Director R. Srinivasa Rao’s ‘Sabhaapathy’ is a light-hearted entertainer that, despite its flaws, just about works.
AT A GLANCE
- Starring: Santhanam, M.S. Baskar, Preeti Verma, Sayaji Shinde, Pugal, Uma, and Madurai Muthu
- Directed by: R. Srinivasa Rao
- Rating: *** (three stars)
The film begins with Fate introducing us to Sabhaapathy, a simple, honest man with a stutter, and announcing that he would be entering his life in a period of five days.
The first half of the film shows what happens during the five days before Fate enters his life and the next half is about what kind of problems destiny brings to his doorstep and how the man overcomes it because of his honesty.
‘Sabhaapathy’ works primarily because of two factors — the first is the meaningful message that the film intends to convey. Without getting preachy, it gently points out that honesty is still the best policy, though it may appear unfashionable in this day and age, it does get you rich rewards.
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The film, which is an out-and-out comedy, has just a couple of scenes where the story momentarily turns serious. One of these scenes powerfully talks about the pain of a dad who is worried about the future of his family after him. That apart, the film also highlights the pain that those with a stammering problem endure and looks to boost their self-confidence through its climax.
For sending out these messages, Srinivasa Rao gets a pat on the back.
The other factor that makes the film work is how the character of Santhanam has been fashioned. Although he plays the hero in the film, he does not display superhuman traits. He plays a simple young man with a stammering problem who is desperate to find a job.
Unlike some of his recent films in which he appeared very lean, Santhanam looks fit in this film. What is even more pleasing is the fact that his retorts are not abusive or hurtful. One gets to see a more restrained performance from Santhanam and that does a world of good to the film.
The film also has some wonderful performances coming from the supporting cast. M.S. Baskar, who plays Sabhaapathy’s dad and a retired school teacher, Ganapathi, is just outstanding in the film. His timing sense is brilliant and the comedy scenes click primarily because of that. Rama, who plays the heroine’s mother, too adds to the comedy factor.
Talking of comedy, some of the portions are funny and evoke laughter. But then, there are portions that are either not funny or are downright cringeworthy. These portions really bring down the standard of the film.
For instance, there is a sequence in which a drunk Sabhaapathy pukes on his dad’s head and as if that wasn’t enough, it is followed by another equally terrible sequence involving him, his dad and a lady teacher who comes to meet him. Sequences such as these leave one feeling disgusted.
The film’s heroine, Preeti Verma, who plays the character of Savithri, does a reasonably good job. The film has a decent background score and one delightfully good number.
And Leo John Paul, the editor, does a good job of keeping the film trim and slim, ensuring that boredom doesn’t set in.
In short, ‘Sabhaapathy’ gets saved not by the comedy its makers seem to have counted on, but by the messages it sends out.