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Thalaikoothal Review: Samuthirakani's film is a sincere and immersive attempt at telling a socially relevant subject

​Thalaikoothal holds up a mirror to the society and delves into the many practises that divides human beings- be it age (senicide), caste (caste killings),  gender (female infanticide) or the stigma of infertility

Thalaikoothal Review: Samuthirakani's film is a sincere and immersive attempt at telling a socially relevant subject

A still from Thalaikoothal

  • P Sangeetha

Last Updated: 11.44 AM, Mar 03, 2023

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​Story: A man, who is neck deep in debt, goes great lengths to save his comatose father. In the meantime, his family suggests Thalaikoothal for the old man

Review: Who decides whether a person is fit to live or not? What goes on in the mind of a person who knows that he will not survive for long and that his end is near? Thalaikoothal by Jayaprakash Radhakrishnan provides an immersive experience where he weaves both narratives into a beautiful story.

To Pazhani (Samuthirakani), his father means the world to him.There is a scene in Thalaikoothal where a young Muthu (Kathir) tells his son that no one has the right to take anyone's life. "The life that came to this world on its own, should go on its own," he says. The words seem to have become entrenched in Pazhani even after he grows up. So, when his father grows old and lays in a vegetative state, he leaves no stone unturned to save him, be it leaving his job to care for the old man or standing against his family's advice to perform Thalaikoothal (senicide of the elderly) on him.

The fact that he is neck deep in debt and the financial noose only seems to be tightening around his neck, doesn't shake his belief and his love for his father remains strong. Meanwhile, his wife Kalai (Vasundhara) has to now go to a factory to fend for the family. She is worried about her uncertain future. Meanwhile, their daughter's academic performance at school is exacerbating by the day, courtesy the situation at home. Pazhani walks a tightrope balancing his father's needs and that of his wife and daughter.

Amid all this chaos, his father (Kalaiselvan) seems to be recollecting or dreaming the best days of his life with his ladylove Pechi (Katha Nandi) from an oppressed community.The parallel narrative takes us through their budding romance, to staving off the society's threats to Pechi finally accepting Muthu's love. The dream sequence or the surrealism gives us a glimpse of how the human psyche works.

The best part about Thalaikoothal is that makes us empathise with each and every character, be it an earnest Pazhani whose love for his father moves us to tears or the state of Muthu, who knows that he will soon be killed by Thalaikoothal, Kalai whose future is at stake or their daughter who is torn by what's happening around her. It doesn't take a stand or veer towards a particular side. Each and every character has their own battle and it becomes difficult for the audience to take sides as well. Even when Kalai's father suggests Thalaikoothal for Pazhani's father, we understand that request is coming out of his concern for the future of his daughter.

There are many symbols, too. For instance, the constant appearance of an Oriental Garden Lizard in the house. While Kalai's father considers it as a bad omen, it is through the same lizard that a young Muthu provides a lesson for life for Pazhani. The flashback portions also hold up a mirror to the society and talk about how casteism has always been a roadblock in the lives of young people planning to spend a life together. Similarly, when Pazhani says that he doesn't come from a family that kills people, Vaiyapuri's character reminds him that it was in the same family that a girl child was killed using 'kalli paal' soon after she was born.

​There is a scene involving Aadukalam Murugadoss where he says that human beings should be like birds where they could fly wherever they want and not be bound by the shackles of society.

The film is a sincere attempt with brilliant performances by each and every member of the star cast. It has you glued to the seats from the beginning. Barring the length of the film, where the film might appear a tad too stretched at certain places, Thalaikoothal is a film that deserves a watch.

Verdict: An earnest film that holds a mirror up to society and its many barriers- caste, gender, infertility and ageism.