Murali Gopy is a writer whose work has remained under-appreciated by the masses. He has always come up with interesting and fresh ideas to portray on screen, but the success rate of the film in theatres has been mediocre. However, a digital release or a television premiere of the film often becomes cult popular. This is something that Murali Gopy himself is quite agitated about. Several brilliant films like Left Right Left, Tiyaan, and Kammara Sambhavam failed at the box office but attained cult status once they had a television premiere. The latest film on this list is Theerppu.
Through this article, I try to point out several minute details as well as commentaries made by Murali Gopy through his script, which made this film a fascinating watch for me.
PS: Probable spoilers ahead!
Babri Masjid demolition
The chaos around the Babri Masjid demolition and the political turmoil that followed is one of the most dreaded chapters in the history of our country. In Theerppu, we see a similar situation. Abdulla Marakkar, played by Prithviraj, sees his own house, which was an ancestral property built by his forefathers, being demolished so that a resort construction could take place on the land. Basheer Marakkar, Abdulla’s father and played by Siddique, was tricked into believing that he would receive profits if he forgave his land by two Hindus.
Now, we see the connection, where a property owned by Muslims was demolished by Hindus so that a structure of their choice could be built. Similar enough to the Babri Masjid demolition and the chaos surrounding it? Well, there was more to come.
As a result of the family being left displaced, Abdulla lost his two sisters to religious war and his mother fought hard, but succumbed. During the whole chaos caused by the Babri Masjid demolition, several individuals lost their lives to war-like situations and hate crimes. This is one of the most prominent and highly disturbing comparisons and commentaries made by Murali Gopy in this film.
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Attack on Right Wing ideologies over Leftist ideologies
Throughout Theerppu, we see references indirectly attacking right-wing ideologies that exist in the country and support shown towards the leftist ideologies. There is a scene in the film where Abdulla Marakkar fires stray bullets at the spectacles of Mahatma Gandhi as well as the pen used by Safdar Hashmi, which acts as a subtle reference to this attack. As history suggests, Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead by Nathuram Godse, who was a member of the RSS while Safdar Hashmi was killed by Congress-appointed goons. The attack is relevant as both RSS and Congress are right-wing organizations, whose ideologies have received a lot of flack from the people. Murali Gopy tries to keep these references subtle, but it is these references that make us aware of his political stance. The film also has many more minute political references which makes the viewers realize that the right wing is being attacked, but they are short-lived. You can’t really point them out and put them across as a point of discussion.
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In the film, there is a display of several artifacts and statues. The most notable ones were those of Adolf Hitler and Bennito Mussolini, completely dressed in their combat uniform. During the initial portions of the film, Vijay Babu’s character, Ram Kumar Nair, gives a brief history of both these political figures and also opined that his favorite is Joseph Stalin. As the story progresses, the film also showcases the destruction these two individuals have caused to their own people, via animations. As we reach the climax portions, we see Vijay Babu and Indrajith wearing the combat uniforms of these stalwarts while disposing of Abdulla Marakkar’s body. Indrajith also goes on to say that they have joined the league of the world’s most celebrated murderers. This symbolizes Murali Gopy’s opinion on these individuals and makes his stance regarding their ideologies clear.
References made in relation to the artifacts
Throughout the film, we see several artifacts placed in the frame. From figurines of political stalwarts to commodities several notable individuals used, the frames were filled with these artifacts. Vijay Babu’s character Ram Kumar Nair goes on to explain the historical importance of each of these artifacts and mentions how he purchased them after paying a hefty amount.
In the initial portions, when Saiju Kurup’s character Parameshwaran Potty is shown these items, we all are taken aback by the beauty of these artifacts. However, once Prithviraj’s character Abdulla Marakkar enters the narrative and determines that most of these artifacts are cheap copies of the original, the viewers are made to realize the reality of Ram Kumar Nair’s personality. Any references found? If you thought of Monson Mavunkal, you are absolutely right.
This display of artifacts that mesmerized the viewers, only for them to know that it was a hoax, is exactly the scam that Monson pulled off. Murali Gopy very smartly integrates the whole scam into his screenplay, to add more of a gray shade to Ram Kumar Nair’s personality and make us realize that he indeed is a villain.
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Character names and their relations to the references made throughout the film
Theerppu being a socio-political satire has several references made to different topics. The most basic of these is the names of the characters as well as the places. In the film, Murali Gopy hugely refers to the Ramayana for naming the characters and brings about a relationship between the Hindus and Muslims by creating a parallel to the Babri Masjid demolition incident.
We see that Vijay Babu’s character is named Ram Kumar Nair after having taken inspiration from Lord Rama. Furthermore, we see that Isha Talwar’s character, who plays Ram’s wife, is named Mythili, which is another name for Sita. To make things even more interesting, the servant at Ram’s homestay is named Pavanputra Bhede. Lord Hanuman, who was the servant of Lord Rama is referred to as Pavanputra in the Ramayana.
Another interesting aspect to be noted is how the homestay is named Accadio-Saket. Saket is known to be the old name for Ayodhya, which is the birthplace of Lord Rama. All of these connections are made so intricately to refer to the Ramayana. Additionally, we see how Murali Gopy connects these Hindu elements to the Babri Masjid demolition as mentioned in pointer 1. With a Muslim property of historical importance being illegally demolished for a Hindu property to come up and serve the greater section of the public, the comparison and parallels drawn to the Babri Masjid demolition incident in uncanny and cannot be missed out on.
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Minute detailing in the film which stood out
Be it the character names or the names of the buildings or even the artifacts kept in the frames, Murali Gopy has clearly conveyed his political stance and opinions on several prominent incidents of historical importance. Another notable detail we get to see in Theerppu is the placement of certain portraits and items, which add essence to the storyline.
One such instance is the presence of a portrait of Princess Diana when Vijay Babu’s Ram Kumar Nair and Isha Talwar’s Mythili are discussing extramarital affairs. There are several such detailings done which many may catch. One more instance is how there are callbacks made to small visuals shown earlier on in the film. For example, in a scene we see Shaju Sreedhar’s character Menon flipping through a book titled Sarpam which translates to a snake. Later on, we see Vijay Babu’s character Ram Kumar Nair calling Indrajith’s character Kalyan, who is the son of Menon, a snake. Several such instances and callbacks make Theerppu a film that the masses didn’t quite understand or rather, didn’t want to understand.
Time and again I have always had an opinion that Murali Gopy is a writer whose work hasn’t been understood by the masses enough. With the box office fare of Theerppu, this thought has been solidified as a fact. Murali Gopy is a writer we need, but don’t deserve, because we as masses haven’t given him the due recognition. Are there any more references or commentaries that caught your eye while watching Theerppu? Mention them in the comments below.
Special credits and appreciation to @movie.theater_ ‘s post on Theerppu’s hidden detailing, which served as an inspiration and reference for this article.
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