Mama's Paappi Appacha doesn't break any new ground with a story that sounds as creaky as an old door that refuses to budge open. It's a predictable affair that strives to sail forward banking on a few assured gags that it hopes would be lapped up without fail.
Haven't you heard the story of the father (Innocent) and son (Dilip) who are more like buddies, backslapping each other and generally making fools of themselves before the rest of the family and the whole world? Haven't you seen how they eventually fall apart when some crook (Ashokan) who has been waiting to put up a hedge between them finally does so? Haven't you been through that distressing half an hour thereafter when they finally get to realize as to what's what and who's who?
There have been infinitely better attempts at depicting the father-son combos in Malayalam films, and Paappi Appacha never falls into their league. The dad and son who have a ball at the local toddy shop is old story by now, and this is perhaps why they decided to use some fresh water. So we have Paappi and Appachan getting up in the morning and liberally sprinkling the courtyard through the window. Toilets can go down the drain, for all they care.
The culprit in a film as this is the story itself that struggles to pull the audience towards it. The material is too thin, and naturally, the options that it offers are insufficient. So it tells an oft-told story once again but midway through pauses at a juncture when the father and son go their separate ways. Now this is the dramatic moment that should swerve the film in a new direction, and its here that it makes an awkward transition and nosedives into silliness.
We are told that Paappi and his Appachan have built up their empire at Ithirikkandam together, and have been through real tough times. Surprising then, that they turn out to be at loggerheads with each other for some reason that sounds like it was made up solely for lack of a better reason. More surprising that Appachan starts hanging around with life-long adversary immediately after. Surely family feuds can't have an effect on the intellect?
Laughter is supposed to distract you from the plot here. There are a few scenes in the film that rake up some amusement in the first half. Keep them aside and the rest of it tells a story that is almost falling to bits with age. I mean, those titles at the beginning of it all, did offer some promise. Especially the ones in Malayalam, like Tholla Keeriyavar
(Costume), Idiyum Thozhiyum
(Editing) and Karyasthan
(Production Controller). Sad that the rest of it neither maintains that tempo nor that hilarity.
Dileep and Innocent are in their usual selves as Paappi and Appachan; nothing less, nothing more. However, there are two actors who manage to keep their heads above this clutter. Dharmajan (who plays Pappi's sidey Kuttappi) is an actor to take note of, and his antics are what make this film at least passable at times. And Kavya, is back, and definitely with a bang. She has always had the facility to make some unbelievably ridiculous scenes look real on screen, and she is a soul-saver in this film on quite a few occasions.
Barring the occasional guffaws, Paappi Appacha has little to offer. It remains an ensemble piece that has merely put together done-to-death elements of erstwhile commercial winners.