Silambattam has many features to make it special. 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, for the first time, dons the role of a demure Iyer boy.
The narration of Silambattam switches between two periods. The opening scene shows Vichu (Simbu) as a quiet youngster brought up by his maternal grandfather and guardian, the village priest (Nedumudi Venu). Owing to certain reasons, the caring elder has purposefully toned down the young boy’s emotional quotient and has taught him a peculiar art of living. (Simbu uses his eyes to convey the inner quietude of Vichu.) As a result, Vichu is soft-spoken, passive and 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 caretaker of the temple. Vichu’s only consolation comes in the company of his sweetheart Janu (Sana Khan). Janu’s childish pranks and teasing remarks make up for all the precious and youthful moments he has missed in his growing years.
Though Simbu abides by is gradfather’s advice, an unpleasant incident in the temple premises reveals his real persona. Vichu sees a big band of ruffians bashing a seemingly meek individual. Becoming furious at the sight, Vichu gets into the tussle and saves the victim. But, as the man takes a hard look at Vichu’s face, he is stunned! What is the secret in Vichu’s past? Why does it intimidate the stranger?
A flashback shows a huge clash between the two village groups headed by Muthuvel (Prabhu) and Veeraiyan (Ponvannan). The reason for the clash? 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 survive. The burning intensity of the mishap stays alive in Duraisingham’s heart and Muthuvel is the only surviving witness to the dastardly incident. What happens next? What is the connection between Vichu and Tamizh? What part does Vichu play in settling the long-standing 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 offered a commendable performance in both the roles. Though there are evident variations in attire and make-up between the lookalikes, Simbhu’s acting and body language establish 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 young Tamizh. When he synergizes both the characters in the latter part of the film, we get to see Simbu, simply unplugged!
Sana Khan, with had a bubbly romantic part to play, is the youthful element in the film. Sneha as Gayathri is the soul-stealer, particularly in the scene when she boldly presents an alibi for Tamizh at the cost of her reputation, her predicament moves everyone. In fact, Sneha’s role is pivotal to the story; the character’s influence is felt till the end. In addition, it has also added remarkable depth to the narration. ‘Machan Machan’ the duet by Sneha-Simbu is superb!
Karunas appears as Tamizh’s aide and Santhanam is Vichu’s ally. Both offer some light-hearted moments. Considering his mind-blowing performances in many earlier blockbusters, the role is but a cakewalk for Prabhu. However, the veteran embellishes the emotional character with a measured and mature performance. Ponvannan’s clarity in dialogue deliveries makes a mark. Kishore’s forbidding stance in the very first scene provides a prelude to the film’s mood.
All in all, debut director Saravanan has succeeded in creating a double-role extravaganza with Simbu. The story is indeed formulaic in places, yet we can also see the director’s imprint all through. 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,n satisfying both classes and masses.
Banner: Lakshmi Movie Makers Limited
Cast: Silambarasan, Sana Khan,
Direction: S Saravanan
Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja