Film: Pugazh | Director: Manimaran
Cast: Jai, Surabhi, Karunas, R J Balaji, Marimuthu
After his romantic road-thriller NH4, director Manimaran explores a social issue about open lands and playgrounds being usurped by unscrupulous politicians, which leave little space for children and youngsters of the locality to play. The film has a sensible and a focused screenplay, deft treatment and some fine performances by the lead actors.
For Jai, it’s a script that gives him the opportunity to reveal the more intense side of the performer in him. And the actor surprises you with his intuitive understanding of the character of Pugazh, who putting his life in jeopardy, takes on the powerful and the influential to get back what rightfully belonged to the community.
Pugazh often gets into trouble because he takes up the cause of the distressed and the oppressed. Like his supporting his buddy Venkat, when the latter was being harassed by those he had borrowed heavily from. The relationship between the friends is well brought out. And at a later stage when certain interested parties would try to create a misunderstanding between the friends, the director steers clear of cliches lending a realistic feel to those moments.
Cute are the romantic interludes between Pugazh and Bhuvana (Surabhi), the two actors sharing pleasant screen chemistry. Trouble for Pugazh begins when a minister evinces interest in a piece of prime land that apart from being a playground, held a lot of sentimental value for the elders of the community. With Pugazh, supported by the youngsters of the place resisting the move, Das the protege of the minister uses all means of persuasion, bribery and intimidation to force Pugazh to back off. How Pugazh tackles the situation is what follows.
Though there is humour and romance weaved in, they are not the distracting kind that would slacken the pace. Velraj’s camera catches the action realistically. There is no separate comedy track or comic sidekicks around the hero. RJ Balaji as one of Pugazh’s cronies plays down his comic act, limiting himself to one liners that are at times hilarious.
As the practical elder brother of Pugazh, Karunas surprisingly takes on a serious role here and plays it splendidly. Impressively taken are the scenes where he plays the buffer when things go awry for his younger sibling, warding off impending dangers when Pugazh takes on the local politician. The final face-off between Pugazh and his tormentors is ably choreographed, with Jai coming out well in the action scene. In its feel and flow of happenings, and in its play of local politics, it’s a mild reminder of ‘Madras’. Despite glitches, Pugazh is one of the better scripted films.