Seethakathi – An outlandish drama about the immortality of art!
Few minutues into Seethakathi and Balaji Tharaneetharam firmly establishes one thing. He is in no mood to rush through. He wants us to savour every minute or rather every second in this tale about art and artists. For company he has Vijay Sethupathy, a star in his own way and someone who seems to firmly believe that it is the art that matters more than the artist. Together they deliver a film that reaffirms their faith in good cinema. Much like a dialogue from the film they seem to believe that commercial compromise is not a demand by the audience but an assumption from the system in which the film industry operates. Seethakathi is an effort to prove this assumption wrong.
As revealed by the actor himself on the eve of the film's release, Vijay Sethupathy appears on screen in flesh and blood only for the initial 40 minutes. His presence though is very much there throughout the film and you would need to watch the film for more as anything is a spoiler in this regard. The stage play scenes in these initial minutes are top notch. The actors are superb and the pride you see on their faces as they perform on stage is palpable. Vijay Sethupathy holds the screen in one long scene where he plays Aurangazeb. Like every single time it is fascinating to see this man play his roles in the most unfussy of manners. Playing a septuagenarian, you are attuned to believe that there would be atleast a bit of (even unintentional) overdoing things. But this man clearly stays away from that zone. Mouli is brilliant in the film. The emotions he displays everytime 'Ayya' is performing rings so true. Govind Vasantha is the other soul of the film.
In a nutshell, Seethakathi is about the purity of art in its truest form. The film never takes the art vs business route nor does it play the blame game. Even the producer who looks to monetise 'Ayya' is not painted evil. I only wished Balaji kept the 'filmmaking' scenes a little shorter. You laugh the first few times but the cycle keeps repeating. But this definitely is intentional from Balaji and he probably has a strong reason for the same. The court scene towards the climax felt a little contrived. The first half which is much longer holds your attention much better. You understand that length is going to be on the higher end, given the nature of the film. But what left me a little confused is why the film did not leave me with an emotional high after consistently building my expectation for such a finish.
Seethakathi is an entirely original and outlandish look at the immortality of art.