Cast: Arya, Vijay Sethupathi, Karthika Nair
Direction: S. P. Jananathan
Production: UTV Motion Pictures, Binary Pictures
Once in a blue moon comes a film whose maker has the courage to take up and drive home a relevant social message to the audience. ‘Purampokku Engira Podhuvudamai’ is one such film which director S.P.Jananathan uses as a powerful medium to talk point blank about the relevance of communism, India becoming a dumping ground for nuclear and radioactive waste and the abolishment of capital punishment.
The film begins with terrorist Balu (Arya) sentenced to death by a military court on charges of carrying out a deadly attack on the Indian army among many other antisocial crimes. The Judge entrusts the execution to Jail Superintendent Macualay (Shaam) who as a human rights criteria, needs to find a hangman who is experienced in doing the job with the least amount of pain to the prisoner. Macualay finds an alcoholic railway worker Yemalingam (Vijay Sethupathi) whose father and grandfather were hangmen and he himself had hanged a prisoner when he was young. The revolutionary Balu quickly turn all the prisoners into his friends and boldly fights for their rights. Meanwhile Balu’s comrades headed by Kuyili (Karthika Nair) initially plan to kill Yemalingam but later recruit him and draw a daring plan to get Balu out of prison. Do they succeed in their mission or not forms the rest of the screenplay, which leads to a riveting climax.
Arya as Balu gives a subdued performance in the serious role of the revolutionary who is branded a traitor. The actor who has generally played a local Romeo gets under the skin of the character to such perfection that there is absolutely no trace of the Arya we are used to seeing in films like ‘Boss Engira Bhaskaran’ or ‘Raja Rani’. Vijay Sethupathi as Yemalingam the hangman with a tortured soul has the meatiest role with several shades in the character and the actor gives another top notch performance, which will raise his stock further up in the industry and among fans. Karthika Nair as the female leader of the revolutionaries fits the role perfectly with the right body language and apt performance. Shaam as Macualay is a revelation in the film as the actor has carried the role of the jailer with great authority and is particularly brilliant in the climax where he is required to be ruthless and he is unflinchingly so. All the other actors who appear on the screen are perfect.
Background score of Srikanth Deva is a major plus for ‘Purampokku Engira Podhuvudamai’ while debutante Varshan’s songs fail to impress. Camera work by N.K Ekambaram is brilliant as usual when he and the director combine. Special mention is due to Art Director V. Selvakumar whose detailing is commendable in every frame. Director S.P Jananathan as a director has brought the best out of his actors and technicians, but as a writer could have made the screenplay more taut and could have avoided the repetitive scenes in the second half, which is tedious to watch but thankfully, he makes amends by presenting one of the best written and most touching climaxes in recent times.
Vijay Sethupathi’s kuthu song and the Arya-Karthika duet are major sore points of the film and can be done away with. The second half is in need of major trimming. Balu’s escape plans by both him and Kuyili seem all too easy with very little ingenuity and due to this what could have been an edge of the seat thriller fizzes out into a film with a good social message.