In cinema the opinions of god have always been changing according to time. The idea on god has varied from ‘Thiruvilayaadal’ to ‘Super Deluxe'. As I grew up, I realized that actors were being celebrated just as we celebrate God, sometimes more. I still remember to this day when I had seen people pouring milk over the head of a Rajini cutout during the time of Chandramukhi release and people dancing around.
This tradition continues till today where fans celebrate the release of their favorite heroes' movies as a festival. That is why in most Indian cinemas, the lead role is written in a way where the hero (like god) is a flawless person who overcomes any situation and wins in the end (by defeating the villain in most cases). In such an industry where the opinion of God is very strong, there has been there had been movies popping out which have asked the question of ‘Who is God?’ and has even tried to answer it in their own way.
Anbe Sivam was one such movie which asks the question. Throughout the movie, Sivam questions the beliefs of Aras (or teases) but at a crucial point when Aras questions his own belief and feelings towards god, Sivam assures him that he believes in god and that his notion of God is Love (Anbu). “Munna pinna theriyada oru payanukaga kanner vidra anda manasu irruke, adan kadavul”.
When I saw Super Deluxe, I was left in bewilderment. The movie questions different issues including caste, sex and gender. But what struck me hard was Mysskins portrayal of Arputham, a man who blindly prays to a statue of Jesus after he had survived the dreadful 2004 Tsunami by clinging on to it. But his faith is questioned when Shilpa comes to ask for God’s forgiveness and reveals she too escaped from the tsunami by clinging to a rock. When Arputham questions what was the stone she replies with ‘Athu verum kallu dan’. This asks him to question his faith in God.
Even the Telugu film Care of Kancherapalam asks the question of god in four beautiful stories three of which ends in the characters questioning their beliefs. Sundaram asking his God to make the girl he loves love him back. But when she is separated from him, he destroys the statue in his own backyard. Joseph loves Radha, a girl from a different religion (from which he had converted) but the reason their love doesn’t have a happy ending is religion. Geddam loves Saleema a sex worker, but a day before their marriage she is killed when men from her community kills her because of her work which stains their community and god. The answer is shown in Raju’s story, where he reveals he doesn’t believe in God but instead he says “Nenu Manusulu namutaru.”
All these movies may question God but they do give an answer, asking to look for god in people rather than in idols and photos. In other words, humanity. Sivam says he finds god in people while Raju says it's enough to just greet people affectionately instead of praying to God. Super Deluxe grip on humanity is a bit nuanced but still it exists though not in Arputham’s story. Shilpa, being accepted by her family for who she is, Leela’s son accepting her for her work and Vembu and Mugil reconciling all are great examples in Humanity. These movies beautifully express the message to not just blindly pray to god but to trust people too for a god and better life and also a better society.
“Inam ena pirintadu podum, matham ena pirindadu podum, manitham ondre theervagum.”