A year ago, Jai had told us that he was determined to love his ‘timid, good guy’ image. And now, Pattampoochi, the film that he was hinting at, is here, and his role isn’t in shades of grey but the darkest of blacks. Jai’s Sudhakar is perhaps the most ruthless portrayal of a psychopath in our cinema. We have seen Bhavani (Master) kill kids and Rocky pull out intestines, but for Sudhakar, all this is child’s play. Unlike the usual hero-turned-villains, who play it safe, Jai doesn’t flinch from getting his hands bloody. The actor plays the role with passion and investment, but to what end?
Sudhakar is neither a sociopath like Anjathey’s Dhaya nor eccentric like Gemini’s Teja. He is stuck somewhere in between, and his identity isn’t quite well-defined. For instance, when he says, “Amma seththu poradha paathurkiya? Jolly-a irukkum!” I laughed. Was I supposed to laugh? Was I supposed to feel terrible for Sudhakar’s victim? I was in such a dilemma throughout this film.
Such gratuitous violence might be a dealbreaker, but the film has been certified ‘A’ and you get trigger warnings as well in the title credits. If you are the sort not to find extreme violence disturbing, perhaps you will find the inaccurate depiction of the film’s period quite unsettling. You get the mandatory Ambassadors and Maruti 800s, and some VFX shots in the background, but barring these cursory additions, Pattampoochi looks and feels highly contemporary. Be it the hairdos, vocabulary or costumes, the film screams 2022 and it is quite a task to look beyond these visual cues and trust the film.
A psychotic serial killer with Tourette Syndrome and a cop battling PTSD have a month to outsmart each other. The honest policeman isn’t armed with much except an undying urge to establish justice. Who will remain to stand? It’s a ‘killer’ one-line, and the film does show promise in the first half, but soon into the second, it falls flat on account of some clumsy writing. You can see that director Badri wanted to deliver a gripping cat-and-mouse game, but then, you end up thinking about Tom and Jerry’s slapstick antics, thanks to the unintentionally funny dialogues and staging.
You get an eight-year-old girl being established as a music lover glued to her headphones always—even when grave developments occur around her. During a particular scene, her cassette is swapped with the voice of the serial killer threatening to end someone’s life. After a brief moment of silence, she screams, “Ayyo, yaaro pesaraanga… paatu paadala!” A perplexed Sundar C snatches her headphones from her and states, “Adhellam nee yen ma kekkara?!” and the entire theatre is in splits.
Several tropes like this turn out to be ticking joke bombs and they invariably explode during the wrong moments. There are several bright ideas that might have translated to terrific theatre moments, but the underwhelming cinematography and background score put paid to them. I will, however, remember Pattampoochi for showing that boys are equally vulnerable victims of sexual violence and that consistent abuse can turn even the kindest people into monsters. This butterfly might have soared higher in the hands of a tactful writer and a stronger technical crew.
Director: Badri Narayanan
Cast: Sundar C, Jai, Honey Rose