Ponmagal Vandal - Strong emotion, weak writing, and a stronger message

Ponmagal Vandal starts out with a completely unexpected and absurd premise. Reopening a 15 yr old psycho killers case (referred as Psycho Jyoti), in favor of the psycho killer. Though we all know that justice is on the psycho killer's side, the hook was interesting enough for me to hop on and say 'Bring it on'.

Director - JJ Fredrick

Language - Tamil

Starring - Jyotika, Parthiban

Streaming on - Amazon prime video

The director doesn't waste much time and gets straight into the plot. Jyotika is the daughter of Petition Pethuraj. An advocate known for slapping a case and squeezing out money for even a small thing like insect in the tea of a roadside tea stall. She makes her debut with the Psycho Jyoti case. Reopening a case in favor of a psycho killer creates a furore in the society fuelled by media. The victims go to an extent of throwing slippers at her. While everyone considers it as a publicity stunt, the father daughter duo have bigger plans and secretly get their main evidences ready.

The courtroom drama slowly unfolds, and you see Jyotika on top of her game providing evidences, questioning witnesses, and everything seems a cake walk as it goes as per her plan. The real trouble begins when the wicked politician uses his clout and assigns an infamous criminal lawyer (played by Parthiban) to fight the case against her. He starts tampering the evidences and Jyotika starts losing her grip on the case. How she wins the case from here on forms the rest of the story.

As I had written in one of my earlier reviews on Penguin starring Keerthy Suresh ( read the review ), noone wants to dig up a painful past, unless it's the missing of your loved ones. While it provides clues there, it provides motivation here to never give up and brave it till the last breath. The injustice suffered by her closed ones is the sole reason for the fight against people in the system. Delay in justice is injustice. This results in a screenplay toggling between the past and the present courtroom sequences.

Jyotikas performance is a treat to watch and you'll only wish for her to act more often. Rest of the cast could've done a better job and the movie would've gone a notch higher. The visuals are beautiful and the music supports well. The director uses the age old technique of 'Play the man, and not the game' when there is no evidence but that doesn't hold good beyond a point in a courtroom drama.

But what I particularly didn't like is the fact that the biggest evidence for the case was present right in the face, but the director uses it as a last resort. I mean he could've easily hit the bulls eye in the very first attempt, but then he realized it's a movie and it needs to be 2 hr long. So he went around bathing the bull, feeding it, decorating it, and then took the shot.

Nevertheless the strong emotions and even stronger message caught this act together. You can watch it for Jyotika, the strong messaging, and a twist in the climax that you can't imagine coming.

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