Kamal Haasan’s ‘Papanasam’

Papanasam a.ka. Drishyam wouldn’t have been possible if Suyambu Lingam had a mobile phone. Think about it – a successful cable operator whose business is all about contacts, an owner of a 5 acre farm with own house and Jeep doesn’t have a mobile. But the nitty-gritty is important in the plot – and these have been well addressed in the movie. You appreciate and enjoy them better when you watch the movie again – the nuances really strike home then.

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Papanasam – the family gets a reality check                                                                                                         Image Courtesy – Yadtek

Papanasam promotion trailer piece had been out for a while and of course the movie has just got released, so it has been a popular one.(1.5 million hits as on 3 July). The poster shows Kamal with the family (wife and 2 cute daughters) riding what looks like TVS 50 to me.

It is sheer nostalgia – Kamal has the rustic look of a rural side prosperous farmer from his Mahanadi days. He is paired with Gautami, again evoking memories of Apoorva Sagodharargal, Thevar Magan and Kuruthipunal. We seem to be in for a treat as usual – the Malayalam version, Drishyam, featuring Mohanlal was a blockbuster.

(Have updated the original piece with new comments on 3 July 2015 post the release and initial reception of the movie. It’s exciting but I am still to watch the movie though.)

Kamal’s penchant for perfection is well-known. So what have we in ‘Papanasam’ is not just a change in name. It extends beyond as a concept – the roots of Papanasam in Tirunelveli are traced to the point that we have Kamal sport the Nellai Tamil dialect as well. The exact allegory of the title to the tale is not very visible – am sure we will find it in the final version though.

Kamal explained this in an interview – it wasn’t done just to avoid using the name Drishyam again, it popped up as a choice that felt right for the story and of course Papanasam stands for a place where one can wash off our sins. The ‘Nellai’ accent bit came like an icing on the Cake.

We are reminded of Kerala backwaters and lush countryside though the action has moved to Tirunelveli. Kamal is said to play the role of Cable Operator who dropped out from school in 4th standard but that didn’t deter him from being ambitious and become a self-made success story. Kamal is shown to point to lush Banana plantations so possibly there is a makeover and he is actually a farmer.

So what do I look forward to in this one –

  • Kamal’s first look reminds one of Mahanadi – the first half seems to be an ode to familiar routines in a pastoral land. Of course we know that though it is a thriller, it ends quite well unlike the gut-wrenching Mahanadi
  • Kamal and Gautami had a few popular movies but they were not a lead couple in their prime days. They seem to be playing their age and one may get to see a version of mature romance that will entertain us.
  • The audio launch is sometime in June – it is Ghibran once more; makes it interesting. (New update – well there are only 2 songs but the BGM is interesting).
  • Movie run time – the original in Malayalam had a run time of 2 hours 45 minutes, making it a stretch for the multiplex audience. Kamal is known to retain the length if it serves the creative purpose – he is least likely to cut the length down around 2 hours to meet popular standards. Guess lot of people think a thriller should run between 90 -120 minutes. (New update – It runs for 3 hours  – that was unexpected but it does not seem to matter as the story is engaging the audience)
  • It is perfect release though – the summer vacations are drawing to an end, a holiday weekend is on and you can spend quality time having an outing with your family
  • A perfect follow-up movie that seems to be as light as a ‘chocolate souffle’ from Kamal after the creative ‘Uttama Villain’ that was serious cinema. (New update – It’s a family entertainer and ‘slice-of-life’ show but not really a light comedy like Thenali, Pammal K Sambandam or Panchathanthiram).
  • The climax is awesome – have heard rave comments about the scene where the two families  meet for a final moment and Kamal interacts with Anant Mahadevan

Final verdict – Unlike the rutty Tamil movies, this one scores in narrating everyday ‘slice-of-life’ cinema realistically sans any melodrama or conventional tropes. And to have it in the able hands of an actor like Kamal takes it to the next level. Suyambu Lingam enacted by Kamal seems to be a winner all the way.

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