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Silambaatam Review

Posted by Hariharan Naidu

http://tamil.galatta.com/entertainment/review/reviewnews/n/1289/movie/Silambattam.html

Thanks Galatta.com for this really impressive Review.

Silambattam has multiple specialties. It is the 25th film from the renowned Lakshmi Movie Makers. The movie’s story, screenplay, dialogues and direction are handled by cinematographer-turned-director Saravanan. Simbu has donned the role of a demure Iyer boy, a role he has not done so far.

The story of Silambattam happens in two distinct periods; the narration switches over between the two periods. The opening scene shows Vichu ( Simbu) as a quiet youngster brought up by the village priest (Nedumudi Venu), also his maternal grandfather and guardian. Owing to specific reasons, the caring elder has purposefully toned down (Simbu uses his eyes to convey the inner quietude of Vichu) the young boy’s emotional quotient and has taught him a peculiar art of living. As a result, Vichu is soft-spoken, passive and is groomed to tolerate all sorts of malicious misdemeanours aimed at him. Vichu assists his grandfather in carrying out the religious rituals as well as being the care-taker of the temple. Vichu’s only consolation comes in the company of his sweetheart Janu(Sana Khan). Janu’s kiddish jokes and teasing remarks make up for all the precious and youthful moments he has missed in his growing-up years.

Though Simbu abides by the elderly person’s advices, an incident that happens in the temple premises reveals his real persona. On the particular day, Vichu witnesses a big band of ruffians bashing a seemingly meek individual. Becoming furious at the sight of the power-play, Vichu gets into the tussle and saves the victim. But, as the man takes a hard look at his saviour’s face, he is stunned! What is the secrecy in Vichu’s past? How does it intimidate the stranger?

Cut to a flashback, there is a huge clash between the two village groups headed by Muthuvel(Prabhu) and Veeraiyan(Ponvannan). Reason? Veeriayan claims back every bit of land he has donated to the landless and poor villagers whereas Muthuvel and his brother Tamizh(Simbu again!) oppose his order. In the violent power-struggle, too many people die. It includes the fervent activist Tamizh, his dear wife Gayathri(Sneha) and Veeraiyan himself. Only Veeraiyan’s last son Duraisingham (Kishore of Polladhavan fame!) and Muthuvel are spared in the tragedy. The burning intensity of the mishap stays alive in Duraisingham’s heart and Muthuvel is another witness to the past. What happens next? What is the connection between Vichu and Tamizh? What part does Vichu play in settling the long-term dispute? How does he explain the knotty situation to his grandfather who has scrupulously disciplined him all these years? Silambattam has a riveting tale to tell!

Simbu has just offered a commendable performance in both the roles. Between the look-alikes, though there are evident variations in attire and make-up, his attitude establishes the difference emphatically. Vichu’s body language shows a forced calm and compromise; whereas for Tamizh who has grown up in the shadow of his big brother, his fervour and ideals have a definite purpose. So here we glimpse the core of responsibility and maturity in the boy. When he synergises both the characters in the latter part of the film, we get to see Simbu, simply unplugged!

Sana Khan has had a bubbly romantic part to play. She is the youthful element in the film. Sneha as Gayathri is the soul-stealer. Particularly in the scene when she boldly presents the alibi for Tamizh at the cost of her femininity, her predicament moves everyone. In fact, Sneha’s role is pivotal to the story; the character’s influence is felt till the end of the film. In addition, it has also added a remarkable depth to the narration. ‘Machan Machan’ the duet in Sneha-Simbu combination is superb!

Karunas appears as Tamizh’s aide and Santhanam is Vichu’s ally. Both offer us some light-hearted moments to enjoy. Considering his mind-blowing performances in many blockbusters of his time, the role is just nothing at all for Prabhu. However, the veteran embellishes the emotional character with a measured and matured performance. Ponvannan’s clarity in the dialogue deliveries makes a mark. Kishore’s forbidding stance in the very first scene itself builds the mood for the film.

All in all, debutante director Saravanan has succeeded in offering a double-role extravaganza with Simbu. The story is indeed formulaic in places; yet we can also see the director’s imprint all through the film. Cameraman Mathi’s smart cuts and close-ups present two radically different Simbus. Kanal Kannan’s stunts are simply amazing. Yuvan’s music has already become a sensation among the youth.

With all the collective and worthy efforts, Silambattam impresses as a thoroughly endearing production satisfying both the class and the mass.

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