Parattai Engira Azhagu Sundaram
Azhagu Sundaram(Dhanush) and his mother Meenakshi(Archana), who live in Monanjipatti village, think the world of each other. When Azhagu's father(Livingston) dies, Azhagu can't bear to see his mother as a widow and takes off to Chennai to earn money. Not hearing from him for a while, Meenakshi goes to Chennai in search of him, armed with just a photo. A journalism student Shruti(Meera Jasmine) takes pity on her, puts her up in her own place and helps her in her search for Azhagu. They both don't realize that the dreaded rowdy Parattai, who is in jail for killing another feared rowdy and who Shruti is trying to interview, is actually Azhagu.
The scenes with Dhanush and Archana in the village are designed to illustrate the love and affection that exists between mother and son. But it doesn't work and the reasons are twofold. One (and this is something most Tamil movies do), everything is exaggerated. As the two dance together and goof around, it seems cinematic and real emotions are never conveyed(there is a scene in a flashback much later, which shows Archana saying goodbye to her son as he leaves for school. It works better than the entire segment in the village in this respect). Two, Dhanush simply abandons his mother. His intentions may be good but the fact remains that he leaves Archana, who has just been widowed and has no other children to take care of her, alone and leaves for Chennai without even telling her. All his words about loving his mother and his desperate search for her in the later part of the movie don't help us forget this act.
Since Kaadhal Koattai, we've had several movies (Jay Jay and Enakku 20 Unakku 18, to name a couple of high-profile ones) where the hero and heroine looked for each other without much information about the other. PEAS does the same but with a son and mother instead! So we have familiar scenes like the two visiting the same place within a few seconds of each other, turning away at the last minute when in the same locations, etc. Suresh Krissna uses numerous plot devices to keep the two in the state of "so near and yet so far" and after the first couple of times, our irritation increases exponentially with each new one.
Apart from the mother sentiment, the other major aspect of the film is violence as Dhanush is forced to unwillingly continue his life as a rowdy for self-preservation. As in most movies, an aruvaal is his weapon of choice. Though blood flows freely and the body count is high, the fight sequences lack punch. They are routine and lack energy as Dhanush hacks his way through faceless rowdies.
Tamil cinema and sentiments are inseparable. We've had movies that used sentiments to touch us and we've had movies where the sentiments had little or no impact. PEAS is a movie where the sentiments are almost distasteful. The plot devices used to keep Dhanush and Archara apart, that were merely irritating before, get downright tasteless after a particular plot development. Suresh Krissna tries very hard to attack our tear ducts but his manipulation is so obvious that it ends up having the opposite effect. And after the overload of sentiments, it is ironic that the film ends on an (unintentional) cheery note since the comment by a rowdy who has come to kill Dhanush is so silly and out-of-place that it makes us laugh out loud.
The Parattai in the movie name had led me to think that Dhanush was all set to exploit his association with Rajni overtly. But he doesn't. "Idhu Eppidi Irukku?", Parattai's trademark dialog from 16 Vayadhinile is actually uttered by 'Kaadhal' Dhandapani rather than Dhanush and references to Rajni are limited to his posters on the walls and a song from Chandramukhi playing on the radio. But they do thank 'Friend, Well-Wisher and Guide Superstar Rajnikanth' in the opening credits.
Dhanush actually looks thinner that his usual self and he doesn't suit the role of the rowdy. He should stick to playing light-hearted roles like he did in Thiruvilaiyaadal Aarambam. Meera Jasmine, on the other hand, looks real fat. There are a few scenes where the actress in her peeks out(her reaction when Archana touches her on the way back from college is just so natural) but for the most part, she tries to be cute and funny and ends up overacting. Archana too overacts whenever she is supposed to be happy and show affection to her son. But she is convincing once she is in the city, clinging onto the hope that she will see her son soon. We've seen Santhanam in only a few films but his style is already getting repetitive and the fact that he doesn't get any funny bits doesn't help.
The movie's end credits roll with a song in the background and one of the lines in the song goes Thangaadha sogam idhu.... That was exactly what I was saying about the film as I walked out of the theater...