The very likeable and entertaining ‘Android Kunjappan Version 5.25’ could have used more focus

Posted on November 27, 2019


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We all know men like this, men who are uncomfortable with emotion and choose to remain distant from their own families but can get along amazingly with strangers.

Spoilers ahead…

It’s a village in Payyanur. A religious rite is in progress. Someone has died, and prayers are being offered so that his soul may rest in peace. But here, the peace slowly begins to disappear. The officiating priest doesn’t seem to know the significance behind the rituals. The “helpful” people around begin to chip in, with “helpful” comments and suggestions. Gradually, we see that one man is beginning to stand out, being more “helpful” than the others. He’s one of those old men we know all too well, someone with no sense of time and place and propriety, someone to whom the feelings of others aren’t all that important. He’ll say whatever he wants, whenever, wherever. Crotchety, cantankerous, grumpy, ornery — you can throw the thesaurus at him, and every single descriptor would stick.

His name is Bhaskaran (Suraj Venjaramoodu), and he’s the protagonist of Android Kunjappan Version 5.25, written and directed by Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval. For a while, especially after the hilarious “sambar” joke at a local eatery, the film feels like the “amusing and easy rhythms of village life” drama that Malayalam cinema does so well, with characters being slowly sketched out with similarly easy rhythms. (Nothing is forced.) After a fall, Bhaskaran needs a caretaker, and one of his questions about the first one who takes up the job is about her caste: “Is she a Poduval?” (Refer, again, to the director’s name.) It’s not something we should be smiling about, but we do because he is an old man who is set in his ways — but more importantly, because his son, Subramanian (Soubin Shahir), softens the sting by noting that she belongs to a caste that’s higher than theirs.

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