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Times of India
: Two villages which are at loggerheads over a deity decide to sort the issue out by holding a Jallikattu event, and this decision puts a romance hanging in the balance.
: Taking a legend as a start-off point, Julian Prakash has created a historical film that is engaging and comes with a shocker of a climax. Too often, filmmakers who make films set in the past tend to take the period aspect too seriously and miss the forest for the trees (as it happened with Vasantabalan’s Aravaan), but Ilami wears its period movie cred light on its shoulders, and that is one of the reasons why it works.
The plot revolves around the romance of Karuppu (Yuvan) and Ilami (Anu Krishna). They belong to adjacent villages, which are friendly enough on the surface, but Karuppu’s village still harbours some resentment towards the other for taking away their deity 200 years earlier. With the annual tiruvizha of the deity around, Sadai Puli (Akhil), a ruthless and ambitious young man from Karuppu’s place, decides to stir this discontent for his personal gain. Ilami’s father Verayyan (Ravi Mariya) agrees to return the deity if the neighbouring villagers manage to defeat his bull in Vadam Jallikattu, and also offers to marry off his daughter to the one who conquers the bull.
Given that it is directed by a newcomer and has a rather untested cast, Ilami feels very raw (even Kishore, who has a glorified cameo as a commander comes across as an amateur). The writing, too, is conventional upto a point, there is not much detailing and the characters are sketched only in broad strokes, and mainly in black and white. But the story that Julian tells us is solid and there is a rhythm to the scenes with one scene smoothly flowing into the next. And he also side-steps the cliché of an inter-personal rivalry between Karuppu and Sadai Puli, so the latter comes across as truly terrifying character towards the end. The novelty of Vadam Jallikattu also helps, though the impact of these scenes are brought down by a notch because of the filmmakers using computer graphics to generate the bull in a bid to not fall foul of the Animal Welfare Board. But the climax packs a punch.
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