Poo is the independent adaptation of a famous short story, Veyyilodu Poi, written by S Tamizhselvan. Like many of the Tamil 'New Wave' movie, it too is set in a village and talks about rural lives. If in Paruthiveeran (2007) and Subramaniyapuram (2008), it is the Madurai based villages, here in Poo, the story revolves around Sivakashi, the fireworks town. Unlike the other films, where the ambience, through brilliantly done, tended to overshadow the characters and their emotional problems at times, here, it is through the protagonist Mari, that we see her world.
The stylized approach adapted by the director Sasi in telling a simple story of an innocent village girl works very well in creating the fantasy land in which Mari lives without causing much harm to the realistic feel of the whole movie. A variety of angles, graphically composed frames, a completely unconventional editing with all sorts of jumpcuts and a brilliant soundtrack, all contribute to the unique styling of Poo.
The initial suspense of the storyline moving towards infidelity slowly changes as we see more and more of Mari in her past. From her childhood itself, Mari is confident she is going to marry Thangarasu, but not so him. Though Thangarsu is the most well educated, in the whole village and a mechanical engineer, he is not sure about many things. He only realizes Mari's love in the end and that too through his best friend.
The starting song exposing Mari and her husband's compatibility works well to reveal Mari's present marital life. It is with lot of excitement and a sore leg Mari starts her journey, but while coming back it is not her leg which aches. It is the disturbed family life of Thangarsu she witnesses that makes her cry. This is not what she intended to see. Her unconditional love for Thangarasu was such that through a false suicidal drama she even re-unites her family who were otherwsie planning to boycott Thangarsu's marriage.
When eyebrows were raised by her friend, Chinni, for still loving Thangarsu, Mari asks why she should forget him? She didn't expect anything from Thangarsu. Her idea of getting married to him itself was for the fact that no one else could take care of him the way she could.† What's more, she is hardly bothered when confronted with Thangarasu's girlfriend. This indicates the civilized form of love she possesses for him which is least expected of a village girl. Mari can feel Thangarasu's sensation even through Chinni's touch. A relation which could have otherwise been misunderstood for lesbianship is rather well portrayed as a genuine and warm friendship.
Mari personifies Thangarasu and herself with the two palm trees that have grown up with them from their childhood. She even goes to the extent of beating up the foreman in her company to beg for forgiveness to the Thangarasu tree for playing mischief with her. The usage of such inanimate objects to convey human emotions are well distributed throughout the movie. In one of the songs during their early childhood, it is shown that the camera intrudes too much into their private life and an annoyed child throws stones at the lens. On the sound track we hear the lens breaking. Even such deliberately alienating techniques do not really alienate us from Mari's life.
The careful placement of the ethnic elements and the scenic beauty is very well blended in creating the stunning visuals in this film. The firework manufacturing company where Mari and Chinni work has lot to add to their lives.
Above all, it is the central performance of Parvathi Menon which counterbalances the technical brilliance and lightens up the movie with human emotions. The easiness with which she depicts the body language of a village girl is brilliant to see. Srikanth as Thangarsu too more than does his bit even thoughThangarasu is a weak character because of which he finds problems adjusting with his classmates as well as the villagers. In terms of marriage too, he was forced to marry a rich man's daughter to satisfy his father's greed. The only reason for him to opt Mari out of his consideration for marriage, is the fear of having genetically defective offsprings in a blood related marriage. It is quite a challenge for a hero to play such a vulnerable and meek character and Srikanth needs to be lauded for that.
PG Muthiah's camerawork goes very well with the ambience and the style. Even though he follows the natural look in terms of lighting, it is the unusual angles which makes the frames interesting. SS Kumaran's music plays a very important role in this film. With minimal instruments and more of human voice the songs are rendered with an amazingly realistic and earthy feel. NB Srikanth's editing deserves a special comment. The time and space compression techniques he practiced largely contribute to the overall pace of the whole movie. While on the sound design, the sounds of wind and silence are well balanced and nicely incorporated.
Poo in Tamil means flower and what else could one call such a beautiful film other than this. It is definitely an interesting film to watch and a feather in director Sasi's cap who proves he has a unique and strong sense of cinematic craft, indeed.