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

In his latest project ‘Thalavan,’ filmmaker Jis Joy appears to have learned a few lessons from his previous misstep, but still has some way to go

Updated - May 24, 2024 05:12 pm IST

Published - May 24, 2024 04:55 pm IST

A still from ‘Thalavan’ 

A still from ‘Thalavan’ 

People can get branded easily in the current social media atmosphere, often making it hard to break out of the image forced upon them. Filmmaker Jis Joy, whose string of feel-good films ended up making him a frequent subject of memes, has been making an earnest attempt to break that image over the past couple of years. Innale Vare, his first attempt at making a dark thriller, faltered. In his latest project Thalavan, Joy appears to have learned a few lessons from that misstep, yet he still has some way to go.

Thalavan begins with a narrative centred on an ego clash between two police officers, Jayashankar (Biju Menon) and Karthik (Asif Ali), before it slowly gets into the investigative thriller space. While Jayashankar, the superior officer, brooks no insubordination, Karthik has quite a history of speaking his mind and getting frequent transfers. Around them are a bunch of police officers who all have their own personal agendas and animosities which lead them to to create further divisions between the two. When a dead body turns up in mysterious circumstances, all of these past events and intra-departmental dynamics come into play.

Screenwriters Anand Thevarkkat and Sarath Perumbavoor are successful in keeping us guessing almost till the end regarding the identity and motive of the murderer. But, this is partly achieved by constantly introducing characters and situations meant to mislead us. Amid these red herrings, the one event from the past that has a connection to the murders is also thrown in, but it is easy to miss in an already crowded field.

Director: Jis Joy
Cast: Biju Menon, Asif Ali, Miya George, Anusree, Dileesh Pothan, Kottayam Nazeer 
Duration: 133 minutes
Storyline: When a dead body turns up in mysterious circumstances at a police officer’s house, intra-departmental rivalries come into play

Despite having quite an intriguing plot, Thalavan is weighed down by all these situations and characters meant to distract us. The needle of suspicion keeps shifting from people both inside and outside the police force. A good part of this is handled in a rather dull manner, almost as if they were biding time to push the revelations further towards the fag end of the film. The mystery, when it is revealed, makes some of this wait worthwhile with its ingenuity.

Yet, at the same time, one cannot but think of what could have been achieved with this material, had it been shorn of all the flab and edited less jarringly. The revelation at the end deserved a far more interesting path leading up to it. The idea of making another police officer narrating the whole case to an online channel appears a bit redundant in the end.

Both Biju Menon and Asif Ali get roles with some scope for performance, while Kottayam Nazeer leaves an impression in the few scenes that he gets. Miya George and Anushree’s roles are merely functional.

Considering the kind of potential the plot had, Thalavan hits a little below the mark; still, Jis Joy proves to an extent that he is comfortable outside the feel-good space too.

Thalavan is currently running in theatres

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