Since Karthik Subbaraj’s inventive gangster drama Jigarthanda in 2014, there have barely been any films which have tackled the space of combining arthouse and commercial cinema with the backdrop of the film industry itself. Balaji Tharaneetharan’s latest offering in Seethakathi falls under the same umbrella, though the intention and the arc of both the films are entirely different. Seethakathi is a successful experiment that attempts to mix a variety of genres to churn out an end product that is emotional, engrossing and entertaining – all at the same time.
Despite a runtime which is close to three hours, the film’s well-structured narrative does not waste much reel, and is always relevant to its core. Just like how he did it in his debut film Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom, Balaji Tharaneetharan scores big time by infusing quirky humour with the whacky backdrop of the film. Taking a leaf from stage dramas (the art form which is the root of the film), he pivots his storytelling pattern on elaborate, 20-minute sequences which are captured by cinematographer Saraskanth without any adulteration, thankfully. The beauty of these scenes lies in how well they convey the concept and manage to make the audience laugh every minute too. Starting off on a dramatic and serious note, the film seamlessly travels through many genres such as an emotional drama, a chaotic comedy, parody and a thriller with its own share of mass moments too.
Once again, it is Vijay Sethupathi who has proven his worth when it comes to standing out from the crowd. It would have been very easy to pick a film which suits his ever-growing mass image as it is his 25th, but he decides to choose such a film which has to be made for reasons you will know after you watch it. The actor’s contribution and facial value is the heart of the film, for his presence is felt throughout even at times when he is not on screen. Not many actors would bravely agree to greenlight such a project as their landmark film, and this is why Vijay Sethupathi deserves more of our love and attention. The film not only belongs to him but also to the three very important pillars in Mouli, Rajkumar and the newbie Sunil Reddy who comes up with an extraordinary debut. Balaji Tharaneetharan’s unusual pick for characters who essay strong roles in the film is another move that needs to be lauded.
On top of it all, Seethakathi’s brilliance on paper is superbly complemented by Govind Vasantha’s score. This is a sign of how a composer can prove his versatility to the fullest by giving it all for a script like this. Govind is easily another hero of the film, and we can now safely say that every project of his hereon will be much sought-out.
Seethakathi’s story is much more than what you have seen in the teasers and trailers, for the film brings about a very important message in the most matured way possible. Balaji Tharaneetharan takes the slower path to put it across, but what’s awesome is that he does it without giving you pages and pages of preachy dialogues, and also entertains you in the journey. If this doesn’t make it to your list of the best films of the year, something’s wrong.