Theethum Nandrum Movie Review: A simple, neatly bound tale about depravity
This crime-thriller stands tall with its simple, straightforward storytelling and some brilliant performances
Human depravity is often the result of the decisions taken when choices are scarce. They say that no man is born a criminal. In the pursuit of human desires and needs, one might come across a cliff, and the decision taken at that point could prove vital. Theethum Nandrum is a film about people who are stuck at that cliff's edge, and how the decisions of each affect others.
Dass (Eesan), Siva (Rasu Ranjith), and Maaran (Sandeep Raj) are burglars who always manage to escape the clutches of the law. Dass gets married to Sumathi (Aparna Balamurali), and Siva is in love with Tamil (Lijomol Jose). One fine day, Sumathi, who is aware of who Dass is and what he does, informs him that she is pregnant and requests him to quit his illegal endeavours. Dass doesn’t oblige. What happens next forms the rest of the story.
Director: Rasu Ranjith
Cast: Aparna Balamurali, Eesan, Rasu Ranjith, Sandeep Raj, Lijomol Jose
One of the foremost attractions of this film is how simple and neat everything looks and feels. The screenplay is pretty straight-forward, and a bit predictable. The series of events that happen in the film feel all too real. The mise en scene is also in tune with this and the film maintains its visual tone till the last shot.
The writing is fresh even when the events are familiar. To take one of the most obvious examples, remember those scenes where the hero follows a girl in the night and when she's harassed by goons, he jumps in to save the day? There's a similar scene here. But, Siva is not following/stalking Tamil; they just happen to be walking in the same street. And the fight scene that happens later takes the comical route rather than full-blown heroism. Changes such as these make Theethum Nandrum a refreshing watch. However, I couldn't help but wonder if chivalry is the only way for a man to win a woman's heart.
The next best thing about this film is its performances. Aparna and Sandeep Raj deserve special mention. They score in every frame of theirs. Credit should also go to director Rasu Ranjith for writing a character like Sumathi and giving space for Aparna to shine. For once, we have a female lead whose presence isn't just meant to reflect the actions of her partner. In many ways, Theethum Nandrum's Sumathi is Iraivi's Ponni, and this is her story as much as it is Dass' or Siva's.
Sandeep is a surprise package. He plays a vital role, one which shapes the narrative by bringing together two plotlines – that of Dass and Siva, and a gangster plot that involves rival gang leaders Rajendran (Kaalayan Sathya) and Dharmalingam (Karunakaran). Sandeep pulls off the role with ease.
While Rasu has done well by Aparna and Sandeep, a major issue with the film is the way he has written his own character, Siva. Rasu Ranjith tries to establish himself as a hero and gives Siva extended love and action sequences. While the love portion of Siva and Tamil does feel fresh, sweet, and earnest, Rasu stretches it out to the point where it becomes yawn-inducing. In retrospect, Tamil seems to be a good fit in this world but seems out of place in the story; her presence is only there to elevate Siva as the frontrunner of the story.
That said, the choice to have dual heroes is justified. If the relationship between Dass and Sumathi propels the emotional arc of the story, at the heart of it all lies the friendship between Dass and Siva. At a critical moment during the third act, Dass gets stuck in a quagmire – one which proves to be devastatingly life-changing. Without any hesitation, Siva jumps in as well. There are no emotional dialogues; they just look at each other and the music does its job. It is effective and establishes how well Dass and Siva understand each other. The music is an important garnish throughout. Whether it is a love sequence between Tamil and Siva, or an intense, painful scene involving Sumathi and Dass, C Sathya's tunes make the imprints deeper.
Other technical aspects of Theethum Nandrum are also effective, bar one pivotal moment towards the end where the haphazard editing makes it really difficult to make sense of what is happening.
On the whole, the entire team has aided Rasu Ranjith in weaving a compelling tale. The title, Theethum Nandrum is taken from the first phrase of Purananuru, 'Theethum Nandrum Pirar Thara Vaara' - which loosely translates to 'You reap what you sow'. All the pivotal characters in this film reap the results of the decisions taken in pursuit of their various needs. And we too get decent returns for the time and emotions invested in this impactful film.