Pugazh review: Jai fights land sharks in a flawed screenplay

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Mar 18, 2016 16:48 IST
Pugazh ceases to tread a focussed path, often wandering without purpose. (PugazhTheMovie/Facebook)


Director: Manimaran

Cast: Jai, Surabhi, Karunas

Rating: 2/5

Manimaran’s Pugazh (Fame) may be based on an actual incident which took place at Wallajabad, near Chennai, a few years ago, but the film totters on a weak screenplay that tries to hold audience attention through the superhuman antics of the hero, played though by a wooden Jai -- and nothing new about this. He has always been irritatingly un-expressive.

Jai essaying the title role, Pugazh, is the town’s darling boy, who can also turn into a daredevil when someone tries to grab the playground, the only open piece of land that holds the distinction of having hosted a cricket match during the Raj and which has come to be accepted in the course of time as public land that the locals use for sports and recreation.

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A wooden Jai adds nothing new about this role. (PugazhTheMovie/Facebook)

But as is so well known in India, public grounds have been disappearing -- mostly into the tummies of land sharks -- much like forests which are being plundered of their wood and river beds and sea-shores of their sand.

So, when a rich industrialist in connivance with a minister tries to usurp the playground, Pugazh and his many friends -- who have all grown up playing on it -- rise in revolt that leads to murder and mayhem. A local chairman of the municipal corporation -- also hand-in-glove with the land mafia -- thinks of a wily ploy to get one of Pugazh’s friends elected as a councillor in the local elections. Tempted with huge money, the friend finds himself trapped between childhood loyalties and an easy way out of the financial mess he has got into.

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Sadly, the movie ceases to tread a focussed path -- often wandering without purpose. It begins with Pugazh and his team winning a cricket match on the playground, and they travel to Puducherry (Pondicherry) to celebrate with a song and dance on the beach -- which kind of transforms into a Baywatch locale with bikini-clad foreign women parading up and down.

Watch the trailer of Pugazh here:

Another needless distraction is the romance between Pugazh and Bhuvaneswari (Surabhi) that is not just juvenile but also contrived -- like the beach scene. A lazy way of trying to seduce footfalls.

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Obviously, the film begins to look and sound disjointed with several scenes not fitting into the puzzle. To top it all, Pugazh’s superman avatar at the end -- when he vanquishes at least 25 sickle-waving men all by himself on the playground -- is as good as ill-conceived fantasy.

Yes, indeed, the salvation comes in the form of Karunas, who as the older brother of Pugazh and a simple flower merchant, is fantastic as the man torn between his love for his sibling and that for the playground, a fight over which can only mean blood and gore and death. Is he game for that?

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