Jiivi is an ambitious thriller that explores the concept of ‘interconnectedness’.
Though Jiivi never strays into supernatural territory, it suggests the presence of an omniscient force that balances the rights and wrongs in the world. When the protagonist Saravanan (Vetri) plots to rob his landlady, it leads to a series of mysterious events that seem to mirror past events from the life of another key character. It reminded me of the deliciously crafted 13B/Yaavarum Nalam, where real-life happenings followed the events of a spooky soap opera.
While I found the movie generally engrossing, the opening arc does take a while to get going thanks to a pointless romance angle followed by an even more pointless love song. However, the writing is so sharp that it papers over any of the movie’s perceived flaws. One of my favorite lines from the movie was ‘It takes an intelligent man to ask dumb questions.’ Babu Tamizh, who deserves a huge shout-out for the writing, even concocts a (new?) word ‘thodarbiyal’ to define how karma works in strange ways. While the movie explores the concept of interconnectedness quite impressively, it could also have let the audience discover the connections by themselves rather than providing a constant reiteration of events and Saravanan dumbing down everything for his friend’s (and presumably the audience’s) benefit. Karunakaran, who plays Saravanan’s friend, stars in yet another memorable thriller, after a similarly impressive outing in Kalavu.
At the end of the movie, as the camera pans out with a sweeping shot of the ‘circular’ Kathipara flyover in Chennai, it is subtly implied that although Saravana ended the circle of linked events, he now finds himself inadvertently entrapped in a bigger loop, as indicated by the identical opening and final sequence. While the movie comes full circle in a lot of ways, it still leaves you with some existential questions. Jiivi might have fallen short of Thiagarajan Kumaraja’s Super Deluxe in terms of doing justice to ambitious ideas, but it will go down as one of the more memorable thrillers of the year.