“If movies were to be categorized in a rather simplified manner based on one’s emotional response, then we would have movies that make you feel good and movies that make you feel good because your life (thankfully) isn’t as bad.” My cousin let it go, she’s used to my punch lines, so to say (a side effect of internalizing too many Tamil movies, she might hurry to add).
Irudhi Suttru is definitely a movie that has its feet firmly in the first category. It has been a long time since I watched a movie that made me smile, tear up, laugh out loud, worry, cheer, and care for the characters, all under two hours.
Madhi (Ritika Singh), a fisherwoman from Chennai, is the proverbial diamond in the rough, discovered by down-on-luck boxing coach Prabhu (R. Madhavan). He is probably the kind of man who might write a thousand page ode to boxing, if he isn’t making love to the punching bag. He sees Madhi has a gift for boxing, superior to the boxer in the family (her elder sister Lux, played by Mumtaz Sorcar). He believes in her so completely, that he pays her to train under him. So you walk in thinking you know what kind of movie this is going to be. You want to know if it is another Chak De. Yes and no. It is another Chak De in the sense it picks up a sport that is almost never on the mind of any Indian, it is specifically about women playing this sport, it is about the absolute lack of infrastructure and scruples plaguing every Indian institution.
It is also about an infinite number of smaller (but not less important) things. I keep thinking about the scene where Lux causes Madhi to hurt herself before an important match. But the movie doesn’t let you hate Lux for it. She is after all the one who has been trying forever to break into the boxing big leagues, while her younger sister, the upstart, is suddenly a star, the coach’s favourite, the underdog everyone roots for. It isn’t wrong for Lux to be hurting. What I liked even more was the scene that comes later, when Madhi calls her out on what she did earlier. “I knew what you did, but I didn’t tell anyone!” They are sisters, they are going to have their secrets. (I seemed to recall a memory from long ago, I may have said those words too.)
The movie is peppered with many glorious lines, but Radha Ravi gets the most memorable one. It is also a bit astonishing that every character to appear on screen stays on in your mind. You don’t question this when it is someone like Nasser essaying a role, you take it for granted. But when you even remember what a girl on the train said, in a scene that lasts under a minute..
I did have one question though. At the very end, when Madhi wins the World Boxing Championship (you must have known that?), two Muslim women in the stadium are shown applauding and celebrating – while taking the veil off their face. Why did they do that? Did Madhi’s victory inspire other women to break free from their restricted worlds?
I wish we were given a little more information regarding Madhi’s family. How does Saamikannu alias Samuel end up marrying a Saet? The only thing they have in common might be a pincode!