Anbe Sivam (Eng: Love Is God) is a 2003 Indian Tamil-language comedy drama film directed and co-produced by Sundar C. The film’s story and screenplay were written by Kamal Haasan, and dialogue by Madhan. Anbe Sivam features Haasan, R. Madhavan and Kiran Rathod in the lead roles, with Nassar, Santhana Bharathi, Seema and Uma Riyaz Khan playing supporting characters.
Inspired by the 1987 road film Planes, Trains and Automobiles, the film follows the events of an unexpected journey from Bhubaneswar to Chennai, which is undertaken by two men who are polar opposites, Nallasivam (Haasan) and Anbarasu (Madhavan). The soundtrack and score were composed by Vidyasagar. Arthur A. Wilson and M. Prabhaharan undertook responsibility for cinematography and art direction, respectively.
Produced on a budget of 120 million, Anbe Sivam touches on several themes, including those of communism, atheism, and altruism, and depicts Haasan’s views as a humanist. The film was released in January 2003 to positive reviews from critics, but it underperformed at the box office. Today, however, the film is regarded as a classic and has attained cult status in Tamil cinema. The film was screened as a part of the Indian Panorama section of the International Film Festival of India in 2003. At the 51st Filmfare Awards South, it received the Filmfare Special Award. Madhavan won for Best Actor at the 2003 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards.
Two men waiting for a flight to Chennai at the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar engage in conversation. One is an advertisement filmmaker, Anbarasu (R. Madhavan), who prefers the abbreviated name “A. Aras”, and the other is a physically challenged but witty socialist, Nallasivam, alias “Nalla” (Kamal Haasan). When the flight is cancelled due to poor weather, Aras suspects Nalla is a terrorist and informs the authorities, only to discover that he was mistaken. When the entire city becomes flooded, the two men find themselves forced to share a room for the night. Both need to return to Chennai: Aras to be present at his wedding, and Nalla so he can deliver a 300,000 cheque, recently awarded to him after he won a court case, to a group of union workers. After a traumatic night, and no hope of a flight, the two men go by bus to catch the Coromandel Express train. Aras’s bag gets stolen on the way, leaving him with a credit card that no one accepts. Using his presence of mind, Nalla repeatedly bails Aras out of trouble while Aras tries to escape from him at every juncture, only to end up with him again.While waiting at the Ichchapuram railway station for the Coromandel Express, Nalla begins to tell Aras his story.
A few years earlier, when a good-looking Nalla takes part in various street theatre performances protesting against MNC-driven industrialisation, which had been marginalising the labour force. He has been at odds with Kandasamy Padayatchi (Nassar), a manipulative factory owner who refuses to give his workers a raise, whom he satirically imitates in many of his shows. However, in an unexpected turn of events, Nalla and Padayatchi’s daughter Balasaraswathi, called Bala (Kiran Rathod), fall in love with each other. Realising their chances of getting together would be slim if Padayatchi knew about their relationship, Nalla and Bala decide to elope to Kerala. Nalla boards a bus bound for Kerala, and on his way to meet Bala, the bus crashes on a hillside leaving him scarred, disfigured, and partially paralysed for life. After recovering from his wounds, he visits Bala only to be informed by Padayatchi that his daughter is already married to someone else and has settled abroad. Padayatchi had earlier lied to Bala that Nalla had died in the accident. It is also at this time that Nalla becomes a firm believer in kindness and love. Despite suffering from an inferiority complex due to his scarred and deformed body, Nalla performs community service and social work with renewed fervour while continuing to fight for union causes.
Upon their arrival at Chennai, Aras delivers Nalla’s cheque to the union workers. He invites Nalla to his wedding, where, to his utter astonishment, Nalla sees that Aras’s bride is none other than Bala. Padayatchi spots Nalla and asks him what he is doing there, to which Nalla replies that he was invited by Aras to the wedding. Nalla then persuades Padayatchi to sign the papers which will help the workers obtain a raise. To prevent disruption at the wedding and avoid damaging his reputation, Padayatchi yields to Nalla’s demands. After signing the papers, Padayatchi instructs his assistant (Santhana Bharathi) to eliminate Nalla. Padayatchi’s assistant, however, spares Nalla as he believes that his wrongdoings had cost him his daughter’s life. He requests Nalla to leave the city and stay as far away from Padayatchi as possible; Nalla assents and walks away.
Directed by Sundar C
Produced by K. Muralitharan, V. Swaminathan & G. Venugopal
Written by Kamal Haasan, Madhan (dialogues)
Starring Kamal Haasan, R. Madhavan, Kiran Rathod, Nassar, Santhana Bharathi
Music by Vidyasagar
Cinematography Arthur A. Wilson
Edited by P. Sai Suresh
Production Lakshmi Movie Makers
Distributed by Raaj Kamal Films International
Release dates 15 January 2003
Running time 158 minutes