Sathuranga Vettai has several little stories. Tiny snippets, all of them, neatly enclosed in different episodes. It is almost like rifling through a newspaper. Or reading a fast-paced book that cannot be put-down. There’s something fascinating about a movie that comes packaged in chapters. There’s always a new beginning, and the hope of a fascinating ending. Sathuranga Vettai offers all that and much more.
It’s a con movie of the highest order. It could also be a book. There’s intrigue, there’s laughter, there’s conspiracy, and more laughter. One moment, there’s feverish excitement, and the next, we slap our forehead in exasperation. It also makes us whistle.
It’s that cool.
And Gandhi Babu (Natarajan Subramaian) is an irresistible reminder of Frank Abagnale Jr. No, not Leonardo Dicaprio. The one in the book. And also, perhaps by extension, the real Frank Abagnale himself. Remember the instance when he pilots a passenger jet without a clue about its controls? Sathuranga Vettai is filled with moments like those. So much so that even the judge who listens to Gandhi Babu’s crimes can’t help chuckling himself. There’s also a Carl Hanratty-like cop who comes with a friendly warning.[quote align=’right’]Gandhi Babu sells a snake to him for an exorbitant amount of money, convinces him that the reptile (codenamed Ilayathalapathi Vijay) can understand several languages, and that its flesh is highly-valued for its libido-boosting properties.[/quote]
Gandhi Babu is quite clever, even for a con-man. He has a smart mouth, and can talk his way into everything and out of anything. Towards the end of the movie, he manages to pull off a heist with such apparent ease that it deserves applause. Especially during the moment when he convinces an outwardly pious politician about the mystic magnetic powers of a temple’s kalasam. But to Gandhi Babu’s credit, he is methodical to a fault. He reads Kumudham Jothidam and Bhakti Vikatan; arms himself with some key terms and launches into a spiritual discourse of such vehemence that the politician’s skin erupts in goose-flesh (also, perhaps, thanks to Sean Roldan’s rising tempo). He also never panics. His heavily pregnant wife is at home, at the mercy of a goon while he plans the heist. Under immense duress.
[quote align=’left’]There’s something fascinating about a movie that comes packaged in chapters. There’s always a new beginning, and the hope of a fascinating ending. Sathuranga Vettai offers all that and much more.[/quote]Sathuranga Vettai opens with a chase. A chase that seeks to justify the title, and also perhaps, to drive home the point. It’s a hunt in the literal sense. A family of cheetahs prey on an ostrich. Gandhi Babu is savouring this hunt on television when he receives a call from a businessman. He’s a potential client. Gandhi Babu sells a snake to him for an exorbitant amount of money, convinces him that the reptile (codenamed Ilayathalapathi Vijay) can understand several languages, and that its flesh is highly-valued for its libido-boosting properties. Until Mr. Chettiyar’s tech-savvy son arrives and dispels the story with a flick of his screen. But Gandhi Babu doesn’t twitch a muscle. He coolly asks the driver to turn around, flings his cell-phone out of the window, and starts hunting a new prey. The next time though, he would no longer deal with snakes. He would sell sparkling (tap) water that can cure cancer and AIDS.
Gandhi Babu slips in and out of his different skins with admirable ease. More charming is his cool swagger when he escapes unscathed from encounters. And in a hilarious instance – when he finally ends up at the police station, the constable who tries to make a file of his crimes, runs of out paper. The cop then mops up his sweat and glances at him reverentially. With eyes full of worship, he walks up to him and says, “Sir?”
Sathuranga Vettai isn’t without the story of a grisly past though. Of a brutal childhood in the slums, and of being orphaned at a tender age. A grim justification follows. And that irks. Why can’t Gandhi Babu have a full wallet and still do what he does? Then, there’s also Bhanu (Ishara Nair); she’s extremely naïve (sometimes exasperatingly so); falls in love with Gandhi Babu, and tries to turns him around for the better. She’s the pivot in the second half, and, it’s Nedunchalai all over again – but for the ‘sophisticated’ con.
In the final few moments, Gandhi Babu manages to send a message to the cop whose friendly warning he hadn’t apparently forgotten. Gandhi Babu has a baby now. And even though he manages to escape unscathed from that final heist, it’s the cop who has the last word.
But not in the way that you’d imagine.
The Sathuranga Vettai review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.