Music: Mohan Sithara
Producer: Century Films
Cast: Mohanlal, Meera Vasudev, Arjun, Niranjana, Nedumudi Venu, Jegathi Shree kumar, Innocent
At a time when crass commercials rule Malayalam cinema, Blessy has been successful to deliver a film with the right sensitivity and restraint required when sketching an intimate portrait of a man doomed by Alzheimer disease.
If further proof is required that Mohanlal is India’s finest actor, watch him in Thanmatra as Ramesan Nair. His anguish, agony and anxiety as he dreams big about his son, but gets inflicted by Alzheimer. The actor is mesmerizing and has given his best-ever performance since Vanaprastham and re-invents the idiom of acting once more with feeling.
Ramesan (Mohanlal) is an officer at the state secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram who has a 9 to 5 job in which he is honest, hardworking and goes by the rule book. His happy family consists of wife Lekha (Meera Vasudev), teenage son Manu who is preparing for the crucial 12th standard exams and a little daughter.
Ramesan is a good husband and the perfect dad for his children. His colleagues and friends envy them and the way Ramesan guides his son Manu who is an all rounder in sports, cultural activities and is the best student in school. Joseph (Jagathy Sreekumar), a colleague is Ramesan’s friend, philosopher and guide who get things done.
Ramesan’s big dream is to see his son prepare for civil service exams and get an IAS, something which he was not able to achieve in spite of being a very bright student himself. Ramesan slowly discovers that he often forgets small things in life and consults a doctor (Pratap Pothen) who dismisses it off as tension seen in parents about their ward’s exams and future!
But one day life turns topsy-turvy in a bizarre incident at office; Ramesan is hospitalized and is diagnosed for Alzheimer’s disease that causes loss of memory, intellectual decline, changes in personality and behaviour and an increased dependence on others. The rest of the film is how Lekha, Ramesan’s father (Nedumudi Venu) and especially Manu faces this big crisis as Ramesan takes voluntary retirement and goes back to his ancestral home where he was born and brought up.
Thanmatra asserts that Blessy is a path-breaking writer-director, one to be admired and concerned about. He has been able to convey an individual coping with his middle-class urban life suddenly devastated by a dreaded disease. Blessy has also brought out the relationship of Ramesan with his father as well as his son and in the end when Manu is being interviewed by the Civil Service board he says it all- “My father has been my biggest inspiration”.
Above all, it is Mohanlal’s performance which is the major highlight of the film. Meera Vasudev is simply terrific as Lekha who gives love and support to her husband till the end. The chemistry between the lead pair is touching and honest. Arjun as Manu is the scene stealer and has the making of a good actor. Jagathy Sreekumar and Nedumudi Venu have once again proved that they are the best. Kaithapuram’s lyrics and Mohan Sitara’s music creates the right mood. Sethu Sriram’s camera work is marvelous.
Thanmatra is an intelligent, insightful and unconventional film. It is a touching, thought-provoking drama for sophisticated audiences.