Super Over doesn’t boast to be more than what it actually is. With simplistic, straightforward storytelling, the late Praveen Varma has aspired to do what many good drivers of the ball in cricket do - he has an interesting idea to rest upon (pressure on the back-foot), has translated the concept into a well-written screenplay for 83 mins (moves towards the ball and shifts weight to the front-foot), and yes, he even uses the resources in an effective way (brings the high-raised bat to ball with good timing).
But, there are issues and the narration tends to slow down before reaching its destination. In other words, he didn’t quite middle the ball. Super Over starts off with a car chase - a police vehicle is in pursuit of a car, and a bike follows the chase. The car is occupied by three friends with new-found reassurance about luck favouring the brave. They’re being chased by a police officer with a ‘lust for money’, and they are all followed by a greedy assistant to a cricket-betting bookie. What transpires between them makes up the rest of the story.
The film has a predictable start. Kasi (Naveen Chandra), Madhu (Chandini Chowdary), and Vasu (Rakendu Mouli) meet their long lost friend Bangarraju (Viva Harsha), who recently lucked out and scored big numbers through cricket betting. In the same scene, we realise that Kasi’s uncle is stuck in a puddle with loan sharks. It’s obvious what Kasi is going to do next, and it gets tiring to sit through these initial scenes. The story, however, does pick pace and gets exciting. This is mainly due to the technique of entering the plots of each of the parties - the friends, the police and the cricket bookie - and circling back to that one chase sequence. Even past the halfway mark, we don’t quite know what will happen next. And while this is the case, Super Over has all the nervous excitement of a super over in a match.
Unfortunately, it eventually gets sticky and the story solely relies on unbelievable coincidences and twists of fate. If only there were something else to make it feel grounded and help us believe - perhaps comedy, or an interesting sub-plot, an interesting character with depth, or a gripping emotional anchor. This film has none of those, and as a result, the final act of the film disappoints. Logic also takes a major hit and the series of events are all so convenient that we no longer even root for the protagonists as they’re clearly going to succeed in their objective.
The film tries to induce the excitement of a super over, but even with just 83 mins of runtime we’re left wondering if it should have been shorter still. When the individual plots come back to the car chase, we once again see extended, unnecessary shots of the chase which do get tiresome. Not bringing back the character of Bangarraju is a major miss. But the film has an even bigger issue in way the antagonists - the police officer, Ajay (Ajay), and the bookie Murali (Praveen) - are written. The latter at least has some relevance in the story and makes his presence felt, but Ajay’s arc, though it begins in an interesting manner, leaves us hanging with no high moment after that.
Also, what’s up with Chandini Chowdary and luck? We earlier saw her romance a man with an almost supernatural misfortune in Bhombhaat, and in Super Over, there’s a constant notion that her character Madhu is a lucky charm to Kasi and that Vasu is an unlucky one. Super Over is definitely elevated by the visuals and the music. Sunny MR’s music, even when it feels a little too familiar, keeps us hooked. Major credits to the entire team of cinematographers - some shots of the city at night are extremely beautiful. Praveen Varma’s decision to set the story at night - probably to comply with lockdown regulations and to avoid unwanted distractions in the frames - seems to have given a lot of freedom to the cinematographers. Major credits to colourist Vivekanand for the film’s consistent and seamless grading.
Super overs are meant to yield end a final result. However, Super Over ends with a cliff-hanger. The penultimate ball is also not fulfilling. However, as the credits begin to roll, and the team pays tribute to the late Praveen Varma, it really feels heart-rending to realise he left us before witnessing his work meet the audience. Life is a brutal game of chance, indeed.
Cast:Naveen Chandra, Chandini Chowdary, Rakendu Mouli, Ajay
Director: Praveen Varma