Mysskin’s Thupparivaalan is thoroughly indebted to Sherlock Holmes. From its settings to its characters all are an inspiration from the 19th century detective. And the director has been quite unapologetic about it as the borrowing is not at all subtle. But Thupparivaalan, is undoubtedly a Mysskin film, whether you take into account the odd camera angles to the construction of the execution of the way characters move through the city and the story, the film bears all the trademark of Mysskin’s own style. And that is what made him to design the main protagonist on his own way. The protagonist, Kaniyan, is quite emotional, unlike the world famous detective, and this emotion plays into every case that he handles. He is conscientious and compassionate, but he hides it perfectly under a garb of indifference. Kaniyan also has a sidekick Prabhakaran (Prasanna) and a loyal house keeper, formulated in the form of Mrs. Hudson in Malar (Anu Emmanuel).
Kaniyan is quite picky about his case. He wants something that will challenge his caliber. He soon gets one, when a child hires him to find the murderer of his dog. This kick opened a whole new Pandora’s box of mysteries, involving twisted crimes, big people and their conspiracies. Kaniyan starts his Sherlock Holmes style investigation, and each knot he loosens, brings him closer to the main antagonist, Kathir (Vinay Rai). As in any cat and mouse chase, Kathir’s people are always a step ahead of Kaniyan, bringing some worthy thrill to the film.
Kaniyan’s character is well written. Mysskin didn’t try to make his detective a superman. He is a man with his flaws and he demonstrates a significant level of poor judgment. He is often sloppy and fails to predict the seriousness of the situation. This is what made him extremely realistic. His character flaws become the film’s strength and you can do nothing but root for Kaniyan. It is to the credit of the writers and the director who were able to bring such a worthy detective out of such a flawed character. Undoubtedly, Kaniyan is going to be one of the most enduring detectives to come out of Indian cinema.
As with all of Mysskin’s films, Thupparivaalan is idiosyncratic. The film starts off in a slow note, but picks up the pace pretty soon, leading to a thrilling interval point. Before this, the film spends too much time in brewing up the subplot involving Mallika (Anu Emmanuel), a pick-pocket who Kaniyan becomes fond of and even abuses. The implications are not clear yet. The murders get thumbs up for its cleverness that does add a rich aura to the film. The actions are thrilling and the scenes are nail biting. Mysskin doesn’t shy away from showing gore and the brutality of the crimes comes in sudden burst, keeping the audiences alert at all point.
With Vishal and Prasanna’s acting underlined by Karthik Venkatraman’s cinematography and Arrol Corelli’s violin-dominated score, Thupparivaalan, is a fantastic detective film. Certainly the best to come of out of Kollywood in a long, long time.