‘Thalavan’ movie review: Biju Menon, Asif Ali’s thriller has an intriguing plot, but ends up wasting its potential

A still from ‘Thalavan’

In today’s digital age, where social media presence can define one’s public persona, it is often challenging to shake off labels. Director Jis Joy, previously pigeonholed for his upbeat movies and becoming an unwitting meme icon, has been striving to reinvent his filmmaking identity with darker narratives. His first foray into this genre with Innale Vare stumbled somewhat. With his latest offering, Thalavan, Joy demonstrates a learning curve from his prior attempt, yet it’s clear he still has ground to cover.

Thalavan unfurls with an intense rivalry between two contrasting law enforcers, Jayashankar (Biju Menon) and Karthik (Asif Ali). Jayashankar is a high-ranking officer with little tolerance for defiance, while Karthik, known for his outspokenness, incurs frequent transfers for his candor. The precinct is suffused with policemen who harbor personal motives and grudges, taking the chance to exacerbate the discord between the two chiefs. The discovery of an enigmatic corpse propels all these prior tensions and department politics into the limelight.

Anand Thevarkkat and Sarath Perumbavoor, the screenwriters, deftly maintain suspense almost up to the finale concerning the culprit’s identity and motives. This is partially accomplished through the introduction of characters and scenarios engineered to lead the audience astray. Amidst these misdirections, a significant event linked to the crime is inserted, but it tends to get lost amidst the plot’s crowded elements.

Thalavan

Director: Jis Joy

Cast: Biju Menon, Asif Ali, Miya George, Anusree, Dileesh Pothan, Kottayam Nazeer

Duration: 133 minutes

Storyline: Intrigue arises when a mysterious death at a policeman’s domicile propels internal departmental strife into action

Despite the enthralling premise, Thalavan gets bogged down by excessive and misleading plot devices and secondary players. This continual suspicion-shuffling involving insiders and outsiders, at times, turns tedious, almost as if stalling the story’s peak revelation. The eventual disclosure of the mystery compensates the audience with its creativity, somewhat validating the delay.

Nevertheless, there is a sense of missed opportunity in exploring the film’s potential without the tangential clutter and the choppy narrative technique. The dramatic climax deserved a more compelling lead-up. The concept of a cop recounting the case to an online media outlet also seems a tad superfluous upon hindsight.

Both Biju Menon and Asif Ali deliver nuanced performances worth noting, with Kottayam Nazeer making a memorable impact in his brief screen time. The roles of Miya George and Anushree, however, serve more as plot accessories than standout contributions.

All things considered, while Thalavan may not hit the sweet spot, Jis Joy has shown that he can indeed navigate genres beyond his customary feel-good realm.

Thalavan is currently showing in cinemas.

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