With Sunny, the director uses the time to build up the pieces of the shattered puzzle that Sunny is – his failed marriage, a friend’s betrayal, broken dreams and his hopeless intent to end it all. But it’s not easy to relate to Sunny due to inconsistency in the character development
Story: After losing his money, family and dreams, a shattered Sunny comes back to Kerala from Dubai and checks into a hotel as part of a week-long quarantine during the pandemic. As the man, who is in the middle of personal and financial struggles, prepares to put an end to his misery, he coincidentally gets introduced to a few strangers, who change his perspective and make him re-evaluate his predicament.
Review: What some of the best one-actor movies such as Tom Hardy’s Locke and James Franco’s 127 Hours had going for them was how dramatic the situation was for its protagonists; this elevated the pace of the movie and also made the audience care about what ultimately happens in their lives. For Sunny, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, director Ranjith Sankar has chosen a rather tame setting of a hotel room where his protagonist is forced to endure loneliness – both by choice and mandate – till he finally finds hope out of his predicament.
The movie’s protagonist Sunny, played earnestly by Jayasurya, is a man broken in spirit. After putting aside his dreams of becoming a musician to start a business in Dubai, he loses his money and family, forcing him to return to Kerala amid the pandemic. As part of the pandemic restrictions, he has to quarantine for a week and he chooses a hotel suite to do it – all the while with the intention of putting an end to the misery he has been forced to endure. However, as he shuts himself from the world, a few strangers through phone calls and a guest in the same hotel, force him to rethink his ways and regain hope.
Unlike Ranjith’s previous movies, Sunny takes time to warm up. It’s deliberate too; many who have endured a hotel quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 – away from their family and friends – would attest that the solitude does get to them eventually. With Sunny, the director uses this time to build up the pieces of the shattered puzzle that Sunny is – his failed marriage, a friend’s betrayal, broken dreams and his hopeless intent to end it all. But it’s not easy to relate to Sunny due to inconsistency in the character development – one minute he is pining for alcohol and then in a few days, a phone call from a doctor makes him replace that with something else.
Sunny’s relationship with his estranged wife is probably the cornerstone of his story that could hook the audience, but in between you also get hints of what has led him to the point in his life – losing a child, an affair and the guilt of giving up music. The director also throws in hallucinations to up the suspense. While it’s done with the purpose of informing the viewer of Sunny’s state of mind, it doesn’t quite stick. The angle of Sunny being a musician too is underexplored. As an experimental venture, Ranjith succeeds in showing the tediousness that arises from hopelessness and solitude, but the movie never quite rises above that.
Jayasurya plays Sunny restrainedly. His best parts are when he resists the changes that other people and the pandemic try to bring into his life. Holding the attention of the audience for an entire duration of a movie is no mean feat and Jayasurya more or less accomplishes it. The script requires him to downplay his emotions most of the time, and hence his occasional outbursts and joy have a bigger impact. Sunny also has actors Mamta Mohandas, Shritha Sivadas, Sshivada, Aju Varghese, Vijayaraghavan, Siddique and Innocent rendering their voices.
Madhu Neelakandan’s cinematography keeps the film ‘moving’, even though it’s extensively set in a hotel room and its corridor. The viewer doesn’t feel claustrophobic as the frames aren’t repeated despite its setting. The sound department too has done a great job in creating Sunny’s quarantine world.
Verdict: Sunny paints a realistic picture about the solitude that many have faced during the pandemic. However, due to its theme, it also foregoes entertaining elements and takes its time to warm up; so much that you feel that the sunshine that does come through after a gloomy week isn’t quite enough.