Kadaisi Vivasayi (Last Farmer, Tamil) is an off-template Tamil movie that finds life's profoundness in living simple, and surely doesn't fail to stir the audience's thoughts slowly.
The movie follows Mayandi, an old farmer, who lives untouched by faltered developments that don't fit into his way of living. Mayandi is pure – in thought, word and deed – and true to his simple thoughts and profession. In one particular scene, he beautifully explains the significance of what is discarded as superstitious today, while questioning the attempt to cash on farming through unhealthy farming methods.
When the village decides to celebrate their god through a grand ceremony – a thiruvizha – it is with the motive of pleasing the gods to shower their fields with rain. The ritual of offering harvested rice to the god sees no farmer coming forward, because they all chose to sell their land to greedy realtors. Though Mayandi is offered similar wealth in return for his land, he doesn't fall to flattering offers, and ignores real estate businessmen who eat away the land that feeds them.
‘Panam vaangi enne panna, kattil la thalai ku vechutu padukratha?’ (What will I do with the money? Simply rest on my cot for the rest of the days?)
The responsibility of offering the first, freshly harvested rice to god is now vested with the old man. The plot revolves around how he completes the feat, despite being falsely booked under a case and put in jail.
While Mayandi is the unorthodox protagonist, the film does well to capture other sundry characters in the village milieu. One such character is Ramiah, played by Vijay Sethupathi, who comes across as a madman in the beginning. But we soon see that it is not just his costume that is layered but his very character, which a few layers down is of someone who’s realised the Supreme Truth. In a startling moment, when he is asked who rules over Tamil Nadu, he answers ‘Lord Muruga’. With every word that he utters, we see how much it is laced with devotion.
He believes that the love of his life who is no more, still lives with him. In a manner of satiating both her hunger and his incompleteness, he always sits with food for two. The madman, as perceived by the village, is understood by Mayandi and their relationship is one of a kind, cemented by compassion and understanding.
Nothing less than a close friend of Lord Muruga, he is forever on a journey seeking the lord at different abodes. The director beautifully shows him reaching the lord while leaving behind his luggage; both literally and figuratively.
It’s also the metaphorical elements that director M. Manikandan has placed that come off as beautiful symbols that sew the movie together seamlessly.
From the grandson of the protagonist to the District Magistrate, policemen and others, the characters add to the simplicity of the film through their mere presence. Played mostly by first-time artists from the village, the movie delivers raw and unfiltered emotions that carry the message well and stays true to the intent.
The title Kadaisi Vivasayi, which translates as ‘The Last Farmer’ does haunt, however, the film defies such a feeling and establishes that farming must and will continue to live, as the protagonist in the plot reignites its life.
Taking long strides away from conventional filmmaking, the film stays true to the story and justifies the art. Kadaisi Vivasayi is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys picking up life lessons from the smallest frames of life.