Director: Sudha Kongara
Cast: Suriya, Aparna Balamurali, Paresh Rawal, Urvashi
Director Sudha Kongara, who gave us a brilliant movie like Irudhi Suttru on boxing, now offers one on flying, Soorarai Pottru. Streaming on Amazon Prime, this Suriya-starrer is loosely based on a dream Captain Gopinath saw and realised through his low-cost airline, Air Deccan, which helped the poor to fly by connecting smaller towns.
Adapted from the book Simply Fly, Suriya’s Nedumaraan Rajangam is a villager, whose father is an ordinary school teacher, happy with his meagre income and lowly life. His son is not, and aspires to fly high, literally. So, he joins the Indian Air Force, and when he fails to reach his village in time for his father’s funeral because the young man is short of money to buy an air ticket, he vows to create an airline that will peg its fare at Re 1 per seat.
What seems like an impossible dream takes off, finally – we can all predict that – but the path to this is paved with roadblocks or bumps caused not by the vagaries of weather, but powerful aviation men, like Paresh (Paresh Rawal). They – and there are unmistakable lookalikes like Vijay Mallya – place one hurdle after another in Nedumaaran’s skies. Even as the first of his Deccan Air flights takes off with the Union Minister for Aviation onboard, it catches fire on the runway. And at that moment, it looks like Nedumaraan is crushed.
No, the simple folks in his village, near the temple town of Madurai, rally around him and crowd-fund his dream to run airways that will cater to the common man, and not just the rich and the powerful.
Kongara’s work is a classic story of a poor man attainting heights he thought he would not be able to, and she peppers the narrative with what appears like unsurmountable barricades, but Nedumaaran, jumps over or rather flies over each one of them.
Much of what we see in the film has taken place in reality, for the story of Indian aviation is not hidden, and Kongara must be lauded for the boldness with which she and a couple of others have scripted Soorarai Pottru.
But where she slips is her tendency to give in to Tamil cinema’s obsession with unnecessary songs and emotions. There are scenes one too many that fly high, like the protagonist’s ambition, on tears and melodrama. The movie could have done away with these and clipped several minutes from approximately 150 minutes of runtime. Also, Suriya remains Suriya with his usual mannerisms and bravado, and his chemistry with screen wife, Sundari (Aparna Balamurali), is awfully insipid.
In the final analysis, Soorarai Pottru could have been far more inspiring and even engrossing had Kongara done away with these irritants. Her plane would have had a smoother flight sans the turbulence.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator, and film critic)