Thiruttu Payale 2: A decent, even if not darker, follow-up
Susi Ganeshan's spiritual sequel to his deliciously twisted 2006 hit isn't in the same league, but is a decent enough film that may just make you throw your mobile phone away
It's a simple question. Would we say a tenth of the things we say over the phone if we knew a third party was listening? Susi Ganeshan's Thiruttu Payale 2 will make you mull over your call history and all the sensitive stuff you've likely said over the phone. If not for anything else, it's worth a watch for this sensitisation. For the ten odd minutes it lasts before you check WhatsApp anyway.
Director: Susi Ganeshan
Cast: Bobby Simhaa, Prasanna, Amala Paul
To compare this Bobby Simhaa-Prasanna-Amala Paul film with the Jeevan-Malavika-Sonia Aggarwal orignal from 2006 would be an injustice both ways. Where Thiruttu Payale had extensive backstories and raw human emotion, Thiruttu Payale 2 is more come-as-you-are. Jeevan may not be half the actor that Bobby Simhaa (or even Prasanna) has proved himself to be, but as a character, the 'honest-corrupt' inspector Selvam isn't quite as interesting as Jeevan's Manickam.
Selvam isn't introduced to us as an upright cop. Assigned to wiretap VIPs for the Intelligence Wing of the TN Police, his first caper is to heist the rather hefty bribe left by a businessman for a Minister to sign off on a deal. There's a shade of Robin Hood here as you wonder if he's stealing from the rich to give to the poor, or bring the corrupt down (he parks the car with some of the money in front of the Minister's house leading to his ouster) — but all of that quickly disappears when you see him parking the cash with a Hawala expert. His benami, if you please. This still doesn't sound quite 'honest-corrupt' as Selvam refers to himself, but there's a backstory much later that sort of explains things.
Add to Selvam's newfound wiretapping obsession, his Facebook-obsessed housewife, Ahal (Amala Paul), who looks gorgeous in just about every scene and you can pretty much guess what happens next. Prasanna plays a cyber-flirt, a techie who gets off on stalking, luring, flirting, seducing and extorting women, in whose cyber-net Ahal unwittingly falls. At this point, you believe that you're in for an awesome cat-and-mouse game between husband-cop and tech-stalker.
Except, the film falters. Most of the plot only sort-of makes sense, because the writing gets sloppy and the screenplay, convoluted. There are plenty of moments that are nicely set up, but end up falling flat — usually ending with Prasanna taunting Simhaa or with Simhaa smashing Prasanna's chiseled faced to partial pulp. You wait and wait for those wickedly delicious twists that made Thiruttu Payale stand out, but they never come. You're left to contend with the pale, safer, easier twists you expect from formulaic directors.
The wiretap sequences and how easily technology and mobile phones can derail your deepest darkest secrets are sort of directed at all of us — we, who are mobile phone-obsessed. And to ensure he doesn't mix his message into his script, he has Vijay Sethupathi read out a sarcastic preamble before the film about how the mobile phone has the potential to bring down civilisations, just like gold, women or war.
Susi Ganeshan's desire to explore and expose the flaws of human nature — greed, lust, jealousy, shame, power...you know the drill — has always run like a synchronous soundtrack in all his films. Thankfully, there's very little preachiness. There's no showing that truth always triumphs, integrity wins, and so on. If only he had added another 50 shades of darkness to his characters, this film may have been in a different league altogether. But as it is, it's a decent watch.