This was a note to myself. Though the movie is very close to my heart for multiple reasons, I have tried to maintain absolute honesty and objectivity in my thoughts about it here.
Thira is a Malayalam movie made for the Indian audience with world cinema standards of film-making.
The plot revolves around Dr. Rohini (a social worker who runs Arpana – a home for girl children) and Naveen (a youngster whose sister studies in one of the education hubs in Karnataka). A pan-India human trafficking nexus involving some corporate and some key judiciary and police personnel kidnap the girls from Arpana and also Naveen’s sister. The story is about their attempt to rescue them before they are subjected to the pain and torture that are undergone by trafficked girls and children. Although there have been movies in the past on similar one-lines this is a completely original and fresh treatment provided to it by the team.
The idea of a social thriller is not familiar with the Indian audience as much as we are very familiar with these two genres independently. The well-researched, social ones are often called documentaries or art films, and there are thrillers with unrealistic action sequences and editing gimmicks, also called pure commercial films. Thira falls nicely in a genre that perfectly unites these two types of movies. The biggest credit in pulling that off goes to the screenwriters Rakesh Mantodi and Vineeth Sreenivasan for the amount of effort put in to ensure realism in terms of representing the social theme, locales, lingo and most importantly balancing the pace – of the dialogues and the overall story.
After one film on friendship and romance each (two never-fail youth themes), Thira is definitely a challenging attempt by the filmmaker in Vineeth Sreenivasan or in his own terms, his first ‘substantial movie’. He has gone a step ahead by expressing his unwillingness to be shackled by boundaries of shooting locations (Belgaum, Goa, Hyderabad and Chennai) or the characters cast or the languages employed to maintain the realistic flow of story (You will hear English, Hindi, Tamil and Kannada in addition to Malayalam spoken by characters throughout the movie!) In a way, this would be a first of its kind attempt by a ‘new-generation’ Malayalam filmmaker who has placed undivided confidence in the famous linguistic dexterity of a globalised Malayalee community and its willingness to accept and promote non-masala, non-item number, non-superstar, non-glitzy, classmovies like those made by Adoor, Aravindan, Padmarajan, Bharathan and their likes several years ago. Hopefully, the new-generation audience will not disappoint his brave attempt to deviate from fixed formula films.
It is roughly two decades since her timeless portrayal of Nagavalli in Manichitrathaazhu but Shobana still manages to hold the same screen charisma (if not more!). The character of Dr. Rohini Pranab fits so naturally on to her; perhaps that is why she also chose to dub her dialogues in Malayalam herself for the first time. Dhyan Sreenivasan, as Naveen, performs way better than an average debutant and responds well to the demands of the script – be it in the variety of emotions, dialogues in various languages, fast-paced stunt sequences etc. The characterisation of a 25 year old, agitated brother is apt for him and he has pulled it off with his natural acting ability. However it take at least a few more challenging roles before he can prove himself beyond doubt as a fine, versatile actor, and successfully break off the web of nepotistic criticism weaved around any second generation artist. That said, he has already won many a hearts with his boy-next-door looks and off-screen candidness; and is definitely on the road to popularity. A brilliant effort by casting director (and ad maker) Dinesh Nair means that each and every character has been picked aptly for their roles, most importantly those of Basu and Angel. His achievement in bringing together characters from all parts of India and even outside it is highly commendable. Deepak Parambol of Thattathin Marayathu fame has done a fine job in his negative role and has once again proven his innate ability to pull off serious characters with ease.
The success team of Vineeth Sreenivasan and Jomon T John has once again enthralled audience with their visual magic – this time on film! The intensity that has been brought out on the film is more beautiful than what was claimed by the team at the beginning of filming. The transition from the slow and intense romance theme in Thattathin Marayathu to the faster-paced thriller mode in Thira has been seamless, without compromising on the stunning beauty of picturization, especially with the chase and stunt sequences.
Shaan Rahman’s name comprises of two extremely popular Indian musicians’ – Shaan and Rahman, and time again he has lived up to the expectations from such a powerful name. The musical ecstasy presented by the compositions of Shaan (both songs and the background score) provide life to the whole experience of Thira. The songs are blended well into the narrative of the story, making them all the more significant parts of the movie. Click here for listening to the tracks.
Editing by Ranjan Abraham has done 110% justice to the demands of the genre of Thira. The versatile master of the art has successfully managed to strike the right cord of balance between the pace of a thriller and the depth demanded by the social message conveyed.
It is difficult to spot any significant negatives in the film, unless you really want to. There are a couple of places you find the movie a bit dragging but that’s just for a few minutes until some new twist puts you back on the edge of the seat. The use of many languages is a double edged sword in terms of reception among audience who find it difficult to understand them, and hence find it difficult to travel with the storyline (There are sub-titles though).
The movie has been created thus and hence must be viewed with the objectivity of a story – that of Dr. Rohini and Naveen, and not as a social crusade against human trafficking or any form of solution to it. It is more of an eye-opener about the vulnerability of our modern society towards the venom of female objectification and how every passing day of safety is a ‘gift of luck’ to the girls and women in such a civilization (or lack of it!). The movie also appeals to its audience to open their eyes and minds to things that do not concern them directly today, as the unchecked penetration of such social evils could catch up with us any other day. Thira is already announced to be a trilogy, another bold attempt by the filmmaker and a show of his commitment to making socially relevant, entertaining films.
Thira – MUST WATCH!
(Made for all segments of audience, Thira is not just another regional movie)