Review Tamil

Sathru review: A police procedural thriller that never quite takes off

Release Date: 08 Mar 2019


Cinestaan Rating

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Karthik Kumar

Sathru is a predictable entrant to the long list of police stories that will disappear without a trace, thanks to sloppy writing and lackadaisical direction.

In mainstream Tamil cinema, police stories have predominantly worked when headlined by a star. From Vikram’s Saamy franchise to Suriya’s Singam series or even the less popular Vijay Sethupathi-starrer Sethupathi; these cop films worked because they were fuelled by sheer star power and some decent understanding of commercial cinema.

Kathir’s Sathru, directed by Naveen Nanjundan, is a predictable entrant to the long list of police stories that will disappear without a trace, thanks to its sloppy writing and lackadaisical filmmaking.

Sathru revolves around a hot-headed sub-inspector Kathiresan (Kathir), who doesn’t care about rules but somehow manages to get the job done, even if it means angering his superior officer.

We hear from a fellow officer that in his two years of service so far, Kathir has already been suspended twice because of his recklessness and the way he handles his cases. When Sathru crosses paths with Prabhakaran (played by Lagubaran) and his gang of child kidnappers, things get personal for both and it paves the way to a bloody clash.

If only Sathru did not try to check every box in a police story in an attempt to pander to the masses, it would have been an effective police procedural thriller. For a story that unfolds in a span of 24 hours, the story needed more suspense and thrills. This is where the film could have taken inspiration from movies like Visaranai (2016) and brought in more rawness to the narrative.

Sathru shines in parts, especially some of its well-executed action stretches, but even these scenes don’t quite work in the larger scheme of things. The film is essentially a chase thriller at heart, but one that never really goes beyond a screaming and threatening antagonist. There are hardly any scenes that push us to the edge of our seats or leave us with our hearts in our mouths.

Newcomer Lagubaran is impressive as the menacing villain, but in the hands of a better filmmaker his character would have been way more convincing. Now he is just mostly aggressive and till the end we don’t quite understand why. He wants to avenge the death of a couple of his gang members, but he gets introduced as someone who can’t think with a cool head.

Kathir, after his impressive performances in films such as Kirumi (2015), Pariyerum Perumal (2018) and Sigai (2019), struggles to make an impact as a police officer. In a role in which he appears distinctly uncomfortable, he desperately tries to fit in but fails. It is a role that needed more machismo which he clearly lacks as a hero who has mostly awed audiences in unconventional roles. Despite his earnest effort, his performance is mostly bland except for a few scenes here and there.

Sathru displays promise quite early on but never takes off, failing to work both as a police procedural thriller or a drama about a day in the life of a police officer.

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