Pudhupettai is the most underrated and forgotten movie of the year. Simply because, it seeded roaring expectations in viewers’ minds in a completely different way.
This movie daringly provokes a certain section of the society. The intent is not to provoke but to show the mentality literally. It’s not a movie that sugarcoats things and increases prejudices on low-life. The honest script is wrapped around with sound technical support from the crew.
The spontaneous depiction of class consciousness is Selvaraghavan’s piece of cake. There’s a scene from the movie ‘Kadhal Konden’. The world is small for Vinodh (Dhanush) who comes from an orphanage to join a college in the city. He is suddenly left in the wide and open world. Those initial isolated moments he experiences with fear and innocence as he looks at the attire and mannerisms of city-bred students in his classroom are shown without any spurious inferences. That scene touched a string inside me.
Likewise, Pudhupettai is one such movie that nabs your hands, drags you and makes you sit amongst the low-life hoodlums until their moustache scratches your cheeks.
Kokki kumar witnesses his mother’s body lying on the floor after having done by her husband. An usual slum homicide but the picturization of the next 10 minutes showing Kumar’s deep down fear and loss signals that this is going to be one helluva ride for the viewers. He flees away fearing his own father and struggles to survive on streets. He is spotted, fed, beaten and even threatened. The way he rises upto those moments of escape and retaliation is truly magnificient. He grows in stature and tries to take control of the city with organised crime. The movie then turns into an intense political drama with jumpy moments here and there. Every scene has a dark humor curled up beneath and I burst out laughing even at gruesome action scenes.
The ways – way the hoodlums eat on a roadside ‘purotta shop’, way the policeman treat their daily scapegoats, way the ‘juvenile’ looks at a woman as only an object of lust, way the sex worker expects a freudian connection with the juvenile, way the hoodlums blurt out their ancestry, way a politician exploits goondas, way the goondas count on politics and fame, way the sword and sickle are used, way the human lives are treated as vegetables are captured in resolutely literal fashion. No scene in this movie sails on assumptions and superficiality.
Azhagamperumal does play his role as a diplomatic politician with supreme control and scenes that unravel in the bizarre second half, especially when Kokki Kumar is surrounded by experienced politicians on the rampage of slicing him into pieces for his irrelevant behavior made me want more and more. Literal depiction!!
Sonia Agarwal’s character, though used as Dhanush’s object of desire fails to create overt impression while Sneha (as the sex worker) settles down in the movie with ease and empathy. Dhanush is brilliant in some scenes but patchy in some scenes. An overall likeable performance by him. The viewer may be irritated by the jumpy final 15 minutes but it’s obvious that certain scenes have been chopped off for length. Editing could have been better. Climax is very abrupt but fits in “Okay” when you look back at the entire movie later.
This movie needs a different and mood viewing. It shouldn’t be seen from our viewpoint and ideology but it should be seen from Kumar’s viewpoint and behavior to really empathize his dark life that travels on the needle of betrayal and death every moment.
Though this movie fails on tempo and completion, it wins on research, ideas and technicality like direction, toning, BGM, songs and picturization and amateur-styled (yeah, people in slum seldom speak professionally and intellectually) dialogues. Every time I saw, it grew on me more. Overall, the daring attempt by Selvaraghavan barring all cliched substances in a Tamil Movie has purely made Pudhupettai fetch this spot. Forget box office, this ahead-of-time venture is my MOVIE OF THE YEAR!