The saga of a woman suffering the consequences of gender violence, legal insensitivities constitute the fulcrum of this Tamil film Ponmagal Vandal. The release of the film was in the midst of a storm when theatre owners threatened to boycott Jyothika and Surya for being impatient and preferring to go the direct to OTT platform. There is a school that faults the dramatisation of the gory incidents of rape particularly of child sexual abuse.
There is the other that believes that issues are not addressed by pushing them under the carpet. This is neither the time nor the space for that debate. Some other time and some other space. Ponmagal.. is a strong indictment of societal prejudices and a vindication of women who believe calling the bluff even by exposing their personal tragedies for the larger cause. As the title suggests: the arrival of the girl child, the film deals with the problems of a girl child.
Picturesque Ooty wakes up to incidents of girls going missing and the recovery of the badly mauled bodies. The prime suspect, Jothi, is on the run and soon a victim of an encounter. Fifteen years later on the strength of a High Court directive, the case is reopened at the instance of Petition Pethuraj (K Bhagyaraj).
Vemba (Jyothika) is the debutant lawyer out to prove the innocence of Jothi, who is earlier shown taking random photos of Ooty before she arrives in the midst of the town that does not approve of her action in defending the psychic serial killer. In the first power play, the PP is replaced by a senior advocate Rathinam (Parthiban). Suspicious pointers throw shadows at the doorstep of business magnet and power source Varadarajan (Thiagarajan).
Not surprisingly, the script errs in favour of dramatics over credibility and authenticity. Pratap Pothen as the judge is stiff to a fault. Parthiban as the PP is over the top, but I guess it is the dialogues that hurt him more than he hurts the narrative. Subbu Panchu as the IO is adequate so is Bijli Ramesh as the eyewitness to the crime.
Thiagarajan as the powerful businessman fits the bill. K Bhagyaraj is stifled. The film showcases Jyothika yet again. She goes overboard at times and wonderfully underplays most often. However, a consummate artiste must pencil the delicate line of difference. Here she fails. Fortunately for her, most part of the film where she plays the lawyer or the hurt avenger, she is controlled and good.
While the cinematography (Ramji) and the music (Govind Vasantha) are good in themselves, they sometimes needlessly interfere with the narrative and turn out to be irrelevant. The film is recommended for the tale, the manner of its telling and for the balanced performance form Jyothika. So far as she is concerned, the justified declaration is: Ponmagal Vandhal.
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