Purampokku Engira Podhuvudamai - Visitor Review

Purampokku Engira Podhuvudamai - Visitor Review

By isn't responsible for the views expressed by the visitor in this column. The visitor claims that this column is his/her own. If the column infringes any copyrights that you hold, please email us at


S.P. Jananathan made a memorable debut with his multi-award winning film Iyarkai. Three years after his last film, Peranmai, he returns with a tense dramatic thriller that focuses on India’s continued use of capital punishment. Arya, Vijy Sethupathi, Shaam and Karthika Nair head the cast in a film that introduces many new faces to the screen.


Plot Summary (Contains very low level spoilers)

Purampokku Engira Podhuvudamai tells the story of communist activist Balusamy (Arya) who is captured by the Indian army and then sentenced to death on charges of treason. Superintendent Macaulay (Shaam) is tasked with finding an experienced hangman, Yemalingam (Vijay Sethupathi), who would be required to end Balu’s life with as little pain as possible. Meanwhile Balu’s fellow activists – led by the feisty Kuyili (Karthika Nair – are determined to rescue Balu from the high security prison and initially plan to first get rid of Yemalingam but then events take an unexpected turn. Whether or not Balu is able to regain his freedom is what forms the rest of the film.



The lead actors all put in intense performances. Arya handles his role brilliantly with his body language and voice modulation showing the nonchalant acceptance of a focused freedom fighter. Shaam puts in one of his most potent performances oscillating brilliantly between warm humanity and the cold precision required of an officer in his position. Vijay Sethupathi overshadows them, partly because of the depth of his character, and partly because of the strength of his performance. Karthika Nair is in a challenging role which she handles with remarkable ease and confidence. In many scenes her expressions speak beyond the script.


Screenplay and scripting

As a thriller, Purampokku Engira Podhuvudamai works well as there are many twists and turns and some edge-of-the-seat suspense to keep one engrossed. The pace of the film could have been better but this seems to be Jananathan’s style of writing. There are many powerful lines in the film and many that promote thought on capital punishment but this is where the film’s weakness is revealed. The film is so one-sided in its message that it emerges as unadulterated communist propaganda. It would have been great had Jananathan explored the same communistic ideals in a more balanced perspective through characters in the film, notably that of Macaulay. However, he chooses not to do this – which is truly a pity as it would have elevated the film to dazzling heights.


Soundtrack and Music

The two songs by Varshan are horribly placed and are huge bumps in the narrative. Fortunately, the second song is of a bearable duration. Shrikanth Deva’s music is dreadfully stylised and greatly reduces the impact of the film, particularly in the last 15 minutes of the film.



Jananathan’s regular cinematographer, N.K. Ekambaram, presents an outstanding visual display with his skilful use of low-light techniques.



Jananathan must be praised for attempting a film that dispenses with usual commercial traditions. Refreshingly, there is no romantic angle in the story and the characters are all well-etched. However, Jananathan needs to take a more balanced view if he expects to be taken seriously. Even if he has a hidden agenda, the film must provide elements that provide a balance and he has failed to do this. The irony of criticizing capital punishment as a violent act as a response to violent crime seems to have escaped Jananathan.



Purampokku Engira Podhuvudamai asks some pertinent questions and raises some important issues but it is the power of the acting performances of the main characters that make this film a dramatic thriller with some soul.


Rating :8 / 10


Devan Nair

Want to publish your column too?
Please send your column to