There aren't many plot based movies made in Bollywood. In that context, it is refreshing to see a film that stays on a single theme, presents enough twists and turns all through those couple of hours, manages to hold your interest right through the proceedings and (barring a few moments) doesn't fall into the trap of clichés.
This is the reason why after the character played by Munish Khan meets with an accident and is saved by a complete stranger (Zakir Hussain), he gets indebted to him for life. He has to return the favours, make a 'payback', and he does get a chance when this stranger knocks his door in the middle of the night. Hit by a bullet, it is now his life which is on stake and from this point on begins one night that has number of bizarre happenings that change the course of their lives.
The film could have become a routine drama had the writer not thought of some innovative twists in the story. This way the film does throw a surprise because one expected zilch from 'Payback'. Any blemishes? Well, in the building up portions around Munish's character, there aren't many exciting moments. The nightclub song in the pre-climax is forced while the climax is totally filmy, something which was just not expected from 'Payback' that was otherwise following a realistic route. Also, the so-called suspense element doesn't quite make you look at screen in amazement.
On the other hand there are some highlights scenes in 'Payback' that stay with you. The one where Munish's car goes through a police check is done well while the ones in the second half where he makes Zakir escape from hospital is well shot as well. Also, there are a couple of car chase sequences, both of which are done exceedingly well.
However, what remains with you are the performance of the two male leads - Zakir Hussain and Munish Khan - who suit the roles to the T. The scenes between the two are the highlight of the film as well. Debutant Munish Khan is not the kind that makes for a quintessential leading man. In fact he is not the kind who can be perceived as a star of the show. However, this is what goes in the actor's favour as the script of 'Payback' required a young man who was vulnerable, weak, can't really make tough decisions instantly, isn't street smart but does carry a heart of gold.
One would have thought that 'Payback' would be yet another film that would primarily rely on editing zing-bang with not much focus on story. However, what happens is on the contrary as production is just about okay but it's a captivating story that actually holds your attention.
Save for its climax, this film can be sat through without many complaints.