Production: Passion Studios Cast: Archana, Gayathrie, J Mahendran, Parvathy Nair, Rajkumar, Remya Nambeesan, Vijay Sethupathi Direction: Balaji Tharaneetharan Screenplay: Balaji Tharaneetharan Story: Balaji Tharaneetharan Music: Govind Vasantha Background score: Govind Vasantha
Vijay Sethupathi fan and have often wondered why he has starred in yet another terrible film which an actor of his calibre should not have signed, Seethakaathi may offer some answers. Director Balaji Tharaneetharan’s second release after the hilarious Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom is a satirical take on the Tamil film industry. And those of us who’ve cringed in our seats for many unbelievably bad star vehicles, and wondered if the director’s sole intention was to slow torture us to death, would completely get what Balaji wants to say through Seethakaathi.
When we first see Aadhimoolam Ayya, the character played by Vijay Sethupathi, he’s a child in a Lava-Kusa play in the 1940s. Then we see him as a youth dressed as Kannagi, then Satyavan. He plays an angry old man taking on the government, before turning into a truculent Aurangzeb in the new millennium. All of this happens onstage and the dialogues are in literary Tamil. This isn’t a conventional hero introduction and it is a big risk to take, considering mainstream films are supposed to begin with a bang, let alone this s-l-o-w opening.
Tamil plays such as Sathyavan Savitri, Sujatha’s Oonjal, Silapadikaaran and Aurangzeb are shown as Aadimoolam grows into an old man. While the cast is outstanding in terms of performance, there is a particular monologue that Vijay Sethupathi delivers as Aurangzeb. He prays to Allah seeking not his forgiveness, but his understanding for the life that he has led. It is not just the actor, but the cinematography that adds value here. There is a lot of play with the shadow – it slowly becomes much bigger than the man as camera moves and gradually becomes one with the man to signify life coming full circle.
Seethakaathi, wouldn’t have been this brilliant if not for the cast. Not just Vijay Sethupathi but actors such as TSBK Moulee, as Aadimoolam’s confidante Parasuram, or Bagavathi Perumal, who plays the role of a film director Sundar, are perfect in the roles. How Aadimoolam influences scenes in the film, without even being present is the biggest take-away from this film. An actor needs an impressive role, not screen time to make an impression on audience’s minds.
The latter part of the first half is full and full comical and it works like a charm. The fun element is great and the director retains his comedy touch from his debut film. But the problem arises when a similar situation arises in the second half. Though still funny and full of energy, it could seem redundant. All the actors in the film have done a commendable job, and to deliver dialogues in live sound is not easy. However, they all make it seem so.
Coming to Ayya. Rather, Vijay Sethupathi. This film is special to him in many ways. Mainly being his 25th project and him playing the role of a 73-year-old theatre artiste. The prosthetic make up is very good and the camera picks up it’s intricacies, making it a delight to notice. He proves that he is the epitome of dedication and the slightest of details are great to see. His body language, breathing pattern, minute twitches in his face and his voice are bang on, making it thoroughly believable. This performance of his will be remembered for a long time. Just like Ayya!