Bala is god.
He’s not a god -one of the thirty three crore in Hinduism, he’s not god part of a holy trinity. He’s God. This is why his films are irreligious and sociopath. God makes human beings. HE creates from chaos. He creates chaos. Nietzsche wansn’t even scratching the surface of the parts of the psyche bala explores with impunity The narrative art of storytelling his only aid. Bala goes where he pleases like an ashwamedha horse(the sacrificial horse of the old) and where he touches life is created.
Bala is god.
Naan Kadavul is a film where most of the actors are mangled…Physically mangled .dwarfed twisted broken arms from dickensian abuse teeth rotted from premature age. Their idiot smiles reflect their mental underdevelopment the hunched backs of the women hold up their animalistic breasts. Yet these are actors. They’re not subjects of an exploitation film that has beautiful people clawing their way out of this rejected morass of broken humanity. This film is about the rejected morass of broken humanity, smiling and not wasting the precious minds they are given. (A dwarfed hunchback says dismissively of a peer “This ass thinks he’s Ambani” so someone asks “whose Ambani” so of course the dwarf says “a phone salesman”. It’s like that.)
And the film is about god descending from the burning ghats of Banares – an Aghori who has been taught that he is god(aham brahmasmi) by an guru (the Aghoris practice tantra , a sociopathic practice of hindu transcendence which includes cannibalism, necrophilia and consciousness enhancing drugs, and are worshipped as protecting gods in conventional hinduism ) to take up residence among the ruined temples of south India, among its refuse and crumbling civilization. A Shiva reminiscent of the hermit of kumari kandam, who lived in the jungles and presided over the fractious tamil chankam as a dancing hermit of destruction.
The epic narrative apart, this is an accessible movie full of relatable emotions from people you can laugh at and laugh with, people that are happy youre laughing at them if only because you often marginalize them out of your society and ignore them . you let them be preyed on by ruthless flesh traders who have no other means to do business than trade broken bones and mangled flesh.
And all this is a metaphor. The handicapped beggars are dressed as gods. Not gods in a temple, actors in a street play(the therukkuthu) .The Aghori that descends from Kashi rejects his family ties (is he a hermit?) and the armless living god talks to no one but him. The two languages the Aghori speaks are Sanskrit and violence. There are people from out of town (kerala) who buy and sell the handicapped beggars. The judge speaks Brahmin tamil, The policeman speaks the “OBC” tamil. Bala is discussing caste politics with a protagonist that has transcended caste and family. I see that Tamil Nadu is listening. More power to him.
The film is not just an intellectual exploration of religion and caste in society. It is a conventional hero – heroine villain film. Illayaraja’s musical score in it is awesome and supportive. Many sequences grip you for as long as bala wants to keep your attention.
(Ilayaraja with the handicapped actors in the film)
Yet it s not a conventional tamil filmYou sometimes catch yourself wondering if you’d sit and wisecrack with this bunch of misfit dwarves. If films are in the business of creating false memories, this set of false memories makes you a better person. The heroine is just not a masturbatory fantasy. Her deliverance is not marriage and a saree. It is death and consumption in a cleansing fire. The ultimate climax of a true melodrama. Epic death. (like robert bresson’s mochette’s). Bala , with distain , leaves out the best Song (the sruthi bedam song) from the movie. He has no need for it.
Post scriptum: There was once an artist, who in the quest of a statue said “if creative types want to to show the real India, they should make their own film.” The artist just got his wish.