Cast : Vishnu Vishal, Vikranth, Rajinikanth
The movie discusses highly relevant topics, especially in the current political climate. The politicization of religion has led to a divide.
The movie introduces us to this village where everyone lives peacefully, people of all religions and castes live co-dependently. And within those first few scenes, the mood for the movie is set. You know from the get-go that it talks about religion and how the citizens have been manipulated to take sides. It’s a bold statement to make, especially since the current scenario in the country revolves around the aforementioned issue.
The story is straightforward, when Thiru is left out of Three Star, the homegrown cricket team, he forms a rival team. Intentional or not, the two teams end up representing the two religions. What starts off as friendly matches slowly turn sour when politics enter the field and cause a real divide. The game and the religion are then exploited to garner more votes. A fateful game between the rival teams changes the course of life for the two boys, Thiru and Shamsuddin, who grew up together as brothers now stand on opposite ends of the sport.
Moideen Bhai is a good-hearted businessman, he is a dutiful citizen, and a progressive father. He brings up the two boys as his own, and when he stands at the crossroads of supporting one over the other, the movie gets its twist in the tale. Does he resort to revenge or is he the compassionate father figure? Does he get the town to re-unite or wash his hands off of it? The story mainly revolves around this dichotomy. And none other than Rajinikanth could do justice to the power-packed dialogues and the even more powerful action scenes.
Performance-wise, the two leads in the film were promising, Vishnu Vishal as the angry young man Thiru and Vikranth as Samsuddin, the dutiful and passionate cricketer were both good. But the screen truly lit up when Rajinikanth made his powerful and enigmatic entry as Moideen Bhai.
The subject, even though sensitive, is an old trick in the bag. A movie that revolves around the sentiments of religion will tug at the heartstrings of many. It’s the brotherhood that people want to see, the win of humanity over religion, the win of familial bonds over difficulties. In that regard, the film is a successful portrayal of what goes on in the hearts and minds of the citizens who are constantly being asked to take a side.
Lal Salaam is Aishwarya Rajinikanth’s third feature film as a director and she does a commendable job at bringing the sentiments to the audiences. Emotions are running high in this film, there is anger, there is vengeance, betrayal, disappointment, sadness and of course love, and each one is excellently captured. The music by AR Rahman is distinct, from a Sufi background score for Moideen Bhai to the foot-tapping festival numbers, every song has its significance in the plot.
The movie seems to drag in places, some scenes aren’t edited for a smooth runtime. In fact, they bring down the pace of the film which is a huge setback. The conflict resolution in the film feels very easy and uneventful, a convenient series of events unfold and you are left with a feeling of dissatisfaction. A crisper edit and a more befitting conflict resolution would have helped elevate the overall movie-watching experience.
The dialogue, a very important part of the movie is sometimes a hit, sometimes a miss. With Moideen Bhai given most of the impactful lines, it works. When you have a personality that is larger than life, give a monologue about not giving up in spite of what challenges or tragedies you face, or reiterate the fact we are all humans made of the same flesh and blood no matter our religion, it works. It is sure to have a lasting impact on its audiences, Rajinikanth as Moideen Bhai is a winning move.