Irudhi Suttru is an enjoyable sports drama that keeps you hooked, says S Saraswathi.
Sports dramas are a rarity for the Tamil audience. The year 2015, however, saw the release of two films with a sports backdrop, Eetti and Bhooloham. Not surprisingly, both did well at the box office.
They make a refreshing change from the mushy romantic comedies and mass commercial entertainers that the industry seems to regularly churn out.
Director Sudha Kongara, who made her Tamil debut with Drohi in 2010, is now back with a bilingual sports drama titled Irudhi Suttru in Tamil and Saala Khadoos in Hindi.
Starring Madhavan and newcomer Ritika Singh, the film is an attempt to portray the never-ending list of issues plaguing the sports industry in our country. The director crams in everything from power-hungry officials in selection committees to political interference, corruption, scams, sexual harassment, sibling rivalry and a half-hearted attempt at romance.
Prabhu Selvaraj (Madhavan), a rude, arrogant and perennially drunk womanizer, happens to be one of the best boxing coaches in the country. His cocky attitude earns him a transfer to Chennai, where he meets a rustic fisherwoman Madhi (Ritika), whose sister Lux (Mumtaz Sorcar) is an aspiring boxer.
Prabhu notices a spark and aggression in the free-spirited Madhi that is lacking in Lux. His offer to train her is refused by this impulsive youngster, who prefers her freedom instead. He eventually bribes her with money and thus begins an explosive mentor-and-protégé relationship riven with stubbornness and pride.
There are quite a few screaming matches that are overdone and some of the situations, though intense, are too fleeting. But the lead characters begin to grow on you and you are slowly drawn into their bickering lives. Veteran actor Nasser and Kaali Venkat provide the fun element with their light-hearted banter.
Debutant Ritika Singh, a martial arts expert, throws a mean punch and is perfectly cast. Even in her rough and tough role, she manages to exude a certain vulnerability that has the audience cheering for her. Madhavan, who has bulked up considerably for the role, demonstrates aggression and anger with just his stance. He appears content to take the back seat and allow Singh to bask in the limelight.
Despite the sports backdrop, the film basically deals with the feelings and emotions of a young girl who falls for her much-older mentor.
Music composer Santhosh Narayanan keeps the situations lively and peppy, while cameraman Siva captures the best dramatic moments both inside and outside the ring.
Director Sudha Kongara’s Irudhi Suttru may not be perfect. But, at just under two hours, its refreshing characters, enjoyable plot, great music and visuals keeps you hooked.
Do read the review of the Hindi version, Saala Khadoos, here.