Why another gangster movie, you may ask. If it is interesting, why not. Dhoolpet (a dubbed version of the Tamil movie Puthupetta) manages have a look at the violence that is so typical to the underworld with rare empathy and emotion. It chronicles the life of a gangster; or rather it chronicles the life of an ordinary person who ends up as a warlord due to the connivance of scary circumstances.
The film's strength lies in its soft view of the hard edges of life. Director Selvaraghava shows a rare sensitivity in fleshing out the milder side of a murderous world. Of course, there is also violence, blood flows like river (there is an overdose in place). But the subtext is about the beating of heart behind those wielding menacing weapons. Selvaraghava has dependable allies in the lead pair of Dhanush and Sneha. They give life to the characters.
Kumar (Dhanush), coming from a traumatic childhood, ends up in a big, bad city, which has little time for underdogs. Thrown into the deep end, the dark, dusty alleys attract him into a self-feeding vortex of crime and drugs. In the same shadowy world, there lives Krishnaveni (Sneha), a commercial sex worker. But she is battered and bruised by the hardcore elements of the underworld. Kumar wants to save her. Meanwhile, a sequence of events catastrophically catapults Kumar to be the leader of the gang. Enters another girl (Sonia Agarwal) in his life. In an upheaval of emotions, he ends up marrying both the girls in his life. The rest is denouement.
The film's plus is its slick and rich technical work and the believable acting from the lead pair. Dhanush, though seemingly meek, manages to bring the toughness and coldness required for a gangster. He manages to speak through the nuances of bodily movements and eyes. Sneha, always seen as a family girl, is very good in a totally new character for her. She is again very credible in her expressions. Sonia has nothing much to do. The rest of the characters (many of them new to Telugu) just amble through.
Yuvan Shankar Raja and Arvind Krishna (camera man) are an asset to the director. The camera brings out the emotions of the moment brilliantly (the close up and snap cuts are very well done). Yuvan rings in the right notes for the occasion.
Selvaraghava knows his craft very well. He shows the kinder side of violence. Though the second half sags at places, the movie still manages to hold your attention.