Malikappuram Malayalam Movie
In Theaters: INDIA
Malikappuram is a small, enchanting film about a girl named Kalyani (Deva Nandha) with an intense desire to see Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala Temple. For years, Kalyani's father Ajayan (Saiju Kurup) has been promising her that he would take her to the Ayyappa temple, but something holds him back. Despite mounting debt and a bank loan due, Ajayan finally decides to live up to his promise to his daughter, but fate has other plans for them. By the time the girl reaches puberty, it will be too late, as the state laws prohibit entry to the temple for women aged between 10 and 50 years.
There has been some controversy regarding the Supreme Court verdict that allowed females of all ages to enter the temple. This verdict faced a lot of opposition from multiple factions of society, who believed that it would affect Ayyappa's celibacy. Soon, the Travancore Devaswom Board and the state government changed their position on Sabarimala entry. The movie mentions these issues in passing only.
Director Vishnu Sasi Sankar and writer Abhilash Pillai do not explore the politics behind Sabarimala Temple. They are only interested in exploring the human aspects of the story. They establish a small yet strong relationship between the father and daughter so early in the film, and it acts as the emotional core of the film.
There is a side plot involving child kidnappers that does not go well with the overall content. At a couple of points in the film, we feel that things are going south when the makers focus on the side track. However, whenever things threaten to go off the rails, the film focuses back on the relationship between the girl and her father, which is where it works best.
It is usually not easy to make a film with a girl at the heart of the story, and it is also uncommon. But the makers of Malikappuram succeed in mining heartfelt emotions out of this simple material. At no point does it feel like our emotional buttons are being pushed. Malikappuram is an appropriate title for the film because goddess Maalikapurathamma is enshrined at the Ayyappa temple. Lord Ayyappa devotees will adore this film, whereas non-bhakts can still enjoy its father-daughter content.
The cast is endearing. Deva Nandha is wonderful as little Kalyani, and she performs the emotional scenes with surprising depth. Sreepath stays confident throughout and offers some comic relief. Saiju Kurup is wonderful, especially in some of the scenes with the girl. Unni Mukundan may not have a lot to do, but he is charming and has a good rapport with the kids. Even Ramesh Pisharody is good in the emotional scenes.