- 2hrs, 3mins
Is our Judiciary in the “Business of Law?” or “Business of Justice?”
Proof, Evidence, Justice – these are very closely related, right? As each minute passes by, every day, hundreds of crimes happen. They say, every few seconds a female is getting raped, kids are being abused, women are harassed …..Will all of them have evidence? Women traveling by bus, metro, share auto face physical abuse, unwanted touch. What evidence/proof will they have? Above all, it is extremely hard to imagine a person to be living in fear (some call it “self-protection”, some call it living “decently” and for some, it is “having an unprovoking behavior”) 24×7 carrying pepper sprays and learning self-defense techniques. Trust me, it is extremely hard. Where are all the women living? Not in forests where a wild animal is attacking them. Women are living merely in the same so-called “civilized, supposedly progressive society” and still getting harassed/abused/assaulted. Why? Now let’s please not discuss about their attires, their jobs, the time they are out and all that. Aren’t we done yet with such excuses? Are we still talking about these silly excuses in 2020? Sorry!
It is high time we need to seriously give our upbringing a thought. How are we bringing up girls vs boys? Are we teaching the boys how to behave with women, treat them with respect, and make a healthy conversation without judging? Are the current laws sufficient enough to handle the atrocities happening against women? Do we need to wait for another Nirbhaya to amend our laws? Well, while no common man can answer these questions, I strongly believe that as a common man how you can contribute to a better society is to bring the change from within and then start implementing from your household, after all, society is a reflection of us – the human beings. Ponmagal Vandhal makes its bold attempt to bring up this burning issue on to the table once again. The movie is all about a lawyer’s (Venba – Jyothika) attempt to deliver justice to an old shut case of a child kidnapper and a murderer lady criminal.
The film is a court drama and there are some interesting points and arguments between Jyothika and Parthibhan, her opponent lawyer. Why does Jyothika stand up for a supposed criminal to reopen the case is something you need to watch it yourself. I appreciate the director JJ Fredrick for having the protagonist voice out burning issues like honor killing, molestation, child abduction. Why I call them burning issues is because my grandmother has seen them happening, my mother has and now I’m as well. And, I definitely wouldn’t want my child to, hence I say we’re probably done with arguments like “nothing changes in a day, it takes time/years” and all that. How many more years? Why are women getting equal treatment, getting educated, and having the freedom to own their life with their own choices still a “privilege”?
Ponmagal Vandhal is a must-watch because Venba – the protagonist gives a voice to not only just the harassed, discriminated, and assaulted women but also, to those who are silent sufferers at their very own home due to male entitlement.
Jyothika, needless to mention, has performed brilliantly as Venba and the pain and shrillness in her dialogues silently convey how committed an actor she is for the character she plays. Not just this film, take every film of Jyothika especially those from what people call her second innings where she has tried to voice out and address concerning issues of society “36 Vayadhinile, Magalir Mattum, Naachiyaar, Kaatrin Mozhi, Raatchasi” to name a few and now “Ponmagal Vandhal” she has literally lived in those characters and you could see that pain in her eyes. She undoubtedly deserves a huge appreciation.
Parthiban as Rajarathinam impresses in his role as a flawed advocate and is the most apt actor the director has chosen for that role. He carries the composed look with utmost grace and I can’t help but appreciate J J Fredrick again here for picturing the arguments without demeaning the defense lawyer Jyothika.
BhagyaRaj plays his role with ease as Jyothika’s father. Needless to say, it is a cakewalk for him.
Govind Vasantha’s music! This man is terrific. He has delivered some haunting tunes and the BGM is so aptly made to keep up to the soul of the film. Kudos!
Lastly, Suriya deserves applause for being the producer and investing money on subjecting that are bold, thought-provoking, and need of the hour without being too sure of the commercial viabilities. Respect!
If I were to write about the screenplay and the film on a whole, it starts with an interesting point, progresses engagingly with the verbal duels between Prathiban and Jyothika, and bang comes the interval with an interesting revelation. As we progress into the second half somewhere it loses grip and turns out to give documentary feels than standing up loud as court drama. That is also because of some emotional dialogues from Jyothika about her personal life and the main case takes a back seat as she discusses a lot of societal issues that lead to sympathy towards her. It has great potential given the committed work from the actors but unfortunately fails to leave its mark given the crafting is very poor. I wish the director would have taken care of the visualization of the psychology of criminals and fanatics than leading it all by dialogue leaving nothing for the viewer to have that emotional connection.
Had there been a riveting screenplay, this film has the potential to go places. All the best for your next one Fredrick!