Cast: Samuthirakani, Thambi Ramaiah, Namo Narayana, Vignesh
Tamil cinema is usually high on content, but often low on form, and Samuthirakani’s Appa (Father) is a classic example of this. The film, which has also been written by Samuthirakani, has an important message, though not entirely unstated in the world of cinema. Samuthirakani, who wears a third hat in the movie, that of the lead performer, a father called Dayalan, says that it is unfair for parents to impose their sense of life on their children. There is no point in reliving our lives through our sons and daughters, who may well have their own dreams and ambitions. Of course, we have seen such a message in films like Three Idiots. Appa is all about this, entirely about this, in fact.
Samuthirakani -- who has been trying to expand his acting range (as a great cop in Visaaranai, as a clownish headmaster in Amma Kanakku and as an extremely understanding parent in Appa) -- stands as a contrast to two other fathers in the movie, played by Thambi Ramaiah (as Singaperumal) and Namo Narayana (Nadunilaiyan). Dayalan -- despite a violently disagreeable wife (breaks every stick of furniture in the house), who wants her son, Vetriswaran, to compete with the world by scoring near-impossible grades at school -- stands firm. The man wants the boy to learn life skills -- which include his passion (swimming) and civility in society. Dayalan teaches Vetriswaran even how to mingle with girls.
Watch the trailer of Appa here:
On the other hand, Singaperumal makes a donkey out of his son, finally driving him to a boarding school, where he is stripped for a minor mistake and beaten the whole night. Swinging between these two pendulums is Nadunilaiyan, who coaches his son to remain in the shadows so that he can ultimately disappear, unsung and maybe even unloved.
Honestly, Samuthirakani need not have gone to this kind of extent tell his audiences what is desirable and what is not. So, it is not surprising that Appa in the end seems like some moral science class. Preachy to the point of being a laborious watch, Appa appears like a hard task which the writer-director has set upon himself to pen and helm a film advisory for parents. Surely, no viewer would want to be paying ticket money to be given lessons on how to raise their children.
A little more finesse could have perhaps lifted Appa out of its self-inflicted drudgery, but I must add that the movie’s climax has been handled with commendable restraint. A maturity, rarely seen in Indian cinema, is clearly discernible here.