Bilingual films are in vogue these days, be it films in Tamil and Malayalam like a Neram or Vaayai Moodi Pesavum (Tamil)/Samsaaram Aarogyathinu Haanikaram (Malayalam) or Tamil and Telugu like Nimirndhu Nil (Tamil)/Janda Pai Kapiraju (Telugu) or Inji Iduppazhagi (Tamil)/Size Zero (Telugu). But when news of Sudha Kongara Prasad’s bilingual film in Tamil and Hindi (Irudhi Suttru/Saala Khadoos) was announced it certainly grabbed attention for various reasons. For one it was a boxing based film, that too featuring a female boxer, certainly reminding one of Mary Kom. But this time around what made it even more interesting was the presence of R.Madhavan in the lead, playing the boxing coach. When the film’s teaser was unveiled Madhavan had been without for a release for nearly 3 years and was still awaiting the release of Tanu Weds Manu Returns. However Raju Hirani seemed to have seen something special in the film and had come on board as the co-producer for the Hindi version. This was also Madhavan’s second Tamil-Hindi bilingual film, after Yavarum Nalam/13 B in 2009. Thanks to the success of Tanu Weds Manu Returns and with the trailer and the songs generating a good buzz, it was but natural for people to look forward to Irudhi Suttru and Saala Khadoos.
Closer to the release date (29th January) many people had the confusion as to which version would be the better of the two, me included. Some decided to trust their instincts and watch whichever version they felt would be good, or else went by reviews or by the advice of someone they trusted. And then there were a few people like me who have this burning curiosity within themselves, who ended up watching both the versions :). So eventually are both the versions more or less the same? Or is it just a case of a few actors being replaced but otherwise the same film? Or have Sudha and her team actually made 2 separate cuts, making each version a little distinctly different from the other? I wanted to write this post a few days ago but then felt that it’s better to wait till at least the first week of its theatrical run is over. And now that the film is well into its second week and doing well (especially Irudhi Suttru) I think it’s time to shed some light on how different or similar are the two versions of the film.
So let me start by going on to point the significant differences between the two versions now.
Major Spoiler Alert: It is highly recommended that you read the rest of the post only after watching at least one of the two versions of the film.
The film (both versions) starts off with a TV news report on the Boxing Association, which is being seen by Adi Tomar/Prabhu Selvaraj (Madhavan) and Dev Khatri (Zakir Hussain) in their respective homes. While in Irudhi Suttru we have Prabhu being called for a meeting at the association office right after the same, in case of Saala Khadoos we see an extended sequence later where a reporter comes to meet Dev and informs that he had done a sting operation on Adi the previous night, going on to show him the tape as well. As far as the meeting at the association is concerned too there are changes in both the versions. While Adi/Prabhu enters the meeting holding a beer can, he is ridiculed for the same in Irudhi Suttru by an official for which Prabhu replies as well, this is missing in Saala Khadoos. Also on hearing about his transfer to Chennai, while Adi/Prabhu does erupt with anger, he is shown physically assaulting Dev in Saala Khadoos but that’s excluded in Irudhi Suttru.
As Prabhu drives down to Chennai on his bike to the strains of “Poda Poda”, there are some extra visuals of Chennai which are noticed, but perhaps not seen in Saala Khadoos. Following the boxing tournament where Prabhu sees the women trained by “Punch” Pandian (Nassar) compete and lose, right after Luxmi aka Lux (Mumtaz Sorcar) loses we see Madhi (Ritika Singh) going on a rampage in both the versions. However the flow in Irudhi Suttru shows Madhi hitting a few officials, immediately followed by Prabhu asking Pandian if there is a bar nearby. This leads to a long conversation between the two in a local seaside bar, and they continue talking over the beach. In Saala Khadoos however the whole bar and beach conversation is missing, instead we have an extended version of Madhi going on a rampage as she assaults officials all around her, despite Lux trying to restrict her. When Madhi is angry that Adi/Prabhu had visited her home and offered help, she goes on to a sports goods store where he is and ends up smashing his bike, only to be admonished by the store owner (Swanand Kirkire). While in Irudhi Suttru the store owner stops by asking who will compensate for the damage, in Saala Khadoos he goes on to tell Madhi how good a person Adi is and why she is at fault.
In the “Vaa Machaney”/ “Jhalli Patakha” song again there are differences. While in the former (Irudhi Suttru) we see a free spirited Madhi celebrating with her family eating biriyani and basically being intuitive, the latter (Saala Khadoos) appears more aspirational.There is a scene in Irudhi Suttru where we see Madhi and Lux carrying some ice cream home and having a conversation on the way, where Lux talks of how she will support the family on joining the police. This scene is missing in Saala Khadoos and there’s just a montage of it visible later on. Dev Khatri asks one of the boxing coaches, Innocent to keep an eye on Adi/Prabhu and Madhi and keep him posted on the developments. In Saala Khadoos Dev calls up Innocent and asks him to inform Adi that his transfer has been revoked and that he can report back at the headquarters, this doesn’t happen in Irudhi Suttru. At the Dharamshala training camp in case of Irudhi Suttru there is a subtle angle of attraction between Prabhu and a female coach (perhaps from the North East?) and this is seen mostly during the “Ey Sandakaara” song, especially the dining room moment where Madhi literally runs up and occupies the seat next to that of Prabhu. In case of Saala Khadoos this whole track is more or less missing, the only faint trace of it is a single shot of Adi and the lady coach talking to each other in front of a shop selling woolen wear, when Adi calls Madhi and gifts her a woolen cap. In case of Irudhi Suttru we clearly see Madhi sneaking into the female coach’s room and taking a saree of hers before taking fish prepared for Prabhu. But in case of Saala Khadoos we just see a saree clad Madhi walking into Adi’s room straight away with the fish preparation.
Muralikrishnan (Radha Ravi) is revealed to be the father in law of Prabhu in Irudhi Suttru almost towards the fag end of the film, strangely there is no such reveal in the Hindi version. When Adi/Prabhu brings back Madhi later towards the end to train and have a shot at the World Championship, Adi keeps referring to her as a wild card entrant in Saala Khadoos. For some strange reason in Irudhi Suttru there is no mention of a wild card entrant, instead just the vague mention of World Championship trials is done. Well if you are someone who watches the two films with a hawk eye, I am sure you might be able to spot a few more differences, but I’d like to restrict myself to whatever has been described here so far. Some of them probably are way too minor and some would probably spoil the viewing experience. Now if you ask me which is the better version among the two, it wouldn’t be easy to give a simple straightforward reply as there is a lot of care taken to make sure that the two versions come across as the same, yet different. But perhaps due to the some of the angles which work a little better in Tamil (like for example Madhi and Lux’s mother Damayanthi being a Marwari, leading to the use of a bit of Hindi in their communication) I would probably lean a bit more towards Irudhi Suttru.
Eventually I feel Sudha Kongara Prasad, Madhavan and everyone else concerned can certainly feel proud for having come up with two good versions, now which one worked better for you?
P.S- Special thanks to Padma Srinivasan,a friend and fellow movie-buff who has also seen both the versions and was my sounding board for helping me compile all this.