Report by Niveda Manohar; Photos by Sriram Narasimhan
The Papanasam success meet was different from the very beginning. For starters, the customary big banner on stage was missing. The curtains were closed, and there was a distinctive murmur from behind the drapes of the Image Auditorium in Chennai. And when the curtains went up, the stage was set up for a play.
What we saw was the world of Papanasam – a tea shop in one corner, with MS Bhaskar behind the counter, the house ‘Rani Illam’ from the film, a police station, where Kalabhavan Mani and Das, the police officers were conversing with each other with rigid expressions on their faces (Policemen do not smile much, apparently). A voiceover gave a brief character sketch of all the artistes who took stage. Asha Sharath was so much in character, she even wore an outfit she was seen wearing in the film.
The Suyambulingam family then took the stage and the leading man, Kamal Haasan was welcomed amidst hoots and whistles. Thankfully his mustache was original this time around. Innovative and engaging, this introduction was. (Are the other film teams taking note?)
Each member of the cast took to the stage and thanked the audience and the media for the overwhelming response – both critical and commercial – to the movie. Jeethu Joseph apologised preemptively for his Tamil even before he started to speak. He said that many journalists had asked him who his personal favorite was between Kamal Haasan and Mohanlal, and he replied in the best possible way – quoting a line from the climax of the movie: “Its best for everyone if that secret dies with me.”
Kamal Haasan thanked Mohanlal for suggesting his name when talks on the remake of Drishyam surfaced. When asked whether he was worried that his ‘Ulaganayagan’ image would be hurt by the scenes where a Police officer strikes him and and his family, he replied that he was never fond of the ‘Ulaganayagan’ tag, and would rather prefer being called a ‘good actor’ anyday.
A fellow journalist, known for his ‘scandalous’ questions asked him why he played a Hindu in the film, unlike the orgininal, where Mohanlal was Christian. Kamal was quick to counter saying “If Thodupuzha (Where Drishyam was based) can become Papanasam, why can’t George Kutty (Mohanlal’s character) become Suyambulingam?”
This success meet was like no other, the movie team was actually proud of the film, and attached to their characters. Suyambulingam’s family seems to be happier and have moved on from the incident that shook their world.