'Naan' is a critically acclaimed thriller that brought Vijay Antony into the limelight of on-screen presence, exploring his acting talent. It is the success of his debut that paved way for his second as an actor - 'Salim'. But this film is not to be confused with his first flick as its sequel. 'Salim' is an entirely new concept from newcomer Nirmal Kumar, that retains nothing but Vijay's screen name from 'Naan'.
The first thing to strike you about the film is its brilliant camera and crystal clear picture. The film opens in a crime scene, that remains a mystery till much later. Vijay plays doctor Salim, who is probably the direct follower of Mahatma Gandhi, sticking intensely to the principles of nonviolence and patience. His good deeds may have given him peace at heart, but leaves no room for understanding and respect from others in this brutally practical world. To put an end to his life of loneliness, Salim decides to get married and hence comes Aksha's role as Nisha. Though the two are head over heels in love with each other, Nisha's near eccentric self centered, immature attitude leads to eventual calling off of the wedding. Over and above this break up in his life, Salim is dismissed from his job, as he goes against the hospital rules for money, treating patients plainly on the grounds of humanity. All this happening on the same night, followed and added to by a number of other assaults to his ego, Salim finally takes the call to quit living by rules and start walking the path of instincts. His transformation overnight into a person that he has never been and even hardly dreamt of, to question the wrong and bring justice to all the wrong doings that he has witnessed, mainly based on soul searching, is all that makes up the action thriller.
Vijay Antony has seasoned a lot more in 'Salim' than his debut. Salim has a dual character through the flow of the movie - he is unbelievably patient in the first half, while extremely smart and intense in the latter half. His transformation is too good to be true and had been carried out convincingly well. Exhaust role as Nisha is very well conceived and translated as a self centered woman, least understanding of reality, living only in fantasies of her own. Though there are not many, particularly action packed sequences in the film, it still works perfectly for a fairly gripping thriller.
Immaculate cinematography. The first impression falls right with Ganesh Chandra's camera clarity, hues and angles. Editing by Rajesh matches in stiff competition to the visual treat. Nirmal Kumar has brought one of the best gripping screenplays in recent times, making for an absolute edge-of-the-seat experience. All in all, kudos to Nirmal and team for a great experience. The audio is perfectly in place - starting from sound quality in songs, and the background score nuances to re-recording and dubbing, but for a very few misses in sync, the audio experience of the movie is fine, with the actor-composer Vijay Antony in the picture.
Call for applause
There are many a moments in the film that take your hands involuntarily together in claps, in the elegance it delivers. Most of them are shots from the second half. The one slapping prejudice on terrorism is truly a class apart. Vijay's spontaneous reactions in quite many places are valid and realistic. Dialogues in the gripping second half are a big advantage to the movie as a whole. Timing sense and sense of time are both perfectly in place in the movie. Many scenes, especially from the latter portions of the movie, leave you pondering over questions on truth, reality, conduct and morale. And all this in a clean entertainer, but for just a couple of dialogues left uncensored.
What could have worked better
Although the screenplay is taut, it kind of seems aimless in the beginning and former portions of the movie. Plus, the outline of the story is fairly predictable through every scene. Salim is a tad too patient with the on goings in his life, which seems to border on unrealistic behavior, until his big day arrives. Music is strategically placed through the movie, but is highly repetitive. However, it is not quite a let down, but is a constant nonetheless. For a man who transforms overnight into a criminal considered at par with a terrorist, the change is too sudden to accept in reality, and there is no conclusion to what happens to him in the end, that leaves a void. Also, the entire thread of the movie is woven over a story that heavily relies on big fat fiction, but for which, logic would take a serious hit.
Salim is a simple man, provoked by circumstances and testing instances that put his patience to trial. Not travelling far from his morale, Salim takes the journey in search of justice and a tad of respect and recognition for the innocent, who are most often mistaken to be naive. In all, 'Salim' is the story of what might result of way too much undue and ungenerous pressure on the man who decides to take no more of it. The film is clean and thought provoking, and is certainly worth the time invested.
Verdict: Journey of transformation, seeking a little courtesy in return for utmost levels of endurance
Rating: 3.25 / 5