I was wondering for a longer time than the usual, on why this movie ‘7am Arivu’ has been bestowed with such an amalgamated positive and negative reviews.
(For Bodhidharman’s sake please understand that the ‘am’ is not the one which religiously denote in time…no no…It’s not morning Seven Yae.Yem...rather it is the transliterated Tamizh equivalent of the apostrophised ‘s’ which means 7’s rather 7th to be grammatically correct in English. Pppaah…so tired of hearing people commenting about this as ‘morning 7 a.m arivu!!)
So, why all this commotion?
Mr Murugadoss, the director of the movie has taken some tremendous effort to bring technology based story into the Tamil films. What is expected out of it is mere appreciation and praiseworthy comments of the movie’s storyline being sublime and acknowledgement of such a futuristically modern work. But the mere conscience of the Tamil film audiences ceases to accept the uncanny effort and blame the director for such a foolishness of instilling some modernity and technology into the story. No wonder the directors are forced to concentrate on the ‘C’ class of audience in general.
The movie is all about how Bodhidharman’s martial art skills, who lived in the sixth century and his medical scriptures, are being used against India in the contemporary period, by a Chinese corporation to conquer India and bring under their control by initiating a Bio-war in the name of Operation Red and kill Surya, a descendent of Bodhidharman, who also has the similar DNA characteristics, who can be detrimental to their plan, if Shruti Hassan’s research in Genetic Memory Restoration that can bring back Bodhidharman’s skills and memory to Surya, if his DNA is resampled carefully. In a mission to kill Shruti and Surya & kick start the Bio-war, Dong Lee (Johnny Tri Nguyen) lands in India and hunts down each and every one of them. How Shruti and her team with their technology prowess act against him and save India is the crux of the story.
The movie touts and preaches openly about Bodhidharman and its associated Tamil history and why we should be proud about being Tamilian, which was promptly done by the first twenty minutes of the film, taking us to the 1200th century, enunciating who ‘Bodhidharman’ was. The scenes were set in a very historic period where Bodhidharman was portrayed as a well versed Martial arts warrior, a medical practitioner and a saint guru who travels to China from India after being blessed by ‘raj mata’.
The Chinese back score and the mention and clippings of Shaolin Temple kept me constantly reminding of the Tamil dubbed English movies (starring Jackie Chan, Jet Lee and all other Karate, Kung Fu themed movies) telecasted in Vijay TV every Saturday and Sunday. The high toned Tamil narration also fortified my essence of believing the movie into a documentary cut, which every local theatre in the city screens, before the start of the actual movie. After spending some 20 odd minutes with the past, which was more like an induction session for the conceptual movie and analogous to the contest setting session for the IT freshers, the movie snaps back to the present with ‘Ringa Ringa’ song.
Few good aspects of the movie persuade us to appreciate the contemporary theme and inclusion of scientific theories. – One of them being the storyline. A well set theme and the screenplay drag us to believe the same. The story is not another Tamil flick horrendously set in countryside or a village, having Heroines with oil laden, tightly plaited, jasmine loaded hair and dull dim-witted characters, unkempt and beard cultivated heroes in khaki trousers roaming on the mud roads or the Tamil cacophonies loaded with family sentiments and fights for maternal or paternal cousins or some village love fiascos and intimidations by cantankerous mamas. (refer Mayandi Kudumbathar, Nadodigal, Vennila Kabadi Kulu, Goripalayam genres of epic(!) movies. They have been crafted to be awarded direct Oscars sans nominations!)
7A is rather a story line supplemented with science and technology. Usage of Bio-war, Genetic Memory, DNA sampling, Hypnotism etc may sound too high for us, but the subtlety and brevity at which the story drifts along these outline makes you think in the lines of Hollywood.
Surya as bearded ‘Bodhidharman’ and as a circus acrobat has toiled to play his parts flamboyantly perfect to its role. As Bodhidharman, he amuses the Chinese villagers when he cures the ‘uncurable’ disease which spreads in the village and also when he ‘air bends’ and exhibits his unparalleled mastery in martial arts and mind control. His six packs speak more than himself. As a Circus acrobat, he charms us with his humour and slackness, in his falling for Shruti Hasan, as he steals, insults and gets insulted, runs, rides elephants and meticulously woos Shruti for her love, until he unveils the fact that she has been after him for a mission for one and a half years.
Shruti Hassan has done her part equally well as Subha Srinivasan, a genetic engineering student, but fails to sprinkle the charm potion on the audience. She has a manly demeanour and an awkward looks that she carries herself with in few scenes. She cannot be deemed that pretty though being hot. She teaches, preaches and handles KT (Knowledge Transfer or a mere ‘lecture’ for non ITs) most of the time on Bodhidharman and Tamil culture. Her dialogs incessantly make the movie appear more like a documentary in few scenes which is unavoidable. She talks a lot about DNA, genetics, fore fathers, Virus and many more biological and scientific terms.
She grabs every opportunity to handle sessions about how Tamil culture is being stained and shattered by Chinese and many other foreign intruders in her dialogs. She speaks a decent Tamil and bearable one without any ‘killings’ and fights for Tamil rights amidst the currently-living-in-the-foreign-land research professors in the conference hall. The argument that she takes forward with a professor who throws a cheap comment about her being a ‘Tamil fanatic’, could have been more ‘audible’ in the English sections. Those were muted out in the theatre. All we can make out is a ‘Bastard’ with her lip movement as the first word, before she fires up on him, in rage. I felt her reply was just a perfect slap.
The movie shows few clippings of statues of Bodhidharman in China. Few scenes were more focussed on how Tamilians are unaware of the great warrior Bodhidharman and a ‘public questioning’ on how Chinese were more knowledgeable about you-know-who (tired of typing again & again!) and how Tamil population is illiterate about him.
Public questioning in which, you know someone carries a mic and asks random people on streets – “You know Bodhidharman?” and many of the sleeveless’d-bespectacled-EA-AmpaSkyWalk-hanging-out chicks answer, “No no…*giggle*…hearing it for first time… *giggle**giggle* and few unkempt or sometimes well-combed-full sleeved-neck buttoned-tucked in pants pazhams would answer, “I don’t know Saar”. For the same question, the Chinese people get excited and answer few random words from the Wikipedia pages and some say ‘yeaaah…the great…saint…and…Kungu Fu man…Yaaa Hooo’.
Okay boss, we really do not know all this, unless someone dusts such persons or concepts from the shelves or even from ‘olai chuvadi’s and bring it to the limelight. But, why such an exaggeration is being puked on us? That was a mere insult to the audience. It simply makes us comment, “oath ugh, Day!” (Read it fast ;) ). For your kind information, we were even unaware of ‘Tsunami’ too until Kamal Hassan starring Dasavatharam happened sometime back and the real Tsunami itself happened sometime before in 2004!
Johnny Tri Nguyen is an imported one man army bad ass who mesmerises everyone he sees (Yeah hypnotism or rather Nokku Varmam as they say in Tamizh which has been taught to Chinese by Bodhidharma when he travelled to China from India!) He hypnotises, kills and wrecks havoc in the city and a havoc itself in prowl waiting to slay Shruti. He is THE VILLIAN who can just sweep you off your feet with his hypnotic eyes and brings your mind in his control. Few supporting characters pitifully die in a horrible manner. I should mention that Nguyen is a Vietnamese American film actor, stunt artist, stunt double and a martial artist and has worked in the movies Spiderman – 2, X-Men First Class, Mortal Combat and has been an actor in the movies viz., ‘Sledge’, ‘Cradle to the Grave’ to name a few.
Having the presence IIT Madras, a Genetic Engineering Lab amidst and a good bird’s eye view of the campus mentioning IIT’s campus as ‘a forest inside the city’ deserved a big round of applause. Merely showing the usage of iMac and iPhone4 was a nice attempt to portray the technical superiority of the subject in the movie :P. Aircel seemed to be the communication partner it seems, the Aircel banners were more explicitly brought to focus in many scenes (SIMs, Bus stand illuminated banners & so on). Having witnessed few scenes of this movie in the theatre, I could relate many other movies here – Shaolin Temple reminded me of the ‘Karate Kid’ where Jaden Smith & Jackie Chan walks up to the holy water and they observe a woman controlling a snake with her eyes and her movement, Surya browsing through Shruti’s Mobile videos, where she would have video-logged few of her tasks reminded me of the movie Avatar where Jack Sully video logs his experience and few of Surya’s martial arts moves reminds me of the ‘air bending’ moves from the movie ‘The Last Airbender’. Well, these are derived inspiration it seems!
Even after all this technological and mythological hoots, the movie slightly fails to get a thrust up in its rating which is required to surpass other competitors, as there were few glitches here and there, which really spoiled the sanctity of the screenplay. The songs were not worth the appreciations. They decelerated the pace of the movie. The romance was pointless between the leads. It actually ended before it started and for that, a blue melody song was inserted right into that place. Watte! It did invite obvious yawns. The hypnotism concept was used deliberately everywhere and every time and wherever possible, which lost its sense, leaving us in a state of obviousness acceptance. Apart from few subtle technological, political & logical glitches that might get unnoticed with the sequence of events and the songs, the movie is a definite watch for all technology lovers.
The camera and screenplay for the sixth century scenes and Surya’s body language with his martial arts is a definite ‘pat-on-the-shoulder’. The first half was satisfactory and slow but the second half picked up speed, seethed greater heights and glued us to the seats, finally ending in a interview which was supposed to be a part of the movie, but ended as a ‘convey-this-message’ kind of oratory by Surya with the director himself on the Camera, on how should women be prescribed the Turmeric Powder to be used as a Science and not as God and how should the idea of cow dung be used to clean the floor outside the house in the entrance, to be taken in a scientific outlook and not as a cow’s excretion!
A good attempt to strike a scientific chord but sans all those hypes and inspirational talks in the TV & over exaggerating ads in the radio, the movie would have crafted the winning symphony silently!
7am Arivu – Arivaligalukku Mattum!