Let me give you a couple of examples as to what constitutes for comedy in Pakka. Paandi (Vikram Prabhu) and his friend, played by Soori, are traders who sell dolls at temple functions. Soori attempts to sell a toy helicopter to a lady, who wants to see its functioning. The camera moves to a plus-sized woman in the crowd and you instantly know what is about to happen. After the helicopter hits the lady’s derriere, she furiously tackles Soori leading to what, I think, was intended for a humorous sequence. Except Soori’s lines don’t even sound funny on paper let alone on screen. In another ‘rib-tickling’ sequence, two children who come to Soori’s shop don’t stop crying. Soori calls to Vikram Prabhu for help and guess his solution? Giving Soori a tight slap. Miraculously, the kids stop crying. I am not sure if children really do enjoy violence to this degree. If this is the brand of humour our children enjoy, I am sincerely worried. All of this happens within the first twenty minutes of the movie and I began to brace myself for the rough ride ahead.
Pakka is problematic on several levels. Leave the logical loopholes (I will come to that later), the characters are written in such a way they are reduced to one defining quality. Take the lead couples for example. Vikram Prabhu plays dual roles — paired with Bindhu Madhavi and Nikki Galrani. Paandi (Vikram Prabhu, the doll-seller) is a man of integrity. Nadhiya (Bindhu Madhavi — we don’t know what she does) is the quintessential beautiful, rich girl. Dhoni Kumar (The other Vikram Prabhu) is a die-hard cricket fan and Rajini Radha (Nikki Galrani) is a die-hard Rajinikanth fan. The writing is ludicrously shallow and is replete with cliched, murdered to death moments that should potentially be considered creative crimes. As we move from one frame to another, you just know what is going to happen next. (Perk: In case you are watching a night show and unintentionally doze off, you are safe.)
The women characters in Pakka have the ability to haunt you and I don’t mean this in a good way. Take Madhavi for example. All we need to know is that she is beautiful and rich. There is one errant scene which shows her family dynamics. But no, why would we want to explore that. We are supposed to be content with the fact that she is pretty, privileged and madly in love with the hero she barely knows. There are constant reminders of her beauty — every single person who seems to talk to her or about her, mentions her good looks. At one point, I was searching for dialogues about Madhavi that don’t allude to her beauty. She falls in love with Paandi, who isn’t very reciprocative at first. Unperturbed, she leaves home in search of him and literally gives him just two options — marrying her or marrying her. This could very well be a case of ‘reverse-stalking’ except that the hero falls for her. How can someone say no to a beautiful girl, right? If this isn’t enough, we have Rajini Radha who organises a Kabbadi match for women specifically aged 16-18. She also proudly proclaims that the match will have a high quotient of glamour. Then we get several indigestible jokes about women in shorts and also a joke around a ‘low-angle’ selfie. Enough reason to be annoyed?
Now we come to the logic. Paandi and Nadhiya get separated due to circumstances and end up searching for each other. I am not sure why they don’t have an amazing invention called a mobile phone. As the other love track between Dhoni Kumar and Rajini Radha shows, the film isn’t set in an era where mobile phones were a rarity. But that is just the kind of film Pakka is — a film where the role of a Rajini fan is played by someone who can’t even get the lip sync right most times. You just end up wondering who had the guts to name the film Pakka.