Soorarai Pottru

Soorarai Pottru

Soorarai Pottru has an outsider’s gaze while trying to be rooted – it tries sincerely, with the accent, the backdrops, but there’s an inherent false note in there, owing to many one-note characters who could have done with some more rendering. But it surely is Suriya’s unshakeable intensity that pulls the film through to a good place. He hasn’t exactly turned any new leaf here – it’s understandable why he’s in this film, playing this character – but the fact that the film is focused enough on telling an earnest story alone, adds to his performance. There are no drastic detours to accommodate what his fans fancy. He’s memorably endearing in a couple of scenes, with Urvashi also pitching in with her expertise. Aparna Balamurali is a fireball from scene one, and her piercing gaze takes on Suriya, head-on.

Sudha Kongara’s film works with traditional biopic tropes like “an idea inspired by nature” among others, conventions of our cinema like song-and-dance, all sprinkled alongside episodic bits that form a non-linear narrative. These shifts are jarring and aren’t as seamless while tying into each other. The way the narration jumps left me wanting the edit to be *not so* “crispy”, contrary to what a lot of y’all have been conditioned to accept as “good” editing. GVP’s solid soundtrack is also consistently drowned by the episodic nature of the narrative. A jarring feeling is even more prominent when good songs are cut short. There surely was a lengthier, and steadier film in here (to hell with our dwindling attention spans!).

The film talks politics as well, but those specific dialogues and shots fly by (the caste barrier, the marriage) and aren’t allowed to register as well as the times it speaks of class politics. I believe this says more about the audience than the makers. The latter are aware of how much the former will digest. The absolutely harmless lyrics of “Mannurunda” caused enough noise already.

The conflicts keep piling, but the way major ones are resolved away from our eyes brings in a lingering aftertaste of having watched a convenient plot twist. The whole software crash in the climax, and the money pouring in from his hometown are examples of this phenomenon of sorts.

Problems aside, this is an inspiring story to hear, and to many, that can probably overshadow how well it is told. But to my eyes, “Based on a true story” will never mean a pass for wobbly storytelling.


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