s the problem in people feeling pride about being a Tamil? For Tamil haters like you, a person can feel proud for being a mother, for being a Hindu, for being a Managing Directory of XYZ & Co. and it is okay to feel proud of being an Indian. But the moment someone takes pride in being a Tamil, your blood will boil ? !!
    For people like you, genocide could be a trivial issue. But the civil population in the world cannot take it lightly. Let all Tamil movies pour out their anger against the genocidal government and it’s supporters.

  23. Nice review! :) The movie had a pathetic screenplay I felt. But the idea of Bodhidharman was pretty nice. Taking only entertainment into perspective, the first 30 mins was spectacular and the last 20 was engrossing. The ,message they sign off with is quite relevant though. The problem was the mid, a lot of dragging, idiotically placed song sequences. And the movie was a huge ad for IITM (not that that bothers me, being an IITian :P ) They got some places there wrong though.
    The mid-road fight scene was hideous, with wacky zombie references when the people spring out from the cars that ‘fly’.
    Tam cinema really needs some fresh minds. And people who can make the watch enjoyable! Movies like Aadukalam, Engayum Eppodhum, Aaranya Kaandam, they were class. :)

    1. Hey, I thought quite well of Aadukalam. And Aaranya Kaandam was a killer film! I am not so sure of Engeyum Eppodhum. But then, I did not watch it in a theatre, so did not review.

      The idea of Bodhidharman was nice. I’d have watched it if it was a 2.5 hour film about Bodhidharman and a real class act at that.

  24. Suryan says:

    Someone asked why we dont have problem watching/believing hollywood movies that talk about spaceships and the like. That is because the director does not market it stating it is the absolute truth and we go to the movie knowing we are going to watch bulls*** that we like. Here we were lied into going and watching a movie that said and spoke about everything here being the truth. Right from the fact that the great Bodhi was a tamilian (to whose lineage itself there is a huge debate, he is as much a tamilian as he is thought to be from 3 other nationalities as well, which has not been proven to date and probably never will) but according to Mr. Murugadoss it is the absolute truth that Bodhi was a tamilian. The movie is utter rubbish to put it very very mildly.

    Why in the world is the director trying to instigate the masses. Does he not realize that movie is a powerful medium and stars like Suriya can stir huge emotions. What is this crap about Tamil, Tamil, and tamil all through the film? The only thing I can make out of this is that the director had no strong storyline to fall back on and just wanted to bank on stirring the emotions to make it a hit. Now no proud tamilan would wnat to come ahead and tell the film was bad for obvious reasons. Sorry, I am a great fan of Tamil and a lot of tamil stars including Suriya. But this movie is pathetic to say the least.

  25. Vinothkumar says:

    first of all, i am a tamilian

    to pseudo feminist who degrades tamil

    take this

    i accept the screenplay not good, but whats wrong in being proud of tamil

    though bodhidharma not tamil, the shaolin definitely influenced from tamilian martial arts, almost all the southeast asian martials influenced from tamils

    silat, kali, etc

    go google yourself about fake “made in india” products manufactured by chinese to demolish india image at international trade

  26. arun says:

    Films like this spread superiority complexes among people causing communal problems. Surya, in the end of the talks as if Tamilians were all intelligent people and others ruined them! He blames conversion for all the problems. Really? Had India been stuck in the past what would be our state right now? Caste discrimination, discrimination against women, rule of landlords, etc… would have been the result!

    There is no proof that Bodhidharman was from India and the director is pretty much convinced that he is from India. In this age, where people tend to remember what they saw on theaters more than what they studied, directors gotta be more careful about the shit they show on screen.

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