All across Kerala, men with highly-fragile egos seem to be fighting each other to death, going by the number of films around this theme that the industry has churned out in the past couple of years. They represent almost every region, from the high ranges to the coast. But, each of these films thankfully have a flavour of their own, which is not just due to the different places and time periods they are set in.
Sreejith. N's debut film Oru Thekkan Thallu Case draws much of its material as it is from G. R. Indugopan's popular short story Ammini Pillai Vettu Case, with some deviations only towards the end. Ammini Pillai (Biju Menon), a larger-than-life figure in a quaint village in Southern Kerala becomes a thorn in the flesh for Podiyan (Roshan Mathew) after what seems like a rather minor altercation. He hatches a plot with his friends to hit back at Ammini Pillai to satisfy his bruised ego, a decision that would have much more ramifications than they can imagine.
Oru Thekkan Thallu Case
The lore of Ammini Pillai is built up in a way similar to that of Ayyappan in Ayyappanum Koshiyum, with the repeated mentions of a "45-minute fight", in which he was the last man standing. One of his adversaries says that he has a bird's eye view of all the happenings in the region, from atop a lighthouse of which he is the gatekeeper. If that was not enough, there is a superbly-staged scene of him grabbing a huge king cobra by its tail and waving it around, as the entire village watches awestruck. But these are just a few of the high points of what is an otherwise tame, long, drawn-out treatment to a story, which held so much promise for the screen.
One of the things that the film gets right is in the way it has built the relationship between Rukmini (Padmapriya), Ammini Pillai's wife, and Vasanthi (Nimisha Sajayan), Podiyan's girlfriend. Both of them are very much integral to the proceedings, rather than mere onlookers impressed by the swagger and violence unleashed by the men. At times, it would seem that Rukmini is more keen on her husband getting his revenge and maintaining the respect that he commands in the village. Vasanthi is also shown to be someone who does not care a hoot about how the people in the village would judge her for her actions.
With how Ammini Pillai gets his revenge being the focus of the story, the script manages to keep the interest alive until a point, when he gets back at some of his adversaries. But after that, there is not much left to grip you as the story follows a similar pattern, with just a few surprises. What could have been quite an engaging drama if it were fit into 90 minutes has been turned into a bloated product at 150 minutes.
With its staid treatment, Oru Thekkan Thallu Case takes the fire out from a fascinating story, and punches below its weight.