Three years after his last directorial PERANMAI (2009), Jananathan announced that his next directorial would feature Jiiva and Jayam Ravi, who both starred in Jananathan’s earlier films; since the actors were busy with other commitments, the project failed to take off. In 2013, Jananathan announced the project titled PURAMPOKKU with Arya and Vijay Sethupathi in lead roles, with the music direction handled by newcomer Varshan and N.K.Ekambaram wielding the camera. In December 2013, Karthika Nair was signed to play the lead female. Later, Shaam was selected to play the role of a police officer in the film. Principal photography of the film started in January 2014 and was completed in December 2014. The film is very much expected since all the earlier films directed by Jananathan were so fresh and vibrant. Has Jananathan been successful in giving another interesting entertainer? Read on, to know!
The film begins with a scene where Special court gives a Death sentence for Balusamy (Arya) who is accused for anti-national activities such as trying to make an attack on the Indian Army. The responsibility of hanging him to death is given to ADGP Macaulay (Shaam), who takes the help of the professional hangman Yemalingam (Vijay Sethupathy). Meanwhile, Kuyili (Karthika Nair) is in the mission of making her leader Balu escape from jail. Who wins in this game and how does it happen forms the crux of the story.
S.P.Jhananathan is one director who continues to give commercial films with views on contemporary politics and communism. He is best at it, and PURAMPOKKU becomes his best in writing easily (but not the best in the execution though)! The film starts with an alerting message that Nuclear wastes, Military wastes, Medical wastes, Electrical & Electronic wastes of developed countries are disposed regularly in India.
The film speaks on Capital punishment, capitalism, communism and a lot more; the best part is that it is made interesting without taking sides or insisting anything with too preachy messages. We have such debatical issues fronted by views of different characters. For example, the Capital punishment. Shaam – an uncorrupted officer who believes firmly in punishment as per law, Vijay Sethupathi – a hangman who is being disturbed and guilty about his profession, Arya – a communist and Karthika – a very bold woman with high morale and human values. The characterization of the 4 lead characters is so strong and the film is completely character-driven!
There are many films on ‘Life inside prison’ in world languages such as SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. We have very few films like MAHANADHI in Tamil; PURAMPOKKU speaks a lot in detail about life in prison, about the basic rights and problems of prisoners too. Having a hard-core communist character in that premise makes it more interesting.
Dialogues are sharp, straight-to-the-point and too bold! Especially, the conversation in scenes like where Shaam meets Arya towards the end are great! Despite the logical loop holes, the jail escape sequence and the climax gives an edge of the seat tension. There is melodrama and there are few exaggerations, but still the content and the film watching experience PURAMPOKKU gives is so fresh and unique! Seeing such a film these days is a rarity, for sure! If you are able to well relate to the film, you will leave the cinema hall with a lump in your throat.
Coming to performance, it is Shaam who tops among the 4 lead actors. Playing an undistinguishable character if he is a good guy or baddie till the end, Shaam pulls of the role so easily with matured and subtle reactions. To be honest, despite so much of hardwork, his performance in his last film 6 CANDLES was unimpressive; whereas, he delivers a distinctive performance in PURAMPOKKU. Arya and Vijay Sethupathy has got equal scope to perform and they had well-utilised it. Vijay Sethupathi does his best as usual, delivering what is expected for the role exactly. Initially, it is hard to see or accept Arya in such an important and powerful role that is compared to Bhagath Singh; there was a question in my mind if Jhananathan could have opted for a better actor since Arya went on with his usual stone-faced expressions. But, however in the later scenes and in post interval, Arya tried the best on his part to bring Balusamy alive on screen. Karthika Nair has done a spectacular job knowing her limits, not overdoing or underdoing her job. Technically, PURAMPOKKU was neither too good nor bad. Songs in Varshan’s music were below average, however the BGM was convincing. The huge jail sets erected has been well-utilised all through the film. N.K.Ekambaram’s cinematography is another plus point.
The slow pace might be a problem for few people and the mid second half portions could have been a little more gripping. The problem with PURAMPOKKU is that with such strong content, the making could have been better. The reason on why Macaulay goes behind Yamalingam and waits for him dependingly is not so convincing. And, the masala additions (the 2 songs) are neither enjoyable nor value adding to the film.
VERDICT: Brilliant piece of work, with a very bold content. Despite the melodrama and logical loopholes, Purampokku is NOT TO BE MISSED!
RATING – 3.75/5
Review by: Rahman
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