Pagalariyaan Movie Review: A self-aggrandising film that refuses to see the proverbial dawn

Pagalariyaan Movie Review: A self-aggrandising film that refuses to see the proverbial dawn

The film has moments and elements with promise that, unfortunately, do not come together well
Pagalariyaan(1.5 / 5)

Some films often start on an underwhelming note but build up to something better, whereas others leave you wishing you were right back at the beginning. Director Murugan's Pagalariyaan, unfortunately, falls into the latter category.

The film begins with two gangs waiting for the opportune time to get even against each other, and Wolf (Vetri), who plans to elope with his lover Akshara (Akshaya Kandamuthan), comes in their way (or so we think). Whether he manages to make it through this situation is what the film is about.

The film's main flaw is its self-importance, an aspect that applies to the characterisation as well. Every scene feels like it is supposed to be a great moment, but none of it lands. Further, the characters are paper-thin. We never learn enough about them to care if they live or die. This problem starts right from the beginning: What is it that these gangs are frustrated about the very existence of each other? We forgive it when the narration shifts to the elopement episode. Other than telling us that Wolf is in love with this girl, we are neither privy to why the female lead is so guilelessly in love with the gangster, nor are we given reasons for him killing his own father or for his change of heart. That too gets forgiven when we are told that Wolf has an ulterior motive behind his actions (no prizes for guessing) which too is left unexplored. Pagalariyaan never passes on the 'Nalla Rowdy' syndrome of Tamil cinema to the audience.

Cast: Vetri, Akshaya Kandamuthan, Chaplin Balu, Murugan, Sai Dheena

Director: Murugan

The film’s narration is all over the place, like someone who rushes for the second cone without even touching the first one during a football cone drill. The screenplay takes you to one place before calling through to the other. Just because a film is short of two hours does not mean that it cannot be good. In fact, Pagalariyaan's runtime is not even its biggest problem.

The film has moments and elements with promise that, unfortunately, do not come together well. The writer and director could have made something big out of the identity confusion and Wolf's grey aspect. It ends up being a big miss among the barrage of small misses.

There is nothing to cheer about in terms of performances, either. When the story is shockingly shallow, it does not shock as much when the actors are so wooden. Even Sai Deena, who plays a funny cop with a comedy track of his own, has a backstory as to why he behaves eccentrically. The comedy track also cannot be fully appreciated given the film's serious backdrop. But beyond their names, nothing about the lead roles is known. The film relies on minimal exposition to explain away its elements instead of letting the story unfold naturally. It does not get any help from the technical team, either. Music is as generic as it gets. With the scenes set on a maximum of three or four streets at night, we cannot blame the uninspiring camera work.

Pagalariyaan has an interesting framework similar to Karthi-Lingusamy's Paiyaa, where two flee from their respective nemeses together. The film falls short of creating a compelling tale of lovers surviving against opposition and ends up being a test for the audience to survive through the run time.

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