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'Ponmagal Vandhal' Review: Metoo, Not This Way!

'Ponmagal Vandhal' Review: Metoo, Not This Way!

Movie: Ponmagal Vandhal (Tamil)
Rating: 2.5/5
2D Entertainment
Cast: Jyothika, Parthiban, K.Bhagyaraj, Thiagarajan, Prathap Pothan etc.
Music: Govind Vasantha
Editing: Ruben
Cinematography: Ramji
Producers: Suriya, Jyothika
Stoy, screenplay, Direction: JJ Fredrick
Release Date: May 29, 2020
Platform: Amazon Prime

When all the theaters are closed, Cinema is exploring the new platforms to reach the audience. Today, a notable Tamil film released Over The Top platform.

'Ponmaga Vandhal' starring Jyothika, produced by Suriya, released on Amazon Prime. 

The movie directed by JJ Fredrick deals with the burning issue of rapes on girls. The movie carries a strong and relevant message that parents teach girls to be safe but they should also teach their sons to respect the girls.

The Intention is good, message is necessary. But the way he chosen to tell the story, the way he narrated it will receive mixed reactions. This kind of story should be presented in a realistic way to touch the hearts of the audience. 

The audience will get immediate emotional connect when the characters, dialogues, scenes, incidents are realistic. The appreciation is high for a realistic approach in OTT platforms. But the director Fredrick seems to have made the film keeping the B,C center single screen audience in mind.

The arguments of defense, prosecution lawyers are in a competitive way and achieving domination over one another occupies most of the time.

The audience will clearly have an idea, how the story is moving forward, what is going to happen next.  One can easily predict the things which are secrets, twists.  

Going into the story, a young lawyer Venba(Jyothika) files a peitition to reopen the case of Jyothi(Vidya Pradeep) who was branded as a psycho killer and lost her life in police encunter.  Famous criminal lawyer Rajarathinam(Parthiban) enters the scene to argue the case against Venba. What is the story of Jyothi? Why was she branded as a psycho? Why Venba took the case seriously?

The first half mostly covers courtroom arguments. The audience will get the answers in the second half to the questions like what actually happened, who was at the receiving end etc.  When all the doors closed to win legally, Venba reveals a bitter truth to the world. Will the victim get justice in the court who doesn't have a proof rather than just tears?

It is important to narrate this kind of cruel but common story in a hard-hitting manner without any theatrics. The pain of the characters will have a connection with the audience if they are shown realistically.  But the director has chosen 'drama' to narrate his emotion.

Similarly, there is no need to pan the camera on the girls with bloodstains to show the incident in a detailed way. These scenes will spoil our mood rather than moving our hearts. 

We will understand pretty clearly in the openings scenes that it is not Fredrick's style to show the scenes in a sensible way. When they are digging out dead bodies of girls, a lady vomits on the camera that was shooting the episode. These things highlight the drama but dilute the main issue.

But what holds the attention of the audiences is the performance of Jyothika.  There are several scenes that showcase the brilliant acting of Jyothika. She has excelled in emoting feelings of her character.

Parthiban, Bhagyaraj did justice to their roles but their characters are overdramatized. Prathap Pothan who played the role of Judge is passive most of the time but he has a powerful scene. 

Thiagarajan impressed the audience in the role who gets angry if the attention and respect he is getting is decreased.

Cinematographers use a washed-out color palette, dark lighting for this kind of stories. But the lighting theme of this film appears to be 10-15-year-old style, probably it may be the director's choice.

There is no smooth transition from one scene to the next, its an issue with the editing. It may be because of the constraints they faced due to the lockdown restrictions. The background score is good in emotional scenes. Suriya didn't compromise on production values. 

Director Fredrick's thoughts to present the women's issues, to bring a change in men are commendable but he should he presented them in a heart-touching manner. Because the sensibilities may not impress everybody. He has given cinematic ending in the climax though there is not enough stuff in the argument to get justice.  

In the name of 'Viewer's Discretion' warning, censorship happens in social media for the videos that shake our minds. This film will show some horrible scenes without such warnings. 

Cinema is a visual media but the filmmakers should remember that it is better to leave it to the 'imagination' of the audience. If they think that these scenes are necessary to move the audience emotionally, we can say that it is the director's failure. 

This film gives a representation of several women who came forward with their 'MeToo' stories. The issue is debatable, it should be discussed, a solution should be found but all those things need a better film.

Rather than haunting us, inspiring us to think about the solutions, this film makes us search for a pleasant scene to get some peace of mind.

Bottomline: Not realistic

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