(Reader Unni wrote the following review of the film Thanmatra, which won the Kerala State Award for the best film, best director for Blessy and best actor for Mohanlal. We will be publishing guidelines on how to write a review for us)
Thanmaathra, director Blessyï¿½s second movie is the poignant tale of Rameshan Nair, a secretariat employee, who becomes a victim of the dreaded disease Alzheimerï¿½s. The movie has been inspired by a short story written by Blessyï¿½s mentor and late director Padmarajan.
The opening scene of the film is that of a student explaining the nuances of multiplication to an attentive class. From the outset it is very clear that the child is a prodigy. The student, Manu, has an admirer in his doe-eyed classmate whom he later takes out for her birthday.
We are then introduced to Rameshan Nair, who is a dedicated and upright government employee. Rameshan Nairï¿½s wife Lekha is the typical housewife, trying to run the family of four, Rameshan, his son and their little daughter. Rameshan Nair, even though a government employee is extremely well-read (his collection of newspapers and cuttings would do any newspaper archive proud) and his dream in life is to see his son pass the Civil Services exam, something which he himself could not achieve.
His hopes are not over-the-top, as his son proves he is capable of that. Joseph (Jagathy Sreekumar), is Rameshanï¿½s colleague and confidante and tries to help him in sorting out his financial problems, purchasing a flat etc.
When all seems well, the story takes a twist, when Rameshan exhibits the first symptoms of Alzheimerï¿½s when he tries his best to recollect an old poem by Bharatiyar and fails to do so. Rameshan wonders whether there is something seriously wrong with him and does a medical checkup and Prathap Pothen, doing a cameo, assures him that it could be that he was over-stressed. Soon things take a turn for the worse when Rameshan breaks down at his office and is diagnosed with Alzheimerï¿½s, which comes as a rude chock to his wife and son.
He is taken to his tharvaadu where his father, mother and son try to nurse him to normalcy, but in vain. Rameshanï¿½s son tries to fulfill his dream by appearing for the final interview of the civil sevices exam and tells the board that his father was his inspiration all along.
The movie has many scenes worthy of note like the interactions between father and son where Manu confesses to his father after having lied for being late from school is extremly touching. Also heartening is the scene where Lal plays the doting son, massaging his father, Nedumudi Venu. It is all the more ironic, as in the latter half of the movie, the father does the same on the ailing son. Also poignant is the scene where Rameshanï¿½s wife helplessly watch her husband devoting all his attention to his murapennu, his appachiï¿½s daughter.
All the songs in this movie, tuned by Mohan Sithara, are apt and dont seem to have been introduced for the sake of it. The best is easily the Kattu Vizhie Kannamma song which has also been choreographed beautifully. Songs picturised with such realism and devoid of any artificiality are rare. Over the past few years, Malayalam songs picturisations have been blindly aping their Tamil counterparts. (In a recent movie, it has been taken to new levels by shooting a song in foreign location with the hero and heroine attempting a Shahrukh and Kajol)
With Thanmaathra, Blessy has proved that he is not a one-film wonder and that he is here to stay. Kaazcha proved that he has imbibed all the film-making qualities of his mentor Padmarajan. He also took a bold step in casting Mohan Lal as the father of a 15 year old. In the days when 50 plus heros are made to dance around trees with skimpily clad heroines less than half their age, at exotic locations, Blessyï¿½s casting is all the more commendable.
As for Mohan Lal no words will be enough to praise this versatile and talented actor. As somebody said, if Mohan Lal were born on the other side of the globe, he would defintely have added a few oscars to his kitty. Meera Vasudev, Nedumudi Venu and Jagathy Sreekumar also deserve full praise for their respective roles