There are tried and tested templates, run-of-the-mill tales, and beaten to death stories. But very rarely do films dig out a long-buried story and bring it back, only to bury it deep again, along with our hopes of watching an entertaining commercial film. Podhuvaga Emmanasu Thangam tries till the last minute to fall into the category that we hope it does, but boy, does it fall flat. The film looks colourful, something that films like Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam and Rajini Murugan have done well in the past. After all, director Thalapathy Prabhu is a former associate of Ponram who directed those films, and he shows he’s learnt his lessons well. Soori for comedy, a half-saree draped heroine who’s makku, a wannabe bigwig who does cheap things to make sure he becomes one, and of course, Imman’s music. But unfortunately, most of these ‘sure shot’ ideas fail to work.
Udhayanidhi Stalin and Soori, just like any other hero-comedian combo from village-based Tamil films are illiterate, jobless, happy-go-lucky chaps who would do anything for the betterment of their village and its people, who ironically and quite needlessly despise the duo. Where this film is ‘unique’ is in the reason why our hero chooses to pursue the heroine. He sees that the rich and powerful Parthiepan has showered his sister’s in-laws’ village with schools, hospitals and a ration shop (the last time I checked, it’s the government that is responsible for one). In order to make sure his village, too, gets these basic amenities, Udhay decides to marry Parthiepan’s daughter—the out of place Nivetha Pethuraj.
Podhuvaga Emmanasu Thangam is a classic example of how a hero who was criticised for his stone-faced reactions, in the beginning, can evolve as an actor over time. Udhay, who is also experimenting with his looks in recent times, looks perfect in a role that feels like it was tailor-made for him. He has also come a long way from his exercise-moves-masquerading-as-dance in the ‘Vena Macha Vena’ song. He performs well even in close-up shots and makes for a very decent combo with Soori, who can be called the second hero of the film. The latter’s comical lines, most of which look improvised, provide some much-needed chuckles in many scenes. Parthiepan too has given a strong performance with the sarcastic and quirky one liners that he’s usually known for.
The trio’s performance is sort of the saving grace in a story where events happen for no reason, just to justify the spat between the hero and the villain. The director tries to make imbecilic scenes dramatic, and even Imman’s music doesn’t really put us in the mood to cheer when our antagonist fails. Speaking of the music, most of the songs break the film’s flow and aren’t really catchy either.
The predictable and weak screenplay in a wafer-thin story makes Podhuvaga Emmanasu Thangam a tiring affair. While Udhay tries to make sure those who belong to villages don’t leave them, we aren’t sure if he can do the same with the theatre audience.
MY RATING:- 2/5
PS: This review was written for The New Indian Express