Though Vineeth Sreenivasan, Biju Menon’s crime-drama Thankam doesn’t have the intensity of a Mayaanadhi, it’s a notch above Joji in terms of storytelling
Story: Kannan, a Thrissur-based goldsmith who delivers jewellery, goes missing during his trip to Mumbai. A day ahead, he along with his colleagues Muthu and Sherry are apprehended by cops, after being suspected of being involved in an illegal activity. Once the cops find out what happened to Kannan, they launch an investigation, tracing his journey from Thrissur to Coimbatore to Mumbai, leaving no stone unturned and suspecting everyone close to him.
Review: In a scene in Thankam, Muthu (Biju Menon) calls up Kannan (Vineeth Sreenivasan), who is on his way for an urgent meeting in Coimbatore, to casually inform him that he had forgotten to give him the keys of his car. Kannan, who is driving the vehicle, suddenly explodes at Muthu, calling him a total failure, a good-for-nothing man. The burly Muthu immediately coils up and it isn’t until Kannan regains his composure and serenades him, that the former smiles again. The sequence serves to establish the kind of personalities the two of the characters are – Muthu, the innocent kind who is barely making ends meet but trusts easily, and Kannan – someone who is at his wit’s end but has to maintain the façade to hold everything in its place. It also has a huge bearing on the plot, especially when the movie unravels Kannan’s predicament and Muthu’s helplessness.
Director Saheed Arafath, who had previously helmed Theeram, and scriptwriter Syam Pushkaran don’t hurry with the plot points. The film also benefits from it because they establish the relationship between Kannan and the other people in his lives, just enough to care about what happens to him and why. It’s expertly paced too, with the first half being a slow-burner and then the story gaining speed as it evolves into an investigation drama. Those who love slow-burner mysteries, would enjoy Thankam with its atmospheric frames and subtle pivots during the probe.
The film, as Syam had stated before its release, is the writer’s most cinematic film. Though the crime drama doesn’t have the intensity of a Mayaanadhi, it’s a notch above Joji in terms of storytelling. Thankam also has several moments that stand out – be it Muthu and Kannan’s wife reactions when they hear a shocking news unexpectedly, their glances at a morgue, police officer Jayant showing how shrewd he can be or Muthu getting his ‘mass’ moment in a Trichy theatre.
The performances are also what keep the audience engaged and in a perpetual state of doubt as to who is responsible for what has happened to Kannan. While Vineeth Sreenivasan as Kannan embodies a calm that comes from finally figuring out that he’s at the end of his rope and there’s no looking back, Biju Menon has a certain uneasiness about him – from the shock of what’s happened to his best friend and his qualms. Girish Kulkarni as the police officer from Mumbai, who travels to Kerala and Tamil Nadu to investigate the case, is an unflappable presence and never feels out of place in this film. The scene in the theatre where his character is put through a popcorn counter also works because of the confidence he exudes till that point. The supporting cast of Aparna Balamurali, Vineeth Thattil David and the actors who played the rest of the squad from Mumbai as well as the Tamil actors further enhance the film.
Thankam’s cinematography, by Gautham Sankar, also stands out as it unfolds with a copper hue, the very same element that determines the livelihood of characters involved. The film does slack in the end and the explanation given for what transpires with Kannan isn’t quite rewarding, but it will make the audience think and maybe even hark back to that scene in the first half when Kannan blames Muthu.
Verdict: Thankam is a slow-burn crime drama that is elevated by strong performances from all the cast members. Syam Pushkaran’s script also ensures that the movie, which takes the audience on a journey to solve the mystery, has enough in it to care for what happens.