Bommai Movie Review: SJ Suryah gives a BIG performance in Radhamohan's 'Bommai', but the film never convinces us about its central relationship

Radha Mohan
Bommai Movie Review

Bommai Movie Cast & Crew

Production : Angel Studios
Director : Radha Mohan
Music Director : Yuvan Shankar Raja

"Everyone in this world is with the person they love. Why am I not able to get this good fortune?" I am paraphrasing a little, but this is the most poignant line in Radhamohan's Bommai, which has SJ Suryah as Raju. He's the one who says the line. He wants to be with Nandhini (Priya Bhavani Shankar). The story has all the things you expect in a love story. Two people meet. There's instant chemistry. But due to circumstances, they get separated. There's much sadness. They meet again, by chance, after many years. This time, they decide to elope and get married before anyone comes between them again. Small difference: there's a mannequin involved. The film oscillates between dreams and reality, between sanity and insanity, and between Lars and the Real Girl and Guna.

What if you want the unattainable? That's a fascinating concept for a love story. But in Bommai, Radhamohan is unable to pull it off. He may be too good-natured, too family-friendly a person to really dive into the madness of such a premise. You find some of that madness in SJ Suryah's big, big performance. Watching him is like watching a modern-day version of Sivaji Ganesan in many of those movies where every body part would twitch with the effort of acting. Some of it works, but to really ground a performance, you need the screenplay to click. And the writing is direct, with little build-up. It doesn't tease us. We get a big exposition dump that explains everything, and then there's nowhere for the story to go. 

So the film gets into a "how to fill up the time till the climax" exercise. There are three songs. There's meant-to-be-cute rom-comedy. There is a nonstop background score that spins riffs on Ilaiyaraaja's 'Dheiveega raagam'. There is a clumsily.handled police investigation. But the scenes between the leads don't work. They have no chemistry. And the film is so eager to hammer us with Big Moments that I began to yearn for a small emotion that I could carry for a while, something that would make me root for the central relationship. The tone of Lars and the Real Girl may be too offbeat for our cinema, but Guna is a good example of how to transform this "unattainable love" idea into a powerful film. In Bommai, we just have the idea.

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Baradwaj Rangan

National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, former deputy editor of The Hindu and senior editor of Film Companion, has carved a niche for himself over the years as a powerful voice in cinema, especially the Tamil film industry, with his reviews of films. While he was pursuing his chemical engineering degree, he was fascinated with the writing and analysis of world cinema by American critics. Baradwaj completed his Master’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations through scholarship. His first review was for the Hindi film Dum, published on January 30, 2003, in the Madras Plus supplement of The Economic Times. He then started critiquing Tamil films in 2014 and did a review on the film Subramaniapuram, while also debuting as a writer in the unreleased rom-com Kadhal 2 Kalyanam. Furthermore, Baradwaj has authored two books - Conversations with Mani Ratnam, 2012, and A Journey Through Indian Cinema, 2014. In 2017, he joined Film Companion South and continued to show his prowess in critiquing for the next five years garnering a wide viewership and a fan following of his own before announcing to be a part of Galatta Media in March 2022.