The film belongs to Samuthirakani who plays Dayalan an idealistic teacher and a leftist who joins a government school in a small town as Physics teacher. The school is in bad shape and teachers are more interested in making money through corrupt methods and have no time to teach.
Dayalan’s philosophy in life is to bring about reforms in the educational system as “change alone is permanent.” He says 75 % of the students who come to school are not interested in studies as the system is rotten.
Our crusader teacher fights against all odds including a Vice-Principal Singam Perumal (Thambi Ramiah) who is more of a thug. Daya’s new daring approach to teaching his students and strict ground rules ultimately triumphs.
On the side-lines there is a love-hate school romance between Pazhani (Yuvan), a higher secondary student in love with his classmate Arivazhagi (Mahima). Daya the ‘super hero’ even solves such tricky issues!
The trouble with the film it is too preachy with large doses of sermonising. At the same time it makes its lead character out to be a super hero and a do-gooder, a Gandhian who is able to solve all issues regarding the corrupt educational system.
Anbazhagan’s intentions are sincere, but the way other teachers in the school are portrayed as idiots and thugs is to glorify the hero character.
There are traces of Sidney Poitier’s classic 1967 ‘To Sir with Love’ where an idealistic black teacher played by Poitier brings about a change in teaching an unruly group of white high school students from the slums. The difference in Saattai is that Samuthirakani as the idealistic teacher reforms not only the unruly students but also the teachers in a government school. However the film is fast paced (2 hours 18 minutes) and the effort taken by the director to convey his message has to be appreciated.
Samuthirakani has come out with a stunning performance as the idealistic teacher. The scene where he is falsely implicated and accused of a crime he had not committed is brought out well by Kani just through his facial expressions and minimum of dialogues.
Thambi Ramaiah with a ridiculous wig is loud and irritating in a negative role. The school romance between Pazhani and Arivazhagi is sensitively portrayed with Shreya Ghosal’s melodious “Sahaayane…” song in the background. D Imman’s music and background score is good.
On the whole, Saattai is a decent entertainer which harps loudly on the message it wants to convey.
Verdict- Above Average