Aishwarya Rajesh's Thittam Irandu, directed by Vignesh Karthick, is one of those earnest films that hope to make news for saying all the right things and giving a "different" message. But unfortunately, in its eagerness to stand out, the film goes haywire and blunders into offensive depictions and dialogues. A classic case of good intentions gone horribly wrong, thanks to poor research.
Aishwarya plays Inspector Aathira, a young woman moving to Chennai to take charge at her new posting. She meets Arjun (Subash Selvam), a fellow passenger on the bus to Chennai. Though she's a senior police officer, Aathira feels unsafe about sharing the co-sleeping space with a man, and he offers to move to a seat next to the driver. Needless to say, a romance blooms between the two of them.
Meanwhile, Aathira's childhood bestie Deepa Surya (Ananya Ramaprasad) is found dead in a car accident. But Aathira smells a rat and decides that it was a staged murder. All is well so far. Aishwarya looks great as a police officer (the make-up could have been more subtle though, is it really necessary to cake her naturally charming face so much?), exuding confidence and control, even as she blushes whenever she runs into Arjun. The investigation and their love life travel in parallel.
Watch: Trailer of Thittam Irandu
As is necessary in any decent thriller, Vignesh lines up a few suspects for the audience. Is the killer a former lover? Surya's husband (Gokul Anand) who behaves suspiciously? Or is it someone Aathira had not considered at all? To Vignesh's credit, the twist in the script is unexpected...but not in a good way. When the revelations are made, you can't help but think back about all that we know so far and wonder what was the necessity for such a convoluted plot. The motives of the characters seem bizarre to say the least. Forensic procedures go for a toss, as the story bends logic any which way to its convenience. The actors also turn increasingly screechy with 'EMOTION' written in neon on their foreheads.
A transgender character plays a pivotal role in the plot but though the director seems to be filled with empathy for trans people, he uses offensive and potentially triggering terms like 'biological error', 'natural problem' while referring to the trans identity. It's also problematic to have cis actors play trans roles, especially in the way done in the film. Considering there are very few mainstream representations of trans characters, attributing criminal, twisted motives to them is also quite damaging to the community. Such criticism has time and again been made by trans activists but the film industry refuses to listen, falling back on caricatured trans characters to evoke fear, suspense and intrigue.
The final reveal, which happens in a reverse Agatha Christie style, has all the suspects grouped in one place, telling the cop what really happened. The expression on her face indicates that none of this makes any sense, and I heard myself muttering, 'I feel you sistah'.
The English title of Thittam Irandu is Plan B. Probably the status it deserves on your weekend watchlist. And I hope to god your Plan A doesn't fail.
The film is now streaming on SonyLIV.
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.