Sundaram Master: Harsha Chemudu’s preachy film does not make for a compelling watch

Sundaram Master: Harsha Chemudu’s preachy film does not make for a compelling watch

Directed by Kalyan Santhosh, ‘Sundaram Master’ is a fable-like story that examines whether ‘civilised’ humans are actually more cultured than the aboriginals who are selfless and don’t understand the concept of capitalism.
Sundaram Master (Telugu)(1.5 / 5)

A tribal community in the village of Miryalametta chooses to live in isolation without any interaction with outsiders, including the government. Like the Sentinelese tribe, they are an undisturbed community and others are not allowed to enter their village. But primary school teacher Sundar Rao (Harsha Chemudu) gets the rare opportunity to interact with them and learn about them.

Sundaram Master is directed by Kalyan Santhosh and also stars Divya Sripada, Harshavardhan, and others. Kalyan Santosh has also written the film. Sundaram Master is a fable-like story. The local MLA who sends Sundar to Miryalametta to teach English, however, has a selfish motive. Sundaram, who is also greedy and money-minded, volunteers to visit Miryalametta. Under the guise of teaching the residents English, he actually wants to learn the secret about their village. The tribals are said to be in possession of something ‘valuable’. And Sundar and the MLA conspire to exploit the ‘precious’ item.

The premise of a teacher interacting with a tribe that is not even aware that India has attained independence from the British should have allowed Kalyan to explore a story filled with interesting moments and sub-plots, but the writer-director is content with the wafer-thin plot.

We are taken into the unexplored world of Miryalametta through Sundar. The opening shot of the film shows Sundar traversing the forest to reach Miryalametta and the closing shot is of him leaving the village.

Sundaram Master is a preachy film which examines whether ‘civilised’ humans are actually more cultured than the aboriginals who are selfless and don’t understand the concept of capitalism. The film tries to raise some crucial questions about how humans have succumbed to greed and other ills. But the poor writing does not allow any emotion to be evoked. In the third act, when Sundar realises his mistake, the writing feels forced.

Overall Sundaram Master lacks conviction. The lack of a strong narration and a story riddled with plot holes results in the film not being effective in putting forth its message. How did this village sustain itself without any help? Though we are inside the world of Miryalametta for nearly two hours, we hardly know anything about their livelihood or practices. Sundar is given a brief introduction about the tribal community of Miryalametta in a PowerPoint presentation. The MLA believes that the residents have chosen to remain in isolation because they have something ‘valuable’ in their possession. There is no strong explanation about how he arrived at this conjecture. Similarly, when no one has been able to interact with the residents, how did the MLA know that the community loves people who are dark-skinned? A patriotism angle is associated with their preference for dark-skinned people.

Sundaram Master also tries to make a commentary on the caste system. The Miryalametta tribals are shown to choose their names based on their skill.

Harsha Chemudu tries to salvage the film with his expressions and comedic timing, but in vain. Divya Sripada does not get enough scope but performs adequately.

The film also suffers from a lack of conflict and does not make for a compelling watch.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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