PT Sir Review: This Social Drama Almost Gets Lost In Templated Writing Choices

As much as the film wants to be a social drama, it doesn’t want to let go of its comedy cliches and mandatory song sequences
PT Sir Review
PT Sir Review

Director: Karthik Venugopalan

Cast: Anikha Surendran, Hiphop Tamizha Adhi, B. Thyagarajan, Kashmira Pardeshi

Duration: 129 mins

Available in: Theatres

PT Sir aims to convey a very strong and important statement about sexual harassment and victim blaming. But director Karthik Venugopalan seems to be hesitant in pinning all his hopes on just the social drama. So, he gambles. Like an insecure maths teacher borrowing PT hours to complete the syllabus, the film turns to commercial cinema elements to complete its runtime. But, unfortunately, the gamble backfires.

It’s not because of the genre shift from a comedy entertainer to a social drama, but the quality of the commercial cinema choices that distract you. Here is a sample: PT teacher Kanagavel (Hiphop Adhi) is in love with English teacher Vanathi (Kashmira Pardeshi). There is someone else who is also in love with Vanathi: a school student probably studying 4th or 5th grade. This angle is used to create a recurring gag and while this trope found a cute rendition in Jyothika’s Raatchasi and the Mala akka character in Rekka, the comedy here often borders on being cringe or offensive – which is how the other jokes play out as well. The song and dance placements, all of which are set within the campus, do not create any sort of engagement. The central love angle between Kanagavel and Vanathi too looks lovely but never takes off. So, most of the time, you find yourself impatiently waiting for the film to get done with these rituals and move on to the more serious portions.

A still from PT Sir
A still from PT Sir

Therefore, the film gets interesting only when it focuses on Nandhini (Anikha Surendran), a college student and Kanagavel’s neighbour. Not only is her character written with more depth, but the scenes between Kanagavel and Nandhini also always bring a smile. In a way, you also wish you’d got to see a lot more of them and their camaraderie. The dynamic between this duo and the challenge that Nandhini faces helps us settle into a more serious film, one that we care about. We’ve had quite a handful of films speaking about sexual harassment. Films like Nerkonda Parvai also sheds light on victim blaming. In that line, PT Sir moves you with the way it deals with the issue at hand. It shows how a victim of sexual harassment is ill-treated, looked down upon and forced to feel guilty by her own parents, relatives and society. While a lot of them speak behind Nandhini’s back, and look at her with disgust, it’s when her little brother lets go of her hands that her confidence crumbles.

A still from PT Sir
A still from PT Sir

The need to serve the hero at times hampers the film's honest intentions. Kanagavel is shown as a coward who stays out of trouble. So it irks you when the film uses Nandhini’s suffering to pave the way for his heroic transformation. There is a reason why Kanagavel initially remains a coward – it reminds us a little of Vijay’s character Sarathy, who was predicted to die at the age of 27 in Pudhiya Geethai (2003). But the film forgets about that too and never talks about it after he begins punching men, making the whole buildup seem unnecessary. Speaking about unnecessary things, the school setup, the film's title and eventually his job – everything begins to feel irrelevant to the plot.

That said, the way the film focuses on Nandhini’s plight and also daringly points out how parents often have a deeper impact in such scenarios, is laudable. Even visually, there are thoughtful moments like the scene depicting the class difference between Nandhini's family and the villain, the Chairman of the college – a main concept in the film – by capturing a shot of a Rolls Royce through the wheels of a cycle and the underplayed juxtaposition and co-existence of an engagement function and a funeral.

Even though there are weak ideas in the writing and the film assumes a preachy tone towards the climax, a twist in the ending (which is not a mere theatrical element but one that serves a purpose in driving home a point) and Anikha Surendran’s performance, help convey a strong statement. The film may not have been a happy ride as far as the watching experience is concerned, but to have conveyed a message about victim blaming, without diluting its seriousness, does leave you hoping that the message reaches the masses.

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