After the commercial and critical success of the 2013 Malayalam film DRISHYAM directed by Jeethu Joseph starring Mohanlal, several regional producers approached the makers for remake rights. A Tamil version was planned to be jointly produced by Wide Angle Creations, Raj Kumar Sethupathy and Sripriya Rajkumar of Raj Kumar Theatre. The team subsequently signed on Kamal Haasan in January 2014, to enact the leading role after successful negotiations, with Jeethu Joseph choosing to direct the Tamil version himself. Jeethu said that Rajinikanth was initially approached to do the lead role and although he was interested to take up the role, he had doubts regarding a few scenes and how they would appeal to his fans. In August 2014, the film was reported to be titled PAPANASAM. Jeyamohan was selected to write the dialogues for the film. Noted writer/ director Suka trained Kamal Hassan to speak in Tirunelveli accent.
Suyambulingam (Kamalhaasan) is a honest and hard working cable operator living happily with his wife Raani (Gautami) and two daughters in Papanasam. His elder daughter gets into a very big problem that puts their whole family’s future in stake. How Suyambulingam saves his family from the law, the grudge of a local corrupt Police forms the crux of the story.
In a time period where 8 out of 10 remake films flop at the box office, a remake film can do well only if the director goes extra-mile to do some betterment to the script or only if the director of the original version itself directs the remake too; very fortunately, Papanasam is blessed with both. Being a very big fan of the original version, I was in much doubt if Jeethu Joseph will be able to give the film so perfect in Tamil too. Director Jeethu Joseph has recreated the magic in Tamil too (not even a bit less) with the support of legends like Kamalhaasan and Jeyamohan; the film looks so refreshing with its premise and the regional accent.
The biggest plus of Papanasam is its characters and the game between them, the story’s backdrop & atmospherics and the tight screenplay. Starting from the protagonist Suyambulingam, every other character is so perfectly written. Suyambulingam who is often criticized as miser, is actually a man who has built his paradise on his own. He is an interesting personality who has learnt so many things through films and his keen observations on society and people. He is a father who is so stingy in few aspects, but is ready to do anything extraordinary to save his family. The game between the characters is also very interesting. The game between the corrupted cop and righteous Suyambulingam, the struggle between the two parents to save their kids from trouble (Suyambulingam and Geetha Prabhakar) and so on. The dialogues by Jeyamohan are ultimately simple and the best comparing to the original. The family related scenes (especially the Father and Duaghter scenes) also looks more appealing comparing to Drishyam.
For a film like this where the hero is in trouble, the audience should feel for him and stay tensed if he will get away from it or not. That has worked out so perfectly in PAPANASAM in every other twists and turns. The audience gets excited, enjoys and celebrates the film every time when the hero escapes from a problem.
On performance part, Kamalhaasan has done an outstanding job. You cannot even imagine any other actor in his place, especially in scenes like where he confesses at the end! He has not tried to follow Mohan Lal’s acting style anywhere in the film or tried to give something better than him, which makes us forget about the comparison of both on WHO WAS THE BEST. His dialogue delivery in Nellai slang was top-notch! The only minus with his performance was his fake moustache, which was much distractive all through the film. Despite giving a very good comeback performance and doing her best to justify in the role of RANI, Gautami looks so old and tired / weak in few scenes. Niveda Thomas and Esther Anil have been too good in their roles to the level that they look like Kamal’s daughters in real actually. Asha Sarath and Anant Mahadevan’s realistic performance stand-out all through the film. All other actors in the film including Kalabhavan Mani, M.S.Bhaskar, Ilavarasu and Arul Dass should be lauded for their efforts to bring out such perfection in Nellai accent. On the flipside, the film’s length (15 minutes longer than the original version) is one minus that needs to be mentioned. Ghibran’s songs and background score are of great value addition to the film; but still, few of the background scores reminded ‘Saagavaram Pol’ and the ‘Theme Music’ tracks from one of his recent albums. Jeethu Joseph has retained cinematographer Sujith Vaassudev and editor Ayoob Khan in this version too.
Undoubtedly, PAPANASAM will be a great treat for people who have not watched the original version. However, the film will be much enjoyed by people who watched DRSIHYAM too. You will be able to enjoy PAPANASAM completely, forgetting DRISHYAM; that is the success of the director. It was long time seeing the audience surrendering themselves to the film so dedicatedly in a cinema hall like this. There was a pin-drop silence for this seat-of-the-edge thriller right after the first 45 minutes of the film. There was heavy applause and whistling for every 5 to 10 minutes in the film; I am not sure even if DASAVATHARAM and VISHWAROOPAM (the biggest hits of Kamal) received such applause from the audience. All praises to director JEETHU JOSEPH and DRISHYAM (the mother script) which had solid content with a flawless writing!
VERDICT: A spectacular entertainer! One of the best remakes that Tamil industry has ever seen in the recent times.
RATING – 4.5/5
Review by: Rahman
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