Director: Jeethu Joseph
Cast: Kamal Haasan, Gautami, Kalabhavan Mani, Asha Sharath, Anant Mahadevan
A remake while recreating the physicality of the script of the earlier version, many a time fails to recapture the soul of the earlier film.
But ‘Papanasam’ captures almost the same feel and mood as its Malayalam version ‘Drishyam’. Jeethu Joseph who had written and directed the latter, helms this too. Joseph has stuck faithfully to his original, except in the minor deviations to lend it a native Tamil flavour, and has not lost sight of the essence of the plot.
With a skillfully-crafted layered screenplay and with characters and situations one can relate to, the director’s method of story-telling is
riveting. For Kamal Haasan, it offers a divergence from his recent larger than life roles, and we can see shades of the vintage Kamal here. His Suyambulingam is a role earthy and realistic. And Kamal has played it with instinctive understanding and effortless ease. It is about how far a common man would go to protect his family at the time of a crisis. The family-crime-thriller is not about who-did-it, but about whether the
cover-up is exposed or not. The early part moves a tad leisurely, depicting the deep bonding shared by the closely knit family of Suyambu, his wife Rani (Gautami) and their two daughters Selvi and Meena (Niveda, Esther). Gautami fits in neatly, the two kids naturals.
Suyambu is a man of the soil, a self-made guy who runs a local cable TV service.
It is amusing how he a film fanatic, uses ideas from films to solve his real life problems. And this comes in handy, when a crisis threatens to disrupt the peaceful harmony of his life. The plot shares many similarities with ‘Suspect X’ (the Japanese-novel-turned-film).
But the director has cleverly adapted and localised it, adding quite a few twists and turns. Suyambu’s easy camaraderie with his neighbours and the antagonistic attitude of the local police constable Perumal (Mani plays his role with conviction), are scenes that have a natural flow. It is when top cop Geetha’s son Varun (Roshan reprising his role from the earlier version) goes missing under mysterious circumstance, that suspicion falls on the family and their problems begin. It’s now a battle of wits, with one willing to go to any length to protect his family, and the other to find her missing son. Geetha sarcastically dismissing Suyambu as a ‘rustic
fool who hasn’t even attended school,’ soon realises that she had underestimated him. For, Suyambu using his native intelligence was always a step ahead of the investigating team, as he prepares his family to face the tough journey ahead. It is some excellent detailing here. The suspense-element is maintained throughout, with never a dull moment once the investigation begins. The emotional quotient touches a chord, the twist in the climax unexpected and appreciable. The director with total control over his script and narration never lets it slacken. A bit
of philosophy is thrown in towards the end. The film’s 180 minutes of running time doesn’t seem long, proving that if the content is gripping, the duration doesn’t matter. ‘Papanasam’ is an experience worth going through.