What made the movie Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum special, a film in which Syam Pushkaran served as a creative director, was how the thief character left a sort of pain in our hearts as we discovered him only towards the end of the film. This idea of empathizing with someone who is a bit of a crook is what Syam Pushkaran explores in the new movie Thankam, directed by Saheed Arafath. Even though it sets up the premise in a very believable and compelling way, the last act of the film, which tries to tap into the emotional layer rather than the thriller aspect, leaves the movie in that half-baked zone.
Kannan and Muthu are our central characters, and they are these gold merchants from Thrissur. They make gold ornaments and sell them to shops in various parts of the country. The movie Thankam talks about one such journey of Kannan to deliver gold ornaments to Mumbai. But what happens with him in Mumbai leads to a police investigation scenario in which many people, including his close friend Muthu, become suspects. How the case unfolds is what we see in Thankam.
The first and second acts of Thankam are very much in that Syam Pushkaran zone of realistic rendering. Saheed Arafath captures the bonding between characters and the initial tensions in the investigation very neatly. You are always intrigued about the events happening. It is actually towards the final act, when the crime-solving gets into a repetitive pattern of tracking multiple people, Thankam starts to fade a little bit. I personally felt the movie theater episode got stretched out far too much, and the movie couldn’t shift our focus to the emotional reasoning from the whodunit aspect.
As Muthu, Biju Menon is a lot more natural, and the subtle acting style works for the movie. Be it the humor rapport or intense emotional turmoil, Muthu’s range of emotions is minimal, but Biju Menon manages to make it look convincing. They say that half the job is done when the casting is correct, and Vineeth Sreenivasan as Kannan is an excellent example of that. The innocence and positivity one can see in Vineeth Sreenivasan as a person clearly helps the script, and it really makes the mystery element look exciting on screen. As the investigating officer, Girish Kulkarni portrays the character’s vigor and smartness impressively. Vineeth Thattil, as the friend, got one really memorable character in this film. Even though it was a character with relatively minimal screen time, Aparna Balamurali has got some really tough scenes in the movie, and she delivered a fine performance.
As I said, that shift from crime drama to a character study feels a little unsettling in Thankam. It is a movie that shifts its focus from “who did it?” to “why would he do that?” abruptly. But somewhere, I felt the script struggled in that transition to bring the audience along with it. How Thankam establishes its world is very exciting on a craft level. By showing conversations that happen between these people, they transport us to that world of small-scale smuggling. I loved how Syam uses that interrogation scene towards the end of the first half to explain this gold business to an audience who isn’t familiar with that world. Kiran Das’ editing style in that sequence is also superb. The background score in the initial part of the movie was subtle, and it subconsciously guided the audience into a grey space. But the loudness of the scores in the second half felt a bit out of sync.
There are some movies that wouldn’t work for you simply because of a specific element towards the end. Vineeth Kumar’s Dear Friend was one such experience for me, where I was highly invested in knowing what happened. But the lack of emotional intensity when that why is revealed disappointed the cinephile in me. Thankam is definitely a novel creation that wants to tap into the psyche of an individual who seems okay for everyone around him. But the screenplay couldn’t generate that lingering pain one would want to feel at the end of a movie like this.
The last act of the film, which tries to tap into the emotional layer rather than the thriller aspect, leaves the movie in that half-baked zone.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended