Thadam has a deceptively simple storyline. It is about the mystery over who has actually committed a crime between a set of identical twins - played by Arun Vijay. Yet, a gripping screenplay and remarkable making makes Thadam an irresistible edge of the seat thriller that Tamil cinema has long been waiting for.
Ezhil is a suave engineer who explains the marvel of engineering to his girlfriend by talking about the similarities between manufacturing a bra and constructing the Howrah Bridge. Kavin is a ruthless ruffian, willing to go to any extent to earn a quick buck. Estranged after the separation of their parents, Kavin grows up with the mother (played by Sonia Agarwal) and Ezhil, with his father. In the process, the brothers turn rivals.
When the police find a rich young man Aakash murdered in his apartment with virtually no evidence left, a selfie that shows Arun Vijay in the background comes to their rescue. Inspector Gopalakrishnan (Fefsi Vijayan), who has a score to settle with Ezhil, picks him up in no time but Kavin, caught in a drunk and drive case, adds a twist to the tale.
With evidence building up scene after scene that seems to exonerate both, the police are left clueless. The rest of the story is about how the mystery is solved.
For Arun Vijay, Thadam is his second offering with director Magizh Thirumeni after Thadaiyara Thaaka (2012) â€“ a film that perhaps explored the formerâ€™s full potential than all of his other movies put together. With Thadam, he arrives in style. Despite the overwhelming similarities in the looks of Ezhil and Kavin, Arun Vijay manages to show the difference with minute mannerisms. Yet leaving nothing to chance, the director sometimes has name cards flashed on screen!
Thadam has three women in the lead â€“ Tanya Hope playing Deepika â€“ the love interest of Ezhil, Smruthi Venkat as Anandhi to whom Kavin eventually decides to get married, and Vidya Pradeep as Sub Inspector Malarvizhi who is investigating Aakashâ€™s murder.
Tanya and Smruthi have limited screen space but manage to leave an impression with their competent performances. Vidya Pradeep has put her screen space into good use as an upright cop with weaknesses of her own.
Thadamâ€™s strength is that even the minor characters are well-etched. From Yogi Babu who plays Kavinâ€™s friend to the constable who inadvertently erases a crucial piece of evidence, every character seems to have a purpose. Thadam also has some purportedly unconventional women characters. Meera Krishnan plays a con woman who smokes and walks about guilt-free after her escapades to swindle innocent men and women coming her way for some quick money. Sonia Agarwal is a single mother and a gambling addict (have we seen that in a Tamil movie yet?) â€“ yet neither villainous nor guiltless. She commits suicide after her teenage son Kavin refuses to believe her fidelity. Kavin eventually grows up to become not just a rowdy but a womanizer.
Right from the beginning, the film carries a palpable tension that the director successfully manages to transport to his audiences. Magizh Thirumeni, a former assistant of Gautam Vasudev Menon, started making films in 2010 and in almost a decade, has done only four movies. However, with Thadam, he could well become a director Tamil cinema would eventually be proud of. Thadam does have its flaws but is well worth a watch.
Kavitha Muralidharan is a journalist with two decades of experience, writing on politics, culture, literature, and cinema.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.