‘Thi.Mi.Ram’ movie review: An unsettling portrait of a chauvinist
Express News Service
In director Padmarajan’s Namukku Parkkan Munthirithoppukal (NPM), Thilakan delivered a notable performance as a devious pervert who made us uncomfortable every time he showed up.
Now, decades later, KK Sudhakaran, who made his acting debut through another Padmarajan film (Innale), plays a similarly disturbing character in Sivaram Mony’s Thi.Mi.Ram.
A septuagenarian who makes a living selling masala powder, Sudhakaran (same name for the character) is a textbook example of a chauvinist. He is a threat to every female character in the film, and you can’t say for sure if he would dare to do what Thilakan did in NPM until you get through this one’s climax.
Though Sudhakaran is at the centre of everything in Thi.Mi.Ram, it’s also about the conflicts encountered by his son Ram (Aanandam-fame Vishak Nair).
An aspiring filmmaker trying desperately to pitch his new script to different producers, he also has to live with the contempt his father has for his wife (an effective Meera Nair).
And Ram is not in a position to move out of his house. There is one more problem: his dad’s cataract condition. To get it partially rectified, they have to cough up some cash, which they currently don’t have.
The film’s early portions see Sudhakaran going in and out of different hospitals, and given his nature, he has this nasty habit of disregarding female doctors and nurses. He constantly asks for a male professional because, in his view, women have no clue of the right course of action.
One of the film’s well-staged moments happens inside a bus when Sudhakaran gets into a fight with a lady for refusing to move from a seat reserved for female passengers.
The scene milks Sudhakaran’s aggression to the max, and you applaud the woman for standing up to his bullying in the face while the bus conductor exasperates with his ineptitude.
The bus incident, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. When a visit to a hooker turns disastrous, Sudhakaran begins seeking other outlets for his seemingly neverending urge.
His relentless stalking of a female neighbour, a widow whom Sudhakaran had an eye on for a long time, is brought out in the open, putting his son through a trial by fire.
The police letting Sudhakaran off the hook with a warning on account of his age is nicely paralleled with an earlier scene in the station where a group of trouble-making youngsters get a pass simply because, well, they are ‘kids’.
Making matters worse in Thi.Mi.Ram is a ‘peeping tom’ incident that sees Sudhakaran taking his perverse behaviour a couple of notches higher. Despite Vishak’s largely one-note performance, he effectively conveys his pent up frustrations in an intense moment that sends his glasses flying.
A later complication sends Sudhakaran to the hospital once again. Rachana Narayanankutty appears in this segment as a nurse tasked with looking after him.
Keeping aside Sudhakaran’s arresting performance, this is not a very competently made film. The unappealing visual choices—the drained colours—the whole thing looks like something shot on a smartphone—and the mismatched music work against it.
Besides, I didn’t find the depiction of the final transformation process convincing, although one can’t disregard the possibility of it happening in real life.
This is a man forged by decades of conditioning, for which Sudhakaran’s mother is partly to blame (the childhood portions in the film illustrates what Rima Kallingal spoke about in her TEDx talk). Also, the ‘remedy’ that worked on Sudhakaran may not work on others like him.
The film’s closing moments have the degree of artificiality usually found in Malayalam stage dramas. The intentions are good, but is that enough? If anything, Thi.Mi.Ram gives a glimpse of actor KK Sudhakaran’s remarkable potential.
Director: Sivaram Mony
Cast: KK Sudhakaran, Vishak Nair, Meera Nair, Rachana Narayanankutty
Streaming on: Neestream
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