Sunday, July 3, 2016

അപരൻ (Aparan) (1988)

Director: Padmarajan
Writer:    Padmarajan 
Cinematographer: Venu
Cast:.         Jayaram, Shobana, Madhu, Mukesh
Language: Malayalam

A young unemployed man (Jayaram), hunting for jobs, is roughed up by some people who mistakes him for a fraudster, who supposedly looks just like him. He earns a reprieve when the police officer turns out to be his old college mate but his doppelgänger's legacy continues to haunt him as he moves into the city when he gets a job.

The film is an adaptation of a short story from Padmarajan and the title translates as 'Doppelgänger'. Film also marked the debut of Jayaram who then became a sort of fixture in Padmarajan's latter year films. The basic plot might make you go 'I've seen this before' but treatment is quite different. If you've got a premise like this from a film from the 80s you expect it to end in a tragic way with a 'Crime doesn't pay' moral lesson. But this is Padmarajan and he can always make things interesting based on characterisation.

Here you can see Jayaram's character almost discovering his darker side because of the other dude who is spoken off like a myth. Many of his actions doesn't seem to come from a rational basis and some of the film's contrivances can be explained off like that. They don't have the physical confrontation the way you expect them to have and we only hear the bad dude's voice,  and that too towards the end. All in all, one could say that this story can be seen as a very superior backstory for a film like 'Don' and I wonder whether that film influenced Padmarajan in any way.

Overall, it is a nice little genre film. There aren't many interesting characters in it and the film is a bit too plot driven. Jayaram does his part will considering the fact that it is a debut film for him. His is not a very likeable character and it is intentionally so. One could also say that it is a metaphorical reading of caste sentiments in Kerala where some of the very upper caste people could very much feel like they are getting hunted for something that they presume they are not responsible for. Padmarajan does go out of the way to mention the caste of the character in one scene anyway.

Rating: 3/5