Heroine Swathi Narayanan hails from a village where people disapprove young girls and women from getting an education. However, she is stern in her belief to study hard and put her education to good use despite her mother’s complete disinterest. Her mother is more interested in seeing her brother Jenish get married to Swathi.

Meanwhile, Swathi’s classmate’s father plans to see his daughter come as the class topper and puts in efforts to ensure it happens. On the other hand, fearing she might reject him if she gets higher education, Jenish sets out to disrupt her studies. Whether Swathi overcomes all the obstacles in front of her forms the rest of the plot of Ilai.

Swathi Narayanan essaying the character Ilai has carried the entire film on her shoulders and has done a commendable job. With her only aim to pursue studies, she’s literally made to run for her studies throughout the narrative. She works hard to fulfill her father’s dream of her getting an education and her attempts to keep up her promise to him strike a chord among audiences. Jenish, who comes in as Swathi’s mother’s brother, Kannada actor ‘King’ Mohan, Malayalam actress Sridevi, Kanagalatha, Sonia, Abdul Hakeem, Kavya among others have done their roles justice.

At a time when many take their education and parents’ hard work as well as their monumental efforts for granted, Ilai shows a side of how life is in villages where basic amenities are minimum. Director Bineesh Raj has made a praiseworthy film that brings to light how girls living in villages strive and suffer for education. Throughout the entire film, we are poised with one question alone – whether Swathi overcomes the hurdles for her studies. The only drawback is the heroine being made to run throughout the film. And, it is in these long sequences that test our patience. Otherwise, his efforts are laudable. Anchal Santhosh’s cinematography skills come to the fore and the visual effects are a standout. Vishnu V Divakaran’s carry the film forward.

In short, Ilai is lush.

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