The writer, director, producer, music director and star of Sivakumarin Sabadham—Hiphop Aadhi—is even busier in his film. In true superstar fashion, the novelty of his films doesn’t any longer rely on the script, the genre or the setting. It has come to a point where the effort is in deciding who the hero will save next. Sivakumarin Sabadham takes absolutely no chances with this saviour complex, though. The film starts off with Sivakumar saving his bestie from getting beaten up. He then goes on to save his girlfriend from shady selfie takers, his grandfather from humiliation, his family from financial ruin and the pure Kancheepuram silk from extinction.
With each save, he gets to deliver lines of serious advice (often followed by a joke to double-guess the viewer) which speaks more to the audience than the characters. The film’s template is one we’ve seen several times before but there’s generally an ease with which one can sit through its runtime because the actors are fresh and there’s plenty of breaks in the form of songs. Then there’s also Hiphop Aadhi’s charisma, which is apparently a draw big enough to sell out 6AM shows. And you can see why. It’s not just the music and his music-video personality that’s doing the trick now. He has a way of saying exactly what a certain kind of viewer wants to hear.
Like when his character Sivakumar gets an Amul-baby-like (From VIP) punch dialogue insulting a rich dude for flashing his inheritance. It’s a setup that appeals to everyone in the middle class. Sivakumar shows us his watch, his shirt and his trousers, announcing how he earned the money himself to buy all of it. The audience loves it, but there’s a small glitch. The film’s biggest conflict appears when Sivakumar and Co. try to set up a small business. But when this fails to take off, it’s eventually his grandfather’s inheritance he sells to get back on his feet.
Like this, we feel the writer in Aadhi letting down the star in him. We get another elaborate setup in a bar that has to do with Sivakumar saving his girlfriend from shady bystanders. The scene takes forever to get going and it sticks out in a film that’s following a predictable pattern. But that’s not the point of the scene at all. Of course, he does get an action block and room for some comedy but the only reason it was even written was to make an update or an ‘apology’ for how judgemental Aadhi was in songs like ‘Club Le Mabbu Le’.
At a time when filmmakers oppose criticism, this bit of reflection is both a welcome sight and a cool way to break the fourth wall. But is it compelling cinema? Not at all. Does it make sense in the context of the film? Not remotely. With oddly-staged fight scenes and super long emotional speeches, the film tries to do too much to tick every box in the masala movie handbook. The star’s charisma can power small villages but that alone cannot hold a long film that relies too much on cliches. He uses the plight of Kancheepuram’s weavers as his trump card to score brownie points like he did with an indigenous breed of bulls and the Tamil language in earlier works. Given that he’s already moved on, it will be fun to see what he commodifies next.