Phudhupettai, peru dhan pudhusu

I read a review of the movie in, quite poorly written. After a long time I saw a movie for its entire length (well minus 3 songs), which in itself is worth mentioning. In a period in which movies are crammed with clichéd sequences one after the other Pudthupettai scores slightly higher.
Before I go on with the movie itself I would like to give my opinion on Selvaragavan. His movies are just ok, I never thought of him to be this “new revolutionary director” to save Tamil movie industry, no. They are very average with a few original scenes and some enjoyable dialogues. But his strength lies in depicting characters as they would act in real life, more often than other directors. That is, his characters, like in many other movies, will wear the fantasy suit that let’s them fly above the real world but would come down to earth sooner than others and frequently so. Another strength of his (which does no good to sensible viewers) is the ability to pull in the average sexist male crowd in TN. He mixes the small doses of realistic depiction with a fable of exaggerated violence, sexuality, magnetism and success that surrounds the key characters.
Coming to Pudhupettai, this movie doesn’t escape the above descriptions of Selvaragavan’s directorial products. Assuming that you read the first half of the review from rediff (to know the story) I’ll just go on what I would like comment on. The story is not new, it’s very clichéd indeed. I’ll list a few aspects of the movie that might seem very different and original but are actually used up exhaustively in Hollywood movies and not so much in Tamil movies (but have been used nonetheless),

1. Dhanush’s ruthless attitude that guides him to do what no gangster hero has done in Tamil movies. He kills his father and his relatives in an act of cold vengeance.
-- Novel? No. Madhavan in Aayudha eluthu portrayed this. The steroid that power is, gets the better of his mind and he does what is unthinkable for a normal human being (shooting his brother, best friend) – reminding us about the “survival of the fittest” instinct that rules gangsters’ psyche. The “indifferent to kith and kind when it comes to vengeance” attitude and the scene in which Dhanush’s father is beaten and buried alive is a direct lift from the movie Good fellas. Not jus that scene, the entire movie is replete with scenes and themes from Mafia movies beginning from the Godfather series to the Sopranos (TV series).

2. A gangster’s link with a politician and his eventual rise to a “strong” position in a political party, dumped gain, and pull up.-- Novel? No. This again has been portrayed by Madhavan, reasonably well in AE. Other movies such as Sathya, En Uyir Tholan etc., have done good jobs in explaining how various political parties feed on different gangsters and how it affects their personal lives. Of course there are new movies with similar themes too (but their quality is too dismal to be mentioned here).

3. Use of gruesomely graphic violence to the extent of glorifying it and "sexual" sequences that make a lot of viewers very uncomfortable. Add to that the development in use of embarrassingly “open” dialogues and profanity, from his previous movies. -- Novel? Yes and No. In a movie that deals with gangsters and drug dealers one cannot expect “clean” language. In fact the movie has sugar coated the dialogues in a lot of sequences that you start wondering if those “thugs” would really be using such refined language, consciously avoiding profanities. So I have no problems with that. Nobody complains when the dialogues were filled with F words and MF and all kinds of obscenities in a Godfather or a Donny Darco. So the language has to be excused here, and in fact they could have used more profanities (as you expect in a real life situation) and bleeped them all. That would have probably been annoying, so SR cannot be blamed here. And it's a healthy trend in a way, why should reality and cinema be kept at distances in this aspect? Scences that are "disturbing" need to be included in the movie if the story begs it (be it rape scene in Hey Ram! or suicide in Virumaandi.)
As for violence, they could have made it a little more agreeable and realistic. Very often you wonder if it’s a MGR Vs. Nambiar sword fight from a 60s b/w movie. It gets so childish at times and you cannot help but laugh when you see our gaunt little hero swing awry a “sword” standing in black beach water (oh he’s practicing?).

And yeah he’s almost immune to all kinds of cuts and bruises, so much that he flings back with no scars in face or body, all within days. Well, he earns so much money they say, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was patron of a cosmetic surgeon in Rio.Yes, no scars whatsoever in any part of his body (ennangada dei?). And his commanding posture with men standing on either side is so copied from the movie Basha. “Giving life to prostitute” (and a few more clichés) lifted from Nayagan.

Parts worth mentioning

Towards the end Dhanush threatens the party leader to give the chance to contest (for MLA). And other party members mock him in a very casual ‘close to natural’ way. This scene is very much in contrast with most “part meeting” scene that we have seen in other movies (which are so cinematic with ugly amateur acting).
Outside the part office he would be faced with serious threats from people who are just as bad/strong as him and some of them stronger. This scene is again very interesting in that they show no political party is dependent on just one “rowdy”. And for Dhanush that comes as a bad reality check and he would be under the illusion that he’s invincible. From there he goes to a situation where is scared of his and his family’s life.
The climax isn’t very interesting or different, but not bad either. It seems to have been inspired by AE or Hollywood ‘mafia’ movies that end with another start (and often negative).

Other aspects

I think the new fashion of so called gangster movies is encouraging a lot of junior artists to build muscles and grow long hair. While this was as an interesting trend in Dhool, after 3 years and 40 odd movies based on the same story, this band needs serious makeover. All the “co-rowdies” had done a very decent job in acting, I have no complaints about that (keeping in mind the abominable acting performances of actors and “side-actors” in movies such as Pattiyal, Gajini, Thirupathi etc.,). Nevertheless, it would have done a lot of good to the movie had the director paid a little more attention to their body language and appearance which have become irritatingly tiresome now.

Use of guns is kept very minimal, and it's a good move too; because Madras's underworld (unlike that of Bombay's) is very rudimentary when it comes to weapons. Most of the real con-men are still stuck with "naatu-thuppakki". And even that only after you reach a certain point of your "career". "swords" and "knives" are the weapons of chice for most gangsters in Madras. Movies such as Pattiyal screwed up big time in this detail (among many others).

yuvan’s background score was pathetic. His notes were all over the place, they matched the scenes fine in a few occasions and they did not in a lot of others. And when they failed to, they did so miserably. Seriously man, symphony was never within your reach.

Dhanush has to improve his Tamil pronunciation. It’s become increasingly intolerable after each movie of his (of course he is not alone in this crime). And his opening song “enga area ulla varadha” - what could have been a decent song for a “refined” Tamil listener is seriously hindered by bad pronunciations (ex: ulla is uLLa). And yuvan, your dad who straightened several singers’ pronunciation must sure be proud about yours.

The screenplay isn’t all that bad, it’s not so “gripping” or “riveting” or “engrossing”, but at least it doesn’t make you go “aama naan enga irukken?” or make you go “grrr.zzzzzz”. The narration (of Dhanush from the jail cell) and actual flow events could have been mixed better, it’s almost like song sequences in a Shankar movie (no precursor whatsoever).

As I had mentioned earlier Dhanush’s ‘Kokki’ Kumar shares a lot with AE-Madhavan’s Inbaa. The only difference is that while Madhavan resembles an underworld thug with high political aspirations, Dhanush resembles a lean hero whose last 3 movies were utter flops and has a brother who has given 3 consecutive hits. Yes, it’s high time for Dhanush to put on some weight, his lean body doesn’t support the variety of characters he’s trying to do and definitely not this one. We feel like idiots watching this thin guy giving orders to “The undertaker” look-alikes (especially in a "profession" that has a lot to do with one's physique).

Final comments

Overall the movie isn’t all that bad. I didn’t like the movie so much but I know my expectations so there’s no surprise there; but condescending as it may sound, a lot of you might like the movie. But of course I would rate this above Gajini, this movie is way less irritating than Gajini (Sivakasi, kuppai koolam etc.,). And yes, all actors have done a reasonable job, no big weakness there. Worth watching once (if you are fine with crude violence and profane dialogues). The biggest drawback of the movie would be that it's come amidst a series of movies that deal with the same subject


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