'Sembi' review: Kovai Sarala delivers career-best performance in Tamil legal-drama
Those who know Tamil cinema know that Kovai Sarala is more than a comic relief. The veteran actor was only used to crack jokes in between important scenes all these years. But we know she is more than a slapstick. Tamil movie Sembi directed by Prabhu Solomon proves the point. Released on Friday, Sarala shoulders a huge message in the movie. Here's our review.
What is 'Sembi' all about?
Sarala plays Veerathaayi, a tribal woman from Kodaikanal. She lives a happy peaceful life with her 10-year-old granddaughter Sembi (Nila). Their happy life gets disturbed when Sembi is sexually assaulted by three travelers. Veerathayi fights for justice and has a long battle ahead. Whether she wins the battle and brings criminals to justice makes up for the rest of the film.
Sarala stands out with her performance as a determined woman
For this role, Sarala has gone through a body transformation and it convinces us. One can even say that this role is her best performance by far. The one scene where she is crying in anger, which slowly fades into an expression of helplessness is one for the ages- a quick movement of her eyes emotes a million things.
Other actors' performances are significant and make a mark
Child actor Nila plays Sembi's character with an earnest performance. The sexual harassment scene and her breathtaking moments in the climax ensure that she has paved a way for herself. Other actors including Ashwin, Thambi Ramaiah, Nanjil Sampath, and others deliver convincing performances.
Lead characters are strong and grow on us easily
Director Solomon walks us through the world of Veerathaayi and Sembi who live in harmony with nature. M Jeevan's cinematography breathes life into the mountains and forests that we see on screen. The relationship depth between Veerathaayi and Sembi and how they stand up for each other makes us empathize with them. So, we understand Veerathaayi's battle and we root for her to win.
'Sembi' deserves a theatrical watch
Scenes deifying Ashwin like the stunt sequence on the bus dilute the film. The courtroom scenes are not as intense as they should've been. The lengthy preachy dialogues damage the film's organic screenplay. Body-shaming and colorist 'jokes' are unnecessarily included. In a nutshell, Sembi's message against sexual abuse is strong but it has some adulteration. We go with 3.5/5.