What is the story about?
Abhi is a haughty, irresponsible, city-bred youngster and the only son in a family that includes his mother and stepfather. His life predominantly revolves around women, parties, brawls and a group of good-for-nothing friends. He takes his privilege for granted but it’s time for a reality check when he’s asked to find a job for himself. Priya is a pregnant woman who’s lost her husband recently, is hit by a severe financial crunch and has to do odd jobs to make a living. Despite the gloominess, she’s determined to move on. Abhi and Priya happen to meet at an elevator – an encounter they wouldn't forget quite easily.
Thank You Brother, despite being a theatrical feature opting for a direct-to-OTT release, is a film tailor-made for an OTT audience. The film is almost songless, the story is its strength, there are protagonists and no typical hero-heroine characters. The performances complement the premise and the narrative at no point attempts to pander to the galleries. The film revolving around two characters stuck in an elevator at just 90 minutes is crisply paced. Though the writing lacks finesse in the first hour and the backstories of the lead characters are lousy at best, the film scores big in its execution during the final stretch (when Abhi has no option but to save Priya in the lift).
The director makes it difficult for the viewer to root for the lead character Abhi – the characterisation is very uni-dimensional and his subsequent transformation, too sudden. The length of the film at times is its disadvantage too – it doesn’t give the filmmaker Ramesh Raparthi the luxury to flesh out his characters. There’s an urgency to jump from one scene to another and to generalise characters. It would’ve been interesting to know why Abhi became this directionless, irresponsible youngster and what was Priya’s life beyond her husband. The character establishment before the crisis in the film is weak, but Thank You Brother gathers momentum just at the right time.
Thank You Brother is at its best when it captures the tension and the helplessness of the characters in the elevator. There’s an added conflict and an emotional edge to the situation given that one of the characters is a pregnant woman and the guy giving her company isn’t the most likeable human around. The director sensationalises the incident with the media focus and a bunch of eccentric characters, but the screenplay thankfully doesn’t lose track. The balanced treatment also means that Abhi isn’t glorified as a saviour or a larger-than-life heroic figure at the end. The incident is used more as a vehicle for his transformation than for gaining brownie points as a saviour.
The film ends on a high note, well almost, if only the loose ends weren’t tied up so conveniently. Priya’s financial crunch after the incident in the elevator suddenly becomes a thing of the past. Abhi wins his girlfriend back, apologises to his mother and returns to his wayward friends as if nothing had transpired – people move on too quickly in this universe. Thank You Brother has its heart at the right place and keeps you hooked to the screens for a significant part of the second hour, but the writing could’ve been sharper and more realistic.
Viraj Ashwin, in his second appearance in a feature film, fits the bill as the handsome hunk whose feet aren’t on the ground. Though his character has a shaky start, he makes up for it with a believable performance in the rest of the film. It’d be interesting if he explores roles with shades of grey in the future as well. Anasuya Bharadwaj is intriguingly cast in the part of a pregnant woman – the role presents a new dimension to her repertoire and is an ideal follow-up to her bravura performances in Kshanam and Rangasthalam.
Television actress Archana Ananth not only looks like a dream but also makes a confident film debut in the role of a doting mother. Anish Kuruvilla is as dependable as ever though the other actors don’t get much meat in their roles – be it Mounika Reddy Harsha, Raghavendra, Jayasree Rachakonda, Sameer or Kadambari Kiran.
Music & Other Departments
Composer Guna Balasubramanian reserves his best for the second half of the film. The background score and the sound design are an asset to the storytelling and lend emotional depth to the proceedings. Suresh Ragutu’s cinematography is the film’s lifeline – the slick visuals don’t compromise on aesthetics and are a revelation given the limited scale at which the film was made. Thank You Brother would’ve been memorable if the characters were established better. The director could’ve taken more time to set up the foundation for the core point in the story.
- Arresting premise
- Performances by Anasuya, Viraj Ashwin and Archana Ananth
- Good work by the technical team
- A shallow first-hour
- Amateurish writing at places
Did I enjoy it?
In parts, yes
Do I recommend it?
Yes, for its riveting storyline