29 May

It was quite a unique experience watching the Tamil film ‘Ponmagal Vandhal’ FDFS at home through Amazon Prime, a daring endeavor by the producer. The film narrates the story of a female lawyer named Venba fighting against numerous odds regarding a 15-year-old case. The opening part of the film sets the milieu through some amazing shots and it gives the audience the taste of another thriller set in the mode of ‘Ratsasan’. But it soon loses the steam and the film evolves as a courtroom drama with the entry of the lead character Venba played by Jyotika ably guided by her guardian ‘Petition’ Pethuraj (superbly essayed by the seasoned Bhagyaraj) voicing for the culprit. The audience comes to know that Venba is fighting the case of a serial killer named ‘Psycho Jyoti’ who was convicted for kidnapping and murdering multiple children. The renowned advocate Rajarathinam (Parthiban) is pitted against Venba and what follows is a sequence of twists and turns. As the film has got its own moments, I don’t wish to be a spoiler. Finally the film ends with somewhat an expected climax with a slight unforeseen twist.

The problem with the film is that it has a shoddily written script though with a highly significant theme. It falls flat at times and works only in patches (a few scenes are outstanding). But the biggest plus and refreshing aspect of the film is the presence of a host of veteran actors. Bhagyaraj has given his heart and soul to ‘Petition’ Pethuraj, while Parthiban steals the show with his amazing screen presence and one-liners. Prathap Pothen appears as the Judge, Pandiarajan as Karpooram and the stunning Thiagarajan comes as Varadharajan. But the whole film relies upon Jyotika and her stellar performance – with stoicism in posture and melancholy in the eyes. She has lifted the film to another realm (except for the make-up and certain expressions in the flash-back scenes) and one can rightly say that the ‘golden girl’ has arrived (“ponmagal vandhal”).

Though one can easily tweak similarities with numerous other films, point out countless errors and the problem of cinematic liberties, still the 2hr film is watchable – thanks to J. J. Fredrick, the director and his crew. ‘Ponmagal Vandhal’ could have been a more powerful film if the director had paid attention to the script. As Venba says, “shattering one’s identity is the biggest violence”, the film has a message to convey and I’m sure it will stay with you at least for a few days.

Ranjith Krishnan K R

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