Theerppu Malayalam Movie

Feature Film | 2022 | Drama
Theerppu fails to integrate its political ideas well into the main plot and intrigue the viewer. Here, the underlying message is often more important than the main plot itself.
Oct 8, 2022 By Sreejith Mullappilly

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Everything in writer Murali Gopi and director Rathish Ambat's Theerppu seems to have a political undertone. The writer and director's previous film, Kammarasambhavam, is about revisionist history, and it argues that history is a series of lies. In Theerppu, too, there are characters who attempt to rewrite many pieces of history. Ram Kumar Nair (Vijay Babu) owns a museum-like building with fake versions of artefacts. Ram's collection ranges from Mahatma Gandhi's spectacles to Kapil Dev's cricket bat and everything in between. Ram is married to his business partner, Isha Talwar's Mythili, but their marital relationship is a lie to keep their business going.

The plot takes unexpected twists and turns as Parameshwaran Potty (Saiju Kurup) comes to visit Ram for a business deal. Potty, Ram, and Prithviraj Sukumaran's Abdulla Marakkar are old friends with a tragic backstory. They get together in Ram's sprawling mansion by chance, but the meeting does not go as some of them expect. Theerppu is essentially a revenge story that plays out as a home invasion thriller. You will need to have a strong understanding of Indian and international politics to comprehend the film fully.

There are passing mentions of many national and global events in Theerppu, including the coronavirus pandemic, a conflict in Syria, the demolition of the Babri Masjid, and the Godhra riots. In the backstory, a Hindu family cheats a Muslim man and takes possession of a piece of property that belongs to him. There is a passing reference to the incident from 1992 where a Muslim religious structure, the Babri Masjid, was demolished so that it could be replaced with a Hindu temple (Ram Mandir).

There is also a reference to Ganesh Chaturthi. As Ram sees broken pieces of a Lord Ganesh idol on his property, he tells his servant to throw them away. What does this even mean? Is it an indirect potshot at the right wing and their constant attempt to religiously penetrate the South Indian territory? I remember reading a report on The Hindu that said there has been an increase in the demand for Ganesh idols in Kerala. Maybe it is part of a right-wing movement, but I am not politically inclined to take interest in it.

For casual film viewers, like myself, it takes something more than these mere potshots to take interest in the politics that a film discusses. The issue with Theerppu is that it fails to integrate its political ideas well into the main plot and intrigue the viewer. You always get the feeling that the underlying message is more important than the main plot itself, which is not a good thing for a casual film viewer.

There are also interesting ideas without any political undertones in the film, like a case of infidelity and a man's descent into madness, but it does not build on those ideas. Nevertheless, Theerppu is a dreary film with good production values, fine performances, and a terrific background score from Gopi Sundar.

I am amazed by Prithviraj Sukumaran's ability to get a beautiful thread of a character from small pieces of information. One look at Prithviraj's face and eyes, and you will know that Abdulla Marakkar is a man haunted by his past. Siddique is also very good as an empathetic and magnanimous old man who lives to rue his decisions.

Sreejith Mullappilly