Bharat Gopy’s first collaboration with Sathyan Anthikkad, Appunni was the movie adaptation of VKN’s short story Premavum Vivahavum, and it also happens to be the only literary work of his adapted for the big screen. The screenplay and dialogues were penned by the author himself. This was also the only movie where Bharat Gopy was paired opposite the legendary Sukumari as an onscreen couple. Sathyan Anthikkad pulled off the seemingly impossible task of adapting VKN’s multi-layered, contextual humor with just the right tinge of sarcasm and self-deprecation fairly well for the big screen, as his characters came to life in the able hands of some of the finest minds on the Malayalam screen. And as Perattupadaveettil Ayyappan Nair, Bharat Gopy was a treat to watch onscreen.
|Menaka Suresh Kumar
|KJ Yesudas, Vani Jairam
Sathyan Anthikkad, directing Bharat Gopy and Nuhu on the sets of Appunni
Appunni is Perattupadaveettil Ayyappan Nair’s mainstay, Man Friday and chief cook in running the most popular tea-shop and savories joint of the locality. He is also in love with Ammukkutty, Ayyappan’s daughter – they have been meant for each other since childhood. Into this uneventful life comes the city-bred Menon, a school master freshly appointed to the local primary school, who falls head over heels for Ammukutty’s beauty. Menon also happens to be everything Appunni is not – rich, handsome, educated and urbane.
As Menon professes his desire to marry Ammukkutty, taking the proposal directly to the prospective bride’s father, the vainglorious, overweening Ayyappan Nair does not think twice about giving his consent. Appunni is devastated. The wedding is fixed. Ammukkutty is beside herself with grief. But destiny has other plans in store.
A Clipping from Appunni (1984)
HandBill Source & Credit : Ethiravan Kathiravan
When I decided on Gopy to bring VKN’s ‘Ayyappan Nair’ to life onscreen for ‘Appunni’, I was yet to meet him. John Paul became the default mediator. Before the shooting began, there was this young director of the times in whose production Gopy had a major part, with whom I was holding a conversation. When he came to know of Gopy being earmarked for the role in Appunni, he cautioned, “Be careful, he is a good actor, but more than that, that man reeks of sheer arrogance. I am not sure if you would be able to manage him.” I was truly scared. As a director, shooting a well-laid out screenplay with strong characterizations is a process that gives me immense personal satisfaction. I so thoroughly enjoy making my movies. Was this going to throw a spanner in the works, I wondered. And started worrying too.
Courtesy : Malayalam Biscoot.
Bharat Gopy as Perattupadaveettil Ayyappan Nair: An Overview.
Vainglorius, conceited and self-important – Perattupadaveettil Ayyappan Nair cannot think of an instance of existance where his purportedly militant, glorious ancestory is unattached to his personality. If not in character, atleast by name, that is. If you are someone who has read the literary work and watched the movie, you would be surprised at how uncanninly close both the creations are. Bharat Gopy effortlessly ensured that. Echoing director Sathyan Anthikkad recalling the “making of the character image”,
In half an hour he stood before me as Ayyappan Nair, the version you see in the film. “This moustache is a sign of pseudo-valour, for belonging to the ancient, militant, Perattupada lineage,” as he twirled it. “Ayyappan Nair is a devotee of the Devi, and hence the vermillion tikka on the forehead. This scant hair combed flat and across my bald patch shows his naivette and vanity to appear young and virile, a sort of ‘matching up to his warrior clan lineage.’ I was ecstatic. This was brilliant.
It was brilliant not just one time. It was, with every film he associated himself with. Every time.