Poikkal Kuthirai Movie Review: Prabhudheva excels in this wannabe brainy thriller
This Santhosh P Jeyakumar film suffers from pointless twists
Santhosh P Jeyakumar, known for helming adult comedies like Hara Hara Mahadevaki (2017,) Iruttu Araiyil Murattu Kuththu (2018), and Irandam Kuththu (2020), has attempted his first serious subject with Poikkal Kuthirai. Unlike his previous films, the director has shown more attention to sketching the lead character and his emotional baggage. With a superb Prabhudheva shouldering things, it is essentially the story of how far a father will go to save his daughter's life. Parallelly, there's also an antithesis of how a father should not be.
Director: Santhosh P Jeyakumar
Cast: Prabhudheva, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, John Kokken, Jagan
The film opens with Prabhudheva's Kathiravan, an amputee, getting beaten by a bunch of goons. Before we could even think of 'why', we are taken to a random intro song setting. Again, why? Well, since it's Prabhudheva, the makers would have probably thought he must dance, even minus a limb. The song adds no value to the film apart from being just another exercise to showcase his incredible ability to dance, this time with one leg.
As the narrative goes forward, we learn that Kathiravan lost his leg in a road accident, which also killed his wife. His whole life now revolves around his daughter. Most of the initial portions are devoted to establishing their deep bond and the father's willingness to go to any extent for her happiness. In between, there is a scene where he fights ruffians in a bus who bad touch a girl child. Though it is appreciable that the makers choose to address such messages, it would have been better if it was done organically and had something to do with the plot.
The narrative reaches its conflict when Kathiravan's daughter is diagnosed with a serious medical condition, the treatment for which would cost 70 lakhs. Kathiravan, who runs a humble pest control agency, is pushed against the wall. It is now that his father (Prakash Raj), who is in jail, feeds him with the idea of kidnapping a girl child for ransom. Though Kathiravan initially refuses, his desperation gets the better of him. This is where the film picks up pace. We see Kathiravan along with his friend (Jagan) devise a proper plan for kidnapping, only to get caught halfway. However, the girl still goes missing. It is an intriguing interval block, and the film promises a lot. But the writing falters in an attempt to be a brainy thriller by introducing too many twists and turns. It's one of those films where the villain can be guessed from his intro shot but it still takes umpteen twists to finally land there. When the moment finally arrives, it just falls flat.
Even while he is limping for most parts of the film, it is Prabhudheva who carries Poikkal Kuthirai efficiently. It is yet another testament to the fact that if offered a challenging role, Prabhudheva has the potential to ace it. Here, the actor is excellent as the doting father who's distraught by his daughter's health condition. His voice modulation every time he gets emotional is brilliant and helps in conveying the character's pain effectively. The film also has a lot of stunts, and the actor lives up to the challenge of pulling them off with a single leg.
Thanks to Prabhudheva's one-man show, the film hardly has space for other actors. As the head of a business empire, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar repeats the same brooding act that she's now known for. Raiza Wilson, who was publicised as the other female lead, strangely has just two-three dialogues in the whole film. To be honest, a smartwatch has more to do in the film than her character.
An intriguing thing about Poikkal Kuthirai is its Kaithi-like angle. Like Dilli, Kathiravan doesn't get a proper backstory either. He operates his way through the trail like a pro and has access to state-of-the-art gadgets like bugs. He hides from an IPS officer. His prisoner father has the aura of an ageing gangster. There are a lot of unanswered questions, and the film definitely has the potential for a sequel/prequel. It might even be a far superior piece of work if the makers opt for better writing choices and the rough edges in the making are polished better.