Thumbaa movie cast: Keerthi Pandian, Darshan, Dheena
Thumbaa movie director: Harish Ram
Thumbaa movie rating: 3 stars
What a relief to watch a children’s film, for a change, on a Friday, where usually critics are treated to films that are high on violence, adult content and social commentary. After SJ Suryah’s Monster, here comes Thumbaa, another children’s film, but with a message. However, making commercially-viable films for children isn’t as easy as it sounds. Those who have attempted to write stories or make films for children will admit that understanding their psyche is one of the hardest things to do.
First of all, we all know there are not many quality films made for children. But what we don’t understand is why Indian filmmakers are averse to the idea of making children’s films? Even if they make, they hang on to cliched subjects.
I am not a huge fan of home-grown animation movies, as they are awkwardly made. However, I quite liked Thumbaa—maybe the wildlife enthusiast in me got excited to be transported to a fantasy world—I don’t know. Or, maybe escaping reality is good, sometimes.
In the past several years, we have seen a significant rise in cases of man-animal conflicts. Yet, hardly films are made on the very pertinent topic. Here, Thumbaa, a tigress, loses her way from Kerala. A forest officer is looking to poach the animal, with the help of poachers.
Umapathy (a convincing Dheena) and Hari (Darshan) reach Top Slip of Anamalai Tiger Reserve for a painting job. Eventually, a budding wildlife photographer Varsha (Keerthi) accompanies them. But she gets there to click photographs of a tiger. How these three save the tigress and her cub, stopping a forest officer from poaching Thumbaa, forms the rest of the story.
Umapathy and Hari are scared of tigers, unlike Varsha, who is extremely passionate about wildlife.
Thumbaa draws energy from the effortless camaraderie between the lead characters. Dheena is the backbone of the film and his one-liners more often than not hit the mark. For Darshan, Thumbaa is his second film after Kanaa. For some reason, his body language and way of dialogue delivery reminded me of Udhayanidhi Stalin.
The film becomes an easy watch because it doesn’t get melodramatic towards the climax. Staying true to the narrative, Harish Ram does an honest job of transferring you to the jungle, while reiterating the message of protecting animals.
Though shot inside the forests of Idukki, Vagamon and Kumili, the graphically-made tigress, squirrel, monkey and frog, sort of, disappoint you. I am not complaining, but something in you keeps saying, “they are not animals, but man-made VFX-generated ones.” But hey, the school-going crowd, say, under class-five or eight, for sure, wouldn’t really mind.
Adventure or fantasy writing, as opposed to realism, is generally regarded inferior, but I would like to disagree. We don’t realise fantasy is simply an extended version of exaggerated reality. We may have come a long way in terms of special effects, since Rajinikanth-starrer Raja Chinna Roja but as for storytelling, we can improve a lot more.
The writing is not bad. At the same time, it is not great but lies somewhere in between. Overall, Thumbaa works more like Tamil cinema’s wannabe Junglee, minus Vidyut Jammwal, in a hero-returns-to-save-forest tale.