“G. Aravindan's Thampu comes to us directly from its screening at the New Delhi Film Festival in January, 1979. In semi-documentary style, Aravindan's camera follows the Great Chitra Circus on its visit to a village in Kerala. The villagers flock to the circus. What seems unending routine to the performers is great mystery to the villagers. In frequent close-ups (so much less studied than Bergman's of the audience in The Magic Flute), Aravindan shows us villagers looking up in wonder at an old lady walking across a tightrope, while the old lady moves as if lost in some other universe, far away from the awe of the villagers. An Indian returned to his homeland, wealthy from trade in Malaysia, orders a religious festival. The villagers abandon the circus for the festival and the circus moves on.
“Aravindan's Thampu has the accuracy and complexity of Fellini's Nights Of Cabiria and Ray's The Adversary. Generally we have looked to the Third World for political cinema. Aravindan's film suggests that the new humanist cinema, too, might come from the Third World, a cinema which does not exploit performers and which dignifies its audience.”