Mohanlal's man vs wild themed Malayalam film Pulimurugan may have opened to mixed reviews — some critics couldn't stop raving over it, while others pointed out that it didn't lack in the crassness department.
However, the less-than-appreciative response didn't dim its chances at the box office, and the film went on to do brisk business. In fact, The New Indian Express reported that Pulimurugan became one of the few Malayalam films to breach the Rs 100-crore club.
Small wonder then, that the producers of the film are looking for avenues to expand its business — and have now presented a Telugu dubbed version. Manyam Puli released in theatres across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on Friday, 2 December, and it now remains to be seen if this version will match up to the Malayalam original in terms of collections.
Meanwhile, here's a round-up of reviews for Pulimurugan or Manyam Puli.
Firstpost's contributing editor Anna MM Vetticad wrote:
Director Vysakh’s latest spiced-up venture comes to theatres shortly after Priyadarshan’s Oppam which starred Mohanlal as a blind man falsely accused of a crime. That film, despite its flaws, was credible and to the senses in comparison. It would take a hardcore Lalettan admirer to ignore his expansive frame here as he battles human-eating tigers in a forest in Kerala. When it's The Lord of Mollywood Vs The Lord of the Jungle, what does a star devotee care?
Pulimurugan, as the grown-up Murugan is known, is willing to sacrifice everything to protect his people, because they gave him shelter when he and his infant brother were orphaned. The root cause of his animosity towards the big cat is the killing of his father at the hands of one such beast. Now an adult, he is a legend of sorts among the local populace although the Forest Department is constantly on the lookout for him.
The title – derived from the hero’s nickname – literally means Big Cat Murugan / Wildcat Murugan / Leopard Murugan. There are many clashes in this film, all of them involving the hero, of course, though none with leopards: clashes between Pulimurugan and tigers, between him and the authorities, him and his beloved but short-tempered wife, and ultimately, between him and the human villains of the story...
...As usual, Mohanlal’s character in Pulimurugan is married to a woman played by an actress young enough to be his daughter (Kamalini Mukherjee). To further assure audiences of his virility, he pats her butt at one point, there is innuendo galore involving him and another character bedding their wives, and for those of us who have the audacity to note that a stupendous actor has physically let himself go over the decades, there is a young, busty, midriff-flashing woman (Namitha) who leers at him and is open about her desire to mate with him.
All this in a film that has been generously awarded a U rating by the Censor Board.
So yeah, the SFX are good, the tiger fights are thrilling and oddly enough, even in a film where he is required to be OTT, Mohanlal manages to eke out moments of meaning. It is hard to resist those speaking eyes despite the cacophony that surrounds him.
But the combined strength of Lalettan, the tigers, the suspenseful action and the humour when it is not crude is not enough to drown out the loudness and crassness of Pulimurugan. This one I guess is for the forgiving Mohanlal fan or action enthusiasts who are willing to close their eyes to a lack of refinement and sensitivity.
India Today's review stated:
With a patchy story, Mohanlal's charisma makes Pulimurugan an engaging yarn, but only in parts...
...Considering the commercial liabilities, Pulimurugan would still have been a triumph for the director, had the crux of the film not been to depict Murugan's extraordinary skills (in opposition to) the tiger's. Some of the scenes have been purposefully written to enthrall the troops of Mohanlal fans, and they work pretty well. (However) The film loses its pace in the second half, and doesn't deliver the punch the film projected in the first half.
Another entertainment news portal summarised their review as:
Manyam Puli is an action-packed mass entertainer with a universal theme of man vs wild. Mohanlal's action (sequences) and Jagapathi Babu's performance are the keys to the movie's success. This is a treat for those who love action films, and for Mohanlal fans. Peter Hein’s work is another major asset.