Strong performances, sensitive writing, purposeful characters… Soorarai Pottru is the whole package.
A star like Suriya in a film that charts the struggles of a real businessman behind a low-cost airlines company… I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly blown away by the possibilities. And Sudha Kongara, from the little we know of her from mainly Irudhi Suttru, didn’t exactly strike me as a filmmaker willing to settle for easy mass entertainment from this material either. The question then was, can the dramatisation of the many cumbersome processes involved in the setting up of an airlines company make for riveting cinema? Well, it turns out that it can make for even better cinema than one may imagine. The abundant depth and entertainment on offer in Soorarai Pottru, I view as being a direct consequence of the unrelenting honesty of its writing and performances. It’s evident that the cast is united in its faith on this material; you can see that the writing complements this by being fiercely loyal towards its characters, even at the cost of and especially at the cost of ‘predictable entertainment’.
Soorarai Pottru is the story of a Tamil man, Nedumaaran Rajangam (Suriya), who goes in vain from office to office looking for investors. It’s the story that documents the long waiting involved in government offices if you wanted to do something useful for our society. It’s the story of how Maaran makes unwitting enemies by simply declaring his intention to make life easy for the common man. In a Shankar film, like a Sivaji, the jaded hero, with similar aspirations, would resort to violence or corruption himself, in order to beat the system and offer you fairy tale-ish catharsis. However, Sudha Kongara’s Maaran isn’t a vigilante; he wants to, within the rules of the oppressive system, find a way to make his dream come true. He’s not a cinema hero; he’s a real guy. And yet, this makes him more heroic than a star beating up a dozen rowdies hired by a rival businessman.
Soorarai is admirable for its refusal to bite into such safe ‘mass’ ideas. It’s a film based on the autobiography, Simply Fly (about Captain Gopinath’s dream of launching a low-cost airlines company), and in an early disclaimer, makes it clear that ‘the film has been fictionalised and modified entirely for the cinematic experience’. And yet, none of this ever comes at the cost of respect for Maaran, and more importantly, his utilitarian ambition of making flights affordable for the masses. While this is very much a ‘mass’ film in many ways and is about a hero who strives to overcome obstacles strategically placed in front of him by his rich and powerful rivals, it’s all done with great dignity and love for reality. That’s why, even being a cynic, I found myself buying into the heady optimism of this film’s message that should you stick with your dream and follow through, without giving up at the first scream or the first tears, you can taste success. It’s optimism, yes, but Soorarai Pottru offers it with dollops of practicality. Even the use of songs in this film is rather… practical. Maaran and Bommi threaten to break into songs, but save for flourishes here and there, there’s nothing here that gets in the way of the film or derails its intensity.
For the remainder of this review (and there’s a lot more left, I assure you), visit Soorarai Pottru Review:- Cinema express.