As the title alludes to, Fellini's "Theevandi" is about a man who chain smokes. The film does not condescend, in the sense that it has not glamorized the taboo and spelled out that it is bad. It is smart enough to understand that a generation of moviegoers, accustomed to watching anti-smoking commercials on cinema halls, know what smoking leads to.
The story goes, a man reaches heaven and makes a wish for thousand cigarettes and the almighty gives him only that. When he gripes about a key missing element, god tells him "you never asked for matches".
In "Theevandi," an exasperated Bineesh Damodaran takes a puff from the fag end of a cigarette while ruing the poor choices he has made in life. Tovino Thomas's frowned face in the film's most revealing moment is a living manifestation of that man in a dark room. You could change thousand with whatever number you want to allude the story to, but their own definition of ill-fortune is essentially what all chain smokers have in common.
By the time Bineesh started to curse his luck, I was taking notice of the absence of a hero with a cigarette in his mouth and one who revels in slow-motion walks. Besides, there is no close-up of a star who crushes a cigarette under his feet with a background music for style. What it does with that star pandering scenario is one the censorship board that mandates "statutory warning" in cinema halls should take notice. The one at the start of a film, in particular, has invited sarcasm from all corners in society.
"Theevandi" throws a dart at all possible perils of smoking in public while setting the cinema hall on laughter mode. Its hero is of the opinion that there has to be price reduction policies for cigarette in the parliament budget. This defies the Law of Demand in Economics, which clearly states that for an increase in demand there is a decrease in price. For an uninitiated, all tobacco products are an exception to that Law. It so happened our hero is a villager, who abides the Law in practical situations whether he knows it or not (pun intended).
What happens to Bineesh when there is a scarcity for what he desperately seeks in life, when pushed to a fag end, forms the crux of this small and intelligent film. And, Fellini skilfully weaves all his ideas in a simple and conventional storytelling format while entertaining us in the process.
There is the game of one-upmanship between Bineesh's brother-in-law Vijith, and Madhu. Madhu (Suraaj Venjarammoodu) is named the candidate for bypoll, something which Vijith (Saiju Kurup) want to make his own. But the catch is that he could be the candidate only if his brother-in-law Bineesh fully abstains from smoking until a human chain gets over.
Then there is the romantic angle between Madhu's daughter Devi (Samyuktha Menon) and Bineesh. Pretty much like the rest of the film, this is best enjoyed than told.
Tovino Thomas's character is almost an outcast in a society, which condescend his actions. But the movie never does it to us. For those walking in purely for entertainment, there are big laughs to be had in "Theevandi". There is also an ensemble cast, who excel in humour.
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