‘Pulimada’ movie review: This thriller is a Joju George show all the way

The Malayalam film, directed by AK Saajan, and starring Joju George and Aishwarya Rajesh, fails to cash in on an interesting narrative

October 28, 2023 02:37 pm | Updated 02:52 pm IST

Joju George and Aishwarya Rajesh in ‘Pulimada’

Joju George and Aishwarya Rajesh in ‘Pulimada’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

AK Saajan’s Pulimada (Tiger’s Den) is a roller-coaster ride with twists and turns. However, the film falters at a few junctures, taking the sheen off an interesting narrative.

The protagonist is a policeman, Vincent Skaria, played by Joju George. The 40-year-old bachelor lives alone in his ancestral house, located on a rough hilly terrain and yearns for a life partner. His upbringing has conditioned him to be a male chauvinist and traditionalist. For instance, he refuses to have an attached bathroom in his house because his late father did not like it. Also, he wants a stay-at-home wife.

A still from ‘Pulimada’

A still from ‘Pulimada’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

His mother was mentally unwell, and Vincent fears of succumbing to a mental illness as well. He is overjoyed when his marriage gets fixed after several attempts.

But, he gets devastated when the bride elopes with her lover on their wedding day. A fuming, humiliated Vincent goes on a rampage. In an intoxicated state and still dressed in his wedding attire, he goes in search of a woman to vent his sexual frustration.

Enroute, he meets a free-spirited Mahishmati (Aishwarya Rajesh), who is stranded on the road after her vehicle breaks down. Vincent offers to give her shelter but with the ulterior motive of spending a night with her. However, once he takes her to his home, a series of strange incidents unfold.

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Meanwhile, a tiger is on the loose in the jungle, and a police search party, led by Vincent’s colleague Ambu (Chemban Vinod Jose), is searching for the tiger and a girl, presumably attacked by the animal.

As the narrative progresses, Saajan manages to establish that the tiger’s den is Vincent’s mind itself. And Joju, the brilliant actor that he is, gets into the skin of Vincent with ease, emerging as a reckless force in some scenes. It is a treat to watch his expressions change from innocence to humiliation, rage, lust, fear, and remorse. Even when he reminds us of his powerful performances in Joseph, Nayattu, and Iratta, his range and versatility cannot be ignored.

Pulimada (Malayalam)
Director: AK Saajan
Run time: 110 minutes
Cast: Joju George, Chemban Vinod Jose, Lijomol Jose, Jaffer Idukki, Johny Antony
Storyline: A cop, who longs for a life partner, goes on a rampage when his bride ditches him at the altar. An encounter with another woman changes his life altogether.

Aishwarya, on her part, keeps everyone guessing about her identity with her performance. One cannot rule out the possibility of the character being a figment of Vincent’s imagination.

Jaffer Idukki, Johny Antony, Krishnaprabha, Pauly Valsan and Lijimol Jose have small but important roles. Veteran cinematographer Venu has breathed life into the topography with his lens; the frames complement Vincent’s mindscape. The background score by Anil Johnson is effective in some scenes.

However, Saajan, a seasoned filmmaker, who also dons the role of the scenarist and editor of the film, leaves the audience perplexed with an underwhelming, strange tail-end and climax. The twists do not yield the desired impact. The hunt for the tiger gets relegated after a while. Despite these flaws, the film is a one-time watch, thanks to the milieu and the performances.

Pulimada is running in theatres.

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