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Movie Review: Polladhavan (2007) Back to Movie
Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam
Fans Rating: 81%%81%% 81% (58 votes)
Movie Still Pollaadhavan seems like an unlikely combination of Thiruda Thirudi and Pudhuppettai but manages to make it work. A familiar story of a youth unwittingly pulled into a life of violence, it takes a serious approach to the theme and delivers a fast-paced thriller with a surprisingly soft heart.

Prabhu(Dhanush) has still not found a job three years after finishing college. But going to work is pretty low on his list of priorities with the top one being getting a new motorcycle and the second one being catching the eye of Hema(Divya). Fed up with his insults and comments, Prabhu's father(Murali) gives him a lumpsum of money and washes his hands off him. Prabhu's first act is get the bike of his dreams but the bike does help him get a job and his girl. So when it is stolen, he is heartbroken and will stop at nothing to get it back. That makes him cross paths with the local rowdy Selva and his brother Ravi(Daniel Balaji).

The family of a good-for-nothing son, the stern father, the sympathetic mother and the younger sister isn't really new in Tamil cinema. But the scenario has usually been used for humor(in movies like 7/G Rainbow Colony or Adhu Oru Kanaakkaalam) with the son, with his wisecracks and put-downs, being the one we were supposed to side with. But a touch more starkness and realism is brought in here and creates a very believable family with very believable problems. The dialogs, whether sharp as in the father's lament about his son's continuing irresponsibility or humorous as in the sister's offhand comment when asked to leave the room before a particularly big argument, are very natural. While Dhanush's acts and comments make us smile, we do see and appreciate his father's position too.

By giving us the stories of Dhanush and Daniel in parallel, the movie manages to bring some difference to a cliched story. So though the film has a familiar story of Dhanush being gradually drawn into a world of violence, the techniques(like the dual narration and the couple of instances where they morph into one another) make it seem like it is the story of two angry, young men destined to collide. The two aren't really similar and the movie doesn't try overreach itself by suggesting they are two sides of the same coin or something like that. So the techniques are just gimmicks. But they work and the movie seems more fast-paced and fresh as a result of them.

In movies like this, villains are usually little more than pawns waiting to be decimated by the hero. But the bad guys too have personalities here and that makes the encounters more interesting. Selvam is a particularly interesting character. He is cruel and brutal but has a family and looks out for his brother. More importantly, he displays a level-headedness that is usually absent in our villains. Daniel plays a more regular villain - hot-headed and egoistic - but things would have been a lot more interesting if Dhanush had to go up against only Selvam.

The movie presents a rather harrowing side of Chennai in a no-frills manner. It uses Dhanush's attempts to recover his bike as a way of showing us some activities and places that are rarely seen. The guided tour that takes Dhanush - and us - through the steps a stolen bike goes through is particularly compelling. It is probably more effective than the scenes of violence(there are quite a few of those) simply because it seems more real and down-to-earth.

After this, it is almost disappointing when the movie descends to a one-on-one between Dhanush and Daniel. From the situation that makes Dhanush take on Daniel to the latter's single-minded pursuit of Dhanush to take revenge, the situations and sequences are very familiar to other movies where the hero goes up against an all -powerful rowdy. Things are also wrapped up a little too cleanly towards the end though the ice factory makes a great setting for the climactic fight.

Dhanush has had good practice playing the bad son and is very natural in the initial portions. He delivers his lines in a very matter-of-fact manner and that makes many of them(like his comment about a dress that Divya has her eyes on) funnier than they seem on paper. Divya, the actress formerly known as Kuthu Ramya, looks simple and pretty. She shows some spunk in the romance but has to take second place to a bike and so is around mainly for the duets. Daniel Balaji channels some of the rage from his Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu character but it rather one-dimensional. Selvam though is impressive in his debut as the saner older brother. The Engeyum Eppodhum... remix is fast and energetic while ... is very melodious.

Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam