Hotshot lawyer Rajarathnam (Parthiban) is a corrupt man who has no qualms with justice being bought by those who can afford it. And yet, as Ponmagal Vandhal played on, I began to empathise with his plight of being stuck in a bizarre courtroom which begins increasingly to look like a therapy session. At one point, he hears out the other lawyer, Venba (Jyotika), and simply says, “WHAT?” For a film about a buried crime that gets unravelled after an old case is reopened, the court proceedings feel frustratingly spurious. Ironically though, one of the characters attacks how court proceedings are shown in other films. In Ponmagal Vandhal, a lawyer is permitted to go on tangential, emotional rants. A judge, who looks like a deer caught in headlights, lets out a scream of anguish. When confronted by a professional like Rajarathnam, who says that the judge summoning his client is without any basis, he channels his inner Petta Rap Nagma and screams, “Stop it!” Towards the end of the film, as Rajarathnam sits doodling something in court, I really felt for him.
Director: JJ Fredrick
Cast: Jyotika, Parthiban, Thiagarajan, K Bhagyaraj
Streaming On: Amazon Prime
None of this is to refute that the case being handled in this film is interesting, even if I saw the interval twist coming from a mile away. It’s a case about how the different departments of the system work in unison to protect the powerful. It’s about sexual abuse, xenophobia, exploitation of the judiciary… It’s serious, it’s dark, and I had to rub my eyes to make sure I was really watching a 2D Entertainment-Jyotika collaboration. On a side note, what an achievement for a 40-something-year-old woman actor to be making mainstream films centred on her.
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For the remainder of this column (and there’s a lot more left, I assure you), please visit https://www.cinemaexpress.com/reviews/tamil/2020/may/29/ponmagal-vandhal-movie-review-this-courtroom-drama-about-big-issues-has-big-issues-jyotika-jyothika-18670.html