Pagadi Aattam: An Unoriginal and Terribly Executed Thriller
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Filmmakers have a social responsibility that they cannot escape. Despite having the freedom to record their thoughts in the form of films, filtering these thoughts can go a long way towards ensuring that the film makes the right impact.
On one hand, we have directors such as Selvaraghavan, Mani Ratnam and Karthik Subbaraj who empower their female characters and do not tolerate any form of sexism in their films. On the other hand, debut director Ram K. Chandran’s film Pagadi Aattam employs misogyny, glorifies the villain and has one too many politically incorrect elements, all attributes that are quite alarming.
As the opening credits roll, the audience is informed that Pagadi Aattam is inspired by the renowned Hollywood film Buried. Thirty minutes into the film and it is evident that the movie is nothing but a terrible interpretation of the brilliantly executed Buried.
The hero, Surya, is a rich playboy who almost certainly has a single child syndrome. His presumed Casanova personality lands him in trouble when he pursues the naive girl from next door. Gowsalya loses her will to live when he tricks her into having sex with him while secretly filming it.
Aside from being buried alive in a human-sized wooden crate along with a phone and a lighter, Pagadi Aattam has no resemblance whatsoever to Buried. Instead, it is filled with clichés, from a suicide and a revenge-seeking family member to a sex tape for blackmail.
It is alarming to see that a filmmaker debuting in 2017 has no ethical principles whatsoever. He creates characters who believe that embracing their sexuality is a sin and he stereotypes rich women by portraying them as whisky-hungry sex monsters who in his own words “find sex to be as easy-going as devouring an ice cream.” In contrast, financially backward small-town women are saints who faint at the sight of a condom.
So many fundamentally wrong, misogynistic, misconstrued and twisted views on women make me question where we’re headed as a society that still refuses to accept, respect and treat women as equals.
The production of the film is extremely poor. Even short films made on a shoestring budget are better presented in comparison with Pagadi Aattam. The costumes are dreadful, and make-up is poor and overdone. Even the actors deliver shockingly amateur performances; their expressions come across as plastic and just downright terrible.
After the success of Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru, Pagadi Aattam attempted to draw attention by featuring Rahman in all its promotional materials. Unfortunately, Rahman only makes a short cameo appearance in the second half of the film.
Pagadi Aattam has to be one of Karthik Raaja’s worst films to date. The background score is flashy, loud and unbelievably second rate. The films songs are below par; when Illaiyaraaja’s voice flows mellifluously through an average song, you realize that the maestro is far too good to be a part of this garden-variety film.
The film’s dubbing is out of sync, and far too often, non-diegetic sound is wrongly used in places that ideally require attention.
The cinematography cannot get any worse. From actually cutting the heads of characters out of the frame to random lighting patterns, cinematographer Krishnasamy lacks the qualifications to justify his title. The zoom-in shots are grainy while some shots are simply out of focus; the visuals on the whole are a total let-down.
When dealing with something as sensitive as sexuality and how it is perceived, one wonders why director Ram K. Chandran doesn’t take a leaf out of Balaji Shakthivel’s Vazhakku Enn 18/9, a movie that deals with the same issue in a sensitive and socially upheaving manner. To make clear that Gowsalya is a small town girl, the director dresses her in a half-saree and assigns her all the stereotypical traits of a village girl, including shy demeanor and social reluctance. Instead of conforming to this ignorant characterization, he could have used Paruthi Veeran as an example – a film that showcases small town female characters as shy women with undeterred courage and conviction.
Overall, Pagadi Aattam is a disappointing thriller that is ignorant and terribly executed. The only way that it could have been made better is if the story and its director were gotten rid of.