Cast: Dhileepan, Sreejit, Gowri Nambiar
Set against the backdrop of a fishing hamlet, the film tracks the lives of two brothers and the happenings in their lives. The younger, Sembattai, is mentally imbalanced, aggressive and has a volatile temper, while the elder one, Kayamboo, is in total contrast. He is calm, sober and extremely protective about his brother. The aspirations of the fisherfolk, the hardships they face, and their exploitation at the hands of traders also form the basis of the plot.
Debut director Ganesh (apprenticed with directors Fazil,Vinayan) weaves a fairly engaging tale of sibling bonding here. The deep love between the brothers, and their taking up for each other is depicted well. The director has extracted some fine performances from his cast. There are a few characters, but each has been given its space. Dhileepan as Sembattai gives a competent performance, bringing out ably the character’s mood swings and erratic behaviour. Sreejit is controlled as Kayamboo, the patient loving elder brother.
Another actor who leaves his mark with a mature performance is George Rajan as their uncle. Rajan has played insignificant roles in innumerable films. But it's as Irulandi here that he gets noticed.
Irulandi’s concern for his orphaned nephews, not quite shared by his wife creates minor tiffs between the couple. Gowri Nambiar (niece of yesteryear heroine Radha) makes a promising debut as Anandi who makes no bones about her feelings for Kayamboo, to the latter’s distress. Adding colour to the ambience is Ayyavu (Kandasamy) the ice cream vendor, and Soosi the schoolmaster. The sound of the latter’s moped was enough to make the otherwise fearless Sembattai run for cover.
Touching is the scene where Sembattai, admitted to a mental institution, pleads his brother to take him away. There are a couple of gory moments too, like a chained Sembattai caught in the hut when it is deliberately set on fire.
But unfortunately, the director, who in the earlier stages had meticulously and sensitively crafted his scenes around relationships, suddenly brings in the revenge angle. The appearance of Shankaralingam, the fish trader (Cheranraj), and his predictable antics is rather forced in. The brothers getting entangled in his affairs, and the final vendetta all go the expected way. The film slackens at places. The narration could have been crisper in the latter part.
'Sembattai' at the most is a promising effort of a debutant maker