Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Por Thozhil - A decent effort

Article Author: 




Although Ram Kumar’s 2018 ‘Ratchasan’ has been mostly met with warm reception, the film was a tonally confused crime thriller backed by a memorable score. The most successful Tamil films featuring serial killers have dived into the psyche of the antagonist, whether that is ‘Sigappu Rojakkal’ with its overt giallo pastiche,  ‘Aalavandhan’ with its innovative and experimental mix of style or ‘Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu’ with its hectic editing and gritty atmosphere. To prove that the essential ingredient for a good serial killer film is not Kamal Haasan, a more recent contribution to the genre which is mostly overlooked is Myskkin’s 2020 film ‘Psycho.’ Compared to these entries, ‘Ratchasan’ feels tame and fails in its attempt to mix the commercial Tamil masala film with a crime thriller. Vignesh Raja’s debut ‘Por Thozhil’ makes a vast improvement from ‘Ratchasan.’ Although the film takes less stylistic risks and may be formulaic, it is a solidly made crime thriller.

The plot follows newly appointed, booksmart Deputy Superintendent of Police Prakash (played by Ashok Selvan), who is placed under the tutelage of world-weary Loganathan (played by Sarathkumar). The duo take on their first case: looking for a serial killer who targets young women. This is not new territory - the rookie teaming up with a veteran is a time-honoured trope in this genre. Ashok Selvan delivers a role which does not vary much from his others, however Sarathkumar turns in a good performance as the incorrigible mentee. Sarath Babu also appears in a posthumous role, and performs well. 

All the conventional plot beats one can expect in a serial killer film show up. The film starts off slow, but has a much stronger second half, which sweeps the viewer along unexpectedly. The key themes stitching the film together, although worth considering, ultimately feel shallow. The general presentation of the film is reminiscent of season one of HBO’s ‘True Detective.’ The technical highlight of the film is the sound design. The cinematography is uninspired.

The film does not feature any song sequences which aid with its pacing, especially in the second half. Jakes Bejoy’s soundtrack often feels unfitting, sometimes playing a tune which is too upbeat for the tone and content of the film. Ghibran’s score for ‘Ratchasan’ is perhaps its best asset, and in comparison the music in ‘Por Thozhil’ is unmemorable. 

Overall, ‘Por Thozhil’ stands on a decent albeit formulaic plot, a good central performance from Sarathkumar and a progressively tense second half. If you enjoyed ‘Ratchasan,’ I would recommend this film, as well as the Amazon Prime investigative murder mystery miniseries ‘Suzhal’ and its spiritual sequel ‘The Fable of Velonie.’ I would also recommend visiting the other aforementioned crime thriller classics. 

Krishna's rating: 3 stars


Official trailer for film below. 

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.