‘Thundu’ movie review: No cheat code to making an engrossing film

The cinematic landscape is often a mosaic of hits and misses, and regrettably, the latest offering from director Riyas Shereef titled ‘Thundu’ lands in the latter category. Pinpointing precisely what sours a film can be a complex task, given the myriad of components that must seamlessly coalesce. However, in the case of ‘Thundu,’ several elements detract jarringly from the potential enjoyment, starting with the bewildering scene transitions that lack any rational progression. One of the film’s glaring missteps can be observed in a musical interlude that perplexingly switches from a deep, contemplative tune featuring a downcast policeman to an upbeat party number featuring his colleagues gyrating gleefully, all within the span of two minutes and devoid of context.

Continuing with its editing foibles, ‘Thundu’ is peppered with abrupt sequence cuts, where even the background score halts clumsily, clashing as it segues unceremoniously to the next scene. This haphazard approach leaves audiences reliant on these musical cues to discern the intended emotion of a scene, whether it be tension, sadness, or, in the most confounding cases, humor. The comedic elements are so subdued that one could argue the addition of canned laughter might have assisted viewers in identifying where exactly levity was intended, much to the benefit of an audience apparently struggling to find humor on their own.

The flimsy premise upon which ‘Thundu’ is constructed involves Constable Baby, portrayed by Biju Menon, an earnest police officer who, driven by a desire to ascend the ranks and escape the disparagement of his superiors, turns to cheating in a promotional exam, taking cues from his son’s academic dishonesty. Baby’s dishonest endeavor leads him from one misadventure to the next, encompassing road mishaps and even the supposed pregnancy of a police dog—all intended to tickle the funny bone.

Filmmaking can often transform the most unadorned of ideas into captivating narratives, yet ‘Thundu’ strays far from such successes. With a storyline that lurches without progression, the film pilfers a hodgepodge of concepts to entice laughter, but this approach crashes spectacularly. There’s a noticeable absence of character depth, clearly evidenced by the likes of Shine Tom Chacko and Unnimaya Prasad, whose talents are stultified by monotonous roles. A belated attempt to provide Constable Baby with a backstory does little to enhance his character or salvage audience investment.

Most actors give the impression of merely going through the motions, an outcome understandably dictated by a script that demands very little of its cast. Consequently, the entire film feels languorous, and what is a modest runtime of roughly 120 minutes takes on the semblance of a protracted ordeal. Despite some original ideas on examination cheating tactics, featuring innovatively concealed cheat sheets, ‘Thundu’ fails to break new ground or captivate its audience.

In conclusion, if there were shortcuts akin to those employed by Constable Baby in his exam cheating endeavors that could be utilized to create a compelling film, ‘Thundu’ certainly did not discover them. While the film marks another entry into the vast vault of Malayalam cinema, it also stands as a reminder that sometimes, despite a confluence of efforts, not all films reach the heights of their ambitions. ‘Thundu’ is currently in theatres, bidding for the attention of moviegoers and cinephiles alike, albeit with a preamble of caution: it might not deliver the escapades and laughs one might expect.

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