Sunday, August 14, 2016

ഗപ്പി (Guppy) (2016)

Director: Johnpaul George
Writer:.   Johnpaul George
Cinematographer: Girish Gangadharan
Cast: Tovino Thomas, Master Chetan, Sreenivasan
Language: Malayalam

Guppy (Master Chetan) lives in a fishing village with his mother who is paralysed and relies on a wheelchair. Their means of living is the guppy fishes that he is cultivating in a public drainage that he had blocked by the side of a road. An engineer (Tovino Thomas) arrives in the village to build a railway over-bridge. A series of events puts these two protagonists at odds with each other.

The trailer of the film has Tovino being questioned whether he is the hero or the villain of this story. That part of the story is the highpoint of the film as there is a whole lot of unpredictability to it. This middle portion of the film is sandwiched by the beginning portion and the end where the director plays it very safe by projecting too much goodness in its characters and some manipulative tragic elements.

It is around 150 minutes long but it is not the duration that I got miffed with but the safety option that the director took. That is especially disappointing when you consider the fact that the middle part of the film was really great providing heavy symbolic opportunity to have it as a representation of the Indian system. You've the poor guy living at the margins earning a living by breaking the law. He is both aided and squeezed by the representatives of state machinery. Then comes the idealistic fellow in the form of engineer who ends up doing more harm than good to all concerned, at least initially.

Overall it is a good watch but could have been better. Performances from all concerned are great and especially that of the two protagonists. It is extremely strong on a technical level with sumptuous visuals. The BGM is also fantastic and there are some obvious nods to Anurag Kashyap's Dev D in an audiovisual sense which is evident even from the trailer. Tovino has the making of a star and he does a much better version of Charlie in this film. It is sad that the film is not doing tremendously well in the box office with it being removed from my town after one week. I had to travel 30 kms to catch it but it was worth it as I could also check out the newly opened Aashirvad cineplex in Thodupuzha.

PS: I heard that it was filmed near Thirunnalveli in Tamil Nadu and the village doesn't really look like a place from Kerala. The number plates of vehicles carry KL 81 which I don't think is a valid one in Kerala. That was pretty clever from the director who has made a very promising debut.

Rating: 3/5