Theatrical release poster
Shashank Vennelakanti (Telugu dialogues)
|Music by||Yuvan Shankar Raja|
|Edited by||V. T. Vijayan
T. S. Jai
|Distributed by||Vendhar Movies|
Poojai (English: Veneration) is a 2014 Indian Tamil masala film directed by Hari and produced by Vishal, who himself plays the lead role alongside an ensemble cast featuring Shruti Haasan, Sathyaraj, Raadhika Sarathkumar and Mukesh Tiwari. Yuvan Shankar Raja composed the soundtrack and score for the film, while cinematography and editing were handled by Priyan and V. T. Vijayan, respectively.
The film was officially launched on 28 March 2014 and principal photography began on 18 April 2014. The film released on 22 October 2014 on the occasion of Deepavali. The film was dubbed into hindi as Himmatwar and in Telugu titled as Pooja. The film is being remade in Kannada as Sultan with Darshan.
Vasudevan aka Vasu (Vishal) is a Coimbatore-based moneylender and also the heir to the Kovai Group, a cloth manufacturing conglomerate, until he was disowned by his mother and matriarch of his joint family Rajalakshmi (Raadhika Sarathkumar) due to some misunderstanding. He meets a rich girl Divya (Shruthi Haasan) at a mall, who soon falls in love with him for his good nature. One day, Vasu saves the Police Superintendent for Coimbatore District Sivakkozhundhu (Sathyaraj) and his wife (Aishwarya) from a group of thugs who work for Anna Thandavam (Mukesh Tiwari), a Pollachi-based businessman and contract killer who kills anyone to acquire their land and money. As Sivakkozhundhu was transferred to Coimbatore district to capture Anna Thandavam, the latter had planned to kill him. Anna Thandavam also plans to illegally grab land sold to a village temple by Vasu's late father. These two incidents cause enmity between Vasu and Anna Thandavam.
Vasu soon reconciles with the rest of his family and returns home. When the land is formally sold to the temple, an irate Anna Thandavam assaults Vasu's uncle Ramaswamy (Jayaprakash), following which Vasu beats him up in retaliation and breaks his hand. A bitter battle erupts between Vasu and Anna Thandavam, with Vasu, assisted by Sivakkozhundhu, subduing Anna Thandavam's henchmen and thwarting all attempts by Anna Thandavam to destroy his family. In the process however, Anna Thandavam's wife kills Rajalakshmi during the temple festival. Vasu, seeking revenge for his mother's death, rushes to Patna, where Anna Thandavam is hiding and kills him in a thrilling climax.
- Vishal as Vasudevan Ratnasamy (Vasu)
- Shruti Haasan as Divya ('D')
- Sathyaraj as A.D.S.P. Sivakkozhundhu
- Mukesh Tiwari as Anna Thandavam
- Soori as Kutti Puli
- Raadhika Sarathkumar as Rajalakshmi Rathnasamy
- Jayaprakash as Ramaswamy
- Thalaivasal Vijay as Kumaraswamy
- Prathap Pothen as Divya's Father
- Barath Raj as Naresh Yadhav
- Awadhesh Mishra as Rai Bahadur
- Soundararaja as Soundar
- Abhinaya as Durga
- Sithara as Ramaswamy's Wife
- Kausalya as Susheela Kumaraswamy
- Renuka as Manimekalai
- Aishwarya as Sivakkozhundu's Wife
- Janaki Sabesh as Divya's Mother
- Madhumila as Selvi
- Sabarna as Chithra
- Nisha as Divya's friend
- Santhana Bharathi as Annathandavam's lawyer
- Pondy Ravi as Annathandavam's henchman
- Karate Raja as Annathandavam's henchman
- O. A. K. Sundar as Durga's Father
- Pandi as Paandi
- Manobala as Kovai Group's Secretary
- R. Sundarrajan as Temple Organizer
- Imman Annachi as Guru
- Vinay Bihari as Kerala Minister
- Narasing Yadav as Rai Bahdhur's Henchman
- Sanjay Singh
- Andrea Jeremiah in an item number
In December 2013, Vishal stated that he would produce and feature in a film which would be directed by Hari and that the pair would collaborate again after the success of their previous venture, Thaamirabharani (2007). Hari had described the film as a "triangular action story" which starts in Coimbatore and ends in Patna, while revealing Yuvan Shankar Raja had already completed composing the film's songs before production began. The film was officially launched on 28 March 2014, with a press release naming the film's cast and crew. Yuvan Shankar Raja was selected to compose the music for the film, while Priyan and V. T. Vijayan were confirmed to be the cinematographer and the editor of the film respectively. Vasuki Bhaskar was selected to do the costume designing and make-up.
Early reports in December had suggested that Shruti Haasan would be signed on to play the film's heroine, though she only confirmed her participation in March 2014. Sathyaraj and Soori were added to the cast to play supporting roles, while actress Kausalya was announced to be making a comeback with the film starring alongside a bevy of other supporting actresses. The team approached Rekha to play Vishal's mother in the film, but her unavailability meant that the team later cast Radhika Sarathkumar. Prathap Pothen and Janaki Sabesh were also selected to play the parents of Shruti Haasan's character. Andrea Jeremiah was selected to dance in a special number, a folk song, with Vishal. Sathyaraj sported a bald look for this film thanks to his simultaneous shoot for S. S. Rajamouli's Baahubali (2015) and his role was said to be "very powerful" and also the "suspense element of the film". Bhojpuri actor Awadhesh Mishra was selected to play an international don in the film which marks his debut in Tamil cinema. Actor Vaibhav Reddy was selected for an important role in the film, however, his was not part of the film. The Youth, Arts and Culture Minister of Bihar state Vinay Bihari was selected to play the role of a district collector in the film's climatic portions when he expressed his interest in acting to Hari when he was in Bihar for location scouting. Barath Raj who has won Mr.INDIA second runner up 2014 title has played a crucial role of collector's son from Bihar. Actress Abhinaya was selected to play a supporting role.
Principal photography commenced on 18 April 2014 at Chennai. During the shoot of an action sequence in a one crore worth set at Saligramam, Vishal injured his middle finger in his right hand for which 14 stitches were administered. Thus the shoot was temporarily halted. The item number featuring Vishal and Andrea Jeremiah was shot by early May in the backdrop of the Koyambedu Market in Chennai. Later, the unit proceeded to Coimbatore for filming major portions of the film. At that time, it was known that Hari planned to wrap the film's shoot in 40 working days. A fight sequence was shot in a popular mall multiplex there and scenes involving Vishal and Shruti Hassan were also shot in the mall in Coimbatore. The filming continued at Karaikudi in early July where scenes featuring the principal cast were shot. The shooting continued in hot weather making things difficult while Vishal suffered injuries for the second time in the film's shoot. He suffered a fracture during the shoot of an action sequence after trying to avoid falling on his face while he slipped from an asbestos sheet.
In the first week of August 2014, the film's climax was shot at Bihar in a 10-day schedule and by then, 95% of the film's shoot was complete. The climax was said to have few risky stunts which were shot first in the final schedule. Both Vishal and Shruti Hassan carried out the risky stunts and fights by themselves. Some scenes for the climax were also shot in Golconda Fort in Hyderabad in special and enormous sets erected for the climax and a song was also shot there. On its completion, one romantic song was shot at Switzerland and the remaining fast-paced song was shot in Chennai. Vishal and Shruti Haasan completed a hard folk song sequence, which was shot in AVM facilities and choreographed by Baba Baskar. One more song sequence was also shot in Poland. On 29 September 2014, Shruti confirmed that the shooting of the film was completed.
|Poojai (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
Soundtrack Album Art
|Soundtrack album by Yuvan Shankar Raja|
|Released||1 October 2014|
|Genre||Feature film soundtrack|
|Producer||Yuvan Shankar Raja|
|Yuvan Shankar Raja chronology|
The soundtrack was composed by Yuvan Shankar Raja. The album consists of six tracks and Na. Muthukumar had written the lyrics for all songs. The audio rights were purchased by Vishal's newly launched music company, V Music. The tracklist was released on 29 September 2014, while the audio launch took place on 1 October 2014 at the Loyola-ICAM College of Engineering and Technology.
The album received mixed reviews from critics. Behindwoods gave 2.5 out of 5 stars and concluded that "Yuvan delivers what is needed for a commercial entertainer". Indiaglitz gave 2.75 out of 5 and wrote that the album was "a commercial cocktail which could have been better", and chose "Devathai", "Soda Bottle" and "Veraarum" as the album's picks.
All lyrics written by Na. Muthukumar.
|2.||"Ippadiye"||Rahul Nambiar, Mili Nair||4:34|
|3.||"Odi Odi"||Palakkad Sriram||4:32|
|4.||"Soda Bottle"||Yazin Nizar, Andony Dasan, Sathyan||4:34|
|5.||"Uyire Uyire"||Yuvan Shankar Raja||2:26|
|6.||"Verarum Kandhirathe"||Karthik, Pooja A. V.||3:46|
During the film's launch, Hari stated that the film would release in October 2014 as a Deepavali release. The same was stated again in the end of July 2014. On 11 August 2014, a release stated that the Telugu dubbed version titled Pooja would release simultaneously with the original.
Stills featuring Vishal and Shruti Hassan were released on 18 April 2014. The first look poster of the Telugu dubbed version titled Pooja was released on 11 August 2014. The official motion poster teaser of the film was released on 1 September 2014. The official teaser of the film released on 11 September 2014. The satellite rights of the film were sold to Sun TV.  The film released in over 1100 screens worldwide.
IB Times called it a typical commercial. The Times of India gave the film 3 stars out of 5 and wrote, "Poojai is commercial masala done well. There is action (punchy), sentiment (effective but not affecting), humour (silly but funny once in a while), romance (ludicrous and strictly functional), and the director manages to keep things ticking —the action is often relentless, and the nondescript songs and the comedy scenes (Soori and Pandi doing a pale imitation of Goundamani and Senthil) are breathers for us". The Hindu wrote, "Poojai, despite not being Hari’s best, could still be successful in the B and C centres, and affirm his bankability. The writing is generally not well thought out though. It seems almost like groups of imperfect scenes were put together in the hope that they’d somehow come together to form a riveting, entertaining whole. Poojai then is a refutation of Aristotle’s adage that states that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". Sify called it "a typical Hari mass entertainer, though this time he has not got the mix in the right proposition". Bangalore Mirror gave 3 stars out of 5 and wrote, "All the formulaic features that usually form part of a Hari film are all intact here as well, the racy screenplay included. But then, the problem is that the theme is too old-fashioned, with a customary villain trying to dominate a particular community and the hero rising in revolt the moment his family gets affected. Neither there is freshness in treatment nor there is novelty in the narration".
Indo-Asian News Service gave 2 stars and wrote, "Gopalakrishnan (Hari) has written Poojai with the mindset that anything that comes from his camp will be lapped up by audiences, no matter how good or bad it is. If you've followed his films over the years, it's easier to predict Poojai from start to finish with eyes closed. Because of which you realise the director never tries to innovate with his films and usually sticks to a template he's done to death". Behindwoods stated "the director takes us through a roller coaster in the first half. But it feels like Hari loses the grip post interval a bit and the film plods in the second half, with misplaced song sequences and repetitive action blocks...Poojai is still a watchable entertainer to spend time on, with your family on a festive day", giving it a rating of 2.25 out of 5. Indiaglitz.com wrote, "Poojai is a mix of a lot of genres, but they seem disproportionate for the times and taste of this day. However, it is an entertaining three hours of festivity, to chill out on. Most importantly, thanks to Hari for a thoroughbred masala movie after a long time in Kollywood". Cinemalead rated 2.25 out of 5 and wrote,"Customary commercial potboiler!" 
According to Andhraboxoffice, the Telugu version was commercially successful, delivering Rs. 5.52 crores.
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