Okay, a quick introduction. Soorarai Pottru (Praise the brave) is a rag to riches story of one Nedumaaran Rajangam (aka Maara ) who, against all the odds, goes on to build an airline company. The plot is loosely based on life events of GR Gopinath, one of the co-founders of Deccan Airlines aka Simplifly Deccan or Air Deccan.
There were a huge hype and build-up over this movie, deservedly so. Apparently, this was the most anticipated movie of 2020, delayed only due to pandemic. Eventually, when released, it was oversubscribed on OTT, resulting in Amazon Prime Video platform to crash intermittently and repeatedly.
Anyways, this movie was an obvious choice for ODFE – (Obligatory Deepavali Family Entertainer). Unfortunately, my other chooses were :
- Chhalaang, a romcom, time-pass flick but meets my mandatory pre-requisite – the movie should not star nepo-kids! Unfortunately, Nushrat Bharucha wraps herself in make-up, and Rajkumar Rao goes on to pull same Ganwaar expressions. We yawned halfway through them the movie and then abandoned.
- Mookuthi Amman, another Tamizh movie which starts off great but drags itself into becoming clichéd them “Take a dig at a baba”. The choice of target was Nityananda Swamy’ movie-equivalent. During halfway a little bird caller Twitter flew in told me director actually had shot a few scenes targeting other social issues and then chickened out to include them in final release !.
- Laxmii, Its IMDB rating (2.9 as of today) speaks volumes of it. We will talk about this in some other post. But No – I did not watch this.
Okay, Back to Soorarai Pottru. It has its share of flaws. But, if you park it for the moment and focus on the value movie brings – its a fantastic movie. It successfully and accurately paints the picture of 90s India and its business environment. It explains the bureaucratic mess that India was, notorious red-tape terrorism, a hangover of licence-Raj, hand in glove nexus of the powerful with government, the quid pro quo and so on. It shows how it was a crime to dream is free and independent India.
What worked well :
- Great plot and script. It’s a story which had to be told. As I have told before a Bollywood producer will never pick the story of a hero unless of course, the protagonist falls in love with a Pakistani girl.
- Casting is exceptional. Except for that cigar smoking potbelly air force training officer, all actors have pulled great character. Aparna and Paresh Rawal were exceptional . However, Urvashi, as Suriya’s Mother, steals the show. In fact, she had an even better role in Mookuthi Amman. What a classy actor – I am a fan!
- Good to see Tamizh (or south) movies nowadays casting main heroines with complexions. These roles were otherwise reserved to Punjabi Tamannas, Agarwals or even English actors like Amy. Go local!
- “show, not tell” kind of storytelling. This is a very welcome change. This movie does not treat the audience as idiots.
- There is great respect for the Indian Armed forces in the movie. Again, Bollywood always and never gets this sentiment !! How difficult is it Mr Karan Johar? They save our lives, and we say Thank you!
What did not work well :
- More often than not, the movie gets too loud and overdramatic. Several scenes were designed to be so emotional and dramatic; it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. A more subtle messaging would’ve been more effective.
- I refuse to believe there ever was a day on Indian soil, in which an air-force officer had to beg for money. If that really happened, then it’s a great shame for us!
- Inconsistencies: should I believe a modern farmer wearing chinos as a nightwear and sets up drip-irrigation did not choose to build a toilet? He sends his prospective fiancé for open defecation? What bullshit.!
- One of the friends of Maara, is, unfortunately, named as Che. Che is supposed to be short for “Chaitanya”. Hope you get an irony here; A man gets named after one of the greatest saints of 15th century and then gets it shortened to a south American mass murderer. Understandably it’s so 90s, that was in fashion, and we were just coming out of a socialist mindset. We are in the 21st century now, and we no longer name kids after Guevara. We name them after Timur lane.