Seenu Ramasamy is a director who makes realistic Tamil movies set in a rural milieu with a lot of angst and melodrama. His new film, titled after Rajinikanth’s popular 1991 film Dharma Durai, has his favourite hero Vijay Sethupathi in the lead role.
It was Seenu Ramasamy who introduced Sethupathi as hero in Thenmerku Paruvakaatru, the 2010 film that went on to win national awards for Saranya Ponvannan and Vairamuthu.
The director and actor have now come together for the third time with the 2016 Dharma Durai, which is a feel good family entertainer largely driven by the performance by Vijay Sethupathi. Ramasamy has made it work as the film is about the goodness in people and the mistakes they make, told as a commercial entertainer.
The story is set in a village near Madurai. Dharma Durai (Vijay Sethupathi) is an alcoholic and an embarrassment to his three brothers who run the family chit fund business. But his mother Pandiyamma (Radhika Sharatkumar) dotes on him and at a crucial moment helps him to escape from the clutches of his brothers who were planning to silence him.
Dharma runs away unknowingly with a bag full of money, which the family had kept to settle business deals. He goes back to his alma mater, Madurai Medical College in search of his close friends Stella (Srushti Dange) who was in love with him and her best friend Subashini (Tamannaah Bhatia) who had a crush on him. Why Dharma become an alcoholic is told through a flashback, and how he meets his old friend’s forms the rest of the story.
The story is wafer thin and there are too many coincidences in the narration. The plot twists are all commercial and at times too far-fetched. The film moves at a leisurely pace and loses its fizz with an all is well that ends well, but abrupt climax.
What works for the film is a riveting performance by Vijay Sethupathi, especially the early scenes at his home. Radhika as his mother is brilliant, she brings out the anguish and pain in the character in a touching manner. Among the three heroines it is Aishwarya Rajesh (Kaaka Muttai fame) who steals the show, while Tamannaah just does not fit the bill.
Srushti Dange has nothing much to do. Technically the film is quite good; Yuvan Shankar Raja’s music is in sync with the theme along with Sukumar’s cinematography.
Dharma Durai is a feel good family entertainer that works to a large extent due to Vijay Sethupathi, an actor of substance.