Thuramukham Malayalam Movie
Rajeev Ravi's Thuramukham documents the struggles of daily harbor workers in Kerala before and after India's independence, under the Chappa system. The laborers struggle to get by on very little money as their employers shortchange them and exploit them otherwise. Coins act as tokens being thrown to the mass gathering. Whoever gets at least one token can perform harbor work for one day. It is a case of crude injustice, but only Maimu (Joju George) musters up the courage to oppose it.
Years later, Maimu's son Moidu (Nivin Pauly) deals with the same situation a whole lot differently. Unlike Maimu, Moidu jumps to collect the coin tokens with a great deal of enthusiasm. Moidu perhaps realizes the level of injustice that's around him, but he chooses to do nothing about it. Nivin Pauly does not have a hero role or a traditional protagonist's arc. In his own words, he is a "bad guy." It takes a little bit of time for Moidu to realize the folly of his ways, but by then, a revolution is already underway.
A revolution is like war in that it is never fought alone. This means Thuramukham is not a call-to-action in the same way that a film like Padavettu is. The film powerfully captures the first stirrings of pent-up anger against the Chappa system. There are many participants in this revolution, and Rajeev Ravi devotes just enough screen time to each of them. Indrajith Sukumaran plays Santo Gopalan, a man of principle who understands the plight of the daily laborers like the back of his hand. Arjun Ashokan plays Hamza, a Communist Party supporter and Moidu's younger brother. Manikandan Achari plays Umboocha, Maimu's right-hand man, who faces up to the oppressive system with gusto.
Sudev Nair is delightfully devilish as the exploitative Pacheek. There is also a little bit of family drama here. Poornima Indrajith plays Moidu and Hamza's mother, who does not fully understand the ins and outs of the power struggle in Kochi but quietly appreciates what her kin and kith do. Moidu may be powerful, but he does not raise a voice or raise his hand at his mother. Nimisha Sajayan is Umani, whom Moidu brings home after she is forced to leave her rental house. The scenes where Umani tries to woo Moidu are among the best in the film. It shows the plight of these women: they can submit themselves to either the oppressive upper class or men with animalistic instincts.
Thuramukham is Rajeev Ravi's first film after the brilliant procedural Kuttavum Shikshayum. What is impressive about it is that Rajeev Ravi does not exploit the material for a commercial film made solely to entertain the masses. This means there are no punch dialogues, dramatic lows and highs, or masala moments in the film. There are long stretches of silence, punctuated by few dialogues and even fewer exchanges. Some viewers may find this off-putting, though.
The best part of the film is how it depicts an act of police brutality in Mattancherry during a mass uprising against oppression. Rajeev Ravi is only interested in documenting this chapter of Kerala's history. He draws powerful performances, especially from the likes of Arjun, Nivin, Poornima, and Joju.
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