Tuesday, January 20, 2009


With romance being an integral part of Tamil cinema since its beginning, one could be forgiven for questioning if there were any kinds - or aspects - of romance that were still left untouched on film. But director Sasi, who has showcased different kinds of love in films like Sollaamale, Rojakkoottam and Dishyum, unfurls yet another facet of romance in Poo. A tale of a woman's dedication and commitment to a man, it is simple yet stirring.

As Poo opens, Maari(Parvathy) is happily married to a store owner. On the occasion of a festival, she visits her mother's house in the village she was born and raised in. The visit triggers memories of her uncle Thangarasu(Srikanth), who she grew up wanting to marry.

As we can see above, Poo has a very simple story. But Sasi's directorial skills and penchant for creating powerful characters transform the story into a powerful, memorable movie. With his visual touches(like the way he shows us Parvathy remembering Srikanth's cellphone number), unexpected comic interludes(like the young goat-herd's cellphone incident) and character development(like the teashop owner who ends up playing a key role), Sasi delivers a soft, emotionally strong film.

Poo has a very unique, rather remarkable woman as its protagonist. It is difficult to define exactly what Parvathy feels for Srikanth but it is impossible to not see - or admire - the intensity with which she believes those feelings. Initially she comes across as someone who is naieve, always dreaming and setting herself up for disappointment. But as the film unfolds, it is clear that she is actually someone who knows exactly what she wants and is willing to go to any lengths to make that happen. So, while her character remains the same, our view of it undergoes radical change.

With her frequent declarations about marrying Thangarasu and her anger at anyone who suggests otherwise, the film starts off by making us believe that Parvathy is in love with Srikanth. But as we understand her more, we realize that her feelings cannot be descibed by a simple term like 'love'. When she is unable to even dream of more intimacy than simply holding hands with Srikanth, we see that she is not in love with him. We understand that she is simply in love with the notion of spending the rest of her life with him. And when she sits down to write a letter to Srikanth, the final few lines of the letter exhilaratingly show us what is important to her. That's when we realize that she wants to marry Srikanth not because she would be happy but because she thinks that she would be able to make him happy.

It is not just Parvathy's character that surprises us with the path it traverses. The film is populated with wonderful characters and the way the character arcs of some of them are developed surprises us. For instance, Srikanth's father, with his penaakkaarar tag and self-pride, is a very likeable character and so his transformation, even though it is caused by valid reasons, isn't expected. At the other end of the scale is the lecherous foreman at the fireworks factory. His character is developed as a familiar, cliched villain but the way it ends is a pleasant surprise.

This is one of the movies where narrating the story as a flashback after showing us the present, actually helps. Sure the surprise element is lost since we know that Parvathy is not going to wed Srikanth. But in its place is a curiosity about how a woman who is thinking of her uncle every waking second finally ends up marrying someone else and living happily. This question is always at the back of our minds and keeps us engrossed in the proceedings. And the way the screenplay brings that about is very satisfactory. The decisions taken by all the characters are logical and understandable.

Parvathy is a fantastic find and lives the role of Maari. She is able to convey both the innocence and intensity of her feelings for her man. Her final scream is a perfect outpouring of her feelings at the way things have turned out. Srikanth graciously underplays the role of the village youth. All the other members of the cast fit their roles perfectly with the actor playing Srikanth's father being very natural. Debutant music director Kumaran gives a suitably rustic soundtrack with the slow Aavaarampoo... and the fun Choo Choo Maari... being the top picks of the album.


At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi balaji,
I'm a regular visitor of your blog. I was just waiting for your POO REVIEW. ya, it's a gripping emotional movie artistically crafted by the director.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Filbert said...

This is one movie whose DVD I have been eagerly waiting for (I should say, for quite a while now). A very good review, I should add :)

So, how many stars for this one, Balaji? One of the best movies of 2008?

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Raju said...

Great review for the great review Balaji. I totally agree with all you have written. I loved your 4th paragraph. It was something I wish I had incorporated when I wrote the review.

I think that guys will like this movie more then the girls. Maari's character is what a sensitive man wants ultimately in his life - someone who loves him more than anything. This makes the reciprocation of love all the more wonderful. More often than not, we see that one of the partners is quite cold to the feelings of the other person. In case of Poo, Srikanth would have been an ideal pair for Maari too, since he is quite down-to-earth and simple.

Another passing thought about egos.. In this modern age when egos flare between the partners due to the changing nature of the society, how ideal it would be for any man to have someone who is full of love for him? If a man uncharacteristically shows a lot of love towards his woman, he usually hardly gets the same back. It is a shame for love. The power of the love of woman is such that it can even make a not-so-romantic husband into a romantic. That is also beautifully shown in the beginning scene of the movie, where we see a very happily married Maari and her husband. I've a lot more to say about the movie but lemme stop now by saying that this, to me, was the best movie of 2008.

At 11:09 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, yes definitely artistically crafted :)

filbert, definitely one of of 2008's best :)

raju, understood from ur review how much u loved the movie and ur comment stresses it!
the part about guys liking it more than girls - not sure if i can generalize but i definitely liked it way more than my wife did.
when i read what u'd said about watching the first 10 minutes again with a different view, i wasn't sure what u meant. now i understand :)

At 2:35 AM, Blogger B o o said...

Watched it this week. Let the record show that I liked it but the husband did nt! :)


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