Penguin – Movie Review

As always, the excitement of watching a brand-new feature film; FDFS as we popularly say; the idea of watching it at the confines of my home, sipping my morning Filter coffee, seated on my favourite armchair and while doing early morning household chores – Welcome to the New World Order, thanks to Covid-19. This is my third FDFS on an OTT - the first one being Man Vs. Wild.

Penguin, feat. Keerthy Suresh who won critical acclaim and an Award from none other than the President of India for her 2018 outing “Mahanathi” – the official biopic of yesteryear actress Smt. Savithri has been quite a sensation in Tamil Nadu as well as Andhra before and after her National Award. She’s been lately unseen in public for over a year, thanks to her intense preparation for her role in “Miss India”, a trilingual in Hindi, Telugu & Tamil that could be released later this year. Her last Tamil outing Saamy2 with Vikram was a drub and was a flop at the BO. So, when the first look poster of “Penguin” came out, there was much fanfare from her ardent fans and critics alike.

In the most recent poster, we saw a pregnant pic of her character, something that most actors of her age would only avoid taking up as a lead character in their heydays. But Keerthy has always had her way and has experimented quite a lot over the past decade and has also bagged a top role in Superstar Rajinikanth’s upcoming Annathe. 

Penguin released on Amazon Prime on 19 June 2020, the only second Tamil film to have a direct OTT release after Ponmagal Vandhaal which released two weeks ago. The Trailer took the internet by rage and viewers were intrigued to see her casting and acting skills. Keerthy doesn’t disappoint us, after all. 

Set in Kodaikanal, Penguin is the story of a Mother; a Mother to-be; about relationships & rage; friendship, jealousy and much more. Three-year-old Raghu is the only son of Rhythm (Keerthy) & Raghu (Lingaa) whom the two shower their utmost attention and affection with. The kid goes missing at someone’s funeral only to be found outside the same house a few minutes later. Yet again, the kid goes missing while at a school excursion. The Mother doesn’t lose hope that the child is no more while the rest of the world believes so and her husband moves off the relationship. But she remains stubborn to find her son, even after getting married once again and her traumatic search for Ajay during her 7th month pregnancy is a gripping story of grit and positivity – something that’s reminiscent of almost every mother this world has seen – humans or otherwise. 

Meanwhile, a few interesting turn of events, some clues and misses keep the story moving slowly into the Interval. Around 90 minutes into the film, the Director makes the viewer believe that the case has been cracked. Not yet. Another few twists with some unexpected breakthrough and lo behold, the mystery is finally solved. A number of loose ends – some obvious ones such as a pregnant women opening a bag which has a corpse that’s several days old; walking inside a room that’s strewn around with blood and stench all over; and doesn’t even fall unconscious despite being hit hard by an iron rod – well, we like the Director’s imagery of a strong woman but “this strong” – emotionally and physically is a tad unbelievable and filmy. But yes, this is a film. 

Debutant Director Eshwar Karthic has ‘delivered’ a good opening for himself, courtesy support, encouragement and bank rolling the project by Karthik Subburaj’s Stonebench Films, who is himself a young and celebrated Director who rose to fame with Superstar’s Petta in 2019. The film is mostly shot in and around Kodaikanal Lake, to be precise and DOP Palani Karthik has done a splendid job showing Kodai in all it’s winter beauty. As expected, the film doesn’t have songs, save for a montage number which was released earlier this week by Santhosh Narayanan who has once again reaffirmed himself to be among the best in class when it comes to BGM for thrillers such as Penguin.

There is no message in the film. No preaching. No societal advice, morality or politics. Just a thriller drama like we see so many on an OTT. Makes good with or without popcorn. 


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