Saheed Arafath’s superb ‘Thankam’ disguises an emotional “friendship story” as a police procedural

Posted on February 7, 2023


Spoilers ahead…

Biju Menon and Vineeth Sreenivasan are aces in Syam Pushkaran’s deceptive screenplay, where things don’t come at you the way you expect them to. 

The opening visual and the opening stretch of Saheed Arafath’s Thankam tell two different stories. The visual is that of loneliness: we see a man facing the sea, his back to us. There’s a whiff of melancholy about the image, something we sense even though it’s just a few frames. And then, we cut – suddenly and dramatically – to this same man in the midst of the opposite of loneliness. He is in the midst of bustling crowds, in the midst of the gold business of Thrissur. His name is Kannan (Vineeth Sreenivasan), and he sells the gold jewellery made by his friend Muthu (Biju Menon). The opening credits appear over a song that’s a dedication to Dhanalakshmi, the goddess of wealth, but note the sign outside Muthu’s workshop: the name of his “company” is hand-written on a sad piece of cardboard. The business may deal with one of the most precious of metals, but it’s clear that people like Kannan and Muthu are not exactly millionaires. Hence that opening visual of Kannan staring at the sea: it’s a hint of a state of mind, a hint of things to come.

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