Vinay Forrt Excels in ‘Thamaasha’, a Charming Film on Body Shaming
At the expense of Vinay Fort’s baldness, this film shows us the repercussions of body shaming someone in public.
On a morning when the hero of Thamaasha – Sreenivasan – leaves home for work, he notices his brother look at a mirror and comb his thick hair, and then his mother does the same downstairs.
Outside is his father oiling his thick grey hair. With a certain music in the background, you are amused by this scene, ‘cause you know by then what is going on in the mind of Sreenivasan – not quite blessed in the hair area.
Vinay Forrt is marvellous as Sreenivasan with the thinning hairline. His problem is shown comically with the help of a mood-setting background music (work of Rex Vijayan, Neha Nair and Yakzan Periera) all through the first half of the film.
In the second half, you stop laughing and realise the repercussions of body shaming someone in a public space.
You realise either with the pain of an experience or having witnessed something similar, how random comments from absolute strangers can cause so much hurt. Most of us have either done it knowingly or unknowingly or else are victims of it
New director Ashraf Hamsa captures this beautifully, at first satirically, and then seriously. The film appears to be a remake of the 2017 Kannada film Ondu Motteya Kathe, that dealt with the issues of a bald Kannada teacher and has similar scenes.
It is all very happening-in-every-home kind of scenarios at first. Here is a 30-year-old man who has just been made permanent at the college in which he teaches. His mother is anxious to see him get married. But the women he goes to see with the family, like the younger brother (Arun Kurian) with a head full of hair – not the Malayalam mash (teacher) who is near-bald. You get a taste of the very essence of the movie when the entire title song is the step-by-step sketching of Sreenivasan by a boy in his class. The thick black moustache in stark contrast with the few curly strands standing on his head.
The comedy that comes in the first few scenes, though we don’t notice it then, is at the expense of Sreenivasan’s baldness.
The college principal rebukes the student who sketches Sreenivasan in his class and says, “You should at least have thought that sir is the age of your father.” Sreenivasan immediately looks pained – “I am 30, not old enough to be his dad,” he murmurs. Vinay Forrt’s minute expressions in each of these scenes are truly amazing.
Rahim, attender and friend of Sreenivasan, advises him to find a woman on his own. They zero in on a woman lecturer of the college (Divyaprabha). Songs begin, calls begin, and the teacher’s Whatsapp photo is often checked by the smitten Sreenivasan. There are, however, three women in the lead in Thamaasha – Divyaprabha, Chinnu Nair, Grace Antony – each of them bringing the character of Sreenivasan closer to us. His naivety is adorable.
At a point, when Sreenivasan thinks he would go the ‘sanyasi’ way – this is again shown absolutely funnily – he meets a woman who faces another kind of body shaming.
Ashraf, who also wrote the script, makes a beautiful presentation of this – the way little reactions are at first written funnily, and the way the film shifts focus to a serious issue.
Chinnu Nair, who comes in this part of the film, excels as Chinnu (yes, same name). And the character too is written so endearingly you’d want to be friends with her.
Songs – made by Rex and singer-composer Shahabaz Aman – bring the characters closer. With a lovely mix of comedy and the sensitive handling of a serious problem, Thamaasha cannot be written off as a joke (as the word means), but a movie to reckon with in times like now, especially in times like now.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute)
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