When Tamil superstar Suriya gives those killer looks and shows aggressive moves in the teaser of upcoming movie Soorarai Pottru, those knowing the real hero behind the story would wonder if he is really this over-the-top pushy.
“Yes. While running the airline, I was aggressive with my employees. I am impatient and this impatience drove me to achieve my dreams. But I am sober in my personal life.” That’s Captain GR Gopinath for you, the man who made the common man fly. Now, within two weeks, his biopic in Tamil is being released on a worldwide OTT platform. Sadly, it was the Tamil filmmakers who grabbed the film rights, leaving behind Sandalwood.
Gopinath’s autobiography, ‘Simply Fly’, has been made into Soorarai Pottru, starring Suriya and directed by Sudha Kongara. The movie, which was initially slated for a theatrical release in April, has been pushed to OTT and been dubbed in Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
Sitting in his plush office overlooking the scenic airstrip at Jakkur aerodrome, Gopinath spoke to News18, about his life, dreams and the movie. True to the movie title Soorarai Pottru, which means hail the warrior, Gopinath’s life is all about a young boy’s dream to fly. Founder of the low cost budget airliner Air Deccan, it was Gopinath’s childhood dream to make the common man fly. And yes, he achieved it.
“My father was a poor school teacher and I went to the government school in Gorur (a village in Hassan district) barefoot. I dreamt of owning an airliner and it was no mean task. The path to the success was arduous but I made the common man fly. Simply Fly is a business biography and I am glad that it has been made into a movie. I would have been more happier if Kannada film makers had grabbed the opportunity first,” says Gopinath.
Gopinath, 68, was earlier in the armed forces — the rank of a Captain, spent eight years in the forces and fought in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. He took an early retirement and after a stint in agriculture. In 1997, Gopinath co-founded Deccan Aviation, a charter helicopter service. In 2003, he launched Air Deccan, a low cost airline which went on to become a huge success.
The teaser of Soorarai Pottru has evoked great response and Captain Gopinath who has watched it says the story’s essence and theme has been kept intact but with some amount of dramatization. In fact, when the late actor and writer Girish Karnad was alive, he had advised Gopinath to give the film rights to his book to the Kannada filmmakers. “He had told me if I were to consider this, he would again put the grease paint on.”
“When Tamil filmmakers approached me for film rights, my only condition was that the story should not be distorted. We had a couple of sessions with Suriya and the director also met my company employees. In fact, a big premiere of the movie was planned, but could not be held because of the pandemic. I am also eagerly waiting for November 12,” Gopinath signs off. Soorarai Pottru is releasing on November 12 on Amazon Prime Video.