‘People don’t change, life just unfolds them’- is exactly the essence of Saattai. A good teacher acts as the perfect catalyst to bring out the best from the students. This film is about one such teacher, Dayalan, played by Samuthirakani and how he moulds the students and changes the teachers of a village government school.
Directed by Anbazhagan, Saattai falls in the line of several films that talk about importance of education system. Thambi Ramaiah, Junior Balaiah, Yuvan, Swasika and ‘Black’ Pandi form the rest of the cast list. Prabhu Solomon has produced the film and Jeevan has cranked the camera.
Samuthirakani as the strong-willed teacher and Thambi Ramaiah as the self-centered villain are the biggest strengths of the film. The former impresses with his subtle reactions and the National Award winner, Thambi Ramaiah’s portrayal is sinister with a lace of comedy. Yuvan and Swasika as school students have delivered all that was required of them. ‘Black’ Pandi of Kana Kanum Kalangal fame, tickles everyone with his pranks. Junior Balaiah too has done a decent job and so have the rest of the cast.
The portrayal of a government school is absolutely superb. The students and their pranks are funny yet Saattai fails to engage the audience. The dialogues are too preachy and rhetorical as they have been heard before. Imman’s songs, ‘Adi Rangi’ and ‘Sahayane’ sound mellifluous. However, the latter’s lyrics seem too matured for a 12th standard girl to be singing. The number ‘Jada Jada Jaada’ fails to sound inspiring enough to make the students rise to the occasion. It’s the same case with some ‘inspirational’ dialogues in the film too.
The intentions of the director are very noble and he should be applauded for being bold enough to take on the teachers who threaten to compromise the importance of their profession. Few scenes like harassing a female student in the name of internal marks and punishing children for petty reasons were convincing, even though they were a bit overdone.
As far as cinematography and editing are concerned, the requirement has been met.
On the whole, Saattai shows the education system from the perspectives of the students, teachers and the parents. With the news that just over 2,000 teachers, out of the 6 lakh appearing for the test, pass the state board’s teacher’s standard examination going viral in Tamil Nadu, Saattai is a timely film. The preachy dialogues in the film are what students listen to in real life. This is probably why the film fails to make the intended impact as there is nothing out of the box.
Verdict: The lash isn’t strong enough to make the point clear