A Blog on Cinema

Tanmatra not doing good


Director Blessy made his debut with the film Kaazcha starring Mammotty. Though the film had some excellent songs, we could not bear the film and had to quit midway. Now his second film Tanmatra starring Mohanlal is out and the verdict is not that great.

The simplicity of narration may surprise you and the languorous pace may leave you numb. It is brave of Blessy to not care about any trend or any stereotypes. He seems to have gained immense confidence from the success of his first film, which can be termed as middle-of-the-road, and has this time tried to make something that is bordering on the ‘arty’.Even the songs don’t have any commercial prospects. For a lay viewer, the film may turn out to be very heavy. The film is for connoisseurs. [‘Tanmatra’ is for connoisseurs]

Reports from Kerala suggest that the film had a very small opening in various theatres which is unusual for a Mohanlal film.

Ratheesh writes

However, Blessy is not consistent in blending the scenes with sensitivity. His portrayals of the harshness of the World go to the extremes, and are nearly unbelievable. The scene of farewell program that the secretariat employees organize for Rameshan Nair, is an example. All his colleagues look totally unaffected by Rameshan’s tragedy. His son (don’t know the name of the actor) speaks smartly but there is a touch of artificiality when he dictates the retirement application for his father. It looked like the audience were getting affected by this, and they were taking these scenes as comic and laughing loudly. In a later scene, the director kills a character called Joseph (Jagathi). Probably he wanted to portray Human Tragedy, but I felt that this was totally out of place. [Thanmathra]


  1. A `Tanmathra’ feeds the soul, while a `Rajamanikyam’ tickles the funny bone

    The general lament that values are being diluted and the nuclear family is getting more and more self centred in Kaliyug will remain a lament minus action if nothing is done, howsoever small, to arrest the trend. It is not enough for people to wait till they reach their golden years to sit on judgement on a society that they helped shape. People have to act and in any which way you please, to address any situation. `Tanmathra’ tackles this malaise in aesthetic mode.

    When the subject matter of cinema has travelled from the sublime to the ridiculous and the middle path is getting overgrown with weeds, here is a movie that is both for the masses and the connoisseurs. The news is that `Tanmathra’ has story, content, technical finesse, values, great histrionic moments and emotion. It’s a reflection of life, besides

    The number of old age homes is increasing and children forget the sacrifices that parents make for them, when they grow up. This trend is catching on and selfishness is widespread. Changes in lifestyle first affect the city and then percolate to the rural areas. That is why my story is based in a city. The middle class is most affected by such changes. Their dreams are often trampled upon, but how they overcome adversities by sticking together as a family is the core theme of the movie,” says Blessy, the director, whose oeuvre consists of just two films, `Kazhcha’ and `Tanmathra’.

    Present ills

    Many of the present ills that society faces spring from a disintegration of family values, he believes. Consumerism and one-upmanship have robbed many of positive feelings and money bulldozes finer sentiments like plain kindness and empathy into empty jargon, christened `senti’ in topical parlance. People steer clear of realistic movies for fear of facing realistic situations from which they willfully run away. Slowly, finer sentiments move away from tyhem, mostly urbanites. `Tanmathra’ is an attempt to rejuvenate those finer sentiments, says Blessy.

    The script is tight. “I took three months to write the script, though I have been doing research for 10 years on it, from the time I toyed with the idea of making a movie with Alzheimer’s Disease, after reading Padmarajan’s `Orma’. When I write the script, I do it at one go. Fortunately, I have not had to redraft it, for both my movies,” Blessy revealed.

    Alzheimer’s is a disease that scares all the generations and that it can strike anyone is particularly disturbing. Blessy has linked awareness of this disease with how it can be dealt with, provided there is family support as in `Tanmathra’. The commonest symptoms that strike are woven into the story deftly.

    The casting of the movie is a story by itself. Mohanlal in the lead is once again an actor who has shed the super star tag. Last week, his first movie, `Manjil Virinja Pookkal’, was screened on the small screen. His last movie, 25 years later, `Thanmatra’, also a Christmas release, shows the evolution of the actor. In `Manjil Virinja Pookkal’, Mohanlal, as the villain, hardly out of his teens, made sure he stood out, albeit in villainy. His body language and his very presence, showed his determination to make it good in the field. In `Thanmatra’, his body language is that of a Secretariat employee. The intensity of the actor remains the same in both movies, but the experience of 25 years shows in the natural actor, with even a slight movement of the facial muscles contributing to making the Alzheimer’s patient a real natural.

    Meera Vasudevan as the leading lady, is just 23 and this is her maiden Malayalam film. “Imagine, I had to play mother to an 18-year-old boy. It was a deglamourised role and I knew it was risky, but when I heard the story, I said yes, because I knew it was a role of a lifetime,” says the Mumbai based actor who is an Iyengar and has acted in the Bollywood movie, `Rules’ and two Tamil films too. “I had to put on 15 kg to suit the role. When Director Blessy saw me, I had my hair-streaked blonde and was wearing a sari as directed by him. I just cannot understand how he cast me. But he had the foresight and look how the movie has turned out,” says Meera, now shooting for a Tamil movie, after shedding those kilos, of course. A graduate in Psychology and English, she says the film was a learning experience as the combination scenes with Mohanlal warranted equally intense acting and she was happy to be able to do it according to the director’s expectations. The shooting of the movie was a roller coaster ride, she says. “I am actually a confident and extrovert person, quite the opposite of my role. And my name is Meera Vasudevan. I don’t know why many refer to me as Vasudev,” she complains.

    “For the role of the boy, Manu, we put out an ad and over 1,000 applied. I did not find any one suitable. We did the same in Dubai and Arjun was selected,” says Blessy. It is certainly a plum role and Arjun, a Std XII boy, whose parents are from Chalakkudy, simply stands out. Though the bearded IAS aspirant he portrays in the last few scenes belies his age, he carries the big role with élan and shows the kind of promise his father in the movie showed in his first film.

    Some of the frames in `Tanmathra’, cinematographed by Sethu Sriram, like the empty house when they move and intimate scenes are not on trodden path. They jell with the story’s mood.

    Talking of moods, the same mood does make boring souls of people. Just as life will get monotonous and health decline if you eat chicken and chicken for every meal, entertainment too must be balanced for a healthy cine viewer.

    That is why producers going behind trends sometimes bite the dust. We need the slapstick as well as the realistic to cater to our different moods, to really make the world tick. Balanced entertainment demands movies whose subjects range from comedy to the serious. A `Tanmathra’ feeds the soul, while a `Rajamanikyam’ tickles the funny bone.

    thanks to hindu article

  2. thanlmathra is a difeerefent subject but not a depth one

  3. Who told u that thanmatra is not doing good? Dont think that from the very first day the movie like thanmatra will get good response. It will take time as first days some masala minded people will come to watch and they will start saying this is not good movie and etc…. Cos they need only fights, songs, some hot scenes etc…. And i think now u must have got news that thanmatra is in top 1st position, am i right???? It is the number one movie for some decade i would say….

    [Excessive praise of Mohanlal deleted. Please be more objective in comments. We don’t like worshipful comments – Ed]

  4. Vijesh, Can you send us the link to the article which says Tanmatra is doing good. Then we will definitely update the article.

  5. My dear editor, whoever it was who could not ‘bear kaazhcha’ has to regarded with sympathy as it only points to a mind that has been made insensitive and incapable of artistic sensibility (possibly a result of seeing too many crass and crude masala movies). In my opinion, kaazhcha is easily one of the best movies ever to have appeared in Indian celluloid. Honestly, I found it extremely difficult to pick a single jarring note in this movie. Blessy is not only a breath of fresh air, but an absolute master of film-making. Bless him!
    Tanmaatra was equally good, perhaps even more poignant. I saw the movie a month ago, but the movie still lingers in my heart like a song. What a beautifully crafted movie! One comes away with the feeling that one hasn’t gone for a movie, but just were witness to the life of a family in our neighbourhood. And this is not entirely because the movie was actually shot in my neighbourhood (Karamana govt employees colony, Arts College and Secretariat) This movie depicts reality more than any movie I have seen. The characters seem too real. True, it was Mohanlal, Jagathy, Nedumudi Venu – all well known actors of the Malayalam tinseltown. But in this movie, they have ceased to be these actors and have become real people. The director’s success was that the movie successfully peeled off the familiar images off these actors’ faces.

    Come on, go and enjoy these movies and get civilized in the process!

  6. Saw Thanmaathra at Chennai last weekend

    I found it extremely touching. Having watched a lot of Padmrajan classics, I can say that Blessy for sure has got that skill of making the audience with that feeling of helplessness and sadness- the feeling that you have lost somebody close to you – from his mentor, Padmarajan.

    I will pick a few scenes that really appealed to me:
    *) Lal hugging his son after he confesses to his lying over being late from school
    *) The physical intimacy between Lal and Meera has been shown so beautifully without any vulgairty
    *) Lal massaging Nedumudi at their tharavaadu – and in the second half, the father doing the reverse
    *) Lal’s scene on the night before he dies.

    Every single character in this movie has etched out brilliant performances.

    I do not think any scene is artificial in the movie. A lot of people would wonder – how can a perfectly sane man go from good to bad to worse _ Ask any person who has interacted with an Alzheimers patient on how the conditions detiorate so fast. The change is so rapid. My grandmother died of the disease. Nobody even knew it was a disease. We just attributed it to her aging process. She used to ask the same questions again and gain. She used to repeat her childhood experiences ad nauseum. What I would like to say here is that probably a person who has had the experience of closely interacting with a patient can feel the trauma and the pain.

    All said and done, this movie may not be a super-hit, simply becasue we cannot accept our hero dying in the end. (all the more because of the super hero image of Lal). But then, full credit to Blessy for choosing a very different climax. Would thanmaathra have become a big hit ..*IF*.. , Blessy did not kill Lal ? Would it have been a hit if he was shown as being bed ridden or taking the road to recovery. We never know.

  7. Ramesh, different people like different movies. For me, just drumming on sadness and misery does not make a good movie.

  8. Unni, thanks for that detailed comment. If you want to write a review, we would be happy to publish it here.

  9. Dear Vellithira

    A sensitive portrayal of tragedy (whether scripted by Blessy or Shakespeare) will increase the depth of human feelings and will actually make us appreciate and enjoy life more fully. If you shy away from the great tragedies of literature and cinema, I am afraid your depth of emotional experience could become shallow and restricted. No one can escape from tragedies in life. Blessy focuses not on the suffering caused by Alzheimer’s disease to the victim or to his family, but on the power of love to hold society together in times of difficulty. Over all, one leaves the movie hall with a lump in the throat and a moist eye, but shaken and tremendously exhilarated by the beauty of love that is the subject of both his movies.
    Good movies, as is the case with great literature, have educational value – especially the serious and tragic ones. These are the kind of movies that nurture love and make the world a better place to live in.
    Carry on, Blessy.

  10. Good review, Unni. Made me recollect some of the scenes.

    We live in mad times, when people are, like the factory workers in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, driven like sheep and have no time for rest, silent or quiet reflection. Therefore most of us are in stress and to escape this, we get addicted to various things – not only to alcohol and stuff but also to various kinds of loud and crude stimulation that assault our different senses. Masala movies are a reflection of our needs to submerge ourselves and our stresses in riotous sensations.

    Because we live in such mad times buried in various addictions, what is artistic and refined do not achieve a great deal of instant popularity. Drug addicts will not be able to enjoy the music of Mozart or Thyagaraja. Blessy’s movies don’t become outright hits in the beginning. But they have their healing effect on our minds and slowly people begin to be sensitive to their refined tunes and subtle nuances. Material success comes easily to those who dish out addictions. Look at how the abkaris make money! So do the producers of the bollywood masala and pornographic kings of California. But people can be de-addicted and be made more sensitive by exposing themselves to beauty and art — this is what we learn from Thanmatra.

  11. A movie is always a collection of small yet great things…

    and this movie seemed to have gotten all of them rite..

    potrayal of all situations have been done with highest level of reality..

    intensity stands out thru out the film…

    movies like these atleast show that normal ppl exsist on earth!!!!!

  12. Thanmathra is just a different type of subject, not a high rated film.

  13. Hello Everybody, now its the 139th day after thanmatra released, and its still showin as 4 shows in ramya, trivandrum. leave it. but now every one might have got news thanmatra is a different movie for the last some decade. Cos when the film released some people were trying to spread that the film is bad and a sex movie and not watchable. I wondered first how they can do like this. Cos in between all those masala movies thanmatra was a different one. There is a scene just before the intervel Rameshan and his wife having sex and suddenly he gets up and behaves like a abnormal child. That time she knows that her husband is completely a Alzheimer patient and she cries. That scene really touched me and that was a wonderful and a different scenece. Everybody who watched the movie said it is a marvellous film except some masala movie lovers. I am not criticising them, today life has changed, people’s mind have changed. They are not getting good films for the last some years. Some good movies came but could not bring people back from entertainment. YEs we need entertainment films too,but when good films comes it is not fare to criticise them as u like entertainer only. Let good films too to come again. Malayalam movie is always known as “good movies” over the world not “masala movies”. If any one tells that thanmatra is not good like padmarajan movies just ignore it. Cos it is one of the unforgettable movie i watched since i started watching movies.

  14. Thanmaathra was definitely a land-mark in Malayalam cinema. I dont have the collection stats for the movie, but in Chennai where I saw the movie, it was a HIT and it grossed around 6 lakhs. (info courtesy Probably the exact figures could be got from one of our movie magazines.

    However what is sad is that a number of people try to find the bad points of the movie – Shouting from roof-tops about the love-making scene of the movie and how Blessy had wrongly lead us to believe that Alzheimers could turn an adult into a child and then to death so soon. Thankfully this group is a tiny minority and the vast majority of people have hailed Thanmaathra as a classic and rightly so – the simple reason being that they had not seen a movie that was abundant with scenes picked from their daily lives – Just to give an example: The scene where Rameshan Nair’s daughter watches Jurassic Park so intently and is terrified when the Dinosaur roars – a lot of us would felt a sense of deja vu. I mean – who amongst us would not have experienced something similar in our lives ?

    A group of people compare it to Padmarajan movies and argue that Thanmaathra does not possess the quality of a Padmarajan movie. Ironically, the story itself is inspired from “Orma”- a short story which he had penned some years back . So there IS a bit of Padmarajan in this movie and besides he was Blessy’s mentor also. And if Padmarajan were alive today, he would have been proud of his protege’s product.

  15. Now when we read the topics title its kind of funny! Exact Opposite
    Still its a surprise you didnt like Kazcha! 🙂 That is the only ear jerking movie i liked after aakashadoothu .

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