When truth lies

by Nandhitha Ravindran

Papanasam is a remake of the Malayalam hit of 2013, Drishyam, it has the highly acclaimed Jeethu Joseph wielding the megaphone and it stars the legend, Kamal Haasan. How can this formula go wrong? The good news is, that it doesn’t!

Papanasam is the story of a happy, close-knit family of four. Suyambulingam (Kamal Haasan) is the breadwinner of the family, who runs a local cable company in the village among other businesses. He has a loving family – his wife Rani (Gautami) and two daughters. The scene where the family members gather for dinner and share a conversation much like any of us is a beautiful portrayal of the family’s bond and simplicity. And get this, nobody is seen meddling with their smart phones. The only thing that Suyambu probably loves more than his own family is movies. When he is not at home, he is at his workplace watching movies. Suyambu is not book-smart. He is more like, movie-smart. He garners most of his knowledge (which he later puts to effective use) from the numerous movies he has watched.

What begins as a slow, family drama turns into a fast-paced thriller when the family is faced with a twist of fate and have their lives turned upside down literally, overnight. From here, it is a duel of truth and lies, the good and the bad, only, the roles are reversed. The good man has turned bad. He does everything, right from clearing evidences, setting up alibis to covering the truth and teaching his family to lie efficiently.

Kamal’s emotions, his dialogue delivery and his intelligence (both in and out of character) are untiringly delightful. He steals the show, no doubt. But it is not because Papanasam has been altered to suit the actor. The film stays true to the original and the credit not only goes to the director, Jethu Joseph, but also to Kamal. With a legend like Kamal at the helm, the film would tend to have his brand all over it, like Dasavatharam or Uthama Villain did. But Papanasam doesn’t. And it is not a bad thing at all. Even ardent Kamal fans would agree. He beautifully portrays Suyambu while underplaying himself. And that, only Kamal who is brilliance personified, can do. Probably the only eye sore, were the romantic scenes involving Kamal and Gautami. They just did not work for us. And the romantic look, Suyambu gives his wife, is more creepy than… well, romantic!

The rest of the cast is as flawless. Especially, constable Manikam played by Kalabhavan Mani is brilliant, as is Asha Sarath who plays IG Geetha Prabhakar. Noticeably, even the editing and camera work are highly similar to that of the original. Ghibran’s BGM is an absolute winner and also vital in keeping us hooked through the extremely long (three hours and one minute) movie.

Papanasam isn’t your usual thriller. You not only feel gripped with anxiety as the lead characters wade through their hurdles, you also connect with them, emotionally. The emotions have been upped a notch, in Papanasam as opposed to the original. The final scene with Suyambu and Prabhakar makes you grab for the tissue box. Our verdict: A fantastic climax preceded by a cleverly crafted film with heavy subtexts and fiery twists, this one is a must watch for just about any movie lover!