This Onam season, Mollywood seems to be suddenly re-discovering its golden touch, turning inwards for inspiration as our scriptwriters come up with one good film after another. As anyone of the Kerala citizen who was increasingly bombarded with bundles of politically animated news concerning the death of Naxalite Varghese, from its 20 0dd TV channels, I approached ‘Thalappavu’, with high expectations to see what the film offers on the plot .And, on the whole, I was not disappointed with this understated political movie. Actor Madhupaal, who is turning director with the movie, proves his competence in the medium and provides an accomplished debut as a promising director through this dramatic account of the real life story.
‘Thalappavu’, is based on a real-life confession of a police constable about gunning down a popular naxalite, in a fake encounter following the orders of his superiors. The film unfolds, with the flawed protagonist Ravindran Pillai (Lal), the police constable who had pulled the fateful trigger to kill the naxalite, struggling for redemption. He files a counter-affidavit in court, which brings out the truth that lay buried for thirty years. In a few hours, from his announcement, Ravindran Pillai is surrounded by media and men who want each and every detail about the incident.
The movie which juxtaposes the real and surreal, offers a promising watch with wonderfully good performances all through .Even while it focuses on the tormented life of the policeman and the mental agony that he went through after shooting, it also offers uncompromising support to the activists who had died for political liberalism and social equality.
The intelligently crafted script lines by Babu Janardhanan randomly place sequences without any fixed time frames and shifts from past to present at regular intervals. This mode of narratives that we usually witness in world famous movies is used in it’s the fullest form. Though it becomes a little trite towards the end with some implausible family twists and loud sentiments, one forgives this because of the honesty and the intensity of the affairs portrayed.
The other highlight of the movie is Azhakappan who is brilliant as ever; crafting visual splendor in each of the frames with accurately color graded sequences. The background score and the theme music by Shyam Dharman aptly merit a film written so neatly.
Though with a sharp script and authentic sets, what really makes the movie memorable is a triumvirate of fine performances from the acting front. ‘Thalapavu’ belongs to Lal who comes up with the role of his life time. He does very well indeed to capture the pain, remorse and the helplessness of the troubled protagonist .He makes the character look real and believable even in an increasingly bizarre surroundings. Prithviraj also gets to sink his teeth into a fine role and delivers a strong performance, with more than his share of emotionally high-strung moments. His expressions of undying human spirits particularly in that shooting scene will be remembered for long. Dhanya Mary as Saramma, with her smouldering eyes, pushes them to the fullest, in another convincingly done character.
Madhupal in his debut film , which is not longer than 100 minutes ,make no mistake to be truthful with both protagonists and in the screenplay that is talking only as much, as is required. Where ‘Thalappavu’ succeeds the most is that the movie stays on to be a reminder about the brutalities of a police Raj, but not a documentary, which is fair enough. A must see for all connoisseurs of good cinema.
Cast: Prithviraj, Lal, Navya
Direction: Madhu Paal