Films like Thittam Irandu cannot really be subjected to serious review. Not for the lead – Aishwarya Rajesh – whose presence has fired up screens in the past. Not for the director, whose… admirable intentions are ultimately expressed through questionable means. But they do make you think: how does one write about films that lack cinematic merit or worse, are utterly devoid of thought? Trash the bad, showcase the good? Strip it down and rather painfully intellectualize it to the last prop – and dialogue? Go on a tangent and subject the movie and its characters to the writer’s conceit? Fortunately, there’s a simple (and often overlooked) protocol to film-reviewing under these circumstances – structuring the writing around the questions: would I willingly watch the film until the end? And, would I recommend that the film be watched at all?

The short answer for Thittam Irandu is an emphatic no. The long answer? Perhaps. When Thittam Irandu opens, Aadhira (Aishwarya Rajesh) boards an overnight bus. She’s a cop, we get to know. We also get to know that her co-passenger in the adjacent berth is a man. ‘Double berths’ in overnight buses have no degree of separation between them – which immediately prompts the director to unleash the film’s first conflict. To sleep or not to sleep beside a strange man? Thittam Irandu very seriously considers this conflict as Aadhira dithers, decides against, and then dithers more. Soon, a romance is thrust in the midst as berth-sharing with a stranger is certainly wont to do.

But, Thittam Irandu is also a crime thriller we are told every few minutes. The trouble with the genre, as the director clearly demonstrates here, is the pressure to surprise. Vignesh Karthick, who is also the writer, sloshes the script with a number of twists and turns. A few for the better, many for the worse. It’s this undue pressure which the director takes upon himself that ultimately leads to the film’s downfall.

Consider this: Aadhira’s friend is murdered, the suspect is an ex-boyfriend, the husband, a neighbourhood stalker. It’s a good place to begin with, of course. But then, the script doesn’t do what most good crime thrillers must do – eliminate suspects. The elimination doesn’t have to be linear, but the script must eventually drift towards a foreseeable end – and at this juncture, the means of arriving at the end should form the bulk of the conflict. Thittam Irandu doesn’t do that. In fact, it doesn’t eliminate anyone at all. The husband, ex-boyfriend, the neighbourhood stalker – all remain suspects until the last 10 minutes.

Then, in yet another bid to shock, it sends the audience reeling – not in a good way. (Spoiler alert) Aadhira’s friend, we learn, isn’t murdered. Aadhira’s boyfriend, we learn, is the friend who was suspected to be murdered. Because, the friend is now a man having had a traumatic childhood and past as a woman, and hopelessly in love with Aadhira all the while. It’s the latest in the series of surprises that Karthick lets unfold. Thittam Irandu wants to be an LGBTQ ally, too – but it doesn’t know how. Just like it doesn’t know how to be a crime thriller, or what women in the police force are like. At best, Thittam Irandu just needed to be put through a writing workshop.

*****

The Thittam Irandu review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.