From its promotional materials, it was pretty evident that the end result of Thirike, the new Malayalam movie available on NeeStream, was going to be that feel-good drama. With one of the central protagonists in the film having down syndrome, you would be able to guess a trajectory that the script might follow. I am not going to say that Thirike surprised me by following an entirely different track. The structure was close to what I imagined, but the focus was slightly different as it explored the helplessness of a protective brother in an endearing way.
The story is about two brothers, Thomas and Sebastian, who lost their parents at a young age. Their uncle sent them to an orphanage at that point, and Sebastian, who had down syndrome, was adopted by a Muslim couple. Now the brothers are all grown up, and Sebastian is now Ismail. Thirike shows us the events that unfold in these brothers’ lives when Ismail, aka Ismu’s new parents Fathima and Rafeeq, tells Thomas that they are planning to take Ismail to the middle east for better education.
Even though the movie is about the warmth in the brotherhood, the ultimate focus is on the terrible loneliness through which Thomas was going through all his life. George Kora, who has acted the part of Thomas and writing the script and co-directing this movie, presents Thomas’s character as a not so likable person in the beginning. Thomas is cunning, and he is too possessive. Kora manages to blend that part of the script, which shows Thomas’s toxic affection towards his blood brother with humor. It is actually towards the last quarter of its run time Thirike addresses the inner turmoil of Thomas. And I found it deeply disturbing.
The film is directed by Sam Xavier along with George Kora. And they both preferred a very calmer narrative pattern. The frames are mostly static, something that I felt was similar in Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela, George Kora’s first film as a writer. The humor they have managed to maintain in the narrative is impressive. At times when you sense the possibility of an overdose of melodrama, there are some quirky bits in dialogues or visuals that keep the movie in that light-hearted space. Sam and George are trying their best within the limitations of an unsurprising story. As I said, it is when the film sheds light on the other side of Thomas’ street smartness and possessiveness we realize his pain, and you feel for that character. Ankit Menon’s scores have that charm you expect in a feel-good drama.
George Kora’s depiction of Thomas is on the louder side. At times it felt a bit annoying. But when you see him towards those last moments of the movie, somewhere, this loudness felt like a defense mechanism of an extremely fragile Individual. Gopi Krishnan as Ismail was really cool, and one thing that was good about the script was that it wasn’t trying to shed sympathy towards Gopi’s character. Instead, it treated that character as an equal with all the shades of a regular individual. Shanti Krishna was a pretty convincing choice as Fathima. Sarasa Balussery has that charm of a sweet grandmother-like figure, but her dialogue delivery at times was too stiff. Even though it was a small role, I really enjoyed the performance of Namita Krishnamurthy as Sneha.
Thirike is happening within the limitations of an existing/predictable framework. That may have reduced its charm a little bit in terms of being totally unique. But it managed to put a smile on my face. The lack of cheesiness in the narrative somewhere made it a pleasant film about a sensitive bond.
The lack of cheesiness in the narrative somewhere made it a pleasant film about a sensitive bond.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended