Pathu Thala Review - Middling Gangster Drama held together by Silambarasan!
I had watched the original Mufti at the time of its release. It wasn’t a film that I really liked or anything, but I do remember that it was well made and had a first half that had some tense moments. It was about an undercover cop getting into the gang of a notorious gangster. A gangster whom everyone is talking about and someone whom we get to see only at the interval point. I was pleasantly surprised that Pathu Thala too has Silambarasan make his entry only at the interval point. But the tension that was very much evident in Mufti, gets diluted to a large extent here. More about that later. But the second half of Pathu Thala ensures to get its act together relatively better.
Pathu Thala is the story of an undercover cop who discovers that the man he is after isn’t whom he thought he was. In other words, as said in the film, the man is someone who wears a villain’s mask to ensure that he does what a hero is supposed to do.
Pathu Thala gets off to an interesting start and you get engaged almost directly. There is a political game involving the CM and there is some genuine tension in these scenes, thanks to the performances of Gautham Vasudev Menon and Santhosh Prathap. The set up to the premise is nicely done. It is after this, that the film sort of loses its grip a little. In the original, we were in Sriimurali’s shoes and the entire first half was narrated through his eyes, and we feared for his safety. Though the plot points are almost the same, we are not invested to such an extent with Gautham Karthik in Pathu Thala. That is because the scenes keep jumping and there is lack of coherence in the narration. Each scene seems like a separate one without any common thread binding the scenes together. And some of the cuts are so abruptly done. The romantic portions between Gautham Karthik and Priya Bhavani Shankar adds no weightage and doesn’t make any impression either.
Surprisingly, the second half of Pathu Thala works better. After Silambarasan’s entry as AGR, the focus is almost entirely on him and now there is at least a sense of being invested with a story. The actor is good, and it is noteworthy that just after playing a 19-year-old in the recent Venthu Thanindhadhu Kaadu, he plays a much mature character here. And it doesn’t seem odd in either case. But I still think that a much elder actor or star would have been ideal. The major issue in Pathu Thala is that none of the supporting characters register properly. All of a sudden, there is a dialogue about a ‘Karuppu Aadu’ (undercover cop), when this should have actually been the focus for the most part. Gautham Menon does well but is reduced to a one note villain. The action set piece in the climax is surprising and works as a standalone portion. But there ought to have been more emotions at stake. The dialogues work but as much as they make sense, they just don’t fit in seamlessly with the narrative.
Rahman has gone a bit mainstream after a while and the results are a mixed bag.
I am not sure if it has to do anything with the theatre that I watched the film at but the production quality of the film as a whole did leave a lot to be desired.
Pathu Thala ought to have been more focused for the emotions to have clicked. It lacks a consistent tension, but it works in parts, thanks to some large-scale action set pieces and theatre moments.