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Even as the audience are preparing themselves for the revenge saga the director throws in quite a few moments of surprises through suspenseful set-pieces like the Conoor sketch and the bus-station sequence featuring Bharathiraja. Moments like these are plenty in Pandianadu and will keep you tightly engaged in the film. Also, despite the violent turn of events, the film somehow manages to stay rooted to being about familial values.
For Vishal, this is by far his most endearing role till date. As the soft and mild mannered Shivakumar he sheds his action hero image and performs with a quiet confidence which seems to come from the faith he has in the director and the story. His character has a stammering issue but the director makes sure that it isn't an overbearing quirk that occurs needlessly throughout the film. His character arc in the second half is well written and equally well executed by the actor on screen and he has the audience buying his mode of vengeance.
Lakshmi Menon once again impresses with her selection of roles that suits her personality. While she has little to do here she reminds us with tiny nuances that she is indeed a gifted actress. Soori has moments to do his usual routine but the script offers him more in the scheme of things. Vikranth makes a good comeback in a brief role which demands a feisty performance. Sharath Lohithaswa is quite effective as the menacing villain and uses his expressive eyes to define his cold blooded nature. Harish, as his aide, is imposing with his big frame as Bharani. Bharathiraja's casting as Vishal's father is a master stroke from the director and the relationship between the two is beautifully defined in the end. What a performance from the veteran director !
Anal Arasu's stunt choreography is definitely one of the film's highlights. The action blocks are well designed considering that the film has no room for heroism. The climax fight in particular seems natural in the way the hero uses whatever props he can find to express his fury.
Madhie's visuals have a native feel and tone which suits the story rather than being fashionably slick. There is also a subtle gold tint in the frame maintained throughout the movie, upping the tension. He experiments with his shutter speed in a particular action scene which adds some more drama. Editor Antony's work is sharp and ensures that the 2 hours and 28 minutes are evenly paced.
Imman's songs are picturized naturally in the heart and veins of Madurai, the temples and alleyways, except for Fy fy' which comes across as the only forced moment of the entire film. Imman is also brilliant with the background score, serving as the backbone of the film.
In the end, Pandianadu is a well written commercial film backed by remarkable performances and lives up to its dark-horse label prior to its release.
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