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.


Review: Singam

Suriya plays a tough cop in Singam.

Racy Screenplay with horrendous stunts


Director: Hari

Starring: Surya, Anushka, Prakash Raj, Vivek, Nasser, Vijaykumar and Radha Ravi

Genre: Tough Cop Flick

Rating: ZERO

I cannot possibly recall a Gravity Law by Sir Isaac Newton which states “humans can fly on Earth”. I do remember his famous law of motion: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” But, that doesn’t mean a guy can fly yards away, after being punched. These rules have been bent by commercial cinema in order to keep our protagonist, a larger-than-life guy. And if our protagonist is played by Suriya, just “forget about it” (the Donnie Brasco way). Suriya dons the khaki uniform again, after a career-transitional role of a cop in Kaakha Kaakha. Singam however stays commercial to its core.

Singam has the Punch Dialog of the Year: “Ongi adicha ondra ton weight-u da.” (English Translation: My punch weighs one and a half tons).  And, unlike other heroes, Suriya gives you an example by hitting the thug near him, who spins like a tornado and then hits the ground allowing dust to rise. Welcome to the world of commercial cinema!

Meet Anushka, the heroine. She's yet to make a mark.

Also, we have Anushka trying to get her big break in Tamil Cinema. Good news! Singam is successful at the box office. But, that doesn’t mean Anushka has made it. She still has a long way to go. I felt her acting in Vettaikaaran was mature when compared to those dumb things she has done in Singam. The glamorous Shriya Saran has finally found some worthy competition.

Prakash Raj was on a spree. He won a National Award for his acting performance in Kanjivaram. His performance in Abhiyum Naanum was out of the world. Why, oh why did he choose to act as the same old stereotypic villain here? Talk about stereotypes and I still think Ghilli’s Muthu Paandi was Prakash Raj’s best role as a stereotypic villain. He did win an award for it. Comedian and Padmashree winner, Vivek had me laughing at times. But, he had me groaning most of the time. This man has run out of jokes and must clearly take a sabbatical and return with a fresh mind.

Suriya's impressive dance moves.

There’s no way I could be lenient on a movie, tailor-made for Suriya. The aggression, the emotions and those romantic winks, all constitute an effort for him to speak through the eyes.  And, the scene where he’s asked to remove his shirt and fight serves as an opportunity for him to flex his muscles. This being his 25th movie, he impresses you with those dance moves. Well, the guy is on a blockbuster spree. Like it or not, the cash registers are chiming. CHING!

Tragedy has struck Tamil Cinema. While commercial films (a.k.a no-brainers) like Singam rake moolah at the box office, offbeat and realistic movies continue to run dry. Success is unfortunately a big-budget word.