Thalappavu – Review; Go Watch it!

//Thalappavu – Review; Go Watch it!

Thalappavu – Review; Go Watch it!

Thiruvonam Greetings! Hope you had a great one!



Onam comes every year, but “Thalappavu” comes once a decade. There couldn’t be a better Onam gift for Malayalis and Malayalam cinema than “Thalappavu”. Watched the movie today, First day, at SreePadmanabha and I’m still searching for a fault line. This one goes right up there – An All time Classic.


Madhupal makes a dream debut as a director, Prithviraj and Lal give their best performances till date, Babu Janardanan delivers a world class script which will stand its ground in any film festival ,and Azhagappan mesmerises with the Camera. “Thalappavu” is one movie which puts to rest any doubts about the class and scope of malayalam movies. We rank right up there!

“Thalappavu” is a gripping movie, immensely watchable, it doesn’t drag a bit, there is no suspense (starts with the death of the central character), no violence, no comedy, no love lines. Its almost like a Rohinton Mistry novel with tragedy heaped over tragedy, and finally topped with some very sad tragedy. I hate sad movies, and this is not one of them. Its a classic.



In a recent article from the Rupesh PaulAmal Neerad junta, Rupesh had pointed out that “Story” is not an important part of a movie. While nobody liked his movie, the point remains that, if Cinema is for telling a story then you could as well publish a short story. Making a movie for telling a story is as good as using Google for searching for porn alone, or using your Blackberry for incoming calls alone. Cinema as a medium has immense potential which needs to be tapped. “Thalappavu”, kudos to Madhupal, does exactly that. It uses the medium’s untapped potentials for handing down a classic.


Story: Thalappavu is a movie about Naxal Varghese who was killed in one of the state’s most controversial police encounters, and P Ramachandran Nair the police constable who shot him (and after 3 decades brought to book his superiors Laxmana and Vijayan who ordered the murder). Lal plays Ravindran Pillai, the constable, who carries with him the burden of the crime for three decades and along the way loses his family, his home and his sanity. Prithvi plays Naxal Joseph and his ghost, which keeps Ravindran Pillai company. The story moves in multi dimension with threads falling in line at their own pace, with every character getting their own space and piece of the tragedy, with recurring and repeating scenes shot from varying perspectives. Dhanya Mary is a find, and she must be here to stay.

Excerpt from the film website,

‘Thalappavu’ (headgear or turban) is a symbol of authority. In many societies, those in the upper social strata wear the turban as a symbol of power and authority. For the working class it provides shade from the hot sun and pelting rain.2.jpg

The relationship between a hardcore revolutionary and the masses is usually distressing as far as governments are concerned. Everywhere in the world, it is a common practice for the ruling class to fetter one who is ready to sacrifice his life for social causes. The basis of a constitution is that whatever the crime, it is the law of the land that has the right to mete out punishment. The Malayalam movie ‘Thalappavu’ tries to portray that it is the very watchdogs of law who shamelessly violate the rules that they bound to defined.


1. Script, Screenplay & Direction:  “Vasthavam” flopping is one thing I hold against the malayalam audience, then “Thaniyavarthanam” flopped too. Babu Janardanan of “Vasthavam” and “Achanurangatha Veedu”, delivers a water tight script. One can see the effort that has gone into writing this marvel. Madhupal, as a director delivers the script with finesse, but ends up delivering more than the screenplay. It is an exceptional “Director’s movie”, which I guess would catapault Madhupal to Blessy’s seat, now that the latter has started making trash. The story line is spoon fed to the audience multiple times in the first half that we are ready with the details when the movie speeds up in the second half. The delivery is subtle, forceful and passionate. If you look close enough you could even see a Jesus thread hanging around.

2. Prithviraj: He is the man! Mammooty’s uniqueness is that when Mammooty does an emotional sequence, the intensity and the raw sexuality pushes the scene right upto its pinnacle. Prithvi inherits that. Even when you disagree with the dialougues he deliver, there is no way you can ignore the conviction and power of his delivery. Isn’t that what we all feel about Naxalites 🙂

3. Lal & others: Lal could end up winning a state award for this one. Despite his limitations as an actor, he falls into the groove – and then rocks. Dhanya Mary gives a fresh and haunting performance (read Chitrangada in Hazarom ….)

4. Camera: In a movie that shifts between 1970s and 2000s, that shifts between first person and third person accounts, that is shot in Wayanad and Allepey, the camera had to be good. Azhagappan lives up to his reputation.

Bad: Tough call. May be one could ask for the evil police officers’ side of the story. Then you can’t be neutral on a moving train. Can you? Guess you can, then any policeman can 🙂

Verdict: ‘Thalappavu’ is not the usual super hit material. Then ‘Thoovanathumbikal’ and ‘Thazhvaram’ were average hits, and ‘Rajamanickam’ a super hit. A hit or a flop for a movie does not really matter. But I hope the producers make enough profits to continue make to make movies like this. In the meantime, do yourselves a favour – Go watch ‘Thalappavu’

By | 2012-01-21T03:00:21+00:00 September 12th, 2008|talkies|23 Comments


  1. Karthik.C September 13, 2008 at 12:39 am

    This is really good news for Malayalam cinema! Prithvi is bound to reach greater heights. And may Madhupal and those of his ilk make good movies like this 🙂

  2. […] REVIEWS Thalappavu – Review; Go Watch it! September 12th, 2008 · Thalappavu – Review; Go Watch it! Onam comes every year, but “Thalappavu” comes once a decade. There couldn’t be a better Onam […]

  3. Sundar September 13, 2008 at 5:21 am

    Really really overjoyed to hear how good Thalappavu is. Great for Malayalam cinema, great for Prithviraj. Cant wait to see this one.

    I really really hope this turns out to be a hit. Like you said atleast the film makers should get some profit.

  4. […] Kidu review WEB REVIEWS Thalappavu – Review; Go Watch it! September 12th, 2008 · Thalappavu – Review; Go Watch it! Onam comes every year, but “Thalappavu” comes once a decade. There couldn’t […]

  5. Geojith September 13, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Brilliant Review !

    Makes me proud to know that Malayalam Cinema has something to cheer about in these bad times.

    But sadly, this movie may go down in history as one of those movies which people will regret not seeing in theatres when they had the chance.

    Young Prithviraj will soon be the face of Malayalam Cinema. His growth as an actor has been phenomenal. I never used to like him earlier but some stunning performances in Daivanamathil, Vargam & Vastavam made me change my mind!

    Cant wait to see the Madhupal magic too !

    Expecting solid reviews of the other Onam releases from you!

  6. BVN September 14, 2008 at 1:06 am

    Karthik, Amen 🙂

    Sundar, the movie was long overdue, but there doesn’t seem to be a wave of support

    Geojith, Thank You! Prithvi is the future 🙂

  7. Sundar September 14, 2008 at 4:42 am

    how was the theatre response? any chance for the support to grow through word of mouth?

  8. BVN September 14, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    @Sundar, dont think so, but not sure, I went on Thiruvonam day and almost every theatre was empty 🙂

    Thirakadha is also good, just back from the movie 🙂

  9. Ajay Prasad September 14, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Saw it, loved it and was mystified by the fact that the theatre was 30% full. Superb movie – a brilliant combination of direction, acting, dialogues and a masterpiece of a narrative which effortlessly interweaves two disparate points in time.

    Yes BVN, Lal can’t do much right but I suspect he has produced this one because it had the right role for him to snap up a view awards. Who cares, as long as movies like this get made.

    Maybe it is because there has been almost nil publicity about Thalappavu or because most movie-goers are yet to wind up their Onam merry-making, but this movie dangerously looks like following in the wrong footsteps of Vasthavam and Vargam!

    If anyone is trying to sabotage this flick, may he roast very slowly in hell or be forced to watch endless re-runs of mindless Dilip flicks! 😀

  10. Abhilash Ramachandran September 15, 2008 at 12:26 am

    Superb movie telling about a bitter fact touch with eye drops but theatre was 30% full. Superb movie – a brilliant combination of direction, acting, dialogues and a masterpiece of a narrative which effortlessly interweaves two disparate points in time.
    Our Lal done a good job.Every artists are done good perfomence.

    But some defults in technical side ,costume,lighting,editing…

  11. Sreeram.H September 15, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    evidey movie varukayangil njan orapyittum kannum…esp nee paranjathu kondu ….. ninte review enthayalum kalakki …. now i am forced to like this movie ….. 🙂

  12. darshan September 16, 2008 at 7:19 am

    hi all i had decided to watch this film after watching the trailer,but unfortunately thalappavu was not released in my town,so i had to watch thirakkadha.that was also a good movie.i’m very happy to hear that prithvi raj has come up with a good performance,he is evolving to a good actor.but i think lal is the real scene stealer,i will post myreview after seeing the movie.

  13. deepu September 16, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    superb Movie.. kerlites should support this movie.Becoz now a days all r telling no good story is coming.thats’s classic.Diffrent story telling and the script also superb.Alagappan’s work also very good.Not only LAl ,Each other atrists also performed well.It’s a Our Movie.cheers

  14. jiby September 16, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    bvn, great review man. checked your blog after reading your scrap. now i can’t wait to watch the movie…will have to wait a couple of weeks. i am sure i will agree with your review and won’t have much to write new about the movie. 🙂 i am in tvm from oct 1 to oct 6…let’s see if we can meet up.

  15. BVN September 19, 2008 at 12:49 am


    the word of mouth is sustaining the movie. I guess Thirakadha is also eating into the Prithvi pie. btw ninte prakku kalakki 🙂

    Abhilash, yes brilliant narrative

    Sreeram, varum…ninte veetinde thottaduthulla theateril…njan anne paranjathanu ninnodu ivide nikkan 🙂

    Darshan, pls do, I too liked Thirakadha

    Deepu, glad you liked it

  16. BVN September 19, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Jiby, you’ll like it for sure. when you are around ping me on my mobile.

  17. Payyan September 20, 2008 at 8:43 am

    sounds like some body is making cinemas in malayalam after all those years of manufacturing trash… nice review… makes me want to watch it… 🙂

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  19. James February 25, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    awesome film by Madhupal

  20. ajith April 25, 2009 at 6:58 am

    Thalappavu,a cut above many of the other films which have dealt with similar themes ,is pleasure to watch .Madhupal has done a wonderful job. The glide between past and present is marvellously executed . More than the popular actors’ performance which at times gets cliched,the supporting actors as the police men and others deserve kudoos.One major draw back of the film was the poorly selected promotional clippings shown on Tv.It some how gave the impression that the film ia a dramatised sentimental stuff much in the same line as the emotional crap produced in malayalm. The film points a finger at those of us who are too timid or selfish to react.One draw back may be that the film eulogises revolutionaries without considering some of the mistakesthey committed. The present day events shown in the film and the characters as ramachandren pillai’s children , the people of the village ,the tv crew -all at times look sterotyped

  21. Suresh May 16, 2009 at 8:30 am

    well taken movie,”Madhupal you have done a good job” casting is excellent .Prithvi Raj has shown his stuff.Lal too have done a good job.

  22. Roby June 3, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Pathetic movie, Pathetic review !

  23. jo May 26, 2011 at 11:59 am

    pritvi have done a g8 work…

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