Debutant filmmaker Anand Ravichandran’s Sethum Aayiram Pon, a film that deals with the subject of death and oppari - the fading art form of mourning the dead, actually makes one respect life even more as it celebrates every moment that leads up to death. The story is centred on a love-hate relationship between a grandmother (Srilekha Rajendran), who firmly believes in her roots, and her granddaughter Meera (Nivedhithaa Sathish), a 23-year-old make-up artist from the city. When Meera is called home by her grandmother to help settle a family squabble, she learns life’s most important lessons while trying to mend a broken relationship.
Sethum Aayiram Pon is a heartfelt depiction of the simple lives of small-towners. In a stunning six-minute single-take opening scene, the film introduces the key characters of the film. This scene is also proof to the first-time filmmaker’s prowess to keep the viewer engaged with a very simple plot. There isn’t much going on in the film as the story is mostly centred on two families and what has brought about the rift between. As much as the film’s core theme is about oppari, Anand Ravichandran convincingly establishes the fact that a broken family is even more painful than dealing with death.
Even though the film takes its sweet time to make its point, there isn’t a single dull moment. The banter between Meera and Krishnaveni makes the film livelier than one can imagine. Both actresses do a splendid job, keeping their performances natural and authentic. While Nivedhithaa is unbelievably poised with her perform but the film belongs to Srilekha, who is pitch-perfect as the loud and sarcastic Krishnaveni, with her cheeky sense of humour. Avinash Raghudevan as Kuberan, another key character, is aptly cast in a role that has multiple shades which he brings out in his performance effortlessly.
As more Tamil filmmakers continue to explore stories set against rural backdrops, Sethu Aayiram Pon comes as a whiff of fresh air and reminds you once again that you need a novel plot to make an engrossing film. It takes a simple plot of a family squabble while paying a rich tribute to oppari.
Rating – 3.5 stars