A lavish fantasy spectacle

A lavish fantasy spectacle

Tamil (U),Cast: Vijay, Shruthi Hasan, Sreedevi, Hansika Motwani, Sudeep
Director: Chimbu Devan
Rating: Above Average (***)

From Lilliputians to Betals, talking birds to titanic turtles and ogres, Puli is one fantastical flick whose technical finesse and sci-fi effects bowl you over. That said, Puli, which unfortunately finds itself being compared with the successful Bahubali, is weighed down by a rather laidback narrative.

Engaging it is, but entertaining, not. Puli takes audiences into the world of Marudheeran — a sturdy solider who takes on a despotic queen and her scheming minister who ruthlessly reign over 51 villages — to rescue his consort Pawanmali.

Inspired and influenced by overseas productions, the film is a lavish spectacle of action as good seeks to triumph over evil — a staple Vijay fare. Aided by captivating cinematography by Natarajan Subramaniam, the technically superior Puli stumbles when it comes to script.

Director Chimbu Devan is so lost in his phantasmagorical creation that he loses his hold over the way he presents his fare.

Akin to Bahubali, Marudheeran aka Puli is found floating on a gushing stream and adopted by the inhabitants of the village.

That a pretty damsel Pawanmali also dwells there is passport enough for a whirlwind courtship, resulting in the two tying the knot. However, as they prepare to soak in marital bliss, the couple is separated when the cunning minister Jaltarang whisks away Pawanmali to the distant kingdom of his cruel queen.

Thereon Magadheera or Puli’s singular pursuit is to bring back his imprisoned wife. Needless to say, Puli’s path is full of adrenaline-inducing adventure. Before the man can win back with his beloved, he encounters a one-eyed monster, slays hundred Betals, and also gets to humour Mandakini, her Highness’ daughter, who has cast her eyes upon him.  While Vijay plays to gallery, veteran Sridevi keeps flitting her eyelids. Nothing more, nothing less. Hansika and Shruti wriggle their bellies, while Sandalwood’s Kiccha Sudeep — sporting piercing blue (contact lens) eye as villain — is a token presence as in Bahubali.

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