And, so it ends, Vijay Sethupathi's enviable run of envelope-pushing movies, with this very familiar tale of blood-soaked romance that clearly wants to be another Subramaniapuram. Right from its period setting (late 1980s) to the countryside duets and the ruthless characters, Rummy recalls the Sasikumar film, almost to a fault.
The film begins with Sakthi, an ordinary young man, joining college in Sivaganga where he meets his lover Meenakshi and his friends Joseph and Arunachalam. A tussle with a classmate over Meenakshi leads to Sakthi and Joseph taking a room in Arunachalam's village, where love affairs result in losses — of your anatomical parts or even life! Even as Sakthi carries on his romance with Meenakshi, Joseph falls in love with Sornam, the daughter of the village's 'periyavar', who is merciless when it comes to saving his honour. Soon enough, both the love affairs come to his knowledge, leading to a tragic ending.
While it is, on the whole, a decent film, especially in the set-in-the-sickle-toting-south genre, Rummy is also wearisome, mainly because it is so predictable. There is a strong been-there-done-that whiff in the proceedings that you are hardly surprised and never really root for the characters. When we see Sakthi and Joseph witnessing a man getting his arm cut for falling love, we instantly know that the two will face life-threatening challenges in the second half. When a character makes an enemy of another in the first half, we know that he will return again later to get his revenge, even if he goes missing for most parts of the film. Then, there is a scene where a character asks another if he will look after her till the very end and he replies he'll care for her till he remains. Immediately, we know what fate (or, the director) has in store for this character.
The characters too are broadly written and the actors try their best to elevate this material but there is hardly anything for them to hold on to and showcase something fresh. As for the romances, they happen so quickly without much drama (and, both are love-at-first-sight romances), while the villain doesn't have any shades — his only function in the film is killing or maiming anyone who has fallen in love with girls from his village. And, unlike some other directors who made up for the lack of novelty with atmosphere, Balakrishnan doesn't bother too much with colouring the film with nativity. If it isn't mentioned that the film takes place in the 80s, we would still have bought this as a contemporary story taking place in the lawless South (even if it isn't the reality). And, yet, despite all these problems, we stick till the end because of our inherent nature of finding some comfort in the familiar.