At a time when film makers are involved in churning out products based on romance, revenge or rural based themes, here is director Radha Mohan taking the audience on a different journey which is even different from his earlier enterprises. The theme of hijack and rescue are not entirely new to film industry but what makes this offering of Radha Mohan stand out is that he has laced the action/thriller with humor.
A passenger flight which includes an actor, a doctor, a politician, a priest among others is being kidnapped by a group of terrorists who force the plane to be taken to Rawalpindi but as fate would have it, the plane lands in Tirupathi due to engine failure. Negotiations begin between the government and the terrorists who demand the release of Yousf Khan, a dreaded terrorist in jail.
Vishwanath (Prakash Raj), the bureaucrat negotiating on behalf of the government and Major Ravindra (Nagarjuna) the commando for rescue operations land in the fray along with other senior bureaucrats. Meanwhile the government decides to release the terrorist and he is being brought to Tirupathi. Rest of Payanam is about how this hijack and rescue drama is brought to an end with interesting events dotting its path.
Payanam unfolds rather slowly and takes its time to garner momentum. However from the moment, Nagarjuna takes control of the affairs, it picks up pace with an impressive last 20 minutes that elevates the suspense quotient.
Through various sequences Radha Mohan brings out the typical bureaucratic procrastinations, the irresponsibility of the press to go to any length to sensationalize an issue and the loopholes in the system. On the emotional side, he showcases the latent and impotent anger in common citizen and the diverse mindsets of people caught in such a situation in a realistic manner. Radha Mohan takes digs at the film world wherever he gets a chance and they are indeed hilarious. Gnanavel’s dialogues lean more on levity which earns applause in places.
Nagarjuna after a long gap in Tamil films, appears as the National Security Guard and brings out a neat portrayal along with Bharath Reddy. Prakash Raj as the helpless bureaucrat Vishwanath fits his role. Among the various passengers, the ones who stand out in performance is Thalaivasal Vijay followed by Kumaravel and Chaams. Bhramanandam as the film director impresses with his small cameo and the artist who doubles up as Yusuf Khan is amazing. Chaams as the ardent fan of actor Chandrakanth (Prithviraj) brings the roof down with his adulation and expectations of the star and the way he mouths his hero’s punch dialogues. Later on the scorn on his face on realizing his matinee idol is after all a worthless normal man is brilliant.
There are no songs in the film and Praveen Mani’s RR brings out the desired mood. Art director Kathir needs a special mention to have recreated Tirupathi airport and the authentic interiors of the plane. Cinematographer Guhan’s camera works in tandem with the mood of the film with his right kind of angles and lighting.
It is strange to note that, few passengers seem to enjoy the hijack drama and do not show any kind of anxiety towards what is happening. One may also wonder whether the hijackers would be lenient enough to allow a mimicry session on board in the midst of an event of such a serious proportion. Although humor shares equal space with action and suspense, a slight swaying on the lighter side dilutes the serious effect a wee bit which could have been taken care of.
Verdict: A decent ride!