Home > Columns
Forget the gloves, it's all about the heart!

“Oh, a boxing movie? Hmm…okay well for Maddy I’ll go see it.” This was more or less my mother’s reaction when I told her to keep Friday free so we could see Irudhi Suttru on opening night. Not one for sports-centric films my mother was naturally hesitant about how much she’d enjoy a movie about boxing. To be fair, although I enjoy all types of movies myself, I too was mostly excited to see my all time favorite actor return to Tamil films after 4 years! 
“Sha!! Such a good movie! When can we go see it again?” 
That was exactly my mother’s reaction to the film as the credits rolled and our theatre in Toronto broke into applause. 
Irudhi Suttru is fantastic. In acting and casting, dialogue, sports choreography, and especially cinematography during those nail-biting fights within the ring – it is fantastic. I could write entire columns on the phenomenal find that Ritika Singh is; practically flawless in her portrayal of a tough and simultaneously innocent young warrior. And Madhavan’s return to Tamil could not be more triumphant, as he perfectly embodies the type of cruel coach you would probably hate having, but whom few in life are lucky enough to get. But I say “sound the bell!”, this film is a clear winner to me, not only because of its technical standards and obviously outstanding performances, but because Sudha Kongara has created such a rich screenplay with so many varied dramatic elements, with boxing as a pivot point.
In less than 2 hours we received an in-depth view of the sheer ordeal of training to become an international level athlete, even if you’re born with the raw talent. Thanks to her extensive research we were also given a look at the appalling state of female boxing associations in India that are rampant with sexual harassment and corruption. The film is an inspiring story of those who band together to fight a polluted system and let their skill and values speak for themselves. 
But if you ask me, the real subject of Irudhi Suttru was relationships, some you’re born into and those you find, and whom you can trust when the going gets tough. Rather than the rise of an underdog to become a champion, or perseverance, equality or corruption in sports – to me, this film was about bonding,and it just happened to have female boxing as a theme. Because in this compact, action packed film, we were given so many different types of touching character relationships to consider; we were even given some very unfortunate ones to despise. 
Most notably, of course, is the fantastic master and protégé relationship between Prabhu and Madhi. Their on-screen chemistry as a bitter, sharp-tongued coach and an even sharper-tongued, rebellious boxer is electric. And as each of their characters grow to better appreciate all the effort and devotion the other is contributing to fight their individual battles – Madhi’s initial struggle to help her sister, and Prabhu’s struggle to regain his reputation– their struggles become united. They begin to fight for each other and we witness one of the best portrayals of a guru-sishyan relationship in Tamil cinema history.  We are even given a direct contradiction within the same film itself via Coach Prabhu’s own relationship with his old (debauched) coach, Dev.
In Prabhu’s devotion to helping her succeed and protecting her from the depravity surrounding her within the sport, Madhi places the trust one would normally place in their own kin in him. And as Madhi proves her focus to honor his efforts, Prabhu is inspired to regain a trust in people that he seemingly lost years ago when his own coach and wife betrayed him. 
I was also truly impressed to see how elegantly director Sudha included such a deep look at siblings within this trim story. The relationship between Madhi and Lux is fascinating; we see them start out as the best of friends, slowly progress to competitors, then to sworn enemies and finally back to sisters who cannot be divided. To see the varying degrees of these sisters, torn apart by talent and confidence was such a unique twist. In many ways director Sudha had sisters portray a protagonist/antagonist relationship, and gave us multiple heroes and villains to root for/against in one film (naturally we all hated Coach Dev in unison with a vengeance). 
Irudhi Suttru also briefly displayed so many other types of non-kin relationships full of love and so unlike the typical romantic and hero/buddy relationships we’re used to in South Indian cinema. For instance, Madhi found in Coach Pandian, played by Nassar, a father-figure her own biological one could not offer her. It was touching to see how he and his wife briefly took care of her in Prabhu’s absence. Similarly, in a true variation, it was wonderful to see how Radha Ravi’s character, one of the few people within the boxing association that Coach Prabhu trusted, supported him continuously despite their complicated personal past that is revealed so beautifully at the end. The inclusion of such distinctive familial and non relationships, and all within a sports-centric film, was what stood out the most to me in Irudhi Suttru.
People often describe athletic underdog stories as “full of heart”, referring to themes of fortitude and bravery. But Irudhi Suttru carries something different; when I say this film is full of heart I mean it shows us love, trust and faith in many forms – far different from what we’re used to seeing on screen in Tamil cinema.
If this column helped open your eyes to a few beautiful elements of this top class film that you may have missed before, I suggest you head back to the theatres for at least a second round. I know I’m going to.

Respond to
Behindwoods is not responsible for the views of columnists.




This page hosts the views of the authors of the column. The views are generally about films, movie reviews, movie news, songs, music, film actors and actresses, directors, producers, cinematographers, music directors, and all others that contribute for the success or failure of a film. People looking for movies online, movie reviews, movie analysis, public response for a movie, will find this page useful.