Director: Ranjith Sankar
Cast: Jayasurya, Shritha Sivadas, Sshivada
Life is rarely boring. There are ups and downs, there are sharp turns and there are dramatic moments, some exciting, some tragic. This is where Ranjith Sankar’s Sunny, just on Amazon Prime Video, falters. There is hardly a shriek in this nearly two-hour Malayalam work. And with largely a single actor taking up screen time, the movie tends to get monotonous.
Granted, there have been single-character films in the past, including Sunil Dutt’s Yaadein, which opened in 1964. In black and white, it follows the monologue of a man who comes home to find that his wife and son are not there. He begins to imagine that they may have left him and begins to reminisce about his life without them.
In Sunny, the titular character, played by a heavily bearded Jayasurya – and also masked, as these are times of the Coronavirus – returns to Kochi (Cochin) from Dubai. He has to be quarantined, which means that he is not allowed to leave his hotel room for a few days. Sure, he has a lot of money, although we’ve been told that he has suffered huge losses in business after being cheated on by his partner (yawn, same old story). He checks himself into a luxury hotel, into a suite that was once occupied by AR Rahman. Sunny was a musician himself, he composed lyrics and scored them. Maybe he sang too.
But after his wife Nimmi (Sshivada; we only hear her voice on Sunny’s cell phone) leaves him, he decides to return to Kochi. But the isolation of the hotel kills him, and when his drink supply runs out, and the hotel says it can’t get him anything, he goes mad and even plans to jump off his balcony, when he hears Adithi (Shritha Sivadas) and sees. , which is only one floor higher than his. “Are you planning to commit suicide?” she asks him, and this intervention stops him.
There are conversations with his ex-wife, who is about to give birth to their child, lawyer and boyfriend – all on the phone.
But these all seem rather flat and have little interest. My attention started to waver halfway through, and with only Jayasurya to watch the whole time, the film amounts to an experiment that doesn’t quite get off the ground, despite a promising premise of a man depressed because his wife left him, frustrated with his financial losses and terribly lonely, “trapped” as he finds himself within the four walls of the hotel room.
A few flashbacks of Sunny’s life before the quarantine may have lightened the story and made it gripping. Instead, we get a teased story of an unlucky man. Really, nothing uplifting about this. Jayasurya is also disappointing. Can’t blame him, because the writing offers little space.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author and a film critic)
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