Thanneer Mathan Dinangal Review: Fruity, Fun Filled Nostalgic Ride Back in Time
It’s that time of the year when admissions for higher secondary (class XI) are happening and you get to meet a shy, slightly nervous boy Melvin (Naslen K Gafoor) who would rather join the humanities group but is forced instead by his strict mother to take up science instead. And it takes less than the opening day for Melvin to figure out that science & he are not meant to be paired together and thus he sets out to shift to the humanities section. The school is okay with the movement, but provided he is able to get someone from humanities to swap places with him & move to science. And he manages to get someone interested, Jason (Mathew Thomas) and completes his mission, though he is a little taken aback seeing the slightly unconventional demeanor of Jason. Normally one would assume that Melvin would be the protagonist of the film, or at least one of the main leads. But here’s where Girish A.D surprises us with his debut film, Thanneer Mathan Dinangal (watermelon days).
Thanneer Mathan Dinangal is about life in a higher secondary school as seen through the focus on Jason. In the span of the 2 years that he spends before moving out of school we get to see his family background, his close set of friends and how he goes about falling in and out and again in love. Early on itself Jason gets attracted to Keerthi (Anaswara Rajan), going on to propose to her as well, only to see her reject him. While he is naturally heartbroken, he gets even more frustrated with the entry of a new Malayalam master in school, Ravi Padmanabhan (Vineeth Sreenivasan), who seems to be the darling of the whole school, needless to say even Keethi is impressed by him. Girish A.D and his co-writer Dinoy Paulose have combined to give us a fun nostalgic ride with a lot of freshness. So while we can relate to a lot of on screen moments, we also get to realize that the film manages to stand on its own and doesn’t come across as a wannabe copy of any other campus film.
There is a relaxed yet comfortable way in which the momentum builds up and it’s almost like Girish A.D is pretty sure of what he’s expecting; the resultant output being extremely pleasing to the eyes. Another feature that certainly needs a specific mention is the kind of importance paid to character development and it’s nice to see that the supporting characters have also been given something interesting in terms of their background. So we see that Jason’s brother Joyson (Dinoy Paulose) is happier staying at home glued to cricket matches on T.V while all of Jason’s friends have their own peculiar idiosyncrasies as well. Jason also has another elder brother (Shabareesh Varma) whose concern for his brother is again something that lends scope to humour and not anything serious as one may expect usually. There is even some attention, albeit limited given to making some of the teachers coming across as characters worth remembering, making a significant impact upon the audience.
Justin Varghese’s music is one of the highlights of the film and the already highly popular number “Jaathikkathottam” (lyrics by Suhail Koya, vocals by Soumya Ramakrishnan and Devadutt Bijibal) is definitely going to be featuring in nearly every year end compilation of best Malayalam songs of the year. The cinematography by Vinod Illampilly and Jomon T. John acts as a plus for the film, the visuals giving you a tinge of nostalgia with the contemporary touch. But one needs to know that Thanneer Mathan Dinangal is not an exercise in attempting anything path breaking, so you’ll be disappointed if you are expecting anything of that sort. There is nothing extraordinary at the story level either, but then what makes the film click and in a big way at that is the fact that it has loads of freshness that’s clearly visible, making it stand out distinctly among films in the same space. The casting choices are all pitch perfect, there’s hardly any false note on this front. The boy brigand, Naslen K. Gafoor, Vaisakh Vijayan, Franco Francis (who play Jason’s friends), are a spirited lot and lend a lot of charm to the proceedings on screen.
It's very encouraging to see Vineeth Sreenivasan accept a role like this where he sportingly allows the younger lot to take center stage. Mathew Thomas and Anaswara Rajan are both very competent and make an interesting, yet slightly unusual pair and that makes the equation appear all the more appealing. All in all, Thanneer Mathan Dinangal is a film that would leave you with a broad smile as you exit from the theatre. When a campus film like Oru Adaar Love that caters to the same age group can go so wrong, it’s refreshing to see Thanneer Mathan Dinangal get it right.
Girish A.D makes a smashing debut as director with Thanneer Mathan Dinangal and is aided competently in the process by his co-writer Dinoy Paulose and his actors. This is a film that’s laced with campus nostalgia, go watch it.