In Koogle Kutappa, KS Ravikumar, the veteran filmmaker known for directing big names like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, turns in a star performance of his own. The film, also produced by Ravikumar and directed by his erstwhile assistants Sabari and Saravanan, is a remake of the Malayalam film Android Kunjappan Version 5.25. Ravikumar reprises the role essayed by Suraj Venjaramood. The latter won a state award for his performance and I wouldn’t be surprised if the former does too. Now I have to mention here that I have not seen the original so this review will focus solely on the merits of this film.
Coming back to Ravikumar, he essays the role of an old curmudgeon, Subramani, who lives in the Kongu region and has an aversion to machines. There are no modern appliances in his kitchen and he doesn’t even own a television. What happens when this man is saddled with an android nurse and how he warms up to the machine is what the film is about. The actor-director aces the accent, body language and mannerisms of the old man and, to use the tired cliche, transforms into the character. The film comes alive whenever he is on the screen. This only makes the contrast more painful whenever he has a scene with Tharshan, who plays his son Adithya and is as wooden as they come.
Tharshan’s casting hurts the film, but its biggest issues are the inconsistent tone and the bad pacing at the beginning. Too much time is spent setting up the story and the film takes too long to get going. And that Ravikumar is absent for a lot of this time, doesn’t help either. When Adithya moves to Germany against his father’s will, the movie suddenly takes on the look of a commercial for the country and Tharshan is filmed in various modern clothes, posing like a model. His romance portion with Losliya feels entirely redundant and as if it were created simply to include a duet. Subramani’s love angle with an old flame is much more convincing and endearing.
The film ultimately hinges on Subramani’s relationship with the android, who is named Kuttappa by the local people because of his stature. Ravikumar makes us buy into this man’s growing affection for the android, which he comes to see as a little child – a son in lieu of the one who leaves him. Ghibran’s music aids greatly in this. The Yarro song, the melody of which the composer uses as a theme for Subramani and Kuttappa, will keep playing in your head after the film ends.
But the film as a whole fails to make the same impact. I can only imagine something got lost in translation when creating this remake. That slice-of-life quality that comes through in a lot of Malayalam cinema is missing here. The film keeps jerking us out with its tonal changes at the beginning, not letting us slip into its world as we should. Take the scene where Adithya’s uncle is telling him off for not confronting his father about his wishes to find a job and move elsewhere. Yogi Babu is very good here as the uncle. The scene is played quite straight until a random person says something like, “But how can a son talk to his father that way?” leading to Babu smacking him in the face. The film suddenly wants us to laugh at this part, the score switches to one befitting a comic scene too, but when Adi walks away, we get a slo-mo shot and serious music. It’s all very jarring.
I didn’t much care for the Rahul character and the one-note actor who plays the part either. We could have also done without the lectures on how technology can be good too and how one shouldn’t lose oneself in it. There are just too many things like this that make Koogle Kutappa not a very enjoyable or engaging film. All told, Ravikumar has turned in a great performance in a mediocre film. The only thing I walked away with was a curiosity to watch the original to see what went wrong.
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