Malayalam Reviews

Tharangam Review: Quirks That Don’t Quite Work

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In the opening sequence of Dominic Arun’s Tharangam, a Dileesh Pothan-sized God wakes up from sleep in a bitter mood, and cusses the nasty human beings who are making the silliest prayers to him. He is right about it. How on heavens is he responsible for the mess that the mortals create on the Earth? “I can only keep a tab on birth and death,” he says.

Pothan’s God represents the film itself. Tharangam is founded on chaos that spreads like waves. The protagonists get entangled in several problems simultaneously, and they never quite solve any of them. But the film isn’t bothered by their plight.

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The film is besotted with the fun that oozes out of this bigger picture of chaos.

The film’s makers list in the prologue directors such as Priyadarshan, Coen Brothers and Guy Ritchie, whose films served as an inspiration. It is a comedy of errors that shifts its gear at times to be a comic caper. Also, there is a song sequence that elaborates the deep romance between two of the protagonists. Kallan Pavithran, the character that acts as the film’s anchor, is a nod to Padmarajan’s 1981 film of the same title. There are similar nods and tributes throughout the movie in the form of names and ideas. But at the end of it all, none of these hold the film together.

Everything that Tharangam does to be funny and quirky ends up as an act of firing blanks. The narrative loses focus many a time, and stays for too long in places where it shouldn’t be at all.

Pavithran, a thief, is lynched to death by an angry mob in Kerala during World War II. Now leading an unhappy (after) life in paradise, he complains to God of a curse that his family has been reeling under for generations. Unable to take the tantrums that Pavithran creates, the almighty promises to dissolve the curse, but with one condition.

Now this sequence in heaven, despite being oddball, is neither funny nor of serious consequence. As you wait for a quirky fantasy tale to unfold, the film coolly moves on to a story of three lesser mortals on Earth, leaving us scratching our heads to find the connect between Pavithran and the rest of the film. And finally, when the film reveals the connection, you only want to let out a yawn. The story isn’t exceptional, and worse, the narrative is an ugly jumble that can lull you to sleep.

The core plot is centered around Pappan (Tovino Thomas), Jose (Balu Varghese) and Malu (Santhy Balachandran), three youngsters living in Kochi. Pappan and Joy are traffic cops newly inducted to the crime division. When we see them first, they are assisting a senior police officer (Manoj K Jayan) on a high-risk operation to thwart the smuggling of an antique idol. The two men know nothing about working in a crucial mission, and naturally, they mess things up, resulting in their superior officer killed by the smugglers. The man, fatally shot, succumbs to his injuries lying on Pappan’s hands, uttering a precious last word, “bullshit!” This placement of the irreverent word is sure odd, but not funny as it intends to be. Pappan and Joy get suspended from work, and cash-strapped, they take up the lowly job of spying on a millionaire’s wife. The gimmicks and twists that the film puts forth as slapstick comedy are too weak to be rib-tickling. The young men, educated and supposedly reasonable, make the silliest mistakes.

Malu, a college guest lecturer, starts off as an interesting character, reminding you of the over-bearing sharp-tongued women in vintage Priyadarshan films. One of the few humorous instances in the film involve her lecturing her live-in boyfriend, Pappan, on being responsible and selfless in life. However, in the muddle of a plot that follows, Malu gets reduced to a meek shadow of the fiery woman she promised to be.

None of the cast members make an impression. The only man who emerges successful from this chaos is, perhaps, Saiju Kurup.

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He plays Siju, a smuggling kingpin who has a penchant for stage-acting. He is an excellent actor who has the ability to find his footing even in a weak script. Siju’s body-language, mannerisms and dialogue rendering are funny in itself, regardless of what the situation or the lines are.

After a fatal fight sequence in the second half of the film which he gets dragged into, a clueless Siju is handcuffed and taken into the police vehicle. Along with him is a load of criminals whom he has never met before, and his primary school sweetheart, Omana (Neha Iyer), who is now a dreaded gangster. The movie is rolling to a happy ending, and the focus is on the lead characters, Pappan, Joy and Malu, who are now happy and relieved. However, you might only want to look at Siju who is grinning wide at Omana, oblivious to everything happening around him. If not for little moments as this, Tharangam is a wildly and tastelessly foolish film that passes its own blandness for style.

*****

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