Pothanur Thabal Nilayam Tamil Movie
"Podanur Thabal Nilayam" (Podanur Post Office) is a direct-to-OTT Tamil feature film, directed by debutant actor and director Praveen. It streams on the Aha OTT platform. The movie had barely any promotions. So, I watched it with minimal expectations. There was hardly anyone in the cast that one could recognize. Almost the entire cast was fresh but authentic. With an indie vibe and a 1990 milieu, this heist thriller has checked a lot of the right boxes. Let's see how.
The movie opens up with a bunch of dacoits looting a house with a couple beaten and tied up to the chair. They kill the couple and the scene closes. Then, we are given a glimpse of the forgotten 90s era of a forgotten place that served as the primary means to communicate in those days - the post office. So, it's a post office that belongs to the city of Podanur, near Coimbatore. We get a vibe of that place, with the laid-back lives of the people surrounding it. Their small-town aspirations, ego, happiness, and sorrow were unwound with the help of certain stretches that ring in nostalgia.
Then, we get a glimpse of postmaster Venkataraman (Jagan Krish), his family consisting of his wife, daughter, and son. His son, who is the protagonist, wants to start his software business, while his daughter wants to pursue medicine. We get a glimpse of what it meant to have a conversation about computers in those days. Now, coming to the business end of things - Venkataraman loses the post office deposit money. His son takes the responsibility to save his dad's face by recovering the money.
The movie wins our recognition with its milieu and the quaint charm that it brings about so effortlessly! The art department and the entire crew have to be lauded for their efforts. The way people converse, the inherent laid-back attitude, and the forgotten old-world charm were things that we could lap up at any point in time. On top of it, there was a deceptive heist plot that held a lot of potential but went bust after a point.
The major weakness of this movie is the protagonist. Though he looked the part for the role, his expressions were very limited and constantly reminded me of the "American grooms" who have graced the screen in the past. Even the likes of Karthik Kumar could have been a better fit. Also, some tame and timid laughable moments could have been developed in a much better way.
Anjali Rao, who plays the female lead was another good selection as she fitted the role of a middle-class girl from a small town perfectly. Venkat Sundar, whom we've seen in a few Tamil movies in the past has done an average job as he was responsible for the comic relief. Most of the cast seem to belong to the "Kongu" soil, and that has helped them to carry the nativity that added to the authenticity.
The songs sounded organic and had a period feel to them. Especially, the one where the story's discourse was unwound with its milieu had a special vibe to it. Good job Tenma, the music director. Praveen, who has donned the editor's hat too, has done a neat job with the cuts being precise. At no point, there was a sag in the narrative. The colors and the vibe of that era were captured effectively by cinematographer Sukumaran Sundar.
The twist in the climax was good and has laid the necessary hooks for the sequel that has been assured by the makers. The movie has certainly punched above its weight, thanks to the indie vibe that it has brought along. On that count, a special bouquet of roses to debutant actor and director Praveen and team!