Anbe Sivam!


The God debate is inescapable. Some believe in God. Some disbelieve in the idea of God (There are reasons but no excuses). Some cling on to the belief in God because they don’t want to accept defeat (which is pitiable). Some pride themselves in being atheists (which sometimes borders on arrogance). Who (or may be what) is God?

Events, experiences and Pain evokes questions about the existence of God. In the face of evil, pain and suffering we are unable to make sense of the divine. The idea (and belief) of God who is good, loving and all powerful simply does not make sense. How could God allow the innocent to suffer (and worse evil doers to flourish) What kind of God do we have? One philosopher contends, If God exists, he must be the devil?

Anbe Sivam (2003) is an interesting film that raises the question about God (and suprisingly answers it). The film is about two contrasting individuals Nallasivam (played by Kamal Hasan) and Anbarasu (played by Madhavan). Nallasivam is an activist who is driven by communist ideology. Anbarasu is an advertisement filmmaker. They accidently meet each other as their flight is cancelled due to bad weather. They are stuck together and travel on trains, buses and taxis to reach Chennai. The casual travel becomes a journey as they engage in philosophical debates and consequently self-reflection on their philosophical positions and ideological stances.

The film contends that Love in God ( Anbe sivam).  Nallasivam (the protagonist) says the the good that we find in humanity is God. While a case as been drawn for “Love as God”, does it adequately inform contemporary God-debates. If the desire to help people in need, the deliberate acts of compassion and even the refusal to do evil is God, can this adequately explain the orgin, nature, meaning, morality and destiny of humanity.

Why do we do good to other people? And then, why do we do the worst sometimes? If there is a drive to do good, why do we do evil? How do we arrive at “what is good?” and “what is bad?”

Nevertheless, the film is both a treat to the theist and the atheist. Both of us need to find the basis for our belief or disbelief in God. Don’t we? It helped me to engage with my own beliefs about God and even reflect on “why I believe what I believe?”. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. It made me cry. It made me question. It made me think.


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