Power Paandi – Age is just a number

While watching a Telugu movie, I am completely okay with the hero stomping his foot on the ground and sending 76 Scorpios flying in the air. I even expect it.

I am not able to accept the same when Mammootty does it in a Malayalam movie. It is probably got to do with years of conditioning. Cinema

Cinema moulds us in a way to look at the same thing in so many different ways.

There are movies that play to the gallery, some want to conform to the stereotypes, some want to break the existing stereotypes, some want to create new discourses in cinema, some want to just exist and some are happy to retain its soul and investment.

Dhanush’s directorial debut, Power Paandi falls in that last category. He has given us an immensely likeable story, extremely relatable stereotypes and very familiar tropes.

It is not old wine in a new bottle but local toddy in a leather-jacketed hip flask.

Not that it is a bad thing.

The movie begins with a slo-mo shot of the hero out for a jog being praised to the skies by the passerbys.  An introduction song is avoided. Thank you for that.

Power Paandi (Rajkiran) is a doting grandfather, helpful father and a father-in-law, an interesting neighbour of sorts to the youngster across the parapet wall of his terrace and a retired Stunt Choreographer who is revered in the industry.

This is the preference of his life, just like many of our grandparents and parents, who prioritise kids and grandkids before themselves.

Paandi’s helpful nature, refusing to be blind to injustice and the denial to ‘settle down’ into old age puts him in a perennial spot of bother with his son (Prasanna) and daughter-in-law(Chaya Singh).

One thing leads to another and Paandi goes on a bike trip to meet his first love, Poonthendral. This is the portion of the movie I wanted to watch on repeat mode.

Yes, I enjoyed Paandi demolishing thugs half his age in ultra slow motion.

Yes, I whistled for that amazing “Soorakaathu” number where there were smiles all around the theatre seeing Paandi happy.

Yes, I had a tear or two welling when in the most beautiful stretch of the movie, the 64-year-old Paandi finally facing the camera again for a stunt shooting, aces it and takes in the adulation he wanted and truly deserved.

A gentle prod to remind that becoming a grandparent is not everybody’s sole purpose of existence or the penultimate goal before kicking the bucket.

But, the real movie starts a good 70 minutes into this 125 minute film.

Paandi’s first love with Poonthendral in the times of MGR and Bruce Lee and later in the times of Facebook and Selfie.

The last 45 minutes of this movie provides a free pass to most of the flaws that happened earlier in the film.

Personally, apart from the way certain portion of song sequence staging, the major aberration was the characterisation of Prasanna. He has got a festival release, but an otherwise raw deal.

I have always had this issue with the men in movies who lament to their wives about not taking care of their parents and leaving them to fend for themselves in the last days of their lives. The whole “I-have-failed-as-a-son-though-they-gave-me-everything” doesn’t quite work for me when the wife who is supposed to feel empathetic is already expected to stay away from her parents and those parents are invariably left to fend for themselves.

Dhanush and Madonna Sebastian who play the star-struck lovers in their teenage do an effective job. Extra points to Dhanush for using that “Indian Bruce Lee” tag that was thrust on him to good effect here. The audience trolled him for that stunt when he was just 4-5 films old. Now, he can pull it off.

In my eyes, this was the proof of Dhanush’s stardom.

Coming back to Power Paandi’s best moments, the interactions between the sexagenarians, Paandi and Poonthendral.

This movie belongs to Revathy as much as it belongs to Rajkiran. She lights up the screen the moment she enters.

Their meet-cute moments is why Dhanush’s directorial debut will be held in good stead. I half-expected “Oh ho Megam vandhadho” to play in the background when Revathy steps out into the rain reminiscing her beautiful past with Rajkiran.

She just stands with folded hands, looks at Paandi and gives an all-knowing smile.

Wow. Revathy deserves more roles and longer screen time.

Wow.

Finally, Rajkiran. His second innings that started off with Bala’s Nandhaa and cemented by Cheran’s Thavamai Thavamirundhu gets a major facelift. Major points to Dhanush for not adorning him in a Dhoti and Shirt.

There is not a single thing to dislike about Rajkiran and his characterisation in the movie. The leather-jacket, t-shirt and jeans, his english, his ability to guzzle down a few beers before confrontations, his curiosity, his love, his walk and his right handed punch to the gut.

Rajkiran is a star. Even in 2017.

This seems like a crash course on how to stay relevant even while holding on to one’s principles and constantly reinvent oneself.

Rajkiran is the Powerhouse behind this project.

Sean Roldan’s music is magical at times, mediocre at times, mellowed down at times and at times, tries to tighten our heartstrings, albeit a bit too hard. The music in this movie piques my interest to see what he has to offer in Dhanush’s next film, VIP 2.

This movie deserves to be known for much more than just being Dhanush’s directorial debut. So let’s get done with that first.  I believe he has taken an easy way out. I believe he has tried to play it safe and in most places, too safe. It is most certainly not a shoddy attempt, there are quite a few highs and deft touches here and there. But, when someone shoots the song by trying to bring on screen every word in the lyrics, I find it to be too monotonous (In the amazing song “Paarthen”, the visuals on the screen are about a moon, breeze and rain when the lyrics talk about “Nilavu”, “Kaathu” and “Mazhai”)

Power Paandi is a movie I’d ask people to send their parents to watch. A movie that will remind them of their youth, a movie that will remind them of how children shouldn’t matter so much and a movie that tries to remove the taboo from a grandparent or a parent trying to live the life they want to live.

Let’s not cage them because they seem to dependent. Let’s not clip their wings because we have assumed the role of the early bird that catches the worm for the rest of the family. Let’s not forget that taking care of grandchildren and getting entertained by their antics is not necessarily the primary aim of all grandparents.

Let’s not wait for a “13 Reasons Why” (A Netflix series that deals with teenage depression and suicide) from a 70-year-old to try to understand their world.

Let’s make do with Power Paandi only.

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