There are umpteen stories set in the backdrop of the grimy isles off Kochi coast. 'Thottappan' is one among them. Directed by Shanavas K Bavakkutty, the film stars Vinayakan, Roshan Mathew and Priyamvada Krishnan in lead roles. The rustic environs are enchantingly explored with a realistic take on the mundane life in the hamlet. The characters dwell and act breathing in the hue and smell of the wetland soil. With smatterings of engaging social connects, friendships and humour the movie gets off to a promising start.
The canvas of the drama is seen zealously spread out as the plot evolves. And soon, we get completely absorbed in that magic. We truly enjoy the friendships of Itthaq (Vinayakan) and Jonappan (Dileesh Pothan). Apart from manual labours, the duo ekes out a living on thefts and bootlegging. Jonappan grants Itthaq the role of a Godfather ('Thalathottappan' in local parlance) to his daughter Sara at her baptism against the wishes of his wife. However, casting an abrupt end to their joyful run Jonappan disappears from the place in suspicious circumstances. Thereafter, Thottappan takes care of Sara and supporting her becomes his life's mission. The story revolves around Thottappan's bonding with Sara and their wait for Jonappan to return.
The movie based on a story by Francis Noranha in the same name progresses absorbingly enough mid-way through. The entry of Esmail (Roshan Mathew), the romantic interludes and the clashes all gel well into the storyline. But, the latter half, which staggers a bit, end up as loosely wound shreds of troubles and turmoils. Though Bavakkutty manages to ease through with captivating sequences, he has to conclude the movie with a macabre climax. The story is as much of Thottappan as Sara (Priyamvada Krishnan) and Esmail.
Meanwhile, there are innumerable nameless characters who hold prominence and contribute immensely to the life of Thottappan's world. We even get closer to the cat and the dog in the movie. Thus the backdrop has everything to shape a brilliant piece of cinematic art. Art it remains but emotionally it falls short of touching the peaks Bavakkutty intended. Though it drops dollops of pangs occasionally.
It's undoubtedly Vinayakan who stands out among the crowd as far as acting is concerned. He dishes out nothing more or nothing less than what Thottappan ought to be. But then, watch out for Priyamvada. She is undeniably a budding star on the horizon. With her intense looks, understanding of the character and perfectly pitched nuances of a seasoned actress, no one will believe it is her debut in 'Thottappan'. Meanwhile, Roshan Mathew reprises the role of Esmail with required depth and finesse. Dileesh Pothan, Sunil Sukhada, Manoj K Jayan, Lal, all play their part with immense precision.
Script by PS Rafeeque deserves praise for the seamless dialogues. Cinematography by Suresh Rajan, while absorbing the life and hues of Thottappan's islet, renders a magical brilliance to the scenes. There are several moments in the movies where nature paints its own feelings expressly. Lyrics penned by Anwar Ali, Ajeesh Dasan and PS Rafeeque are beautifully composed by Leela L Girish Kuttan.
Though you may not get an emotional high, the movie is watchable for its artistic suaveness.