When it is a debut for the writer and director and over it if the protagonist of the story is an ageing man, it is very doubtful that a production house would take such a bold movie unless the production house is used to such. So Dhanush's Wunderbar films produces Pa Paandi (earlier called Power Paandi) where Dhanush writes and directs, for the first time, a movie with Rajkiran in the lead role. Since it is his debut directorial venture Dhanush has to put his best foot forward to meet the standards he set as an actor.
** Spoiler Alert **
Paandian Pazhanisamy a.k.a Power Paandi (Rajkiran) is an aging man who used to be a top stunt master in 80s and 90s. He now lives with his son Raghavan (Prasanna), daughter-in-law Prema (Chaya Singh) and 2 grandchildren Dhruv (Master Raghavan) and Shakshi (Baby Chavi). Raghavan takes care of his father and loves him in his own way but barricades it with grumpiness because of work pressure. Paandi's innocence and civic sense doesn't help the matter any better. One such incident leads the father and son to go loggerheads on each other. Paandi realises that though his son takes care of him, daughter-in-law is respectful and the 2 grandchildren are lovable, he misses an x-factor in his life leading to an emptiness within him. So, Paandi embarks on a journey of soul-searching and enchantment which turns meaningful when he decides to go in search of his love interest Poonthendral (Madonna Sebastian) as a young boy (Dhanush himself as young Paandi). Now old with with a grandchild of her own, will Poonthendral (Revathy) reciprocate his feelings?
Dhanush in his first directorial film does not resort to flashy film making or compelling story telling but rather relies on keeping it simple and effective and it has worked fairly well. Dhanush has deftly mixed many things with a hint of humor in them. The story telling is as conventional as it can get but doesn't bore you, the screenplay is smart but not overtly smart, the film delivers a message but is not very preachy (bar a couple of scenes). There are flaws in the movie with cliched scenes like Madonna hugging Dhanush after seeing a snake and the pace taking an ever so slight hit with the songs but these flaws can be overlooked because the movie as such is heart warming.
When the protagonists have between them an experience that surpasses all other cast and crew members put together then there is no dearth in acting prowess. Rajkiran in the titular role has excelled in his own way. It is a never before role for him. We are used to seeing the dhothi clad Rajkiran beating goons to pulp in one hand. For the first time we see Rajkiran fighting in jeans and speaking English with an unexpected suaveness. The scene where Rajkiran confronts Prasanna after a couple of beers has the signature of Dhanush and Rajkiran tries hard to make it his own but falls just short. Apart from that the performance is brilliant. Prasanna does exactly what is needed of him. Nothing more nothing less. Chaya Singh has no much scope or screen presence. Madonna Sebastian and Dhanush share a solemn chemistry that feels good. It is Revathy who steals the show right under everyone's noses. The seasoned actress she is, effortlessly takes over the stage, just like that. Sheer brilliance.
Among the technical aspect, Sean Roldon should be credited as much as Dhanush. The score is apt in the first half and the mood of the BGM shifts beautifully to Raja style during the flashback. Velraj, who dons the camera, impresses here and there. Editing by G K Prasanna is slick. Lyrics by Selvaraghavan, Dhanush and Raju Murugan are simple but not as effective.
Verdict: Impressive attempt that is definitley worth a watch