: The death of a gang lord triggers a war between two rival gangs, and an ambitious hireling tries to figure out his place in the scheme of things.
: Guna (Vikram Prabhu), the protagonist of SR Prabhakaran’s Sathiriyan, has only one ambition — he wants to rule the city (Trichy) he lives in. And he thinks being the boss of a group of gangsters will help him lord over the city. But he is prepared to wait for his time, even when his boss, Samuthiram (Sharath Lohitashwa), the most feared gangster in Trichy, is murdered by his rival Manapparai Sankar (Aruldoss). He lets Ravi (Vijai Murugan), Samuthiram’s right hand man, take over, and stays loyal to him.
This quality of Guna is one of the refreshing elements in Sathiriyan, which starts off as a fairly involving gangster drama, but goes off the rails when Prabhakaran desperately tries to turn his wannabe Velu Naicker into Valmiki. He does sow the seeds for such a resolution quite well, through Samuthiram’s daughter, Niranjana (Manjima), who starts wooing Guna. He resists at first, but when she shows him the error of his ways, he begins to fall for her, and starts thinking of a life of peace and quiet.
However, his bloody past cannot leave him soon. For, Sankar wants to establish his grip over the city by eliminating Samuthiram’s men, especially Guna, who he believes to be the real threat. And Ravi, too, begins to nurse a grudge against him for romancing their late boss’ daughter.
After the lackluster Idhu Kathirvelan Kadhal, SR Prabhakaran lives up to some of the promise that we saw in his debut Sundarapandian with Sathiriyan. Aided by his cinematographer Sivakumar Vijayan, whose searing visuals superbly capture the intensity of the drama between the characters, and composer Yuvan Shankar Raja, whose piercing theme heightens the tension, he keeps things interesting and unpredictable for about two-thirds of the film. The actors are up to the task as well. Vikram Prabhu has a coiled intensity about him, and that fits Guna’s tough-guy character pretty well. Manjima, with her girl-next-door look, feels apt while Vijai Murugan and Aruldoss are plausible as rival gangsters trying to hold their place.
But somehow, Prabhakaran doesn’t get the pacing right. The film feels too long and there are times when we wish he rushed things up, especially the romantic track, which, despite being integral to the plot, begins to drag after a point. We even get a sub-plot involving Chandran, a medical student who saves Guna, and his girlfriend that goes nowhere. And the director ruins it all in the third act, which is muddled, verbose and terribly preachy.