Blog | Kaappaan: Dei!

SPOILERS AHEAD.

In the valleys of Kashmir, where PM Varma (Mohanlal) is addressing a small group of caricatured locals, SPG officer Joseph is in charge of the PM’s security. He identifies potential threats from his command post and asks his team to neutralise them. First, some men with stones in their pockets. Then, another with a suspicious bag. These men are hauled away from the event.

Then, there is a woman Joseph is suspicious of.

“Doesn’t she look disproportionate?” he asks. A female SPG officer—the only one of her kind with any screen time in the entire film—collides into the woman in question and declares, “nothing to worry, sir”. Did she just gauge security risk by grabbing a woman’s breast? So, it’s ok, if a woman grabbed another woman’s breast? Oh, I have so many questions!

***

Kaappaan, KV Anand’s tens of crores extravaganza with Suriya, Mohanlal, Arya and Sayyesha is thoughtless tripe.

Don’t mistake me, I don’t mean that there is no thought, if anything, there is too much of it. Like multiple people thought about different things at the same time and stuck it up together with an old dysfunctional hot glue gun. There is a farmers-are-dying cause. There is also the SPG-take-bullets-to-their-heart cause. Then, the fighting-Pakistani-terror cause. And then crony capitalism cause. So many causes, so little time!

But in all of this, there is no thoughtfulness to anything—every cause is merely a shaft for the next Suriya-aggrandizing gimmick.

Farmers in the film are suffering-porn. Kathiravan (an utterly ill-advised Suriya) is an organic farmer who calls himself a traditional farmer or some such. He makes manure from human feces. His land is flourishing, his yield is gold. But in general, farmers are all dying at the hand of corporate greed.

But every time a death occurs, the film gives no time for the audience to empathise, Kathiravan restlessly jumps into a laughable monologue. At one point in the film, the fields of several farmers are attacked by bio-terrorism. Kathiravan, in the middle of it, is taking stock. A speeding vehicle comes along. He stops the vehicle and asks what happened. One of the guys in the vehicle says, a farmer drank poison after his fields were attacked—“ponga ponga niruthaadheenga ponga” Kathiravan rushes them, after having stopped them himself for nothing but inane curiosity. All the suffering is milked for our viewing pleasure.

The SPG section of the film is like a school child’s first detective story. Joseph, the head of the PM’s security detail, is shot dead and his body is undergoing autopsy. Bullets are removed from his body and the evidence is kept open. In a bowl. Unattended. One of the SPG officers picks up two of the bullets from the bowl, places fresh bullets and mixes them with the residual blood in the bowl. Like you know how you’ll spread the marinade over chicken pieces before putting them away? Like that!

One of the SPG fellows guarding a terrorist loses his gun to a tap-and-grab trick—you know, where you distract the gun-wielder for just a moment, tap their wrist, and grab the gun from the front? Like that!

There is so much unnecessary, unfounded Pakistan-bashing for a film that has nothing to do with Pakistan. There is absolutely no sensitivity in the way Kashmir is treated. Like @rgokul said, “Vijaykanth padame thevalaam pola!” So much so that there is a scene where they show SPG shoot down a young Kashmiri boy in the chest—the cinematic necessity for this scene is feeble at best.

So far, I’d have imagined KV Anand (and his co-writer Pattukkoattai Prabhakar) are some sort of Modi sympathisers, modelling their PM Varma on Modi—Manu Dharma, calling for Kashmir to be united with India, anti-Pakistan agenda (there is even video footage of Pakistan army beheading Indian soldiers in the middle of the night, shown in the film) and things. Until.. there is an Ambani-esque character who goes rogue.

It is here that we realise, Kaappaan has no agenda, not even a value system—it’s just interested in the convenience of box office. And apparently, the box office necessitates a steady dose of sleaze and misogyny as well.

Beginning at the top, PM Varma is a bit of a sleaze, he makes casual jokes about cuckolded men in a public address. He threatens to pollinate Kathir and Anjali if they don’t get married soon.

His son, the other PM, is even worse. He makes unwelcome advances to a journalist in a press meet, in front of the entire press crops—the film passes it off as being true to himself, authentic, if you will. He’s disproportionately eager in the sexual adventures of the SPG staff. There is even a dick-measuring contest and Kani Annan’s Joseph tells them about ‘biriyani aunty’, who is ‘40, but that’s not her age’.

It was here that I was sure there is a reliable case of child labour in the Kaappaan crew, because *that* couldn’t possibly have been written by an adult!

The women are all caricatures—but then, most men are too—like the ladies who throw themselves at Kathiravan in the village, his mother who shoos them away with a broom, the shrill wife of PM Varma, the journalist who is appalled by the sound of manure from human feces, Joseph’s wife who holds a potato masher as an umbrella….every last one of them!

But the best, though, is written for the brave, committed, patriotic Anjali, played by the gorgeous cardboard cut out Sayyesha. She gets so drunk on a couple of glasses of wine—in the company of an alleged terrorist she’s tailing—that she can’t tell in the morning what happened the previous night. Kathiravan, the aforementioned alleged terrorist, leads her on for a couple of scenes; only confirming the status of her chastity after shaming her for drinking with a stranger. It is here that Samuthirakani says something to the effect that when women say no, they mean yes.

Sidebar: Next time, Kani Annan gives absolutely any advice—farmer issues, jallikkattu, parenting, just anything—I’m going to take it as the ultimate falsehood like the above.

Throughout the film, she nags Kathiravan for not spending time with her, or forgetting her birthday, or something or the other. Her purpose in the film is to be the red-herring. No one for a second believed she could be the villain, meh!

Speaking of villain, there is a military intelligence analyst, who is a double agent, who is seeking personal vengeance from Kathiravan, but is also an ally of a corporate stooge who brings a proposal to PM Varma about destroying Pakistan. So, there’s that!

Anyway, on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the worst, Kaappaan is a minus 22. If you’re willing to laugh at it, you might be able to score a few points back. Otherwise, it’s truly unsahikkable.

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