Thottappan is an affecting experience as the characters in it and their subtle ways of showing care and love will stay with us. The movie deals with the inner emotional aspects of those seemingly rough people. PS Rafeeq manages to add layers to his major characters using a lot of minute other characters and by the end of it, there is a lingering pain in your heart thinking about Ithaque and his Sarah mol.
So Ithaque and Johanppan were close friends and they were thieves. On the day of his daughter’s baptism, Johnappan goes missing. Ithaque who was chosen as the Godfather by Johnappan for his daughter Sarah eventually becomes that father figure for her. The film shows us the relationship between Ithaque and Sarah and how it gets affected by the arrival of a new guy named Ismu.
The story here has that nuanced feel of a Bharathan or Padmarajan film. And PS Rafeeq is someone who is known for adding that peculiar comical tone in his writing. Shanavas Bavakkutty manages to capture both those qualities in the writing and creates a world that is grey and yet has so much genuine love. The love of the old couple, the thief supporting priest, etc gives this movie a humorous touch in the beginning and later becomes a reason for us to feel for the character of Ithaque. The texture of the rural areas is portrayed with the required rawness and I must say that the craft in Shanavas Bavakkutty’s making has certainly gone upwards when compared to a relatively preachy Kismath.
Vinayakan is in his usual zone of grumpiness for a good chunk of the screen time and as it suits the part, there is no point in complaining. But where he actually scores is in showing that care for Sarah. The dreamy-eyed father and the concerned father who goes against his daughter’s love are two ends of the care spectrum and Vinayakan was really good in conveying those emotions. The ever-dependable Roshan Mathew once again fits into the mold and it was a joy to see him play that rough, vulnerable and grey shaded character. New face Priyamvadha Krishnan has taken up the challenge of being the sharp-edged Sarah and she delivered a really good performance on screen. The chemistry she shares with Vinayakan and Roshan on screen really enhances the movie’s emotional depth. The elaborate supporting cast of the movie gives life to so many memorable characters.
There is a sequence in the movie where Ismu runs away after committing a heinous crime. The top angle shot and the background score that intensifies it sort of shows the command of the director over the craft. They say it’s the second movie that is actually a challenge for a director and in my opinion, Shanavas Bavakkutty has passed that challenge not just by opting a difficult subject, but also by showing us his ability to use directorial techniques. Based on Francis Neronha’s book of the same name, PS Rafeeq uses his signature quirkiness to set up the world we see in Thottappan. The impolite camaraderie makes the character equations real and that does play a key part in creating empathy for the characters. Set in the ’90s, the script also sheds light on the socio-political picture at that time. Some of the visuals of this movie are breathtaking. The editing could have been tidier in those fight sequences. The music was really fitting and the minimal background score created superb impact especially on those top angle uncut shots.
Thottappan is one movie that has so many peculiar, flawed, vulnerable characters. It has that quality to make us write an essay about each of its characters. Thottappan is an aching tale about love and care in a grey world.
Thottappan is one movie that has so many peculiar, flawed, vulnerable characters. It has that quality to make us write an essay about each of its characters.