Director: S.P. Rajkumar
It’s time for Colin and Wes Watch 100 Bad Movies to go high brow and international again, as our next movie is direct from India.
Back at #34b, At Long Last Love, (see review here), I mentioned the fact that I hated musicals. Now I didn’t know much about Indian movies but I was led to believe that there is a lot of singing and dancing. Couple this with the fact that it’s subtitled and nearly 3 hours long and you can probably imagine my reaction. I think my exact words rhymed with duck’s bake.
But I had to remind myself, I have not watched an Indian movie before and perhaps my preconceptions were wrong. Therefore I had to approach this with an open mind and several cans of medium strength lager.
So what would I make of my first Indian movie? It’s time to be cultured once more as we head to India for the movie Sura, (2010).
I even put my lager into a glass.
The inhabitants of a small fishing Hamlet called Yaazh Nagar are worried as one of their fisherman, Sura, (Vijay), has gone missing. Loved, adored and considered their leader by the Hamlet, the entire population look out to the ocean in despair as hope appears lost. Fortunately within a couple of minutes, a handsome young man swims to the beach like a dolphin and we find out Sura is alive and well. Hurrah!
I thought this was the end of the movie but when I checked we still had 2hrs 35mins left my heart sank and I realised the story we had just witnessed was in actual fact just the opening credits. It’s no wonder this movie is so long if something which should take 15 seconds takes 15 minutes!
Sura and best friend Umbrella, (Vadivelu), encounter a young lady, Poornima, (Tamannaah Bhatia), who is about to end her life by attempting to drown herself. Sura manages to save her and finds out that Poornima has been driven to suicide by the rejection of her love, Ramesh. Sura is understandably concerned, until he finds out that Ramesh is a dog!
Poornima starts to fall for Sura, (Poor nima? Poor Sura!), but Sura does not seem so keen at first, (after all the daft whatsit has just tried to give herself a lethal bath and all because some mutt has stopped licking her face!).
Meanwhile, evil bastard, Minister Samuthria Raja, (Dev Gill), has hatched a plan to turn Yaazh Nagar into an amusement park. Raja is ruthless and will stop at nothing to get what he wants, (he fixed the election to get voted in, killed the 2 people whose actual idea it was to build the park and gave someone a right good stare when they dared to question him), and he soon realises to get rid of the Hamlet, he must get rid of Sura.
When Raja burns down the huts of Yaazh Nagar, the villagers believe that Sura has been killed. Losing their likeable and influential leader, homeless and desperate, they accept Raja’s offer of R.10,000 and a new home many miles away. But as they are about to leave, Sura emerges from the ashes…….
Can Sura stop the evil Raja? Will Sura fall for Poornima? Will Ramesh stop doing that thing he does on the couch?
Watch the next 2hrs 30mins of Sura to find out!
I have read many reviews which suggests that Sura is a cliché and that everything in this movie has been done before and better. This is hard for me to comment on as this is my first Indian movie. I guess if, like me, you have seen pretty much every Wrestlemania since 1985, then you’re going to think this year’s matches have been ‘done before’ or ‘was better done by so and so’ or ‘offers nothing new’. Likewise if you are watching Wretlemania for the first time, you have no comparison and so probably couldn’t comment on what has come before.
So this is where I find myself, I can only really judge this movie on this movie as it is the first of its genre that I have watched and I have nothing to compare it to.
The story itself is not difficult to understand, which is a great relief if you are having to watch subtitles, tweet and stop a cat trying to climb onto your laptop all at the same time! It’s not a very in-depth story and in truth could have been told in a lot less time than the 3hrs deemed necessary by Rajkumar. In fact it probably could have replaced the opening credits about Sura’s ‘disappearance’ and still had time for the 6 mins song and dance number.
I like the complete opposites of Sura and Raja’s characters. They are Yin and Yang exaggerated for effect. Considering this is a U movie, the method in which Raja dispenses the 2 people who originally came up with the Fair building idea is quite dark, but for most of the time he is a pantomime baddie.
Vijay is obviously good at being the lead role in a Bollywood movie. This was his 50th movie and so you would hope he knows what he is doing by now, (although Adam Sandler is on his 500th movie and seems to have less of a Scooby Doo what he is doing now, than he did some 300 movies ago…..).
I guess Sura was very similar to his other lead roles, however, I have to admit his goody two shoes, can do no wrong, kindness did begin to grate on me. If it wasn’t for the fact that his exaggerated niceness was done with a cheeky nod and clearly tongue in cheek at times, then I could have easily found myself cheering Raja on and hoping the fire is the last we’d see of the smug do-gooder.
The reason why Sura is not killed of earlier though is probably due to the rubbish fighting his enemies produce. They are clearly hitting air 3 feet from each other, but slapping noises and punch sounds from a 1970’s stock library tape fill the speakers and we are led to believe that these are all landing crisply. It’s not convincing and if the sound effects were removed it actually looks like the cast are trying to swat a pesky fly.
The support cast is largely background and uninteresting. Umbrella’s character is only there as light relief to the main story and his side stories are generally unfunny and forgettable. Poornima’s character is one-dimensional and only serves as Sura’s love interest and someone to sing the duets with!
The songs themselves did not rile me as much as they did in ‘At Long Last Love’. I think this is because the cast don’t spontaneously burst out into song and dance in that creepy way I don’t like, but rather we seem to cut to the cast and characters who are performing their song and dance. It feels like it is separate to the movie and that I have accidentally sat on the remote and changed TV channel.
Because of this it did not annoy me and also because the songs are not in English, I ended up reading the lyrics, which again, softened the blow of having to put up with musical numbers in the middle of a movie as I was distracted by the reading.
The songs themselves did sound alike to my untrained ear and all seemed to be about Sura being some pure soul with a good heart and the courage of a lion, or something. One song is about inserting a key into a doll, which is just pure filth, (or maybe something just got lost in translation?), but thankfully there are only a handful of songs throughout.
The best thing about the songs were that they served as useful toilet breaks / drink refreshers throughout this very long movie. And it is the length of the film which is my main problem.
JFK is one of my favourite movies, as I love a good conspiracy, but I simply can not concentrate for 3 hrs long. I have never and will never manage to sit through the movie in one sitting; I need a break! The same is true for Lord of the Rings, Ben Hur or Schindler’s List, great movies, but both my brain and bladder can not manage them in one go.
So a subtitled movie in which you have to concentrate for 3 hours was always going to be a challenge to me. The movie itself does have an Intermission around half way, so it appears it is recognised that no-one is expected to sit through the whole movie without stretching their legs at some point. But when you are cramming this into an already busy evening for a crap movie blog read by your mum and a couple of friends, (hi guys, thanks for getting this far down the blog), time is precious and when I am watching something I feel could have been told in half the time, I get a bit annoyed.
So what did I make of my first Indian movie? Well it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. This is hardly a glowing review, I grant you, but I was dreading this movie and was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would.
The time thing is a big factor, but the movie was easy to follow, the song and dances not too annoying and some light hearted moments made it enjoyable. It was a new experience, which probably made it more interesting and witnessing another culture and their ideas into what makes a movie, held my attention long enough to not get bored.
But giving the time it takes to watch a movie, would I watch another Indian film? I’d like to think so, but it’s not a Sura thing.