To watch or not to watch: OTT movies that caught our attention
Penguin, Kappela and Sufiyum Sujatayum: Three South Indian movies that recently lit up our screens
If there's one thing we've done loads of in the past three months post the Coronavirus outbreak, it is visually feast on movies and web series that have been dropping on our streaming platforms faster than you could read out their credits! With many filmmakers opting to release their projects on OTT platforms due to restrictions on theatres, movie lovers have had a field day catching up on some great and some not so great content from the comfort of their homes. Here's our take on three South Indian movies that caught our fancy in recent times.
Kappela: Hello? Wrong number.
Can a wrong number change one's life forever? Debutant director Muhammad Musthafa's Kappela is one movie that will ensure you will never be dismissive of a misdialled number again.
When a school dropout high range girl Jessy (Anna Ben) dreaming of bigger things than the mundane life destined for her in her small hill town mistakenly calls up an auto driver Vishnu (Roshan Mathew), it's the beginning of a sweet and chaste romance. Even as we wonder if the love affair is progressing too rapidly for two people who haven't yet set sight on each other, their endearing earnestness ensures you are as invested in the romance as the leading pair. So when Jessy sets out to finally meet Vishnu in the city of Kozhikode, we fervently believe that 'journeys end in lovers' meet.' Enter the villain.
Mustafa's screenplay is so skillfully handled that we almost believe we are watching another movie altogether with the entry of Sreenath Bhasi's character. While Kappela may make you question your idea of freedom of choice as far as women are concerned, it is no doubt a movie with a strong social message put out in the subtlest manner.
Anna Ben plays to type with her au natural portrayal of a girl from a small town who dreams of romance and family; but it is Roshan (who we last saw in Choked) who deserves greater applause for boldly taking on a role not many heroes would have been comfortable essaying. As the angst-driven jobless youth with a strong 'moral policing' posture, Bhasi, of course, is bang on. Kudos to the entire team for a movie that is as entertaining and riveting as they come.
Kappela is out on Netflix
Rating: 4 out of 5
Sufiyum Sujatayum: Where is the soul?
A Sufi who can whirl around like a dream, with a magnetic quality to entice even the most indolent followers. And a mute Hindu girl given to running around wild in an idyllic Kerala village-town.
Their romance should have ideally set sparks flying, leave alone the pigeons scattered around like a perfect fairy-tale setting. Sufiyum Sujatayum had so much potential to elevate itself to an ethereal plane, solely based on the premise of a Hindu-Muslim romance powered by some soulful music. But other than Anu Moothedath's exquisite cinematography that alone deserved a big screen outing for this movie directed by Naranipuzha Shanavas, the romance sadly lacks the 'rooh' or the soul that the film goes on and on about.
While Aditi Rao plays the dainty Sujata with all she's got, the actress sorely sticks out in the village, like a, well, Bollywood actress let loose in a Kerala village. She looks gorgeous no doubt, and emotes her predicament quite effectively (though maybe a couple of notches higher than required) with no recourse to dialogues.
Debutant Dev Mohan does his best to appear as the mystical saint looking on with wonder as this dainty beauty falls in love with him but is let down by a script which should have explored his inner turmoil better. A solid Jayasurya brings in gravitas as the loyal husband seeking closure for his wife's years-long romance with another man.
Sufiyum Sujatayum is laden with symbolisms, like the jamun tree that finally bears fruit or the prayer beads that serves as a link between two worlds. But in the end it proves to be too superficial to tug at our heartstrings, unlike movies made in a similar vein like Thattathin Marayathu or the superbly done Ennu Ninte Moideen.
Sufiyum Sujatayum is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Penguin: Style over substance
The Keerty Suresh led Tamil-Telugu thriller by debutant director Eashwar Karthic should ideally have been sub-titled: How not to lose your kid in 5 different ways.
Penguin is the story of a strong mother, though indisputably one who makes very many wrong choices, including embarking on a search for clues inside the house of a psychopath leaving her young unarmed child alone.
Six years after her lost 3-year old miraculously comes back into her life, what does a pregnant mother do? Set out on a mission to unmask the 'Charlie Chaplin' kidnapper who has evaded the local police for as many years in the picturesque hill station.
The story had great potential and many of the scenes are taken well enough to give us genuine starts - if only the makers had concentrated more on the plot and less on style, though Suresh's maternity wear is a class apart, we have to confess.
Linga and Madhampatti Rangaraj who play Rhythm's two husbands leave absolutely no impact. And the starring role goes to Rhythm's pet dog, Cyrus, who as it turns out belongs to the director. Nepotism anyone???
Penguin is too busy aiming to appear as a stylised Hollywood-esque taunt thriller that it forgets the devil is in the details.
Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Rating: 2.5 out of 5