Vikram Prabhu’s films, regardless of how good or bad they are, always seem to have attractive titles. When Mudi Sooda Mannan was renamed Sathriyan, the expectation meter rose. In the opening sequence, we aren’t shown a typical do-gooder hero, and definitely not one who’s invincible. When it is shown that he fails to keep his boss safe from harm, I expected a different film in the much-abused gangster genre.

The interest, however, ended right there for me, as it goes on to offer barely anything new. Our cinema isn’t new to rival gangs fighting a cat-and-mouse game in order to gain control of a city. It definitely isn’t new to the story of a thug who tries for redemption. Vikram Prabhu has gotten better with each film, but still seems to be quite uncomfortable with close-ups and in dance sequences. Manjima Mohan does well in the role of a college student. Given the theme, it was a pleasant surprise to see her get as much screen space.

Sathriyan’s biggest weakness is its lack of a strong antagonist–crucial in a film like this. Even the characters played by small-screen actors Kavin and Aishwarya Dutta aren’t well-etched. Yogi Babu, who appears in barely two scenes, fails to evoke laughter. The songs only act as a hindrance and are part of the film only for commercial purposes. The background score is an exception and a definite positive, as is Sivakumar Vijayan’s cinematography. The stunt sequences (by Anbariv), a vital part of the film, look neither convincing nor entertaining.

Director SR Prabhakaran, who made a decent debut in Sundarapandian, and followed it up with the underwhelming Idhu Kathirvelan Kadhal, has apparently tried to play it safe with Sathriyan. Despite some decent work in the early portions of the film, it all gets undone soon. The sub-plots are one too many, too. Ultimately, Sathriyan becomes an example of why some titles of classics are best left not reused.

Rating: 2/5

Disclaimer: An edited version of this post can be found here. This post was written for The New Indian Express.

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