Crash, bang, wallop!
Anybody who has watched at least two of all the Tamil films directed by Hari knows that they are usually a hodgepodge of racy scenes written with the primary aim of providing unfussy entertainment. Poojai comes as no shocker; in fact, quite the opposite. Even a math professor couldn’t provide you with something as formulaic in nature. The scene structure is usually as follows: a fight scene, a comedy scene, a love scene, a duet with a skimpily clad heroine, a villain scene (cue to a fight scene again). Occasionally, a family sentiment scene is inserted into this mix too. These scenes follow each other dutifully. In fact, you’d be surprised at how often you can accurately predict, say, an incoming comedy scene.
The problem with Poojai is not that it’s a commercial, formulaic film, but that it is no Saamy or Singam. The songs aren’t as memorable, and the interactions between the villain (Mukesh Tiwari) and the hero, Vasu (Vishal), don’t sputter with the tension of say, showdowns between Prakash Raj and Suriya in Singam, or Kota Srinivasa Rao and Vikram in Saamy. Also, the seeming lack of deep thought put into each scene makes you feel quite disconnected with the characters on screen and their relationships. For instance, a a love song plays right after Divya (Shruti Haasan) wipes some gravy off Vasu’s shirt.
No, really. Surely, it must take more than some gravy wiping to induce feelings of intimacy? In any case, you’re later shown that Divya hasn’t yet fallen in love with Vasu, making you question the whole purpose of the previously shown duet that has the couple dancing in each other’s arms. In another scene, when you’re shown the reason behind Vasu’s estrangement from his family, you can’t but frown at the rather flimsy nature of it. Parents usually put up with a lot more from their children than a simple, uncontested accusation of a secret hug. Vasu is also shown convincing an eloping couple to return to their homes. His arguments, despite being hardly persuasive, manage to convince the couple of their ‘folly’. The couple may be, but you’re not.
Successful Hari films, while being a lot about the brawn, are also about some brain. In Saamy, for instance, Aarusamy (Vikram) is practical enough to acccept bribes from the villain before bringing his wrath down on him. Poojai, however, is all crash, bang, wallop! It is one jeep-flying glass-shattering bone-breaking billhook-slashing fight fest.
Realistic, relatable characters are those who are occasionally vulnerable, and open to the possibility of failure. At one point in Singam, for instance, Dorasingam (Suriya) is frustrated enough to consider returning to his hometown after being rendered powerless by Mayil Vaaganam (Prakash Raj). Vasu in Poojai, however, is Thor incarnate. After a few fight scenes, you realise nobody’s strong enough to hurt him, let alone kill him. In fact, you catch yourself wondering why the villain even persists. It’s clear that he could come armed with a group of 15,000 men with sickles and guns and yet, be decimated by the fist-flailing flying phenomenon that is Vasu.
Poojai, despite not being Hari’s best, could still be successful in the B and C centres, and affirm his bankability. The writing is generally not well thought out though. It seems almost like groups of imperfect scenes were put together in the hope that they’d somehow come together to form a riveting, entertaining whole. Poojai then is a refutation of Aristotle’s adage that states that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.