I cannot remember the last time I saw an Indian movie about a hijack or even a kidnap, let alone a Plane hijack, or any such thrilling themes and ended up saying oh its ok, not bad. Movies on such themes, in India, irrespective of the language or region it is from, always ends up disappointing. There were a couple of decent ones in the 80's. And in the recent past, Mission 90 days by Major Ravi told the real story of the hunt for the accused behind late prime minister Rajeev Gandhi. But this well told movie was a big failure in the box office, as it ended on a negative note, just how it occured in real life and the audience might have expected something different, strangely though. However, later movies by the same director were really horrible attempts and his last one, Khandahar, another one from a real hijack was termed horrible movie, even by ardent followers of the super star who lead that movie. Barring Mission 90 days, all such attempts had always tried to deviate from the main plot, adding typical spicy elements which would turn the movie into a disaster. It is not just the production values which leaves these kind of Indian movies a failure, but everything from script to direction to even romantic and sentimental songs and scenes. Payanam is excellent and will give us a good feeling that, ah we too can make these kind of movies.
A flight going from Chennai to Delhi is hijacked and has to land in the Thirupathi airport. The terrorists demands for the release of a major terrorist who was captured two years back and is now serving in a Kashmir jail. As always, Indian system cannot think about any commando operation, as elections are happening very soon and for typical obvious reasons, and agrees to release the terrorist. However, the terrorist gets killed in a road accident.
Payanam is much better than the best entertainment stuff till the above incident in the movie. The movie is excellent from thereon.
This movie, produced by Prakash Raj, is an excellent attempt and this duo is on a great pursuit of making wonderful movies, which can be placed along with those beautiful parallel movies of the 80's. I liked Mozhi, their first one and I liked Abhiyum Jnanum even more, the second attempt from this team. It is just incredible that they have taken a completely different subject than from their first two movies and came out really successful. All credit for them to choose this subject and make an excellent movie out of it.
They have chosen some brilliant characters as passengers in the flight. And through this passengers they made sure that, the movie is never lagging in any pace. These characters ensure that inspite of all the tension, there is quite a lot of fun. That is simply brilliant, especially since there is a lot of sarcasm thrown out at every thing, from Govt. system to police to media to super stars and fans and even to IT professionals. And script is excellent for this factor alone. Wonderful dialogues too. And the way it treats the hijack and the rescue operation, after the accident of the terrorist, is excellent. In fact, there is very little action to talk about, or it is actually only some simple action, much less than what is expected of such movies, but it is told so nicely, just enough to keep the viewer on the edge of the seats until the final rescue, is a big success for the script and the director.
Payanam does have some minor faults here and there, but it is still a wonderful watch. And a lot of salutes to the script and the director to avoid any stupid songs and sentimental scenes.
Had this movie had some better production values, I am sure it would have been remade / dubbed into most Indian languages. For, it is the first time in India that we get to see a good movie on this kind of topic.