It's not quite often you would witness such a perfect harmony of innocence shared by both the theme and the lead character. The opening scene with the speech of a priest (Jayaraj Mithra) is a harbinger of the nature of the content and its intention. The substance is the slightest one but when it is blended with conversing visuals and commendable performances, 'Papas' attains its goal.
It's an absolute honest approach by debutant director Sampath by overlooking the fripperies to narrate the agony of a child. This simple tale set in 1984 unfolds the dilemma of a schoolboy Lonappan aka Lona (Jyothis). The problem Lona faces is that he doesn't have a good chappal. He reluctantly wears a pair of ragged slippers that becomes the object of laughter wherever the lad goes. The mental conflict of a child is seldom recognised by others. His mother Thresya, played by newcomer Parvathy, is fed up with the drunken habit of Lona's father Lasser (Raashid Nasir), who never cares to buy new footwear for the child.
At school, this fish vendor's son is ridiculed by his classmates regarding his footwear but his friend Meenu (Visrutha Vijayakumar) and teacher Surendran (Siva) talk to him fondly. Once he finds different models of footwears outside the church. On the sly, Lona steals a pair of chappals from the church. But his stealthy act changes his life altogether.
Scripted by Santhosh Kallatt, 'Papas' handsomely stands close to reality with remarkable originality in the treatment. Jyothis is a treat to watch in handling the various phases of intricate emotions. The child artiste delicately exudes the innocence and agony, which are vital in conveying the theme impressively. The subtle psychological analysis of Lona barely mitigates the flow of narration as Sampath astutely exploits the visuals too to do their part.
'Papas', which means chappal, is a heart-warming journey exploring the inner layers of innocence and permeating myriad positive vibes. Indeed, this simple tale with austere embellishments places moral values upfront. One of the key strengths of the film is that all the newcomers are trying to put in their best for the sublime portrayal of the characters.
Cinematographer Rasheed Rashi creates the apt milieu of the period albeit there are shortcomings in the art department. Praveen Prabhakar contributes well in moulding the feel of the movie with immaculate cuts while Dr Gopal Shankar brings in the required charm through his tunes.
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