Cast: Vishal, Prasanna, Vinay, Bhagyaraj, Andrea, Anu Emmanuel
Detective Kaniyan Poonkundran (Vishal) is a bit of a weirdo. He’s socially awkward, has stark contrasts in what keeps him interested (or not,) and is brilliant at reaching conclusions based on small but important details. He’s also a physically fit sprinter and his mathematical genius also extends to hand-to-hand combat, where he could seemingly anticipate the moves of his opponents and dodge every blow. In short, his story and the investigation that he unravels is Thupparivaalan, a crime thriller written and directed by Mysshkin.
Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes series, Mysshkin has made a film where suspense and sub-plots build up to create a series of action sequences towards the climax. Kaniyan - a detective - is in an extremely agitated mood given the lack of interesting cases to solve. His friend Mano (Prasanna) does his best to emulate Dr. Watson and cheer him up, encouraging him (in vain) to take up petty little requests that comes to his office. What really lights up Kaniyan is when a little boy arrives at his residence with a seemingly straightforward case of his dog being shot dead near his home.
This initial curiosity of Kaniyan leads him to a web of criminal proceedings perpetuated by a guy who calls himself the ‘Devil’ (Vinay.) Devil has that enigmatic characteristic that is a staple of Sherlock Holmes’ villains. Sure, money and power over a business are his overall goals, but the string of dead bodies that he leaves in his path doesn’t always correlate to the ends. Along this murderous trail, Devil finds out that Kaniyan is tracking every move of his. An encounter is set up to get rid of the pesky detective. The reminder of the film is a brisk unwinding of ‘who can one-up each other, and how quickly.’
Being a Mysshkin film, Thupparivaalan will definitely keep you interested just as much as Kaniyan was on the case. There’s also an interesting side-plot involving Mallika (Anu Emmanuel), towards whom Kaniyan shows uncharacteristic affection. After all, Sherlock comparisons aside, Kaniyan is a Tamilian at the end of the day, and strong emotions such as love and hefty morals have their commercial space in Kollywood. He also treats her dismissively, perhaps to showcase the conflict that was ongoing in the theater of his mind? Either way, a lot of space is occupied by this with only a limited impact on the proceedings.
Still, Mysshkin is the sort of director who infuses a lot of ‘filmy material’ - things that are interesting curiosities in the making of the scene. Every encounter that Kaniyan is involved in provides a director’s mind game to the audience. Also, the fact that he has done away with songs completely is a welcoming addition.
Vishal is the star of the film. He’s filled with energy and is always ready for a fight. But he also has his moments of vulnerability and emotes well on those occasions. Prasanna as his assistant has the temperament needed to keep things together. Vinay plays a menacing villain, and Anu Emmanuel as Vishal’s crush has very limited dialogue and impact on the storyline. Andrea, Bhagyaraj and John Vijay all do their part as well. Simran's cameo is impressive.
Backgrounds by Arrol Corelli enhances the moods and atmosphere, and Karthik Venkatraman’s cinematography is definitely a high point. Thupparivaalan could have used with a bit of trimming. But with limited downtime and plenty of action sequences, it will definitely entertain while it lasts....