Sep 14 2016
Tamil cinema has given us a few different subjects recently but Pichaikaaran still manages to stand out with a rather unique story. Arul(Vijay Anthony), who has returned home after finishing his MBA abroad, has taken over the mills that were being run by his mother. When his mother is injured in a freak accident, a godman asks Arul to spend 48 days as a beggar if he wants to save his mom. Deciding to give it a shot, he ends up being saddled with a very unique profession for a Tamil cinema hero and the film employs it to mix sentiments, comedy, romance and action quite well.
Pichaikkaaran is no Naan Kadavul. Though there are a few shots that illustrate the beggars’ lives and the insults they suffer, things are mostly kept light-hearted as they own cell phones, make substantial income that they get to keep(there are no pimps in sight), have closets full of clothes in their makeshift living quarters, crash weddings and pass snarky comments about the passers-by. The tone is the same as Arul tentatively starts begging and gets a crash course on doing it effectively. The film treats it like a fish-out-of-water scenario and gets some small laughs as the rich Arul tries to get down and dirty and the other beggars help him fit in.
The mother sentiment looms large over Pichaikkaaran as Arul sacrifices his rich lifestyle to try and save his mother. But since the sentiment is inherent in his actions and not in-your-face(like it used to be in many P.Vasu films for instance), it is more effective without seeming melodramatic. The film uses the sentiment well late in the film when Arul is faced with a tough choice with respect to saving two lives. The suspense is built up well and the choice he makes does come as a surprise though the film takes the easy way out and doesn’t force him to go through with it.
Its not easy making a romance between a beggar and an entrepreneur – Mahi, played well by Satna Titus, runs her own pizza place with her friends – believable but the film makes it work. The meet-cute is silly(she is going after a fly and instead slaps his face as he enters the restaurant) but is developed with some solid scenes(the one where he helps her when she is insulted by an Audi driver is nicely done). There are some nice moments and sharp dialogs between them both early on(like the selfie scene) and later after she stumbles upon his secret.
The romance, comedy and sentiments seem integral to the film but the action portions seem unnecessary and present simply to feed Vijay Anthony’s desire to be seen as a mass hero. They don’t even arise out of the bad guy’s acts(this is Arul’s uncle, who has his eye on his wealth and inadvertently causes the aforementioned conflict). The rowdies exist simply to be beaten up by Arul in a couple of fight sequences. There is also a subplot about illegal pharmaceutical testing, that seems like it belongs in a different film.
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