Ponmagal Vandhal movie review: Jyotika starrer is a dark, socially relevant legal drama
Film: Ponmagal Vandhal
Director: JJ Fredrick
Cast: Jyotika, Bhagyaraj, Prathap Pothen and Parthiban
Ponmagal Vandhal, which is directed by debutant JJ Fredrick and produced by actor Suriya, is not your quintessential, feel-good Jyotika starrer that talks about women empowerment. It is a dark film that throws the spotlight on the issue of child rape and holds a mirror up to our flawed legal system when it comes to the apathy with which it treats rape cases and victims. Thematically, Ponmagal Vandhal is close to Vidya Balan’s Kahaani 2, but is not as effective in terms of execution. However, it manages to make its point but with a solid impact.
Watch Ponmagal Vandhal trailer
The film is set in the beautiful Ooty, but the town has a dark past. The story is centered on ‘Petition’ Pethuraj who reopens a case from 2004 that involved a serial killer ‘Psycho Jyothi’ who was convicted for the kidnapping and murder of five children and two youngsters. Pethuraj’s daughter Venba (played by Jyotika), a young lawyer, decides to fight Jyothi’s case so that truth could be revealed. In the process, some shocking secrets come out and challenges are thrown at Venba, who goes out of her way to dig out new information about the case that proves Jyothi wasn’t a serial killer.
In an ideal Jyotika world, we would’ve seen her play a character that is independent, hard-working and empowered. In Ponmagal Vandhal, a slightly exaggerated but relevant social drama, what still makes her character refreshing is the fact that she doesn’t get to play a hero and the focus is more on the issue of child rape and our legal system.
For a legal drama, I wish Ponmagal Vandhal was more intense and engaging. The court-room scenes fail to keep us invested but thankfully the tragedy in the story makes it somewhat watchable. For a thriller about a cold-hearted serial killer who preyed on young girls, the film isn’t chilling enough. Nevertheless, what still works in its favour is the fact that it strikes a strong emotional chord with its back-story.
Jyotika’s films, unlike most women-centric Tamil films, aren’t run-of-the-mill and always serve a purpose. Ponmagal Vandhal, too, has a purpose and it’s a laudable attempt by first-time filmmaker JJ Fredrick, who gives us a legal drama that asks quite a few uncomfortable questions about the safety of young girls. One of the downsides of most films starring Jyotika is that they’re mostly preachy, but it isn’t the case with Ponmagal Vandhal, and that’s a big relief. The court-room scenes get slightly dramatic, but the message never gets preachy. Jyotika, playing a lawyer for the first time in her career, shines in what’s definitely a bold role.