Director: Rathina Shiva
Cast: Jiiva, Riya Suman, Navdeep
Seeru, directed by Rathina Siva (the same guy who made Vijay Sethupathi's Rekka) begins with two overdressed women driving back at night on a long empty road. They're listening to 'Thendral Vanthu' on the radio and it leads to a particularly fresh conversation…is Illaiyaraaja great or not? But there's no debate or discussion going on here. After a minute, they agree that even their grandchildren are going to fall in love over Raja's music. Long drive, empty roads, Raja's music…did I underestimate Rathina Siva or are we watching the opening scenes of an unexpectedly progressive love story?
This thought lasted all of five seconds and we're quickly brought back to reality when they get stopped at a check post by a shifty police officer. He takes away their phones and orders them to make their way into a makeshift tent. One woman is dragged away, while the other locks herself in the car, using this time to send an SOS voice note to a Whatsapp group on her spare phone. No one responds. As they wait helplessly in the hands of these obviously crooked officers, a voice note pops up on the phone. Had this been the 2000s, this would have been the cue for Paravai Munniyamma to pop up from nowhere. But we've progressed, so we've got Whatsapp doing it for us. Our hero Manimaaran (Jiiva) arrives immediately, beats everyone to pulp and delivers some advice on Whatsapp etiquette. Expectations are quickly managed, and we've readjusted ourselves to the rules of the mass entertainer now. It's no longer about the what next or the whys…it's only about the hows.
Which means that what follows isn't really about a plot or a story. It's more a check list of must-haves this film needs to accommodate, to propel the hero into the stratosphere. So we get an intro song that discusses topics like youth, love and sundry. We get a fair-skinned heroine that appears in four scenes and one song and she must have worked really hard to get her lip sync perfectly wrong. We get a hero that delivers great speeches about friendship. Of course he also comes with a wise-cracking best friend whose idea of humour involves making a man pee all over someone else. Seeru also makes a lot of room for that rare emotion our films rarely touch upon…thangachi pasam, I think it's called.
It's not that we aren't prepared for these in a film like this but the trick is in making these elements appear organic, as though they were always a part of the design. So when the action suddenly shifts from a small town to Chennai, you can hear the producer thinking, "so it's B and A centre compliant."
I'm not a fan of his first film Rekka but at least it had a certain amount of self-awareness which gave us the impression that the makers were in on the film's obviousness. But Seeru takes itself too seriously for its own good. Which is a shame because it's a film with several great masala ideas that could really have been milked to better effect.
What if the man who is out to kill you ends up saving the life of the most important person in your life? Why should it always be the men avenging the murder of their friend? These are interesting situations but the writer struggles to incorporate these within this dated template. Out of nowhere the genre shifts completely to a flashback involving a studious girl and her righteous stands against injustice. But the connective tissue leading us to this character is so thin that it feels like someone switched channels on the TV midway.
But if you're willing to overlook these to single out individual scenes instead of the film as a whole, there's fun to be had, with the fight scenes being the major highlight. If you're looking for more from your average everyday mass entertainer, then Seeru falls well short.