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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Adutha Saattai movie review: A yawn-inducing pamphlet film

Adutha Saattai movie review: At 127 minutes, Adutha Saattai struggles to keep us hooked. Even Samuthirakani, who is supposed to be its saving grace, doesn't rise above the mediocre plot.

Rating: 2 out of 5
Written by S Subhakeerthana | Chennai | Updated: November 29, 2019 9:48:48 am
Adutha Saattai movie review Adutha Saattai movie review: Films need to ‘show’, but Adutha Saattai simply ‘talks’.

Adutha Saattai movie cast: Samuthirakani, Thambi Ramaiah
Adutha Saattai movie director: M Anbazhagan
Adutha Saattai movie rating: 2 stars

In Saattai (2012), Dayalan (Samuthirakani) was a government school teacher. In Adutha Saattai, Dayalan is a Tamil college professor. In Saattai, Thambi Ramaiah played the role of a headmaster. In Adutha Saattai, he is the college principal. Did you get the “obvious difference”? In Saattai, Mahima Nambiar and Yuvan played “school students”. In Adutha Saattai, we see only Yuvan playing the college student. There is no Mahima. There is no Pandi. There is no Junior Balaiah. Instead of Mahima, we get Athulya Ravi, whose Tamil pronunciation (zha-la, la-la) is horrible.

In addition, there are more lesser-known faces and precisely, this is why we don’t get invested much in Adutha Saattai. We largely feel disconnected because most of the actors cast in the original are not a part of its sequel. Well, Adutha Saattai is not ideally part-2, but works more like an extension of Saattai. The school-going boys are college-goers now, and we get a fair idea of how things are going to be.

In 2012 film, Dayalan was shown as a married man; whereas in Adutha Saattai, he is a bachelor and eventually gets married to a fellow teacher. This is the problem I was talking about. I can’t treat Adutha Saattai as a standalone film because I had watched Saattai. Certain things happen and we don’t know why. We aren’t given reasons as to why things are the way they are in Adutha Saattai.

Samuthirakani is a natural actor, but beyond a point, it becomes difficult to sit through the film. Since he plays a professor, moral lectures keep coming in sachets; but hey, in a friendly-jovial way. If we get all those published in a book, it can make for excellent TED talk material. Dayalan is “inspirational”, and that’s why students love him. We don’t see him taking classes. We see him “role modelling” students.

When we have Samuthirakani, it is understood that there is no shortage of “messages”. Dayalan is this ideal man who does everything right. He makes no mistakes and fights for the truth. Avarukku “Kambaramayanam padikkavum theriyum, kaatuthanama adikkavum theriyum”. There are many such punch lines. Here is another one: “Engalukku padicha vaathiyar vendam. Daily daily, padikkara vaathiyaar dhaan venum!”

The problem is we are unable to connect emotionally with the dialogues or characters. Films need to ‘show’, but Adutha Saattai simply ‘talks’.

During a weekend, Dayalan takes 20-30 students on a small trip, and teach them “life lessons”. (Read: how to fill bank cheques, how to apply for the Aadhaar card) Since Dayalan didn’t inform the college management, he gets suspended. But Dayalan encourages students to visit his home, and we see them call him “anna”.

Saattai wasn’t a bad film. Though it was set against the backdrop of a village school, it wasn’t boring. At least, the film made us realise the importance of understanding the psyche of students to make them succeed in life. But Adutha Saattai shoves back-to-back social messages down your throat.

I think Anbazhagan first had jotted down Samuthirakani’s dialogues and then wrote a script accordingly. The film has a mention of everything—from caste, the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils to jallikattu, NEET exams, students committing suicide succumbing to pressure and so on. There’s even a subplot about joint families. Those portions resemble a badly-staged television soap.

Director Anbazhagan doles out advice in every possible dialogue. Worst of all, Dayalan works at “Appa College.” (Samuthirakani did a film called Appa in 2016, and was called Dayalan in that, too).

Adutha Saattai 2 has many loose threads and nothing is explored in a fulfilling manner. Thambi Ramaiah plays the anti-Dayalan. His character, Singam Perumal, is irritating to the core. Half the times, he cracks stupid jokes, yet maintains a serious face. The rest of the time, Thambi Ramaiah performs like a cartoonish villain.

Take Kamal Haasan’s Nammavar or Mani Ratnam’s Yuva for instance. They are pretty much campus-based films that discuss student politics, gang rivalry etc, but those narratives were engaging. Adutha Saattai has zero drama, zero sense of excitement and lacks a larger dialogue with society. Onscreen teachers, mostly, have been stereotypes. So, when a filmmaker writes a teacher character, it should be done with utmost care. It shouldn’t make us feel like we are sitting in a classroom.

The songs don’t help Adutha Saattai much like Saattai that had music by D Imman. At 127 minutes, Adutha Saattai struggles to keep us hooked. Even Samuthirakani, who is supposed to be its saving grace, doesn’t rise above the mediocre plot. There’s a lot of lazy writing. I am not saying it’s wrong to play to the gallery, but some novelty, and good storytelling, please? Also, who said a good film should have ‘messages for the society’?

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