It is still a Wednesday and we have a new release coming up in the form of Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar but before that I thought of squeezing in another review! With that I finished watching the new Tamil film Thalaikoothal which is now streaming on Netflix. It is the Tamil cinema which has, over the years, been a mix of mass entertainers and some interesting indie films. Films like Kadaisi Vivasayi have ensured that the more grounded and rooted stories too have a voice of their own. And Thalaikoothal did seem to be in that very space. As usual I knew nothing about the film but its synopsis did have me interested. So then does Thalaikoothal manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Thalaikoothal, which stands for euthanasia, follows the story of a debt-ridden man who is torn between his family and his father who has been in a state of coma for years. The story does tackle an important topic of Euthanasia with a change in the setting. Usually, the concept of Euthanasia is restricted to the metros atleast in its depiction onscreen. But here, the rural setting adds a lot of texture with its own set of complexities. The screenplay standing at about a 140 minutes does seem slightly elongated to begin with, but the film does have plenty of poignant moments to make you ponder.
The drama does open with two unrelated storylines unfolding together. One of them features a man falling for a woman and the other featuring a family man, taking care of his father who is in a vegetative state. You get a fair idea on how bad the situation is in that moving scene wherein the protagonist has to carry his father in his arms before placing him upright on a log to clean him up. Having watched the elders at my place tackling a similar situation, I could relate to the seriousness of the situation. One of the main reasons for continuing your duties is the love for the person wherein you hope against hope of normalcy to return one day. And that was just so well represented here!
The proceedings are textured and layered as the protagonist does have other obstacles to overcome as well including clearing his debt or in turn foregoing his house. He also has to deal with problems related to his own family that features his wife and daughter, wherein he is often seeing trying to do a balancing act. In the meanwhile, the writers do well in revealing early on what the other timeline stands for. It does feature a slightly problematic love story to begin with, but as that story does progress, the picture does become clear on how that tale is linked to the main drama. Additionally, the parallel storyline does touch upon some important social issues that are still prevalent in our society, something that often threatens to be a trigger in the main storyline.
One of the strong points of the drama is the character dynamics and the reaction of the people to the existing crisis. There are shades of religious beliefs thrown in, something which would always cross our mind in trying that one ‘extra’ way to help things return to normalcy. What I did also like was showing the crisis from the perspective of the patient who is submerged in surrealism only to momentarily gain consciousness and later fall back to his original state. In between, there are some philosophical thoughts floated into the drama which do justify the actions of the protagonist. On the slight downside, I did feel that one of the subplots was resolved in a far too convenient manner and almost a little too early. But despite this, the final act is heartwarming and shattering at the same time, that does formulate a screenplay which is really well penned and extremely grounded to reality.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational with fleeting instances of philosophy that does make for an impactful watch. The music and BGM go perfectly with the mood of the drama and effectively capturing the vibe of the area wherein the drama is set in. The cinematography is really good, the VFX is slightly off the mark but I will let that pass as it had more to do with the budget of the film. The editing is good, perhaps it still could have been sharper. Director Jayaprakash Radhakrishna has done a tremendous job here in handling a delicate subject with utmost sensitivity but also not compromising on the complexities of the situation. I really did enjoy how organic and deeply rooted the drama was.
The performances by the ensemble cast are terrific. Aadukalam Murugadoss is sincere as the protagonist’s friend and he does a swell job. Suhasini Sanjeev as his wife does deliver a subtle and a nuanced performance despite a limited screentime. Vaiyapuri as the priest is top notch. Kalai Selvan as the older Muthu is aching painful to watch due to his character being in a vegetative state. Katha Nandi as Pechi looks beautiful and she brings about so many layers to her character that makes you empathize with her. Vasundhara Kashyap as Kalai is outstanding in a role that requires her to be conflicted and slightly self-centered. Kathir as the younger Muthu has such expressive eyes and he is absolutely brilliant to watch in a role oozing with earnestness and sincerity. Samuthirakani is such a wonderful actor and he elevates his performance as Pazhani by just being grounded in his approach. It was an absolute pleasure to watch him onscreen and hope to watch a lot more of him in such substantial roles going forward.
Thalaikoothal is an aching yet poignant tale of sorrow and hope that comes with my highest recommendation. Available on Netflix and Highly Recommended.