April 19 2019
‘Seema Raja’ review: The decline of royalty
14 September 2018

An insipid subject that tries to showcase too many elements but excels in none

Sivakarthikeyan seems intent on following the route Rajinikanth took in tinseltown. Five minutes into Seema Raja, and you can already spot two elements that the recent Superstar release Kaala employed: chaos during a cricket match and the entry of the hero with a dog in tow.

A little later, there’s a Padayappa-like sequence and much later into the film, you’ll see Seemaraja arriving in a helicopter, much like the popular scene in SivajiEven the camera angle is similar to the one employed in Sivaji.

That Sivakarthikeyan is trying what Rajini did in most of his commercial fare – in the Nineties and now – is excusable. What isn’t excusable, though, is picking a storyline that’s formulaic and archaic.

Seema Raja
  • Genre: Drama
  • Cast: Sivakarthikeyan, Soori, Samantha, Simran, Keerthy Suresh
  • Storyline: A youngster who belongs to a royal family needs to play saviour to his villagers

The film harks back to the times of zamindars and royalty, and Seema Raja is among its few torchbearers in present-day Tamil Nadu. He struts around like a king. He gives away money to those who enquire his well-being. He drives a chariot (recall Rajini in Muthu?) and tries to bring order in conflicting situations.

His arch-rival is the head of Singampatti, a neighbouring village that is always at war with his people. The first half ambles on without much purpose, preferring to concentrate on his benign romance (with a PT teacher called Selvi, played by Samantha) and a comedy track (with Soori, who else?) that elicits laughs only sporadically.

By the time the meatier portion in the film arrives – a period flashback that talks about Seemaraja’s ancestors who ruled the area in the 1400s – we’re too tired to sit up and take notice. The period portion works; while it is familiar territory to audiences thanks to Baahubali and Padmaavat, it’s heartening to see it being executed well in a commercial film. But the happiness doesn’t last too long; we’re soon back to masala-land, one in which the hero has to address important issues concerning farmers and slay the bad guys.

Except the lead characters of Sivakarthikeyan and Soori, the casting is generic; Simran seems confused in a role that hardly suits her and demands her to speak in an accent she is uncomfortable with. Director Ponram seems to have clearly missed a trick by trying out to put in too many commercial elements and excelling in none.

Even music composer Imman’s tunes sound repetitive and reminiscent of his work in Varuthapada Valibar Sangam and Rajini Murugan. One of the numbers even has the hero crooning a lyric that references the popular Tamil phrase: ‘Aracha Maavu Arachaalum’ (batter that has already been ground). There, they’ve said it themselves.



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