Director: Prabhu Solomon
Cast: Kovai Sarala, Nila, Ashwin, Thambi Ramaiah, Nanjil Sampath, Pazha Karuppaiah and Gnanasambandan among others
Cinematography: M Jeevan
Music: Nivas K Prasanna
Make up: Shankar, M K Raju (Kovai Sarala)
Rating: 3.75 stars
Director Prabhu Solomon, who moved audiences to tears with his ‘Myna’, comes back to narrate yet another compelling, powerful story called ‘Sembi’.
The film is about an elderly tribal woman called Veeraththaai (Kovai Sarala) who demands justice for her 10-year-old granddaughter Sembi (Nila) who has been ravaged and mauled by a pack of peadophiles who are drunk on power and position.
Almost the entire first half of the film is simply world class. Make no mistake about it, Prabhu Solomon is at his finest.
Be it the narration or the visuals or the make up or the acting of every single character that appears on screen, everything is spectacularly perfect in the first half.
However, the same cannot be said of the second half. The half after the break turns a little commercial in nature with a few dramatic sequences that seem far fetched and exaggerated. Also, there is more conversation ( quite a bit of which is irrelevant to the plot) and this somehow reduces the intensity of the film.
Thankfully though, Prabhu Solomon again focuses on the central theme of his film and the story again starts picking up pace to end on a really satisfying note.
In my reckoning, the two actors who play the lead in this film deserve a National Award each. Kovai Sarala, who plays Veeraththaai, and the child artiste Nila, who plays the titular role of Sembi, are both outstanding and in a league of their own.
In fact, Kovai Sarala delivers her career-best performance in this film. The popular comedienne departs from her preferred genre of comedy and delivers an intense performance that is serious in nature from start to finish.
Her appearance, body language, dialogue delivery and her measured performance on the whole are just phenomenal, making one wonder why directors did not explore this facet of the actress until now.
Nila, who plays Sembi, is a natural performer and a perfect fit for the character. She comes up with an exceptional performance to become the soul of the film. Her innocent laugh makes you smile while her cries make your heart melt. Everything about her in the film is realistic. She comes up with a performance that can be defined as nothing less than stellar. Take for instance a court scene in which she is brought in front of her oppressors. The manner in which she trembles and cries in fear is so spot on that you actually empathise with her.
Pazha Karuppaiah, Nanjil Sampath and Thambi Ramaiah all deliver commendable performances. Cooku with Comali fame Ashwin comes into the picture towards the end of the first half. He is portrayed as the hero of the film and does a reasonably good job.
On the technical front, cinematographer Jeevan’s visuals are simply out of this world. The shots, the colour, the lighting and the frames are all a class apart. Each and every scene in the first half is breathtakingly beautiful. Yet another strong contender for the National Award for cinematography next year.
Complementing his visuals are Nivas K Prasanna’s intense background score. The cinematographer and the music director, between them, lift the standard of ‘Sembi’ to an altogether different level.
Prabhu Solomon seems to have delivered a winner and a handsome one at that!