Rajeev Ravi’s movies have always tried to mark the social structure in almost their stories. Annayum Rasoolum may well be a Romeo and Juliet. But the political reality of the lower class community was depicted quite remarkably in that film. Kammattipaadam was an extremely political film that showed the evolution of Kochi. Just like how his movies were never structured around a single character, in Thuramukham, also Rajeev Ravi gives you the flavor of the times in which the story is set. Strangely enough, in these times where being apolitical is considered so Gen-Z, a movie like Thuramukham feels relevant.
As you may already know, the movie is based on a play that talks about the Chappa system that existed in Mattanchery port for laborers to get work. Mymood, who dared to question this system, had to leave his family. And his kids and wife had to suffer a lot. His elder son Moidu became this reckless goon who worked for the dock bosses, while his second son Hamza tried to earn a living through the Chappa system. Thuramukham shows the timely evolution of the system and how a relentless struggle with many sacrifices eventually put an end to it.
When you look at the scripting pattern, it seems like a very personal story of the mother character, played by Poornima Indrajith. It almost feels like her story of losses and how the Chappa system, which created various power dynamics, was a key reason for it. Instead of trying to build a story around the Mattanchery shootout, Gopan Chidambaram uses the screenplay to construct a story that will give the current generation an idea about the socio-political reality of the 50s. I wouldn’t say Thuramukham is the most captivating film, with its elaborate runtime of 174 minutes. Well, Rajeev Ravi’s films were never that engrossing. But the kind of hangover you expect in a political movie about historical events was present in Thuramukham.
The decision to project Nivin Pauly as the film’s hero is a flaw from a marketing perspective. Because Nivin is playing an extremely negative character with discrete moments of regret. He is a victim of the system, but he never realizes that. The aspiration to have power and the disregard for relationships was performed with conviction by Nivin Pauly. Poornima Indrajith, as the Umma, has got the best character in the entire movie, with a scope to perform an ample range of emotions of a single mother. There are many moments in the film where Rajeev Ravi just used a closeup shot of Poornima to convey the scene’s emotion. Nimsha Sajayan as Umani was impressive. Arjun Ashokan makes an excellent impression with his character, Hamza. Sudev Nair as the main antagonist Pacheek was great, and he felt a lot more raw and real. Even though it was a small role in terms of screen time, Joju George as Mymood got the ball rolling with that action set-piece. Indrajith Sukumaran, Darshana Rajendran, Manikandan Achari, etc., are the other famous names in the cast. Shiyas Karim and Hussain Mon deserve a special shout-out for their performance in the second half, especially the climax moments.
It could have been a standard period film that creates frames to show the hard work of the production designer or the amount spent building the set. But the gaze of the makers is not really inclined to that style of filmmaking. Gopan Chidambaram has included multiple narratives that greatly help the movie transport the audience to that setting. With his typical style of camera placement that mostly makes the audience an onlooker, Rajeev Ravi creates tension in the air convincingly. Even though the Chappa system had its role in making Moidu this unlikable person, a much more effective end to his journey would have made a better impact. The background score fits the backdrop of the story. The sound design was outstanding, making the period setting look very authentic.
I remember watching Annayum Rasoolum in theaters, sitting in the middle of a crowd that howled and yawned. Well, that share of the audience hasn’t really faded, and my experience of watching Thuramukham was also partially ruined by them, who came in expecting a Nivin Pauly action film rather than a Rajeev Ravi political film. If you have loved Rajeev Ravi’s films for the way they blended craft and politics, Thuramukham is a movie that will stay with you.
If you have loved Rajeev Ravi’s films for the way they blended craft and politics, Thuramukham is a movie that will stay with you.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended