Director Sudha Kongara delivers a well-knit cinematic tale that urges us to follow our dreams
To what lengths would you go to achieve a crazy dream of yours?
If you are Nedumaran Rajaangam aka Maara (Suriya), you’d give it your all.
Soorarai Pottru revolves around Maara’s life and a dream that he seems to hold on to for eternity: build a low-cost airline for everyone to fly. For a film based on aviation (or rather the book Simply Fly on the founder of Air Deccan, Captain Gopinath’s life), the start is pretty much in top gear. There’s an issue with a certain flight landing, but Maara communicates to the pilot to land it elsewhere. It isn’t smooth by any stretch, but it does land. However, the troubles have just begun for the man behind the airline.
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Maara is from a humble background; his father is a school teacher who is always petitioning for change. But his background and upbringing (in Sholavandan near Madurai) isn’t going to make him stop thinking of flights every day.
There’s a problem though. Owning an airline is not your everyday dream. For long, Tamil cinema has chronicled follow-your-dream tales. But, Soorarai Pottru, much like its protagonist, aims big, and makes the stakes even bigger.
Along with it comes Paresh (Paresh Rawal), who seems to be a spin-off of Nana Patekar’s Haridada character in Rajinikanth’s Kaala. Much like Hari Dada, Paresh cannot stand the sight of a man breathing down his empire, and wants to crush him down. Watch out for the scene when Maara first meets him… let’s just say that it was a meeting that reaches great heights, literally as well.
- Cast: Suriya, Aparna Balamurali, Paresh Rawal, Urvashi, Mohan Babu
- Director: Sudha Kongara
- Storyline: The son of a teacher sets out to make the common man fly
The face-off reminded one of the electrifying Kaala-Hari Dada clash too; there’s a smirk in Paresh’s voice, and despair in Suriya’s. But one wishes director Sudha Kongara had pushed the envelope with respect to Paresh, and not made him out to be a largely corporate monster who is basically mouthing, ‘the rich remain rich, the poor remain poor’ in different connotations.
Ultimately, the film boils down to dreams: if Maara has his eyes set on the skies, his love interest, Bommi (Aparna Balamurali, who was last seen in Sarvam Thaala Mayam in Tamil) has a relatively simpler one. The lead pair’s chemistry isn’t the greatest, but Sudha’s writing is solid: Bommi has equal investment in her partner’s dreams. Much more could have been explored in this husband-wife conflict — a scene set in a bakery deserves applause — but the film always pulls back to its core plot point, and understandably so.
The characters around Maara are also the result of excellent writing: a father whose ideals wouldn’t let him be friends with his son, and a mother who struggles to broker peace between her two most favourite people in the world. Maara’s friends (played by Vivek Prasanna and Krishnakumar) get short but effective roles as well, as does Mohan Babu as Naidu. Director Sudha also deserves praise for using everyday language to explain a few technical terms; Maara describing a licensing authority as, “an RTO” and likening his airlines to a food joint brings a smile.
The intensity of proceedings does soften in the second half, when somehow, things seem to fall too quickly in place, with help pouring in from unexpected quarters for the protagonist. However, Suriya as Maara holds the show together. After slightly tepid outings in his last few films, the actor scores highly as a man besotted with a dream and willing to go to any lengths to achieve it. Helping him put up a good show is composer GV Prakash, whose Veyyon Silli and Usurey numbers set the right tone.
All this will work if you buy into the time period the film is set in… much before mobile phones and social media took over our lives. If Maara was in 2020, he might have just shot off a tweet to the powers that be, but alas, all he had was a pager. And some dogged determination that we will surely dote on for quite some time to come.
Soorarai Pottru is currently streaming on Amazon Prime