An esoteric take on young designer Shiva's obsession with the photo of a girl snapped during a mysterious encounter. Within his daily routine, he focuses obsessively on this picture of her that keeps triggering his voyeuristic impulses. Caught in a web of his own delusions, Shiva awaits a possible resolution. Without words, but with refined sound design and stirring music, the director builds up the tension and suggests the mood of the main character. The impressive camerawork insists on close-ups and striking details that give a metaphysical layer to this minimalist cinematic tale. This is the debut of the self-taught young South Indian director Arun Karthick, who makes films through his Cinema Obscura platform and is certainly an exciting new voice from the Tamil film scene.
Indie filmmaker Arun Karthick’s debut feature Sivapuranam has now made its way to MUBI, and this is a film that has to be seen by indie film fans, for its world-building more than the story or idealogy it possesses.
What’s the story about?
At an aerial view, Sivapuranam is a look into the lonely life of Shiva, a designer who develops an obsession to a photo he clicks unintentionally. The chronicles of his life in the days before and after the incident are registered with a high level of detail here.
Sivapuranam is a film that concentrates on the life of just one character, played by Rajesh Balachandran. The actor has his work cut out and adheres to it with the basic requirements intact. It’s good that his act does not feel out of place even at one point, which ultimately works in the favour of the film.
The majority of the film does not have any dialogues at all, and it is just the visual cues put in by director Arun Karthick that helps take the story forward. The pacing is extremely slow, but it does not seem forced, which is the problem faced by many other indie films. Karthick pays high attention to detail and narrates the activities of the protagonist in a laid-back fashion, showing us each and every activity that’s a part of his day. It’s tough to get behind the idealogy of the film, as there seems to be nothing more than displaying the world that Shiva lives in. However, topics such as voyeurism, obsession and loneliness do come into play here. For regular film buffs, Sivapuranam might seem like a pointless assortment of shots put together, but there could be more to it than what meets the eye if you are willing to lend it your patience.
Music and other departments
Sivapuranam gets hold of its sound which is set up organically by Ananda Gupta. The film’s cinematography by Saumyananda Sahi complements the mood in full, while the editing by Arghya Basu properly understands the reasoning behind the prolonged shots and the slow pacing.
Unlike much-celebrated indie films, Sivapuranam does not make use of a proper storyline and is more focused on taking the viewers on a walk through the lead character’s life. The absence of plot progression is the major issue here.
Do I recommend it?
Sivapuranam could be your cup of tea if you are a person who has a liking towards experimental indie films. For, this is one of the films which is more about the journey than the destination.