Captain Gopinath shares his thoughts on Soorarai Pottru, tweets 'Suriya was powerful and carried off the part of an entrepreneur'
Soorari Pottru, Suriya's latest Tamil flick has been trending online ever since it released on Amazon Prime Video on November 12. The captivating narrative showcases the journey of a man and his team of friends, who strive to achieve the impossible for the benefit of people and society, seems to have struck the right chord. Suriya plays Nedumaaran Rajangam, an ex-Army officer who aspires to start a budget airline for people who can't afford to travel by expensive airlines.
The character that Suriya plays is based on GR Gopinath (aka Captain Gopinath) who gave India its first budget airline, Air Deccan. The film is inspired by Captain Gopinath's book Simply Fly A Deccan Odyssey. However, before the movie was made, director Sudha K Prasad had to pursue Captain for a long time before he agreed to give her the rights to make the film. “Sudha had approached me several times but somehow I wasn’t too convinced,” says the Bengaluru-based entrepreneur. She even got a producer from Andhra to make the film, I had turned her down that time as well. I had written the book keeping the rural youth in mind. I wanted it to be an inspirational story for those youngsters who hesitate to take the plunge and follow their dreams. It is my story, I studied in a local school and I pursued my dreams. So, when I was approached for the rights, I told them the film had to be true to the essence of the book,” he explains about why he was so hesitant to give permission.
Only when producer Guneet Monga, who is known for producing films such as Gangs of Wasseypur, Peddlers, The Lunchbox, Masaan, Zubaan and the Oscar winning documentary Period. End of Sentence, approached the Captain he agreed to the give the rights to make Soorari Pottru. “What really touched my heart was when Guneet said that she and her mother took a flight for the first time in their life when Air Deccan had started. They had taken a flight from Dehradun for 500 rupees. I spoke to her and got to know more about her body of work. She is a live wire and a dynamic woman. I felt it would be good to give the rights to a woman entrepreneur who comes with a similar background like mine. Both she and Sudha said they will take creative liberties, I was okay with it as long as they made an inspirational film,” divulges the Captain.
Sudha and Guneet roped in Tamil star Suriya to play the role of the founder of Air Deccan. Suriya who is a versatile actor and has given memorable films in different genres such as Varanam Aayiram, Ghajini, Singam and others met Gopinath in Bengaluru before the shoot. But what’s surprising is that the Captain knew nothing about the Tamil superstar. “He came to meet me at my office in Bengaluru. I had heard of him but didn’t know he was a big star. He came across as being humble and likeable. Only after I read about him, I realised that he is very popular and has a huge reputation in Tamil cinema,” reveals Gopinath, adding, “But the director, Sudha, spent many days with my family and my entire team at office. She wanted to know more about us. I think to be able to fictionalise, she had to know our story.”
Suriya has aced the role as the determined and focused entrepreneur and ex-Army officer. While Malayalam actress Aparna Balamurali plays the role of his wife, Bommi. The film beautifully captures the relationship between the husband and wife. Just like it is shown in the film, Gopinath says, his wife, Bhargavi, married him when he had nothing. “I lived on a barren land, in a tent when she married me. She put up with all my struggles,” he says with a laugh. He also remembers his father fondly. Gopinath says although they weren’t rich, his home would always be open to children of poor farmers who lived around their home. “My father was a teacher, and he would teach about seven children every evening at home, and my mother would cook for them,” he reminisces. It’s perhaps this environment at home that influenced the entrepreneur to come up with the idea of starting a budget airline.
However, dreaming of such an ambitious project also meant it came with its own set of hurdles but it never held Gopinath back from what he wanted to do. “If you are optimistic things will work out. If you are not an optimist then you can’t be an entrepreneur. Whether it is starting an Udupi restaurant on ground, or an airline like an Udupi restaurant, you should think like a farmer. Even if there’s a loss, a farmer goes ahead with sowing the next season, he doesn’t think, ‘will the sun rise today or not’, he just does his job. So, I believe, if you can do it, things will get aligned,” he says.
In a series of tweets (post this interview), the Captain has expressed his thoughts after watching Soorarai Pottru. In one of the tweets he says, "Soorarai potru... Heavily fictionalised but outstanding in capturing the true essence of the story of my book. A real roller coaster. Yes watched it last night. Couldn’t help laughing and crying on many family scenes that brought memories." He has also praised actor Suriya on his impressive performance. "And Suriya was powerful and carried off the part of an entrepreneur obsessed to the point of madness that makes dreams come true," he tweeted about the actor. But it's actress Aparna's feisty portrayal as the wife that seems to have wowed Captain Gopinath. He tweeted, "The portrayal of my wife Bhargavi by Aparna was very well etched out, of a woman who had her own mind, strong but soft, feisty and fearless and an inspiration to rural women especially who are equal and can be entrepreneurs in their own right."