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Bollywood Movie Reviews

Thuramukham, What Up, Dock?



Thuramukham(Malayalam, SonyLIV)

Rating: *** ½

For my  money and  time Nivin Pauly is  one of India’s finest contemporary actors.Admittedly  some of his recent  films have been disappointments. Nivin returns to  fuelled form in  this epic drama  on  the dignity  of labour.He is  a seething bundle  of  rage as  Moidu,  a  daily wagearner on the  harbor where  workers protest against the Chappa (token) labour allocation system practiced during the 1940s and 50s in  Cochin Kerala.

Nivin’s character  doesn’t play for sympathy at all. He has no redeeming qualities , at least none  that I could see. He is  the  son of a noble brave  man Mymoo (Joju  George in  full black-and-white glory)  who goes to  his death fighting for workers’ rights .

Mymoo’s quietly  assertive younger son Hamza(Arjun Ashokan)  seems  to have  inherited his father’s  qualities. But  elder one  Moidu is a wastrel and a drunkard. Yet his  family seems  to dote on him.

The  entire  set of above characters seem to echo Yash Chopra’s Deewaar very  closely though the  credits in Thuramukham  do not  acknowledge  Deewaar as  one of its inspirational sources there is even a fight like Deewaar where  Moidu locks himself in a  warehouse with a  villain.

  The  film claims to be  based  on a play by the film’s writer  Gopan Chidambaran’s father.I am  not of how much of the essence of his father’s play Gopan has  projected into this  film. The screenplay seems to lack a formal structure.  It weaves in and  out of  seemingly true incidents  and  eschews a cinematic structure for a more free-flowing  mix of  fact and  stagey drama.Which is  not  an  undesirable mix at  all.

Director Rajeev Ravi whose earlier work  Annayum Rasoolum (and not so much his other directorialsI’ve liked immensely , breathes life into the violence that rocked this part of the world in a specific  period  of time. I didn’t see the  characters suggesting their  periodicity in clothes or speech, which is actually a good thing, as the external trappings usually get in the way  of the storytelling in period  films .

 Not this one. Tharamukham affords powerful visuals that  stay with us  long after  the film. For sure, Rajeev Ravi is a better  cinematographer than a  director. As a storyteller he fumbles over his characters while giving them finishing touches. The suddenness with which  Nivin  Pauly’s character  Moidu drops out of the screenplay, or his unfinished relationship with Umani(Nimisha Sajayan) whom he loves but, as in other aspects of his life, Moidu couldn’t  commit to, indicate the vision  of a restless storyteller who doesn’t allow his audience to get close to any of his ravaged  ravenous characters.

 This film is  a storehouse  of  killed  unostentatious acting. While the men are  violent and vulnerable at the same time, it is the women who  hold our attention. Nimisha Sajayan as a homeless woman seeking some permanence,and Poornima  Indrajit as Moidu and Hamza’s mother hardly speak. They don’t need to.

The film is leaden with sloganeering. With a  temperate  vision of  social  inequality  and oppression, Thuramukham could have  gone  that extra mile. As  things stand,this film seems tragically stranded between an achieved excellence and  a purported greatness.

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