Kadaisi Vivasayi (2022), meaning the last farmer, will surely impact you. It follows a slice of the life of an octogenarian farmer who leads a simple yet fulfilled life. The current trend in Kollywood is to show how noble and difficult the plight of farmers is, so I was expecting an emotionally draining film here, but Kadaisi Vivasiyi was brisk and fun to watch. Known for realistic films like Kaaka Muttai (2015), director M Manikandan has made this one too with little cinematic cliches. Please don’t miss this film, it is available on Sony Liv and gets a Ripe rating from Mangoidiots.
The film starts with the timeless devotional song on Lord Muruga “Karpanai Endralum” sung by Thiru T M Soundarrajan playing in the background. In the foreground, we witness the daily routine of Mayandi, who owns a small patch of farmland on the outskirts of a hamlet. Mayandi is an elderly single man living in a simple house with no modern amenities. We experience him feeding his two bulls & chickens, walking to his land to water the crop(s), having his lunch, walking back home and on the way buying vegetables & groceries to cook his meal, eat his dinner and sleep. Being a cinematographer himself, the director has choreographed this sequence brilliantly, a masterclass for budding filmmakers.
The next character is Ramaiah, a youngster who is heartbroken after losing his lover. He is leading a nomadic life, walking from one temple of Lord Muruga to another. Vijay Sethupathi has brought to life the character of Ramaiah very well, who is seen wearing many layers of shirts, each in a different colour, and many wrist-watches – this costume choice is to showcase his carefree lifestyle which works well – the costume designer has done a fine job here. Ramaiah’s introduction scene in the local teashop communicates his mental state effortlessly.
In Indian cinema, it is common to show the judiciary and law enforcement to be heartless, but here we see a modest police constable (PC) and an affable local magistrate. The PC inadvertently files a case against Mayandi, which leads to an innocent Mayandi being put behind bars, but the PC never mistreats or is arrogant towards Mayandi – probably out of respect due to Mayandi’s age. On hearing Mayandi narrate the incident, the local magistrate gets impressed with his simplicity and compassion, making her take a special interest in his case.
The story had no identified bad guys, which makes compelling storytelling difficult, but the director has succeeded in keeping us engaged. Thankfully, the screenplay didn’t come out like a moral lesson anywhere. I liked the way Ramaiah’s character was handled in the end, with absolutely no heroism given because it was cast by a popular hero (Vijay Sethupathi). The climax which came after a twist was lovely and heart-warming.
It feels sad to learn Mr Nallandi, who has acted as Mayandi was not alive when the film got released – it was made four years earlier but got delayed. If he was alive, he would’ve surely won many awards for his effortless acting.