Pokkiri

The problem with Pokkiri, the new Vijay starrer, is simply this: it does too much. There’s the story of how a young, ruthless killer named Thamizh rises up the ranks of the Chennai underworld. There’s the love story between him and Asin, which gets interrupted, both literally and metaphorically, by bouts of violence. Then there’s the story of the corrupt police officer who has his eyes on Asin. Plus, there’s a comedy track with Vadivelu.

I realize that having these many threads is par for the course in many movies, but there are moments when the begins to feel a bit crowded. Plus, there are so many gangsters, most of whom look and talk the same way, that it’s difficult to keep track.

These cribs apart, Pokkiri is an entertaining ride with all the masala ingredients one expects of a Vijay potboiler. The man does his shtick, Asin looks cute, the action scenes are well shot… basic paisa vasool, no complaints.

Vijay’s performance here owes as much to Mahesh Babu as to his recent movies, in all of which he plays pretty much the same character. Mahesh Babu’s performance in the Telugu original came across as a lot colder and ruthless (having seen one other of the man’s movies, I am now given to understand that this is his default mode) – Vijay has brought that aspect to his performance here. However, the dialogue delivery – his strongest point – is not as good here. It’s different from his usual, but in his attempt to convey more steel, he ends up sounding disinterested in some of the key scenes.

The thing that struck me most obviously while watching the movie was how risque some of the material was. There’s a vamp who’s got a crush on him, and her dialogues, actions and facial expressions are pretty blatant. And then there’s a song at a club that has lyrics just this side of Penthouse Letters. Not that I’m complaining, mind you!

Nasser has one key scene towards the end, where his performance, though well-meaning, struck the wrong note for me. There was a quiet dignity to his character that was suppressed in gavour of rhetoric. Prakash Raj has moments of comedy mixed in with violence and general evil – effective at times. Livingston makes for an impressive cop, and has a scene where he takes the press to task that he does quite well. Vadivelu, who has in recent years made slapstick fashionable again, finds new ways of getting beaten up. His signature style seems to be an active sort of masochism, and it works for him.

For Prabhudeva, this looks like a safe bet to announce himself as a director to the Tamil film industry. The movie is a remake of a Telugu superhit, has a plot and character tailormade for Vijay, and doesn’t disappoint on any major counts. Start counting the money – there’s a good bit of it bound to flow in.

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