Thalavan: Asif Ali-Jis Joy’s combo works wonders in theatres

'Thalavan' witnessed a steady collection since its opening day and gave the actor a much-needed break in his career.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published Jun 04, 2024 | 9:30 AMUpdatedJun 04, 2024 | 9:30 AM

Asif Ali is basking in the success of Thalavan

Malayalam actor Asif Ali is on cloud nine. His latest outing, Thalavan—which also starred Biju Menon in the lead, has been declared a sleeper hit.

Though he has been busy with quite a few projects, Asif hasn’t tasted success in recent times. Thalavan finally came as a respite for the actor.

Asif Ali, in a recent interview, said luck was never on his side though he gets many offers and does varied roles.

His 2022 film Kooman, directed by Jeethu Joseph, managed to do reasonable business at the box office. However, Otta (2023), Kasargold (2023), and A Ranjith Cinema (2023) missed the mark as they failed to meet the audience’s expectations.

But Asif’s long-time friend and director Jis Joy gave the actor a much-needed break in his career through Thalavan.

The Malayalam movie is running to packed houses in Kerala.

Guess what? For the first time in the 15-year-long career of Asif Ali, his parents watched the first-day first-show of Thalavan and heaped praises on him.

Even the actor was moved by the response from the audience and thanked them wholeheartedly for lapping it up.

Interestingly, team Thalavan is in Dubai to promote the film, after it became a box-office success.


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Thalavan, a taut investigative thriller

Thalavan is an impressive investigation thriller with power-packed performances by Asif Ali and Biju Menon. The duo played police officers in it.

Interestingly, this is Asif’s fifth collaboration with Jis Joy. Two of their previous films—Sunday Holiday (2017) and Vijay Superum Pournamiyum (2019) were superhits.

Thalavan marks Jis Joy’s shift to the genre of investigation thriller. He is otherwise popular for making feel-good entertainers.

At a pre-release event, the filmmaker stated that he decided to try a new genre this time as he felt it was the only way to move forward.

Thalavan also boasts an intriguing story and a riveting screenplay. The crew revealed that they had ample time to work on the film since the release dates were put off a couple of times.

However, despite this, the movie gained momentum as more screens were added in its second week of theatrical run.

A Kochi-based theatre owner told South First that Thalavan witnessed a steady collection since its opening day and received a good response from audiences after the initial shows.

Thalavan review: Asif Ali and Biju Menon shine in this impressive investigative thriller

Asif Ali—A versatile actor

Asif Ali acted in around 85 films thus far.

He debuted in Malayalam cinema in 2009 with Shyamaprasad’s Ritu and was applauded for his performance.

Asif Ali with Biju Menon

Asif Ali shared the screen with Biju Menon in ‘Thalavan’. (Facebook)

Later, he became a household name with Sibi Malayil’s films—Apoorvaragam (2010), Violin (2011), and Unnam (2012). Of these, Apoorvaragam was a hit.

The three movies are heavily sentimental and Asif pulled off his roles quite well.

He was also a part of Traffic (2011), which is considered one of the first Malayalam movies that paved the way for many new-generation films.

After donning complex roles in these ventures, Asif Ali shifted to romantic comedies—Salt n Pepper (2012), Honey Bee (2013), Sunday Holiday (2017), and Vijay Superum Pournamiyum (2019)—that gave him the boy-next-door image.

Asif Ali also acted in many critically acclaimed films and commercial hits.

His Ozhimuri (2013), directed by Madhu Pal, was an official selection in the Indian Panorama section of the 43rd International Film Festival of India.

In the next few years, Asif Ali delivered box office hits like Anuraga Karikkin Vellam (2016), B Tech (2018), and Vijay Superum Pournamiyum (2019).

With all these films, he carved a niche for himself as a young actor who is loved by the masses.

Rorschach review: Mammootty attempts to shift genre, and the team comes together to help him!

His penchant for doing challenging roles

Asif Ali likes to do challenging roles

The Malayalam actor likes to do challenging roles. (Facebook)

Asif Ali raised eyebrows when he played a negative character in Uyare (2019). In the Malayalam movie, he portrayed the role of a jilted lover named Govind who attacks his love interest (played by Parvathy Thiruvothu) with acid.

The film, thus, discusses a burning topic (acid attacks) and tries to present the harrowing experiences of acid attack survivors. It also underscores the fact that women are more than just their bodies.

The very same year, he made heads turn as Sleevachan, who rapes his wife in an inebriated condition and faces the brunt, in Kettyollaanu Ente Malakha.

The Nissam Basheer film raises pertinent points about marital rape and was a commercial hit. It also received critical acclaim for its theme.

Well, for a mainstream actor, who is popular for playing next-door-boy and serious characters, these two roles were pretty unconventional. But Asif Ali likes to break the image.

Director Mridul Nair, who is also a close friend of the actor, told South First that Asif Ali is hardworking and does his homework before doing a role.

The duo collaborated for B Tech and Kasargold. While the former was a super hit, the latter opened to mixed reviews.

Mridul revealed that Asif had put in extra effort and prepared a lot for his role of Abby aka James Albert (a short-tempered man who smuggles gold along with his girlfriend through Kannur International Airport) in Kasargold.

Asif Ali during Kasargold promotions

Asif Ali during ‘Kasargold’ promotions. (Facebook)

Asif Ali was also a part of Mammootty’s Rorschach (2022), where he played a masked man.

During an interview, he said Mammootty advised that he should accept more such roles as it would help him evaluate his acting skills.

When the movie was released, people identified Asif with his eyes. Well, the actor couldn’t ask for more.

However, Asif Ali announced that he wants to do more big-ticket films. He said films should be cinematic and offer a full-on theatrical experience to audiences.

Asif also did cameo roles in Ustad Hotel (2012), Vellimoonga(2014), Unda (2019), Amar Akbar Antony (2015), Indian Rupee (2011), Varshangalkku Shesham (2023), and Marivillin Gopurangal (2024).

Interestingly, most of these films did well at the box office and the actor became popular as the “lucky charm”.

A Malayalam film critic, on condition of anonymity, told South First that Asif Ali was believed to have good potential at the beginning of his career. “But some wrong choices in film selection affected his career, while his counterparts succeeded a big time.”

The actor will next be seen in Level Cross alongside Amala Paul and Sharaf U Dheen.

Kishkindha Kandam with Aparna Balamurali, Adios Amigo with Suraj Venjaramoodu, an untitled movie with director Jofin T Chacko, and Abhyanthara Kuttavali are some of his upcoming projects.

Kasargold review: The gold smuggling story gets elevated by a stylish Asif Ali and Mridul Nair’s decent craft