Thaen Movie Review: An ineffective tear-jerker based on true events
Despite having able lead actors, because of issues with the direction, there is a disconnect between the audience and the film
Ganesh Vinayakan's Thaen is an underdog's fight against a flawed system. The protagonist, Velu, is a victim of the greedy corporates and the hazards caused by their factories. Thaen is hardly the first Tamil film to have this storyline at its core, so novelty is not the main pull here. When the narrative is predictable, it is the performances and the making that keep the audience invested. But here, despite having able lead actors, because of issues with the direction, there is a disconnect between the audience and the film. We see Tharun's Velu breaking down and Abarnadhi's Poonkodi squirming in pain during several scenes, but their pain hardly touches us. At times we feel we don't know the characters enough to mourn with them, and other times, we are just perplexed by how everyone they cross paths with is invariably evil.
Kurinji malai, the hill-top village the couple lives in, is their Eden in a sense. Just as Adam and Eve, who were safe in their garden, went through sufferings once they descended to the earth, Velu and Poonkodi meet many demons after leaving their abode. Things turn unrealistically cruel and from the VAO to the ambulance driver, everyone they bump into treats them with an overdose of hate. Even the rare kind ones, who offer the couple a helping hand, change their minds in the very next scene for no reason.
Cast: Tharun Kumar, Abarnadhi
Director: Ganesh Vinayakan
For the majority of the second half, Poonkodi is said to be suffering from a dreadful disease, too complex for Velu to understand. But I was left wondering why it wasn't even revealed to the audience till the final act. Giving us some details of her illness, instead of just showing us random shots of her squirming in pain, would have perhaps earned our sympathy.
It is also frustrating how filmmakers who get the representation of the victims right in anti-establishment films, fail miserably in portraying their nemeses. In Ganesh's world, everyone who wears pants is bad and those speaking English are the epitome of evil. And so we get a doctor mouthing dialogues like, "She's almost dead!" without any remorse. What's worse is how the 'She's' sounds like 'Sea is'. This isn't to find fault with the actor's accent, but it does feel wrong to see creators force-fitting English dialogues to provide a commentary against westernisation.
It is no secret that Thaen is based on the real-life incident of an economically-backward husband who carried his dead wife to the cremation ground as he was unable to pay for the mortuary van. Though Ganesh Vinayakan's Thaen aims to weave a hard-hitting backstory inspired by this tragic event, all the impact it leaves us with is that of a passing news scroll.