Pongmagal Vandhal: A watchable courtroom drama

Pongmagal Vandhal

Source: SIFY


Critic's Rating: 3/5

Friday 29 May 2020

Movie Title

Pongmagal Vandhal: A watchable courtroom drama


JJ Fredrick

Star Cast

Jyotika, Bhagyaraj, Parthiepan, Prathap Pothen, Vinothini

Jyotika's courtroom drama Pongmagal Vandhal, now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, and directed by debutant JJ Fredrick is watchable for the relevant message about child abuse and the powerhouse performance of the actress. There are many logical loopholes and cinematic liberties, yet the film manages to grab our attention as the main plot revolves around the mystery behind the encounter of the alleged psycho killer Jyothi along with the twists and turns.

The film begins with the video footage of a misty locale of Ooty, and  we hear two gunshots and a tensed conversation between two young boys. The next day the TV news reports say that a serial killer named "Psycho Jyothi" had abducted and murdered multiple children. When two young boys tried to stop her from abducting a child, she kills them too. Cops nab her in Tiruppur and eventually murders her in an encounter operation.  

Fifteen years later, Petition Pethuraj (Bhagyaraj) who is known for filing petitions against the lot of petty scams in Ooty moves the court to reopen Jyoti's case. Interestingly, Pethuraj's daughter Venba (Jyotika) represents him in the court and it's her first case. The parents of the victims and people in the town are shocked to know that someone has reopened the case to prove that Jyothi (who they all hate) is innocent.  

But more than the parents, a big shot businessman and good samaritan Varadharajan (Thiagarajan) is shocked and tensed to know that the buried case has come to the limelight once again.

Fredrick's treatment is quite similar to the classic courtroom dramas and murder mysteries we have seen in the past but the execution gets some technical updates like the scene where Parthiepan(Rajarathinam, Jyotika's opposition lawyer) is taken back to the crime scene which happened 15 years back!  

Ponmagal Vandhal's biggest strength is Jyotika, and the actress shines confidently with her ability to pass on the pain and sorrow to the audiences. Though Tamil is not her mother tongue, Jyotika has delivered lengthy lines with sheer perfection. Her emotional performance in climax scenes is outstanding.  

The intro scene ( riding a bike) and climax argument with Thiagarajan gives her the "mass moments" as she calls him 'da' to kindle his anger and provoke him in the court. Though the presentation and style of filmmaking is predictable, the underlying emotional angle makes us root for the proceedings.

Parthiepan is also quite convincing as a criminal lawyer who has a huge success rate in saving real criminals from potential arrests. His wordplay and chilled out attitude sync in with his character. But the miscast is Thiagarajan who fails to elevate his powerful character. Whenever, Thiagarajan loses his temper, it doesn't evoke any tension, the actor looks feeble and cannot add any weightage to his character.

We wonder if Vinothini or Pandiarajan's presence in the film was needed and Prathap Pothen's character is not well-written. Pothen gets the upright Judge image first and then he agrees to take bribe for her daughter's marriage which doesn't add any twist in the climax. The light-hearted moments in the premises of the court falls flat including the tea shop scenes. Some of the arguments in the court also look outdated, especially after seeing modern age courtroom dramas like Nerkonda Paarvai (Pink) and Manithan (Jolly LLB).

Technically, Ramji's cinematography rightly picturizes the intense mood of the film and some of the scenes shot in the scenic Ooty locale look aesthetic on screen.But the set designs could have been better executed. Overall, Ponmagal Vandhal has its own share of positives and negatives but the intention of the filmmaker and the entire team is laudable.

Pongmagal Vandhal: watchable courtroom drama 

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