Appatha Review


When the curtains rise on a new cinematic experience, we instinctively anticipate riveting crescendos in a horror flick or adrenaline-pumping action sequences in a blockbuster. Feel-good films, on the other hand, beckon us with the promise of emotional depth – the protagonist's inner turmoil, a voyage of self-discovery, or the tumultuous voyage of relationships. "Appatha," directed by Priyadarshan, sails into this territory with promising elements in tow.

A notable facet is the poignant depiction of a fractured bond between Kannamma (Urvashi), an enterprising pickle-seller in her village, and her son Paavada Saamy, nicknamed Sam (portrayed by Amit Bhargav), a corporate professional in Chennai. Their geographical separation is dwarfed by the emotional abyss between them. Sam's childhood distaste for his mother's pickles and their shared memories has driven him to a distant city, hoping to escape the flavors of his past. Kannamma's reminiscences are shaded by her son's pervasive aversion, leaving her with a sense of longing. Her voyage to Chennai at Sam's behest unravels unexpectedly when she realizes her son's ulterior motive – a pet-sitting gig for his dog during his family vacation.

In this unusual partnership, hilarity ensues as Kannamma and the dog embark on a comical dance of chaos. Vases shatter, milk boils over, and gravity itself seems challenged as Kannamma clings to a fan mid-air. Their quirky exchanges imbue the screen with laughter, yet beneath her whimsical exterior, Kannamma is affectionately referred to as "Appatha" (grandmother), a moniker born from her youthful heart and sagely presence in the village. She extends her compassion even to strangers, exemplified when she aids a domestic abuse victim by providing both financial assistance and justice.

However, the film's narrative arcs often feel contrived, lacking the natural flow needed to immerse the audience. The gated community's portrayal in Chennai occasionally loses its local essence, as exemplified by a Diwali celebration resembling a North Indian wedding. Kannamma's stance on societal issues also stirs questions. Her empowered persona contradicts her acceptance of the sacrificial mother trope, undermining her agency and self-worth.

Urvashi's brilliant portrayal lends weight to the film, even participating in daring stunts during the dog chase. Yet, the dialogue's clever wordplay and eccentric ideas bear the brunt of the storytelling. As the credits roll, the anticipated heartwarming closure evades us, leaving a taste of unfulfilled promise.

Much like Kannamma's distinctive pickle recipe, "Appatha" showcases a unique blend of elements, but the execution lacks the vital touch to elevate it beyond the ordinary. Just as Kannamma imparts an individualistic flavor to her pickles, the film yearns for a distinctive ingredient to render it truly exceptional.