Everyone has to let go of their kids someday. After all, they too have their lives. But children should learn and understand that it is not their duty but a reciprocation of love for their parents to tend them in the old age. Hundreds of old age homes are springing up like magic every year but parents who want their children to study and settle in foreign countries are also increasing. Loneliness in old age is the hell parents go through as a punishment for raising their children and develop an attachment with them.
The world of Bhaskara
Bhaskara Rao, Bhaskara Poduval in Malayalam, is a cantankerous old man who lives in a small village near Vijayawada (Payyanur, Kannur in Malayalam) with his son who's on the wrong side of 30s. That son, Subrahmanyam aka Subbu (Subramanian aka Chubbu) is an engineering graduate - a competent one at that. Being a mechanical engineer, he knows how tough it is to get jobs. Every time he thinks he's settled in a job, his father calls him back to his village so that he'll be with him.
Bhaskara Rao is a widower. And he's a naturalist who loves to lead his life in a natural way. He doesn't like cooking gadgets like mixers, grinders, and other ubiquitous household electronic devices like refrigerator. He hand cooks everything following an ayurvedic diet system. He doesn't like to use English medicines. Having brought up his son Subbu single-handedly and with no persons of any relation, he's a loner. And his apparently rude behaviour keeps others away from him.
Subbu wants to settle in his life before all of his hairline recedes back. He chides his father for not letting him go to a job in other towns. The movie starts with Subbu getting a job in Bengaluru and seeks help of his friend Prasanna - who calls Bhaskara, Maama - to convince his father. But it goes in vain as Bhaskara is like a rock in his decision. Bhaskara has a fear that if his son goes away, one day he'll die like an orphan. Fed up with his father's restrictions, Subbu searches for a house nurse to help his father when he gets an offer from a Japanese company in its Russian branch.
But every house nurse runs away because of Bhaskara's temper. Taking the help of Prasanna, Subbu finally sets his father a nurse named Kathyayani and leaves for St. Petersburg. While he slowly settles there and gets adjusted to a new world, his father scares away Kathyayani. Prasanna's efforts to find a new nurse go in vain. Meanwhile, Subbu befriends a half Japanese-half Telugu (obviously Malayali in Malayalam version) woman named Hitomi. Her father was a Telugu person and she likes all things Telugu (Malayali in Malayalam version).
One evening Subbu gets an emergency call from Prasanna that it'd be tougher to look after Bhaskara Rao and Subbu better return home. Hitomi who's now Subbu's girlfriend takes him to their boss for an advice as she doesn't want his fledgling career to stop before the take off. The boss advises Subbu to take one of the testing robots their company has created to help his father with daily chores.
How and if Subbu convinces Bhaskara Rao about living with a robot while his son is faraway, and if the Robot succeeds in the job it is affiliated to, and how this affects both Subbu and Bhaskara form the rest of the story.
Suraj deserves a National award
Suraj Venjaramoodu is terrific in a National award deserving role as Bhaskara. He's just like one of the old men in our surroundings with all the frailties and wisdom. He actually reminded this reviewer of his great grand uncle who didn't let his children leave him for the same reasons. The noted comedy artist owned up the role and went into the skin of it. He's irritating, he's affable, he's empathetic, he's frail, and he's everything a 80 year old person. The 40 something Suraj's transformation amazes you. The Telugu dubbing given for him and the dialogues are organic.
Soubin Shahir (of Ambili fame - for Telugu audience) is perfect as a guy next door 30 something. His unglamorous nature quickly makes us understand his plight. He particularly excelled in emotional scenes. The scene where he breaks an old hand-made stool in a fit of temper is one to watch out for. He just experienced the moment. Kendy Zirdo (from Arunachal Pradesh) as Hitomi is natural and makes us understand her emotions well. Hitomi's parents divorced when she's born and her father died lonely with Alzheimer's. This is what makes her help Subbu get the robot for his father.
Saiju Kurup as Prasanna is good. T. Parvathy the older version of Bhaskara's first love is decent. Rest of the actors did well. The director created a mesmerisingly great atmosphere of a village which is getting accustomed to modern tech with both locations and colorful characters. Special mention should be made of Sooraj Thelakkad who played the Android.
Brilliant writing and decent direction
The writing of the film by the director himself is organic. There are a few quirks here and there. But they could be ignored. The dialogues in original are the biggest asset. The Telugu translation is done in an exemplary manner. The narration is superb with ample scene to scene suspense built in an organic way.
Both time and tension and theme and tension techniques are efficiently used in the screenplay. There are philosophical musings in the film without getting preachy. Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval makes a confident debut as a director. That Hitomi collects the pieces of the old handmade stool from the floor when Subbu breaks it in temper is a typical trait of the Japanese and tells us a lot about the attention to detail of the director.
The music by Bijibal is simple and effective. The sounds used to convey various emotions complemented the emotional states of the characters on the screen. The cinematography is good. The editing is crisp and went hand in hand with narration. The production values are great considering the budget. The makers used manual effects for the robot (Android version 5.25) instead of VFX because of budgetary constraints. The scenes in Russia are cleverly managed. The art direction is first rate. Especially in creating a convincingly good Android which is alien and cute at the same time.
Android Kattappa (Android Kunjappan) is a heartwarming tale of a father and son and the way life has to be maneuvered in these modern days. The basic conflict of children leaving parents in old age to search for their living is shown well. The Climax is resolved in an expected manner yet still the effect it creates is surprising. Just watch it! The characters will be with you for a long time.
Rating: 4 out of 5