Before Sarvam Thaala Mayam, my impression of GV Prakash is that he is a really good music director who has composed some of the best hits in the Tamil movie industry. I had never rated him as a good actor perhaps due to the types of roles that he has done in the past.
My personal favourite is his composition for the 2010 Tamil movie, Aayirathil Oruvan titled “Maalai Neram” sung by Andrea Jeremiah. He also did a great job in music scoring for other blockbusters like Madrasapattinam, Deiva Thirumagal and Raja Rani. Image source: Wikipedia.
However, he has yet to achieve the same level of achievement as an actor – his movies in the past have not been great (although some of it like the 2015 horror-comedy movie, Darling was acceptable).
Then I watched Sarvam Thaala Mayam and I finally saw the glimmer of genius in acting from GV, thanks to the point that it is also a well written musical movie. Sarvam Thaala Mayam movie poster and GV Prakash as the student image source: IndiaGlitz
In Sarvam Thaala Mayam, GV Prakash plays the role of a movie fanatic, who happens to be the son of a talented mridangam maker, decides to become a musician after delivering an instrument to Vembu Iyer, a famous mridangam player. The movie was written and directed by Rajiv Menon (who also directed Kandukondain Kandukondain and Minsara Kanavu) with the music composed by AR Rahman.
Peter Johnson (acted by GV Prakash) is a son of an expert mridangam maker named Johnson (acted by Kumaravel ) but he does not have any interest in his father’s Mrudangam making business nor in his own career.
Then one day, on his father’s insistence he went to deliver mrudangam to Vembu Iyer’s concert (acted by seasoned actor, Nedumudi Venu) where he was allowed to watch his program. After observing Iyer’s concert, Peter started admiring him and decided to join as a student to learn mrudangam from him.
After observing Peter, Iyer had understood that he has talent but rejected him due to lack of discipline and consistency. To prove Iyer wrong, Peter tried hard to change himself. Finally, Iyer allowed Peter as his student.
Later Peter was mistreated by Iyer’s Assistant Mani because of his lower caste. It was noticed by Iyer, who warns him to be good with his students. Mani confesses his dissatisfaction over him saying he did not support his career as a mrudangam player and used him. This angered Iyer, who sacked him from the job in front of Peter, so Mani swears revenge on Iyer and Peter for his humiliation.
Mani joins as a Judge in a classical music instrument reality show called ‘Sangeetha Samrat’ with the help of his younger sister Anjana who is a crooked socialite and works as a VJ. Peter was very passionate about the beats of Mrudangam and became one of the favourite students of Iyer.
Anjana sets a trap to humiliate Iyer. She invited another Iyer’s student and Peter’s friend, Nandu to perform on her reality show and makes him believe that it was telecasted only in the USA. Nandu came along with Peter, who consistently warns him to not perform without their teacher’s permission.
After knowing that it was a trap to humiliate them Nandu leaves the place without any warning to Peter. Without knowing the facts, Peter enters the studio to find Nandu, but he was focused on “live”. Then with no option left, Peter gets ready to play mrudangam which gets severely humiliated by Mani and Anjana, making him seem useless and directly criticize Iyer.
After knowing the issue, Iyer questions Peter on why he went to perform on the stage. Peter takes the blame on himself to save Nandu. The angered Iyer bangs, Peter, out saying it is a real humiliation for his musical knowledge for believing in such a useless student.
Meanwhile, The Sageetha Samrat show became successful after the completion of 2 successful seasons and all the Iyer’s students including Nandu fascinated over the popularity and leaves him. Finally, he understands that he needs to mend his ways according to the world or else he cannot transfer his musical knowledge to further generations and he realized that Peter is his heir for his knowledge of music and calls him back.
Peter happily joins him back to continue to learn mrudangam to win the show and to gain his teacher’s respect back. In the show, while countering Nandu, Peter remembers different beat instrumental music he has learned from and applies all the beats in Mrudangam which gets joy to the audience. No option left Mani decides to declare Peter as the winner in the show.
Finally, the film ends with Peter now a celebrity giving a performance along with his teacher Vembu Iyer.
Ensembled Round of Acting
There are not many Tamil movies where everyone played their roles in the movie rather well. In Sarvam Thaala Mayam, they pulled it off beautifully.
You have Kesavan Venugopal who is known popularly by his stage name Nedumudi Venu as Vembhu Iyer right in the centre of Sarvam Thaala Mayam and seeing him as the strict master consistently throughout the movie earns our deepest respect. Image source: Indian Times
The fact that Nedumudi Venu who has acted in more than 500 films is a good mrudangam adds realism to the acting. No one is acting to play the mrudangam but they actually play it live in Sarvam Thaala Mayam.
GV Prakash performance somehow mellowed down considering that he is the student in this movie. The role suits him rather well and he should do more roles like this.
For the music show, having real singers like Unni Krishnan, Srinivas and Karthik as the show’s judges was a brilliant move by the director to add realism and logic into the storyline. Kumaravel who plays Johnson, Peter’s father is in his usual element and plays the role of an understanding father really well.
Not surprisingly the composition in Sarvam Thaala Mayam by AR Rahman is top-notch and the catchy song titled “Sarvam Thaala Mayam” stands out from the rest. The song is about a journey of rediscovery.
The bass guitar starts off this song before the drums start in the background. They picked correctly Haricharan to provide the vocal for this song. The pace is faster and yet is slow enough to savour the beautiful lyrics. The “shouts” at the end seems more of a cheer to continue.
And this is a nice video of the collaboration for this song between AR Rahman, the director Rajiv Menon and lyrist, Madhan Karky. It is clear that Rajiv Menon wanted something different for this song.
Another song that truly stands out is Varalaama which is composed by director Rajiv Menon himself. This reminded me of AR Rahman’s earlier years – pure classical and heavenly. It is a song that pays tribute to a great musical master by a very grateful student.
Apart from the key songs, the main attraction in Sarvam Thaala Mayam is of course the sound of mrudangam.
Sarvam Thaala Mayam is an exceptionally made movie and there seems to be very little or no bad storyline. It is in fact rather unique as it focuses on something that we don’t encounter on daily basis – the art of mrudangam. Everything is logical and falls in its place. A great master-student relationship beautifully told in the movie and it has been a wonderful musical journey indeed.
A must watch and to GV Prakash, one has to say “well, done!!”