S Shyam Prasad
Soorarai Pottru is based on incidents from Simply Fly, the biography of Capt.G.R.Gopinath. But Soorarai Pottru itself is not a biopic of the low-cost aviation pioneer. It dramatises the anecdotes around the Indian aviation industry into a perfect potboiler.
Director Sudha K Prasad takes you on a ride which has an exhilarating take off, thrilling mid-air turbulence and a perfect landing.
Thankfully there is no burden of having to be a documentary of real life. This enables the writer to plot a cinematic journey for Nedumaran (Suriya), an insanely ambitious village boy who wants to do nothing short of touching the sky with glory. As he confronts the restrictions of a poor upbringing, social obstacles and institutional discrimination you begin to root for his tenacity.
There is no let off in this riveting narrative. Cutting to flashbacks to push the melodrama has its desired effect. A fast-paced thriller with the right blending of emotional upheavals keeps you fastened to your seatbelts all through the 149-minute journey.
The cinematic licence the film leverages can be gauged from the disclaimer,
“This scene does not depict or reflect the official position of the IAF,” that appears as a fixed fixture in every scene where the IAF is even a background prop. Though real-life characters are fictionalised, you can’t miss the obvious Abdul Kalam, Vijay Mallya et.al.
For Suriya, this must be one of his career-defining roles. He adapts to every change in the character, from a rebellious young man to a military officer with elan. The character of Sundari, the wife Nedumaran, is not a foil you usually expect in females opposite “heroes”. She is written as a hero in her own right. And Aparna Balamurali plays this role flawlessly.
The Kannada dubbing is near perfect and Sumanth Bhat deserves special mention. Suriya sounds better in his voice. Replacing name boards, posters etc in the background gives a likeable native touch. But why the makers stuck to a Tamil title remains a mystery. Unless you know Tamil you can’t make any sense of it.
Dubbing for two well-known Kannada actors, Achyuth Kumar and Prakash Belawadi, is done by others, which is a disappointment as Kannada audience are far too familiar with their voices.
The adaptation of Kannada nativity deserves a shout out. The self-respect marriage in the original gets a local touch with the photo of Kuvempu replacing that of Periyar. Kuvempu initiated a similar simple marriage ceremony devoid of religious symbols in Karnataka called Mantra Mangalya.
For all these irritants, Soorarai Pattru remains an amazing journey of an entrepreneur convincingly exploited for a movie. Sad it could not be enjoyed in theatres though.