Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Malayalam film Appan on SonyLiv. And everytime there is a new Malayalam film in town, I get excited. Like always, I knew nothing whatsoever about the film or even its subject. All I knew that it was a brand new Malayalam film and I was all ears for it. So then does Appan manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Appan follows the story of a family taking care of their paralyzed father who is a womanizer of the highest order. And that last bit in the story(of the protagonist being a womanizer) is what makes things interesting in what turned to be a fascinating yet disgusting character study. The screenplay standing at a shade above two hours was just the right length of the drama which has so many layers to it. Make no mistake, this is vintage Malayalam cinema, the one that is an acquired taste.
The drama opens with the introduction of the family who are tired of taking care of the father who is shown to be paralyzed. Not you would associate such type of dramas to be tilted towards the character of the father wherein all your sympathies would be with him. But the writers take this concept and flip it on its head. The character of the father is shown to be a womanizer who continues to disrespect women even when his condition doesn’t allow him to move.
The drama consistently riles up the tension in what is a slow burn. There would be moments wherein you would feel that the story is going around in circles but if you intend to look closely then there is always a small layer which is getting peeled off somewhere, that gives a little more clarity about the character of the father. Make no mistake, there is no confusion about how you feel towards the character of the father. You will instantly dislike him for his antics and there are no redemption qualities whatsoever.
This is a fascinating character study in many ways as it depicts how far a character would go to stamp his patriarchal authority even in a partially vegetative state. You do get a glimpse into his psyche which will definitely disgust you.
There are subtle twists and turns along the way with the introduction of a few characters while there is an underlying current of helplessness amongst the members of the family along with a power tussle of property. In fact, the drama also depicts the plight of the family who are all foul mouthed due to only one specific member of the family. This when a few people from the village are after the life of the father for his wrong doings. Ahhh poetic!
The picture is also painted from the other angle with a character wanting to live with the father which did seem like a power tussle until she is acquainted with the reality. These events continue until the final act where an even further revelation of the past would definitely boil your blood. And that makes for a fascinating final act which will leave you satisfied. Overall, the screenplay is brilliantly written although niche in many ways.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The entire drama is designed to be conversational in nature and the lines will make you squirm in your seat. In other words they are subtly powerful and effective. The BGM is sparingly used that allows the natural juices to creep into the drama thereby making it all the more intimidating. The cinematography is top notch and captures the setting of the house in the village(which seems isolated in many ways), something that add to the tension in the drama. Director Maju does a brilliant job in tactfully creating a fascinating character study about a character that has no redeeming qualities. His direction is first rate and always filled with the right doses of dark humour and tension.
The performances are excellent here. Shamsudheen Makarathodi as Johnson and Geethi Sangeetha as Latha have their moments to shine. Radhika Radhakrishnan as Sheela is absolutely top notch in a wonderfully layered character. Grace Antony as Molykutty is first rate. Pauly Valsan as Kuttyamma portrays her pain perfectly in a nicely enacted role. Ananya as Rosy is exceptional and wonderfully restrained, silently absorbing all the tension without really speaking out of turn. Brilliant! Sunny Wayne as Njoonju is outstanding and does a fabulous job as the protector of the family despite being handed a harsh treatment by his father. The vulnerability that he brings to the table is fascinating to watch. Alencier Ley Lopez who played such an endearing character in Kuttavam Shikshayum just flips and how in his character of Itty aka Appan. He is instantly disgusting and he will make your blood boil! This was an intimidating yet disgusting character that would most definitely anger you. And what a brilliant performance this that stays with you long after the film ends!
Appan is a fascinating and intriguing character study of a man who will disgust you like no one else. Another quiet example of vintage Malayalam cinema! Available on SonyLiv and Highly Recommended!