The paradox of Art — Seethakaathi

To put Seethakaathi in the form of words will be injustice to its essence. I will try my best to bring out the Infinity it has portrayed.

The film constantly revolves around reflections in every frame. It begins with the protagonist being a novice in theatre art. While his life is about to end, in a state where he’s unable to provide funds necessary for his only grandson in real life, he dies “believing” that his on-stage daughter has trusted him to provide monetary support. He then becomes the Light (subtlety speaks). The theatre actors come together and perform plays, which we see as a reflection on his picture on the wall. Each day, each actor portrays characters with such elan and grace, that the people start “believing” that it is the dead protagonist who is playing the characters, through these people. The satire lies in the fact that, instantly, the world makes money and material out of this formless artist. People shower milk on his posters, take selfies with his cutouts and pay his family for Him to act in their films. People dance frantically when his name comes on screen, yet he only lives as a figment of collective imagination. (Similar to Rajinikanth-Sivaji Rao Gaekwad)

Problems arise when this formless dimension of the protagonist seems to have disappeared, owing to some actor’s fault. Nobody is able to explain why and the film ends with the judgement made in yet another real-life stage of a judicial court, the “judge” explaining that this is beyond objectivity and will remain a question similar to the concept of God. Is it even possible to imagine a dead artists’ soul playing on in movies? Is it all, just imagination then? If a person can live on after death without form, and people collectively believe in it, then is it “real”? Is fundamental reality, only a concept of collective beliefs in the minds of billion other human beings?

Each moment of Seethakaathi is Art. Art is formless. It is eternal. And so is the protagonist Ayya. He is played by Vijay Sethupathi, how clever of him to appear for 25 minutes in his 25th film, and make an impact lasting for years.

There is a moment in the movie where the confidante of Ayya, who takes care of his movie bookings after he has passed on to the formless dimension, says “..He has disappeared..because you (actors) differ in what you practice and what you preach..” This is the Truth. It is philosophy at its finest. The Truth always disappears when you try to give it form. As I write this, I am presenting my opinion about a very obscure idea in my brain, and it has another layer of obscurity as it reaches your head. It can only reflect ourselves to how deeply we can see ourselves.

The irony of it all, is that Art can never be transformed into money. Since it is like water, air, fire, music or happiness. It cannot be rigid. It will always change forms, shapes and sizes. Once people made money out of the premise of Ayya, heeding to the constructive identifications of the ego, Ayya disappears. No matter how far the ego tries to defend its identity (the producer-actor who rants on about his “power” at the courthouse), it will never come close to the real power of Self. No matter how serious, angry or self centered the ego looks at itself, it remains a joke to others. A light-hearted portrayal of each one’s egos is nothing but comedy. The movie plays with those moments with subtlety beyond imagination.

I saw the movie — a reflection of our deepest Selves on a giant white screen, along with just 7 others in an empty theatre and walked out of it with just my better half, while other screens were packed with people seeing a larger than life portrayal of a character. It would run for another week before being ousted by a movie like Petta. But it would remain in the libraries of Art, as a hugely underrated movie with soulful performances under a gifted director’s vision.

The giant screen is The Mind and Man portrays egos masked as characters. The day one realises this, is the day He is free within.

The paradox of Art lives on.

Dheeraj — 28th December, 2018

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