Puli is one of the forgettable movie-watching experiences to emerge from a top star like Vijay. It's not that Vijay has made fail-proof career choices. But there is no denying the fact that he has been choosing moderate to excellent scripts of late with astute care and attention. What went wrong in Puli could possibly be Vijay's thirst to satisfy his family audiences and kids, who form a major chunk of his pioneering fandom.
The first half of Puli is snail-paced and there is no story or character development in the first one hour of the film. In fact, Sridevi, the most anticipated character in the film after Vijay, only makes her first appearance in the second half. The first half thrives on comedy from Robo Shankar, Vidyu Raman and Imman Annachi, who offer middling fun occasionally. However, it is the reliably excellent Thambi Ramaiah, who delivers with his wisecracks.
Prabhu finds Marudheeran (Vijay) by the river stream as an infant and brings him up as his own son. The initial scenes of Puli show us how ruthless and blood-thirsty are the warriors from Vedalam clan. They even go to the extent of slitting a neck of a girl kid, who insults one of her warriors. It is during these tumultuous times, Aadukalam Naren, sends his daughter - Pavala Malli (Shruti Haasan) to the neighboring village to finish her studies. We pass few years by. Now, a grown up Marudheeran has fallen head over heels in love with Pavala Malli, a grown up petite beauty.
When Vedalams kidnap Pavala Malli for their Queen's sacrificial offering to satiate her hopes of seeking immortality, Marudheeran takes the charge to rescue her love from the authoritative queen Yavana Rani (Sridevi). He goes to their kingdom in the disguise of a Vedalam to gain the goodwill of the Queen and her tyrannous commander Jalada Rangan (Sudeep), who spews venom in his eyes. How Marudheeran saves Pavala Malli forms the rest of the story.
Vijay and Shruti Hassan are good in their respective roles. Sridevi is a miscast as the queen. Sudeep emotes superbly as the commander which demands quite a lot of underplay with style and substance. Rest of the cast are okay.
Chimbudevan has failed to focus on the fantasy elements and screenplay in the hope that an ensemble cast featuring A-list actors would do the rest. Chimbudevan is usually known for coming up with intriguing concepts in his films but Puli has none of them. The giant animals, troll and talking birds never provoke any curiosity in the minds of viewers.
Overall, Puli is a mundane fantasy thriller which never manages to captivate the attention of audiences.
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