Vellithira
Blog on Malayalam Movies, Music, and Arts

Tanmatra not doing good

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17 Responses to “Tanmatra not doing good”

  1. A `Tanmathra’ feeds the soul, while a `Rajamanikyam’ tickles the funny bone

    The general lament that values are being diluted and the nuclear family is getting more and more self centred in Kaliyug will remain a lament minus action if nothing is done, howsoever small, to arrest the trend. It is not enough for people to wait till they reach their golden years to sit on judgement on a society that they helped shape. People have to act and in any which way you please, to address any situation. `Tanmathra’ tackles this malaise in aesthetic mode.

    When the subject matter of cinema has travelled from the sublime to the ridiculous and the middle path is getting overgrown with weeds, here is a movie that is both for the masses and the connoisseurs. The news is that `Tanmathra’ has story, content, technical finesse, values, great histrionic moments and emotion. It’s a reflection of life, besides

    The number of old age homes is increasing and children forget the sacrifices that parents make for them, when they grow up. This trend is catching on and selfishness is widespread. Changes in lifestyle first affect the city and then percolate to the rural areas. That is why my story is based in a city. The middle class is most affected by such changes. Their dreams are often trampled upon, but how they overcome adversities by sticking together as a family is the core theme of the movie,” says Blessy, the director, whose oeuvre consists of just two films, `Kazhcha’ and `Tanmathra’.

    Present ills

    Many of the present ills that society faces spring from a disintegration of family values, he believes. Consumerism and one-upmanship have robbed many of positive feelings and money bulldozes finer sentiments like plain kindness and empathy into empty jargon, christened `senti’ in topical parlance. People steer clear of realistic movies for fear of facing realistic situations from which they willfully run away. Slowly, finer sentiments move away from tyhem, mostly urbanites. `Tanmathra’ is an attempt to rejuvenate those finer sentiments, says Blessy.

    The script is tight. “I took three months to write the script, though I have been doing research for 10 years on it, from the time I toyed with the idea of making a movie with Alzheimer’s Disease, after reading Padmarajan’s `Orma’. When I write the script, I do it at one go. Fortunately, I have not had to redraft it, for both my movies,” Blessy revealed.

    Alzheimer’s is a disease that scares all the generations and that it can strike anyone is particularly disturbing. Blessy has linked awareness of this disease with how it can be dealt with, provided there is family support as in `Tanmathra’. The commonest symptoms that strike are woven into the story deftly.

    The casting of the movie is a story by itself. Mohanlal in the lead is once again an actor who has shed the super star tag. Last week, his first movie, `Manjil Virinja Pookkal’, was screened on the small screen. His last movie, 25 years later, `Thanmatra’, also a Christmas release, shows the evolution of the actor. In `Manjil Virinja Pookkal’, Mohanlal, as the villain, hardly out of his teens, made sure he stood out, albeit in villainy. His body language and his very presence, showed his determination to make it good in the field. In `Thanmatra’, his body language is that of a Secretariat employee. The intensity of the actor remains the same in both movies, but the experience of 25 years shows in the natural actor, with even a slight movement of the facial muscles contributing to making the Alzheimer’s patient a real natural.

    Meera Vasudevan as the leading lady, is just 23 and this is her maiden Malayalam film. “Imagine, I had to play mother to an 18-year-old boy. It was a deglamourised role and I knew it was risky, but when I heard the story, I said yes, because I knew it was a role of a lifetime,” says the Mumbai based actor who is an Iyengar and has acted in the Bollywood movie, `Rules’ and two Tamil films too. “I had to put on 15 kg to suit the role. When Director Blessy saw me, I had my hair-streaked blonde and was wearing a sari as directed by him. I just cannot understand how he cast me. But he had the foresight and look how the movie has turned out,” says Meera, now shooting for a Tamil movie, after shedding those kilos, of course. A graduate in Psychology and English, she says the film was a learning experience as the combination scenes with Mohanlal warranted equally intense acting and she was happy to be able to do it according to the director’s expectations. The shooting of the movie was a roller coaster ride, she says. “I am actually a confident and extrovert person, quite the opposite of my role. And my name is Meera Vasudevan. I don’t know why many refer to me as Vasudev,” she complains.

    “For the role of the boy, Manu, we put out an ad and over 1,000 applied. I did not find any one suitable. We did the same in Dubai and Arjun was selected,” says Blessy. It is certainly a plum role and Arjun, a Std XII boy, whose parents are from Chalakkudy, simply stands out. Though the bearded IAS aspirant he portrays in the last few scenes belies his age, he carries the big role with élan and shows the kind of promise his father in the movie showed in his first film.

    Some of the frames in `Tanmathra’, cinematographed by Sethu Sriram, like the empty house when they move and intimate scenes are not on trodden path. They jell with the story’s mood.

    Talking of moods, the same mood does make boring souls of people. Just as life will get monotonous and health decline if you eat chicken and chicken for every meal, entertainment too must be balanced for a healthy cine viewer.

    That is why producers going behind trends sometimes bite the dust. We need the slapstick as well as the realistic to cater to our different moods, to really make the world tick. Balanced entertainment demands movies whose subjects range from comedy to the serious. A `Tanmathra’ feeds the soul, while a `Rajamanikyam’ tickles the funny bone.

    thanks to hindu article

  2. […] We had reported earlier that Mohanlal’s new film Tanmatra directed by Blessy is not doing that well. But most reviewers seem to agree that Mohanlal has given a wonderful performance. […]

  3. […] Blessy in his first film, Kaazcha, directed Mammotty and the film was a big success, even though we did not like it very much. For his second film, Blessy directed Mohanlal in Tanmatra and according to reports, the film is not doing great financially, even though it has an excellent performance by Mohanlal. […]

  4. thanlmathra is a difeerefent subject but not a depth one .

  5. Who told u that thanmatra is not doing good? Dont think that from the very first day the movie like thanmatra will get good response. It will take time as first days some masala minded people will come to watch and they will start saying this is not good movie and etc…. Cos they need only fights, songs, some hot scenes etc…. And i think now u must have got news that thanmatra is in top 1st position, am i right???? It is the number one movie for some decade i would say….

    [Excessive praise of Mohanlal deleted. Please be more objective in comments. We don’t like worshipful comments – Ed]

  6. Vijesh, Can you send us the link to the article which says Tanmatra is doing good. Then we will definitely update the article.

  7. My dear editor, whoever it was who could not ‘bear kaazhcha’ has to regarded with sympathy as it only points to a mind that has been made insensitive and incapable of artistic sensibility (possibly a result of seeing too many crass and crude masala movies). In my opinion, kaazhcha is easily one of the best movies ever to have appeared in Indian celluloid. Honestly, I found it extremely difficult to pick a single jarring note in this movie. Blessy is not only a breath of fresh air, but an absolute master of film-making. Bless him!
    Tanmaatra was equally good, perhaps even more poignant. I saw the movie a month ago, but the movie still lingers in my heart like a song. What a beautifully crafted movie! One comes away with the feeling that one hasn’t gone for a movie, but just were witness to the life of a family in our neighbourhood. And this is not entirely because the movie was actually shot in my neighbourhood (Karamana govt employees colony, Arts College and Secretariat) This movie depicts reality more than any movie I have seen. The characters seem too real. True, it was Mohanlal, Jagathy, Nedumudi Venu – all well known actors of the Malayalam tinseltown. But in this movie, they have ceased to be these actors and have become real people. The director’s success was that the movie successfully peeled off the familiar images off these actors’ faces.

    Come on, go and enjoy these movies and get civilized in the process!

  8. Saw Thanmaathra at Chennai last weekend

    I found it extremely touching. Having watched a lot of Padmrajan classics, I can say that Blessy for sure has got that skill of making the audience with that feeling of helplessness and sadness- the feeling that you have lost somebody close to you – from his mentor, Padmarajan.

    I will pick a few scenes that really appealed to me:
    *) Lal hugging his son after he confesses to his lying over being late from school
    *) The physical intimacy between Lal and Meera has been shown so beautifully without any vulgairty
    *) Lal massaging Nedumudi at their tharavaadu – and in the second half, the father doing the reverse
    *) Lal’s scene on the night before he dies.

    Every single character in this movie has etched out brilliant performances.

    I do not think any scene is artificial in the movie. A lot of people would wonder – how can a perfectly sane man go from good to bad to worse _ Ask any person who has interacted with an Alzheimers patient on how the conditions detiorate so fast. The change is so rapid. My grandmother died of the disease. Nobody even knew it was a disease. We just attributed it to her aging process. She used to ask the same questions again and gain. She used to repeat her childhood experiences ad nauseum. What I would like to say here is that probably a person who has had the experience of closely interacting with a patient can feel the trauma and the pain.

    All said and done, this movie may not be a super-hit, simply becasue we cannot accept our hero dying in the end. (all the more because of the super hero image of Lal). But then, full credit to Blessy for choosing a very different climax. Would thanmaathra have become a big hit ..*IF*.. , Blessy did not kill Lal ? Would it have been a hit if he was shown as being bed ridden or taking the road to recovery. We never know.

  9. Ramesh, different people like different movies. For me, just drumming on sadness and misery does not make a good movie.

  10. Unni, thanks for that detailed comment. If you want to write a review, we would be happy to publish it here.

  11. Dear Vellithira

    A sensitive portrayal of tragedy (whether scripted by Blessy or Shakespeare) will increase the depth of human feelings and will actually make us appreciate and enjoy life more fully. If you shy away from the great tragedies of literature and cinema, I am afraid your depth of emotional experience could become shallow and restricted. No one can escape from tragedies in life. Blessy focuses not on the suffering caused by Alzheimer’s disease to the victim or to his family, but on the power of love to hold society together in times of difficulty. Over all, one leaves the movie hall with a lump in the throat and a moist eye, but shaken and tremendously exhilarated by the beauty of love that is the subject of both his movies.
    Good movies, as is the case with great literature, have educational value – especially the serious and tragic ones. These are the kind of movies that nurture love and make the world a better place to live in.
    Carry on, Blessy.

  12. Thanmaathra – director Blessy’s second movie – is the poignant tale of Rameshan Nair, a secretariat employee, who becomes a victim of the dreaded disease – Alzheimer’s. The movie has been inspired by a short story written by Blessy’s mentor and late director Padmarajan.

    The opening scene is of a student explaining the nuances of multiplication to an attentive class. From the outset it is very clear that the child is a prodigy. The student, Manu, has an admirer in his doe-eyed classmate whom he later takes out for her birthday. We are then introduced to Rameshan Nair, who is a dedicated and upright government employee. Rameshan Nair’s wife Lekha is the typical housewife, trying to run the family of four – Rameshan, his son and their little daughter. Rameshan
    nair even though a government employee is extremely well-read (his collection of newspapers and cuttings would do any Newspaper archive proud) and his dream in life is to see his son pass the Civil Services exam, something which he himself could not achieve. His hopes are not over-the-top, as his son proves he is capable of that. Joseph (Jagathy Sreekumar), is Rameshan’s colleague and confidante and tries to help him in sorting out his financial problems, purchasing a flat etc. When all seems well, the story takes a twist, when Rameshan exhibits the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s – he tries his best to recollect an old poem by Thiruvalluvar and fails to do so. Rameshan wonders whether there is something seriously wrong with him and does a medical checkup – Prathap Pothen, doing a cameo, assures him that it could be that he was over-stressed. But soon , things take a turn for the worse, when Rameshan breaks down at his office and is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, which comes as a rude chock to his wife and son.He is taken to his “tharvaadu” where his father, mother and son try to nurse him to normalcy, but in vain. Rameshan’s son tries to fulfill his dream by appearing for the final interview of the civil sevices exam and tells the board that his father was his inspiration all along.

    The movie has many scenes worthy of note – The interactions between father and son – the first where Manu confesses to his father after having lied for being late from school – is extremly touching .Also heartening is the scene where Lal plays the doting son – massaging his father, Nedumudi Venu. It is all the more ironic, as in the latter half of the movie, the father does the same on the ailing son. Also touching is the scene where Rameshan’s wife helplessly watch her husband devoting all
    his attention to his “murapennu” – his appachi’s daughter.

    All the songs in this movie, tuned by Mohan Sithara, are apt and dont seem to have been introduced for the sake of it. The best is easily the “Kattu Vizhie Kannamma” song. It has also been choreographed beautifully. Songs picturised with such realism and devoid of any artificiality are rare. Over the past few years, Malayalam songs picturisations have been blindly aping their Tamil counterparts. (In a recent movie, it has been taken to new levels – by shooting a song in foreign location – with the hero and heroine attempting a Shahrukh and Kajol!!)

    With Thanmaathra, Blessy has proved that he is not a one-film wonder and that he is here to stay. Kaazcha proved that he has imbibed all the film-making qualities of his mentor – Padmarajan. He also took a bold step in casting Mohan Lal as the father of a 15 year old. In the days when 50 plus heros are made to dance around trees with skimpily clad heroines less than half their age, at exotic locations, Blessy’s casting is all the more commendable. As for Mohan Lal – no words will be enough to praise this versatile and talented actor. As somebody said, if Mohan Lal were born on the other side of the globe, he would defintely have added a few oscars to his kitty. Meera Vasudev, Nedumudi Venu and Jagathy Sreekumar also deserve full praise for their respective roles

    PS: at the time of writing this, Thanmaathra has bagged a few state awards and if reports are to be believed, its slowly but surely on the way to becoming a HIT. Way to go Blessy and team!

  13. A small correction to the above – The “Kannamma” song was Bharathiyar’s creation – not Thiruvalluvar. The error is regretted.

  14. Good review, Unni. Made me recollect some of the scenes.

    We live in mad times, when people are, like the factory workers in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times, driven like sheep and have no time for rest, silent or quiet reflection. Therefore most of us are in stress and to escape this, we get addicted to various things – not only to alcohol and stuff but also to various kinds of loud and crude stimulation that assault our different senses. Masala movies are a reflection of our needs to submerge ourselves and our stresses in riotous sensations.

    Because we live in such mad times buried in various addictions, what is artistic and refined do not achieve a great deal of instant popularity. Drug addicts will not be able to enjoy the music of Mozart or Thyagaraja. Blessy’s movies don’t become outright hits in the beginning. But they have their healing effect on our minds and slowly people begin to be sensitive to their refined tunes and subtle nuances. Material success comes easily to those who dish out addictions. Look at how the abkaris make money! So do the producers of the bollywood masala and pornographic kings of California. But people can be de-addicted and be made more sensitive by exposing themselves to beauty and art — this is what we learn from Thanmatra.

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