Tamil cinema theatre goers have a tendency to turn a deaf ear when a film happens to be a little sententious. Under the circumstances, one should say it’s a gutsy effort by Samuthirakani to have invested so much of time and money to make a message oriented film like Appa in spite of having a forehand knowledge of Tamil cinema audience’s taste and preferences.
The first question that comes to commoners mind when you talk about a message oriented film is how preachy is the film? The word ‘Preachy’ is often thrown about for criticizing a film that has a message.
Samuthirakani pinpoints a valid social awareness issue to the audience, like showcasing how today’s parents impose their personal interest on their child and also telling how few private schools torment children like machines. If portraying messages like these are considered preachy, then Appa would definitely top the list.
Appa is more or less on the same lines as Sattai but this one has been made without any commercial compromises. Dhayalan and Singamperumal are the two lead characters that you find in Sattai enacted by Samuthirakani and Thambi Ramaiah. And the battle between them in Sattai was a highlight.
Now Samuthirakani has brought back life to both these characters in Appa, but the difference here is they battle as parents and not as teachers. Through these two characters, Samuthirakani establishes how a father should and should not be.
Samuthirakani plays the lovable encouraging father while Thambi Ramaiah is seen as a strict parent who wants his kid to be perfect in every aspect. Appa is a film that talks about the childhood days of 5 children from different families. Apart from the social message content, Appa also talks about a tiny teenage love portion which however is not given any prominence.
It could have either been avoided or established properly. All the kids have done a pretty good job. Samuthirakani’s wife character is not so much in sync with the film. Her role is illustrated as an arrogant over-desirous woman, but neither her pre or post transformation phase are portrayed clearly.
While the first half talks about how to groom a kid, the second gets a little wavery as it diverts from parenthood issues to topics concerning about mistakes those private schools do.
Appa definitely has some memorable moments that Samuthirakani could be proud of, but at the same time, a film that talks only about the flaws in our social system, makes it sanctimonious and hard to sit through. Even though Appa is just a 2 hour film, it feels like a much longer film.
The film does not carry any unwanted songs. It only has one song which too comes in as a montage. Ilayaraaja’s music is very functional and sounds pretty similar to his recent works. Richard Nathan’s camera angles are appealing.
Appa has moments of greatness but because of its opinionated presentation, at no level, it gives you a good degree of satisfaction nor makes you accept the flaws that have been pinpointed.
Verdict: A gutsy uncompromising effort from Samuthirakani which however would test your patience to sit through!