Thankamani Review | An Exhausting Melodrama That Competes With Daily Soaps for Tackiness

Hearing the dialogues from Ratheesh Raghunandan’s second film Thankamani, I was wondering whether the last film hit film he saw was released more than a decade ago. Calling Thankamani outdated would feel like an insult to the good films that were made in those times. With the key incident having very little significance in the whole screenplay, this melodramatic revenge drama is a compilation of cliches, and the sheer lack of judgment of the makers about the evolvement of the current audience will make you facepalm at regular intervals.

The story starts off with the murder of a communist party leader from Idukki, and the police have no clue who did it and what prompted the murder. City Police Commissioner Arpitha is in charge of the investigation, and she finds out that some of the clues lead to the possibility of a link between this murder and another murder that happened in Idukki’s Thankamani, back in 1986. Arpitha’s investigation to find the connection between these cases to find the killer is what we see in Thankamani.

The police brutality that happened in Thankamani back in 1986 is infamous, which even resulted in the downfall of the K Karunakaran government. If you look at the trailer of Thankamani, you can easily guess the screenplay structure. The Thankamani incident happens, a lot of innocent people get tortured by the police, and years later, one of them decides to take revenge for the loss. Frankly speaking, that itself felt very flat. But when it comes to the movie, the space given to the real event is pretty minimal. Ratheesh Raghunandan has added a different case for the sake of our hero, and the Thankamani incident only gets used as an ignition point. To do justice to the title, Ratheesh makes the hero say “not just my life, but also the whole village” multiple times in the film.

Coming to the performances, it is really difficult to accept Dileep as this young man and the old man in those getups with mediocre makeup. And the actor is struggling to portray swagger and emotional high. When the character says his name, “Abel Joshua Maathan” in a heroic way, I couldn’t resist the giggle because of the odd rhythm. The talented Neeta Pillai is reduced into this crybaby kind of character, and the only thing I would say as a positive is that hopefully, someone will showcase her in a romantic role as most of her parts have been these stubborn rough characters. Pranitha Subash’s indicative acting as the investigative officer is really bad, with her sprinkling dramatic emotions in every scene. John Vijay plays the typical villain straight out of an ’80s movie. Manoj K Jayan is apparently the biggest villain in the lot, but the time the movie invests in him is minuscule. The elaborate cast of the film has several actors doing these loud dramatic characters, which will make you wonder whether you are watching a daily soap.

Ratheesh Raghunandan, who made Udal in the limitations of COVID actually had the advantage of that movie being in a genre that was less explored in Malayalam. But when it comes to Thankamani, the generic nature of his writing is getting exposed. The structure of the screenplay is pretty simple, and like I already said, the key event in the story is pretty much happening in the backdrop. The unsubtle whitewashing that has been happening in Dileep movies is happening in this movie as well. There is no denying the fact that the police had done really brutal things to the people of Thankamani that night, and our hero in this film claims himself as an innocent man who lost a chunk of his life due to a false case forged against him by police. Rather than criticizing the inefficiency of the ruling party, Raghunandan tweaks the tale and accuses the opposition, who capitalized on the setback faced by the government.

The cinematography by Manoj Pillai is pretty flat in most areas, and even in the dramatic bits, the old-school staged feel is there in that lighting. There are so much of conventional close-ups making the frames look unremarkable. The way the traumatic experience of the people of Thankamani has been captured is also forgettable, as the scale isn’t depicted effectively. The chaotic editing, especially during the stunts, is visually annoying, and the KGF kind of blackout experiments in that scene where Abel pulls the sheet over his jeep felt like a flawed amateur experiment. The music was pretty ordinary, and the fights also didn’t have the charm one would anticipate.

Having cinematic documentation of one of the most brutal abuses of power by the Kerala police is indeed an understandable sentiment. But the movie Thankamani only ends up being a frail excuse for a tiresome melodramatic revenge story that advertently tries to give good PR for its leading man. If you want to know what really happened in Thankamani, Babu Ramachandran’s Vallathoru Kadha episode on this topic is more gripping than this movie. If you wish to watch a fictional Chandanamazha version with less Thankamani and more melodrama, then this Dileep starrer may work for you.

Final Thoughts

If you wish to watch a fictional Chandanamazha version with less Thankamani and more melodrama, then this Dileep starrer may work for you.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.