Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Pollaadhavan seems like an unlikely combination of Thirudaa Thirudi and Pudhuppettai but manages to make it work. A familiar story of a youth unwittingly pulled into a life of violence, the film takes a serious approach to the theme and ends up as a fast-paced thriller with a surprisingly soft heart.

Prabhu(Dhanush) has still not found a job three years after finishing college. But going to work is pretty low on his list of priorities with the top one being getting a new motorcycle and the second one being catching the eye of Hema(Divya). Fed up with his insults and comments, Prabhu's father(Murali) gives him a lumpsum of money and washes his hands off him. Prabhu's first act is get the bike of his dreams but the bike does help him get a job and his girl. So when it is stolen, he is heartbroken and will stop at nothing to get it back. That makes him cross paths with the local rowdy Selvam(Kishore) and his brother Ravi(Daniel Balaji).

The family of a good-for-nothing son, the stern father, the sympathetic mother and the younger sister isn't really new in Tamil cinema. But the scenario has usually been used for humor(in movies like 7/G Rainbow Colony or Adhu Oru Kanaakkaalam) with the son, with his wisecracks and put-downs, being the one we were supposed to side with. But a touch more starkness and realism is brought in here and creates a very believable family with very believable problems. The dialogs, whether sharp as in the father's lament about his son's continuing irresponsibility or humorous as in the sister's offhand comment when asked to leave the room before a particularly big argument, are very natural. While Dhanush's acts and comments make us smile, we do see and appreciate his father's position too.

By giving us the stories of Dhanush and Daniel in parallel, the movie manages to bring some difference to a cliched story. So though the film has a familiar story of Dhanush being gradually drawn into a world of violence, the techniques(like the dual narration and the couple of instances where they morph into one another) make it seem like it is the story of two angry, young men destined to collide. The two aren't really similar and the movie doesn't try overreach itself by suggesting they are two sides of the same coin or something like that. So the techniques are just gimmicks. But they work and the movie seems more fast-paced and fresh as a result of them.

In movies like this, villains are usually little more than pawns waiting to be decimated by the hero. But the bad guys too have personalities here and that makes the encounters more interesting. Selvam is a particularly interesting character. He is cruel and brutal but has a family and looks out for his brother. More importantly, he displays a level-headedness that is usually absent in our villains. Daniel plays a more regular villain - hot-headed and egoistic - but things would have been a lot more interesting if Dhanush had to go up against only Selvam.

The movie presents a rather harrowing side of Chennai in a no-frills manner. It uses Dhanush's attempts to recover his bike as a way of showing us some activities and places that are rarely seen. The guided tour that takes Dhanush - and us - through the steps a stolen bike goes through is particularly compelling. It is probably more effective than the scenes of violence(there are quite a few of those) simply because it seems more real and down-to-earth.

After this, it is almost disappointing when the movie descends to a one-on-one between Dhanush and Daniel. From the situation that makes Dhanush take on Daniel to the latter's single-minded pursuit of Dhanush to take revenge, the situations and sequences are very familiar to other movies where the hero goes up against an all -powerful rowdy. Things are also wrapped up a little too cleanly towards the end though the ice factory makes a great setting for the climactic fight.

Dhanush has had good practice playing the bad son and is very natural in the initial portions. He delivers his lines in a very matter-of-fact manner and that makes many of them(like his comment about a dress that Divya has her eyes on) funnier than they seem on paper. Divya, the actress formerly known as Kuthu Ramya, looks simple and pretty. She shows some spunk in the romance but has to take second place to a bike and so is around mainly for the duets. Daniel Balaji channels some of the rage from his Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu character but it seems rather one-dimensional. Selvam though is impressive in his debut as the saner older brother. The Engeyum Eppodhum... remix is fast and energetic while Minnalgal Koothaadum... is very melodious.


At 2:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Balaji,

I felt Daniel resembled Pandia of Kakka Kakka. Minnalgal Koothaadum song was poorly picturized, the scenes didn't gel well with the song.

At 4:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this movie last week and was very impressed with how it was made. All in all a very good movie.

ps - I am no Doctor, just a character from thalaivar's pitcher.

At 5:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No comments about the comedy track?? I felt Selvam's character was the pick and the actor made an excellant debut. Freshest in a while.

The movie was inspired by bicycle thief well Indianised.


At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The chemistry between Dhanush & Ramya was wonderful.. Overall greta movie..
Dhanush's acting is terrific & he's gaining popularity among all classes.

At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as i mentioned in my previous post, i liked the movie a lot...thought it was very gritty and realistic...
i totally agree with u on the importance of the villain characters...they were all well etched out...i was impressed with the "Godfather"-like complexity (not comparing the two movies...was just reminded of that movie...so, please no abusive replies!) of those character...esp. with the way the younger brother gets jealous of the "Outtu" character...in a sense, they dont kill for the sake of killing...its abt the intoxicating effect of power and respect in their own circle...loved the delicious irony in the way the elder brother tries to protect the younger one by asking him to not step out of the jeep when in fact...:-)

At 11:04 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

idlus, i usually prefer slow songs picturized naturally without the pair mouthing the song. maybe thats why i liked 'minnalgal koothaadum...' :)

dr, the director defly made us take notice :)

KP, comedy track? u mean santhanam's comments? i didn't think that qualified for being called a 'comedy track'. anyway, he is getting on my nerves these days :)

nandita, i thot he had more chemistry with the bike :)

ram, yes, gritty and realistic is right. and so the violence didn't seem gratuitous either. and enjoyed that irony too :)

At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the movie - except for the long drawn-out climax (but we can give that to the director as otherwise he has worked out a interesting screen-play!

The scene (after coming home drunk) with his father - really stood out.

Though I like Surya a lot more than Dhanush, still "Vel" did not work for me (ayya, Hari-ayya, kathaya maththungayyaa!!). I wished "Engeyum Eppothum" did not have that stupid "english rap" in it!! Anyway, GOOD FILM and happy to see that it's well-received too!

At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have to disagree with you mr.balaji, the comedy was funny, i was laughing through the first half and sitting at the edge of my seat during the second half. damn good movie; in a long time.

At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

polladhavan has turned out to be the surprise winner in the diwali race. Hats off to the new director. So how many stars? Would you recommend me to go watch it sir?

At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This film is highly recommended. Guess it would be 2.5 stars from Balaji.

At 10:54 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

apala, i didn't feel the climax was long or drawn-out (then i again i like slo-mo :) as for 'engeyum eppodhum', if it didn't have the rap it would simply be the old version of the song right?

glass, i guess we'll agree to disagree on the comedy :) i did laugh at dhanush's many comments but santhanam didn't do it for me :)

gee, senthil's right. 2.5 stars from me. defly the best of the diwali releases. if u're ok with the violence then yes, i recommend this one :)

At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Balaji:

Are you saying that we need the stupid "rap" to qualify that song as a remix?!!!

What about "thottal poo malarum", "vasantha Mullai", Yuvan's many remixes??!!

Remix- like Rahman said, has to be handled carefully.

At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

minnalgal kuthadum song is a rip off of the song "smack that" by akon. didnt expect this from GV prakash.

At 7:40 PM, Blogger narayanan said...

I remember the the same rap version being performed by a Malaysian band on stage for some award ceremony. Its the same being given a filmi form. The songs incl Engeyum Eppodhum werent worth commenting on.

Something that stood out in the movie for me, was Selvam character and an unusual Dhanush character. Thank god Karunas didnt overdo with comedy and mess this one up.

Finally Dhanush has someone who can make a better movie out of him, other than his brother.


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