Their latest Payanam is a genre that they have not tried so far, on how a passenger flight is hijacked by hard core terrorists and the rescue operation by the army commandos that follow.
Radha Mohan has followed the pattern followed by Hollywood, concentrating on the terrorist and their demands, a smooth talking government negotiator who wears them down and finally the action commando who successfully implements a risky rescue act.
Add all kinds of characters in the hijacked plane like a central minister, old couple, runaway wife, an action superstar who in real life is yellow, a priest, an astrologer, a doctor, a communist, a kid who has undergone a rare surgery etc to provide the human drama.
The story is straightforward- A Chennai to New Delhi flight gets hijacked by a group of terrorists. The flight is force landed at Tirupati airport due to a technical snag. The government with the help of Home Secretary Viswanath (Prakash Raj) starts negotiating with the hijackers who demand money and the release of their leader Yousuf Khan a dreaded ‘Jihadi’ terrorist.
Raveendra (Nagarjuna) the National Security Guards Commando chief wants to storm the aircraft and rescue the passengers. But the government team says it is a “high risk” operation especially in an election year! The government decides to release the ‘most wanted terrorist’ but there is a twist which leads to a commando operation.
Radha Mohan has succeeded largely in making it a taut thriller encompassing human elements like sentiments and humor. The commercial elements are the humour factor found among the passengers in the aircraft and the way rescue operations are mounted by a cinema director played brilliantly by Brahmandam and the guy who impersonates the noted terrorist.
What slows down the 2 hours 8 minutes film is its slow pace especially in the second half. Hard core terrorist will never allow the buffoonery on board a hijacked flight, and they will not behave with any human emotions as seen in the film. Well these are just minor air pockets in otherwise a decent ride.
The films supporting cast is what makes it work. The guy who impersonates the terrorist is a hoot, Charms as the superstar smitten fan, Rishi as the doctor, Prithvi as the superstar , Brahmanandam as a film director are the backbone of the film. Prakash Raj is perfect as the negotiator while Nagarjuna looks dashing as the commando. Guhan’s camera and Kathir’s art work enhances the richness of the film.
On the whole, Radha Mohan’s Payanam is an enjoyable ride.