A vague experience..
| Rohit Ramachandran
Poraali was my most anticipated movie of the year. I've been an admirer of the Sasikumar-Samuthirakani duo's work right from their breakthrough, Subramaniapuram. Naadodigal was a very good follow-up. What made me want to see Porali so much was the experience of being blown away by the highly underappreciated Easan. The trailer of Porali was great. Cinematographer S.R.Kathiir's artistic touch reinforced by Sundar C Babu's theme music and Sasikumar's eminent self-righteousness sold this as a scathing attack on... well, something. The trailers of the duo's films have always been free of dialogue. You just see events unfold. It only makes the movie more inviting.
When most of the scenes of the trailer and the theme music are used up within the first fifteen minutes, you begin to doubt the trailer's intentions. And you realize that is not just the misleading trailer that bothers you but that it's the intentions of two brutally honest film-makers. This is not epic. This is not serious. This is not much of a battle either. This is a comedy. A slap-stick comedy followed by an obscure plot. Silly gags such as getting whacked in the groin and Sasikumar almost kissing an old lady summon a few chuckles. Come to think of it, you laugh only because you think this is a serious film. None of the jokes are original or smart. The characters are just a random bunch of people. They have no identity and differ from each other only by their looks. No one digs deep, be it in front of the camera or behind. Sasikumar, here, is the cool guy who keeps everything under control and takes care of everyone else's problems. It is a pity though that he had to wipe sputum off the mouth of his friend to establish the character's earthiness. Relationships shared between the characters are, for want of a better word, fake. Poraali is completely absent of the verisimilitude seen in their previous films. The opening dance sets the tone for the film, that this movie is set in a small world with insignificant, uninteresting people who do things that you might find funny.
When the movie begins to take itself seriously, it does so with distinctly melodramatic tracks and speeches about living life, all of which are pitched at the audience. Sasikumar's feelings for the Sri Lankan government are also brought to light when he expresses distaste for Ceylon paratha. Porali talks the talk; when time comes for the walk it escapes into pointless violence. At the film's core is a misguided sense of idealism. What the film is trying to say is- Problems will come. They always will. You have to stay back and fight even if the probability of winning is null. It's better to die a warrior than live as an escapist. Sasikumar seemed more convinced at the beginning when he said "Be content with the life you have."
The movie is not a sum of its parts. The skewed screenplay has a disconnected structure and most scenes are completely out of place. Sundar C Babu's music is of little use to the film. 'Yaar Ivan' and 'Shambo Shiva Shambo' bear a striking resemblance to each other. The theme music, however, might just be the best I've heard this year. Sadly, it's used excessively in a film with no theme. They were probably thinking: "Okay, we have something good. Now let's make the most of it. We've got to keep the audience glued to their seat." Sasikumar flaunts his acting prowess by getting his bloodshot eyes to tear slowly and so does everyone else whenever the movie attempts to win your heart. Porali pales in comparison to Samudhirakani's earlier venture, Naadodigal. This is just masala. Both filmmakers have dumbed themselves down to the level of the average audience. Why? My guess is, to show prospective producers that they can tend to the wants of the common man too- the kind who has no association with meaningful cinema. All I can do now is hope that it was a bad dream and considering how vague the experience was, it very well might have been.
PS: The rise in petrol prices is the only real depiction of anything in the film.
Critic: Rohit Ramachandran
2 out of 5 (Okay)
WHAT THE RATINGS MEAN:
0.0 - 1.4 : Poor
1.5 - 1.7: Poor, A Few Good Parts
1.8 - 2.3: Okay
2.4 - 2.9: Fairly Good
3.0 - 3.4: Good
3.5 - 5.0: Very Good