‘Koogle Kuttappa’ movie review: KS Ravikumar shines in this faithful remake of ‘Android Kunjappan Ver 5.25’

For a film that deals with subjects that can give us existential worries – old age, loneliness and the rise of AI – it offers quite a few delightful moments.

For a film that deals with subjects that can give us existential worries – old age, loneliness and the rise of AI – it offers quite a few delightful moments.

In one of the episodes of Rod Serling’s pioneering science fiction series, The twilight zone, a convicted murderer named Corry is sentenced to 50 years in solitary confinement on a distant asteroid. He receives all the basic amenities necessary for his survival. But aside from the days when Earth officers bring him supplies, he has no company. It’s just him in a vast asteroid.

Corry is imprisoned by loneliness.

Then, one of the visiting officers who sympathizes with him, gets him a robot named Alicia who looks and acts like a woman. Corry hates him at first. He is skeptical about whether the machine can actually replicate a human companion. But when it starts to lessen his desolation, he gradually develops feelings for her – for her. The alien prison is now starting to look like a paradise. Just him and her in their own world. He becomes so attached to Alicia that even when he is pardoned from his sentence, he refuses to return to Earth without the robot.

The very thing he thought was soulless had become his soul mate.

It’s the same premise behind Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval’s bittersweet Malayalam film, Android Kunjapan Version 5.25which has now been redone in Tamil as Google Kuttappa. It is about an elderly Luddite developing an emotional bond with a robot that his son takes care of him.

The Malayalam version of the film was released just three years ago and is streaming on Amazon Prime Video with subtitles. What is the need for a remake then, one might ask. But maybe this movie warrants one because of the age of the protagonist.

How many Tamil films in recent years have explored the lives of people in this age bracket? by Dhanush Pa Paandi comes to mind. But, overall, it’s only a handful. So much of the older audience in Tamil Nadu, who don’t understand Malayalam, can relate to this story – science fiction at that – especially when it’s rooted in their culture.

Google Kuttappa is located in a small town near Coimbatore. An aging Subramani (KS Ravikumar), who has lost his wife, wants his son, Adithya (Tharshan), to live with him while the latter, a graduate in robotics engineering, wants to work abroad. When he finds a job in Germany, he leaves after obtaining the reluctant consent of his father. Meanwhile, Subramani suffers a heart attack. Worried about his father’s health, Adithya brings home a robot made by his company to care for him. Subramani, however, is averse to technology. Forget smartphones, he doesn’t even use a blender to grind his food.

How can a man who even distrusts a mixie get used to a robot?

Well, he does (and all the townspeople too). Because, like Alicia in The twilight zone episode, here too, the robot, named Kuttappan, fills a strong need for companionship. If Corrie is trapped in a distant asteroid, Subramani is an emotionally clumsy, slightly grumpy old man who doesn’t get along very well with his fellow human beings. So when the affable, hip-high robot fills a void in his life, Subramani begins to treat him like his grandson – literally. He buys him new clothes, wipes his head when he gets wet from the rain, does a special pooja in a temple…and so on.

Google Kuttappa

Director: Sabari and Saravanan

Cast: KS Ravikumar, Tharshan, Losliya, Yogi Babu, and more

Duration: 2 hours 11 mins

For us to be sucked into the flourishing of this human-machine bond, we need a solid performance. And, Suraj Venjaramoodu, as an old father, was superb in the Malayalam version. His acting made us forget certain logical flaws in the writing. KS Ravikumar, likewise, carries the film in the Tamil version. It’s probably his best work as an actor.

First-time directors Sabari and Saravanan largely stuck to the original script. They are skillfully aided by Ghibran’s music and Arvi’s camera work. But the best thing about the movie is Ravikumar. He emotes so well. His limp, his Coimbatore Tamil and his subtle little tics are so natural. His banter with Yogi Babu was among the most enjoyable parts of the film.

However, the same cannot be said for his shares with Tharshan. It pales in comparison to the chemistry that Suraj and Soubin Shahir (who plays the son) share in the Malayalam version. The romance between Tharshan and Losliya, who plays a Sri Lankan Tamil settled in Germany, was also bland.

But for a movie that deals with subjects that can give us existential worries — old age, loneliness, and artificial intelligence — it offers quite a few delightful moments (although it ends on a melancholy note).

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