Sabhaapathy is a mean affair
The actor plays Sabhaapathy, a young man with a speech impediment in Srirangam. He is in love with his neighbor Savithri (Preethi Verma, a bland presence); he is unemployed; he hangs out with his friend Ramani (TV star Pugazh, who makes a lackluster debut), whose only activity is drinking; and he has a thorny relationship with his father Ganapathy (MS Bhaskar, efficient, as usual). Well, some things can’t be changed in a Santhanam movie, we’re guessing! As fate willed it, literally here, Sabhaapathy finds himself with a suitcase full of money that belongs to a corrupt local politician, Lucky Raja (Sayaji Shinde). With his stuttering preventing him from finding a job and, in turn, marrying Savi, what does Sabhaapathy do?
Since becoming a hero, Santhanam’s films have given the impression that they are structured around him and his comedic style. Despite the story and plot differences, he played the same character – a sarcastic young man. Perhaps for the first time, in Sabhaapathy, we feel the actor trying to fit into a character rather than playing himself. Any other actor could have played this role, and the result of the film wouldn’t have differed much. While these are still small steps. As we mentioned earlier, there are still some much-needed plot elements in this actor’s film. And we also have his company of actors (from MS Bhaskar and Lollu Sabha Swaminathan to Lollu Sabha Maran).
Director R Srinivasa Rao offers a familiar line – an underdog whose virtues are tested and ultimately rewarded – and offers us some somewhat fun scenarios even if they are not entirely fresh. He uses the friction between Sabhaapathy and Ganapathy as a springboard for some humor, which is broad and even cranky (if a son throwing up on his father’s head and a father ordering his son to undress in a neighbor’s house is your mug of comedy, you could dig better!). Then we have some stretches (like a scene set in a police station, where a cop doubles as an astrologer) that makes you smile when they take place onscreen, but don’t seem so funny when you do. come back to that later. This also applies to the entire movie, which is an average deal. Like a dream that escapes you when you wake up, you forget it as soon as you leave the theater.