Movie Name: Sethu
Released: December 1999
Rarely, we come across movies that we take to see with no expectations and end up with a great feeling. After a very long time, I felt that way after seeing the movie, Sethu. The story is not very new. But the presentation, direction and the performance of the cast are of very high quality. I am writing this knowing completely well that no review can do justice to this wonderful movie. Sethu is a movie experience beyond description.
The main character Sethu (played wonderfully by Vikram (who?) ), who is a college president, predictably, a very rough and macho guy, who knows that violence is the only way to deal with people. He is the brother of court judge (played by Sivakumar, only familiar face in the movie), and a lovely sister-in-law, who is the only person who seems to understand him properly. Sethu has a staple diet of yes-sir friends surrounding him. He comes across a timid girl, Abitha, who is the daughter of a poor temple priest, and starts to woo her. In a wonderfully constructed sequence of events, which finally takes him to rescuing her elder sister after she accidentally enters a brothel (with a scintillating BGM from Illaiyaraja). Finally, when the girl starts to show her true love, Sethu becomes a victim of brothel-goons, and ends up in a mental institution with brain damage. The rest of the film dwells on whether Sethu & Abitha are united!
The story may be a cliched one, but the treatment is top class. Unlike other movies, dialogues are very natural. The cast has given very committed performances. Vikram is a revelation. He is very natural and his acting in last few scenes are just too good and could even be compared with the best we have seen from Kamalahassan. The songs are apt for the situations and two songs are very good. Illaiyaraja's back ground music elevates the movie to a different plane, especially the final scenes, where the director lets the music talk; Illaiyaraja comes up with a great score. Debutante director Bala had shown the rest of the pack, how a to make a good movie, even with an ordinary story. All the characters are defined properly, and the movie moves at a brisk pace, without any silly humor or boring fights. If you are like me, fed up with Indian movies in general and prefer English movies more, I can promise you that, you won't be regretting seeing this movie. To all tamil cinema fans, go see this movie, and if possible, preserve it in your movie library.
Original Photograph (Sethu):
Thanks to Anandha Vikatan