Thanmatra

So I went and watched another movie. A mallu one this time. I went expecting all kinds of jazz, cuz its won some few awards (5 state awards!!) and all that. But as usual, I came back slightly disappointed. At this point, its only fair that I declare to any mallus who are possibly reading this and are planning to watch the movie, that I’m planning to go into details and therefore maybe you should refrain from reading further. To the other non-mallu speaking people of the world – well you’re probably not gonna know what I’m talking about so its up to you to take the risk or not.

The movie is about this man who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. It’s adapted from/inspired by Padmarajan’s Story Orma. So the movie begins and ends with Manu (Arjun). He is Ramesh Nair’s (Mohanlal) son. Ramesh is of course the main character. All others are just foils for his brilliance. Like a typical Grecian tragic hero, he is seen as possessing all the virtues. Works at the secretariat, is a union leader, honest worker, who is loved, admired and respected by one and all. His is a fabulous family life too – wife and two kids at home, small but cosy apartment in the staff quarters. A close knit family, where he, Ramesh, is the center of everyone’s world. The movie especially emphasizes the father-son relationship, both of Ramesh and his father (Nedumudi Venu), and Ramesh and his son Manu.

So far so good. Now all hell breaks loose when Ramesh is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He himself is of course seen rapidly deteriorating. The director also attempts to capture the agony (and not to mention, the shock) of the family members and friends. I remember his doctor at some point mentioning how with Alzheimer’s it’s the family that needs the healing more than the patient himself. (Yeah yeah, don’t ask) He (doc) explains: “This is because the family has to deal with the trauma of the patient not even remembering them.” And irony of ironies, while the doctor is talking to them, Manu remembers how his dad had once told him about this disease.

Yes so just like Ramesh Nair is multi-talented (a “genius” according to Manu’s principal), Manu is quite the versatile person. He’s a school topper, and excells in all sorts of co-curricular activities. Of course Ramesh is the force that is with him. Father and son sit together and study every evening. It is Ramesh’s dream to see his son become an IAS officer. When the family has to move to Ramesh’s ancestral home because of his illness, everyone tries to tell Manu to take up engineering or medicine, or computer science (cuz that’s where the future is), as he will soon have to fully support his family. But Manu just does not have the heart to give up on his father’s dream. When the movie ends, we see Manu attending his final interview after having passed his civil service exam. Once again, the irony is that just moments before that the audience discovers that Ramesh is dead.

Sounds poignant? Indeed. No wonder the movie got the reviews that it did, you say? Well, I don’t know.

The movie certainly had its moments. But I thought the performances could’ve been better. I mean, I honestly felt Mohanlal went slightly toward the too far. Unfortunately, his was the main part, so although the supporting actors did a decent job, they went practically unnoticed, because Mohanlal was playing quite the larger than life character. Well, if one of the director’s objectives was to make on curious about the disease, then that worked. But on the whole I think the presentation was too theatrical. There was no need for the central character to die; it did not make any sense. And I mean that in the most non-weepy manner. I did not think of it as tragic, just simply illogical. It annoyed me. Nor did it make sense to kill Ramesh’s good friend Joseph (kill as in, he too dies suddenly). And then there were the gaps in the narrative. Five years just go unaccounted for, bad enough that the deterioration was as sudden/quick as it was. I mean even the fact that he contracted the disease so early is more digestible (apparently its rare, but it has happened) than how quickly he deteriorated. Neither did I think the camera was especially beautifully handled. There were a lot of shots that had the potential, but then just didn’t manage to hit the chord right. It was very disappointing, frustrating even. It was like I wanted to tell them, “You guys are ‘so’ close! Come on!”

That’s what it all amounted to finally – everything was just nearly there. However, the songs were nice. But not enough to get it up there, at least not in my opinion.
I give the movie a reluctant 2.5 on 5, because I honestly think it had a potential that was left used. And as I read through the reviews, please people, it’s depressing. This cannot be Mohanlal’s best performance. Vaanaprastham?!! Hello!! Have you all forgotten?!

PS: I asked my mom, and she says Thanmatra means “Molecule”. Any idea why they chose to call the movie that?

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