Thallumala, obviously, is not everyone’s cup of tea. You can either enjoy it or not, or else understand that this is something appreciable and just not your kind of thing.

Shine Tom and Tovino dance in this brown-red poster of Thallumala
Flix Review Friday, August 12, 2022 - 16:07
Worth a watch

They know how to name a film, the folks who gave the title Thallumala to the new Tovino Thomas movie. There is thallu – meaning fighting – in the beginning, thallu in the end, and thallu in the middle. Enemies are made by thallu. Friends are made by thallu! Stories are told through thallu. And whatever little time is left between each thallu – precious few minutes if you count – is so loud and colourful you might be lost in a Marvel comic book. Khalid Rahman – the same man who made films like Unda and Love – has left absolutely no trace of him in his new venture, and quite smoothly manages to pull it off. No hiccups, no stone unturned (literally).

It may take a few minutes to get into the groove of the film, to understand this unusual format of storytelling, where people fall off from one scene to another, where stories are given in bits and pieces, where time goes back and forth without direction. You are given a focal point – the wedding of the hero and the heroine – Wasim (Tovino Thomas) in a loud black suit and Beepathu or Beevi (Kalyani Priyadarshan) in a decked up gown. The film will keep returning to this glorious day, explaining the little details on the way – why the groom walks so stiff-faced to his wedding, who are all these people with him, why is this other fellow coming with a whipping cream spray. To give a picture, the film is a wee bit reminiscent of Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Double Barrel.

But it must have been a herculean task to write a script of such chaotic nature – Ashraf Hamza and Muhsin Parari are behind that. At first you are given too many characters in a few flicks. Wasim making his friends – actors Lukman, Adhri Joe, Austin Dan and Swathi Das Prabhu; Wasim making his enemies – Shine Tom Chacko, Gokulan, Binu Pappu and others; Wasim’s bride Kalyani passing by in a flash; the parents – Johny Antony and Neena Kuruppu. But give it time and you are given ample doses of all the characters, enough to judge each of them as quick tempered, loudmouthed or sensitive.

Watch: Trailer of the film

It is primarily a men’s movie, the gang wars and fights and camaraderie shared between them. But Kalyani’s is not a vanishing face, it keeps coming back, and with her own bunch of quirks. Beevi, as she is called, is a social media influencer. And Wasim is helping his dad run a film theatre. The love story blossoms around dingy corners of the theatre, until a fairy tale of a song takes it to distant lands.

Suiting the underlying loudness and cartoonish character of the film, you get quick songs, many location and cloth changes, besides dance moves by Tovino – that’s a first. The shots are alluring – Jimshi Khalid’s camera makes sure you see that. And the stunts, even with the many, many effects, are clearly the result of a lot of hard work. It requires a certain timing and flexibility to fit into the film’s scheme of things – you never know what a character will be doing the very next second. He could be fighting, dancing, slipping off from one scene to another. There is hardly any time to give expression, let alone emote. But the motley bunch of actors does it impressively well, adapting to the jumpy script and its oddities. Shine Tom Chacko once again walks off with the trophy, he clearly specialises in oddities.

Thallumala, obviously, is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is experimental with a capital E. You can either enjoy it, or understand that this is something appreciable and just not your kind of thing. But if you are the curious kind, you’d want to know just what the H this is all about. 

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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