After her below average debut film Drohi in 2010, Sudha Kongara began writing a sports drama film on boxing after reading about the boxing culture in North Chennai. Sudha consequently began gathering further information about female boxers and networked with Indian Olympic athletes including Mary Kom, in order to help write her script. In September 2011, she approached Madhavan, to portray the lead role in the film and his presence in the project helped take the financial viability of the venture to a higher level. They had previously collaborated in Madhavan’s films under the direction of Mani Ratnam, where Sudha had been an assistant director. ‘Irudhi Suttru’ has been made as bilingual film in Tamil and Hindi simultaneously. Both versions are produced by S.Sashikanth (Y NOT Studios) and UTV Motion Pictures, while C.V.Kumar’s Thirukumaran Entertainment co-produces the Tamil version and Madhavan’s Tricolour Films with Rajkumar Hirani presents the Hindi version respectively. After the songs and trailer relese, the film has gained sky-high expectations. Does the film lives up to all the expectations? Read on, to know!
First things first! Irudhi Suttru is such a honest piece of work, that has so much of soul and authenticity in it. Hats off to the whole direction team for taking a lot of efforts and trying to make it look perfect in all aspects. The film stands so unique and strong in its production design. It is so evident that the direction and production team has spent a lot of time at every stages of filming – scripting, pre-production, shooting, post-production followed by marketing and promotions. Another person who deserves a special mention in first place is Madhavan, without whom this venture would not have materialized at all! Spending almost 2.5 years for a single film, signing a film that has higher importance for the female lead role comparatively, working out tight and taking up boxing training for perfection that the role deserves; all for a second-timer’s film whose first film was not even successful. Do you think any other actor would do that? Lots of respect for this man, who believed completely on the script alone!
The film deals with the state of women’s sports (boxing in particular) in India, the political interference and favourism in selection and recognition of talents, the facilities available for sportsperson in the South, sexual harassment and a lot other things. However, the film primarily focuses on the story of a coach for whom boxing means life, his struggles in the journey of making his student win.
The most beautiful / admirable thing about IRUDHI SUTTRU is its authenticity and the team’s efforts to make it look as honest as possible. You do not see actors anywhere in the film, but only the characters! The writing is impeccable and the actors’ performance helps the characters grow on you. Starting right from the casting, everything had a quench for completeness. For example, a popular actress would have been provided boxing training and roped in for the female lead role of a boxer, if it was some other film. But, Sudha Kongara and team signed two professional boxers from a boxing academy, Ritika Singh and Mumtaz Sorcar for the female lead role. The characterizations are solid strong, that makes you feel their roots. The angry, straight-forward and unpolite coach Prabhu, Madhi who is bold yet playful girl, the cunning officer Dev, the Junior coach in Chennai who knows nothing but failures. The dialogues are another biggest plus point of Irudhi Suttru, which are so simple and straight on-the-face. When we expect the characters are going to speak pages of dialogues, writer Arun Matheswaran and Sudha keeps it simple (say the climax where Prabhu says to Dev ‘Dei… Nee avlo dhan da’)
The first half of the movie begins with perfect set-up of characters establishment in the first 15 minutes and enters the core plot in 15 minutes. The director has answers for our simple questions also (such as why Madhi from Chennai slums look like a North Indian; this might have been a technique used to be logical in the Hindi version where no one can question how does a Chennai girl knews Hindi). There is laughable yet sensible humour in many scenes, similar to the films of Maniratnam and Kamalhaasan. Being a sports movie, that too a boxing movie, we knew that the film will have an ending with a ‘Win or Die’ type of tournament sequence only; however, Sudha Kongara has made it a very engrossing travel with the characters for the complete run-time of 2 hours. ‘Irudhi Suttru’ has its own dosage of melodrama and it has worked very well, especially in some pivotal scenes helping to gain momentum. The writer and director has handled the Student & Coach relationship also very well. The climax was delightfully heartwarming and the film will leave you out of the cinema hall with an indescribable experience. The film is fast paced and does not have any boring moments. All the songs are a visual treat and well-placed, helping the script move ahead; the only minus point is that songs at regular interval was little tiring (the first half that ran for less than 60 minutes had 4 songs).
Madhavan as the angry coach has just nailed it. His efforts on weight gaining and the behind-the-screen transformation from an actor to a boxer are so inspiring. Undoubtedly, it is his career best performance till date! It was so great to see him in such a role after so many years (after a number of mediocre roles in Tamil films like Vettai and Manmadhan Ambu), delivering a very matured performance. Not sure how many star actors today would accept such a film which has more importance for the female lead and the lead male character that speaks about how his wife eloped with another boxer. The performer Maddy is terrific and he is back with a bang! It is our duty to support actors like him who wants to be a part of good films and who invest their earnings in good films (he produced Evano Oruvan earlier, which was a good film but a flop commercially). Ritika Singh is the show-stealer of Irudhi Suttru definitely; it is her film completely. Her measured acting, flawless dubbing and infectious energy gives so much of life to the character Madhi. Ritika, the martial arts professional turned actor is a great find indeed. Veteran actors like Nassar and Radha Ravi proves their expertise in the meaty roles offered. All other supporting actors including Zakir Hussain (he has done enough cunning traitor kind of roles in Tamil films such as Lee, Thuppaaki and Irudhi Suttru 😛 ) and Kaali Venkat has delivered what was expected from them.
On technical stand, the film is so spectacular! The technical finesse in all technical departments elevate the film’s standard to different heights. The film would have been incomplete without Santhosh Narayanan’s songs and background score; the background score is one of his bests ever, following films such as Madras, Pizza and Jigarthanda. Sivakumar Vijayan who did a splendid job in his debut film ‘Vidiyum Munn’, has been an asset for ‘Irudhi suttru’. The montages and songs, the interval shot and the climax boxing sequence are a few to mention. Sathish Surya’s editing and Sound designing by Sync Factor have contributed a lot on their part for the film.
It is a proud moment for us to see the emergence of path-breaking women filmmakers from South India like Anjali Menon and Sudha Kongara, who are making trend-setting entertainers!
Verdict: 2016 has begun awesome with a brilliant entertainer. A very honest piece of work, that should not be missed at any cost.
Rating – 4.25/5
Reviews by: Rahman
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