'Sattapadi Kutram' (Tamil, Action)
Director: SA Chandrasekharan
Cast: Satyaraj, Vikranth, Harish Kalian, Bhama, AVenkatesh, Seeman, Suresh
Corruption in public life and the criminalising of politics forms the theme of Chandrasekharan’s ‘Sattapadi Kutram’. It was meant to be a scathing commentary on contemporary politics and people in high places who misuse their position and power. But a weakly etched screenplay, inept narration, and some hackneyed dialogues thrown in, turns it into a damp squib.
Apart from a couple of interesting moments, the rest has all been seen before, and in a far better way too (Indian, Ramana). The plot includes a scheming politician (director A Venkatesh obviously relishing his role), a corrupt cop, a fake Godman, a timid judge, and a minister caught in a huge financial scam. It’s the latter who becomes the butt of many jokes and ribbing.
The messiah who takes it on himself to cleanse the system is Bose, a former cop and himself a victim of injustice. Playing Bose is Satyaraj, the character in the mould of Che Guevara. With his cap, cigars and motorcycle rides, he cuts a dashing figure but the character lets him down, taking a toll on his performance too.
Bose takes to the woods, trains an army of people, all victims of injustice, to use them in his mission.
The director here takes a leaf from the life of the Argentinan revolutionary. Guevara had taken to the mountains and trained his own army, in his mission to liberate Cuba. But equating Bose’s mission with Guevara’s, seems like blasphemy. The whole staging of the scenes here lacks substance, seriousness and conviction.
Bose’s army is most of the time in designer wear, joking and dancing, indulging in romance and songs. Probably they knew that what they would be called on to do is to stand bodyguard to a few frightened good men, and eliminate a couple of bad ones. Bose also kidnaps 30 odd VIPs, all in a single day, brings them to the woods, and gives them a long lecture on ethics in public life.
Lo and behold the whole lot of them have an instant change of heart. Even going to the extent of applauding heartily when a little boy, a part of Bose’s army, shoots two men in cold blood. One of them was the scam-stained minister, who had made his way to the woods to take on Bose.
Appalling and ridiculous, these scenes only generate a lot of unintended humour. Seeman’s brief appearance as an advocate, intense and earnest, leaves it’s mark, his scene is probably the only one of substance in the film.