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Malayalam movie Thira: A review
There is a poignant scene in the Malayalam movie, Thira, when Naveen (Dhyan Sreenivasan) asks Dr. Rohini Pranab, a cardiac surgeon who also runs 'Arpana', an NGO for trafficked children, “Why do you do these things?” He is referring to her war against child trafficking. His own sister has been kidnapped before his very eyes and circumstances bring the two together to save the people they hold dear from those who hold them hostage.

Rohini replies, “You are in this because they took your sister. But every time a girl child goes missing, I feel the pain…”  It is a scene which resonates with every person in the country who feels angry, helpless and  saddened by the things our girls have to endure on a daily basis. It is not just human trafficking that kills their dreams and spirit. It begins in the womb itself, the rejection, the hatred, when female fetuses are aborted, or when in remote villages in Salem and Dharmapuri , newborn daughters are killed by grandmothers.

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If they are lucky enough to be spared, they grow up only to become victims of acid attacks, greedy in-laws, callous husbands and lecherous bosses. Every institution in this country has embedded within it, this misogynism and a lust for female flesh, the younger the better. The media, the judiciary, everything is tainted by male lust, as events have borne out. And sometimes, their own homes too are unsafe for our girl children. Even little infants are raped, that too by ten year old boys.

The film also denounces the apathy of society to the evils that surround it. In one scene, Naveen asks, “How do people get away with such things in public?” Rohini replies, “Everyone has eyes, but many are blind to things that don’t concern them.” Actor-danseuse Shobana essays a powerful role as a woman who has to clear her dead husband’s name –he dies in custody after being arrested for paedophilia—and also rescue the girls who have been abducted from her shelter.

With eyes that flash fire and a body language that oozes confidence, she takes on the persona of an avenging angel, a Demeter who travels to the seedy underbelly of the country to recover her lost Persephones from the clutches of Hades, king of the underworld - a composite of  rich, influential and powerful men and their pimps. Dhyan, the younger son of actor Sreenivasan and brother of the director, Vineeth Sreenivasan, makes a promising debut as the desperate young man with a 24-hour deadline to find his sister before she disappears into the murky depths of the traffickers’ world.

The plot is obviously inspired by movies like 'Taken', “Eastern Promises” and “Kahaani”. The pace does not lag and Vineeth Sreenivasan, the director, is able to maintain the tempo throughout.

The background score captures the mood perfectly. Vineeth is becoming better at his craft, and his desire to try different genres is commendable. He deserves praise for creating a character like Rohini, a character that is hard to find in Malayalam movies. She is an embodiment of shakthi, the female goddess of Hindu mythology who incarnates to rid the world of evil. But she is also the Madonna, whose heart overflows with love for her adopted daughters.

The film was inspired by Sunitha Krishnan of Prajwala NGO and others like her. Sunitha, a gangrape victim at the age of 15, works with trafficked children and women. Thira is the first of a trilogy and so we can expect to see more of the gifted Shobana, which is a good thing.

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