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Movie Review: Silambattam (2008) Back to Movie
Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam
Fans Rating: 80%%80%% 80% (10 votes)
Movie Still Kaalai's failure has apparently done nothing to dampen Simbhu's interest in cliched, violent masala movies. Inspite of him playing the role of a priest in a temple, Silambaattam is simply another opportunity for him to take on a larger-than-life role and indulge in all the usual elements that go with the role. Simbhu may be an Ajith fan but its Vijay's place in Tamil cinema that he seems to be gunning for and Silambaattam is further proof of that.

Vichu(Simbhu), a timid temple priest who lives with his grandfather(Nedumudi Venu), does his best to stay out of trouble. But as an encounter with some rowdies shows him and others, he can't be pushed too far and his timid exterior hides enough strength to down several men single-handedly. When a man is chased into the neighborhood by some rowdies intent on killing him, Vichu dons a makeshift mask and saves him. But one of the man's friends sees Vichu's face and that leads to his past being unravelled.

A Brahmin character in a Tamil movie is typically used for comedy and the hope that things would be different here since the hero is a Brahmin are quickly dashed. All the aspects that are used to derive comedy out of a Brahmin character - the exaggerated accents, expressions and body language, the vulgar jokes, the portrayal of the women as sex-crazed ladies - are all present here too. And the hero being a Brahmin turns out to be even more damaging since these aspects occupy the bulk of the movie instead of being relegated to a comedy track that pops up only occasionally.

The movie faithfully follows the template set by all those movies where the hero is shown to be meek(here Simbhu pulls the heroine away when she argues with some young men creating a ruckus in the temple) and has noticeable gaps in his past (like the fact that he is living with his grandfather and there is no mention of his parents). So we first get fight sequences to show that Simbhu is really not meek and then a flashback that informs him - and us - about his past, gives him some new family members and introduces a few new villains he has to go up against. The flashback, even is familiar and predictable, has energy that the rest of the movie lacks though.

Simbhu is a self-professed Ajith fan and has no qualms about revealing it in his movies. Here he gets to play Billa in the climax. This may make Ajith's fans happy but it does nothing for the rest of us. The entire segment feels unnecessary and silly and with Santhanam, Manobala and Nirosha donning similar costumes to make up Simbhu's gang, it takes away the seriousness from Simbhu's vendetta.

Simbhu, not surprisingly, hams his way through the role of the priest. But he is at home in the flashback with the get-up sitting well on him and his expressions and gestures going well with the character. Sana Khan is clearly another one-film wonder while Sneha has little to do. Santhanam is his usual crass self but Karunas, inspite of having a lot less screen time, figures in one of his funnier tracks by never talking except for a single line towards the end. Machaan Machaan..., the only slow song, is an old-style number with Ilaiyaraja's voice enhancing the 90s feel. Where is the Party? is a very interesting number in terms of composition, singing style and lyrics but loses some of the effect since it is thrust in unceremoniously and is picturized in a rather ordinary manner.

Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam