It's been so long since T K Rajeev Kumar gave us something really worthy of our time. 'Thalsamayam Oru Penkutti' is no exception, and barring a few sprightly moments in the first half has very little to offer to the discerning viewer in terms of thought or entertainment.
It's a format that we are quite familiar with, having watched films like 'Ed TV' and 'The Truman Show', and in the Malayalam version a television company decides to telecast live, the life of a young girl called Manjula Ayyappan (Nithya Menon). She's the first contestant of a reality show that has been titled 'Thalsamayam Oru Penkutti', that has an entire camera crew following her wherever she goes, capturing on the lens whatever she does.
The film, like all other films in this genre, pokes fun at the voyeur who lies hidden in each of us, and attempts to analyze how these shows work. Of course, the television audience forms an integral part of a film as this, and here they do form a part of the narrative, like the guy who works out incessantly at the gym (Kalabhavan Navas) or the lonely mother (KPAC Lalitha) who finds a replica of her own daughter on the girl whom she sees on TV, but very rarely do they truly come to life.
The scruples and ethics that are often discussed, when you indulge in a discussion on reality shows on television are not spared here either. There is the Channel CEO Ravi (Siddique) as well as the senior producer Thomas (Baburaj) who would stop at nothing to see to it that the ratings of the show remain in tact.
The script is what fails this film time and again, and from a relatively harmless first half, it nosedives into something predictable and plain boring in the second half. The unbelievable length of the film doesn't work in its favor either, and you feel that at least a good fifteen minutes could be chopped off without doing the film any harm.
Nithya Menon is a director's actress for sure, and she could either walk this way or that, depending on what the film maker moulds her into. Which is why you sometimes see superlative performances from her, while on other occasions she plainly goes overboard. Here in 'Thalsamayam Oru Penkutti', she tries a bit hard at least initially to be the naÃ¯ve village girl that she plays, but finds herself on bumpy ground.
In sharp contrast is Swetha Menon's self-assured performance as Zarina, the show producer with a conscience. Unni Mukundan in a relatively short role is downright impressive as well, and very comfortably plays the stammering young man who falls in love with Manjula.
'Thalsamayam Oru Penkutti' is amused at the weepy sitcoms on television that go on an on without any sign of stopping for good. What is perhaps ironic is that the film itself isn't much better in that it tries to be a hard hitting satire, but ends up getting hit on its own head instead.