Review Malayalam

Sunetra review: Poignant tale of love, life and death 

Release Date: 02 Jun 2020 / 01hr 13min

Cinestaan Rating

  • Acting:
  • Direction:
  • Story:

Suyog Zore

Directed by Satish and Santosh Babusenan, the film has spontaneous performances by Nina Chakraborty and Sreeram Mohan. 

If we strictly follow genre definitions, then Sunetra: The Pretty Eyed Girl (2020) can be called a road film. Directed by Santosh and Satish Babusenan, the film has four characters, Sunetra (Nina Chakraborty), a migrant cook, her lover and poet Adi (Sreeram Mohan), and two gangsters. 

It’s Sunetra’s birthday and Adi decides to take her to a secluded beach, far away from town. Sunetra is unaware that he has stolen a car for their trip, while Adi is unaware that the stolen car belongs to dreaded gangster, Solomon (Kaladharan), who will stop at nothing to get his car back.  

The entire film is carried forward by the dialogues. Adi, who is a poet, has a very philosophical outlook on life and the world. This is reflected in his choice of complex words, even while having a normal conversation.

Sunetra on the other hand, is a very simple girl, who does not share his profound views about life. She dreams of having a small house, where she can live with Adi. A migrant worker from Bengal, Sunetra is struggling to make end meet, which is why her dreams are not that big.

The Babusenan brothers, who have made art house films like The Painted House (2015) and Ottayaal Paatha (2016), tells us how dreams are bogged down by the reality. 

The couple talk on random topics like love and death. In the course of their conversation, they draw parallels between the cultures of Bengal and Kerala and discover many similarities between these two regions and their people. Though Adi and Sunetra belong to same social and economical strata, their take on the world is different.

The most prominent thing about the film is the performances by Nina and Sreeram. Their realistic and understated acting is an absolute treat to watch. Their interactions are real and spontaneous and at no time do we get the feeling that it is rehearsed.   

The two criminals, who are pursuing the couple, do not have much screen time, but their characters are so well defined that one does not feel the lack of an exposition scene. In one scene, a bike rider abuses Solomon for driving slowly, and the criminal kills him by bashing his head on the concrete road. This scene is enough to establish the cold-blooded nature of these killers, and suddenly we are afraid for the couple. 

Most of the film has been shot in medium close up, which makes the viewer feel as if they are a part of the journey. The directors have also refrained from using any background score for the film. Except for the dialogues and the radio, all we hear is ambient sound. It compels the viewer to focus on the dialogues and note even the most minute change in the expressions of the players. 

Though the characters go through various emotions, there is a strong undercurrent of melancholy that persists  throughout the movie.

On the downside, the film doesn’t follow the conventional norms of commercial cinema, which is likely to limits its reach. 

The film was screened at the 18th Third Eye Asian Film Festival on 1 March 2020.

Related topics

Third Eye Asian Film Festival

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