Still from 'Thadavu'
Still from 'Thadavu'IFFK

Thadavu, elevated by its thorough script, is a lovely contribution to Malayalam cinema

‘Thadavu’ is scripted and directed by debutant Fazil Razak, and is packed with memorable performances, humour, and relatable characters.
Thadavu (Malayalam)(4 / 5)

What makes Geetha of Thadavu so relatable are not the things she gets right or even the many struggles she goes through, but a combination of these along with her very annoying traits. They put Geetha into familiar territory. Fazil Razak, in his debut feature, creates portraits of close-to-life characters with admirable clarity, letting the humour, angst, and a baggage of emotions from a few chosen moments in their lives flow organically into his script. Add to it the astounding performances and a thorough script, and Thadavu becomes a lovely contribution to Malayalam cinema.  

Beena R Chandran, playing Geetha, should have been discovered a long time ago. With her uninhibited movements (she swims effortlessly in her saris) and reflective expressions, Beena makes Geetha so close to life, she seems like someone in your own circle of friends and family. Geetha had two failed marriages and has two daughters from it; she has two really close friends, and a job as an anganwadi teacher. Yet she lives alone in an old house, sitting in the yard with a pot of black coffee and her thoughts, when she is not entertaining friends or the neighbourhood kids. 

A world away from the portrayals of single women living alone in apartment buildings, Geetha’s solitary life is not made to look fashionable. Neither is it painted sad. It is a most practical setting that is not made a big deal of, and still manages to inspire. Here is a woman, fighting with her ex-husband in a family court over the periods of custody of her child. It is revealed she has had mental health issues before. Yet, her pain is not magnified with a melancholic background music seeping through the scene or a loud monologue packed with dramatic phrases.

Not that Geetha is afraid to show her emotion. She is generous with her bursts of anger, slamming doors on the people who care for her, knowing that they would still not desert her. She lets her affection show only for the little daughter from the second marriage, sneaking in secret hugs and homemade treats when no one is looking. She has clearly been through so much that confrontations do not seem to wear her down anymore. A physical altercation with her second ex-husband at the little daughter’s school does not leave her shattered, just more careful of her future meetings with the girl. 

Misfortunes seem to chase Geetha, one after another, in the segment of her life we see. One can only guess what she had faced before. Despite its numerosity however, the problems do not seem forced. In no way does Geetha’s story ask for sympathy. Her unexplained tantrums keep coming, her tears rarely do. But when they do, in one scene where she lets her head rest on someone and loudly wails, Beena’s sobs tug at your heart. 

The friendships and snippets on relationships are warm without a single explicit expression of it. There are no big hugs or declarations of love. But Hamza (PP Subramanian) and Uma (MN Anitha), a middle-aged bank employee and a pregnant woman respectively, are forever by her side that you might start wondering if you are doing half as much for your friends. That’s the kind of introspection the movie offers, without even trying, about relationships. In a scene where Geetha’s first husband sees their grownup daughter with a man laying his head on her lap, he tells her to help the man when she could and not make the mistakes that her father did. 

Even the minor characters are taken care of wonderfully, not left behind after a scene. Like the elderly Muslim woman in the bus Geetha travels in and has silent exchanges with. Or the aged thief robbing a bank. The authenticity of the north Kerala dialect and the situational humour simply make these characters and the film more endearing. 

The film was screened at the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK).

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 producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute