The stupendous success of Manjummel Boys, based on a real-life incident at Gunaa caves, possible raised expectations with Thankamani. Thankamani, starring Dileep, Pranitha Subhash, Neeta Pillai, Siddique, Manoj Jayan and Sudev Nair, is based on the a real-life story too. Director Ratheesh Reghunandan has taken the tragic Thankamani village incident of 1986 which saw a clash between the villagers and police, resulting in police brutality and woven a love story around it.

Thankamani review: Dileep and Neeta Pillai in a still from the movie.
Thankamani review: Dileep and Neeta Pillai in a still from the movie.

The plot

Police officer Arpita Nath (Pranitha Subhash) is investigating the murder of two people – former police officer Mattakavan and politician Varadarajan – and believes it is the work of a serial killer. She then finds a connection to the 1986 Thankamani tragedy and we are shown the backstory of what actually happened then, including human rights violations on a massive scale by the police.

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At the centre of the story in 1986 is Abel Joshua Mathen (Dileep) who comes to Thankamani from Saudi Arabia where he is working, to meet his mother, sister Rahel and wife. He also meets his four childhood friends, including Roy, and gets to learn some things about them which he is not happy with. But just as he getting ready to go back to Saudi Arabia for his job in October, a massive fight breaks out in Thankamani which changes the destiny of everyone there, including him. And Arpita’s investigation into the murders leads her to Abel. What is the connection?

Needless additions

Director Ratheesh Reghunandan can be lauded for trying to bring a real-life incident to the silver screen but unfortunately, he has failed to capitalise on a big opportunity. The script is quite weak and the tragic incident and the romance are quite disjointed. The characters have not been well fleshed out and by introducing fictional aspects into the Thankamani case, it renders the story ineffective. The director has turned it into a lacklustre revenge drama which does not work for the audience. At its core, Thankamani should have been about this incident which is part of Kerala’s history. Instead, the director takes it in a direction that dilutes the whole story. One thing the director did get right was showing the atrocities committed by the police.

For Dileep, who has always excelled in slapstick comedy and family drama genre of films, this action drama doesn’t do much for his filmography. The action blocks don’t elevate his character much. The women in the film – Pranitha Subhash and Neeta Pillai – have smaller roles but Neeta stands out among the two. There are many others in smaller roles who don’t add too much value to this story.

As far as the technical aspects go, the music by William Francis and cinematography by Manoj Pillai are decent. The Thankamani tragedy of 1986 in Kerala was a very powerful emotional issue as well but as you watch the film you just don’t find that connection. And that’s another tragedy in itself.


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