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Review by : Behindwoods review board
Starring: : Kishore, Sathyan, Tinu Anand.
Direction: Saroj Kumar
Music: Rohit Kulkarni
Production: A Barani Minerals Production
Porkkalam can be called an experiment, a brave one. The director has started off with a vision and remained faithful to it all the way. The only problem is that the vision is one that is hard to sell. The director seems to have focused more on the technical aspects of film making, choosing to go for a style that is rarely adopted in Kollywood. In a recent interview he said that the entire film was shot in desaturated color. Now, you have to watch the movie to know what that means.

Porkkalam tells the story of man who stands up to a whole gang of bad men to rescue a woman who had come to him for help. There is nothing much to elaborate upon the story. What makes it interesting and different to an extent is a fact about the male protagonist (Kishore) that is revealed only in the second half. The revelation is bound to surprise the audience and the director must be commended for holding the cards close to his chest without appearing unconvincing. Once the fact is opened to the audience the pieces that evoked curiosity in the first half seem to fall into place to make a plausible picture.

But as said above, the movie is more about technical
aspects than the main plot. The director has chosen to go for a grayscale look throughout the movie. There are also many points where there is a high degree of contrast between the background and characters on screen. The camera angles too, mainly the bottom angle shots, are not staple to commercial Tamil cinema. But, the most striking feature of Porkkalam is the pace at which the scenes move. The scenes literally inch forward, testing the patience of the viewer at many points. By saying that the scenes move slowly does not mean that the screenplay is slow. It seems to be the pace at which the frames move. There are times when the audience would want the reels to run faster for some pace to be induced into the movie, albeit artificially. It is almost as if we are watching things in semi-slow motion. Sometimes, the narrative seems more suited to the graphic novel medium which is yet to gain popularity in India. Overall, the technical treatment that has been given to the movie gives a partial surreal feel.

Kishore has carried off his first lead role with responsibility. The ‘certain fact’ that his character has and the means he used to overcome the difficulties posed by the ‘fact’ have been well performed. Though it might not appear all that realistic that a man saddled with such a ‘fact’ can rise above the odds to fight off so many men, Kishore has still managed to do a fair job, credit is also due to the director. Sampath is his usual menacing self as the antagonist while Biju Menon, Lal and Ponvannan appear in brief roles. Newcomer Smitha does not get much to do.

The action scenes do not appear over the top despite the nature of the movie. The director has rightly acknowledged the frailties of the human body – anyone who gets hit hard once with a solid weapon does not come back to fight; which makes things believable. The only glitch is in the climax fight, where Kishore battles everybody with an axe slashed at his back whereas his opponents fall just like a pack of cards with a single blow.

In keeping with the tone and feel of the rest of the movie, even the fight scenes appear to be slow encounters. There are absolutely no commercial additives in the form of romance or comedy, the director has stuck to the main track right through the length of the movie. A song or two make their appearance (music by Rohith Kulkarni) briefly but are cut out soon.

Overall, Porkkalam seems to be a movie where the director was more intent on giving a new technical experience rather than an absorbing storyline. The technical brilliance of the film can only be felt in theatres with sophisticated facilities which are just a handful. Once the film crosses Tambaram, the audience would get to watch only a dark product on screen. This would work disadvantageous for Porkkalam.

To be fair to Bandi Sarojkumar, he seems to have delivered what he intended to. But, the problem here is that the semi-slow motion nature of scenes, the surreal feel and ‘desaturated color’ do not make for particularly entertaining viewing. But it is possible that a few of the technical aspects used here might be seen more often in Tamil cinema henceforth.

Verdict: Technology overrides content

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