Director: Balaji Dharaneetharan
Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Arcahana, Mouli, Rajkumar, Sunil Reddy
After back-to-back hits with Chekka Chivantha Vaanam and the recent romantic classic 96, here comes Vijay Sethupathi’s 25th film Seethakaathi where he portrays a septuagenarian stage player named Ayya Adhimoolam. Choosing an unconventional script for his milestone film rather than a regular one that suits his mass image, Seethakaathi clearly shows that Sethupathi is a class apart from other heroes.
Balaji Dharaneetharan who debuted with a quirky and wacky comedy Naduvula Konjam Pakkattha Kaanom with Vijay Sethupathi in the lead has once again experimented with an unusual genre and unpredictable screenplay.
Coming to the story of Seethakaathi, we can’t give out many details as it will be a spoiler and one has to experience it instead. Ayya is a revered theater personality who turns down several film offers. He strongly believes that his art form should be applauded then and there by audiences, which is possible only when he acts in front of them on the stage. Over the years, there are hardly any takers for stage play, but Ayya continues his work with verve and passion. This lands him and his family comprising of his wife (Archana, wasted in an insignificant role), daughter and a grandson in financial trouble.
The first 40 minutes we see Ayya performing his plays from 1950 to 2013 including mythological characters, courtroom dramas and later, historical figures like Aurangzeb. In a unique turn of events, Ayya starts acting in films and becomes a superstar. Sounds strange? This is where Balaji’s clever screenplay comes into the forefront. What started off as an emotional drama in the first 40 minutes quickly changes to chaotic comedy with Rajkumar, Bhagavathy Perumal and Sunil Reddy occupying the rest of the screen space.
Vijay Sethupathi steals the show and looks his part as the 75-year-old man, thanks to the prosthetic makeup. In particular, the 7-minute single shot of a play on Aurangzeb, which he performs with effortless ease and élan is the highlight. While Rajkumar brings the roof down with his comic act in the first half, debutant Sunil was equally impressive in the latter portions. Others like Mouli, Bhagavathy Perumal, Mahendran, Deekay, Karunakaran, and Sundar are adequate. Remya Nambeesan and Parvathi Nair appear in cameo roles as themselves.
Balaji Dharaneetharan’s unthinkable screenplay with fantasy elements works superbly until interval block though it moves at a slow pace initially. But, you tend to lose interest once he starts repeating the same ideas in the second half. The film also takes a dig at media and present day Tamil movies. The shot involving Sunil complaining at Tamil Film Producers Council about his film being sabotaged is a scream. The movie imparts an important message that ‘art has no end and it is immortal. Artistes will live through someone or the other’.
Govind Vasantha’s background score brilliantly compliments Balaji’s flow of narration. Also on the downside is the runtime, which is too long and needs a bit of trimming. The film can be watched for VSP’s performance and its experimental attempt....