Scriptwriter RJ Shaan and director Joshiy have weaved in multiple stories from its protagonist Abraham’s past and present, and neatly tied them up with the investigation. Paappan is also one of those rare films featuring a superstar that would pass the Bechdel test with flying colours
Last Updated: 02.37 PM, Jul 29, 2022
Story: After a modus operandi of a murder resembles that of a suspected serial killer, who was only recently released from prison, former circle inspector Abraham Mathan Mathew is brought in as a consultant by the police chief. The earlier case, however, had huge ramifications on Abraham’s life – both professionally and personally – and with his estranged daughter and police officer Vincy leading the case, it leads to him reopening old wounds while also trying to patch up their broken relationship. As the number of victims rise, Abraham and Vincy must work together to track down the serial killer and find the motive.
Review: What set veteran filmmaker Joshiy’s Pathram, which released in 1999, apart from its thrillers back then was how the film’s story had enough room for both its protagonists – Manju Warrier and Suresh Gopi. With Paapan, the filmmaker, who has been credited with some of the biggest hits in Malayalam film industry, has once again proved that what sets him apart from his contemporaries is how he stays updated – not just with the ways of storytelling and technical aspects, but the changing social fabric. This is evident in Paappan, where Neeta Pillai has almost the same impact as its titular character essayed by superstar Suresh Gopi.
The film is a crime drama that not just focuses on the probe, which is packed with twists, but also gives an ‘insight’ into the characters who are carrying out the investigation. The major highlight of Paappan is its script by RJ Shaan. The scriptwriter has weaved in multiple stories from its protagonist Paapan’s past and present, and neatly ties it up with the investigation and the subplots that evolve within. The movie is almost three-hours-long and some of these twists that keep coming up every 10 minutes test your patience, but it also steers the story to an unpredictable terrain and a rewarding climax. Shaan ensures that we get to see the perspectives of the criminals as well, and this adds another dimension to the film’s storytelling as it focuses on the grey area of what’s right and wrong.
Joshiy and his team including its cinematographer Ajay David Kachappilly has ensured that the film feels up-to-date with today’s thrillers. The editing ensures that the characters don’t linger too much on a moment, and the past and present intercuts too are seamless. Jakes Bejoy’s music in the first half is loud and feels jarring, but it fits the pace of the second half where the characters and story breathe new life.
The film belongs to Neeta as much as it does to Suresh Gopi. The actress doesn’t feel out of place at all as a police officer and brings her own swag to the character. The team has also steered clear of any stereotypes while presenting Vincy but makes sure that these are addressed subtly through other supporting characters - when a police chief says he was questioned whether a lady police officer would be able to carry out a high-profile investigation or when a cop’s first instinct is to question the morality of a woman. Paappan is also one of those rare films of a superstar that would pass the Bechdel test with flying colours.
Due credit to Suresh Gopi for taking up the role of a former cop, who is haunted by his past and how he failed his duty and family through his actions. The actor puts on a mature performance, lending intensity to the role only when required. Paappan also required its stars to serve the script and not vice versa, and that makes a huge difference in how the story is told. We don’t get ‘mass’ sequences or references from previous blockbusters; instead, it’s a story about a father and a former cop (as well as other characters) trying to find redemption and closure.
Also, being a crime drama, don’t go expecting a crime thriller like Anjaam Pathiraa or Ratsasan, because the investigation is just one part of the film and the makers do a good job of keeping the audience guessing. The anchoring aspect of the film though is how Abraham and daughter Vincy work together. But sadly, this is underexplored. The audience is shown that they have a turbulent relationship but the ice gets thawed rather too easily. You wonder if the script had a few twists less and took time to focus on their relationship more, it could have made this film one of the better crime dramas to come out in the recent past.
The film also has a great supporting cast with Gokul Suresh, Asha Sharath, Vijayaraghavan, Nyla Usha, Kaniha, Tini Tom and G Chandunath; all of whom play their parts well and add to the elements of surprise and shock to the movie.
Verdict: Paappan is a welcome return to form by Suresh Gopi and Joshiy. The crime drama, despite its three-hour duration, has twists to keep you interested and is pacy enough to warrant a watch in the cinemas.