Movies

‘Thottappan’ review: promises a knockout punch which never comes

Vinayakan and Dileesh Pothan in ‘Thottappan’

Vinayakan and Dileesh Pothan in ‘Thottappan’   | Photo Credit: Facebook/Thottappan Movie

Based on Francis Noronha's original story Thottapan, this Vinayakan-starrer has quite a few memorable moments

Adapting a literary work to screen is often a tightrope walk between retaining and leaving out one part or the other. In adapting Francis Noronha's original story Thottapan, which was much talked about in Malayalam literary circles, screenwriter P.S. Rafeeque depends on just the base story; he deviates considerably and even fleshes out seemingly insignificant parts effectively.

Thottappan
  • Director: Shanavas K. Bavakutty
  • Cast: Vinayakan, Dileesh Pothan, Priyamvada, Roshan Mathew

Jonappan (Dileesh Pothan) chooses his fellow thief Ithakk (Vinayakan) to be his daughter's 'Thottappan', the godfather. The day before her baptism, Jonappan goes missing. Ithakk, who till then had dreams of his own, shrinks his world and dedicates almost his entire life to ensuring a better future for Sarah (Priyamvada).

While the heart of the original story is the way in which Thottappan teaches Sarah the tricks of his trade and her dilemma in stealing from places of worship, the film almost shifts the entire focus to the rare emotional bond between the two of them. The expanded character of Ismu (Roshan Mathew) brings scope for added drama on screen.

Director Shanavas K. Bavakutty, who made his debut with Kismath which touched on religious and caste issues tearing apart the lives of two lovers, widens his canvas in his second outing, chipping away the rough edges that were visible in his debut. The islets of Kochi becomes the setting for 'Thottappan'. Here too, love in its various forms plays out in the background and foreground — Thottappan's lost love, the undiminished love of an old, bed-ridden man and his childhood sweetheart who reconnects late in life, the insecure love of the blind shopkeeper Adruman (Raghunath Paleri) towards his young wife.

Vinayakan's treatment of his character could easily have been a repetition of his own 'Ganga' from Kammatipadam, since both share risky lives in the margins. But for Thottappan, Vinayakan brings to the table a fresh set of mannerisms, making it starkly different from his previous roles. Priyamvada, who commands as much screen space as him, too makes a mark.

The disparate elements and the sub-plots bring alive quite a few memorable moments, yet in the end, when it all comes together, it does not shake you enough for the kind of story it sets out to tell. It could be due to the flab that got into the script while fleshing out the story, like the pointless and prolonged sequence of Thottappan's attack on a man who had raped a domestic help. This failing is noticeable since Noronha's writing itself is known for cutting out the flab.

Thottappan builds up slowly, drawing you in with the promise of a knockout punch which never comes. Maybe that's how they intended it to be.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 1:14:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/thottappan-review-promises-a-knockout-punch-which-never-comes/article27540770.ece

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