Coming from a debutant director, "Sundattam" is undoubtedly one of the better films of recent times with its share of ups and downs. Thankfully, it doesn't get swept away in the tide of commercialism and even succeeds in producing a simple yet convincing thriller.
We have had movies about outdoor games, but this is most likely the first time a film about a game of carrom has been effectively used to weave a story with twists and thrills. It is set in the 1990s of Chennai, where carrom contests were played for money.
Prabha, a happy-go-lucky guy, to whom the world is the game of carrom, earns the wrath of a local gang headed by Guna after having locked horns with his men. It is later that he comes to learn that Guna is don Bakkiya's sidekick. Meanwhile, Prabha falls head over heels for his sister's best friend Kalai. However, Kalai's brother, an angry cop who has been suspended for manhandling a criminal, doesn't like the idea of seeing his sister with Prabha.
Destiny has it; Prabha beats Kasi, a drug-addict, hands down in the game of carrom. The win not only earns him a reputation, but also wins him the admiration and friendship of Bakkiya and his gang. Having lost to a young player, Kasi yearns to kill Prabha. Don Bakkiya too has a sworn enemy, who wants him dead.
How will Prabha save his life from the clutches of Kasi? Who is Bakkiya's enemy and why does he want him dead? And most importantly, will Prabha get to live happily ever after with Kalai? This forms the rest of the story.
As a viewer, one is quickly arrested by the racy screenplay of the film and there are hardly any dull moments that may likely push someone into boredom. Debutant director has shown prowess in handling a subject that's hardly been put to use in Tamil cinema. Come to think of it, it's a usual revenge story that is dealt with a backdrop involving a game of carrom. Brilliant!
Since the film is set in the 1990s, it was every important to do justice to the milieu of the bygone era. Surprisingly, the film succeeds in capturing every fine detail with perfection and recreates it beautifully on screen. Cinematographer Balagurunathan and art director Mohanamahendran have collaboratively worked towards one common goal - to ensure the film doesn't slip from the 1990s mode.
The performances are not extraordinary, but considering the fact that most of the actors have meagre or no screen experience, one can't stop lauding their effort. Irrfan shines in his title role and breathes life into the role of Prabha, while Arundhati portrays her character with poise.
"Sundattam" struggles occasionally to convince the audience that the game of carrom was merely used as a backdrop to build the narrative. However, it scores high with its deft screenplay that stays away from cliches.
Critic: Haricharan Pudipeddi
(3 / 5) : Good