Watched the Malayalam film Thanmathra today at Sangeeth theatre. This is Blessy's directorial venture after Kazhcha, and tells the story of a middle-aged secretariat employee named Rameshan Nair, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The story is inspired from Padmarajan's short story called Orma.
Rameshan Nair (Brilliantly played by Mohanlal) lives in Thiruvananthapuram with his wife and two children. His father (Nedumudi Venu) had wanted him to become an IAS officer, but Rameshan was unable to fulfill his father's ambition. He is now hoping to make his son, who is a plus two student, an IAS officer, and this has been a wish of "three generations", he says. For his son, Rameshan Nair is a "friend, philosopher and guide". It was then that he starts forgetting his office files and bike keys, and is diagnosed of Alzheimer’s disease.
Memories are the most precious things in Life. The horror that our memories are leaving us one by one - that would be a terrible feeling. One would have expected Blessy to make a film fully exploiting the talent of a great actor like Mohanlal, showing the tragedy of Rameshan Nair as he slowly sinks into forgetfulness. However, after few brief scenes of Rameshan forgetting minor things, Blessy abruptly converts him to a totally broken person overnight, after which he doesn’t even recognize his wife and children. In the whole of second half, Mohanlal's role is something like that of mentally retarded person. I kept on wondering how the director will end the film, and expected something memorable, however, he disappointed there as well.
Thanmathra has several scenes crafted touchingly, mainly portraying the relationship between Father and Son. Rameshan Nair narrating his childhood days in which he had lied to his mother, and his son crying and admitting that he had also lied, Rameshan Nair creating a mock fight with his father as he is about to bid farewell to him - all are examples. In another memorable scene in the second half, Rameshan Nair recognizes his childhood girlfriend, as his wife stands and watches them helplessly.
However, Blessy is not consistent in blending the scenes with sensitivity. His portrayals of the harshness of the World go to the extremes, and are nearly unbelievable. The scene of farewell program that the secretariat employees organize for Rameshan Nair, is an example. All his colleagues look totally unaffected by Rameshan's tragedy. His son (don’t know the name of the actor) speaks smartly but there is a touch of artificiality when he dictates the retirement application for his father. It looked like the audience were getting affected by this, and they were taking these scenes as comic and laughing loudly. In a later scene, the director kills a character called Joseph (Jagathi). Probably he wanted to portray Human Tragedy, but I felt that this was totally out of place.
It is evident that Blessy wanted to make a good artistic film, but unfortunately he doesn't succeed in that completely. However, Thanmathra is a good and different film as per today's Malayalam movie standards, and establishes Blessy as one of the very few Malayalam film directors who take the media seriously. I think I had gone for the film with higher expectations, hence was disappointed.
The Music by Mohan Sithara and the technical department is excellent, and I liked the "kattu viriyithe kannamma" song especially, which fits well in the film.