Sega is an aspirational city-underbelly movie. It's not a film that would make you lose respect for its highly-talented lead cast (at least, the 2 who local audiences do know and have come to adore - Nani and Nithya Menen), but one that leaves you feeling much less than sated, nevertheless.
Made by an ad filmmaker and set in a run-down tenement (somewhere in Chennai, of course - this is a dubbed movie), Sega is gritty and quick-paced, and makes for an interesting watch if you're in the mood. The squalor of the surroundings and the down-to-the-basics lifestyle of its protagonists have been faithfully captured, and the makers accomplish this without overwhelming you with the detail or resorting to gimmicks to shock and sensationalize.
The handicap that lets Sega down is its unexceptional story, which revolves round a pair of friends drawn into an underworld-related mess. Narrated by Balaji (played by Muthu Kumar, who has some solid screen presence), the story starts in the slums, when a younger Balaji and his kid brother Karthik were abandoned by their boorish and drunken father. Unable to feed her kids, their ailing mother killed herself.
Balaji and Karthik (Nani) grow up in an uncle's care, with Karthik always in the company of his friends Revathy (Nithya Menen) and Vishnu (Karthik Kumar). When Vishnu falls in love with a girl called Vani (Bindu Madhavi), he gets deceived into the world of crime, dragging Karthik with him. Looming large in their lives is a greasy-looking pimp Jyothi, who is none other the father of Balaji and Karthik (and no, that wasn't a spoiler, lest we be accused of giving away too much information).
Sega feels more like parallel cinema than mainstream. The film looks eager to please and stand out from the clutter, but there's no real intrigue to the plot, and there are no earth-shattering twists either. A bizarre fight sequence in the end tries to wrap things up too quickly for comfort. And some of the deaths in the story were quite unnecessary. There's also a good dose of Tamil nativity, which locals might not identify with.
Audiences in Hyderabad are watching this film merely for Nani and Menen, neither of whom disappoints. The good news is that this a genre of films and acting that seems to come easy to both of them. Nani is good with the intense kind of acting, and Menen has the refreshingly realistic look and feel that brings back memories of Revathi. Plus, their chemistry
Karthik Kumar is skilled, and has as much screen time as his colleagues. Bindu Madhavi is good only in the love-making scenes, and is an embarrassment when she has to act - which is not much of the time, we must say with relief.
The most under-sold actor of them all is Muthu Kumar, who looks understated but breezes through whichever frames he's in, and completely lives and breathes his character. The rest of the cast consists of unknown Tamil faces, who are all good.
The songs are a well-composed bunch, and immensely hummable. The dream sequences have been impressively picturized.
On the whole, Sega falls short of a lot of expectations, and is not worth your weekend movie time. On the brighter side, Nani and Menen might already have scored long before this film released - not many newcomers these days even have
expectations to live up to.