How betraying a friend or an acquaintance can ruin ones life is poignantly depicted in the Malayalam film Thalappavu made by actor-turned-director Madhupal.
The movie is based on a real-life confession of a police constable about gunning down a naxalite in a fake encounter as per the order of his superiors nearly thirty years ago.
The screenplay by Babu Janardhanan uses the stream of consciousness flow to show the mental state of the constable who feels deranged after the incident.
Lal plays Constable Raveendran Pillai whose family life is ruined after the killing of Joseph (Prithviraj), a revolutionary leader fighting for the rights of the hapless farmers of Wayanad.
Raveendran is a misfit in the police force as he is not courageous or cruel as the others of his ilk. He is a family man to the hilt and dotes on his children. He befriends Joseph on the way while on duty. Joseph introduces him to the revolutionary ideas. Raveendran takes instant liking for Joseph and roams in the forests with Joseph during his free time.
If not for anything else, Thalappavu is worth watching for Lal's performance alone, which is simply awesome.
Prithviraj's role is more like a special appearance when compared to Lal's.
National Award-winning actor Atul Kulkarni seems to be wasted as the lecherous landowner who just appears in a few scenes in the second half.
Madhupal's efforts as a director deserve applause for not only taking a bold theme for his debut film as a director, but also for the non-linear pattern of narrating the theme, where past and present merge to showcase the state of the mind of the protagonist.
Thalappavu should be appreciated and watched by all those who rue the fact that the golden period of Malayalam cinema ended a decade or two ago.