Vampire Bat :: There is a problem with your tongue?
Vampire Owl :: No, its the title of the movie we are going to watch. I couldn’t say it at the ticket counter. So I said this time for Africa.
Vampire Bat :: Isn’t that title in Swahili?
Vampire Owl :: Yes, but if it was in Malayalam, it would include the tongue being at Penta Menaka.
Vampire Bat :: I had first thought that it could be any non-English, non-Malayalam, non-Hindi movie.
Vampire Owl :: People do complain that Malayalam movies are using English titles. So, this should satisfy them.
Vampire Bat :: May be Swahili movies can use Malayalam titles.
Vampire Owl :: This was a big risk though, they were going to cancel the show stating there are not enough people.
Vampire Bat :: Happens with me for at least three out of every ten movies I watch.
[Enters the movie hall].
What is it about? :: Shubha (Bhama) is determined that she will marry only a man working in the United States of America. She and her father are so obsessed with the nation that her mother, uncle and the broker decides to present the next guy as an engineer working in America, instead of being the staff of a company in Africa. As Vinay (Indrajith Sukumaran) sends a visa to her right after their marriage, she can’t wait to get to America, but after told that they are going to the United States through Kenya, she arrives there only to be told that he works there and it was a plan spearheaded by her mother who was disgusted with her not getting an allience due to her need for a groom working in America. Even as he despises him in the beginning, she soon beings to get along. She also becomes friends with the Malayali neighbours who stay nearby, and even gets close to some natives. But then, a death will happen which will change their lives, and they will be on a run from police, gangsters and also a group of natives. At the same time, a man named Anton Kulasingam (Murali Gopy) also enters their lives, giving them no clue as to what is happening. They only know that they somehow need to get to India.
The defence of Naku Penta Naku Taka :: The name of the movie means “I Love You I Need You”, not the title which suits the movie the best, but still there is a nice song in there with the same lines, and it is beautifully done. The big advantage of this movie is that even when the thrill factor is low, the movie uses its ground advantage to work in its favour; with its power of variety, even when it is a little stupid, this one remains cool. The first half an hour of the movie remains really funny, with our leading characters taking control. Then the world goes the thrilling way, and it manages the transformation quite well and the suspense is maintained quite nicely, especially in the first half. Even as the three major incidents which change their lives are different, they are nicely managed and connected as one couldn’t have occurred without the previous one, and the highest points of tension are reached, but not without some amateurish weakness that can be mostly forgiven. The beauty of Kenya is nicely captured and the cinematography department needs some special applause, as Africa’s landscapes and wildlife becomes known to us through this piece of work. We need such movies which are not shot in the usual places like Europe, North America, Middle East and the South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore) – good to see this one going different.
The claws of flaw :: The name of the movie has undoubtedly kept people away from the theatres – even I was sure that this was no Malayalam movie until I was told. It hasn’t succeeded in making the fans believe that the poster is not of a dubbed movie, and only those who follow the films news regularly can know that this is a Malayalam movie with a Swahili name, even as the English name for the other African movie Escape from Uganda was not interesting either. Most of the theatres don’t have this movie being screened either, and that should mean missing lots of business in the local theatres. The movie doesn’t make full use of its resources, neither of the funny side that it begins to explore nor of the thriller side where it attempts to reach. Both areas could have been a lot stronger, considering how well it started and maintained the variety in its presentation. The villain also doesn’t become evil according to the day’s standard, and shooting people is not that bad these days since Joker made The Dark Knight appearance. The ending has no strength, and it is as if it was getting drainer of its power from a few minutes ago. The second half is also inferior to the first half and a few more minutes after the interval which keep us thriller and hoping for something huge. The thrill factor is often low in the latter parts of the movie.
Performances of the soul :: Indrajith Sukumaran, that name is oftten enough to watch a movie which promises variety. Amen and Left Right Left were his class acts last year, and when he comes up with the first big variety of this year (Masala Republic not included), we are indeed interested. He excels in the funny scenes and continues his form into the rest of the story in a nice way. His inherent acting skills is only matched by the cuteness of Bhama who gives a peaceful performance with all its beauty and her own. You have to love her a lot in the beginning stages when she comes to Africa and realizes that her husband lied to her about America. A little more of such stuff could have given her more opportunities, that is for sure. Anusree has just some screen time, and would disappear for a long time only to appear later for a few minutes. Murali Gopy looks stunning throughout the movie, and proves that he is the right option for being Hitman Codename 47 if the game is adapted into Malayalam – well, people copy anything and everything these days, so who knows? It would have been better if he had more evil deeds to commit rather than shooting people; he is menacing in his style and way of talking and acting, but that is all the character has.
Soul exploration :: Naku Penta Naku Taka is a story of love and survival, even as it doesn’t go deep into either of them. As Indrajith and Bhama forms a nice on-screen pair, and the latter is incredibly cute in her expressions, especially with anger and blushing, may be it didn’t feel the need to get them through terror which has even half the power of the hell’s abyss. But the main theme of the movie remains the same, something which it decides to keep away from the dark side up-to an extent. It is the struggle of a husband and wife to escape from the problems that they face in Africa, seemingly similar to Escape from Uganda, but still finding an identity of its own, and the character of Murali Gopy plays a major part in helping the movie to do so. The expectation that this will work out in the level of Left Right Left is clearly wrong, and with the same protagonist who impressed us in that movie as well as Amen, this movie is just the entertainer with variety, not something which one can ponder over for long – Amen and Left Right Left still remains in my mind, and the characters stay there and so do the situations. Naku Penta Naku Taka is not without ideas, but doesn’t make an attempt to try hard with it, or add fire to the same.
How it finishes :: The 2013 movie Escape from Uganda was the first Malayalam movie to be extensively shot in Africa, and may be the only Malayalam movie to be shot in Uganda. If we look at those reviews on the internet, it has received almost the same kind of reception from the internet critics as for this one, or may be worse if we include some specific reviews. If we go outside Malayalam, the one movie we can remember easily should be Maryan, but that is clearly a different story. Naku Penta Naku Taka has to be appreciated for the effort which it has taken, and its bravery to choose to be different. There is one other thing that I like, and that is that this movie is sponsored by tea, as we can see the logo of Gokulam Love Tea on some of the posters of the movie – yes, how can I not watch a movie which has tea advertisements? Tea is such a big part of the life of the Vampire Bat, and this one inspires to drink more; not the best occasion to say this, but what is life without tea? Indrajith fans and future Bhama fans, take this opportunity to check out this movie. This is the movie that you need, to take a break from the inferior work that superstars have been providing us with, and lets take time to appreciate such lesser known works without huge stars; it will only be good for the industry.
Release date: 13th June 2014
Running time: 120 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Vayalar Madhavan Kutty
Starring: Indrajith Sukumaran, Bhama, Murali Gopy, Shankar, Anusree Nair, Sudheer Karamana, Sunil Sugada
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.