'Android Kunjappan Version 5.25' review: Lessons from a robot-best friend

A humanoid robot is brought in to care for an old man, sparking off several hilarious moments — and a lot of heart

November 12, 2019 01:05 am | Updated 02:18 pm IST

How emotionally attached can you get towards a machine? Way too much for your own good, especially if you are having a relatively lonely existence. This is the premise on which Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval has based his debut movie Android Kunjappan Version 5.25 , which serves us a fresh take on an old theme.

Bhaskaran Poduval (Suraj Venjaramoodu) is a difficult person to deal with, more so if you are living under the same roof with him. His son Subramanian (Soubin Shahir) has turned 34, yet remains jobless, as his father insists on him finding work in his hometown and staying with him to take care of his needs. But with the years slipping away, and his hairline receding, Subramanian decides to take up a job offer in Russia.

With his father driving away all the home nurses that he had appointed, Subramanian brings home a humanoid robot to take care of him.

The robot appears incongruent in the village landscape, and the script uses this effectively in several hilarious sequences.

The film slowly builds the relationship between the old man and the robot, from his initial reluctance to interact with it, the breaking of the ice through a game of chess and his growing obsession with the machine, which becomes almost like a son to him.

In some parts it explores a theme similar to that of the Hollywood film Her , which shows a man falling in love with an operating system with a female voice.

We have several endearing sequences of Bhaskaran holding the mundu-clad robot’s hands and walking along the streets, drying its ‘head’ with a towel when it comes in from the rain. Before long, even the audience start seeing the robot as a human being, or even a young child. The robot, in turn, teaches him a thing or two, especially on his inherent casteism.

But, at the core, the filmmaker is handling an age-old theme in our cinema, on the need to take care of the elderly.

Although there is the expected moralising that comes with the theme, the film almost stays clear of preaching.

The scriptwriter appears a little clueless as to how to end it all, which probably led to the slightly contrived climactic sequences.

Suraj Venjaramoodu yet again delivers an affecting performance as an old man yearning for someone to talk to, while Soubin closely matches him in the limited screen time he gets.

The robot might be at the centre in Android Kunjappan , but for the filmmaker it is a device to tell a deeply human story.

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