The almost black humor that Aashiq Abu's 'Da Thadiya' offers is clever and perspicacious. Enormously entertaining and extremely gratifying, 'Da Thadiya' delivers the big, fat punch, right where it belongs.
John Prakash (Maniyanpillai Raju) has no idea where his son Luka John Prakash (Shekhar Menon) is headed for, since the boy has been growing up by leaps and bounds literally ever since he was born, and shows no signs of stopping whatsoever. Standing at 120 kilos, Thadiyan, as he is fondly called by friends and family, goes through every roller-coaster ride that a youngster of his age would go through, and in the process, learns to take life in its stride.
Ann Mary Thadikkaran (Ann Augustine) wreaks havoc on Thadiyan's life twice, and we do agree with Sunny that she hadn't sounded quite right, from the very start. Not even A R Rahman and his spectacular background score manage to salvage Thadiyan from the misery that she leaves him in, when she changes towns after having given him a brief glimpse of her Mickey Mouse printed underpants. Years later, when she is back, she still doesn't seem to have gotten over her mouse obsession, as she toys around a mobile phone that has a Mickey print all over it.
Rahul Vaidyar's (Nivin Pauly) magical weight loss program is more of an illustration of how we give up on life itself, to start living afresh. Tossing around a couple of grapes and later a gooseberry on the plate, a bunch of roly-poly men look around at dinner, shaking their heads in disgust. The mechanization of the whole process is accentuated by a seductive female voice that pours in at regular intervals through the speakers, instructing the chunky men to faithfully stick to their daily routine.
In one of my favorite scenes in the film, Thadiyan and fellow-sufferer-at-the-clinic Sachin, discuss the grave injustice that is being meted out to them, under the guise of weight loss techniques. Their conversation digress into the delicacies that would have been served at the dinner table back home, and very soon the distress on their faces make way for a frantic desire, until it culminates in an expression of orgasmic pleasure, that further leads to fulfillment and peace. And you hear them snoring away to glory.
'Da Thadiya' is drastically different from Catherine Breillat's 'Fat Girl' (2001) that talked of a twelve year old girl with a weight problem, for whom the world around gets darker with each passing day. The bouts of depression that Thadiyan goes through are however momentary, and he bounces back (pun intended) in no time all refreshed and rejuvenated. While it takes Sachin Tendulkar's renowned sandstorm innings to swerve him back on the path in his teens, it's his granddad who had been long gone from earth, god bless his fat soul, who along with a bus full of angels, perks him up in no time the second time around.
The city in which Thadiyan grows up is no less a character in the film, and Thadiyan has no qualms about contesting for the City Mayor's elections. He affirms that though he knows nothing about politics, Cochin is as familiar to him as the back of his plump palm. The sprawling city spreads out before him as he surveys it all over from the top of a wannabe skyscraper; and the hustle bustle of it looks as full of life as ever. The tiny apartments splattered down below seem to jostle with each other for space, and it's a city that quite metaphorically seems to be gaining girth by the minute; just as its new fat Mayor who has just taken charge.
The longueurs are indeed there, and they arrive when Ann Mary opens up her closet to disclose a past. You shudder at the thought of this film going awry at that point, but Abu steers back his vehicle onto the tracks in no time, letting you heave a sigh of relief.
Ah! And I simply loved the way it all ends up, and the thought that we have the power within ourselves to conquer those flimsy sentiments and emotional baggage that hang on to our backs like Santa's sack is refreshing. To know that each one of us have it within us, the power to show those users in our lives the middle, or any other convenient finger and move on, is uplifting.
Sekhar is perfect in the title role, and it doesn't surprise me the least, that he wins the elections. Who wouldn't want to cuddle up to this rock star of a portly man and give him one big warm hug, as he sports that sheepish smile that adds to the twinkle in his eyes! The bald mane, the gigantic shoulders, the round cheeks, the plump knuckles and the swinging gait - Sekhar is every bit what the role demands him to be. In stark contrast, Sreenath Bhasi, who plays the narrator in the film, has a Fido Dido-yish quality to him that is absolutely endearing. And together, this odd pair lights up the sky with their fireworks this Christmas.
'Da Thadiya' fills the viewer up to the brim with an enormous sense of being pleased with oneself that is truly overwhelming. For once, you let go of those strands of hair that have been alarmingly falling away, that bit of flab that has been fast accumulating around your waist and that double chin that had mockingly turned up over the years overriding every bit of your resistance. You smile in contentment and rise from your seats, glad at the thought that life has been quite fair to you all this while, and hum along cheerfully as you walk out - 'Njan inganeyanu bhai; athinenthanu bhai...'.