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Malayalam Reviews

Tsunami Review: Murder by Bad Jokes

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Director: Lal and Junior

Cast: Balu Varghese, Aradhya Ann, Innocent, Suresh Krishna, Aju Varghese, Mukesh

Give it up for Jean Paul Lal, who has come up with a supposed comedy where everyone makes a fuss about one man’s penis. No, Tsunami is not an adult comedy. The women in the film hardly participate in the making of the jokes. The female protagonist (Aradhya Ann) doesn’t speak more than a few lines or appear in scenes that matter, although the film revolves around her wedding and sex life. Essentially, this is a cinematic version of a middle-class Malayali male locker room where men of different age groups talk sex as a masculine sport, crack bland wife jokes and gloat over their drinking habits.

The film is set in the same upper-class Christian universe as Lal’s Honey Bee franchise. Bobby, a young man (Balu Varghese) who’s on the way to Goa to join a seminary, inadvertently flashes a co-passenger (Aradhya Ann as Anna) while he was trying to use the loo. She screams and faints because, for a modern young woman, what could be a more disturbing sight inside a public toilet than a human being trying to use the facility. Her relatives chase him and assault him as they pass him for a pervert. Humiliated and terrified, the young man returns to the house of his obscenely wealthy parents and holes up. A few days later, he decides to approach her parents with a marriage proposal. Does the idea sound preposterous? Not to Bobby. He wants to marry a beautiful, non-feminist and cherubic woman. Anna, who fainted at the sight of his genital, and apologised to him who took (accidentally, though) her phone and refused to return it, perfectly fits the bill.

The problem with Tsunami isn’t just that it is unfunny, but it is unimaginative, often cringe-worthy and regressive. Overlit and blandly shot, the film has the aesthetics of an amateur web series. It cannot refer to sex or physical intimacy without being giggly. There is no perspective on why the male protagonist, a musician, an activist and a London-returnee, can’t address his issues which, in comparison with what is generally assumed as real-world problems, have the weight of a candyfloss.

Nothing in the film hints at a romance between Bobby and Anna. She gets married to him because her parents ask her to do so. After Bobby tells her that he can’t consummate the marriage, she pulls a long face and informs her extended family that they could decide if she should get a divorce or not. It’s 2021, and Lal presents to the audience a female lead with zero agency.

From Innocent to Suresh Krishna, there is a slew of supporting actors in Tsunami, playing readily forgettable roles. They set up surface-level comic situations that fall flat. Mukesh is a friendly Christian priest, a staple in Malayalam comedies, and Innocent is Anna’s overtly funny dad. Terrible writing renders their characters tedious. In all fairness, there is one slightly entertaining sequence in the film, thanks to the cast, where they ride a bus and sing a peppy song together.

Devoid of a single good performance or an instance of good writing or filmmaking, Tsunami barely qualifies to be called ‘cinema’. It is the kind of script that high school kids would write and discard, a film that makes post-pandemic theatre-going a real ‘brush with death’. Its sheer lack of humour sense could kill you before the virus can.

****

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

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