Review: Ponmagal vandhal

By Rinku Gupta

Produced by Jyotika & Suriya Productions, Ponmagal Vandhal is a coutroom drama  dealing with the topical issue of child abuse,  rampant in society. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, it's the first Tamil film to release directly, (sans a theatrical release) on OTT, during the lockdown.

Jyotika plays Venba, a lawyer, who along with her mentor Pethuraj( K Bhagyaraj, aptly cast) fights for the rights of  Jyothi, wrongly accused and branded a child lifter and killed  for crimes she did not commit.

Venba, who is fighting her first case,  is up against a powerful politico ( Thiagarajan, who nails it) and his lawyer ( Parthiepan in a convincing performance). Moreover, more than 15 years has passed since the crime, making evidence difficult to procure   Venba has to overcome all these obstacles to prove the innocence of Jothi.
Does she succeed? More importantly, why is this case so important for her personally?

Directed by debutant JJ Frederick, the story travels at a steady pace, with a moving performance by Jyotika adding to the emotional quotient that would appeal to family audiences. The veteran actors in the film have all been given thier adequate space,  but it's clearly a Jyotika film all the way and she shines as the tough lawyer,  with a vulnerable core.  Jyotika has dubbed herself for the role,  a commendable effort,  given the lengthy dialogues and court jargon.

The message is laudable and Suriya as a producer has chosen yet another social issue, this time, of protecting children from lurking danger of abuse and also the menace of fake news. His voice- over at the end giving statistics, add value to the film.

The camerawork by Ramji is appealing,  especially the Ooty scenes. The Govind Vasantha composed lullaby sung by Suriya's sister Brindha is a lilting melody.

However, though it's a courtroom drama, director Frederick's screenplay  relies more on emotional dialogues, flashbacks and one-on-one exchanges between Jyotika and Parthipan for the most part,  rather than building courtroom tension through presentation of law points. At several places,  the story seems predictable though the director has added a few twists  to keep up the momentum.

Overall,  Ponmagal Vandhal is an emotional courtroom  drama, with its heart in the right place.
Rating : 3/5

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