Pulimada (2023)

Pulimada (2023)

Man-eating tigers are a letdown in this Indian Malayalam thriller

5.7

Movie

India
Malayalam
Drama, Thriller
2023
A K SAJAN
Abu Salim, Aishwarya Rajesh, Balachandra Menon
108 min

TLDR

Pulimada has the themes, but not the execution.

What it's about

After being left at the altar, the embittered police constable Vincent worries that his family’s history of mental illness would come to haunt him, while news of a man-eating tiger terrifies the nearby rural villages.

The take

There’s something frightening about being consistently spurned due to circumstances out of your control. This is the main concern of Pulimada’s Vincent, since he’s not marriage material due to his family’s history of mental illness. The twisty plot is reminiscent of old gothic mysteries, complete with a tiger metaphor, but the execution is off, especially since it takes more than two thirds of the film before there’s anything to fear. It’s clear that Pulimada has an engaging, though dated concept, and Joju George’s transformation for Vincent could have definitely gotten there. But entering this tiger’s den feels like a letdown when there’s no risk, no style, no intrigue in the film’s approach.

What stands out

While noted for its unique twisty-turny plot, Pulimada draws upon classic thriller narratives with the use of metaphor. Like the demonic Hound of Baskervilles, there’s no coincidence that a man-eating tiger happens to strike in Vincent’s state of Kerala, not while Vincent is concerned about mental illness. He’s even styled with a magnificent set of whiskers. The comparison stirs some mystery as it naturally increases the number of possible reasons behind the murder, but it also instills Vincent’s personal fear into the viewers as the townsfolk are afraid of the creature. That being said, this thematic thread doesn’t feel supported by the way the plot is executed. The night time murder is heard about in brightly colored rooms in broad daylight, with a score that seems pulled from other genres. While Joju George is able to descend eerily into his grief with bloodshot eyes, the direction doesn’t deliver the terrifying thrill of becoming exactly the worst of what you were expected to be.

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