Puriyatha Puthir has been in the making for quite a while, but ironically it has released at an opportune moment. Why, you ask? Well, the film talks about something that was recently declared a fundamental right – privacy. While the movie has nothing to do with Aadhaar, it is a reminder as to how we casually infringe upon other’s privacy, to the point that we don’t even realise it is a crime.
Kathir (Vijay Sethupathi) is an aspiring music director and Meera (Gayathrie) is a music teacher (no wonder the movie was earlier named Mellisai). An encounter between the two leads to a relationship. While all is well, Kathir gets an inappropriate picture of Meera from an anonymous number. He later receives a video of her changing in a trial room and the story kicks off. Who is the sender and why is he stalking Meera becomes Puriyatha Puthir’s one line narration.
What works for the movie is the story and of course Vijay Sethupathi. The actor shines as Kathir, in a role that’s tainted with shades of grey. Kathir is not a hero. He is rather a regular man who can easily be amid us and Vijay Sethupathi brings Kathir alive. Especially with the scene where he receives the first video of Meera. Vijay is brilliant as he closes his eyes — face filled with anguish and locks his phone. He knows the enormity of the situation, but he isn’t ready to face it yet. As Kathir, Vijay Sethupathi carries the movie on his shoulders.
Another thing that works for the most part is Ranjith Jeyakodi’s writing. While the screenplay could have been tauter, Kudos to Ranjith for maintaining character arcs well. In the first few minutes (after an unnecessary song), we see Kathir admonish his friends’ debauchery but end up being a silent spectator. Similarly, anger is the go to emotion for Kathir through the length of the movie. The same happens Kathir’s friends — one of ends up having an affair with his boss’ wife. These character details have been maintained throughout the movie. (Surprisingly, this is second movie in a couple of weeks that has talked about older women having extramarital affairs, the first being Taramani. Is it really that common? It is also the second movie to mention that sharing any image or information through social media or any communication platform is a cognisable crime. Again, after Taramani)
The movie’s major turnoff is ironically the most important character of the film, the heroine. Gayathrie for the most part is stiff and her performance comes across as contrived making the big reveal not as disturbing as it could be. While the background score is effective, songs act as a mere lengthening device. The movie is a mere two hours but feels much longer.
The dominant emotion in Puriyatha Puthir — it doesn’t hurt until it happens to us — resonates. But Puriyatha Puthir could have been so much more and that is disappointing.
This was first originally published on https://indianexpress.com/. You can find it here.