Pa Paandi (2017)
The screen goes black after Rahul Dravid had urged us to build a wall against Tobacco. It’s early morning in the bylanes of Chennai. A jogger asks, why you didn’t make it to the beach for jogging today? Two policeman says thanks for helping them arrest drug peddlers. A grandma offers idlis on a plate and wonders why you don’t want to have your breakfast here. We keep hearing the name Power Paandi mentioned by the bystanders. Still no visual of the protagonist. At that instant, we know this film is going to be different from the usual. In my view, as a Director Dhanush has made a promising entry with this first scene.
You may be wondering too who this Power Paandi is, who then replies to the grandma, it is none other than Rajkiran in a T-shirt, jogging tracks and sports shoes. The first film of his that I saw was Aranmanai Kili (1993). The film was running full, I could get a ticket only for the first row to the screen at the erstwhile Nagesh Theatre (Pondy Bazaar, Chennai). Imagine seeing his hefty body up that close, I was mesmerised by the raw power he displayed in fight scenes in the film. In later years he proved he can be a versatile actor like in Cheran’s Thavamai Thavamirundhu (2005) as a caring father.
Returning home from the walk, Power Paandi gets a show-down from his son Raghavan (Prasanna). Paandi’s daughter-in-law Prema (Chaya Singh who debuted in Tamil with Thiruda Thirudi 2003) watches helplessly and his two grandchildren come next. Paandi is a retired film stunt master of repute. Having lost his wife some time back, Paandi is unable to sit idle at home, he keeps inviting trouble. Though blessed with a good son & family, he is being restless. What happens next? that’s what Power Paandi is about.
Dhanush & Madonna Sebastian (Kadhalum Kadandhu Pogum) appear as the young Paandi and his “first” love Poonthendral. Battling a temptation to enlarge his portion in the film, Dhanush has kept the village love story to the point and enjoyable. As the Director he has remained focussed on the subject at hand by not dwelling on the “break-up” between the lovers or showing Paandi’s first wife to kindle the sentiment of the viewers. Vidyullekha Raman has utilised the small role given to her very well. Prasanna and Chaya Singh as a caring couple are an excellent choice for their respective roles.
Actress Revathy is a good choice to play the “old” Poonthendral role, but I am unable to get over that she is shorter in height compared to Madonna Sebastian, the young Poonthendral; more than that it’s not conceivable to visualise the lean & ‘bony’ Dhanush as the young Rajkiran. But you easily discount these because of the strong narration. Throughout the film, the Music by Sean Roldan sets the mood, great job by him. I liked the “Soorakaathu” song (below is the official video); sung by Dhanush, Rajkiran impresses the viewer with his understated style, appropriate for the age.
Pa Paandi is a must-watch for this summer.