BANGALORE: With an intelligently-crafted screenplay, deft treatment, racy pace and some meaningful lines, director Vinoth (who worked under Vijay Milton), establishes his credentials as a writer-director in Sathuranga Vettai, his very first effort. Weaving a tale centered around a conman, he infuses in it a judicious blend of humour, sentiment, intrigue and suspense, keeping one’s attention glued to the screen. The narrative is enhanced by the performance of Natraj as conman Gandhi Babu, to whom money was a religion. Natraj, a neat performer in his earlier films, surpasses himself with a performance intuitive and perfectly tuned.
The first half depicts the con games of Babu as he, like a skilled chess player, shrewdly makes his moves. His sale of an innocuous snake for a hefty amount to the elderly Chettiar (Ilavarasu, fitting in suitably) making him believe that the venom would help enhance his sexual performance; the Emu farm scam; his opening a company for the sale of magic cure potions at atrocious prices, are all acts one can relate to.
Natraj’s body language, expressions and demeanour lend a lot of conviction to the role of a man shrewd, gutsy and unfazed by adversities. Watch his cocky, brazen exit from the court after he’s been released with no evidence against him. Another excellent scene is the rice pulling one, where Gandhi renders a thesis on the power of mantras and the temple kalasam to his potential victim Moovendar.
Ishara is aptly cast as the small town innocent girl who joins Gandhi’s company and believes in the inherent goodness of humans. She gets her space towards the end. The technical crew has coordinated ably to bring the director’s vision on screen. The characters are well fleshed out and the supporting actors perform well.
The second half is different from the breezy style of the first. The crisp back story of Gandhi’s deprived childhood narrated in animated montage shots (reminiscent of Waltz With Basheer) is an interesting touch. It turns more serious and intense as Gandhi, cornered and betrayed, finds himself at the mercy of the same people he had made a fool of. A cop’s (Ponvannan) warning about money becoming his bane one day seems to come true. Sentiment is added, but the director has managed to keep the narration free from melodrama. It’s a befitting finale of introspection, realisation and redemption.
Verdict: Definitely worth a watch.
Film: Sathuranga Vettai
Cast: Natraj, Ishara, Ilavarasu, Ponvannan, Valavan, Dharani, Sathya