Dhanush’s delightful debut Pa. Pandi comes from that warm fuzzy place where Pixar movies are born. It’s impossible to dislike anyone in the film, not even the film’s neighbourhood thugs who supply baggies of drugs to teenagers. Who would have thought the guy who played Kokki Kumar had it in him to create such a world.
It’s a simple world where 65-year-old Power Pandi (Rajkiran) lives with his son and his family. Pandi is the kind of guy youngsters can approach with their relationship problems. Trust him to help you if your car breaks down and he does his bit to keep the streets clean of things you don’t want around.
But his helpful nature doesn’t always make life stress-free for his son. Pandi has a knack of getting himself into trouble and this upsets his son’s world that’s full of project reports and PowerPoint presentations. There’s nothing new or original in this father-son conflict and it feels repetitive as Pandi keeps getting into trouble and his son angrier. Set mostly within the four walls of Pandi’s house, these are some of film’s weakest bits.
- Director: Dhanush
- Cast: Rajkiran, Dhanush, Revathy
- Storyline: A pensioner’s road trip in search of his first love
So when Pandi leaves his house to go on a road trip, it feels like the film itself has been set free. What starts off as an escape, Pandi’s bike trip (almost conveniently) turns into a quest to find his first love, Poonthendral. From here on, the film hits every emotional beat and scenes begin to get strung together like a pearl necklace.
Much of that credit must go to Sean Roldan’s phenomenal music. You’d be surprised to see how effectively Roldan uses the film’s Illaiyara-esque sound to transport us to Pandi’s flashback, a love story that’s set in the 1970s.
Some of the credit must also go to Rajkiran, an actor I believe has a direct line to the audience’s heart. Watch out for the scene where a drunk Pandi vents his anger against his son. It’s a scene that has Dhanush written all over it, from the way it is shot to the rambling nature of the dialogues; yet Rajkiran makes it his own and comes out a winner.
But it is Dhanush’s contribution as a director that’s most heartening. The scene where a younger Pandi is separated from his lover is wonderfully staged. We’re shown Pandi trying to steal a glance of her as she leaves; we’re shown her feet, her hair, even her earrings, but never her face. It’s almost poetic… a man’s last memory of his first love, fresh even after decades.
It’s scenes like these that make you overlook the film’s many flaws. And if you’re willing to believe Dhanush could play a younger version of the mighty Rajkiran, you know you’ve liked the movie.