Kaapa Malayalam Movie
Many viewers describe Shaji Kailas's Kaapa as a mass movie, but it is a gangster film. For a film to be a mass movie, there has to be clear-cut heroes and villains. Kaapa does not have a hero or villain. It is a film about gang wars in Trivandrum.
Anand (Asif Ali) and Binu Trivikraman (Anna Ben) move from Bangalore to Trivandrum with the welcoming news of the arrival of their first child. But their happiness does not last long as police constable Arumanayakam (Nandhu) informs Anand of Binu's dark past, which plays a part in her being named on the Kerala Anti-Social Activities Prevention Act (KAAPA) list. It is an act, similar to goonda acts, that allows state law enforcement to apprehend criminals and curb gang wars.
Kaapa has a familiar genre film story, told largely in flashbacks. At the center of it is Prithviraj Sukumaran's Kotta Madhu, a terrifying gang lord whose mere presence alone is enough to send shivers down even law enforcement's spine. He comes on a Royal Enfield bike and watches his gang members slice a man to death in the middle of the road. He puts an iron rod through his rival's stomach. Madhu's heinous acts make him part of the hit list of not just cops but also other gangs and other people. The main rival of Madhu is a newspaper owner named Latheef (Dileesh Pothan), who associates most of the crimes in the city with Binu Trivikraman. Therefore, Anand is concerned about his pregnant wife's safety.
As I said earlier, Kaapa does not have a conventional villain or hero. The movie is designed in such a way that it is hard to take sides with any of its main characters. Some movies, such as Lucifer, are a battle between the evil and lesser evil, but I do not feel that Kaapa fits such a criterion.
The movie looks and feels like a mass film, but it has a solid plot, somewhat realistic treatment, and reasonably engaging conflicts. There is a backstory to the Kotta Madhu character, and I really like how the makers use it to build some intrigue in the story. It is familiar and somewhat predictable, but at least there is something in the material for us to chew on.
Unlike the recent hit Kaduva, Kaapa has a lot more pulp in it and characters with clear arcs. Kotta Madhu is stoic and slightly one-note, but he is not as sketchy a character as it may seem from the outside. Prithviraj plays the character with a bit of panache. The supporting cast is also in great form here. Dileesh Pothan plays a scheming and conniving newspaper man. Jagadish plays Madhu's right-hand man who often boils with rage. It is a lot different from the funny characters that the actor once used to play. Female actors such as Anna Ben and Aparna Balamurali do not have a lot to do, although they do their parts well enough. A late attempt to give prominence to the female characters seems like a far-fetched idea.
On the technical front, Jakes Bejoy's music helps keep our interest in the proceedings long enough, and Jomon T. John's framing is at times arresting.
While Kaduva started and ended in no man's land, there is a definite beginning and climax in Kaapa. There is also scope for a spin-off project here, although I am not all that convinced about the prospects of that film if it materializes.