Pa. Pandi marks a decent directorial debut for actor Dhanush. A sweet little story of a retired fight-master of films (Rajkiran), who goes to find his first love of over four decades ago, is slow and awkward to begin with, but starts to hit all the right notes in the second half to finish with a strong emotional wallop at the end.
Dhanush should be a happy man. His first outing as a writer-director succeeds more often than not and he shows maturity and fine control in handing the key sequences of the film. Sure, the script is a little weak and even a tad too convenient at places but he is well-aided by a fine central act by Rajkiran and a lovely little cameo by Revathy, who is simply dazzling and who definitely needs to be seen on the screen far more often.
The film takes its time to take off. We are introduced to now retired stunt coordinator ‘Power’ Pandi or Pandian Pazhanisami living with his son, Raghavan (Prasanna), daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. Though on the surface he is well looked after, Pandi is lonely, feels imprisoned in his life and is unable to come to terms with the fact that his son is now the provider for the family. His son, meanwhile, is busy with his career and unable to understand what his father wants in the twilight of his life. This, sadly, is the weaker, melodramatic and more cliched portion of the film. Prasanna, too, is unable to do much with a thankless and underwritten role of Raghavan. Admittedly, Dhanush’s rough edges do show up here and there are some rather clunky sequences including a film shoot involving a rather sporting Gautham Vausdev Menon. Still, these are off-set by the odd little touches like Pandi’s friendship with his wastrel of a neighbor, a youngster of today’s generation.
After a showdown with Raghavan, Pandi leaves home and on meeting a gang of fellow old bikers, decides to trace out his first love. This where the film slowly starts to come into its own. The flashback takes us to Pandi’s village, where, as a youngster (Dhanush), he fell in love with Poonthendral (Madonna Sebastian), a distant relative to his cross cousin (Vidyu Raman) and who is from Madurai. This track, though simple and predictable, has its little moments with Dhanush and Sebastian making quite the charming couple. They make you invest you that much more in the elder Pandi and now have you rooting for him – something the first half centering around him is not entirely successful in doing.
Dhanush shows surprising skill once Pandi finally meets Poonthendral (Revathy) in Hyderabad after tracing her out through Facebook. Their interaction is well-written, proceeds nicely and is beautifully performed, especially by Revathy, who is a delight to watch and gives so much weight and dignity to the film. This portion also gives the film its best moments and helps in creating some genuine emotion. It also ensures the film ends on a solid high.
The technicalities are so so. The camerawork, average at best, annoys at time with its typical use of wide angle framing while the fight sequences, though conceived in a tongue-in-cheek manner don’t quite come off as well as their intent. Sean Roldan’s music is apt and goes well with the flow of the film.
Overall, Dhanush scores well enough as a filmmaker with this film for us to wait and see what he does next in this new avatar of his with some degree of expectation.
Tamil, Drama, Color