Podhu Nalan Karudhi Review: A disjointed and uninteresting public interest message

The film had all the trappings of a proper thriller, but in spite of decent performances, the inconsistent writing lets it down
Rating:(1.5 / 5)

Two loan sharks. Two gangs of henchmen. Three heroes and as many heroines. And thankfully, not many songs. Podhu Nalan Karudhi has all the trappings of a proper thriller, if only the writing was a lot more consistent, and the scenes complemented the performances.

Director: Zion
Cast: Karunakaran, Yog Japee, Santosh Prathap, Anu Sithara

Uthiram and Babu Jain are cut-throat loan sharks, who finance the entire city. Their henchmen manage to not kill each other by keeping to their respective turfs. While both make an impact on the storyline, Uthiram (Yog Japee) gets the more fleshed out character. He has trust issues, doesn't believe in the institution of marriage, bumps off any prospective aspirants to his throne, and values loyalty but isn't bound by it. He considers Hitler and Idi Amin as his role models, and keeps watching lions preying on other animals on Nat Geo. Come to think of it, Yog Japee gets a role with better definition than all the rest of the cast put together.

These others include Santhosh Prathap as Napoleon, a trusted henchman of Uthiram, who sacrifices his love for loyalty; Thangamagan-fame Adith Arun as Vasan, in so inconsequential a role, that it mades you wonder about the reasoning behind actors signing certain films; and Karunakaran in a serious role that requires him to either look angry or lost. Karunakaran sort of manages to walk the tight rope as a frustrated man searching for his elder brother, who has been missing for the past two years. Considering this film is about loan sharks, the reason behind his dissapearance isn't exactly unfathomable, but director Zion does manage to pull off a surprisingly effective twist, which is probably the only well-written portion of this film.

When the heroes themselves are one-note, you can imagine the plight of the leading ladies. The first time we meet Leesha, who plays Santhosh's love interest, she is handing him her marriage invitation card and in return, asks him to kiss her like only he can. A promising start, but she makes up for it by vanishing soon after. Subhiksha, meanwhile, plays Adith's love interest who doesn't believe in the institution of marriage, and naturally she is painted as a you-know-what. She does get a 'redemption' scene though when an unlikely ally steps up for her choices. Anu Sithara has it worst of the three; she plays Karunakaran's love interest  — the stereotypical nagging girlfriend, who doesn't understand the problems of the hero.

Podhu Nalan Karudhi is about how the lives of these three couples, or rather of these three heroes, get affected by the turf wars between Uthiram and Babu Jain.

The set-up is interesting, no doubt, but the making is uninspired. The only way you can be invested in the lives of these youngsters caught in the vicious world of 'kandhu vatti' is if the proceedings are compelling. But the editing techniques employed, which might give the illusion of a racy screenplay, is actually distracting. Why not let the actors finish uttering the last syllable of their dialogue? Why not linger on the reaction shots without cutting to a different scene before the actor can finish blinking or complete a smile?

The overly loud background score is another offender. There is this one scene where three henchmen have congregated on a bridge. I think they were discussing about their lives, but I'm not sure since the music was too loud for me to hear the conversation. To make things worse, there are two flashbacks to show us how the three have reached this scene. These flashbacks are about incidents that happened "2 days before" and "1 day before", and for the life of me, I couldn't understand why we couldn't have had those two scenes in chronological order and then finally reach the bridge congregation. Why cutaway from the present, to just two days into the past, especially since it doesn't add anything to your narrative?

Given the film begins with the image of a dead kid, and a voiceover that has a disclaimer about the evils of 'kandhu vatti', and has dialogues like, "Sondha graamathulerndhu nagarathukku vara ovvoruthanum agadhi dhaan," you might expect Podhu Nalan Karudhi to actually stay true to its title, and dole out lessons in the interest of the public. However, after a series of disjointed, incoherent scenes, all you are left with is a product which I'm afraid will be of very little interest to the public.

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