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.
Yuvan and Anu who have played the lead roles are adequate but leave much to be desired in emotional scenes. Ravi Maria gives a decent performance and probably for the first time he is neither the villain nor a comedian in a film.
The two guys who come as the hero’s friend and sacrifice their lives leave a lump on throat. Thavasi as the cheerful old man of Mangulam gives has done a commendable job. Kishore makes a mark with an extended cameo appearance.
Srikanth Deva’s songs are apt for the village milieu but none of them stay in the mind after leaving the movie hall. After many years this son of Thenisai Thendral has done a fantastic job with the background score does justice to the genre, scale and magnitude of the film.
Yugan’s cinematography and John Britto’s Art direction brilliantly supported the director’s intention of bringing back the life of 18th century Tamils with their work.
Lack of depth in story
Verdict: The movie has effectively handled the historical aspects of Tamil’s age old culture and made it an interesting movie. The movie would have been far better had it shed the aspect of gory and some clichés in the script.
Ilami: Authentic and interesting portrayal of culture.