Director: Praveen Varma
Cast: Chandini Chowdary, Naveen Chandra
If Vetri Maaran used the carrom board to tell the tale of Vada Chennai and Anurag Basu used Ludo to give us four colour-coded stories in Ludo, the structure of Praveen Varma’s Super Over is perhaps closest to an hour spent on the Rubik’s cube. But in this 90-minute thriller set mostly in the night, there’s no overt ‘notice-me’ gimmicks to draw this parallel for you. There’s no character in the film we see playing the cube; neither are there elements in the making that make this obvious, but the similarities are something you feel more than see.
Like how everything changes on the cube every five minutes, Super Over too keeps changing. The winner from five minutes ago is now a loser and there’s always one or two sides to the story we’re going to discover very soon. Just like the super over in cricket, the film itself is like a final twist in what you thought was going to be a regular, predictable cricket match.
The trick the writers have employed to bring about this surprise is more structural than anything else. We might have seen the idea being used in shows and films before but in Super Over, it feels like everything is zoomed in to give us micro events that feel like intense dramatic moments. Like the short stretch involving a missing 10-rupee note. What’s at stake is a huge sum of money but in the context, it’s just a random 10-rupee note that suddenly gets the power to decide the fate of everyone involved in this story.
Super Over is about Kasi (Naveen Chandra) who needs a lot of money really quickly to save his family from loan sharks. The setup is as basic as they come. He tries to do things the fair away, doesn’t succeed and later turns to crime to make money quickly. As one can imagine from the title, he resorts to cricket betting to turn his fortunes around but interestingly making the big bucks isn’t the focus of the film. This is also perhaps the film’s weakest bits because the stretch where the betting nexus is explained, eventually leading to him winning big, is ridiculously expository with no nuance or drama.
Where the film really comes into its own is when it gets to the part of Kasi actually taking the money that is rightfully his. Suddenly, strangers from a minute ago get their own backstories with a set of of motivations and more. No one is right and no one is wrong. When the films hits its stride, we hardly get time to think even when we know that there are several loopholes in front of us. And with a chase doubling up every half hour or so with more chasers added to the mix, the film has a way of surprising us many times from the initial point where we’d almost written it off.
Look past a long initial stretch of amateur writing and you get a nighttime thriller that’s surprisingly engaging. You might feel like you’re betting on the losing team at first but there’s certainly a prize to be won at the end.