Thallumaala has been on my watchlist for quite some time, and it was trending on Netflix this weekend. It was receiving a lot of praise as well, and I decided to spend my Sunday with Tovino Thomas and Kalyani Priyadarshan.
For a film titled Ballad of Brawls, Thallumaala surely has some amusing action sequences. I particularly enjoyed the fight sequence that happens inside a theatre.
The film practically tried to establish that brawling is an activity just like swimming, or cycling, and it can give you opportunities to meet people, socialize and develop friendships and even romantic relationships.
Although an unlikely comparison, I was able to notice some similarities between Thallumaala and Liger. Both films have a male lead who picks up fights more frequently than an Uber driver picks up passengers. Both have a female lead who is a social media celebrity. She initially has a face-off with the male lead, and then later gets smitten by the guy.
The major difference between the two films, probably the factor that made Thallumaalu work, was that Thallumaala knew what it was doing and didn't try to pretend to be something else. In fact, the film embraced what it was trying to do and indulged in it fully, risking the danger of disengaging with the audience. It does disengage in places, but one is able to understand what it's trying to do, and hence it's easier to wait for the film to move on from these moments, even if they don't exactly hold attention.
The best thing about Thallumaala is its cinematography. The angles and lighting are pretty and innovative and the visuals easily impressed me. Editing compliments the cinematography and elevates the experimental angles through attention-grabbing transitions. Jimshi Khalid is the cinematorgrapher and Nishad Yusuf is the editor. The next best thing would be the way the characters are written and performed. The film has been written by Muhsin Parari, and Ashraf Hamza. Thallumaala has been directed by Khalid Rahman.
Wazim, played by Tovino Thomas, is the son of a theatre owner, and his hobby is getting into random fights. It's very easy to trigger him into throwing a punch because honestly, it looks like he is scouting for opportunities to do so. Tovino manages to keep you interested in him irrespective of what is happening with Wazim. Jamshi, played by Lukman Avaran, is another well-written and well performed character. His equation with Wazim has worked very well.
Fathima, played by Kalyani Priyadarshan, is a rich vlogger who is almost as brash as Wazim, but a bit more civilized and non-violent. She falls for the polarity of Wazim's nature. He is childlike and charming one moment and aggressive and violent the next. His enthusiasm eventually grows on her, which she initially finds off-putting. Kalyani has something about her that makes her presence delightful. The way she makes every character she plays an instant attraction is unbelievable.
The background score was catchy and it reminded me of the song Ud-daa Punjab, from Udta Punjab. Thallumaala pays homage to a couple of Tamil movies that were released a few years back. It's always endearing to see the kind of love that the Tamil film industry gets from Kerala.
If you are older than thirty or even approaching it, chances are you might feel a bit old watching Thallumaala. The experience was engaging for sure, but it felt less like a film, and more like scrolling through content on an Instagram page run by a group of people, sharing moments from their life. It's a compliment to the makers, as the film appears to accomplish just that, in my opinion. It's a new wave film trying to tell a story in a fresh template.