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After delivering a blockbuster success with the action-thriller Kaithi, Karthi returns to screen with director Jeethu Joseph’s drama thriller Thambi. Starring Jyothika, Nikhila Vimal, Sathyaraj, Sowcar Janaki and in central roles, Thambi is produced by Parallel Minds in association with Viacom 18 Pictures.

After a long search, Gnanamoorthy (played by Sathyaraj), a local politician and a man whose conscience is as clean as his veshti, finds his son Saravanan in Goa, according to the tip of a policeman (Ilavarasu). What if the said person is not his son, but an imposter named Vicky (played by Karthi).

Vicky’s new identity is also attached to the disapproval of Saravanan’s sister Parvathi (Jyothika). The first half plays out like a generic drama, where the makers do not even try to achieve the mood required for the genre. The suspicion between Saravanan and his surroundings are shown only through a combination of reaction shots. Despite a well made opening scene, where we see a glimpse of Saravanan’s early life, the film does less to capitalize on the intrigue. We get to see Parvathy’s longing for her younger one, but only through reactions instead of a backstory.

The first half is mostly generic with only a few flashes of promise. Adding more to that is the less interesting romance between Saravanan and his female friend (Nikhila Vimal). However, the film garners some attention at the interval point, where we get to see another side of the most unassuming character in the narrative.

However, the uneventful first half is compensated by the twists in the second half. We get to see some threats to the protagonist, as he uncovers the deceit he’s gotten himself into. There is even a middling red herring thrown into the proceedings. But these moments are few and far in between. The screenplay pulls off a surprising twist (that is also well-staged) that somehow salvages the film.

Thambi is bolstered by the presence and the onscreen chemistry between Karthi and Jyothika. The performances of Ilavarasu, Bala and Sowcar Janaki has a greater impact on the story. But it is Sathyaraj, who portrays the unpredictability of his character with brilliance. Overall, Thambi is uplifted by its twisty second half.

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