Rating: 3 stars
Director: Fellini T P
Cast: Tovino Thomas, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Saiju Kurup
Surely you must have realised that there's someone with the job of having to show a card saying 'Smoking is injurious to health' every time someone smokes in a movie. Theevandi is that guy's worst nightmare.
Cigarettes in fact get more screen time than all the actors except the hero, Tovino Thomas — yes, you see more cigarettes in this movie than the heroine herself.
Theevandi is the story of Bineesh, an alleged good-for-nothing whose addiction to cigarettes, when not viewed through a moral lens, is practically a crime of passion.
The film, sandwiched between government ads of Rahul Dravid telling people not to smoke, swings between the love for a good, long drag and the need for a long, dragging goodness.
And Tovino carries off smoking with a charm that may just have overpowered the moral point the film makes.
One great scene, when Bineesh, out of spite for a fiance who spurned him (with good reason), decides to smoke cigarettes from 16 packs at the same time, must have set off a siren at the censor board.
In fact, the film seems very aware of the censors; so, 10 points to Fellini for an intelligent use of metanarration.
Surprisingly, the censors have let pass two scenes highlighting the (questionable) medical properties of blowing passive smoke into a dying person's face.
The plot is outrageous and while this may look like bad writing in a more sober film, it assumes a somewhat fantastic quality here.
The film is the strongest in the parts when Bineesh is stranded. Using slapstick tropes and surrealist cinematography, aided by a very hippy tune, the shots of Bineesh's withdrawal are a joy to watch.
One the flip side, the film would have been better if most female characters weren't so forgettable. It also robs a more expectant viewer of a possible anarchist take, which would have been far more interesting.
Even so, the film is good enough to have earned this pun: it's never a drag.