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Yaathisai Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Friday, April 21, 2023 • Tamil ]
Yaathisai Review
A RPSG Group Company
Shakthi Mithran, Seyon, Rajalakshmi, Guru Somasundram, Chandrakumar, Semmalar Annam, Subathra, Samar, Vijay Seyon, S Ruby Beauty, Rajasekar, Vaidehi, Seenu, Sabdhaseelan, Jamaal, Nirmal, Sureshkumar tamizhselvi, Sathish Nadarajan, Sidhu, Pascal, Samson, Sanjay, Suji subha
Dharani Rasendran

Yaathisai - A historical fantasy flick that soars above its budget

The second part of Mani Ratnam's high budget epic retelling of Kalki's 'Ponniyin Selvan' is all set to release worldwide on April 28th.  A week prior to that on the 21st 'Yaathisai' comes to the big screen creating a social media debate as to which is more authentic in bringing Tamil culture on screen.  Will the film made by a rank new team with a miniscule fraction of the budget of 'PS-2' strike a chord with the audience remains to be seen.

Set in the 7th century the Einar clan that has lost its kingdom years back is living in the forests leading a near barbaric life.  On the other hand the valiant Pandyan king Ranadheeran (Shakthi Mithran) has decimated the Cheras, Cholas and the smaller clans. The Pandyas are ruling the entire Thamilagam with the reputation of being unconquerable. Kothi (Seyon) is a young Einar warrior who dreams of fathering a child who would be king right when he is born.  There is a Devadasi (Rajalakshmi) living in the Madurai palace who yearns for her Kannan to come and rescue her.  The rest of 'Yaathisai' is whether Kothi can vanquish Ranadheeran and regain lost glory of his clan or not.

The entire cast consists of actors with ordinary faces that suit the vision of the filmmaker. Shakthi Mithran may be diminutive but makes up for it with his beefed up physique and majestic body language in bringing to life the role of the all conquering warrior ruler.  Seyon who can be termed as the protagonist Kothi is very convincing as the ambitious warrior who brings to the fore his primal instincts during the killings and in handling the women. Both of them have given their all in the one on one fight to death in the climax and deserve high praise for their hard work.  Rajalakshmi as the devadasi is also aptly cast considering the tone of the film.   Guru Somasundram lives the part of the Einar talisman hiding under the hideous makeup for the role with his voice dominating in those scenes.  The rest of the cast have all done a good job, most notably the mute friend of Kothi who sacrifices his life for him.

What works best in 'Yaathisai' is the detailing that has gone into reimagining the 7th century Tamilakam, right from the barbaric rituals to appease the goddess Kotravai to the feasting on raw meat and solid milk discarded by cows that have lost their calves.   The team has worked real hard in making the cast speak ancient Tamil.  Showing the dance form Dasiyattam (that inspired Bharatanatyam) and the ritual of recording marriages on leaves (Olai chuvadi) lends even more authenticity to the depictions.  Through Kothi the film questions why only certain clans are privileged to rule, the dominance of the Aryans in temples and the devadasi system.  At the same time it also does not shy away from pointing out the patriarchal mindset of both Ranadheeran and Kothi who see women as nothing more than objects that give them bodily pleasure and beget children.  The emphasis of the entire film is on authority which was and is the order of the day and one who has it gets all that he wants.

On the flip side, since both Ranadheeran and Kothi have very similar  characterisation the audience are unable to empathise with either.  The devadasi heroine could have had more space in the writing and the screenplay could have been from her perspective to balance that gaping flaw.  After a point the novelty in the fights wear off and the constant warring between the two sides brings fatigue.   There is also confusion in who is fighting whom in several instances.

Stunt choreographer Om Siva Prakash has made heads turn with his variety of fight sequences from brutal bludgeoning with ancient weapons to the savage one on one at the end.  Akilesh Kathamuthu the cinematographer has not only made the film look grand with his wides of the forests and the hilltops but also in getting close with the riveting action. The editing, art direction, costume design and other technicalities are all top notch. Producer  K.J.Ganesh deserves first honors for believing in such an ambitious project from a team that has no credentials.  Dharani Rasendran has come up with a masterclass in how to make a world class historical movie with a small budget.  His authority over the subject matter that clearly came from extensive and painstaking research shows on screen.  Kudos.

Verdict : Go for this well crafted historical fantasy that deserves to be lauded for sheer hard work in all aspects.

Rating: 3.5 / 5.0

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