One thing that makes Appan a novel attempt is the multiple ways of reading it offers to the viewer. Maju’s second film after French Viplavam looks like a dark comedy initially. Then it shifts to a tale about domestic abuse, eventually becoming a traditional revenge drama. Even though the depiction of the intensity of the trauma is uneven, Appan has its share of moments that makes it an interesting character-driven drama.
Noonju and his father, Itty, are the movie’s central characters. Itty is half paralyzed and bedridden. The abusive nature of Itty has created a lot of enemies for him, and everyone, including Noonju and Noonju’s mother, Kuttyamma, wants to see Itty dead. The family’s wait to see this serial offender’s end is what we see in Appan.
The abusive and misogynistic character of Itty is established through various characters that are introduced during the course of the movie. The movie starts by making us hate Itty for how he treats others, and by the time the movie ends, we hate him for all the emotional damage he has caused many people who came into his life. To elaborate on that, Maju and writer R Jayakumar use anecdotes of past trauma from various characters. Those subplots, which are never really explored visually, aren’t always connecting strongly with the viewer, and that’s perhaps the only demerit of this dysfunctional family drama.
Sunny Wayne gets a character that looks totally distant from the set of characters that are in his comfort zone. While he succeeded in being the character in terms of body language, the dialogue delivery is a bit of a problem. There were moments when the stiffness combined with his usual sluggishness in saying lines reduced the drama of moments. Alencier Lay Lopez, who plays the movie’s title character, was really impressive in being that unapologetically opportunistic bigot. The way he tricked people into believing a change in him looked extremely convincing. Pauly Valsan was memorable as Itty’s wife. Ananya gets a lengthy role in a Malayalam film after a long while. Radhika Radhakrishnan and Grace Antony are also a part of the cast.
Shot in mid-2021, Appan belongs to that list of single-location films shot during COVID. But I must say that Maju has used the limitation to shift location to create a narrative that looks atypical. The childhood trauma of Noonju, the domestic abuse faced by his mother, the vengeance inside Kuriakose, Sheeba, and a few more characters are not really explained visually. Yet, we would feel they have a legitimate reason to go against Itty. The script and the edits ensure enough space for each character to register their presence and relevance in the total picture.
Appan is an appreciable family drama with an inconsistent emotional graph. The narrative that uses various characters’ perspectives about Itty moves the film away from a possible blandness. With some of the traumas managing strike a chord with the viewer Appan is a watchable experience with some memorable performances.
With some of the traumas managing strike a chord with the viewer Appan is a watchable experience with some memorable performances.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended