Aishwarya Rajinikanth returns to filmmaking with ‘Lal Salaam’ after nearly eight years away. And deciding on a powerful title for her comeback, as well as establishing a much-needed social media presence, required courage. ‘Lal Salaam’ is a sociological reflection on religious politics that somewhat mirrors reality. Has she succeeded in successfully communicating the message? Let’s find out.
Thirunavukarasu, popularly known as Thiru (Vishnu Vishal), and Shamsuddin (Vikranth), are talented cricketers from Murrabad, a hamlet where Hindus and Muslims dwell together. Despite their theological differences, they coexist amicably. Thiru’s father (Livingston) and Shamsuddin’s father, Moideen Bhai (Rajinikanth), are close friends and are used to witnessing their kids fight.
Local leaders in Murrabad are organizing communal disturbances to capitalize on the approaching elections. They exploit Thiru and Shamsuddin’s enmity by staging a cricket match. Thiru injures Shamsuddin’s right hand during a match, causing a severe clash between Muslims and Hindus in Murrabad. The plot is around how the community rivalry is finally resolved.
It’s no secret that ‘Lal Salaam’ is an emotionally charged film on Hindu-Muslim animosity. Using cricket and politics as backdrops gives the film a large canvas on which to depict its story. However, where ‘Lal Salaam’ fails is in its lack of imagination or dedication to advance the tale without depending on clichés.
‘Lal Salaam’ contains some emotional moments that hit the perfect chord. Whether it’s the portrayal of corrupt religious politics or the change of Vishnu Vishal and Vikranth’s characters, the film has moments of greatness. The Senthil incident, in which he yearns for his family’s presence in old age, is the most moving scene in ‘Lal Salaam’.
Having Rajinikanth at the forefront to deliver a crucial message deserves particular emphasis since it ensures a larger audience reach. However, as a director, Aishwarya Rajinikanth may have added some new ideas to the storyline. ‘Lal Salaam’ is predictable from the start, depending on performances to keep viewers involved. You expected Rajinikanth’s appearance, and you got it. You expect a montage at a critical moment, and you get it. Even cricket icon Kapil Dev’s cameo fails to brighten your day.
The creators of ‘Lal Salaam’ revealed that Rajinikanth will make a prolonged cameo appearance. But it’s not simply a cameo appearance. In fact, he serves as a catalyst, propelling the plot along when it becomes trapped in a cobweb for an extended period of time. As Moideen Bhai, he is simply effortless. There’s elegance, charm, a social message, and his endearing pranks.