When I happen to attend a filmmaking workshop a couple of years back, I remember asking these two questions to Mr.Prakash Belawadi who was the host - "What is good acting?" and "How do you find good actors?". I could hear some claps and frowns from the crowd.
However, the answer I received was that "It's a callous thing to do and there is no defined benchmark set for the art". As I was absorbing the viscous narrative of director Balaji Dharanidharan's Seethakaathi, these questions were lingering in my mind.
Having an actor like Vijay Sethupathi at the helm, the movie was a brave attempt that brought out the satire and the bitter truths on films and celebrities. In a sense, this is a parallel cinema that critiques and sometimes piques at the current trends that prevail in the movie industry and the general attitude of celebrities who accidentally happen to wear the crown of stardom. All these were narrated with an intriguing supernatural fiction that was more promising on the paper than on screen.
For the audiences who would be flocking to theatres thinking that it's a Vijay Sethupathi show from the beginning till the end, then, you're in for a big disappointment. The actor appears on screen for the first 30 minutes and that too with some heavily clad prosthetics that hindered the nuanced expressions which happen to be his forte.
The movie is a drama that heavily leans of stage rhetorics and satire on lousy acting from good actors. As with the director's first movie, "Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom" here too we come across scenes getting repetitive but interesting. If one could remember Vijay Sethupathi's famous dialogue from the 2012 movie "Pppaaa, yaaruda intha ponnu, pei mathiri", the theatre erupted whenever those lines were uttered. Similarly, here too the director has penned certain slapsticks that might be repetitive but was enjoyable.
As I mentioned before, the movie heavily leans on performances from supporting characters. Actors like Rajkumar and Bhagavathi Perumal who were part of Balaji's first movie have once again come together to rock the boat. However, the unassuming Sunil Reddy (Vaibhav's elder sibling) stole the show with his plumpy (pun intended) performance that had more slapstick than dialogues. Vijay Sethupathi, for the first 30 minutes as Ayya Athimoolam has given a very refined performance and it's a perfect one to mark his 25th film.
Music director Govind Vasantha has given a winning background score that was equally funny during the satirical episodes. The movie as a whole was very organic, and even the supernatural elements that were tucked in went with the flow and there were quite a few places where the logic took some beating.
The movie also had an innate slowness to it. Especially, if one could sit through patiently for the first 30 minutes, then the next 145 minutes would be quite engaging. It is packaged with melodrama, fiction, film commentary and satire. Such attempts should be welcomed and who else better than an actor like Vijay Sethupathi could encourage such novelties.
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