Seethakathi review: A unique 'soul'-ful film

Seethakathi -U/A
Cast- Vijay Sethupathi, Parvathi Nair, TSBK Mouli.
Director- Balaji Tharaneetharan
Music: Govind Vasantha

Rating: 3/5

The debate over art versus business in the film industry is not a new theme for a film. But it demands an effort to be unique. And that makes Balaji Tharaneetharan's 'Seethakathi' an interesting watch.

Ayya Adhimoolam (Vijay Sethupathi) the 'born-to-act' drama artist's life, from birth to present, is shown in the initial scenes that set the pace of the movie, which is quite untypical and experimental for a commercial flick. Which is why, it may not be welcomed by all sections of the audience. But, certainly, it has a deeper appeal. 

Ayya's drama team organises plays at a government theatre in the town. However, due to the growth of the film industry, his art has dampened over the years compared to the peak of his career- the second half of 20th Century.

Ayya, throughout his life, was decisive about not acting in movies despite offers from the trendsetters of the industry as his passion is to act in front of people (and not a camera). This revelation comes by the end of the movie. But from the establishing sequences, it is clear that there are other reasons for his indifference towards films.

For instance, the changing preferences of the new generation -- the mobile-scrolling youth, shopping malls, busy city life, beverage shop queues, selfies of the night-roaming youths and likes --  are shown in a sequence to establish the contradiction of Ayya's world and the 'reality'. Though the team  organises  mostly mythical plays, other genres are also on the plate. 

However, one will come out feeling that many reasons are behind the ‘art vs business’ conflict other than blaming the new generation because it is terrible to think that people will 'rally' to watch those plays! The reason behind Ayya's decision of not acting in films is the disdain against the new generation. It is also notable that Ayya doesn't like to advertise his plays.

But a family emergency changes his fate as he is in dire need of money and accepts an offer to act in the films. He becomes the greatest actor in Tamil Nadu in no time and all of a sudden, he decides not to act. The suspense surrounding these takes the story forward with brilliantly crafted scenes.

Sethupathi’s biggest drawback (or his strength as some might argue) is the dialogue delivery style. His attempts to overcome this is very evident in the drama sequences. However, he is improving on it as we saw in his previous film ‘96. Nuances of facial expressions were salvaged thanks to the make-up resembling Kamal Hassan’s Senapathy in ‘Indian’. 

Rajkumar and Bagavathi Perumal, part of the 2012 release 'Naduvula Konjam Pakatha Kanom' team have done an excellent job this time too. 

Mouli, Gayathrie and Parvathy Nair, who play the role of drama troupe manager, Ayya's daughter and his wife, respectively, do not emote much throughout the movie, which is a bit awkward.

The comedy sequences don’t bulge over the story as in typical Tamil films. They are a part of the story, without a distinct comedian. Balaji repeats the successful experiments of 'Naduvula'.

Many filmmakers have tried to mock the new channels' debates in their works but nothing is close to perfection (in anchoring, participants and graphics) in Seethakathi. Even minute details are carefully crafted, just like the frames. In the intro, you might get distracted from Ayya's Auragazeb to the frames and the camera movements. Govind Vasantha does his magic again with fresh background music and songs.

Sethupathi's 25th film is not entirely his, unlike '96 which completely relied on Vijay and Trisha. It is evidently a team effort.

The scriptwriter seems to have struggled a bit to end the story. Bercause it cleary deserves a better, logical ending.

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Seethakathi review: A unique 'soul'-ful film

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