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Sulthan Review
6.2 /10 IMDb

Sulthan

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M Suganth, TNN
M Suganth, TNNApr 02, 2021
3.5/5
Times of India

The Mahabharata meets Seven Samurai in Sulthan, a solidly written, immensely satisfying masala movie. The myth-building starts in the very first scene, a prologue in which we witness the birth of Sulthan (Karthi, compelling). There is mention of an Abhimanyu-like child imbibing its mother's wish to turn her husband Sethupathi (Napoleon, adding gravitas to an extended cameo of a role), a feared gangster, and his innumerable henchmen to the right path. This still-in-the-womb baby saves everyone from an assassination attempt. When it is born, it is handed over to a foster father - Mansoor Bhai (played warmly by Lal) - amidst a downpour. And when this child becomes a man, we get the one-line pitch of the story through a dialogue - what if Krishna had stood with the Kouravas in the Mahabharata, and tries to reform them? In parallel, we see the establishing of a classic masala movie trope. A few farmers seek the services of these rowdies to protect them from an evil gangster (Ram, of KGF fame), who is after their land. Bakkiyaraj Kannan brings these two plot lines together in a smart way and sets the tone for the rest of the film, which, unlike his debut film, Remo, banks on writing rather than star power. The writing keeps hooked despite the story's arcs being familiar. Every sub-plot helps to take the narrative forward. Take the romantic track between Sulthan and Rukmani (Rashmika Mandanna, who makes a charming debut). In addition to lightening the mood and acting as a relief between the heavier scenes, it also gives the reason for Sulthan and his 'annans' to stay in the village that they have come to protect. And it repeatedly builds up the myth around the hero, not just as a tool to glorify its star, but to establish the character as a saviour. While Sulthan might be Krishna to his gangster brothers, he is Karuppan, the guardian deity, to the villagers. The mythology extends to the props as well. The weapons that Sulthan has to weild during his mission include a whip, a mace and an axe. He is Krishna, Bheema and Balarama all rolled into one. It is only with the antagonist that this otherwise perfect entertainer feels underwhelming. Rather than one powerful villain, we get three, and all three characters aren't developed satisfyingly. While KGF Ram's Jayaseelan doesn't come across as a threat after the effective interval action block, the major villain in the second half - clichéd run-of-the-mill corporate villain, played by yet another ineffective North Indian actor - turns out to be a disappointment right from the moment he appears on screen. And the third one, an ambitious gangster (Arjai) among Sulthan's brothers, comes across as the most interesting, but the director seems to have been keen to make all his Kouravas likeable - they are presented not as cold-blooded criminals but only as ethical rowdies - that he only takes half-stabs at establishing this character's motives. While this does rob the film of being a punchy action movie, it doesn't stop it from being a likeable entertainer.Read full review

Manoj Kumar R
Manoj Kumar RApr 02, 2021
4.0/5
The Indian Express

A motherless child, Sulthan (played by Karthi) is raised by a group of hardened criminals. He loves these 100 men as brothers but despises their taste for violence. Following the death of his father, the responsibility to take care of these men falls on the shoulders of Sulthan. That is when he decides to transform them and teach them to live as civilized people. It is a Herculean task, but the loyalty and the love that these men have towards him, gives Sulthan a fighting chance. The film’s high production values and strong emotional beats makes it an engrossing watch. Bakkiyaraj Kannan’s Sulthan is a massive improvement on his first movie, Remo. The 2016 romantic comedy with Sivakarthikeyan in the lead followed a man’s attempts to lure the girl of his dreams. The hero was willing to go to any length to trick the girl into falling in love with him. He even dresses like a nurse to achieve his goal. I had a problem with the way the hero justified his twisted deception in the name of love. In other words, I had problems with Bakkiyaraj’s writing that glorified an act that lacked decency and courage. From Remo to Sulthan, it is a giant leap for Bakkiyaraj. The director has rid his writing of any and all attempts to rationalize every action of his protagonist. Instead, he puts his hero in a difficult situation, forcing him to make a choice. This builds up a lot of dramatic tension and helps us warm up to the hero who goes through a lot of trouble to do the right thing, which will allow him to sleep at night peacefully.Read full review

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