Critic's Rating: 17/5
Friday 24 October 2003
Vikram, Surya, Laila, Sangeeta, Karnas, Simran
Bala is back with Pitamagan, another grim and gory tale to torment the conscience of his audience. Like his earlier films this one is also like a Greek tragedy full of melancholy and characters who try to rise above their lot but in vain. Pitamagan moves on characterisation than story. Unfortunately Bala?s screenplay is merely content to let his four lead actors to plod along, without caring for the story and its natural flow. Eventually it is the expert performance of the lead actors that elevate the film above the commonplace.
Opening slickly with a prologue set in a graveyard in black & white, a woman delivers a baby boy and dies leaving the child in the hands of a an old caretaker of the graveyard. The boy, Chittan (Vikram) grows up into an angst-ridden, emotionless zombie who grunts at times. However this recluse is born with super-human strength and can take an army of men single-handedly and reduce them to pulp!
After the death of his foster father he moves into the village and comes into contact with Gomathy (Sangeetha) a fiercely independent and a spitfire lady who makes a living selling ?ganja? beedies. She gets Chittan employed in the Ganja gardens of the village strongman (Telugu actor Ramarajan), but during a police raid in the ?ganja? fields Chittan is charged and the police frames him in a narcotic case.
In jail he meets Sakthivel (Surya) a conman who is a fraud selling spurious foreign goods, herbal medicines or running a mobile gambling den all for a living, which lands him in the jail. One of his victims in the con game, Manju (Laila) is responsible for sending him to jail. Sakthi treats Chittan with respect and dignity, which brings them closer and creates a deep bond between them. Once out on bail Chittan and Sakthi get closer to Gomathy and Manju. Suddenly things turns dark and disturbing as the local strongman feels that Sakthi is a thorn in his flesh and brutally murders him. The animal instinct in Chittan is aroused and he hunts down and kills the local chieftain in front of the villagers by biting his throat and suffocating him to death!
Watch out, Some of the scenes are explicitly gruesome including a close-up shot of the battered face of Surya. The sole purpose of Bala to make Pitamagan seems to give Vikram a new image. Bankably the actor willing to experiment in this new role has emerged triumphant. He is first class as Chittan, a role in which any other actor would have looked like a caricature. The character of Chittan is monotonously morose and Bala has not bothered to flesh out the protagonist?s background or adequately explain his motivations.
As Sakthi who is cool, charismatic and a cunning con-man, Surya dominates the show with effortless ease and his scenes with Laila who also brings plenty of energy to her role as Manju, is replete with breezy romantic banter. Sangeeta has a better role as the drug peddler and she is convincing and brings compassion to the role. Simran appears in a song sequence and Telugu actor Ramarajan as the villain is good and on the whole Bala has extracted first class performance from all the characters.
The music by Ilayaraja is soothing and so is the camera of Balasubramaniam that has etched the sylvian surroundings of Theni. At best a flaccid film worth a glance mainly for the performance from the lead actors. Please don?t expect another Sethu as Bala should have taken care to make the presentation more simple, enjoyable and palatable to an ordinary audience. In Pitamagan the accent is on the grisly and grotesque.
Verdict: Dark and Disturbing