Sembi Movie Review: Prabu Solomon is one filmmaker who loves telling earthy stories that are set away from city life. He brings out various emotions through his characters — who mostly look real and intense. Sembi is no different. We can’t help but travel alongside with passengers in the bus, who are shattered by the story of 10-year-old Sembi.
Though the narrative weakens a bit in the second half and a few sequences are illogical, the film has its heart at the right place and keeps us engaged.
Ten-year-old Sembi and her grandmother Veerayi (Kovai Sarala), an apiarist, live peacefully amidst nature in the hilly regions of Kodaikanal. They lead a beautiful life until three influential miscreants, who crave for sexual pleasures, shatter all their dreams.
When a police officer hits Sembi and forces her grandmother to withdraw the case, the latter has no other option but to thrash the officer to death.
The two escape and board a bus called Anbu, which is on its way from Kodaikanal to Dindigul. Can the passengers on the bus, who are from different walks of life, bring justice to the tribal woman and her innocent granddaughter despite political intervention?
Sembi is definitely not something that we haven’t seen before. But what’s new here are the characters and setting of the story. We fall in love with Veerayi and her attributes in the very first scene when she explains to Sembi on how to extract honey from honeycomb. The visual extravaganza in the first few scenes help us get an insight about their lives.
The scene in which Veeraiyi thrashes the policeman and escapes with her granddaughter is great. But the disappointing factor is that the director fails to maintain her traits throughout. It’s OK to bring in a saviour of sorts in the second half, but it’s also equally important to elevate Veeraiyi’s character and make her seem like a rebel from downtrodden society.
Ashwin Kumar has done a neat job and his character is powerful enough. However, events that unfold in the second half should have been more intriguing and intense. The scene in which all the 24 passengers shift to another bus, though shot well, doesn’t help the plot.
Sembi is definitely a truthful attempt as the director has managed to make us feel the pain of the central characters. Cinematography (Jeevan) is top class as the picturesque locales of Kodaikanal are a treat to the eyes. The music and background score of Nivas K Prasanna helps elevate the emotional moments. The costume designer and makeup artiste need applause for adding a bit of realism onscreen.
Kovai Sarala’s intense performance is a treat to watch. She has done great justice to the role and carries the film on her shoulders.