Kattappanayile Hrithik Roshan (Hrithik Roshan Of Katappana), actor-singer Nadirshah’s second directorial, has its heart at the right place. It hovers a camera over the life of Kichu (Vishnu Unnikrishnan), a young aspiring actor from a highland village in Kerala. He dreams of becoming a romantic hero like Hrithik Roshan someday. But it’s not easy since Kichu has no pedigree or extraordinary talent to boast of. He is the son of a daily wage earner. Dark-skinned and of average build, Kichu doesn’t fit into the society’s construct of beauty. In spite of being an object of ridicule in the society, he relentlessly pursues his dreams, without compromising on his virtues like honesty.
Kichu, like some of the characters that Kalabhavan Mani played in the early stages of his career, is a kind-hearted simpleton whom the audience can easily root for. At school, he is always the good-for-nothing last bencher. When a well-known director chooses him over his classmates to play a minor role of a thief in a film, he is elated for the first time in his life. The moment is deftly portrayed. The fresh smile and a tint of pride on the boy’s face is heartening to watch. The movie shifts to ten years later, and we see that Kichu is still doing such minor roles on the sidelines of cinema. The script, co-written by the lead actor Vishnu Unnikrishnan and Bipin, doesn’t transform Kichu into a hero on a fine day. He works hard, and when faced with setbacks, picks himself up and moves on. At one point, he is almost on the verge of success, yet is pushed to misery again. This reasoning and consistency in characterisation is something that one hardly gets to see in mass entertainers.
However, the instances that Nadirshah uses to portray Kichu’s everyday trauma come across as forced. To get us, the audience, to side with Kichu, the film blows up the dark traits of everyone around him. Throughout the movie, his neighbours and fellow villagers blatantly ridicule him for the colour of his skin and his aspirations to be a film hero. The woman he loves, Ann Maria, insults him in front of others and tells him that the friendship they share is a ‘favour’ that she is doing him. This ordeal repeats, and although Nadirshah drops peppy songs and comic moments time and again to break this dry spell in the script, nothing works. There is just not enough, by way of reason and logic, in this portion of the drama, to redeem it.
Lijomol, who shot to fame with her role in Maheshinte Prathikaram, plays Kani, a Plain Jane who is secretly in love with Kichu, the boy next-door she grew up with. Her character, unlike the one in Maheshinte Prathikaram, is unidimensional and highly predictable. The talented actress is wasted in this cliche-ridden role, while Prayaga Martin hams it up as Ann Maria, a role that demands some acting mettle. Ann Maria, a city-bred girl, strikes up a friendship with Kichu because she wants him to help her get an acting opportunity. However, the film doesn’t reduce her to an opportunist glamdoll.
Vishnu Unnikrishnan’s performance as Kichu is flawless. Right from the rustic accent to the vulnerabilities of his character, he gets everything right. Dharmajan, who plays his best friend, is a jarring presence in some sequences, especially in the flashback portion where he has to dress up as a school student. Veteran actor Salim Kumar makes a comeback to his favourite turf, comedy, and makes an earnest effort. But blame it on the script – the actor gets no deft situation to create humour.
However, the person who outperforms them all is Siddique. He artfully adds several shades to the character Suku, Kichu’s father, who burdens his son with his share of dreams and ambitions. An ardent Jayan fan, Suku’s introduction scene, where he is dressed up in bell-bottom pants and a tight shirt, is a laugh riot. He starts off as a comic figure, and gradually proceeds to be a bitter, yet affectionate father. Siddique portrays Suku with utmost perfection.
About the songs, composed and penned by Nadirshah, rather not say anything. They are as forgettable as some of the unfunny one-liners that the film uses.
Kattappanayile Hrithik Roshan is poignant and entertaining in parts. In terms of narration, it could have been another Maheshinte Prathikaram, a brilliantly scripted, enacted and crafted drama centred on an underdog in an Idukki village. However, Nadirshah’s attempt to play to the galleries pull down the film and reduce it to a mediocre potboiler.
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