Review: Payanam

Nagarjuna and Prakash Raj in Payanam.

Entertainment at last!

Rating: ***

Payanam is a welcome relief after a bad year of unfitting melodramas. The film mixes terrorism and humour, and dishes out a cocktail, the modern age will enjoy. Radha Mohan’s usual collaborator Prakash Raj stars as National Security Advisor, Vishwanath, who alongside Major Raveendra (played by the ever-young Nagarjuna) deals with a flight hijacking.

Radha Mohan’s usual line of TV stars fill in as passengers on a flight to New Delhi, which is soon kidnapped and forced to land in Tirupathi after one of the guns misfire and damage the flying gear. Humour has always been Radha Mohan’s escape. Mozhi and Abhiyum Naanum had delightful humour. Payanam follows suit, but  serves it carefully.

One such combo is Chaams and Prithviraj. The latter plays a popular Tamil actor and digs the embarrassment of being a has-been in reality. When provoked, Prithviraj raises his hand to hit Chaams, who says: “You can’t hit me. Even my four-year old daughter hits me, and you can’t.”

Payanam is definitely a huge step for Tamil Cinema. The characters are quite bold in their approach, especially the women. Sana Khan carries cigarettes and when condemned, she asks ‘why not?’ while Poonam Kaur openly discusses her menstrual issue with a terrorist.

M.S. Bhaskar plays the dramatic paradigm in Payanam. Appearing as a Reverend, Bhaskar tries his best to bring out empathy whenever needed. One thing still irks me. If the terrorists and the officers spoke in English, and no subtitles were actually needed, why would the Reverend recite “The Lord is Our Shepherd” in Tamil? Why not English?

The first 60 minutes were a perfect setup for the next 60 minutes. And in one way or the other, the very few loose ends are tied together and yes, the unneeded usage of heroism in the end was indeed sore. But, when you have two actors in the lead, you’ve got to tell the audience, who’s the hero.

Never have I seen Tamil Cinema bring out a thriller which serves spine-chilling sequences alongside rib-tickling humour. Such is the experience of Payanam.

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