There’s a defining scene well towards the end of Pugazh. Jai as Pugazhendi, the eponymous hero of the movie, descends on a bunch of goons in righteous anger. He’s armed with a long sickle, one that he had just grabbed from a deity at a thiruvizha; there isn’t anyone else to back him up, and yet he razes down an army of (significantly) muscular men and emerges victorious with just that perfunctory scratch across his cheek. He is then discovered – sickle in hand – murderous rage wholly satiated, towering over the sea of bodies like a god of justice. And here, the theatre erupts. Never mind the fact that only moments ago, it had collectively groaned when Pugazh was trying to save the world: more precisely, a playground that was being taken over by the government. He’s the local messiah; the darling of all the older women, the deliverance of the younger. What’s more, he also has a little sister and a wise-cracking friend (RJ Balaji).
In short, Jai is a few sexist jokes shy of being labelled the Ilaya Ilaya Thalapathi (if there can be one), the facial likeness notwithstanding.
Not that he didn’t try, mind.
Jai does something admirably well in Pugazh. In the blink of an eye, he can vanish in a cloud of fists and dust. At will. One moment, he would be lounging on his bike. The very next, he would have launched himself headlong at someone clad in white. A clamour of weapons, voices and bodies would ensue. In an infinite loop.
Valiyavan, Jai’s last offering, in which he essayed the role of a reluctant boxer, was much the same. He was thrust into the ring, fuelled by revenge, love – and Andrea Jeremiah – and his cause just did not stir our sympathies.
Blame it on the story, or perhaps, the culture that surrounds the type of cinema that Jai has chosen for himself these days, but there just isn’t enough thought.
I almost interpret Jai’s MGR fanaticism in Pugazh as a tongue-in-cheek reference to his exaggerated heroics. Almost. But director Manimaran would have none of it. He quickly makes his intentions known by bringing in Surabhi (Bhuvana as the love interest) – who urges Pugazh to watch some Gemini Ganesan as well.
Which he promptly does (…..)
Reinforcing character, see?
The Pugazh 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.