A young man with a speech impairment finds himself in possession of a bag stuffed with cash belonging to a corrupt politician. Sabhaapathy is a middling affair.
Critic’s Rating: 2.5/5
Sivakarthikeyan was playing against type in Doctor. Santhanam does something similar in Sabhaapathy. His forte is quick retorts, yet he portrays a stammerer in this film. What would a Santhanam movie be like if he didn’t drop ‘counters’ to every other character’s lines?
In Srirangam, the actor plays Sabhaapathy, a young guy with a speech impairment. He is in love with his next-door neighbour Savithri (a bland presence); he is unemployed; he goes out with his friend Ramani (TV star Pugazh, making a mediocre debut); and he has a tense relationship with his father Ganapathy (MS Bhaskar, effective, as usual).
Some things, we suppose, can’t be changed in a Santhanam film! Sabhaapathy, as luck would have it, winds up with a suitcase full of cash belonging to a corrupt local politician named Lucky Raja (Sayaji Shinde). What does Sabhaapathy do when his stammering prevents him from acquiring a job and, as a result, from marrying Savi?
Santhanam’s films have given the idea that they were built around him and his humorous flair since he became a hero. He was playing the same role — a wisecracking young man — despite the changes in tale and storyline. For the first time, we see the actor striving to fit into a role rather than playing himself in Sabhaapathy. Any other actor may have played this part, yet the film’s result would not have been much different. While they are still baby steps, they are encouraging.
As previously said, there are still storyline components in this actor’s film that are required viewing. In addition, we have his acting troupe (from MS Bhaskar and Lollu Sabha Swaminathan to Lollu Sabha Maran).
Director R Srinivasa Rao uses a typical one-line — an underdog whose virtues are tested and then rewarded — and creates settings that are funny, if not wholly original. He exploits the rivalry between Sabhaapathy and Ganapathy as a springboard for wide, even cringey humour (if a son puking on his father’s head and a parent ordering his son to strip at a neighbor’s house is your cup of tea, you might like this better!).
Then there are stretches (such as a sequence set in a police station in which a cop doubles as an astrologer) that make you laugh on screen but don’t seem as amusing when you see them again. This holds true for the entire film, which is mediocre at best. You forget about it the moment you leave the theatre, as if it were a dream that you wake up from.
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