There is a famous quote that time is priceless. But in our world, time is frequently bought. For example, for a regular person, a trip to Mumbai takes roughly a day by train. But for the wealthy, it takes less than two hours. Why is the time of a wealthy person inherently more valuable? Who decides that the time of the not-so-rich isn’t worthy enough? These are the questions behind Nedumaaran Rajangam’s dream of creating a low-cost airline. “Vaanam enna unga appan veetu soththa,” asks Maara furiously. The idea is to make the skies accessible, for anyone who dreams to fly
When we speak about films, logic assumes an important place. But films, like stories, are creations of emotions. The films we remember are the ones that touch our hearts. Sudha understands the significance of this. Yes, flying is an aspiration. Would that create enough demand consistently to run a sustainable business? The film takes this on with a punchline — “200 varusham munnadi current thevai illai nu sonanga, 100 varushathuku munnadi car thevai illainu sonanga. Idhelam venam nu evan solradhu, vechu aalravan solradhu.” But are dreams enough to run a business? There is a reason why low-cost aviation ran into red zones. What would I do with electricity if I have no appliances to run? What would I do with a car if I have no place to visit? But Soorarai Pottru doesn’t let us stop and ponder about all this. The film soars high on emotional drama, its energy hitting you in the gut and strapping you in. It is a smart decision to make Soorarai Pottru a deeply personal story, despite the social canvas. It flies high on the fuel of emotions — rage, fury, and hope of Maara and the burden of his dream.
Even if you don’t care about flying, Sudha and Suriya ensure you care about Maara and his story. And why wouldn’t we? We haven’t had a protagonist like this in a while — one who burns like a candle in the flame of his passion. Suriya truly anchors this emotional drama as the fiery, intense Nedumaaran Rajangan, giving one of his best performances in recent times. This isn’t new territory for Suriya but it has been quite a while since we saw him in this space. (Maara reminds me of Aayudha Ezhuthu’s Michael and interestingly, Sudha was part of that film as well.) Thus, even when the film jumps timelines too quickly, struggling to hold every episode in its two-hour frame — Maara holds our attention. Through the chaotic narrative, his intensity stays with us. Suriya drives the film home with his raw, impish charm.
However, Soorarai Poottru’s biggest strength is that it splits its spotlight across its universe. Maara doesn’t carry his dream alone, he literally has a village to back him. And Suriya is in some terrific company in terms of performances. Aparna Balamurali is a revelation as the brazen Sundari, who gives Maara a run for his money. For anyone a star vehicle cannot have a sensible, strong female lead, Sundari is your answer. She isn’t just his pillar of support, she is his partner-in-crime. When have we acknowledged a female lead’s dreams and desires? The dynamic between Maara and Sundari is so refreshingly real, rooted, and raw. And then there is the astounding Urvashi, who just takes one scene to make us forget about everyone else. Every character gets a moment to shine, and they share Maara’s (and Suriya’s) responsibilities exemplarily well. (GV Prakash Kumar’s thundering score deserves a surround system.)
For long, mainstream films have been judged as empty entertainers, mindless paeans to an all-conquering, mighty hero. It had become so normal that one rarely expected anything else. But a younger set of filmmakers are re-imagining the commercial template, crafting stories and experiences that go beyond entertainment. Sudha Kongara is an important name in that list. And it is even more heartening to see an A-lister like Suriya take on ambitious projects that break conventions. Who knows, maybe this could become the new normal.