Por Thozhil works as a study of psychological variables that separate the heroes from the villains.
While watching the latest Tamil movie Por Thozhil, I was reminded of an iconic old song named Intha Pachai Kilikoru from the 1976 movie Needhikku Thalaivanangu starring the movie God MGR. One of the verses in the song goes Endha Kuzhandhaiyum Nalla kuzhandhai Thaan mannil pirakaiyilae. Pin Nallavaraavadhum Theeyavaraavadhum Annai valarpadhilae. Meaning (Every child is good by birth. But, they become villains or heroes depending on the mother's upbringing). Now, why shaping a child's good values is just the mother's responsibility is another debate. But, the point is a child's home environment plays a vital role in shaping their future. And that's the premise of director Vignesh Raja's movie Por Thozhil, which means the art of war.
Vignesh Raja has a strong grasp of what he wants to convey through Por Thozhil. While the main focus of the movie is the police investigation into serial murders, it also delves into the deeper theme of societal awareness regarding mental health.
Like all serial killer movies, Por Thozhil also gives a Freudian backstory for its antagonist. While this backstory may not be particularly intriguing or convincing on its own, it serves as a vital piece in understanding the intricate puzzle of how a serial killer is made within the confines of a home.
The killer's flashback is juxtaposed with Lokanathan's (Sarath Kumar) personal tragedy. Lokanathan is a top cop in the Tamil Nadu police department. While the film doesn't delve too much into his Freudian backstory, we get a glimpse of his traumatic childhood. In a poignant moment, Prakash (Ashok Selvan), the rookie cop, who assists Lokanathan in the investigation, points out the role that society plays in making a murderer. "A little love and affection would have prevented these individuals from becoming murderers," Prakash rues.
And Lokanathan snaps at his assistant, saying, "Not all children with abusive fathers become murderers. Some even become the cops who catch them."
Prakash, in response, challenges Lokanathan, stating, "Sir, you became a cop. But, you are not a normal person."
While Lokanathan has managed to channel his childhood trauma into positive outcomes, the deep scars and haunting memories continue to affect him. His past experiences, tainted with self-hatred, surface in his interactions with others. And his seemingly hellish childhood is to be blamed for that.
Lokanathan and Prakash contrast each other in all aspects. One is a seasoned cop who has gained a wealth of practical knowledge through years of backbreaking police work. The other one is a rookie with his nose deeply buried in books and lacks any real-life experience. Prakash is a rookie who relies heavily on theoretical knowledge and lacks real-life experience. While Prakash comes from a happy and stable household, Lokanathan's upbringing was marked by a broken home. The movie also provides glimpses into the serial killer's relationship with his son, highlighting his determination to excel in his parental role where his own father had faltered.
Por Thozhil works as a study of psychological variables that separate the heroes from the villains. But, it falls short of expectations as a serial killer movie. Especially, the movie's third act is replete with narrative contrivances that fail to drive home its thriller elements. The gross mistreatment of its main serial killer in the climax is the culprit.
Por Thozhil is bankrolled by Applause Entertainment and also stars Nikhila Vimal in a key role.