Thottappan (2019) Malayalam Movie Review – Veeyen


‘Thottappan’ is a bittersweet film that appeals to you on several levels and yet leaves you wanting for more. The performances are outstanding and there are several moments that you would carry back home with you, but you would also wish that it had not stuck to the template that you have by now, grown so familiar with.


There is a rawness to Shanavas Bavakkutty’s ‘Thottappan’ that is also its most outstanding merit, while it remains that the story that it tells one that has been told many a time before. It also is to the film maker’s credit that ‘Thottappan’ is an incredible visual experience, the splendour of which brilliantly covers up many of its inadequacies.

P S Rafeeque’s pen that had made our jaws drop down in sheer amazement in ‘Amen’ sketches a few lives on an islet somewhere in Kerala, where Ithakku (Vinayakan) is made the Thottappan – a godfather-guardian – of Sarah (Priyamvada Krishnan), by the girl’s dad Jonappan (Dileesh Pothen) When Jonappan disappears under mysterious circumstances, Ithakku takes upon himself the task of rearing the girl, who in turn looks upon him as if he were her real father.

Sarah grows into a smart young girl, with a sharp penchant to deal with any nonsense that comes her way. When Ithakku takes a brief hiatus from his social life to spend a few months in jail, along comes Ismu (Roshan Mathew) who takes his place at the duck farm, and who seems to have his eyes at much more than the ducks around.

There is a remarkable shot towards the climax where in the dead of the night, after committing an atrocious crime, a man flees along a tiny strip of land even as his victim lies there battling for life. The camera zooms up and away and in the moonlight, the thin line of land appears to have been delicately drawn across the waters, and emphasises how persuasive the visual dynamics of the medium could be.

Rafeeque’s setting is picturesque and progressively dramatic  in that it has all the ingredients of a potential thriller. But it also is high on predictability, and does not dare to take any chances that would have made a difference. Carefully playing with the plot tropes, it certainly doesn’t disappoint you, but keeps you wishing that it had perhaps tried a little bit harder.

There is a sub track that involves a blind old man who runs a stationary shop (Raghunath Palery), who isn’t truly sure as to what his young and beautiful wife is up to. One that starts off with much promise, this track soon withers away, and is in the end linked to the main plot with a whimper, that appears to be little more than a half-hearted compromise.

The performances in ‘Thottappan’ are all top-notch, and though the viewer eyes are fixed on Vinayakan who does an excellent job, there are two other actors in the film who literally steal the show from right under his nose. Roshan Mathew seems to be getting better with each film, and ‘Thottappan’ has his best performance till date, while Priyamvada fits the role of the tomboyish Sarah to the ‘t, delivering an exceptional feat.

Suresh Rajan’s frames are poetic, and captures the rustic grandeur of the place with an unmistakable artistry. The musical score by Leela L Gireeshkuttan and the background score by Justin Varghese tremendously contribute to the finery of the cinematic piece.

‘Thottappan’ is a bittersweet film that appeals to you on several levels and yet leaves you wanting for more. The performances are outstanding and there are several moments that you would carry back home with you, but you would also wish that it had not stuck to the template that you have by now, grown so familiar with.


Verdict: Above Average


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One Reply to “Thottappan (2019) Malayalam Movie Review – Veeyen”

  1. Had such high expectations regarding this film, and as you rightly observed there is something seriously missing in it.

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