Ponmagal Vandhal review: A sincere approach, but marred by cluttered writing

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After 2016 film Pink and it’s remake 'Nerkonda Paarvai', Jyotika’s 'Ponmagal Vandhal', yet another courtroom drama has come along with a lot of excitement. The film has made history to be the first major release on OTT platform.

Interestingly, the opening credits of the film suggest that it doesn’t just come under 2D Productions banner. It’s also called a Jyotika-Suriya Production, hinting that Jyothika is scoring points here too.

The movie opens at Lovedale forest area in Ootty in the year 2004 with the sound of a gunshot. This is followed by news reports of two murders and abduction of two minor girls. The police solves the case and ‘a psycho Jothi’ is nabbed as the culprit. Soon arrives Venba (played by Jyotika) who reopens the case after 15 years in defense to the killer.

Unlike in 'Pink', it is interesting to see a woman lawyer fighting a case. But 'in Ponmagal Vandhal', it’s more about ‘why’ than ‘how’. We barely get to see how Venba decodes the case but we are left with enough hints as to why she takes up this case. Writer and director JJ Frederick has made a decent debut backed by powerful performances from the cast. The movie is socially relevant portraying a sensitive theme like child abuse. This is definitely an honest attempt by the director but the writing gets wobbly on several occasions.

What worked in 'Pink' and 'Nerkonda Parvai' were some solid characterization. And in 'Ponmagal Vandhal' the major problem lies in it’s characterization which remains shallow and unconvincing. The storyline seems predictable and leaves us wanting for more.

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The good part about the film is that the surprises keep coming and the twist at the climax was unexpected. To some, this may seem to be an old school of film-making but Frederick was in focus and did not deviate from his final word.

Jyotika is a fine actress and it’s been quite some time since we saw her in a charismatic performance after her comeback. The director here unearths Jyotika’s intense and controlled histrionics coupled with perfect dubbing. Even during the emotional sequences, she made it precise and magnificent.

R Parthiban, Prathap Pothen, Pandiarajan, Vinodhini Vaidyanathan, baby Akshara Kishore - everyone does justice to their roles but it seemed that Thiyagarajan wasn’t wasn't enough room to explore.

Govind Vasantha, who is known for his amazing use of violin, carries the tempo in courtroom scenes. Cinematography by Ramji is brilliant, while editing by Ruben remarkable except certain shots looked clichéd.

Yes, 'Ponmagal Vandhal' rides more on emotion than logic. The makers seem to have made the right choice in releasing it on OTT.

Keep aside a few bumps of the courtroom thriller, films like 'Ponmagal Vandhal' are more than welcome for the message they send out in the digital era we are living in.

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