Sulthan Tamil Movie Review
Tamil star Karthi collaborated with the creators of his previous hit movies like Khaakhee and Khaidi for the movie Sulthan. In this film, Rashmika Mandanna made her Kollywood debut.
Sulthan is finally in theatres, following a successful promotional campaign. Let's see how the film turns out.
Details of the Movie
Plot of Sulthan
In Mumbai, Vikram popularly known as Sulthan (Karthi) will be working as a Robotics Engineer. In Vizag, his father Sethupathi (Nepolean) is recognized as a godfather along with 100 men, including Mansoor (Lal), who have been working for him for many years. After the passing of Sethupathi, Sulthan promises to reform Mansoor and his 100 henchmen.
While Lord Sri Krishna has taken the Pandavas' side in the Mahabharata, Sulthan took the side of his 100 henchmen (Kauravas) and begged them to stop committing crimes and live their everyday lives normally. Sulthan then makes his way to an Amaravati village, where he meets Rukmini (Rashmika Mandanna), the woman he eventually falls in love with, and decides to become a farmer to gain her love. Sulthan must also confront a notorious village leader, Jayendra (KGF Ram), and a great industrialist, Nawab Shah who intends to take away the villager's agricultural areas to construct a Rs 10,000 crore company of iron ore mining. Will Sulthan be able to defeat these forces and save the village? Will he be able to reform his Kauravas?
The project officially began on March 13, 2019, in the presence of the film's cast and crew at Dream Warrior Pictures' office. Following the completion of a little shoot for the film, a source reported that the directors planned to shoot the film in a single schedule, with sets being created in Chennai. The first schedule for the film was completed successfully in June 2019, and the creators planned a second schedule for the film on June 28, 2019, with Karthi entering the sets on July 10, 2019, following the conclusion of Jeethu Joseph's Thambi (2019). However, Rashmika said the film's shoot had been postponed to August for unclear reasons, even though Karthi commenced filming on August 7, 2019. While the film was being shot rapidly, the team was confronted by Hindutva organizations that disrupted the shoot at Malaikkottai in Dindigul on September 24, 2019.
Protesters from the party known as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Hindu Munnani, and the Hindu Makkal Katchi protested about the film's title "Sulthan", which was meant to be based on Tipu Sulthan stating that he attacked Tamil people during his ruling. Later, producer S. R. Prabhu said that the film is a rural drama rather than a biopic. The film's final leg shot and post-production work were halted because of the COVID-19 outbreak in India. With the state government imposing restrictions to continue filming, the producers began the remaining shoot stage on September 25, 2020, in Chennai rather than Dindigul. The film's production was concluded on October 8, 2020.
Review of Sulthan
Sulthan is a solidly written and hugely entertaining masala film where the Mahabharata meets Seven Samurai. The mythmaking starts with the first scenario, a prologue in which we see Sulthan's birth (Karthi, enthralling). There is a scene in which we see an Abhimanyu-like child showing its mother's desire to turn her husband Sethupathi, a feared criminal, and his innumerable men on the right path. Even while still in the womb, the baby prevents everyone from an assassination attempt. When it is born, it is given to a foster parent, Mansoor Bhai (played kindly by Lal), during a rainstorm. When this newborn grows into a man, we hear the story's one-line pitch in a dialogue saying what if Krishna had sided with the Kouravas in the Mahabharata and attempted to reform them?
At the same time, we see the creation of an iconic masala film trope. These thugs were brought in by a few farmers to guard them against a nasty villain (Ram of KGF fame) who wants to capture their land. Despite his debut film "Remo", Bakkiyaraj Kannan precisely combines the two plot lines and sets the tone for the duration of the film which will be focused more on writing instead of star power. Regardless of the story's typical arcs, the writing keeps you interested in the movie. Every subplot contributes to the progression of the story. Consider the romantic track among Sulthan and Rukmani (a stunning debut by Rashmika Mandanna). Not only lightens the tone and serves as a break between the darker episodes but also provides a cause for Sulthan and his 'annals' to remain in the village they have come to protect. And it constantly develops the story around the hero, not just to glorify its star, but to establish the character as the savior. Sulthan may be Krishna to his gangster brothers, but he is Karuppan to the villagers. Sulthan makes use of a whip, a mace, and an axe on his mission, symbolizing the union of Bheema, Krishna, and Balarama in one person. Only the antagonist makes this otherwise flawless entertainer feel bored. We get three instead of one great villain and they need to be developed satisfactorily. While KGF Ram's Jayaseelan does not look to be a threat following the good interval action block, the main villain in the second half is a cliched run-of-the-mill business villain played by another ineffective North Indian actor which is a disappointment from the screen. And the third appears to be the most exciting, an aspiring gangster (Arjai) among Sulthan's brothers. Still, the director appears to be so keen to make all of his Kouravas likable as they are shown as ethical rowdies rather than cold-blooded criminals that he only makes half stabs to know this character's motivations. While this prevents the movie from becoming a punchy action flick, it must be an enjoyable entertainer.
The hero Karthi returns with a bang in yet another tricky character. His fascinating performance is one of the film's key attractions. In the position of a savior, he effortlessly shows heroism. Rashmika does an excellent job as a demure rural belle. Despite her short appearance, Rashmika's character gets relevant by inspiring Sulthan to fight for her town. Lal, Nepolean, and a handful of the performers who played as Sulthan's faithful henchman are all excellent. The dramatic sequences involving Sulthan, Mansoor, with the 100 henchmen are another film highlight. The action-packed battles, particularly the interval and conclusion combat scenes and Sulthan's heroism elevation shots will captivate both entertainment fans and Karthi fans. The comedy delivered by Sulthan and fellow Kauravas as farmers is sure to make you laugh.
Sulthan's main flaw is the lack of intense villains. Only the presence of the dangerous looking KGF Ram and the manly Bollywood baddie Nawab Shah as prominent antagonists have little impact on the plot. Sulthan effortlessly defeats them with merely a fistfight. Sulthan's bravery and depth in the proceedings are diluted as a result. The core plot of Sulthan is not new. We have recently seen several films in which wealthy industrialists, young tech experts, and even ordinary people become farmers and save agriculture. Sulthan is not much different from that. Although rowdies becoming farmers is amusing, it has been handled rather simplistically.
Director Bakkiyaraj Kannan sets up a conventional scenario of a hero saving a village from greedy and prominent individuals against a fascinating backdrop. However, He narrates it in a usual manner, with no impactful confrontations. While Vivek Mervin's songs are fine, the background score that plays throughout the fighting sequences is similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song. The cinematography is excellent, bringing out the intensity in the action sequences shot at night. The film has a long runtime, and the Editor should have cut a few comic bits in the initial half starring comedian Yogi Babu. Although the picture was shot in a few places, the production values are excellent.
Sulthan follows the template narrative of a hero who transforms into a savior and saves a village from powerful and greedy villains. Although the thought of 'rowdies turning farmers' is interesting, the lack of a compelling villain somewhat dilutes the story's strengths and the protagonist's heroism. On the other hand, Sulthan features plenty of action and hero elevation scenes to delight Karthi fans. You should see the film for the well-choreographed action sequences and Karthi's powerful performance.