Vijay Sethupathi-starrer Laabam bats for collective farming

OTT Reviews

By Christopher Antony

Director S P Jhananathan is known for his anti-capitalistic films, and Laabam, now streaming on Netflix, is no different. It has come after his passing away. It is admirable that he has remained steadfast to his political views in all his films.

As a preface, we are told how the British exploited us. And then goes on to show how things have not changed much when it comes to exploitation of the poor.

Pakkiri, enacted by Vijay Sethupathi, returns to his village and right away gets into the noble act of rescuing the helpless landless farmers from the exploitative means of the corporates led by the wealthy and wicked Vanangamudi, played by Jagapathi Babu.

As if to reduce the tension of the political slugfest of ideologies, Shruti Hassan is introduced as a performer, though somewhat hilariously, probably to buttress the point that for messaging to percolate down to the people it has to be communicated through art and entertainment. She comes to the aid of Pakkiri and his group in another way too.

Though Pakkiri is projected as a do-gooder there is a scene in which he not only drinks but encourages his group members also to consume, apart from getting into physical fights and breaking into a dance unexpected of a preachy leader.

The filmmaker goes at length to talk of the perils of capitalism and bats for collective farming practices. These are touched upon with long lectures that could be a revelation for many as they are elaboratively explained but as boring social studies classes for those who are aware.

The message is strong but the execution is weak, despite good performances from the lead actors, with the preachy film ending in a gory violent scene, quite suggestive that the greedy corporates need to be cut to size.