Karthi and Jyotika twist themselves up in knots in Jeethu Joseph’s underwhelming thriller, ‘Thambi’

Posted on December 21, 2019

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Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/column-thambi-karthi-jeethu-joseph-jyotika-sathyaraj-baradwaj-rangan

Unlike in ‘Drishyam’, the convolutions in ‘Thambi’ aren’t organic. The narrative gears are lubricated with snake oil.

Spoilers ahead…

Jeethu Joseph opens Thambi with a god’s-eye-view shot that looks upon four trucks, whose drivers are in some sort of argument (and some sort of shady deal). The camera zooms down, coming closer to earth, closer to those trucks and the people around them — and one of them, named Saravanan, gets hit on the head. It’s all very fancy and it all seems to mean something — until it doesn’t. By the end of the film, you realise there was no need for all this visual trickery. (Unless you just want to say: What a cool shot!) We needn’t have seen those trucks or those people. It’s a metaphor for the movie. Things keep happening and they seem to mean something — until they don’t.

Now, you could argue that that’s the very nature of a red herring. It’s meant to divert our attention until the actual reveal makes us slap our foreheads and say: Oh my god’s-eye-view! But the red herring has to fit into the overall design. Take the scene in the second half where a cop is shot dead. The killer doesn’t seem the kind of guy who’d do such a thing. At one point, he is revealed as EVIL, someone who will eliminate everyone who gets in the way. But later, he comes across like the Mohanlal character in Drishyam, a GOOD man who’s simply covering up for his family. Is he both? Thambi doesn’t make a convincing case. Unlike in Drishyam, the convolutions here aren’t organic. The narrative gears are lubricated with snake oil.

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Posted in: Cinema: Tamil