Cast: Kathir, Vivek Prasanna, Soori, Rahasya Gorak
Sibling rivalry is something that Indian cinema loves to focus on. And if the siblings in question are the central characters, it gives all the more room for the filmmaker to let them bicker over who’s stronger. Later, however, the brothers will casually slip into the mystic river of banter and you’ll come to know that blood is thicker than sarbath.
If you find two brothers quarrelling in the introductory scenes, you can be sure that they’re not going to let an outsider poke his nose into their petty business. The anger that builds up inside them perhaps stems from their inability to confront one another due to the fear that it may take a wrong turn. But if you allow the film to flow for an hour, you will see that beneath the veneer of ego, there’s love that can’t be contained in words. The Telugu masala comedy Race Gurram (2014) uses this theme spectacularly.
Anbu (Vivek Prasanna) and Arivu (Kathir), in Sarbath, are two such brothers who don’t like to have face-to-face conversations. Though they aren’t eager to get into fist-fights, their mother is worried that they’ll land in trouble sooner or later. While Anbu, the older brother, is an introvert, Arivu is a hot-headed youth who’s always hungry for brawls. Also, Arivu is the person that you’ll follow throughout the film — he’s the kingpin and the mastermind.
From the outset, Sarbath feels like an action film, as there are quite a few scenes that are stacked up, early on, where careless expressions pave the way for Arivu to flex his muscles. But if you give it some time, it’ll slowly turn into a funny drama in which many of the conflict points get brushed away with the help of hassle-free resolutions.
In addition to the storyline of the brothers, Sarbath concentrates on three love stories and it makes me kind of sad to say that none of them earn a degree of cuteness. It’s the same old-fashioned tale that makes men follow women. As is the case with ripe rom-coms, it’s the sickness of love at first sight that plagues Arivu. The scene that brings Aruna (Rahasya Gorak) and him together is categorically foolish. She thinks he’s harassed her friend and slaps him, but when it dawns on her that he’s not the culprit, she goes away without offering him an apology.
If it’s the seriousness of the incident that softens the blow, it’s understandable. But, here, it metamorphoses into a meet-cute scenario. What follows is a rough-on-the-edges routine wherein Arivu tries to woo Aruna. The songs and dances aren’t greatly memorable, either. And, hence, it’s harder to sit through the cheesy sequences. And then when love finally strikes Anbu, his unwieldy silences bloom into unbearable ponderations.
It’s not clear whether Anbu, like Arivu, throws his little heart at the woman he likes. However, since he doesn’t have the temerity to take the reins, he learns the art of hiding his feelings behind his tired face. There’s a brilliant scene where their mutual friend (portrayed by Soori), during a heated debate, takes Anbu’s side. He spits a couple of truth bombs in the span of five minutes and it sort of acts as an eye-opener for the younger brother. This is hands down the best scene in the film.
It’s really cool to watch Soori break away from his regular job of cracking jokes that are not worth two pennies. He’s in his true element when he stars as the protagonist’s friend rather than as his sidekick. Earlier this year, Yogi Babu, another actor who’s mostly roped in for his comic timing, delivered a measured performance that didn’t require him to end all his sentences with a hilarious exclamation mark in Karnan.
If Tamil filmmakers want to raise the standard of the industry, they can cast certain actors against their type. This will give a chance to the viewers to catch their favorite stars in never-before-seen avatars. After all, for better or worse, unexpected situations lead to unexpected outcomes.
And, now, that brings me to the last romantic story, in Sarbath. The concluding thread features Aruna’s brother, Senthil (Ashvatt) — this one is set around a laugh-out-loud event which makes the movie seem more wholesome.
For a drama that employs three couples to narrate its circle of love, Sarbath works only when it stays away from the lovey-dovey area. It’s not a compliment, of course, but that’s how it is. It would have probably been sharper if it had devoted more time to male bonding instead of woefully centering its lens on sugary romance.