Director Ponram's third collaboration with Sivakarthikeyan is the celluloid equivalent of a multi-cuisine restaurant. There's comedy, action, period drama, romance...I'm probably forgetting to include a few genres. Sivakarthikeyan plays Seema Raja, a jobless youth (no surprises there), from a zameen family that has ruled over Singampatti. As his sidekick, there's accountant Kanakku (Soori) who has three wives named Jil, Jung, and Juk. Pretty normal for "family films" in Tamil cinema, so take that BP tablet already.
The film doesn't take itself seriously except for the "flashback" portion, that appears to be a fusion of Baahubali and Padmavat (Keerthy Suresh makes a cameo here). So, you should be well advised not to look for logic anywhere. After all, we're speaking of a film where the hero paints spots on a lean dog and expects people to believe it’s a leopard on the loose (fun fact - they do).
Continuing the tradition of heroines with fashionably streaked hair wearing half saris and sporting Tamizh names, Seema Raja falls in love with a PT teacher called Suthanthira Selvi. To Samantha's credit, she handles the silambam confidently, but one wonders when filmmakers who keep speaking about mannvasanai will cast a heroine who looks the part rather than someone who is so obviously out of place.
The romance involves Seema Raja repeatedly talking about how men should "follow" the women they love. Apparently, women are like the sun and men are like phoenix birds who never stop trying though the sun keeps burning them. If you have another BP tablet, here's where you take it.
Simran and Lal play the villainous couple — Kaliswari and Kathadi Kannan — who are creating trouble for Seema Raja and his folks. Kaliswari is heavily inspired by Neelambari in Padayappa (there's a reference to the film too) and though it's fun to watch Simran lift up her saree and tied it up like a thug, she's let down by a predictably written character who does little but screech and issue threats. The main conflict in the film is the age-old one in Tamil films - will the daddy agree to get the daughter married to the hero?
But, Ponram pads this up with all sorts of sentiments. There's the mandatory farmer sentiment, lots of Tamil pride, a few veiled jibes at the current central government and comedy to stitch all of this together. We are presented a few lines on the girl child not being inferior to boys but our hero also thunders the usual, "Aambalaya irundha!" dialogues...and Suthanthira Selvi only gets to wield the silambam against another woman. There's only so much suthanthiram she has.
The shift in tone between the main plot and the flashback is quite abrupt and considering the latter portion gives one a distinct sense of déjà vu, you start feeling impatient about where this is going. Besides, comparing a king who fought a war against Alauddin Khilji's men with our aimless prince's non-battle is "romba too muchu", as they say in pure Tamil.
Seemaraja is also an unapologetic defence of feudal structures, glorifying the idea of a historically privileged family "protecting" the town and dictating to the people what they should be doing while not breaking into a sweat themselves to earn a living. So the two villains, one of whom is disparagingly referred to as a "lambaadi" (a nomadic tribe) and another who used to work as a butcher, can never aspire to become the "raja". That honour is reserved for our hero who goes around town chasing PT teachers and pigeons.
Soori and Sivakarthikeyan share a good rapport on screen and some of the former's lines do evoke laughter. Soori gets his own "hero" moment when he displays his six pack, but this is appropriately deflated in the same scene so he doesn't take the limelight away from the actual hero. As much as Seema Raja and Kanakku banter, the constant commentary cannot be a substitute for a plot and the narrative drags way too much in the second half. The VFX is shoddily done and ends up hurting the film. D Imman's songs are pleasant enough, though nothing really stands out. In a multi-cuisine film such as this, it's too much to expect sensible song placement, so we shall not get into that.
Sivakarthikeyan is quite conscious about his place in the industry. He makes a few self-deprecating comments about himself and references Vijay, Ajith and Suriya, but there's no doubt that he is positioning himself as a contender in the same league. Despite all the ‘humility’, he has his own sunglass moments and punch dialogues that send the crowds into a tizzy. If you're a fan of the Sivakarthikeyan "family film" genre — dances with kids, ‘follow her’ romance and passable comedy — there's a good chance that you'll enjoy Seemaraja. If, on the other hand, your idea of a "family film" is not one that ends with Kanakku taking a fourth wife named Jajukk, you may not find this prince so charming.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.