Ponmagal Vanthaal - a courtroom drama with an overdose of drama
I really wanted to hate this movie, but in the end, I couldn't. Ponmagal Vanthaal is splitting opinion in terms of reviews. For such a sensitive topic, it does fall flat in terms of coherent screenplay or logic. But, it does well in the emotional side of the spectrum and what are we, other than emotional beings. Which is why the film works.
Ponmagal vanthaal stars Jyothika in the lead role as a lawyer named Venba. Venba files a petition to reopen a case which was closed 15 years back. And not just any case, but a case about a psycho killer named Jyothi, a North Indian woman, who kidnapped and murdered young children and was shot dead by the police in an encounter. Why Venba reopens that case, and what is the story of the psycho killer forms the rest of the film.
First if all, as a courtroom drama, ponmagal vanthaal is decidedly average. Sure, some of the proceedings are very neatly filmed and the dialogues are meaty, but the main climax portion and the preceding portions in the courtroom have put the logic for a toss. So, illogical, in fact, that the accused is convicted without being any evidence being presented against him because Venba gave an impassionate speech about the victim bashing in India, which was so powerful that the whole court started crying. I am pretty sure that it doesn't happen that way. There was an interval block which had a neat twist, although it is guessable. But the climax twist sure was good. The film suffers from very poor screenplay in the second half. The sequencing of scenes did not make sense. There was a very good speech from Jyothika about sexual predators and victim shaming, but it came midway through the second half and the film kind of dragged from then on. It would have been more impactful if it was in the climax. Instead, the climax was a pretty poorly written one, apart from that aforementioned twist.
In terms of strengths, the emotional content was certainly working and it will be well received amongst the family audiences. The film has a stellar cast ranging from Bhagyaraj, R.Parthiepan, Thiagarajan, Pandiarajan, Prathap pothan and Vinothini to name a few, and they give pretty great performances. The songs worked well, but the background score wasn't up to the mark.
But, in spite of all its faults, the subject matter the film speaks, is a very important one in this time and age. Especially, in India, where we hear about rapes frequently, this film talks about the pains a rape victim has to suffer, and the incredible will it takes for them to move on in life. Even if they are willing a move on, the society doesn't let them and character Venba really does stand as a beacon of hope as strength of will. And for that message alone, this film is worth watching. But I hope the director corrects all his mistakes in the next movie, in order to give a truly complete film, instead of a half-baked one which is good in content alone.
Verdict: A must watch for the message it conveys, but decidedly average in terms of logics go.
Available in: Amazon prime video
Bingeopedia rating: 2.75/5