Sangathamizhan movie review: Vijay Sethupathi film is a typical formulaic entertainer with hackneyed plot
Vijay Sethupathi is better known for his performance-oriented roles than run-of-the-mill commercial entertainers. But the actor is now looking to progress to super-stardom by playing the larger-than-life hero. This experiment has, however, previously failed for him with films like Junga (2018) and Sindhubaadh (2019), which were torn apart by the critics.
Sethupathi’s latest Sangathamizhan follows the template of a typical masala film and is hugely disappointing with its hackneyed plot and presentation. Throughout the film, Sethupathi's acting, to put it politely, seems to go through the motions. He is taking up these films to only increase his brand value as Tamil cinema prefers a saleable star over an actor of substance. The character he plays here, often takes pot shots at himself and in a scene lampoons his problems with the Income Tax (IT) department.
The story is akin to the formulaic ones of the 1980's, where superstars portrayed dual roles. A favourite ploy of filmmakers from the 1980s and 1990s was to have the hero play two different characters that merge in the climax with a long drawn out explanation. It was a regular commercial pattern in Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan-starrers.
On one hand there is Murugan (Sethupathi), an aspiring actor from a lower middle class socioeconomic background, who wants to be a comedian (as top Tamil comedians work on astronomic daily wages and work in multiple films). His friend (Soori) has also caught acting bug and wants to be the leading man in films. One day Murugan meets a rich industrialist Shankar (Ravi Kishan) and his daughter Kamalani (Raashi Khanna) at a pub. After some initial misunderstandings she eventually falls for him. But for Murugan, love is the lead of his priorities, leading Kamalani to even get drunk to catch his attention.
Post interval, Sangathamizhan opens in Theni and the audiences are introduced to Thamizh (Sethupathi), Murugan's lookalike, a leader who has caught the attention of the villagers. Thamizh is locks horns with the local MLA and powerful politician (Ashutosh Rana), who is working closely with Shankar to set up a copper plant in the village. The antagonists kill Thamizh and his family during a temple festival. Shankar then draws up a plan to send Murugan to impersonate Thamizh, but things go awry.
The first half of Sangathamizhan works to a certain extent due to the comedic interactions between Sethupathi and Soori. At times it seems more like a parody of typical Tamil hero-centric films, like when Soori tells his friend, "Now let's have an introduction song." It ends with dance master Raju Sundaram looking at the camera and saying – “Cut”! In short, it appears as if director Vijay Chandar is taking a dig Tamil cinema’s hero-worshiping films.
The antagonists are more like caricatures with Kishan's character always shown in a suit while Rana grimaces whenever he delivers a dialogue. Raashi Khanna and Nivetha Pethuraj's characters are also stereotyped, and why is a fine actor like Nasser's presence in the film limited to a a regular father role? With a runtime of 150 minutes, Sangathamizhan is a tedious watch.
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