Pencil has every cliché mainstream films have ever produced on adolescence and its problems. Bring on the stock characters—a conniving and greedy school management, a school topper (naturally, the hero), his sidekick, his girlfriend, a rich spoilt brat as the antagonist, and the good-hearted teacher. Add to this, the dazzle of school culturals and an attractive teacher. And voila, we have a school movie. The only thing Pencil does differently is kill off one of the characters, and try (and fail) to make the film into a murder mystery in the second half.
Shiva (GV Prakash), Maya (Sri Divya) and Nithin (Shariq Hassan) are classmates in a prestigious school in Chennai. A school where mobile phones are allowed, where students can order pizza for lunch, and where a student can easily sneak into the school premises after hours, and commit sinister deeds. If that sounds pretentious, wait for the main characters.
Shiva, the school topper, writes a thesis on ‘Life On Mars’ which (drumroll) impresses the UNESCO. They sponsor a trip for him to present his papers in the United States. Clearly, NASA missed a trick there. Maya, we are told, is a bold girl. How do we know? Her father is a police commissioner, and at home, she plays with his gun. And drives his jeep to school every day.
Nithin meanwhile, is Tamil cinema’s Joffrey Baratheon. Seriously. The son of a Kollywood superstar, Nithin arrogantly, and constantly, shows off. He also enjoys blackmailing female classmates with obscene videos. He pushes a little girl into a swimming pool. And then watches her drown.
In this sinister teen world, what happens when Maya and Shiva arrive at the murder scene (a classroom) and Shiva appears to be guilty? A normal 17 year old would break into a sweat and plead their innocence. But, not here. Shiva is intelligent and Maya is Sherlock, you see. So they coolly begin to discuss who the killer might be. They draw a map of the school on the blackboard and analyse how fast the killer can run, how long he would take to leave the premises. There are even moments when little sparks of romance fly between them. All while they stand a feet away from a corpse, lying in a pool of blood!
To top it all, we have VTV Ganesh playing an Anglo-Indian teacher called Anthony Gonsalves. To escape from a policeman, he says that his name is actually Govindasamy, and people call him ‘Gons’. He laughs to himself. We cry inside.
The Pencil review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.