Gripping game of cat and mouse - Thiruttu Payalae

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Genre: Thriller
Director: Susi Ganesan
Cast: Jeevan, Sonia Agarwal, Manoj K. Jayan, Malavika
Storyline: A rich wife is caught red-handed by an avaricious young man.
Bottomline: Like father like son. So beware!Intelligence marks Susi Ganesan's story, screenplay and direction in AGS Entertainment's `Thiruttu Payalae' (A). Taking up a blackmail theme, Ganesan treats `... Payalae' with skill, sense, sensitivity and finesse. Appropriate casting enhances the impact. Ganesan also turns actor (he plays a detective) in ` ... Payalae.' From the Sujatha-Muthuraman film of the 1970s, `Mayangugiraal Oru Maadhu,'(Tamil) to the more recent `Murder' with Mallika Sherawat, many filmmakers have handled infidelity. In `Mayangugiraal ... ' it was pre-marital sex that made the heroine a blackmailer's prey. In `Thiruttu Payalae' the affair is extra-marital. Rupini (Malavika), the wife of business tycoon Shivraj (Manoj K. Jayan) gets into a relationship with her husband's friend, Ramesh (Abbas). Manickam (Jeevan) captures the clandestine affair on camera. A school dropout who turns out to be a menace, Manickam is not going to allow the opportunity slip away. This is not the murder-horror mix of the `I Know What You Did Last Summer' kind or the `Phone Booth' type of intense drama. The cat and mouse game the villain and the victim play, and the way one alternately checkmates the other in every round, sustains interest. In the process, there are many twists. But so what, when clarity doesn't suffer? Ganesan imparts a poignant message. Manickam, a bright student in school goes wayward only on watching his corrupt dad, a government servant, collect bribes from all and sundry. The child is led to believe that values matter little.

Hero proves his mettle

Jeevan returns after a hiatus to prove that he is good negative hero material. Strong reactions are not exactly Jeevan's forte. Still with silent stares and frenzied shouts he scares you enough. When Jeevan could not shake a leg in his debut film `University' you understood. But having two left feet even in his third venture (as far as dance goes) is unpardonable. A meaty role on a platter and Malavika makes good use of it. Her dubbing artiste (Suchi?) does a neat job too. Sonia Agarwal's is another effective character, which she essays with ease. As the understanding and caring girl in love with Manickam, Sonia scores. Vivek's digs at our folks are hilarious — especially the tele-serial story with its layers of illicit relationships has you in splits. Manoj K. Jayan comes out with a dignified enactment. Cinematographer Ravishankaran's blue tone, mellowed lighting, imaginative angles and telling silhouettes match the mood of the narration perfectly. Editing (Sunil Kumar) is another strong point. The fast cuts make Ganesan's screenplay gripping. Bharadwaj's re-recording is more appealing than his numbers. The opening lines of `Poi Solla Poraen ... ' and `Avala Partha ... ' are refreshing bits. Vairamuthu sparkles in the lyrics of all the songs including the title, tuned as in MGR's hit number `Chinna Payalae ... ' On the face of it, the title sounds rather flippant. The relevance becomes obvious only after you watch the film. This is Ganesan's third film after `Virumbugiraen' and `Five Star,' and all three have been appreciably different. Blackmailing has been dealt with by many filmmakers here and abroad. But thanks to his unique approach, Susi Ganesan makes `Thiruttu Payalae' a watch-worthy exercise. MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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