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In the movie ‘Ponmagal Vandhal’, a tranquil misty morning’s beauty is shattered by gun shots and a child’s cries. News reports talk of the arrest of Jyoti — a serial killer who has been abducting little girls in Lovedale, Ooty.

The next breaking news is about Jyoti’s death in a police encounter and the recovery of dead bodies of children in the yard around her house. According to reports, Jyoti was a wanted criminal from Jaipur and this 2004 case is thus closed for all intents and purposes.

Cut to the present and we meet Petition Pethuraj (actor-director K Bhagyaraj), who is known by this name due to his many petitions against small crimes filed in court. He lives with his daughter Venba (Jyotika).

When Pethuraj files a petition reopening the case of Jyoti, who he believes has been wrongly implicated by the police, it is Venba who takes up the lawsuit — her first case as a lawyer. But in doing so, she earns the wrath of the local community for pleading the case of a serial killer.

Why Venba take on this case and who is Jyoti to her forms the crux of the story.

Debutant director JJ Fredrick’s ‘Ponmagal Vandhal’ is a courtroom drama that spills skeletons out of the closet while unearthing the truth about Jyoti.

The film serves up a strong message about the sexual abuse of children. According to the National Crime records, India ranks seven and Tamil Nadu occupies the third place with respect to child sexual abuse.

The producer and director deserve credit for taking on such a difficult subject rather than sticking to a formulaic story that revolves around a star. However, where the film falters is in its writing.

‘Ponmagal Vandhal’ is more of an investigative thriller and less of a courtroom drama. There are some unwarranted scenes supposed to evoke laughter and characters having little to contribute.

Jyotika, who has been selective about roles in her second innings, is earnest in championing the cause. She has dubbed for herself in Tamil, which is not her native language, but her Venba is in fine form here.

Parthiban, who plays advocate Rajarathinam who counters Venba in court, is in his usual element delivering lines with a play on words.

What makes ‘Pon Magal Vandhal’ worth a watch is its important message and Jyotika’s performance. Cinematographer Ramji’s visuals are a treat.

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Out now!

‘Ponmagal Vandhal’ is out now on Amazon Prime Video.