Director: Santhosh Thiyagarajan
Cast: Varsha Bollamma, Geethan Britto, Viji Chandrasekhar
He is here. He is finally here. It took him a very long time, but he has finally reached Tamil cinema. We have managed to catch hold of the inconsequential hero in a Tamil film — the Loosu Payyan, if we may say so. Seemathurai, though named after the character profile of Geethan, playing a college-going happy-go-lucky guy called Marudhu, tells a story that doesn’t require his presence at all. It is a poorly-written role despite giving him a decent introduction, which again has no bearing on the film thereafter. Geethan still gives it his all and is earnest as Marudhu, who is only required to smile, get beaten up, dance, smile, get beaten up, and dance again, with dialogues that can fit into a single sheet of paper.
The real story of the film is about Poorani (Varsha Bollamma, last seen playing a lovestruck student of Vijay Sethupathi in 96). She is the focal point of everything that is happening on screen. However, just because Varsha shot to fame by doing dubsmash videos of Nazriya Nazim, she is made to imitate Nazriya’s acting in a few scenes, which might get on your nerves, but Marudhu’s antics are so overpowering that nothing else comes close. Also, Poorani has some real aim in life — she wants to go to college and Marudhu’s love-at-first-sight just becomes a hindrance to it.
Why can’t our heroes just let our girls study? I understand love-at-first-sight, but why don’t they even try to know her? Marudhu doesn’t know she has an influential father with a bunch of enemies, a ruffian uncle who’ll do anything to uphold the dignity of Poorani’s father, a mother who is a staunch believer of “Ponnu veeta vittu veliya pona kettu poyidum.” Heck, he doesn’t even know Poorani’s name before falling in love with her, singing a song or two, drinking with his friends and professing his love to them.
The conflict in this film, even though it might seem to be the love story between Poorani and Marudhu, is really about her father and his enemies, who don’t even know or care about our hero’s existence. And this conflict is treated with authenticity, and the powerful climax actually hits you hard.
Director Santhosh Thiyagarajan’s writing is pretty generic, except for that climax. The humour portions work thanks to the actors playing Marudhu’s friends, mainly Pori Urundai Suresh as Ayyanaar. Viji Chandrasekhar is wasted in the role of Marudhu’s mother, as the initial spunk in her role fizzles out due to lack of well-written scenes for her.
However, despite the generic writing, the strength of this film is the powerful performances. Kasirajan, who plays Poorani’s uncle, is a conflicted character, and probably the best-written role after Varsha Bollamma herself, who makes the most of her role as the naive, yet headstrong Poorani. Considering the effectiveness of her role, it is puzzling why the director didn’t name the film ‘Seemaatti’.
Music by Jose Franklin is a delight, and the songs, though acting as speed breakers within the film, are melodious and definitely warrant repeat listening.
Santhosh Thiyagarajan can be proud of being one of the pioneers of Tamil cinema in showing a hero who has no agency whatsoever. Whether this was intended, or a product of chance, is something only the filmmaker can answer.
Seemathurai beings with a ‘thank you’ card to Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathi and it ends with his lines “Nenju Porukkudhillaye, indha nilaiketta manidharai ninaindhu vittal”. And between these two Bharathiyar references lies a generic film, whose whole is sadly not greater than the sum of its parts.