Verdict: A classic comedy-drama with unending wit and some fine acting.

Android Kunjappan Ver 5.25 is a comedy drama written and directed by Ratheesh Balakrishna Poduval. It is produced by Santhosh T. Kuruvila under the banner ‘Moonshot Entertainment‘. The movie packs powerful performances by Suraj Venjaramoodu and Soubin Shahir in lead. Bijibal Maniyil and lyricist Hari Narayanan make up the music department. The cinematography is handled by Sanu Varughese while the editing is done by Saiju Sreedharan. It is the true story about a conservative father and his son who have to depend on technology to take care of the father.

What’s Android Kunjappan Ver 5.25 About:

The movie tells the story of AI engineer Subrahmanya “Subbu” Poduval (Soubin Shahir) and his father Bhaskara Poduval (Suraj Venjaramoodu). The very elderly Poduval wants his son to find work somewhere close to home. But 34-year-old Subbu has already given up many well-paying offers and is tired of being under his father’s thumb. He leaves for Russia and a home nurse is employed to take care of Poduval. When the home nurses sent by Poduval’s well-meaning nephew Prasannan (Saiju Kurup) leave one by one due to Poduval’s adamant ways, Subbu finds a solution in an experimental robot. On his first holiday, he brings home an AI robot built by his company to take care of his elderly father. Although initially averse to the machine, Poduval slowly lets the robot into his life. What ensues are several comical and emotional incidents involving the villagers, Poduval and Android Kujappan.

What Works:

The most impressive factor about Android Kunjappan Ver 5.25 is actor Suraj Venjaramoodu. His character is a far cry from Dashamoolam Damu or Idivettu Sugunan played by the actor in his earlier films. Although an excellent comedian, it is his reticent characters that have satisfied moviegoers and earned him praise. Same goes without saying for Soubin Shahir. Well known for his comic timing, it is his more serious roles that have catapulted him to the big name that he is today. Soubin plays the character of the ‘simple, ordinary man with an over-bearing father’ flawlessly. The robot Kunjappan comes to life through VFX and puppetry. Although not one of the lead characters in the story, Kunjappan, with his witty and innocent lines, finds his place in the viewers’ hearts. Other characters like Hitomi (Kendy Zirdo) and Soudhamini (Maala Parvathi) are key to the story and their performances are not to be underrated.

Although touted as a sci-fi film, Android Kunjappan Ver 5.25 is largely a family movie set in a small village in Payyanur, Kannur. The settings and ambiance of the featured house and the village are characters by themselves. The lack of technical jargon is a blessing. Maybe it is intentional on the part of the writer to not comment on whether robots or AI is safe for humans. This keeps the movie relatable.

Although this is his debut directorial venture, Ratheesh has had time to learn his craft, thanks to the days he worked as a production designer for many films. Being the writer and the director, the movie is the complete representation of Ratheesh’s imagination. His flair for satire is well displayed through the dialogues as well as through some of the characters. The scene where Poduval and Subbu argue about the former’s attitude is very light and evokes much laughter. But the dialogues reveal some hard truths and are a representation of the turmoil that the elderly go through in their lives. This is one of the strong points of the movie. Android Kunjappan Ver 5.25, in the end, is a window into the fragile minds of the elderly who are left to fend for themselves.

What Could’ve Been Better:

Although both halves are full of memorable instances, the pace is a bit slow in the first half. Ratheesh takes time to establish his characters and the premise of the story and all this is done in the first half. The second half is faster and moves quickly to the climax. Knowledge of the Kannur style of Malayalam will be a plus when you go for this movie. Although the entire movie is not in slang, the humor feels sharp. It might not be easy for all to follow.

Why Should You Watch:

Watch the film for the excellent performances by the lead characters. The rustic village and the frailty of old age are very well represented on screen. Android Kunjappan Ver 5.25 is a classic family comedy-drama with unending wit and fine acting. Suitable for all ages and types, it is a hit in the making.

– By Annifred Solomon