‘Pattas’ review: A predictable masala film
His films rarely overwhelm the viewer with a particular sentiment — for example the father-daughter sentiment in Viswasam. His heroes are not infallible, but they do overcome the difficult situations they are presented with. The female leads are influential; they either set or alter the course of the story, and also tend to leave a mark in the climax sequence. The general drift of the screenplay goes like this — the hero proves a point to the society and/or the hero exacts revenge.
Essentially, Durai Senthilkumar devised his version of a working formula, and sticks to it religiously every time he makes a movie. Pattas is no different. It neither offers nor leaves any space for subtext.
The film follows the life of Sakthi aka Pattas (a clean-shaven Dhanush), a petty thief.
Movie name: Pattas
- Director: RS Durai Senthilkumar
- Starring: Dhanush, Sneha, Mehreen Pirzada, Naveen Chandra, Nasser
- Storyline: A familiar tale of a son seeking revenge for his slain father packaged in a script held together by martial arts.
Pattas’ universe is smaller than you’d expect. The conflict for later scenes is set in motion right at the beginning, when Pattas and his sidekick Puncture break into a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) training academy, and steal trophies and other paraphernalia belonging to Nilapparai aka Nilan (Naveen Chandra).
Pattas does not know then just how much Nilan has impacted his life in the past. Enter Kanyakumari (Sneha, in a strong comeback role), who helps Pattas to reconnect with his martial arts lineage.
In the second half, which unfolds as flashback, we are introduced to Thiraviyam Perumal (Dhanush again, retaining much of his post-Asuran facial hair), an exponent of the ancient Tamil martial art form of Adimurai. No prizes for guessing how Thiraviyam Perumal is related to Sakthi. After a series of events (read as: deceit, betrayal and violence), the story returns to the present with the climax portion, which is equally about whether one martial art form prevails over another as it is about the hero versus villain.
The downside to presenting a story with such broad strokes is that it is easy to predict where it is headed. But much needs to be spoken about Dhanush’s presentation.
The actor rarely shifts out of second gear in a performance that he could have aced in his sleep. Sakthi is a call back to his days playing the carefree youth in films like Uthamaputhiran.
Pattas is basically ‘Chill bro’. But the lack of clever writing brings down his chillness factor several notches. In its absence, the leading man’s earnest attempt at comedy falls flat. It is in these times that one cannot help but wonder if this is why Tamil filmmakers tend to depend so much on Yogi Babu for comedy. Would he have made a significant difference? Judging by Darbar’s case, he might have.
Then there is Mehreen Pirzada, who plays Sadhana Sha. Perhaps the director’s note said that her character is supposed to be funny, but we fail to get that memo.
Tethering the second half together with scenes depicting the ages old martial art form of Adimurai is an interesting choice. The film’s producers used this idea to brand their product a sports film.
Here is the problem with that. Sports dramas work by milking the underdog sentiment. But Thiraviyam Perumal is presented as the numero uno in Adimurai. He’d even manage to kill Chuck Norris, and we know that is not possible.
Secondly, a martial art form is not a ‘sport’ that a viewing audience can get behind. One of the reasons why Jackie Chan was able to export his Kung fu films to Hollywood was its humorous presentation. And Bruce Lee, who went before him, looked every bit the fighter that he was. But Tamil cinema lacks action heroes who can convincingly pass off as fighters (even a Jean-Claude Van Damme equivalent is missing).
Besides, the fight scenes involving the younger Dhanush in the climax lacked in bite. He knocks trained fighters down with one swift move inside a cage. When Nilan asks if Sakthi could be ready to fight with less than three months of training under his belt, Kanyakumari responds that Adimurai is in his blood!
Pattas isn’t any less engaging because of this dialogue, but the day Tamil cinema obliges to exclude such dramatically oversold understanding of genetics is perhaps when we just might be able to see a better martial arts film.