Father-children relationships have been explored in Malayalam cinema in the past, be it the father who dreams big for his daughter in Bharathan's 'Amaram' or 'Dhrishyam'. 'Dear Vaappi' starring Lal and 'Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam' fame Anagha Narayanan dwells on an endearing father-daughter relationship.
Amira (Anagha) is Basheer Ikka (Lal) and Juweirah's daughter who is working at the Akshaya Centre. Her father returns from Mumbai where he had spent 30 years as a tailor. He opens up to her about his dream to start a business of his own selling clothes designed by him, after narrating an incident from his childhood.
The daughter, who wants to see her father achieve his dreams, decides to partner with him. Riyas (Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju), who is in love with Amira, tags along. When we think things are moving smoothly, a big tragedy befalls their lives. The incidents and the pitfalls form the rest of the story.
'Dear Vaappi', directed by Shan Thulaseedharan is a simple take on father-daughter relationships, that gently prods people to think out of the conventional set up. The father does not pressure his daughter to follow the conventional route. Instead, he encourages her to adapt to the changing times, even telling her that he does not want her to stay confined to a head scarf all of her life. He breaks tradition within their community when he tells Amira's maternal uncle that he does not intend to marry her off till she decides she wants a family. 'I promised her a gift when she turned 18, It was that I would support her every dream,” he says sweetly.
Lal is the perfect choice to play a father, as there is reassurance and empathy in his voice and eyes. Unlike in 'Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam' where she plays a brooding girl who has kept her love life a secret from her family till her engagement day, Anagha plays a more cheerful person in 'Dear Vaappi'. While she plays her part well, in some places, her expressions lack energy. That is probably because the script itself suffers from a certain lag, which could have best been avoided by tight editing. Also it feels like the camera (cinematography is by S Pandikumar) lingers a little too long on characters. The romance between Riyas and Amira is sweet and different, and the songs by Kailas Menon help establish the chemistry between both the father-daughter and Riyas and Amira.
'Dear Vaappi', just like it's title is a tribute to fathers who instill confidence in their daughters while also highlighting the unconditional love of a daughter for her father. However, while 'Dear Vaappi' has some interesting and feel-good moments, the excitement factor is slightly missing.