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UNDOUBTEDLY, SURYA is the only strongpoint of Venkateswaralayam's action-packed flick ``Sri''. Yet how much can a young hero make up for a story with a gaping hole in it?

Sankara Iyer (Vijayakumar) hates his son, who he feels is the cause of his daughter's death and hence his family's doom. Son Sri (Surya) is more sinned against than sinned and when the father turns him out of the house, he becomes a beacon light to the hopeless lot in society. His name sends a chill down the spine of wrongdoers, whom he bashes up without mercy.

What he does for a living is vaguely told. In fact, many actions and reactions of the hero and his father are ambiguous and even unreasonable. When a boy falls in love with Sri's sister who is not even aware of it, and in a dignified manner, sends his father (Ilavarasu) to the girl's house to ask for her hand, what was the need for such violent reactions from Sri and his father? Unwarranted violence leads to bloodshed and mayhem and at that point, Sri loses all sympathy. And the father performing the death rites of a son, who is alive, is disgusting and no amount of tears and explanation in court (a tiringly long exercise) can justify his unreasonable actions. Actually he does not even bother to explain why he performed such a ceremony! Incidentally, agraharam is such an obsolete word even in the villages today. It is surprising that "Sri" doesn't realise it. Also while the rest of the family speaks a typical Brahmin lingo, Sri alone sounds different from the beginning.

Gayathri Jayaram as Stella performs well. And thankfully her past is told in a few words, thus saving you from a laboured flashback.

Sruthika (Meenakshi) looks cute from certain angles — but has little to do performance wise. Surya and Sruthika make a nice screen pair.

Why does `Thalaivasal' Vijay have to get so unnaturally emotional, even as he begins to talk about Sri's turmoil? Again a wasted Srividya does little but cry the whole time. And the sequence where Sriman comes drunk to gear himself to talk to Sri is completely purposeless.

Surya is growing from strength to strength as a hero and ``Sri'' proves it. His emotional outbursts, and underplayed expressions speak volumes of his potential. But he ought to avoid getting stereotyped in the action mould.

The story, screenplay and dialogue are by Pushpavasagan.

The chorus "...Yaamirukka Bayamaen" makes an impact. ``Sri'' is T.S. Muralidharan's first film as composer.

It is a colourfully painted canvas literally — what with Nerolac all over in the fight in the climax, and in the "Vasanthasena... " song sequence.

The story could have been powerful and the screenplay appealing if the characters were logical in their actions and the flow had not been hampered by repulsive group dances and irrelevant sequences.


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