Indulge in some cringe

Anantharaman Ajay of YouTube channel ‘Appuppan and the Boys’ analyses and investigates some of the finest  cringe-worthy movies in Malayalam
Indulge in some cringe

KOCHI: Are y’all scared of skeletons? Creepy grannies? Babies shooting lasers from their eyes? Or a certain immortal actor? If so, you’d find a merger of these in the 2003 Malayalam movie ‘Soudamini’,” proclaims an elated, expressive Anantharaman, eyes twinkling with mischief, voice laced with subtle humour. He then reviews the lost and forgotten -- not to mention cringe -- movie, with a rib-tickling script, almost egging you to watch the stressbuster of a film.

Under the YouTube channel ‘Appuppan and the Boys’, Thiruvananthapuram native Anantharaman Ajay evaluates and investigates some of the finest (read ‘truly horrifying’) and ‘abandoned’ Malayalam movies that were forgotten on purpose the very minute they were released. Within five months, the channel and IG handle have amassed more than 100k followers altogether.

While the YouTube bubble is dotted with plenty of Malayalam movie analysts and reviewers, a greater number of these channels dissect the latest regional films, examine Malayalam classics or scrutinise the moods and technicalities of independent cinema. Acknowledging the niche for ‘cringe movies’, Anantharaman dived right into it. While ‘Appuppan’ here refers to his grandfather, the ‘Boys’ comprise Anantharaman and his friends. “When I was a child, my grandfather would trick me into watching poor quality films. As a result, I grew up on an abundance of cringe fest,” says Anantharaman.

Fast forward many years, the tables have turned and the grandfather is regularly hoodwinked into watching bad cinema. Though an engineer by profession, Anantharaman is a harbinger of some fine acting chops. “I’ve always been interested in acting and the field of cinema. I’m considering film school and the YouTube channel was a way to kickstart my creative pursuits. During the lockdown, I tried my hand at editing forgotten movies and realised my knack for the same. My friends were excited about the concept and we began watching such movies with my grandfather. The films were hilarious and jokes were never scarce,” he says. 

He would religiously take notes throughout the film. And watch it multiple times. ‘Soudamini’, his latest, was viewed by Anantharaman seven times. “After I’m content with my one-liners and breakdowns, I prepare a script. Then I shoot the video and edit the same. The entire process takes two weeks,” he says. 

How does he select his subjects? “I was already aware of this pool of cinema. Also, several subscribers mention the names of films they want dissected. Regardless, there are two kinds of bad films. The ones that are so bad, that they’re good and the movies that are plain bad and boring. If a movie makes us more than laugh, it can be considered a winner to be reviewed. When you watch such films, you also learn lessons on how not to make one,” explains Anantharaman. 

Currently, ‘Appuppan and the Boys’ is successfully on its second season, having completed nine episodes. “Season one on the YouTube channel Bale Besh had to be taken down, due to copyright issues. It is available on Instagram and on an OTT platform called Mainstream TV. There will be two more episodes in Season two,” he quips. Does he recommend viewers to watch unpleasant movies and scenes that make one wince? “Absolutely! These are stress-busters perfect to watch on Saturday nights with your friends,” he adds. You can watch ‘Forgotten Malayalam Movies’ on the YouTube channel ‘Appuppan and The Boys’ and follow Anantharaman’s ‘director brilliance’ on Instagram @anant96_

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