Puli: Film Review – Not What We Expected

Verdict: This Puli is one sourpuss!

One would assume with such a magnificent star cast, Puli would work. One assumes wrong. Take one spoon of Lord of the Rings (Galadriel and all); add a teaspoon of music from Game of Thrones (they actually lifted the title track, try and spot it); a pinch of characters from famous fairy tales including Gulliver’s Travels; add a smattering of costumes and narratives from Stardust, Snow White and the Huntsman, Enchanted and all those other Hollywood films with evil witches, beautiful princesses and valiant princes; add a damsel-in-distress (who has already failed at playing the lead in a fairytale romance before) and a Prince who only seems to be really good at playing awkward… And yes, before I forget, also make the ‘evil’ people pseudo-vampires who never seem to have any use for their protruding fangs. You’ve got Puli.

We can’t begin to tell you how ‘inspired’ this film is. ‘Evil’ people come from an island in the west, strangely white and blue-eyed, sporting vampire fangs and great at the magical arts, and go back home reinstalling one of their own as king… Elves from LOTR, anyone? These ‘evil’ people divide their country into two kingdoms, one in the north and one in the south; where the north is expected to deliver a ‘miracle drug’ that heals the vulnerable southerners, every five years…Immortals of Meluha, anyone?

But no, it doesn’t end there. Sridevi is a queen under a spell doing the bidding of her prime minister (Sudeep) who turns her into a demon, controlled by an evil spirit that requires the sacrifice of a virgin once every year to stay alive. The story, of course, begins when Shruti Haasan is chosen as the sacrifice and carried away to the ‘evil’ fortress. One couldn’t help but be reminded of Disney’s Telugu experiment, Anaganaga O Dheerudu (2011), which had a surprisingly similar story, with a very believable Evil Queen, essayed by Lakshmi Manchu. Oh and yes, Shruti Haasan was the damsel in distress in that film, too (as mentioned earlier).

Don’t get us wrong, Sridevi delivers. She’s actually the only reason why you should watch this film. The rest of the performances are merely passable, with Vijay just being thoroughly disappointing. Shruti Haasan should stop doing fairytale romances and Hansika Motwani is wasted on such terrible scripts.

If one has to list out why one shouldn’t watch this film, the list might just go on and on, and so, we summarize and do you a favour:

The music is appalling; Devi Sri Prasad needs to put an effort into his music sometimes. Every song sounded like some mediocre Telugu song (not even remakes of his actual hits) we’ve heard in the recent past. An Oscar needs to be awarded to this film for atrocious costuming. The colours, the fabric and the choice of clothing… it was almost like the lead actors were from a different planet, while the rest of the cast was in ancient ‘supposedly’ rural Tamil Nadu. How hard is it to get a Princess and the Lady Love of the Prince, right? To their credit, however, is the amazing Galadriel (LOTR) gown they managed to create at the end. You know, just in case the similarities weren’t already clear.

The narrative is complex, very unnecessarily. The acting by most of the cast is peculiar and strange. And to make this the worst film we’ve seen in a while, the mostly-horrendous VFX annoys you all the way through. What was the ₹118 crores spent on, we wonder?

While in some scenes the VFX was amazing; in others, we were reminded of Bollywood in the 1970s. Little John (2001) tried the Lilliput thing years ago and failed… we assumed Chimbu Deven would have paid more attention and learned. Apparently not. How can Kollywood produce something so third-rate after Baahubali and still have the nerve to release it?

The film is not family-friendly, we should warn you. It should have been, considering only children might be overwhelmed and excited by Puli. Instead, it has a vulgar comedy track that runs almost right through that obsesses about sex and first nights. There is something terribly wrong with a script that has to resort to male genitalia jokes around bananas.

Do we really need to say more?

Why You Should Watch This Movie:

Sridevi. Period.

By L Romal M Singh