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Powder Movie Review- Cinema express

Powder Movie Review: A mirthless film with hardly any redemptive qualities

Stylistically called ‘A Vijay Sri G Make Up’ for no apparent reason, Powder reeks of amateur writing and abysmal craft

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Published: 25th November 2022

It is not easy to watch a film without expectations, especially when one is watching a multitude of films across genres every single week of the year. After a while, most of these expectations, and even assumptions about the films fall into place. There are rarely any surprises, although I am very much up for them. 

Starring: Vidya Pradeep, Nikil Murukan, Vijay Sri G, Rajendran, Vaiyapuri, Aadhavan

Directed by: Vijay Sri G

The problem with a film like Powder isn't that it didn't work well enough, but that the makers decided to pull the wool over my eyes. During the promotions for the film, they labelled Powder as a grim take on ‘human cannibalism’ and honestly, I was piqued to see how it tackled the grotesque subject. It felt like a brave attempt at showcasing a morbid idea. It isn't the lack of finesse or nuance in Powder that is bothersome, it is the complete absence of campy, cheesy fun that such films are known for. Most importantly, Powder is not at all about cannibalism, and this macabre theme was just used as a means to lure an unsuspecting audience. If Vignesh Shivan was accused of queer-baiting in his segment Love Panna Uttranum from Paava Kadhaigal, it is safe to say Vijay Sri G cannibal-baited me with Powder

We could move past the cannibal-baiting if the film had redemptive qualities on other fronts. Alas! The film opens at midnight and throws you into the middle of multiple narratives, which lends a sense of urgency and unrest early on. Samy (Vaiyyapuri) has murdered the man who cheated his daughter on the pretext of marriage; a bunch of youngsters have murdered a local politician, butchered him, and are transporting his remains in tea cans; a doctor (Vidya Pradeep) is driving away hours before her wedding to settle an unfinished business; Parattai (Vijay Sri G) an out of work make-up man gets his hands dirty to earn some money; and there’s a burglar duo, whose annoying existence is masked as comic relief. And then there’s a cop, Raghavan NM (Nikil Murugan) who gets a heroic feet-first, slow-mo intro, and tries hard to bind these threads together in this inorganic screenplay. 

While Powder gives us the belief that there's a lot happening, it is all a smokescreen. The editing keeps throwing us from one location to the other with a jarring effect. Also, a lot of scenes just don't add up at all. Why does a woman, who is a doctor, shoot an abuser (played by an actor who was simply out of his depths), and follow it up with the line, “As a doctor, I cannot stand still while a life passes away.” I felt like Prakash Raj looking at Vikram’s split personality in the climax of Anniyan

For a film that tries to discuss grim concepts—like online abuse, animalistic nature in humans, and of course, cannibalism—it is filled with tasteless and infuriating attempts at humour. Take, for instance, the scenes featuring Aadhavan and a friend. We see Aadhavan urinate on his friend’s face. Then, when they break into a house, they have a peek at a couple having sex, and decide that it is the right time to go to the restroom to do you-know-what! A while later they tie the woman up and ask for sexual favours. This is supposed to be the representation of a harrowing experience for the women. However, the makers treat it like a comedy scene. It's definitely not funny because of two reasons: one, it is not a funny situation, and two, it will never be a funny situation. Why alternate sermons about women empowerment with such juvenile and offensive attempts at comedy?  

Honestly, for all its promotions, Powder could have been a no-holds-barred portrayal of unflinching gore and sensational violence. However, the end result of Powder only manages to leave us with a poor aftertaste, especially with the film's ridiculous attempt at shocking the viewer coming in lieu of engaging and palatable cinema.

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