The film opens with many disjointed, slice of life scenes typical of Malayalam films, which establish the different characters. 40 minutes into the film, you still wait for something significant to happen. But these are some of the best moments of the film that bring the “today’s” life in a small town Kerala vividly before our eyes – The dependable “Otto Rickshaw” mode of transport, every evening Adda at the recreation club, Drinking, Kattan Chaya drinking (Black tea), a Jeep announcing and distributing pamphlets of a shop opening, people getting excited about the opening of a new garment store, the advent of Smart phone/ WhatsApp for doing business and so on.
The story revolves around a teenage girl who just aspires to be free from the shackles of an authoritarian, strict regime at home but whose adventure goes awry all in a day. But the interest for us in the story is about the two male characters around this girl and how the girl finds the good in bad and vice versa. Don’t want to elaborate further as this is what is central to the story.
The film is written and directed by Muhammad Mustafa who does a fine job in keeping the proceedings simple, real and light till a turn of events take place. The screen play is such that it gives little away in the initial scenes but keep us invested in the girl character Jessy, superbly essayed by Anna Ben. She brings life into that character with her now famous next door girl looks and infectious smile. Roshan Mathew plays Vishnu the auto driver, who brings the deliberate innocence required around the role very well. On the other side is Srinath Bhassi who plays the role of a typical Malayali youth now being made popular in many recent Malayalam films like Angamaly Diaries, Kumbalangi Nights etc which is a young guy doing no purposeful work, flirting with girls, drinking incessantly but girls getting attracted, in spite of the guy showing toxic masculinity in behaviour! It seems this type of male characters are called as “Kallippan” in Kerala and almost every other film has a few Kallippans these days!
Camera work by Jhimshi Khalid brings the beauty of Wyanad, Kozhikode and its surroundings in its natural greenery. Songs (music by (Sushin Shyam) mostly shot in montage format are pleasing to ears and eyes.
Kappella is a film that shines thanks to its easy going screen play and performance of almost the entire cast. Its streaming now on Netflix. Do watch it for its simplicity. For its Malluness. For the twist.
P.S: I didn’t know the meaning of Kappela and when I looked up, it means a Chapel, a small place used by Christians as a church or for prayer. Yes, the female lead is a christian and she often finds solace in praying to Christ in a small Chapel at her backyard. Beyond that, is there a biblical reference to the story, I wonder?