For his feature film debut, K Balakrishnan goes back twenty five years in the past and comes up with a story that's as dated as the era and the practices it portrays. The year is 1988 and in some indistinguishable part of Southern Tamil Nadu, there lives a man with a big moustache whose only purpose in life is to beat up young men who attempt wooing the girls living in his town. That's all he does seven days a week and twice on Sundays. Cut to two young men who will eventually fall in love with girls from the aforementioned town and invite the wrath of the aforementioned man.
What "Rummy" should have been is a celebration of friendship and love with power to wrench our hearts at the mere mention of the atrocities and the senseless killings of lovers in the name of pride. But what it is is an insipid, boring and punishingly long attempt to tell a story that has been told too many times already. Even on the performance front, Sethupathy and Prabhakaran aren't any good. It's unfair to blame the actors when the material they are given to play with is so dull and uninspired. Their friendship, which is supposed to be a foundation strong enough to carry the weight of the entire story, is hardly even developed. The film seldom puts them in a situation memorable enough to makes us root for either of them. They don't even talk to each other about the girl they are in love with. Some best friends they are. Their individual love stories are equally forgettable with the poorly positioned songs further adding to our woes.
Even well into the third hour, "Rummy" throws the kind of scenes which should have appeared in the first 30 minutes. It brings up conflicts which should have been resolved in the first hour. Initially, I assumed the pacing to be deliberate but soon I realized that the film was moving so slowly because it hardly had anything to tell. There's nothing about this film that we haven't already seen in at least a dozen films before. I realize that killing of young lovers for marrying outside religion, caste or status is still widespread. This film could have even been based on a real life incident, for all I know. But the problem with Balakrishnan's portrayal is that it has nothing new to offer.
All these years of watching films sadly hasn't prepared me well enough to answer this one question: why is this film even called "Rummy"?