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Lee is a a brave attempt

Last updated on: February 19, 2007 12:35 IST

Finally, there is a Tamil film that has experimented with a theme that does not entirely focus on the 'boy meets girl' concept and its related tangles. Lee is a brave attempt by director Prabhu Solomon that focuses on a topic that is much neglected in the mainstream media today: corruption and government apathy towards sports in India.

The film starts off with Leelatharan aka Lee (Sathyaraj's son Sibiraj) and his friends, living a breezy lower middle class life in a men's hostel, whose warden is a mother figure to them all.

One day at a traffic signal, Lee witnesses the assassination of a politician while in his car. He starts chasing the assassins but is unsuccessful as he meets with an accident inadvertently caused by a college-going girl Chellamma (Nila). He and Chellamma keep meeting each other under humorous circumstances and soon become lovers.

Soon, he re-encounters one of the assassins but instead of bringing him to book, he uses him to find contacts for purchasing a gun for himself. Since he cannot afford to buy it, he and his friends work day and night to earn the required amount and eventually purchase it.

Around this time, they then hatch a plan to assassinate a prominent minister Rangabhashyam (Zahir). They fail in their attempts and during one such encounter, Chellamma catches them red-handed. It is only at this stage that the audience discovers the real motive behind their plans.

The movie then goes into flashback mode, where Lee and his friends are in college. They then were part of an immensely successful college football team and were all hard-working and dedicated athletes with great hopes of taking India to the top in the international arena someday, under the guidance of their coach and mentor Muthuraman (Prakash Raj).

Muthuraman here was an ethical man who did not bow to pressure from influential people like Rangabhashyam (who, at the time, was in the business of buying and running educational institutions). Rangabhashyam had wanted his own son Sashi to be captain of the team but Muthuraman had refused on account of him being a drug addict. Rangabhashyam had then proceeded to wreak havoc upon their dreams.

For the entire first half of the movie, director Solomon manages to keep the viewers in suspense as to Lee's motives. The film examines realistic issues like corruption in the system and the pathetic state of sports selection in India, along with healthy doses of item numbers and gory fight sequences.

Sibi as Leelatharan is effective as the quiet brooding angry young man though at times his expression can be a little too deadpan.

Nila, as his love interest Chellamma, is chirpy and entertaining, but wasted in a tiny role.

Prakash Raj has put in a powerful performance as the well-meaning coach who has dedicated his life to grooming sporting talent from India's remote corners.

Zahir manages to portray Rangabhashyam as a corrupt and vile individual, thankfully without resorting to exaggerated mannerisms or hamming.

The movie is a change from tired plot lines and one is glad to note that Tamil film industry is experimenting with such socially relevant themes.

The music by D Imman too, is pleasing to the ear.

Lee may revert to the standard masala elements at points, especially with regard to some stunts (such as Matrix style jumps from one building to the other and flying Maruti Omnis) but it is still different from any other Tamil movie you might have seen off late.

Watch Lee if you want to see a piece of decent experimental Tamil cinema.

Rediff rating:

Shweta Bhaskar