From being a slow, dreamy, innocent love story set in a small Indian town, the 2020 movie ‘Kappela’ suddenly morphs into a confusing tale of unemployment, harassment and gullibility.

Directed by Muhammed Musthafa, the story centers around a young woman Jessy (Anna Ben), who failed class 12 and doesn’t aspire for much. A phone call to a wrong number brings some excitement to her life, as the young man who picks up the call tries to befriend her. What follows is a phone-romance of sorts, complicated by a marriage proposal that comes from an affluent family for Jessy.

The first half of the movie is leisurely paced, building up towards what looks like a naive but sweet slow-burn romance. The man Jessy strikes a phone-friendship with is an auto-driver called Vishnu (Roshan Matthew), who manages to charm his way into her heart. Anna Ben as a simple town girl is sweet, while Roshan Matthew felt slightly unconvincing as a small-time driver. And out of nowhere, a new character is introduced in the second half – an angry young unemployed man called Roy, played by Sreenath Bhasi. For a while, his character makes no sense in the grand scheme of things, it feels like you have switched to watching a different movie altogether. But a new twist is introduced that connects Roy to Jessy’s story, but it feels forced and underwhelming. Even though Sreenath Bhasi does a fantastic job in his cameo.

The intention of the story comes across as muddled. It looks like the makers were trying to give us a modern cautionary tale against the perils of striking up relationships with strangers. There is also the confusing theme of employment – they cannot decide if they want to glorify unemployment or lament the lack of job opportunities for local youth. Or maybe I am reading too much into the story.

The cinematography captures the rural beauty of Kerala and gives viewers an interesting glimpse of what it’s like to live in a small town. However, by the climax, I was left asking myself ‘WTF?’, the movie was a little too random. Some viewers might be charmed by what ‘Kapella’ has to offer, but it’s definitely not everybody’s cup of tea.

It’s a 6/10 from me. The movie is available to stream on Netflix.

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