Thirumanam: An Outdated and Preachy Film Driven By A Mega-Serial Style Narrative
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Directed by Cheran, Thirumanam is a family drama starring Sukanya, Cheran, Umapathy Ramaiah, Kavya Suresh, Thambi Ramaiah, MS Bhaskar in lead roles. The movie sets out with the right intentions. It tries to dissect the ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’, it tries to examine the common causes of divorces. So, obviously, the problem isn’t with the director’s intentions, but it lies in the manner in which the director conveys these intentions. The execution is outdated, preachy, bland and most of all overly dramatic. This in combination with bad performances and Tamil Mega-Serial type of visuals is the primary reasons for things going sour with this film. Good intentions can never make good films on their own. They need to be enveloped in a proper premise that has clarity on how to place it’s ‘social messages’ forward through smart plot twists.
Mahesh (Umapathy Ramaiah) and Aadhira (Kavya Suresh), a young couple fall head over heels in love with each other. When they decide to take their relationship to the next level, they profess a marriage to their respective families. Soon, they receive the consent of their families too. As the two families come together to discuss the specifics of their wedding, there is an overpowering clash of opinions between Mahesh’s elder sister Manonmani (Sukanya) and Aadhira’s elder brother Aruvudainambi (Cheran). While Manonmani wants a big fat Indian wedding that reflects their family’s ‘Jamindhaar’ status, Aruvudainambi finds extravagant weddings to be a useless way to spend money. Whether or not the two families settle their differences in time to carry out the wedding forms the crux of the film.
In Thirumanam, director Cheran stumbles upon a relatable premise; the marriage industry making money hand over fist and this is no secret. Filmmakers V.V Prassanna successfully tapped into this premise with enjoyable films like Kalyana Samayal Saadham. But the problem with Cheran’s Thirumanam is its urgency to say it all and say it through one film. What is the end result? One after another social commentary that is thrown at the audience by each of the characters. It is as though they are actually speaking to you. Each commentary is also followed by a tiring song. From divorce to organic farming, multiple social issues are thrust into a story that suffocates and resorts to melodrama.
This melodrama makes the narrative much much worse and makes the film come across as a cliched Tamil mega-serial. From here on, the film’s desperate attempts to appear ‘modern’ and ‘earnest’ take over. From the way they’ve used emojis to the way each character is only painted in black or white shades, everything about Thirumanam comes across as feigned because it tries too hard.
Even though the problems these characters face are real, there comes a point when the film begins to run in circles, completely unaware of ways to take the story forward. Bala Saravanan’s comedy is thrown in for comic relief but that too is disconnected to the rest of the film.
Considering the fact that Thirumanam’s climax is incredibly predictable, the team could’ve watered down the drama and the social commentary to give you a narrative that’s way more relevant and crisper. Maybe then, the film could’ve achieved the impact, it sets out to create.
Playing the lead couple, Mahesh and Aadhira, Umapathy Ramaiah and Kavya Suresh deliver a sub-par performance. Their love story on its own is quite bland and that drowns their amateur performances all the more. The way their characters have been developed makes it really hard for you to perceive them as a modern couple. In fact, there is a point where they take a break from each other. But you never find yourself wanting to see them back together; such is the film’s inability to pull you into the lives of its characters.
The veteran actors like Sukanya, Thambi Ramaiah, and MS Bhaskar do save the film to a certain extent. But considering the fact that their roles appear so outdated and melodramatic, there is very little they can do, to make up for the underwhelming writing.
Much like the film, Rajesh Yadav’s cinematography is outdated too. Technically and visually, the film does get its basics right. But the reaction shots and many other frames resemble those of melodramatic Tamil Mega-serials. Once a film takes the mega-serial route, you know there is no stopping it from meeting its doom.
The music by Siddharth Vipin and Sabesh-Murali is completely out of sync with the film. Their tunes in the emotional scenes are truly terrible. The placement of songs too is disruptive. One song after another is headed your way to derail the focus, off the film’s premise.
On the whole, Thirumanam is ridden with good intentions, but it doesn’t find the route to make good cinema. Filled to the brim with preach messages, bad performances, and melodrama, the film drowns in its own desperate tendencies to be earnest.