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Payanigal Gavanikkavum movie review: A familiar premise; many wonderful performances

The Vidharth-starrer manages to fill the audience with a sense of warmth

  • S Subhakeerthana

Last Updated: 11.35 AM, Apr 28, 2022

Payanigal Gavanikkavum movie review: A familiar premise; many wonderful performances

Payanigal Gavanikkavum poster 

Story: After spending nights at the hospital, hearing and speech-impaired Ezhilan falls asleep, while travelling back home on the metro. A co-passenger mistakes him for a drunkard, and posts his photo on social media. Things go haywire in Ezhilan's middle-class family.

Review: Payanigal Gavanikkavum opens with Ezhilan (an earnest Vidharth) and Tamizh Selvi (a likeable Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli) bargaining with a salesman, to reduce the price of a vegetable cutter, sitting on a bench, in a park. It's interesting how without uttering a word, they both managed to get the cutter for 500 bucks, which was originally priced at Rs 2000. Ezhilan is a doting father and a loving husband. Tamizh Selvi is a god fearing and understanding wife. Ezhilan video calls Tamizh Selvi during lunch breaks. They exchange glances; communicate through expressions, and signs. They are a couple, who lead a low-key life, with their children, in a rented home.

On the other hand, Sakthivel shows us Antony (a dependable Karunakaran), who suffers from the terrible need to 'share' everything on social media. He goes live on Facebook while seeing his mother. Ezhilan and Tamizh Selvi are happy, even though they can't communicate, in the conventional sense. In contrast, Antony, with an excessive urge to communicate everything, is unhappy.

Antony doesn't know who Ezhilan is, or what he does for a living. He not only clicks a photo of Ezhilan when he's sleeping on the metro but also posts it on Facebook, (assuming he's a drunkard). The picture goes viral on the Internet and turns Ezhilan's life upside down. Ezhilan's son has zero regard for him now, as his friends shame him in school, seeing the trolls. Ezhilan feels heavy but chooses to suffer in silence. He feels bad that his son lost trust in him.

The story of Payanigal Gavanikkavum revolves around the lives of these contrasting characters. SP Sakthivel tries to tell what sort of damage a false narrative causes, in the age of social media. As an audience, you feel invested in the happenings and empathise with the characters. Vidharth gets into the shoes of Ezhilan beautifully. And so does Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli. Karunakaran impresses us with a restrained performance. The most affecting moments in the film are the scenes that illustrate the close relationship shared by these characters.

Though Payanigal Gavanikkavum, indirectly, has a "message", the well-written scenes make you buy into the message. Although, what bothered me, throughout, is the innate goodness of Sakthivel's characters. They are either black or white. It doesn't work that way, right? Everyone's so good in his film —Tamizh Selvi, Antony's mother, and the cop (played by Prem). Antony is also depicted as a nice and decent guy. Just that, he never thought his social media addiction, and impulsive posts would create repercussions, and ruin a family. Antony feels guilty for what he has done. He decides to meet Ezhilan and wants to apologise for his behaviour. Sakthivel doesn't villainize even his antagonist. And, this plays to the advantage of the film's screenplay.

Verdict: Payanigal Gavanikkavum makes us smile, laugh and cry. The film is simple, yet compelling, and is worth a watch.

(Payanigal Gavanikkavum is streaming on aha Tamil)