PA. PAANDI SYNOPSIS: Slighted by his son, a former movie stunt master decides to go on a soul-searching trip that takes him back to his old flame.
PA. PAANDI REVIEW: There is a scene in the first half of Pa Pandi when Rajkiran, who plays the titular character, Power Pandian, lands up for a shoot. He is a former stunt master, but has decided to take up this job just so he doesn’t cause ‘problems’ for his workaholic son, Raghavan (Prasanna). It’s a stunt scene and as he walks into the shooting spot, the young fighters who are rehearsing walk up towards him and pay their respects. Even the stunt choreographer treats him with respect. No wonder he breaks out into a song once the shoot is done. “Oru legend maadhiri enna treat pannanga,” he later gushes to Raghavan.
But his happiness is short-lived. For, we sense that there is emptiness in Pandi’s life. Raghavan might be providing him a roof to live under, food to eat and grandchildren to play with, but his son is also treats him with disdain, just like how most younger people treat their elders. Raghavan gets upset when his father tries to watch TV and the volume disturbs his sleep. After all, he’s now the working professional in the family! He chides his father when the old man, with his good-hearted nature, drags some problem or the other from the road into his home.
It takes a confrontation with Raghavan for Pandi to realise that there is something deeper behind the feeling of emptiness that he has. So, he leaves home and goes on what he describes to a gang of old bikers as a soul-searching trip that he hopes will be meaningful. And this leads him to his old flame Poonthendral (Revathy). But does she still have the same emotions for him?
In his directorial debut, Dhanush gives us a heartwarming film that, despite its conventional storytelling, packs in a huge emotional wallop. Where he scores the most is in handling this subject in an understated manner befitting his story, letting characters and their emotions take the pride of place, instead of resorting to flashy filmmaking just because this is his first film as a director. As a writer, he strikes a fine balance between the emotional and crowd-pleasing moments.
Some of the scenes in the first half feel clichéd and artificial. Especially, the conflict between Raghavan and Pandi seems more like a function of plot than organic difference between a father and a son. Raghavan comes across more as a cold-hearted careerist and we never get to know why he has such contempt for his father. We wish the take-care-of-your-parents message had been conveyed in a subtler manner.
Dhanush makes up for this with the scenes between Pandi and Poonthendral, both in the present and the past (where these characters are played by Dhanush and Madonna Sebastian), by handling them with such delicateness that we fall completely in love with these characters. More than the leather jackets, the shades, the bullet and the English, it is the writing that lends suavity to Pandi’s character. And boy, are we amazed how effortlessly Rajkiran, hitherto known for his onscreen chicken-chomping skills, has turned into an urbane man who loves chocolate cake! There is an easygoing chemistry between him and Revathy, who lends Poonthendral charm that makes her instantly lovable. No wonder that the film soars in the portions where these two actors are seen together.