Pa.Paandi, actor Dhanush's directorial debut tries to explore the agonies of old age with a refreshing narrative and smart commercial packaging.
2.5 out of 5 (Fairly Good)
| Baranidharan Sivasankaran (NOWRUNNING)
We saw it coming from Dhanush - his urge to script and direct a movie. When he began his career, he was considered as a "director's actor" before jumping into the fray with others into the 'stardumb' race. Well, that might have indeed brought out the director in him. Nevertheless, Dhanush proved his creative mettle ever since he started penning lyrics and crooning numbers that became sensational ('Kolaveri').
Direction, however, is a different cup of tea. It commands utmost discipline, a clear vision, exemplary project and team management skills and above all, taking sole responsibility for everything that happens on and off the screen while shooting a movie.
In the past, we've seen only a handful of actors successfully donning a director's hat with grace - of course, Kamal was not a surprise, but Dhanush, though doesn't falter, leaves something to desire with his directorial debut, "Pa.Paandi".
Pa.Paandi is the story of an aged Power Paandi (Raj Kiran), a retired movie stunt master who happily spends time with his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. He is lively, helpful, and has a heart of gold. Unintentionally he works himself into problems and his son (Prasanna) ends up at the receiving end more often than not. That brings in a rift between the father and son. Then, Paandi decides to live a life for himself at least for some time and sets out on a soul-searching sojourn. What he gains out of it is the rest of the story.
Though Pa Paandi doesn't imply to be a 'message movie', time and again it serves us with doses of melodrama and 'take care of your old parents' sort of gyans. Rajkiran's character was decently etched out but it was quite far from being interesting. We sort of know what is about to happen and things do not take any rapid twists or turns in this feather-light themed tale.
Though cliched, the flashback portions of Power Paandi, with Dhanush reprising the role of young and lively Paandi was some fodder for the actor and director. There was a crackling chemistry between Dhanush and Madonna, and that too within a span of 10 to 15 minutes. There was nothing special, yet the bonding, the rural milieu, and nostalgia of watching such scenes after a long time made us root for those characters.
For Dhanush, this role that is written by him for himself would have been a cakewalk and he proves that he can slot himself into any era without altering himself with odd wigs or period costumes - a mark of an all round actor.
The portions where Paandi goes on a soul-searching sojourn appeared to be very cinematic. Also, Paandi searching and contacting his first love through Facebook was a far-fetched imagination. There were scenes that suggested Paandi and his first love Poonthendral (Revathi) would be united at the end, but eventually Dhanush the debut director seemed to have his inhibitions in moving from the safe zone. So he left it loosely as a reprised relationship. However, the movie has fostered a pertinent message that is more or less ignored - even at 60 a person should live their own life and not the 'life of others'.
Music and BGM by Sean Roldan made the movie come alive at instances where the scenes appeared to be rehashed. My pick from the album would be 'Paathen' which was shot with an earthy charm. Editing by Prasanna was neat and thanks for making the movie count just over 2 hours. Cinematography by Dhanush's favorite, Velraj was tidy enough.
Dhanush, the director, hasn't come up with anything extraordinary as such stories and themes in the past have been beaten to the pulp (it also had shades of Visu's 1988 movie, "Penmani Aval Kanmani"). But, he has certainly attempted to take up a risky theme as his directorial debut and tried to make it as refreshing and interesting as possible with a lot of commercial elements and a happy ending. I would love to see a romantic thriller from Dhanush, the director, who in my humble opinion can do more justice than taking such melodramatic themes that need him to be more seasoned as a director.
Critic: Baranidharan Sivasankaran
2.5 out of 5 (Fairly Good)
WHAT THE RATINGS MEAN:
0.0 - 1.4 : Poor
1.5 - 1.7: Poor, A Few Good Parts
1.8 - 2.3: Average
2.4 - 2.9: Fairly Good
3.0 - 3.4: Good
3.5 - 5.0: Very Good