Written and directed by Thalapathy Prabhu, Podhuvaga En Manasu Thangam stars Parthiban (or Parthieban, or Parthipan), Udhayanidhi Stalin, Nivetha Pethuraj, and Nivetha Pethuraj. The film feels like someone took bits of old Tamil films, and made a copy of it, without paying attention to the details that made them work.
Like a cassette that’s a copy of a copy of a copy, each generation losing a bit of originality, we have a film that has bad sound, plays slowly, and gives no satisfaction.
Ootakoothan (played by Parthiban) is snubbed by a village elder – possibly of a more dominant caste than himself. And so Ootakoothan swears revenge. Vows to drive away everybody in the village, and bring the temple and its deity under his control.
And so he manipulates, connives, schemes, and plots. He finds the villagers jobs in cities far away where they can make a better life for themselves.
Soon enough, a village of 2000 people is reduced to about 600.
One of those 600 is Ganesh (Udhayanidhi). A seemingly happy-go-lucky drifter with a noble heart. He does “good” for the village along with his sidekick Tiger Pandi (Soori).
But too often, his goodness costs the village money. So a good many of them would rather have him out of the village.
Ootakoothan and Ganesh’s paths cross, and Ootakoothan wants him out of the village – no matter the cost.
Meanwhile, Ganesh sees Ootakoothan’s daughter. Some mildly creepy interludes and stalky courtship later, they fall in love. Now, Ootakoothan has even more reason to want Ganesh out of the way. And Ganesh will need to prove himself even more, and best his rival and future father-in-law.
Thus begins the game of cat-and-mouse between them, with the usual Tamil cinema plot devices thrown in. We’ve seen elements of it in Mr. Bharath, Mappillai, and many others.
Some of the most cringe-worthy parts of Podhuvaga En Manasu Thangam are the romance sequences between Ganesh and Leela (Nivetha Pethuraj). The two never warm to their roles here, and the clichéd writing only adds to the discomfort of seeing them go through the motions of their romance.
And forces us to ask – Why do we keep going back to the same tired old situations to bring the girl and boy together? Why must the boy always pretend to not love the girl in order to get the girl to love him back?
Soori, as Tiger Pandi, has some funny moments. But he plays the sort of character he has played before, in Varuthapadatha Vaalibar Sangam, and others.
Like all sidekicks, he will ultimately have to passionately defend his alpha-male-friend-master when the chips are down. And tell the world and the village how many carats of gold his friend’s heart is made of.
In this sea of been-there-seen-that, Parthiban (or Partheiban) manages to actually make things half-way palatable. His character is consciously written as a complex person with both good and bad. A little bit more bad than good, to be sure.
His backstory, and his need for revenge, is weak and silly, and we could have easily jettisoned that to have a prankster who enjoys making poor villagers do what he wants – for sport, for entertainment.
Still, despite the script and the plots, Parthiban still puts in enough evil into Ootakoothan to make him the only solid thing in the entire story.
The most jarring part of this poorly crafted film though was the lip syncing, which was completely out of whack.
Was it an issue with the projector at the Escape theatre in Chennai where I watched the film? Did the sound recordist/mixer have an off day at work? Was it just laziness on the part of the actors.
Either way, it’s 2017. You’d expect actors, dubbing artistes, and ADR mixers to get the basics right.
The Podhuvaga En Manasu Thangam review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.