'Thankamani' Review: Dileep walks a tightrope between daring, melodrama

Dileep plays Abel Joshua Mathen in the film. Photos | YouTube

Dileep's recent films share a common thread: they are all loosely inspired by real-life incidents. While 'Bandra', directed by Arun Gopy, touched upon the life of a real-life actress, his latest outing, 'Thankamani', draws upon the sensational case that rocked Kerala in the 1980s. Directed by Ratheesh Reghunandan, the film starts as an investigative procedural with police officer Arpitha (Pranitha Subhash) leading the murder case of a top Kerala politician. However, the investigating officer only has a set of clues, which lead to an incident that occurred in October 1986.

This is Ratheesh Reghunandan's second film, following the well-received domestic thriller 'Udal'. Unlike its predecessor, 'Thankamani' offers no mind-blowing surprises or suspense. Instead, it follows a non-linear narrative, packaged as a family drama.

Dileep plays Abel Joshua Mathen, who returns from the Gulf to Thankamani, a town now riddled with drug problems. This is precisely why his girlfriend Anitha's (Neetha Pillai) father refuses to approve their marriage. Despite this, they elope and settle in his hometown. The movie is set in two time periods – the 1980s and the present – but the only significant distinction between them is the lead characters' hairstyles.

The chemistry between Dileep and Neetha Pillai is undeniable, adding a spark to their characters' romance. However, it's worth mentioning that Dileep's romantic scenes feel somewhat out of place due to his age playing a limiting factor. Neetha Pillai portrays a demure village belle, a stark contrast to the fiery and assertive police officer she played in Joshiy's 'Paappan'. This time Pranitha Subhash delivers an exceptional performance as the police officer.

'Thankamani' sees Ratheesh Reghunandan revisit a real-life, infamous incident that remains a dark stain on Kerala's political history. The scenes depicting police brutality against the villagers of Thankamani are well-executed. However, unlike P.G. Vishwambhran's 'Itha Samayamayi', which is also loosely based on the incident, "Thankamani" takes a bolder approach, exploring a different perspective of the story. Unfortunately, the film occasionally relies on predictable tropes, hindering the overall viewing experience.

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