The postal department of the 1970s is the film's hero. What about Cheran? Sshhh! Don't disturb him. He must be reading his love letter!
Cheran is a marine engineer in Calcutta(Sorry, it was still Kolkata in the 70s!). Padmapriya studies literature in Nagore. When Cheran's father Vijaya Kumar and Padmapriya's mother are hospitalized, the 2 of them meet. Literature brings them together.
Now Cheran is in Kolkata and Padmapriya in Nagore. In their letters, they exchange observations from the last book they have read to the beauties of nature. Soon, their literary relationship turns into a romantic relationship. But the wall of religion stands between them. Cheran and his father go to ask for the hand of the bride. This is where our jaundiced eyes expect the usual mayhem but director Cheran has other plans.
Nadira's (That is Padmapriya) father gives the green signal but on condition that the wedding should not be hurried and they can exchange letters only once a month. The hero nods agreement and boards the bus. On reaching Bombay, he receives neither letter nor phone call from Padmapriya. In desperation, he goes to Nagore only to find that the whereabouts of Padmapriya and her family is not known. Is Cheran's suffering temporary or for ever? Check out the rest of the film for the answer.
You saw the brief description of ‘Pokkisham' story in 3 paras. You will surely think this can be described in 3 sentences. The film's big drawback is that Cheran did not do this.
He takes a paper. He opens the pen. He reads what he has written (maybe he's afraid he has made errors?). He posts the letter. He opens the response letter. He reads it. He again takes a paper. He opens the pen and so it goes. Maybe unable to bear Cheran's letter writing torture, Padmapriya's family flees? This comic thought helps us relax a bit.
Fortunately Padmapriya is also not shown going through the letter writing and reading process that Cheran does. Imagine our plight then! Such comments have been heard in the theatres.
It is a difficult task to translate a literary work into cinema medium and only a few creators like Cheran are capable of this, but many such attempts do end up as a test and test one's patience. This is what has happened to Cheran.
Cheran has taken a good story and presented a film of depth, good quality and decency. But the screenplay is not as deep, hence this good effort seems to be put on a hanger and let free to dangle.
When acting, Cheran forgets he is Lenin and becomes the director looking for his next shot and angle. This is evident in many scenes. One is forced to conclude that if another actor had done the hero role, Cheran could have achieved the desired results.
Padmapriya's acting is totally realistic. During her last days, when she reads Cheran's letters, her expressions are so amazing that her last teardrops seem to fall on our laps.
Lenin's father and Nadira's family members have become the characters they play and director Cheran must be admired for this. The voice of Meena, who has dubbed for Padmapriya seems to be a character in itself.
Along with the director, the art director has worked hard to bring in the 70s background with old Luna vehicles, writing instruments, postal covers, weeklies, furniture, radio and so on. Rajesh Yadav's cinematography brings alive Nagore and Kolkata beautifully. Sabesh-Murali's background score reminds one of an English film.
"My mother knows about our exchanging letters. She scolded me to keep it within limits. But I know that is not my mother's voice." In dialogues such as this, one extends one's handshake to Cheran as a dialogue writer.
The film may urge us to continue the habit of writing letters, but ‘Pokkisham' on the whole is a confusing mix of brilliance and tedium.