Susi Ganeshan's Thiruttu Payale 2 is the sequel to the 2006 film which went on to become a hit at the box-office. Eleven years is a long time for a sequel in the making but considering the audience is now more receptive than ever to characters with grey shades, the second installment is likely to hold appeal. Especially since it has completely new characters and is not connected to the first film.
Well, apart from the fact that it plays on the same human emotions as the first – lust, fear, betrayal, revenge. And the idea of a peeping tom. It's more or less the same story but has received enough upgrades to make it look fresh.
A built up Bobby Simha plays Selvam, an "honest corrupt" cop who dearly loves his Facebook obsessed wife Agal (a gorgeous Amala Paul). As in Spyder, Selvam eavesdrops on phone conversations on the instructions of his superior. He stumbles upon the different faces that human beings wear to keep up facades and he begins to lose trust in the people he cares about most. Why, even his mother can be two-faced (who would have thought a Tamil filmmaker would even suggest a thing?!) at times.
In one scene, Selvam is waiting at the traffic signal. The conversations he's heard play in his mind and the heads of the people around him change to those of different beasts – it's scary and funny at the same time.
While the first film was moralistic in parts despite the theme, the second one is surprisingly progressive. Where you'd have expected to hear lines about "honour", bordering on victim blaming, you hear a husband whose love for his wife does not diminish despite what he knows of her secrets. The scene with Selvam, Agal, and Balki (a creepy Prasanna) in the same room, each hamming in their own way, is oddly touching. This is Prasanna's 25th film and he's never looked so good. Or is that just the appeal all bad boys immediately seem to develop?
The film is not without its share of flaws. Amala Paul's character is written as an unbelievably naive woman. She seems willing to swallow any tall story that her husband tells her. Since these scenes are important to the plot, they are rather unconvincing, especially towards the end. The resolution seems rushed – what happened there?
The non-linear plot keeps our interest in the mind games that the characters play but the choppy editing makes the screenplay look disjointed. There are one too many threads that the director (who has also acted in the film) wants us to follow, but some of them just prove to be distracting.
Like Lens, Thiruttu Payale 2 is a cautionary tale about technology and what can happen when it invades your home. Its triumph lies in not boxing people as black and white but giving us two seemingly incongruous halves in human beings that actually go together – like "honest corrupt".
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.