Almost all films that release in Tamil have a love angle and conflict relating to love. But in a state which has not been an exception if not a worst example for caste based differences and hatred spread in every corner of the country, not many films speak about love being hated just because it is capable of breaking the caste system. After Radha Mohan’s Gouravam that released last year, Rummy is probably the second film to have released in Tamil main stream circle, to touch the issue of ‘Honor killing’ that is still existing in many parts of Tamilnadu, even at the time many have started speaking about post-modernism as the next transition of a modern society.
Sakthi (Inigo Prabhakar) and Joseph (Vijay Sethupathi) are from different suburbs of Madurai , sharing their hostel room in college. Sakthi falls for Meenakshi (Gayathri) his class mate. Joseph falls in love with Sorna (Aiswarya). Sorna ‘s father, the Oor Periyavar (Village Head) is dead against love who has sickle holding thugs at his disposal to kill anyone he wants to see dead. Meenakshi is her cousin. While Periyavar has started doubting about Meenakshi’s love affair and is seeking a chance to kill Sakthi, his own daughter elopes with Joseph. Hooligans loyal to Periyavar manage to find Sorna and Joseph and the ensuing proceedings lead to a bloody climax typical of Madurai based films.
What happens to Sakthi and Meenakshi is intertwined with that. The story is set in the year 1987. Debutant Director K.Balakrishnan, is successful in bringing the authentic feel of eighties, by using elements like Telegrams, Telephones without dial buttons, men of all ages dreaming about the hot actress Silk Smitha, a film starring Rajnikanth and Amala running in a theatre etc. But the reason for his selection of the period, lacks a strong reason since a Village entrenched with traditional values, a family that opposes love on the grounds of caste, killer instinct caused by caste hatred etc are still prevalent in many parts of Tamilnadu. However the Director’s writing is so subtle and clever, that there is not a single dialogue in the film that lets out the name of any caste, or even the word ‘caste’ itself and only through the proceedings the viewer is made to grasp that it is caste that forms the basis for the main conflict of the film. The films that have directly or indirectly spoken about caste will have a single man or group of men playing the main baddies who are ready to touch any level of violence in order to retain their caste pride. This film has a Patti or Appaththa (Paternal Grandmother) who dons a very minor role but utters a shocking dialogue towards the climax, justifying anything that is done in the name of caste. With that single verse that has the risk of being missed by the audience who are not so attentive, the Director hints that caste is nota problem with a few individuals but it is something that is deep rooted in the minds of a major population of the society that includes men and women of all ages passing the rot across generations. The Writer-Director has also succeeded in capturing the dialect of the landscape and bringing it out successfully from all the characters.
The biggest let down factor is that, apart from having a subject of topical importance and its earnest portrayal Rummy hardly has anything that a movie buff would expect. Most part of the film, especially the first half is dedicated to romance. With two young couples in the lead, that can be accepted as unavoidable and the romance sequences are breezy to a large extent. But the scenes lack the punch to click with the audience since most of them seem repetitive and do not offer anything new. This seems to be the result of an apparent urge of the director to balance the share of both the couples. The number of songs and their poor placement vouch for this urge to succeed in the aforesaid balancing act. Though some hints were given in the initial sequences the main conflict starts only after a sizeable running time of the second half.
From there on the film picks up momentum and notwithstanding the predictable turn of events, the film does hold the grip until the climax. The climax may be a shocker to many but the decision taken by a particular character is convincing. The Director should also be appreciated to have minimized blood and gore despite the story having a lots of scope for violence. Inigo Prabhakar, who was seen playing the hero’s friend so far has elevated to the level of the lead hero in this film. He suits the need of the character in romance and action sequences. However he has a long way to go in histrionics, mainly in the emotional sequences. Gayathri suits the role of a pious rural girl and emotes well. Vijay Sethupathi who has already established himself as a star, plays second fiddle to the lead hero Except for the romantic sequences and a few tearjerkers relating to Mother Sentiment, the role hardly has anything to offer for this actor’s penchant to perform.
However it can be said that Sethupathi, does justice to his role with ease. AIshwarya impresses with her dusky beauty and proves that she can act well. In the climax her role takes the centre stage and it won’t be an overstatement to say that the girl, who is just a few films old, has carried the weight of that particular portion with ease. Soori acting as the classmate cum friend of the lead men does evoke a few guffaws with his one liners and unique modulation. But he has to develop a lot to carve a niche for himself as a solo comedian. D.Imman’s songs are pleasing to listen but their placement act as spoilers. Re-recording aptly reflects the mood of the film in most parts C.Premkumar’s cinematography has successfully captured the suburbs of Madurai with its nativity. Art Director Veeramani should be appreciated for selecting some unseen hilly locales that help to pep up the romance sequences. Despite being another predictable tale of Love and hatred, the film deserves praise for its subtle and strong handling of its subject.