‘Lal Salaam’ review: Aishwarya Rajinikanth attempts to sell old wine in old bottle

Cricket has been the most celebrated sport in India. The game resonates with the sentiments of a majority crowd in the country. Thus, it is no wonder that films which combines cricket with emotions always strike a chord with the audience.

In Lal Salaam, communal unrest is coasting in a village for many years.  A cricket match played by two teams – two communities rather- takes a violent turn due to a set of events fuelled by hate and hunger for pride. 

The violent clash affects the life of the two team captains Thirunavukkarasu aka Thiru (played by Vishnu Vishal) and Samsudheen (played by Vikranth). While Thiru runs for his life, Samsu, son of Moidheen Bhai (played by Rajinikanth) gets engulfed by hatred. How the clash is incited between the two communities and what happens to the two cricketers is the story of Lal Salaam

The film suddenly moves from the village in Tamil Nadu to Bombay, comes back to the village only to again to Bombay, saying there is a communal clash. No wonder communal clash happens just in Bombay in Tamil films.

Lal Salaam may be Aishwarya’s comeback film. But she still seems to be a novice. Even her father Rajinikanth’s cameo as Moideen Bhai can’t add strength to the long, boring plot. 

Threads on communal disharmony and religious sentiments have been handled well by directors like Mani Ratnam in the past. While Aishwarya, with a cricket match and shallow characters, makes the audience sit for 152 minutes bored. As you walk out after watching Lal Salaam, there is no strong emotive message that you can carry but only relief that the long film has come to an end. 

The plot is too long with too many flashbacks and a convoluted screenplay. The film has too many characters portrayed badly and made to cry. There are a few women of course, but no heroine. The riot after the match is central to the story, but it takes too long to know what actually happened. By then, you really get tired like the hero, who goes back thinking how everything unfolded. 

Though the director tries to tell the importance of communal harmony, the screenplay is too obvious thanks to the countless films we got over the years lecturing communal harmony and secularism. Rajinikanth himself had spoken in length about communal harmony and unity in many of his films.

The director leaves off many plots and the characters fail to emote. It doesn’t say what happens to Thiru’s love. 

While Aishwarya has tried her best to combine cricket and religion, honour and dignity makes the film more complicated. Probably if Aishwarya wants to make yet another film based on cricket, she could go back to watch Aamir Khan’s Lagaan which weaves cricket with various themes like determination, unity and triumph. 

Film: Lal Salaam

Stars: 2/5

Cast: Rajinikanth, Vishnu Vishal, Vikranth and others

Director: Aishwarya Rajinikanth

Music: AR Rahman