Producers: Ranjit Shankar and Jaya Surya
Director: Ranjit Shankar
Cast: Jaya Surya, Shivada Nair and Sritha Shivadas
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
By Jyothi Venkatesh
The pandemic and the resulting quarantine and lockdown has inspired a few Indian films, shows and anthologies that have explored the uncharted circumstances we are in, but to the credit of the Malayalam film makers, only Malayalam cinema so far has dared to translate the post-pandemic world on the screen not just once but thrice. First with the scintillating Macbeth retelling Joji starring Fahaad Faazil and the other again with Fahadh Faasil in his film C U Soon and now with Jayasurya in the film Sunny. If you set out to watch this film presuming it is a comedy film, you are sadly mistaken because it sets out to tell a dark yet soulful story of a down-on-his-luck, guilt and debt-ridden albeit talented musician desperately looking for a way out.
The plot of Sunny sets out to focus on a single character named Sunny Varkey (Jayasurya), a young talented musician who has lost everything that he has earned in his life – his love, his money and his best friend. The loneliness, anxiety and hallucinations trouble him, as he tries to fight his personal and professional battles. Shattered and hopeless, he smuggles himself back from Dubai to Kerala in the midst of a global pandemic and shuts himself from society by ensconcing in the five star hotel Hyatt Regency in Kochi. Deeply stuck in an emotional turmoil, he is on the verge of killing himself slowly and steadily, but befriends a couple of curious strangers over the course of seven days, who manage to change his perspective. Paired with the most soulful background score the film has in store a perfect blend of drama and suspense, right till the end.
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It is in effect a first rate One Man show with Jaya Surya helming the film and shows his interactions mostly on the phone with a handful of people, ranging from his estranged, pregnant wife Nimmi (Shivada Nair) to a well-meaning doctor and a prepaid taxi driver who first hints at the scam in Sunny’s life, a cop who comes ahead to help him, a psychologist who forms a fatherly bond with the man and another woman Aditi (Shritha Shivdas ) who stays a floor above also in isolation becomes his friend but doesn’t meet him face to face even once while Sunny struggles to navigate his troubles. The biggest minus point of the film is that the first few minutes of the movie come across a bit as a promo piece for the luxury hotel and its quarantine services, which even tend to irritate the viewer at times.
At the outset, as far as the performers go, in this One Actor show right from the first frame till the last, it is Jayasurya who deserves all the credit for making his part lively for the viewer with his idiosyncrasies including his craving for alcohol which he runs out and not able to procure. Imagine being the only human in the frame for every single second, where all your co-stars are nothing but the voices of several other actors. To a large extent, I should say that the exquisite background music of the film elevates the isolated feel and helps the viewer get a complete movie watching experience.
Credit ought to go to Aju Varghese as Rajesh, Sunny’s old friend and Innocent as Dr Eerali who do their parts brilliantly even though they are only heard and never seen in the film even once. So is Shivada Nair whose voice as Sunny’s pregnant wife is also only heard intermittently.