‘Thiruchitrambalam’ movie review: Dhanush and Nithya Menon are charming in this cuddly slice of life drama


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There is something sombre and lifeless about the rose-tinted frames of Mithran J Jawahar’s Thiruchitrambalam that screams sorrow and grief. That is what the film is about: suppressed emotions. Yet, the film is not as painfully sad as you might think. It is, in fact, the opposite and brims with life and laughter. This is a film that has a charming innocence at its core. Speaking of which, Dhanush plays the titular role and he is constantly referred to as Pazham, which often means someone who is innocent in Tamil. And who in Indian cinema can sell innocence as sweetly as Dhanush? When the actor plays an innocent, good for nothing guy, there is something austere about the way he does it. We have seen that in PolladhavanAadukalamVIPRaanjhanaaVada Chennai. In many films. There is Nithya Menon, of course, who can equally sell innocence. And they are in a movie together. How great is that? The answer to that is ‘Megham Karukkatha’, where they dance like two butterflies.

Firstly, Mithran R Jawahar puts a delightful spin on the Velai Illa Pattadhari template. This film still follows VIP’s structure and perhaps borrows a few highpoints and Anirudh’s score, but the similarities end there. In fact, it is hard to say if Thiruchitrambalam is a rom-com or a slice of life drama on domestic life. Perhaps it is both. It has the garb and language of a rom-com because it is Dhanush with three heroines. Yet, it is also a slice of life drama about letting go, powered by a terrific Bharathiraja and Prakash Raj.

The “rom-com” is just a layer and never at the forefront. It is, in fact, remarkable how Mithran writes these characters and the respective worlds they inhabit. Pazham tries to pursue his highschool sweetheart Anusha (Raashi Khanna) in the present. He works at a food delivery company and she comes from what looks like the upper class. Then comes Ranjani (Priya Bhavani Shankar) who comes from Thiruchitrambalam’s own village, where she remains firmly committed to her roots. In both these cases, Thiruchitrambalam becomes the beautiful middle guy who cannot climb atop nor down. He is neither here, not there. And there is Shobana (A terrific Nithya Menon. Well, when has she ever not been terrific?) who is just there. Mithran uses Anusha and Ranjani’s background not as an excuse or to make a statement. He just uses it to highlight this: “What you like and what you want are different

Take for instance the scene where Pazham dresses up to meet Anusha for a date, not knowing she is going to break his heart in a later scene. And the film swiftly subverts this with a cheeky moment with Shobana saying, “Why are you dressed like a server?” We laugh. Not at the expense of the characters but the absurdity of their very nature. In essence, the joyous mood is maintained all through. Even the terrific scene where Pazham is shown his place in a world alien to him, when he is tipped by someone, we get a delightful subversion. This lack of judgement, this ability to laugh at your worst times with someone who has your back, is what makes Thiruchitrambalam closer to life. Sure, there are bumps in the tone especially for a portion in the second half. I, in fact, felt nervous for an old wound that comes back in the form of a fight sequence. But even the “fight” is still within the framework of the screenplay. We don’t see Thiruchitrambalam fighting a bad guy in that scene. Instead, we see him beating himself and his inner demons of suppression. This is remarkable screenwriting.

 


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