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Vellai Pookal Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Saturday, April 20, 2019 • Tamil ]
Vellai Pookal Review
Indus Creations
Vivekh, Charle,PoojaDevariya, Dev,Paige Henderson
Vivek Elangovan
Dhigha Sekaran, Varun, Ajay Sampath
Ramgopal Krishnaraju

Vellai Pookal - A Gripping murder mystery that delivers its messages emphatically

It was given to understand that the ‘Vellai Pookkal’ team is a bunch of film enthusiasts with no prior experience in filmmaking and you enter the movie hall expecting an amateurish work.  What unfolds on screen for the two odd hours is a surprisingly well made murder mystery with more than a few relevant messages driven home emphatically.

Rudran (Vivek) is a retired policeman whose help is sought by the DIG to solve a triple murder in Chennai which he completes in no time.  As a reward he is sent to the US to spend time with his son Ajay (Dev) with whom he is not on talking terms for three years.  A reluctant Vivek lands up in America and finds it difficult to break the ice with his son as well as his American daughter in law Alice (Paige Henderson).  Soon a couple of people go missing in the neighbourhood and the unseen kidnapper shows a very violent streak during the abductions leaving a bloody trail.  The policeman in Rudran wakes up and starts to poke his nose in the case.  In a parallel track a sadistic drug addict keeps a bedridden woman and a pre-teen girl captive and metes out horrifying tortures of the sexual kind on them.  What is the connection between the kidnappings, murders and the sadist and what happens when the killer strikes at Rudran’s home itself and whether he solves the case or not forms the rest of the screenplay.

At the beginning to be honest it’s a little difficult to take Vivek as a cop seriously but as the scenes build up he gets into the groove and delivers one of his most refined performances in his career.  The scenes where he breaks the ice with his son and later with his daughter in law and the obsession he shows on the case are well expressed.  There are also lighter moments with Charlie which are not of the laugh out loud variety but subtle and enjoyable.  Charlie plays the Dr. Watson to Vivek’s Sherlock Holmes and is the representative of the clueless audience asking the appropriate questions and getting the exposition out not so subtly.  On the whole tt is a delight to watch these two yesteryear comedians as the leads here.  Dev as Vivek’s son is perfect as the typical Indian techie working in the US and his best scenes are the emotional ones with his dad.  Pooja Devariya has little screenspace but her character is a very important one in the screenplay and as usual she does her work impeccably.  Paige Henderson as Alice is brilliant underplaying the coy daughter in law who tries her best to reconcile with her father in law and the way she calls him Appa is very endearing.  She gets to own the most riveting part of the film with some intense acting.  The actor who plays the sadistic drug addict and the little girl playing his broken daughter are so authentic that they will haunt you on your way back home.

‘Vellai Pookkal’ is one of the few murder mysteries to come out in Tamil that ticks all the tropes of the genre but still retains a vivid freshness.  Maybe it’s the maker’s affinity to Agatha Christie (there is a tribute in the film) that prompted him to build the film like her novels.    Vivek putting himself into the criminal’s shoes becomes a very effective story telling tool (Miss Maple effect) that serves the film very well.  His enquiry of the suspects mentally too is pulled off very convincingly.  The all important backstory of the suspense character is delivered with such novelty that you never see it coming and you can’t help jumping out of your seats and applauding.  There are multiple streams of conflicts like Vivek-Dev-Paige, Dev-Pooja Devarya, The Pakistani man, the sadist and his daughter which all contribute to the suspense and keep it engaging throughout. The ever present racism and the plight of illegal immigrants are embedded into the screenplay cleverly and the core issue itself is what the world needs to address with immediacy.

On the downside cops are shown as dumbos and Vivek and Charlie get in and out of crime scenes as if that would be a walk in the park in the US.  In a crucial scene when a dear one of Vivek is abducted his emotions are too watered down and later bursts out as if on after thought.

Jerald Peter’s wide shots of the sprawling fauna filled land masses of semi urban America conveys the terrifying premonitions of the dangers that lurk beyond the woods.  His unobtrusive follow up of the action is what makes the audience an uneasy participant of the investigation.  Praveen KL has paced the narration to a deliberate trod tiptoe that adds to the intrigue. Ramgopal Krishnaraj’s music is in sync with the proceedings.  Vivek Elangovan joins the list of modern filmmakers who have hit it out of the park on debut and kudos to him for making the audience give their grey matter a workout if not for his strong messages. 

Verdict :  Go for this novel and gripping murder mystery that delivers its messages emphatically

Rating: 3.5 / 5.0

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