A faster screenplay, more focus on the bonds between family members, and a few more expressions for Jyothika could have definitely elevated this hill station drama.

Thambi review Jyothika-Karthis slow family drama is elevated by its plot twists
Flix Film Review Friday, December 20, 2019 - 19:23
Worth a watch

Set in the picturesque and calm surrounds of a hill station in Mettupalayam district, Thambi starts off as a family drama with shots of a woman haunted by memories of her missing brother. Parvathi (Jyothika) is clearly missing her sibling Saravanan, who ran away from home 15 years ago, the vast fields around her amplifying the sense of emptiness.

Saravanan’s absence also affects her father Gnanamoorthi, played by Sathyaraj, a local politician. His political career slides as the opposition asks how he would take care of civilians when he could barely manage his child. But the movie changes gears when the family receives information that Saravanan could be in Goa and Sathyaraj immediately leaves to find him.

Enter Vikki (Karthi), an orphan who lives in Goa and scams tourists for a living. To emphasise his obsession with earning money, director Jeethu Joseph found it necessary to actually make him dance (or suffer) through a song quite literally titled ‘I need money’. The scenes from the song itself took us back to Karthi’s ‘Rocket Raja’ role in Siruthai, a look which suited him far better than the long, streaked hair and the blue sunglasses that he sports in this movie.

Vikki is walking away from another scam when he is trapped by a wily Tamil policeman. When he looks to make a run for it, however, he injures himself and lands up in hospital. The investigating official here, played by Hareesh Peradi, links him to the missing Saravanan based on a WhatsApp forward that Gnanamoorthi sends every year on his son’s birthday.

And while the audience, the police, and even Gnanamoorthi’s confidantes are unsure about the identity of the ‘Saravanan’ in Goa, the father refuses to listen to reason and takes Vikki back to Mettupalayam. The predictable then ensues as Vikki figures out how to scam this emotional family. With his ‘father’ owning 1,000 acres of tea estate, it is a jackpot for the small-time crook and he has no intention of letting it go. But while his mother, father and childhood girlfriend are quick to accept him, his sister remains angry about his disappearance.

The first half then has Karthi trying various tricks to win Parvathi over and gain acceptance to take his plot forward. But while the premise is exciting, it is let down by a screenplay that is stretched out to carry emotions that do not fill the gaps adequately. You fail to empathise or connect with most characters despite the screen time given to them, and it is Karthi alone who manages to make you share his trepidation of living with a lie.

Meanwhile, the only emotion that Jyothika is allowed to display in the movie is anger and it gets tiring to watch her constantly enlarge her eyes and frown at everyone she sees. In a movie titled Thambi, you would at least expect a few tender moments between the brother and sister, but there are almost none.

But just when you resign yourself to a family drama with no panache, the director completely derails with a twist you just didn’t expect in the plot. Set right before the interval, it leaves you wanting more despite the unsuitable pace of the film.

In the second half, Jeethu goes back to his roots as the film takes on shades of his Tamil debut, Papanasam. The movie picks up pace, with Vikki finding himself in the thick of a sinister plot. From the villain, he now transforms into a victim being hunted by unknown persons, and Karthi portrays this transition admirably. He is rivalled in his performance by Sathyaraj, who carries the role of both politician and father effortlessly. Jyothika, meanwhile, continues to remain angry and mostly huffs around.

And while the director has more bombshells of suspense waiting for the viewers, the pace is distorted by multiple action scenes. Though choreographed tastefully, they cause the film to falter instead of taking it forward.

The film’s storyline, with its multiple twists, definitely sounds good on paper and you will certainly leave the theatre surprised by the turn of events. However, when converted to film, several portions fall flat when it comes to creating an emotional connect – a must for a film that focuses on family drama. You fail to feel sorry for the victims of circumstances in the film, despite the director’s attempts to explain their helplessness.

Karthi’s comic sense helps elevate the first half but the sequences with his childhood girlfriend (played by Nikhila Vimal), while enjoyable, do not really add substance to the film. The music by Govind Vasantha, though pleasant, does not stand out. Cinematographer RD Rajasekar, to his credit, has used the lonely mountains and empty spaces to create a sense of longing and depict the vacuum within the family.

With a plot that leaves you guessing till the end, Thambi definitely keeps you engaged. But a faster screenplay, more focus on the bonds between the family members, and a few more expressions for Jyothika could have definitely elevated this hill station drama.

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.




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