Sethu is a 1999 Indian Tamil romantic movie written and directed by debutant Bala. The film stars Vikram and Abitha in the lead roles with Sivakumar and Sriman in other pivotal roles. The film’s score and soundtrack were composed by Ilaiyaraaja. The film opened in December 1999 at a single suburban theatre but later became a popular commercial success. Sethu won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil and secured wins in the Best Film category at the Filmfare Awards and the Cinema Express Awards, while Bala and Vikram won several awards for their contributions to the film.
Sethu (Vikram) is a rough and macho college rowdy and also The Students Union Chairman of the college, who uses violence as the only way to deal with people. He lives with his brother, a Magistrate (Sivakumar), and his sister-in-law, who is the only person who seems to understand him properly.
The movie opens with Sethu winning the elections to the office bearers of the college’s Students Union followed by celebrations and in-campus fight between the rival candidates. Sethu has a staple diet of yes-sir friends surrounding him. He comes across a timid girl, Abitha, who is the daughter of a poor temple priest, and starts to woo her. When she initially rejects him, he kidnaps her and forces her to fall in love with him.
When the girl falls in love with him, Sethu is attacked by brothel goons and ends up in a swamiji ashram with brain damage. With no memory of his past and having developed an unusual behaviour, he starts to recollect memories. At one point, he is completely back to his normal self and tries to escape by climbing over the gates. Unfortunately, he fails and ends up with serious injuries. Whilst sleeping with his injury, Abitha makes a surprise visit. However Sethu is asleep and she leaves with this woeful memory of him. As she is about to leave the institution, he wakes up and realises that she had come to see him. As he calls out, she leaves unable to hear him.
Persistent to meet her he makes another attempt to leave the institution and this time he is successful. When he arrives at her house he is presented with his love unfortunately dead. He realises that she had committed suicide.
Distraught after what he saw, he just walks out and at that point he is met with the mental institution wardens who came chasing after him. The film ends with Sethu leaving with them as he has nothing to live for after his true love’s death.
Directed by Bala
Produced by A. Kandasamy
Written by Bala
Starring Vikram, Abitha, Sivakumar, Sriman, Mohan Vaidya, Bharathi
Music by Ilaiyaraaja
Cinematography R. Rathnavelu
Edited by Raghu Baabu
Distributed by Sharmasha Productions
Release dates 10 December 1999
Running time 130 minutes