In a way, Pongi Ezhu Manohara can be perceived as a stirring tale of a man abandoned by everything he considers his. The title itself hints at inspirational elements in the film. Actor Irfan is Manohara, a seemingly carefree young man who ekes out a living selling milk, and is also something of a rogue with the ladies. Considering the fact that the movie is set in the 90s (a period film, the makers call it) and involves a milkman, we immediately likened it to this Rajinikanth classic. But the expectations that came up with that particular comparison died a gruesome death right in front of our eyes.
In his eagerness to fill his debut effort with as many ‘mass’ elements possible, Ramesh Rangasamy infuses the first half with countless comedy sequences – all involving Singam Puli and his contrived brand of humour. It works to a certain extent, everybody is laughing after all. But it also underlines the kind of comedy the audience has come to expect from Tamil films – adolescent humour that grossly undermines women and the disabled. Never a good sign.
The surprise factor in PEM is its male lead. Irfan, with his urban looks, should have stuck out like a sore thumb in this role. Much to his credit, he doesn’t. With that irrepressible smile and an endless supply of energy, the man breezes through the movie; acquitting himself tolerably well in the melodrama department too.
This energy of his translates quite well in the dance sequences too, and as a consequence, also highlights the not-so-stellar moves of his heroines – Archana and Arundhati, both of whom are saddled with unimpressive clothes. That’s another thing about this film – it reeks of bad production values. The outfits are an eyesore, and the camera work (by CJ Rajkumar) is all over the place; indicators of low budget, and inattention.
In a film that hopes to inspire people with its storyline, the lack of coherent dialogues is unfortunate. In places where we hope to God that Manohara says something spine chilling, he mouths inane punchlines that are unnecessary and just don’t work.
Given that this movie is a re-telling of true incidents (supposedly from its director’s life), you’d expect it to be less commercial.
Without all that unnecessary faff (read kuthu songs, weird stunt sequences), and a lot more work, Pongi Ezhu Manohara could have been an impactful film. Instead, it is an example of how a movie, especially one based on real life, and with so much potential for drama, can become a half-baked mess.
But the director, for all his faults, is bent on driving home a lesson. Towards the end of the film, he hurls a sincere question at us.
The Pongi Ezhu Manohara 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 an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.