Written and directed by: Julien Prakash
Cast: Yuvan, Anu Krishna, Akhil, Ravi Maria, Thavasi
Music: Srikanth Deva
Ilami’s story happens in early 18th century AD in Madurai district.
Kiliyur and Mangulam are neighboring villages. Veerayyan (Ravi Maria) is a big shot in Kiliyur Village. He owns a Bull for Jallikattu (Bull-Taming sport) and it remains untamable. Ilami (Anu Krishna) is Veerayyan’s daughter. She is in mutual love with Karuppu (Yuvan) a Mangulam resident who makes a living by hunting. Sadai Puli (Akhil) is a Jallikattu warrior from Mangualam and he often wins the sport by resorting to crooked means.
Residents of both Kiliyur and Mangulam share the same ancestry and they are separated a few centuries ago. Mangulam residents want to get back the idol of lord Karuppu common for both villages taken away by Kiliyur residents while separating form them. This is the reason for resentment between the two villages.
During the Annual Festival time the bone of contention takes center stage and Sadaipuli adds fuel to the fire for his selfish gains. Veerayyan challenges Mangulam residents to tame his bull and get back the idol and promises that he will also give his daughter for the man who tames his bull in the Vadam Jallikattu (The most difficult version of the sport).
For his love for Ilami, Karuppu decides to participate in the Jallikattu putting his life at stake. At the same time the self centered Sadai Puli will not let anyone get the glory of regaining his village’s prestige.
What happens to the love of Ilami and Karuppu? Who wins in the struggle between Kiliyur and Mangulam? These questions are answered in the rest of the film.
While many established directors and stars are resorting to oft repeated horror-comedy genre, it is really refreshing to see a debutant director take a up a period flick and presenting with great authenticity backed by in depth research and hard work.
Not only the history and details of Jallikattu but also the lifestyle traits and culture of Tamil people lived in during that period in Madurai right from their food habits, costumes, dialect, barter system prevalent in those days everything have been portrayed in a way that we are transported to the 18th century.
However the director could have concentrated more on the story part which moves on predictable lines and lacks the punch factor.
The shocking climax could have been portrayed with much less gore by resorting to suggestive shot. This may be a turn off to many. Also the usage of graphics in all the scenes involving the bull in order to satisfy the Animal welfare activists is so palpable.
Despite all these flaws, ‘Ilami’ is a commendable effort for the team’s hardwork and commitment to bring back a slice of Tamils’ life in 18th century.
Ilami (Anu Krishna) is the only daughter of village head Veeraiya (Ravi Mariya). She is in love with Karuppu (Yuvan) from the neighboring village Mangulam. Karuppu along with his two friends hunt in the forest for their livelihood. Though both the villages appear friendly at the peripheral level, there is an enmity in Karuppu’s village towards the other over the possession of Lord Karuppu’s idol. They have taken away the idol 200 years ago and presently all the poojas and festivals are conducted under the captainship of Veeraiyan only.
Meanwhile, enters Sadapuli (Akhil), a scheming pushy young man from Mangulam who with a hidden agenda triggers off a spat between the villages over the deity. Veeraiyan agrees to give back the deity if anyone from Mangulam tames his bull (which was never tamed by anyone till then) in Vadam Jallikattu (the toughest form of ancient bull taming sport) besides offering his daughter Ilami to marry off the valorous boy. Now, Karuppu is in a fix and forced to enter the fray for his love for Ilami. The rest is all about whether Karuppu and Ilami unite in wedlock or not, with the film ending with an unexpected and arresting climax.
Yuvan and Anu have given a decent performance and are aptly cast. But wish the director could have extracted more from them. It is Akhil who started off as a hero in the film Kaloori who steals the show with his intimidating act. He does his part with a lot of conviction. Ravi Mariya in a relatively subtle role has given a good performance. Even the newbies who appear as Yuvan’s friends are impressive. Kishore is cast as the commander in Chief and helps Yuvan and co in an extended cameo. But there’s no clarity in his portions.
Julien Prakash’s enormous efforts and hard work in a period setup is evident and deserves a pat on his back for portraying the lifestyle and culture of Tamils few centuries ago. Though there’s not much of detailing, given the limited budget, Julien has made an honest attempt to make his film authentic.
Yet another positive aspect is that the director has narrated his story neatly, without much deviation and executed it well. Srikanth Deva’s music, cinematography by Yuga and art direction by John Britto aids the narration in a big way. But the graphically generated bulls are tacky. Though there are few flaws, nevertheless the film is worth a watch!
ith the expressions and dialogue delivery part.
Akhil who played a shy hero in ‘Kalloori’ has brilliantly transformed as a menacing villain in this film. We hope this film fetches him more opportunities.
The actors who have played the supporting roles infuse life to the proceedings. Thavasi who comes as the vociferous old man in the Kiliyur Village gives a fantastic performance. Ravi Mariya and the two debutant guys who come as the hero’s friends who are ready to sacrifice their lives for their friend give a neat performance. All other actors fit the bill.
Kavignar Vikramadithyan comes in just one scene and succeeds in making us laugh. Kishore is impressive in an extended cameo but his dialogues and they way they have been delivered sounds a little odd.
Songs by Srikanth Deva set well in the village and period milieu and most of them are pleasing to ears but they recall value. Rerecording is good in most portions but resorting to uncanny sounds for the comic scenes is an archaic practice and that could have been avoided.
Yuga’s cinematography makes us feel the heat of villages of Madurai. Art direction by John Britto is commendable.
Verdict: Despite shortcomings, ‘Ilami’ is worth a watch for its authentic portrayal of 18th century Tamil lifestyle and culture. Director Julien Prakash and his team deserve praise for this.