Archive for April, 2020

Android Kunjappan – Lockdown Watch 1

Picked up this Malayalam movie upon the recommendation of a friend, assuming that it would describe the mad adventures of some country bumpkin Kunjappan and his newly ordered Android phone; I wasn’t prepared for Kunjappan being Android, in this case a robot.

The film is a throwback to the visages of an older world still tucked in between the malls and highways of the traffic jammed Kerala (that I had visited just a few month ago), complete with kalabham (sandal paste) anointed foreheads, muNDus, white sarees, temples, prasadam, ritual baths in temple tanks, offerings of ‘Veli’(bali) – spheres of cooked rice to departed ancestors – in addition to grindstones, antique cooking ranges and so on (the last such film that I had seen was Nandanam, more than a decade ago), all in total contrast again to films such as ‘Helen’ that I had seen just recently.

A tad too long; but very engaging. The film portrays the human (one sided) bond between the geriatric protagonist Bhaskaran and his minion robot, presented to him by his son to take care of his chores. The neighbors give the name Kunjappan to the robot, and even recommend that ‘it’ be clothed in appropriate attire.

Clothed in a ‘Mundu’ and sometimes in a poncho (to beat the perennial rains in Kerala), Kunjappan soon endears himself to the grumpy old Bhaskaran and to the audience, quick in its grasp of the local Kerala idiom, ingesting everything into its memory, fulfilling every command of its master including stalking the octoogenarian’s old time crush on social media using proxy accounts!


The grumpy old man’s tryst with a robot is the central thrust of this story, in between which the live-in relationship between his son Chuppen and his girlfriend – the adorable Kitomi (half Japanese), during the course of his placement in Russia (in a Japanese company!) is beautifully portrayed. The ever smiling Kitomi leaves a lasting impression.

The obviously one-sided attachment, nay  -a presumed  filial bond between Bhaskaran and Kunjappan in the midst of the Payyanur rural community in the western ghats in one of those traditional houses with fast disappearing household-implements now seen only in the Dakshin Chitra museums of India – ends with practical considerations as it should.

The manner in which it is portrayed leaves us with several questions. Are our ‘vacuuming robots’ of today just the beginning?  ‘Shastra’ contributing robots to deliver medicinal supplies by hospital beds is a newsmaker today in 2020.  ‘ChiTTi’ of ‘Endiran’ was too cinematic. Will we have robots to run all our customized household chores at our beck and call?  The idles and dosas and the custom chutneys made by Kunjappan and of course the washed and cleaned dishes and more give us ideas. You never know. Who ever thought that disk storage would be so cheap and abundant when we just started using those very first Apple desktops with a floppy boot disk and a floppy data disk? The world has come a long way where the blessed search engines even seem to read our thoughts. More changes are sure to come. (Do not miss reading Yuval Harari’s 21 lessons for the 21st century).

The bottom line; if a movie causes you to think of issues beyond the storyline, it is clear that the makers have enabled the actors to transcend their personalities and live the kathA-pAtras – and have caused the audiences to carry a chunk of the plot with them. A 20 min cut in the length of the movie would probably have enhanced its impact dramatically; but it is still worth a good watch.

April 25, 2020 at 6:29 pm 1 comment