It’s always tricky to make heavily opinionated films for mainstream audiences because the movie has to register its ideologies with an authentic voice, knowing that not everyone will agree with them. Thuramukham (Harbour), I must say, is a bold attempt.
The film is the chronicle of the tragic event at Kerala's Mattancherry Harbour in 1953, where workers protested against the capitalists and fell prey to their bullets.
Featuring a talented star cast—Nivin Pauly, Nimisha Sajayan, Arjun Ashokan, Darshana Rajendran, and Poornima Indrajith—the period drama is an adaptation of BK Chidambaram’s yesteryear play titled the same and is scripted by the son of the playwright, Gopan Chidambaram.
The film speaks about the inhuman ‘chappa’ or ‘token’ system prevalent in the Kochi port, wherein metal coins were flung at labourers as a way to choose who gets to work that day, resulting in a frantic battle among the workers to grab them.
The film tries to answer a bunch of hard-hitting questions: Why are those who slog day in and day out exploited? Despite the hard work, why do their families sleep in hunger every night? Why do headmen and bosses pit the poor against each other?
Dangling between one life of slavery and another of dignity, the workers choose the latter by exercising their self-respect. But that comes with a price.
Director Rajeev Ravi brilliantly documents the pain and power of the working class. Through Thuramukham, the makers delve deeply into the lives of the poor and oppressed and narrate the forgotten incidents and events that are easily erased from history and people’s collective memory.
The cinematography is rustic, realistic, and effectively captures the rawness of the workers' lives.
The building blocks of Thuramukham are capitalism and communism. It is, in a way, a mini-history class on the inception of the workers’ movement and labour unions.
The film is a homage to a real-life struggle for labour rights.
While the film scores with its powerful slogans, fiery action sequences, and tense love triangle, it falters in holding the audience to its core. Lengthy and repetitive sequences let one disconnect from them every now and then.
However, the actors have done absolute justice to their roles with such conviction. Ashokan and Poornima specifically shine with their natural performances.
Rebellious at its heart,- Thuramukham is an earnest depiction of the phrase 'Inquilab Zindabad' (Long Live the Revolution).