Review: Suriya Soars In Sudha Kongara’s Stirring ‘Soorarai Pottru’
Review of Suriya-starrer Soorarai Pottru inspired by Air Deccan founder GR Gopinath’s biography Simply Fly.
Suriya Soars In Sudha Kongara’s Inspiring ‘Soorarai Pottru’
Ah, what a comeback this has been for Suriya after the atrocious NGK and Kaappaan. If those movies take you to the dark corners of Tamil cinema and abandon you, Soorari Pottru lifts you and gives you a lollipop.
Soorarai Pottru largely works, as it is about a larger-than-life dream than one particular person. I’m not denying that it is based on GR Gopinath’s life, but the dramatic events that have carefully been picked from his tall tale are about a handful and director Sudha Kongara has glued them well with enough grit to sustain the proceedings.
Maara, which is the abbreviated version of Nedumaaran Rajangam (Suriya), is the name of a medieval Pandya King. I would have taken that as a mere coincidence if Maara’s friend, Chaitanya Rao, wasn’t called Che (fashioned after the famous Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara). When two characters in a mainstream Tamil film are named after historical figures, you know what’s going to come, don’t you? A bit of raw tenaciousness was expected from the start when this project was announced since we’ve already seen what Kongara is made of – the credit goes to her previous sports drama, Irudhi Suttru.
If Ritika Singh gloriously matched her steps to the upbeat number “Vaa Machaney” in Irudhi Suttru, Suriya dances to “Mannurunda”, a song that celebrates the death of an old man, in the opening scenes of the latest film. The shirts worn by both the leads in their respective songs also appear to be of the same shade. Is that another coincidence-cum-Easter-egg? Even Maara, like Madhi (Ritika Singh), is short-tempered. The anger stems from being ridiculed and belittled here. The rebel with an idea often loses his cool, for he’s constantly told that he doesn’t belong in the heights that he aspires to reach. He wants to sell air tickets for as low as one rupee and still turn around a profit, but he faces obstacles all along the way.
On the other side of the fence, there’s Bommi (Aparna Balamurali) who has a mind and business idea of her own. She’s the sort of woman who tells her family members that she doesn’t want to marry Maara right away and argues that it’s better to build their empires first and then dive into the blissful, or messy, married life. Kongara captures the romance between these two protagonists freshly. She doesn’t change the dynamic between the couple to the extent that it comes across as trailblazing. But, there’s a certain sense of promise in how she manages to bring the two together.
Bommi gives it back rightly when Maara mocks her bakery business and enlightens him as to what’s actually feeding him. Even when you take their wedding, for example, the scenes are light and cheeky. In fact, it takes place according to the tradition of suyamariyathai (self-respect), where there’s no question of tying the mangalsutras, or the inclusion of a Brahmin priest in the ceremony. The groom and the bride just garland each other in the presence of family and friends and have a lot of fun. The absence of religious practices allows them to solemnise their marriage without burdening themselves with the mantras and financial difficulties that naturally accompany big-fat traditional weddings.
It’s important to note the suyamariyathai setup because towards the end, Maara explains that he wishes to break caste barriers by making the common people, who make up the real majority in terms of population, fly. Come to think of it, that was the reason for self-respect marriages to become popular. Maara doesn’t differentiate between his personal and professional affairs. He only feels a bit dejected and unmanly when he takes money from his wife. It seems as though he hasn’t crossed that barrier yet.
If Maara wants to shorten the gap between the facilities enjoyed by the lower-castes and the upper-castes, Paresh Goswami (Paresh Rawal) wants to lengthen it. Of course, he’s the baddie that keeps challenging Maara and his integrity. The hero talks with tears in his eyes about breaking down the walls that separate the different classes and the villain sanitises his hands every time he comes in contact with another person. It’s not a subtle signifier in any form, but it brings the thoughts and ideologies of Goswami to the fore immediately.
Again, Goswami and Maara do not engage in duels. They simply fight for the principles they believe in. And, perhaps, the funniest bit is covered in the character that has been inspired from Vijay Mallya’s elitism. Maara calls the latter a socialite as if he’s spitting the word out with disgust and the Mallya-like character reacts to it with utter nonchalance. Kongara has definitely nailed this satirical bit and I hope she manages to make a full-length comedy sometime in the future.
Since Suriya had surrendered to the self-indulgent vision of Selvaraghavan for a film like NGK itself, it should come as no surprise when you see him casually throw cuss words and haughtiness (in the scenes where they’re required) around in Soorarai Pottru. This is totally the work of a team that knows what to bank on.
May this movie take self-respect marriages to the nooks and corners of the country and also tell the viewers that sky’s the limit for their dreams.
Rating: 3.5 Quints out of 5.
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