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 Paul–Amal 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.
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:Β “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 π
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 π
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’