Subhash K Jha reviews Kappela

Review of Kappela: Another Outstanding Malayalam Film

Kappela (Netflix)

Starring Anna Ben, Sreenath Bhasi, Roshan Mathew

Written & Directed by Muhammad Musthafa

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Forget Bollywood, all the excitement this year seems to be happening in Malayalam cinema. After the outstanding Mothoon here comes another whammy from the land of gorgeous greenery.

Sure enough . Kappela captures the Kerala countryside with a caressing glance that we get only in their homespun films. The film is set in rural Kerala, though luckily there are no coconut trees and football players .

This nutty anti-romcom takes us on an unexpected rollercoaster ride…Rather , a bumpy bus ride where the film’s achingly young inexperienced rustic heroine Jessy(Anna Ben) almost loses everything, only to have her soul redeemed just in time.

This is a kickass morality tale . I am afraid to give away the plot. Suffice it to say that for all my movie-viewing experience I could have never guessed what the writer-direcror Musthafa (believe it or not, this is the actor-turned-director’s directorial debut) was leading into. Nope, I never saw the twist coming. Life’s like that. (I can bet it will be lapped up for a Bollywood remake in no time at all.)

The film’s first- half is a dainty phone-romance between Jessy and Vishnu (Roshan Matthew) a kindly helpful affable autorickshaw driver whom Jessy dials by mistake. Therein begins their sweet romance, filled with silly riddles and frilly giggles.

Mid-way through the film Jessy decides to sneak away from her parental gaze to meet the unseen love of her life. The bus journey will change her life.

Suddenly the serene storytelling swerves into an unexpected U –turn. For about 20 minutes of the second-half when the film’s loutish shamelessly parasitical hero Roy(Sreenath Bhasi) is introduced, I thought I was watching another film altogether. But then the director, fully conscious of where he is going and with a grip on the moral graph of the three main protagonists’ destiny, manoeuvres the story through the stormy incidents with expertise.

There is not one idle moment in Kappela. The director’s eye for detail is one of the film’s many virtues. In one sequence when Jessy gets into the window seat of a bus in the pouring rain I actually saw raindrops on her seat. The pace is always in a race, never lacking in grace.

By the time the film screeches to a halt three lives are changed irreversibly. And we breathe a sigh of relief .All is well in the world, at least this time. But for all the Jessys of the world who venture out to explore the mystery of love, here is awarning.Never love a stranger.

There is a beautiful tender moment at the end when Jessy , her bare feet buried in the watery sand stares into the sea that she’s seen for the first time. As she gazes into the unfathomable unknown we get a full measure of what life means. You never know what it has in store.

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