Cast: Suriya, Mohanlal, Arya, Boman Irani, Samuthirakani, Sayyeshaa Saigal
Director: K V Anand
The one shining highlight of K V Anand's latest outing, Kaappaan (Saviour) – an adventure that seems to be running amok – is Mohanlal. He plays Prime Minister Chandrakanth Varma. Let us forget he is a noble, well-intentioned and scrupulously honest man on the screen. All this is to be expected, but the Malayalam superstar, who sinks into the character has to guts to speak Tamil with a Malayalam accent and be every inch the prime minister he is meant to be. He is subtle, controlled and packs power into every sentence he speaks. It is another thing that the script, written by Anand and a couple of others demand Varma to mouth long and boringly patriotic sermons. But what is worse, Anand and his cinematographer, M S Prabhu, keep – with single-minded devotion – the script and camera hovering around Suriya, who essays an intelligence officer assigned to protect the prime minister.
It appears as if Kaappaan has been made exclusively for the Tamil star. At the beginning of his story, we see Suriya as an organic farmer, who also cajoles his villagers in Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur to avoid defecating in the open. So, every visit to the toilet he has built will earn ten rupees for the user. It gets into the evils of land grab by Boman Iran's Nakhul Jayadev, who believes that profit is the be-all and end-all. Farming is a pure waste, and all that is grown on land can be imported, he says.
Jayadev is close to the prime minister, or that is what we are shown. But when Varma gets inconvenient, he is assassinated, despite the watchful eye of Kathir, part of the two-member team (the other officer is Sentamizh Selvan/ Samuthirakani.) to guard the prime minister. Obviously, they cannot have more men. For, that would rob Suriya of his coveted position as the hero, who can blow up a running train carrying swarms of crop-destroying insects with as much ease as he can take on an army of assassins – not once, but a countless number of times. Often, he fights with his bare fists, guns and bullets are allowed to fly out of the window.
Anand's narrative does not stop wandering here. The prime minster's murder is followed by a succession, that of his reluctant son, Abhishek (Arya), and the battles and durbar intrigues are interrupted by dances (one in which Suriya performs clad in a dhoti) and a romance between Kathir and Anjali (Sayyeshaa Saigal). All these stick like sore thumbs and stretch the film to a yawning 166 minutes – till Anand's work loses its focus.
We wonder what is the plot about. The tyranny of big business houses, a prime minister who is checkmated on his path to creating a prosperous India (and mind you, this includes Kashmir!) or the importance of organic farming. It gets so foggy!
But the moot point here is, must Suriya lend himself to a script of this sort. Is he not past all this? Is it not time for him to stop being Suriya the star, and turn into Suriya the actor? About time, I would think!
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is author, commentator and movie critic)