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Amazon’s Sunny, Jayasurya’s One-Man Show Is An Instant Classic



Sunny (Malayalam, Amazon Prime Video)

Sunny(Malayalam, Amazon Prime Video)



Rating: *****

Sunny(Malayalam, Amazon Prime Video): Wait. Was that really the best background score I’ve heard in an Indian  film  since….since gawd knows when? The magnificent Jayasurya  who plays the Covid-isolated protagonist Sunny  keeps hearing sounds and voices. Luckily for us, that  beautiful haunting background  score by  Sanker Sharma is real. Thank God!

And  thank Covid Maharaj for this  film. If it wasn’t for Hitler  we wouldn’t  have had Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. If it wasn’t for  Covid we  would have  had no Sunny, a  film so  profound in meditative  manoeuvres  on mortality, so   subtle  and  tender in bringing  out  emotion buried too deep  for words, and so emotionally locked into the protagonist’s wounded  heart, the lockdown  here becomes both physical and emotional.

 When we  first touch down in  Sunny’s   life  he has  just landed in  Kochi from Dubai. It  becomes  disturbingly  apparent  in the first ten minutes that Sunny is on the  verge  of  some  kind of  a serious  breakdown. He  drinks incessantly (After  Vellam, again a  boozard?Jayasurya is making a habit of  it). He  is restless . He is delusional.He speaks  to  his ex-wife,his ex-girlfriend, his lawyer,  a counsellor. But none of them  want to  speak to him.

There  is  a heartstopping moment in the  drama where Sunny dials  a number stored as ‘Appayan’ . A  stranger answers. “Sorry , this used to be  my father’s number.  I didn’t know  who else  to dial,” Sunny explains  to  the kind stranger.

Such  moments  capturing the core of  human despair are  rare in  cinema. Embrace it.

 Sunny, as you must have guessed,  is alone in a posh hotel suite waiting for his quarantine  to end. In a miraculous  show of supple tactile strength, director  Ranjith Sankar constructs  a powerful  drama  about a weak man who is rapidly losing  touch with reality.

This  brings me  to Jayasurya’s  spectacular performance. He is  so  inured in the  character’s  dark desperate  suicidal world(at one  point, Sunny actually puts  a piece  of broken glass to his  wrist, at another  point he  is about to jump off from the balcony  of his  fourth-floor hotel suite) that we become unconditionally   invested in his desolation for a little more than  90 minutes.Not that  Sunny is  likeable or even  remotely  heroic.  But his  anguish is a throbbing  entity , impossible  to ignore.

I’ve seen many actors do a one-man show: Sunil Dutt in Yaadein,Rajkummar Rao in  Trapped Tom Hanks in Castaway. None of these  actors has been able to capture the essence of isolation as effectively as Jayasurya. He takes us into Sunny’s  wretched  life—a  broken marriage, a broken extra-marital affair, a lost job , debts owed to nasty  people, a dead  child—not in a ritualistic  relay race of imposed  drama  created to  build a sense of sympathy  around the quarantined hero.

Nothing is that simple  in Sunny.  And  yet everything is  as  simple  or complex as you choose to make  it. Among the  highpoints  in  this dreamlike drama  of  the damned, is the  friendship that Sunny strikes with the girl Adithi in the suite above his. They only exchange cursory  words in  the balcony. But a  bond is created. And when Adithi(Sritha Sivadas) is  leaving Sunny runs into the  elevator  just to see her  going down  and  out  of his life.

Glimpsed  images of  stolen  joy are captured with essential empathy by  Madhu Neelakandan. The  editing(Shameer Muhammed) echoes the protagonist’s restless mind .But  rest assured, the  narration  is in no hurry to go  anywhere. Flawless and seamless  the narration cuts through  the  pandemic to  slice out  a portion of life that’s not easy to  forget.

As  for  Jayasurya, is he a better actor  than his Malayali peer Fahaad Faasil? When  Sunny finally breaks down at the  end(out of relief not despair) I  was  sobbing with him. This is  not  a performance. This is an embodiment  of   life’s  essential truth where the adage ‘This  Too Shall Pass’ acquires an entirely  novel relevance.

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