: A low-level hotel worker gets involved in a street fighting racket on the advice of a compulsive gambler. When the duo realise they have been duped by the gangster controlling the racket, they decided to rob him…
: A unique backdrop — underground street fighting — and filmmaking chutzpah make Pandigai, a tense action film, an exciting watch. The film embraces its violent setting and doesn’t short-change us when it comes to the stunts and the blood-letting. The writing, too, complements the filmmaking, giving us characters to root for and to be wary of.
Velu (Kreshna), who works in a hotel, wants to go abroad, but to earn the money needed for it, agrees to take part in underground street fights on the advice of Muni (Saravanan), a gambler, who thinks that his fighting skills could help him reclaim the house he has lost by betting on a cricket match. The racket is controlled by Natwar Dada (Madhusudhanan), a terrifying gangster, and his crew. Muni feels that they can make the bucks if Velu loses to Dada’s man and the top fighter, Victor (Arjai) during their clash. But something unexpected happens, and now, Muni ends up losing his shop to Feeling Suresh (Aruldoss), a ruthless moneylender. And when they become aware of foul play at the racket, they decide to rob Dada.
Director Feroz takes his time to set up the characters and the plot in the first of Pandigai, but in the second half, he quickens our pulse with some tense moments. There is a heist sequence that works both as a nail-bitingly thrilling moment and as black comedy. The way Feroz builds the tension and maintains it till the very end is one of the reasons for the success of the film.
The performances by the cast, right from Kreshna and Saravanan (who hog the most screen time) to supporting players like Nitinsathyaa (who is quite unrecognisable as an underling in the fight club) and even minor players like Shanmugarajan, are quite effective. The gangster-chic visuals of cinematographer Arvi and the energetic background score of RH Vikram lend the coolth that this kind of film needs, while Anbariv’s punchy stunt choreography makes us feel the high stakes involved in the battle between Velu and company and Dada and his men. That said, the romantic track, involving Velu and Anandhi, who plays a typical Tamil cinema loosu ponnu, is an add-on that sits uncomfortably in this otherwise smart thriller.