Imitating doesn’t come easily to him. Neither does dance. His attempts at aping the style of the Superstar seem conscious and hence aren’t convincing. That he’s ill at ease in the song sequences is quite evident, when he has to mouth the lyric and concentrate on his footwork. Montages suit him better. But hero Sasikumar (the director has confined himself to acting and production this time) makes up for these shortcomings in the emotional scenes, particularly in the climax.

First timer Prabhakaran’s Sundara Pandian (U) begins on a note of fun, camaraderie and love and takes a turn for the serious, before culminating in a riveting climax. The denouement offers food for thought — choose your friends with caution, is the message. The wolves in sheep’s clothing aren’t easy to identify, particularly if you happen to be sincere in your friendship. The stamp of Sasikumar — bloody action — is evident only in the final scene, and the detour makes a difference.

The midway point in Sundara Pandian impacts the viewer in a way that keeps his interest alive. You do find slips in the storyline, yet when matters speed up to a suspenseful climax you cannot but appreciate the acumen of director Prabhakaran, whose narrative skill comes to the fore in the last one hour or so. The director has a couple of aces up his sleeve!

Sundara Pandian (Sasikumar) is a diehard romantic and a true friend, fun-loving, honest and forthright. With the entry of Archana (Lakshmi Menon) into his life (for the second time), you expect a visible rift among his group of friends, because some of them are her suitors too. Nothing unusual in the plot so far, you think, and nothing untoward happens until … The rest of the storyline of Sundara Pandian is not on predictable lines.

The finale is a typical example of cinematic licence — no hero can be done away with that easily. Prabhakaran tries to project Sasikumar as a mass hero — an epitome of truth and righteousness, and invincible. He succeeds, to an extent.

Sundara Pandian has plenty of comedy. And Sasikumar joins in the fun to offer a few rib-ticklers. Prabhakaran’s witty and humorous dialogue warrants mention here.

Lakshmi Menon ought to have debuted with Kumki, however Sundara Pandian has come out earlier in the release race. A young heroine with expressive eyes and potential, but surprisingly, she looks very good in certain scenes and passes muster in a few others! Soori’s one-liners and reactions are enjoyable. Vijay Sethupathi, Inigo Prahakaran and Appu Kutty, who have acted as protagonists before, play second fiddle to Sasikumar. All the same, their roles in Sundara Pandian will be remembered. Unexpected changes in their characterisation, and their effective underplay make their contribution to the filmworthwhile. In fact, performances as a whole are commendable — Narain and Thennavan as the fathers of the lead pair make their presence felt. Another such actor is Sujatha, who plays the aunt of Archana.

With so many characters stomping the screen, it takes quite a while to understand the various relationships. And till the end you are not sure how Archana’s confidant is related to her.

The scoring point of a film is its screenplay. Knowing it only too well, actor, director and producer Sasikumar has once again plumped for a director who has a strong story and knows how to narrate it.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012