Thankam Movie Review: When Syam Pushkaran is scripting a film, you know that there has to be something special about it. The man whose writing credits include the likes of Maheshinte Prathikaaram, Mayanadhi, Kumbalangi Nights and Joji, is on a roll these days and his new film doesn’t end that roll. Debutante Saheed Arafath’s film Thankam benefits enough from the smart writing of scriptwright for most of its parts. Along with solid direction and good performances, Thankam turns out to be a very engrossing investigative drama, though its finale was more of a mixed bag for me. Aparna Balamurali is Visibly Uncomfortable After Student Misbehaves With Thankam Actress at Kerala College Event.
Thankam revolves around Kannan (Vineeth Sreenivasan) and Muthu (Biju Menon), who are based around in Thrissur and are gold agents. They are also very close friends, and even though Muthu is older than Kannan, the latter never thinks twice before reproaching the former for any of his carelessness. Since their trade involves enough risks, Kannan keeps most of his cards close to his chest, not even sharing much to his loving wife (Aparna Balamurali).
Then one night, Kannan runs in trouble with the Muthupettai police and even Muthu and their common friend Bejoy (Vineeth Thattil) get dragged in. While they manage to get out of police trouble by bribing them, Kannan’s journey to Mumbai a couple of days later isn’t so fortunate. SPOILERS ahead, he is found hanging dead in his hotel room that’s messed up, and the police suspects he is murdered. A team led by Inspector Vijay Sakhalkar (Gireesh Kulkarni) investigates the case, and they bring in Muthu and Bejoy for assistance, as the case makes them travel from Mumbai to Thrissur to Coimbatore to Trichy.
Watch the Trailer of Thankam:
Thankam, streaming now on Amazon Prime Video, offers insight into a lesser-explored trade of gold agents, and use it to drive a compelling mystery drama. The first act takes its time to build up, culminating in that tense Muthupettai sequence. Thankam, however, picks up momentum post the death of Kannan, and with the introduction of superbly cast Marathi actor Girish Kulkarni, who steals every scene he is in. Of course, you should know by now Kulkarni can ace the caustic cop act if you have watched Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly that features one of the best-acted police station scenes of this decade. Compared to his role in Ugly, Vijay Sakhalkar is more dutiful, even if the wheels still needs greasing.
It is interesting to note here that the frequent times the movie switches between Tamil, Hindi and Marathi, I keep forgetting that Thankam is a Malayalam film, and it is only when Biju Menon (rather subdued till that finale) pops up that I get reminded of its main language. Isn’t this what ‘Pan India’ is supposed to be, where the storytelling isn’t compromised because of language barrier?
I won’t discuss much about the investigative portions and the revelations, but most of the second act is truly arresting with smartly written police procedural sequences with few moments of humour also speckled in. The scene where Bejoy tries to get a young Insta Reeler to divulge her friend’s name, while her mother is cursing her, is amusing, even if you know exactly how it will end. The theatre fight scene, that has an important cameo, is a thrilling sequence, roused by Bijibal’s score, and allows one of its protagonists to have his ‘mass’ moment. Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam Movie Review: Mammootty’s Dual Performance is Unsurprisingly Fabulous in Lijo Jose Pelissery’s Confounding Dramedy.
The screenplay also has plenty of callbacks to think about once the movie is done, like the scene where Kannan scolds Muthu for keeping money in the glove compartment of his car. Initially, the scene gives an impression that Kannan is scolding Muthu for being so callous with money. Towards the end, after all the secrets are out, I recalled back to this scene and realised Kannan’s anguish had another frustrating layer.
Which brings us to the third act, which I have already seen on social media was seen by many as Thankam‘s weakest part. As I wanted to avoided spoilers then, I didn’t get into what they were complaining about, but now I get the point. What’s fascinating here is that the big revelation of Thankam isn’t something outrageous or out-of-place; the ‘twist’ makes good sense in respect to the character.
On the other hand, though, it also makes the revelation very much predictable. If the tragedy of a certain character’s desperate plight is the whole point of the story , then it feels a little disappointing that the whole time spent in an investigative process was to reach a forgone conclusion that you might already have pinpointed on. What’s even more underwhelming about the big reveal is that while I do understand the motivations of why the character did what they did, I couldn’t emotionally connect with those intentions. It has less to do with me being a stone cold ass, but more about the fact that glimpses of a person’s problem shown earlier, aren’t enough to feel that sadness you want to feel in the scene.
Let me point out films like Padmarajan’s Kariyilakkattu Pole, KG George’s Ee Kanni Koodi or VK Pavithran’s Utharam as examples to maybe help you understand what I am trying to say. Regardless of how the suspense worked out for you in these movies, the investigative portions help to understand the person linked to the third act better, which makes the revelation affecting or at least the person more accessible as a character. Which I didn’t find happening in Thankam. But Thankam definitely has the substance to be in the club of these films, only if Time allows it to age well.
Apart from that flaw though, the performances make the finale somewhat effective. While Biju Menon only gets to flex in that theatre scene, his restrained performance is more effective with the film’s tone. Vineeth, despite his limited screentime, is impactful enough for his character to leave its mark.. Aparna’s role is even briefer, but she makes her every scene count. Vineeth Thattil is quite good.
Thankam is an effective investigative thriller that works in most of the portions for its well-written police procedural scenes, and good performances. The third act may not be as effectual as the film wants it to be, but the movie keeps you reeled in very much till then. Thankam is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
(The above story first appeared on Sports Grind Entertainment on Feb 23, 2023 09:13 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website sportsgrindentertainment.com).