THADAM (2019)

  • Hindi Title: Thadam
  • Release Date: 01/03/2019
  • Cast: Arun Vijay, Tanya Hope, Smruthi Venkat, Vidya Pradeep, Vijayan
  • Director: Magizh Thirumeni

Thadam is a heartbreaking love story presented as a riveting thriller

Thadam is the story of twin brothers Ezhil and Kavin played by Arun Vijay. Ezhil is an IIT alumnus, a civil engineer, and is trying to start his own construction company. He is in love with the beautiful Deepika (Tanya Hope) and the two are enjoying a period of romantic bliss. Kavin’s life is the mirror opposite of Ezhil’s. He is a petty criminal and is known to be a dubious philander. He keeps getting into precarious situations that not only bring him on crossroads with the law but also stop him from forming any meaningful relationships. Things take a turn for the worse for the brothers when Ezhil is arrested for the murder of a guy named Akash who he doesn’t even know. Kavin is arrested during the same period for ramming into a police vehicle in a drunken state. He is handed over to the group investigating the murder as he resembles his brother so closely. The police team now has its task cut out to decipher the facts and prove who out of the two brothers committed the murder. Things get even more interesting when the inspector investing the case tries to settle an old score with Ezhil and frame him.

The more I watch South India thrillers, the more I get impressed by their techniques and how well they execute the stories. Thadam is an apt example of how leading the audience in a different direction transforms the narrative into a whole new beast and gives the viewers the kind of experience that they wouldn’t mind coming back for. Thadam is characterized by a truckload of positives of which I would like to discuss and major ones here.

From the moment the murder is committed, and the two brothers are arrested, my mind was preoccupied with just two questions. Who among the two had committed the murder and why? To be honest, I felt that Kavin was the murderer since the odds were stacked so high against Ezhil. I was having a feeling that the director was preparing us for a great shock at the climax. As the story progresses the screenplay zeroes in on different aspects of the relationship of the two brothers, their brought up, the death of their mother, their mental trouble history, etc and through it, the director gives us clues on who the murderer might be. As is the case with the audiences, the Police too look confident on more than one occasion that they have finally zeroed in on the murderer, but things change just as quickly, and they end up with nothing concrete to frame who they believe is the perpetrator. This game of cat and mouse continues until the very last scene of the film and culminates in an ending that nobody could have expected.

Arun Vijay turns in a terrific performance as the two brothers. It isn’t easy for the same man to portray two radically different characters so convincingly, but Vijay pulls off both the characters with equal efficiency. It must be added that if any of the two characters felt out of place or overdone, the narrative would have fallen flat on its face. He also had to keep in mind to play the audiences with his mannerisms and make them believe and think in the same line that the director wanted them to. He does that with élan.

Both the brothers have romantic inclinations and Vijay pulls off these dissimilar affairs with equal proficiency. The portion involving Kavin and Smruthi Venkat was heartwarming and sweet. Venkat’s character is hopelessly in love with Kavin and as time goes by, he starts appreciating her love for him. This is achieved in just a few scenes albeit with total efficiency. The romantic track between Vijay and Tanya Hope is vibrant, vivacious, and contemporary. Vijay had to approach this portion with a different sensibility from what he had to do in the case of Smruthi Venkat and he does it with conviction. These two tracks assume importance as we edge closer to the climax and had to be done well.

The supporting cast of the film does an equally commendable job. Vijayan Leads from the front as the inspector who has a personal grudge against Ezhil and wants to see him rot in jail for the rest of his life. He is fearsome for most of the part and is just as believable. Every time you look at him, you feel that he is doing all in his strength to frame the man. His actions incite a lot of tension for the viewer which serves the narrative well. Vidya Pradeep is the other end of the spectrum. While Vijayan is all guns blazing to implicate Ezhil, Vidya’s character believes that Ezhil is innocent and it was Kavin who committed the murders. Her rendition of the female officer —who is tasked with a mindbogglingly difficult case, has been suspended just before the case with that fact weighing down on her and also the fact that she is a woman and is often reminded of that in the course of the case — is wonderful. Tanya Hope has a very small role, but she is terrific. Her character is the single most important aspect of the film and she had to be spot on to make it all work. Hope does an exceedingly good job with the character.

The climax of the film is well done. It must be noted that there have been many films in the past that have built up well but have fizzled out in the final step. Thadam not only built up beautifully to the climax but is also able to end the tale with a bang. The final reveal is not only believable but also shocking. It is shocking because it involves a character that we least expected it to involve and for the brutality that is at its core. Even though justice is done, the film does leave a bad taste in your mouth. It is not a criticism of the film but a view on the feel that the film was going for.

Thadam is one of those thrillers that will make you sit through its runtime with bated breath. It is almost impossible to predict the outcome of the film. That I believe is the foremost quality that a thriller should possess. The performances are consistently brilliant that further suck you into the narrative and make you a part of the investigation. The final reveal is harrowing but at the same time convincing which further elevates the overall feel of the film. It is the kind of thriller that I wouldn’t mind watching a couple of times as it is so rich in its content, performances, and treatment. Magizh Thirumeni has directed the film with a lot of penchants to details and that helps it in becoming one of the most potent thrillers of 2019.

Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)

Here is the link to the full film:

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