Vineeth Sreenivasan's 'Thira' is a thoughtful exploration of a theme that is often discussed in hushed whispers. It's quite resolute in its objective, is extremely detailed, is involving for its most part and is charmingly acted as well.
Dr. Rohini (Shobhana), a cardiac surgeon, who runs an NGO named Arpana for destitute children, is devastated by the murder of her journalist husband. She is further shell shocked, when the kids at Arpana are abducted by a mafia involved in human trafficking, that Pranab had been after for long.
In another corner of the city, Naveen (Dhyan Sreenivasan), who arrives to meet his younger sister Riya (Amritha Anil), is stunned when she is kidnapped in the middle of the city, right in front of his eyes. With none to turn to for help, Naveen refuses to give up, and embarks on a hot chase behind the abductors.
The best moment in 'Thira' arrives when an exasperated and visibly disturbed Naveen asks Rohini, as to how such abuse could occur in broad daylight, in public spaces. Rohini's reply is serene and matter-of-fact. She merely reminds him that even those with eyes, see only that which they want to see.
More than 'Taken' or 'Amazing Grace', the film that springs to mind as you watch 'Thira', is 'The Whistle Blower' directed by Larysa Kondracki. Apart from the fact that both the film deal with striking similar themes, the chief protagonist in these films, happens to be a woman.
The film does have its share of stunners, like the instance when Naveen walks into a hell hole to discover a young girl who is barely into her teens, tied up and terrified. She begs him not to hurt her, with sheer dread in her eyes, even as they simply refuse to shed another tear.
Characterization is perhaps the greatest flaw in 'Thira'. The narrative has plenty of hazy faces that are casually mentioned in undertones, but they never really appear on screen. A few sidekicks do make their appearance, but it never gets beyond that point. Perhaps the only argument in its favor is that it strives hard to be as real as possible, and in reality, many of these shady faces never emerge from the fog.
So it's a swift trail that Rohini and Naveen set out on, and as they run from pillar to post, the pace of the film is maintained almost even. It does whimper a couple of times, but changes gear again, and zooms to a halt at a predictable climax.
I'd say the writing in 'Thira' is patchy, though I admit it's no easy job to script a film that entirely depends on the actions of its two leading characters. The intention definitely is to steer clear of the road that is often travelled, and though it succeeds in parts, it cannot escape the jaggedness when it comes to holding the interest of the viewer.
Shobhana constantly reminded me of Rachel Weisz, which does not in any way diminish the efficacy with which she has essayed the role. 'Thira' does require an actress of her caliber, and Shobhana delivers an incredible performance as the gritty doc. Dhyan Sreenivasan makes a notable debut as well, though he does need to work on his dubbing skills.
Despite all its shortcomings, of all the three films that Vineeth Sreenivasan has directed till date, 'Thira' is my personal favorite. The young director seems to have much mellowed, and I'm sure it's gonna get only better from now on.