Seldom does a filmmaker attempt the impossible and emerge victoriously. In 2019, director-actor Parthiban directed Oththa Seruppu Size 7 a film that had only one character throughout. Two years later, we have Jayasurya-starrer Sunny, which has almost achieved what Parthiban did with his film. Director Ranjith Sankar’s Sunny is a one-character film. Well, almost. We do see additional characters making a fleeting appearance, but their faces are never shown on screen. It is Jayasurya all the way.
Sunny (Jayasurya) is back from Dubai. For good. While on his way to a posh hotel in Kerala, he burns down his passport. He is definitely not in a great frame of mind and drowns himself in alcohol. Slowly, we are introduced to the problems in his life. His wife Nimmi is estranged and pushing for a divorce. Their child lived only for an hour. On top of it, he ran away from Dubai due to financial issues and owes Jacob a huge sum of money.
When he begins his two-week quarantine, Jayasurya seems to be content with his stay, courtesy of alcohol. Soon, the hotel refuses to provide alcohol. This is where the isolation takes a toll on Jayasurya. It pushes him to confront his problems. How Jayasurya battles alcoholism, suicidal thoughts and emerges a new man forms the story.
The film, which runs for one-and-a-half hours, slowly introduces audiences to Jayasurya’s Sunny. At first, he comes across as an arrogant person. But, as the film progresses, we travel with Sunny and are invested in his story.
Director Ranjith Sankar’s clever decision to keep the runtime short worked in his favour. It makes Sunny intriguing with just one character. More importantly, the film makes you want to know more about Sunny’s life. That, probably, is the success of Sunny.
Sunny’s interactions with a cop, therapist and a random person in the hotel are what propel him to overcome his struggles. He has hallucinations and is also going through alcohol withdrawal syndrome. When the therapist gifts him a sapling, he is enraged. As days pass, he begins to understand its importance. The whole sequence is refreshing to watch and holds a mirror to the audience.
Sunny is sensitive in showing how Covid-induced quarantine can mess up our heads. Jayasurya’s performance is simply brilliant. Especially in a particular scene where he breaks down, you would want to cry with him. His minute expressions and the smallest grunts create a lasting impact. It makes you feel what Sunny, as a character, is feeling.
While the climax might feel pretty convenient, Sunny still has enough meat to keep you invested. The way Ranjith Sankar has juxtaposed Sunny’s personal problems with the aloofness that comes with quarantine is what makes the film stand out.