Sunday, April 23, 2006

Movie Review: Thanmatra (Molecule)

After almost 5 years of one insipid movie after another, Mohan Lal is back with another knockout performance. Although director Blessy 'borrows' liberally from the superb 'Iris' (where Kate Winslet delivers yet another class act; she really is an amazing actress), he has delivered a movie that is realistic as well as poignant.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Thanmatra narrates the tale of an ordinary government servant Rameshan Nair (Mohan Lal), who leads a simple life and has modest dreams of his teenaged son appearing for the IAS examinations. Having almost had a go at the IAS himself, he is keen to make sure that no stone is left unturned to educate and prepare his son. Being a man of no mean intelligence himself, Rameshan Nair has brought up his son educating him in the sciences and arts alike.

It is at this juncture that Rameshan Nair, who prides himself on his memory, begins to forget things - simple things, such as whether he has brushed his teeth in the morning, or where he has placed an important file. He begins to unravel rapidly, and things come to a head when one day Rameshan Nair goes to office, strips and begins to take a bath. Rameshan Nair is diagnosed as being afflicted with Alzheimer's desease (AD). From here on, the movie narrates the travails of his family as they attempt to take care of (and cope up with) their father, who can no longer recognize them; who can no longer find his own way to places; who can no longer even speak coherently.

It would be repetitious to talk about what a fine actor Mohan Lal is; he's already proved that several times over. But at this stage of his career, where he has made even his most ardent fan grimace with distaste at least once with the kind of movies he has been doing, Thanmatra arrives as a boon for the actor in him. And does he know it too - he sinks his teeth with relish into the role and comes up with the kind of performance that would have won him an immediate Oscar if he were from the Oscar-winning parts of the globe (not that I believe the Oscar is the award for excellence; but they are definitely a lot more consistent than their Indian counterparts). Whether its as the proud parent in the former half of the movie, or as the Alzheimers-afflicted patient in the latter half, Mohan Lal lives as Rameshan Nair.

The rest of the cast performs admirably too. Nedumudi Venu as the father is competent, as expected. Meera Vasudevan turns in a good performance as Rameshan Nair's wife. Arjun Lal turns in a remarkable debut performance, standing up to Mohan Lal throughout the movie (which is no mean task). He never once goes above the top. Innocent jars, though, as the Hindi-spouting father of Meera (when will our directors understand that Mallu actors do not speak Hindi well?).

Director Blessy delivers once again after Kaazhcha (Sight). However, he could have avoided flicking those scenes from 'Iris'; it raises unnecessary doubts about the skill he had so effortlessly displayed he possessed through his previous movie. The Tamil song is melodious, and picturized beautifully; it lingers in the mind long after the movie is over.

Verdict: A must-watch.

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