Cast: Dhanush, Sneha, Sonia Agarwal
Storyline: Scared of his murderous father, Kumar runs away from home only to become an underworld don.
Bottomline: Unadulterated violence!When the lyric of a song goes, `Padichcha Naayae Kitta Varaadhae,' ("You educated dog! Keep off!' ), you straightway understand who the target audience of Lakshmi Movie Makers Ltd's `Pudhupettai' (U/A) is. The title only reiterates it. Anti-heroes are dime a dozen. But here he is so utterly cold-hearted, conniving and callous that his wailing soliloquies irritate and his resurrection angers. If the youth in the lower stratum who watch the film see him as an invincible demigod and take him seriously, you dread the consequences. In projecting the power of terror and its triumph, `Pudhupettai' could send wrong signals to youngsters living in want. Kumar (Dhanush) a plus-two student from a poor background sees his mother brutally killed by his own father, a ruffian. The incident sends him scurrying from the place and sows the first seed of vendetta in him. He is drawn into a world of mafia and murder and soon `rises' to become a gang leader himself. At least his ruthless killings have a purpose and a hidden agenda. But when much to the shock of everyone he makes his henchman's sister his wife, you lose even the little respect you have for Kumar. There's more of villainy than heroism in writer-director Selvaraghavan's `hero.' Opening his second innings with brother Selva in tow, Dhanush makes an impression when he's a silent striker — when he is loud he gets over dramatic. Such a scheming don as Kumar crumbling like a pack of cards without much reason, is confusing. He's shown as handling greater challenges with ease and so the meekness doesn't jell. And the hardcore criminal who has no qualms about going to any extent to have his way, begging the Minister for a seat in the elections, when he could have easily blackmailed him, is ridiculous. Till the halfway point the story moves at a crisp pace. (Kola Bhaskar's editing is a major asset.) The rest is mindless mayhem. It is a deglamourised call girl's role for Sneha this time, with plenty of scope to perform — the actor utilises the opportunity well. Without getting melodramatic she evokes much pity. But the violence Anbu (Bala Singh) unleashes on Krishnaveni (Sneha) is scary. Sonia Agarwal comes and goes. Director Azhagamperumal's avatar as an actor is a revelation. Selva has no separate comedy track. But the effective, light-hearted dialogue (Selva and Balakumaran) in certain sequences evokes a smile.
Yuvan Shankar Raja scales great heights with his mesmerising background score in `Pudhupettai.' The Bangkok symphony orchestra has been put to exquisite use. Each number spells innovation — the young Raja has tried out a mix of the rap and the rustic. Interestingly, the audiocassette has a title for every song and the music used in the re-recording. `Neruppu Vaayinil,' that Kamal Hassan has rendered reminds you of `Kadhal Kondain' in parts, but the appeal is intact. The violin bit in `Oru Naalil' (Was the song heard in the film?) that has worthy lyric by N. Muthukumar is awesome. Music in `Pudhupettai,' is an enthralling exercise in aural excellence. Cinematographer Arvind Krishna presents a visual treat with his tones, choice of colours, (the red and green in the opening scene sets the mood for what is to follow) sepia, top angles and apt lighting. Krishna makes his presence felt in every frame. After all the hype and hoopla, Selvaraghavan dishes out a protracted bloodbath. All these years, films have believed in the dictum that the guilty will be punished. But with the slug stating, `Survival of the Fittest' and the bad man returning to glory, somehow you feel Selvaraghavan has let you down. MALATHI RANGARAJAN