Nov 27, 2008

Telugu Moie ' Surya S/o Krishnan' - Review

Telugu Moie ' Surya S/o Krishnan' - Review

Film: Surya S/o Krishnan (2008)
Cast: Surya (dual role), Simran, Sameera Reddy, Divya Spandana, Daniel Balaji, Prithvi, etc.
Story, Screenplay: Gowtham Vasudeva Menon
Dialogues: Shashank Vennelakanti
Cinematography: R. Ratna Velu
Art: Rajeevan
Choreography: Brinda
Music: Harris Jairaj
Lyrics: Veturi Sundararamamurthy
Editing: Anthony
Produced by: V. Ravichandran
Banner: Aascar Films (P) Ltd.
Directed by: Gowtham Vasudeva Menon
CBFC Rating: U
Release date: November 14, 2008

The story of a son who shares a life with his dad subtly and reminisces it explicitly after the dad's demise.

What's it all about?

Krishan (Surya) is an old man living with his wife Malini (Simran), daughter, and daughter-in-law Priya (Divya Spandana). His son Surya (Surya) serves in the Indian Army. For the smoker he is, Krishnan dies of throat cancer. Surya hears the news of his father's death when he's on a rescue mission to save a female journalist. As a loyal Army major, he cannot forsake his duty, and he thus sits in the helicopter calmly, taking the news through his memories of his dad. He recollects his life through these memories, starting from being a high school kid to being the Army major he now is. He walks through his teenage - the petty fights over girls, etc. and his casual engineering life. He remembers meeting Meghana (Sameera Reddy) in the train and falling in love with her and looking at it as purely as looking at his mom and dad's love story, eventually making her feel for him, going all the way to USA for her, and losing her right there, sharing all feelings with his dad all through. The eventual downfall of his spirit throws him into being an alcoholic and a drug addict.

Priya enters into his life as the childhood friend of his sister who gets attracted towards him. His parents tell him to go wherever he wants to and come back when he feels normal again. He goes to Kashmir and Delhi, and comes back only to decide that he'd join the Indian Army. He does, with his dad's support, and embarks in ranks to be a Major. He ends up marrying Priya later. All this story is felt through the flashback, and the film culminates in Surya running the rescue mission successfully and then coming to his family to perform the last rites for his dad.

Surya, who did promise good performance with his earlier films, now brings us his magnum opus! The film is all Surya's, from the beginning to the end, or so it seems! The variations he showed through the age, from the formative years to the age of an old, throat cancer patient, he has shown how a person can slowly change. In fact, one can notice that he has shown the difference between dad and son even when he portrays young Krishnan in the flashback episodes and when he portrays Surya. His body language changes with age, his voice modulation (of course, dubbed in Telugu) changes with age, his maturity of thought and expression change with age, and he shows them all quite very effectively on the screen!

If you thought only Kamal Hasan could do such roles, you're in for a very big surprise, even if you raise your expectations after reading this sentence! His ease, natural movement, fitting makeup all through, and performance are all absolutely flawless, one could say! He even flaunts his 6-pack body in this film. What's more surprising is his looks change very much, without using computer graphics techniques or masks for makeup! He appears like Harish in the teenage part, like Salman Khan in the Army major attire, like Raghuvaran in the middle-aged part of Krishnan's role, and like Nana Patekar in the older age getup for Krishnan!

Sameera Reddy has a beautiful and touching role in the first half of the film, as Surya's love interest. She does her part well, and appears better than in her previous Telugu films. Divya Spandana has a much shorter role into which she fits well. Simran should be appreciated for the role she played in the film. While makeup brought in only a little change in her face, she brought in a lot more with her performance, particularly in her flashback. Prithvi appears with a different makeup, as kidnapper Asad, and gives a fitting performance in the short role. The girl who played Surya's sister was cute but didn't have much of a role to play. Gowtham himself appears as the masked informer to the Army, in helping the troops reach the hostage.

Technical Departments:
Plainly said, this is the story of a youth who falls in love with a girl, convinces her with his sincerity, and the girl dies suddenly, rendering the guy nearly mad; the guy finally gets back into life and wants to join the Army, during which period he also accepts the love of another girl and marries her. One can see there's not much new in this story. Add "association with dad" element to this theme wherever possible - how the dad supported and motivated the son and so on, and you have this film! Gowtham Menon packaged a normal story very efficiently into a different narration style, as one can see. Though Gowtham is said to have been inspired by Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump (1994), the two films don't have much of a resemblance as such. The first question I had was "How could Gowtham conceive this style, and how did he convince Surya with the same?" I could have understood if some actor-director made this film in his own direction or in the hands of a director with whom he had more than ten years of association! Both Surya and Gowtham apparently have good chemistry and also had their own share of research for both the roles, or it'd not be possible to deliver such a product! In fact, I could even say Surya could receive credit even as a technical crew member in this film! T

he next two departments that rendered their best to the film are visuals and music. Ratna Velu and Harris Jairaj, the people behind the scene in these departments, should receive as much applause as the director himself! Ratna Velu's talent can also seen not just in lighting or other visual shots but in showing both Surya-s together yet differently. Song picturization is good and eye-catching in the first half and out of place in the second half. Lyrics cannot escape the "dubbing" effect for most part. Choreography is appreciable in the flashback song for Surya and Simran, but the orchestration there could have been some more different and suitable. Dialogues are adequate and natural enough for a dubbed film, with occasional references such as "old NTR movies", and have a liberal dose of English all over, probably to make it easy for a bilingual film it is.

Makeup for Surya and Simran in particular is really good, particularly in Simran's flashback; Surya should also be appreciated for changing his body shape and size suitably through various parts of the film. Editing could have been better, though narration itself is very slow and it's tough to edit through a person's life account. Art department needs an appreciation for the look and the feel of the film, particularly in the 1970s. Surya's drug addiction, going around Kashmir, body building for peace of mind, etc. are clearly fillers in the second half that lacks strong story point. At least such fillers could have been trimmed off. Production values are good.

Notable Scenes/Dialogues:

* Showing throat cancer as a result of heavy smoking by Krishnan is appreciable. At the same time, Surya falling for drugs could have been avoided. Going for alcohol does convey what the director wants to portray anyway.
* Surya referring to his parents' love when talking to Sameera Reddy.
* Surya's body building exercises show some of the care he took for the film.
* Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 was used neatly to fit into the timeline of the film.
* Changing styles in dressing, locations, and other such aspects between 1970s and current day are dealt with much care.

Minor Overlook:

* In a movie where the dad's role is so prominent, it's interesting to note that Krishnan's profession is not talked of, but it's possible that the director avoided that particularly so that audience can connect to the "father" in him than to anything else about him.
* Did Surya complete his engineering degree? How did he get a good job when he's so sure that he'd have a few backlogs? - These questions are not key to the film, but the film is about the life of a person, and in such a theme, some things cannot be avoided.
* Indian Army troops go to the rescue mission in an Indian Air Force helicopter, which is not generally the norm.
* Wouldn't Surya be over the cutoff age for Indian Army by the time he decides to go?

Bottom Line:

The film has the name Surya written all over it, but "deadly slower than dead slow" narration tests the patience of the audience. If people could still sit in the theaters, it's only because of excellent work on the audio and visual fronts. Be prepared to watch a dead slow film, and you can actually like the film, if you can bear a film for its hero alone really.