Readers Write In #392: Decoding a scene from Anbe Sivam through symbolism

Posted on August 5, 2021

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(by Deepika Santhanakrishnan)

In this article, I am going to analyze a small scene from Anbe Sivam, which represents the ‘transition’ phase for A.Aras (for those who have watched the movie would know). It can be accessed here:

To give a brief background to this scene– the movie is set in the background of Anbu Arasu’s (played by R. Madhavan)travel from his work place for his wedding and the hardships he faces along with a fellow passenger Nalla Sivam (played by Kamal Haasan) on their journey to their respective homes. Nalla Sivam, a man who has met with a life-changing accident leaves an impact on Aras’s life where ‘Anbu (Love)’ becomes ‘Sivam (God)’. This particular scene – which is shot after Nalla convinces Aras to donate blood for a stranger child – where Aras transition from being an elite-class flamboyant man to being an empathetic fellow human-being, has a lot of hidden meaning andI am going to decode them.

Observe the goats in 0:14, which represent the bucolic situation they were in while they were travelling before. The goats extend the feeling from the previous scene naturally; while, observe the vehicle which pass through in 0:24 when Aras moves towards the stranger child for whom he had donated his blood. This can be interpreted as the cat which pass through you for which you stop – which acts as a nice segue to the brewing up situation Aras goes through. Not to miss the globe ball Aras’s tremored hands hold – possibly with hope – at 0:22.

Disturbed by the impending difficulty that the stranger boy is to go through, for which Aras closes his ears to stop hearing the clinical sounds, we see crows being shown at 1:06. There can be two ways for meto decode this. The first I did was to access the dreammoods.com website for interpretations of seeing crows in dreams. According to which, crows can represent death of a person’s character. This can very well be taken as a segue to the philosophical journey Aras is going to face. Secondly, I felt that seeing things out of purview can act as an escape mechanism to hearing the boy’s ‘death’ or Aras’s unempathetic character ‘dying’. Well, it is for you to decide.

Observe the truck that goes through at 1:11, which represents the metaphysical journey that Aras go through at the moment. The journey – like the truck – isalso turbulent with ups and downs.

After the child’s death at 2:08, Aras throughs away the ball – of hope – made up of globe map that acts as a proxy for human-beings alias humanity, which touches the tree at 2:08, which may represent wisdom, or otherwise, a bare branch of a tree can also represent being exhausted after investing emotions into an act. At 2:09, it reaches the calm water creating a splash. This may represent a shock to his serene-yet-unempathetic life – ‘water’ representing the serenity, while the ‘splash’ representing the shock. The whole scene is about the ‘transition’ that Aras goes through, like as I said before – from being an elite flamboyant man to being an empathetic fellow human-being.

Of course, the hardcore movie goers would interpret Nalla sitting on the left and Aras sitting on the right at 2:27 as representing two-ends of the political spectrum. I am not adding much here.

What I would like to add though is about the bike passing by at 4:12-4:13. Again, this bike is the ultimatum of the ‘transition’ that Aras has made and the new life that is awaiting him. Note the speed of this bike compared to the speed of the truck. The after-life of this Kubrickisque-often-fast transition leading to a higher intellect, and this itself is symbolized through the bike as ephemeral, and so the speed of the truck seems fleeting in retrospect.

The last two seconds of the video, paying homage to the last-minute twists like the classics of O. Henry and the white-old-ambassador that goes away along like Nalla from Aras’s view is a sign of great men – Nalla here – who often disappear after helping the populace.

I may be wrong in my views. I am all for discussions. 😊 Hope you liked my interpretation.