I finished watching this fairly recent movie “Kancheevaram’ and it has to be one of the saddest movies I have seen in a while. If you have not watched the movie yet, I would advise you not to watch it f you are finding your life depressing at this time. This is not the best to movie to see if you had recently lost your job, or if you or someone you love has fallen ill or any other kind of sadness has struck you in recent times. Wait till things get better, as it always does. Once you get to an emotionally happier, more positive place in life, watch this movie. Yes, delay it if need be, but make sure you watch it. This is one of those painful sad stories that show you how cruel fate is sometimes. But its also the kind of move that makes you remember the high points of life and how fragile they really are.
Kancheevaram, is a period movie, set in the British era Tamil Nadu. Kancheevaram is the original name of the city now called Kanchipuram which is sill one of the best places in India to buy beautifully ornamented silk clothes. The movie focuses on a silk saree weaver whose one single wish in life is to own a silk saree. Named Vengadam, he spends his entire life trying to weave a silk saree for his daughter’s marriage. Silk sarees were considered one of the priced possessions in old times and it continues to be a symbol of wealth in Tamil Nadu even today. Due to low wages, powerful monopoly and sky high prices, the much desired garment is kept out of rich from people like Vengadam who weave these handcrafted luxuries. Even though a weaver can create hundred od silk sarees in his lifetime, he cannot afford to buy a single one even if he saves his earnings for a lifetime. Needless to say, Vengadam wages an impossible battle. After multiple failures, in desperation he starts stealing a single thread of silk everyday from work to weave the intricately designed saree. After years of painstaking work, he comes close to his dream and then quickly everything falls apart. I don’t want to reveal the ending, but its more tragic than I would have preferred.
For a guy who is always expecting bad things to happen around every corner, It was revealing for me to know what real tragedies are. Looking at Vengadam’s life, it was clear to see what really constitutes hardship. He is poor but hopeful. He works hard and does not give up, even though he knows at corner of his heart, he is destined to fail. The public is constantly on him, eagerly waiting to see how he manages to provide his daughter that which is certainly out of reach for people of their kind. Although everybody did an excellent job with their roles, Prakash Raj, who has turned in impressive performances before, steals the show as Vengadam. Whether being elated at the thought that he would definitely finish the saree in time for the marriage or when he finally realizes that his life’s work fell heart-breakingly short Prakash Raj brings forth true emotions that easily captivate the viewer. The movie itself is wonderfully produced and the picturization is masterclass.
One of the side notes of the movie was the causes and early roots of communism in India. Although we have made great strides in uplifting the working class, it is also sad to see that the suppression of those old days is still being done in some rural parts of India. There were many sad moments in the movie, like Vengadam’s wife’s unsatisfied desire and his communist mentor’s death, but the saddest thing about the story has to be Vengadam himself. He failed at everything he wanted to do and there is no one to comfort him. Worst of all, he is still alive. There is nothing sadder than a man imprisoned in his own life. Like I said, this has to be one of the saddest movies I have seen in recent times.
In an industry full of over the top masala movies, may be a few beautiful tragedy is the cure.
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