Vaashi

Vampire Owl: I did like the trailer enough to go for this particular movie.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we are less interested in watching movies in general.

Vampire Owl: We can’t leave the movies just like that.

Vampire Bat: We are not leaving them. We just don’t watch that many of them.

Vampire Owl: It is a deviation from our earlier policy.

Vampire Bat: There are no permanent policies in a world of chaos.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that chaos hasn’t left our world again.

Vampire Bat: I will not hesitate to say that it is forever.

Vampire Owl: Why is it that humans can’t keep the chaos to themselves?

Vampire Bat: Maybe they are too busy with evil that chaos is no longer deemed necessary.

[Gets a vancho cake and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: Advocate Ebin Mathew (Tovino Thomas) and Advocate Madhavi Mohan (Keerthy Suresh) are collegues who have only started some progress in their field of expertise. While Ebin struggles to find the cases, Madhavi feels that she is wasting her time under a senior lawyer who doesn’t value her at all. Even though Madhavi is not even able to submit documents to the court properly, she blames other for it, and continuously plays the victim card. Advocate Satheesh Mulloor (Baiju Santhosh) tells them that there is a room available for setting up a lawyer’s office. They start working together, also falling in love in the process, and soon, Ebin gets appointed as the public prosecutor, as his influential brother-in-law manages to get his name ahead of the other lawyers trying for the post. Soon, as both of them are forced by their parents to get married, the two finally decide to get together with one another, even though Madhavi feels that she is not ready, as she is not settled yet. She is insecure because she always feels that she is targeted because she is a woman, but in reality, she remains an irritating person who doesn’t know how to talk to people with mutual respect. Ebin gets his first duty in the form of Anusha Shivakumar (Anagha Narayanan) who has filed a case against Gautam Ganesh (Anu Mohan), which goes forward as breach of promise to marry after intercourse.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Anusha had also tried to commit suicide after he had refused to marry her. But it turns out that Ganesh is a relative of Madhavi, and she is forced to take the case, much to the shock and dismay of Ebin, as he sees her in the court in defence of the accused. The two decide to keep the matters of court away from their personal lives in the beginning stages. Even though the two families find their marriage idea with the case going on in the background complicated, they agree to the alliance despite the community differences. But their battle against each other in the court soon begins to cause problems in their personal life, and most of the time, they try not to let anyone else know about the crisis. Ganesh assures Keerthy that he made no promise to marry Anusha at any point of time, and that they didn’t come close to a proposal either. Ebin and Madhavi continues to fight over the case, and the relationship gets to a new low. But the question remains about how far they can go on like this, and also about who will win the case in the end? Who will be the one desiring for a win the most? Where will pride and prejudice lead them?

The defence of Vaashi :: The film is pretty much effective as a courtroom drama, and has its moments to lift the level. It doesn’t make a mess of things even when there were so many chances – it sticks to the points instead of looking for mass masala dialogues like Jana Gana Mana, and there is not that much of a stress on romance and other usual nuisance which comes to ruin a film which deals with the relevant things. The movie has control over the world, and doesn’t go on to add the dialogues to get the claps. There are messages about right and wrong, while also talking about the complicated situation of law, as subjectivity and objectivity might come up with different results every time. It reminds us that people can’t be understood by just feeling that we have known them for very long, and also that balancing work and family is important. The songs are mostly good, even though not that much effective to remember for long. It is the combination of the leading performers that makes this one better – they do make us feel that they are stronger together, and the supporting cast contributes nicely. This is the kind of the movie which makes you feel the need to watch it from the trailer itself.

The claws of flaw :: The emotional side is not that effective unlike how it seems to have been intended. The movie rushes through some of the moments which should have taken more time, while it slows down for no particular reason at times. It doesn’t try to make the point strong enough, and in the end, even though there seems to be valid ideas, there are rather too many of them, and we feel that they bring conflict with each other, as ending struggles. The final talk about no right and wrong being present feels rather foolish, as one just can’t put everything in the grey zone, for good and evil makes the grey, sometimes a lighter version or at other times the darker one. Having one’s own principles matter in life, and trying to be righteous is not a bad thing. You just can’t avoid the opportunity to find the right thing to do, and it is where the spectrum of feel-good films lie, and we appreciate them for the amount of goodness it displays against the chaotic world – the female lead’s ideas also go vague from the beginning itself. In the end, it feels that the movie is trying to lose the meaning rather than to find it by the end.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas has another interesting movie for him, and manages to come up with a fine performance yet again. Minnal Murali star has had the different varieties of movies – Kaanekkaane of the emotional side, Forensic of the thriller side and Kilometers and Kilometers of the funny side. He gets to shine here, more than anyone else, as his character feels that it is the naïve young woman that needs justice as there was manipulation. Keerthy Suresh is back to Malayalam movie industry, and we only hope that she is here to stay. Even though her character does seem irritating in the beginning stages, she gets her moments in the later stages, and finishes off really well – the dialogue from Maayanadhi is nicely used in her speech, providing a reminder that women often get away easily due to the favourable laws and men are punished. Baiju Santhosh has another solid role which is done very well. Anagha Narayanan gets her moments to perform, and she contributes well – she could be the talent that Malayalam cinema industry could use more in future. Anu Mohan also gets a good role to work with after Twenty One Grams, and there is no trouble there either. Rony David also has a notable role which will be remembered. Kottayam Ramesh as magistrate is very much a fine act too. At the same time, Nandu plays the father figure in a convincing manner.

How it finishes :: The movie manages to be an engaging courtroom drama for most of its run-time. There are moments when the struggles appear, but with some other sequences, the movie gets over them. Here, we have something at almost all times to make up for what goes missing, and it is a film of ups and downs, but it talks about two sides of a problem effectively. The idea becomes even more relevant in the contemporary world, as similar cases have been in the news for some time, and one can only wonder if there will be answers to some questions which are raised by such situations. The world is a strange place, and it often struggles to provide truth in a world of lies. The movie also seems to have focused on taking a safe side, as there is no clear conclusion derived around here. It seems to try and make sure that it makes some point, but as it is reluctant to take any risk, the questions remain. Well, this is one movie which was of interest due to the cast and the premise, and considering the same, it has delivered well enough.

Release date: 17th July 2022 (Netflix); 17th June 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Vishnu G Raghav
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Keerthy Suresh, Anagha Narayanan, Anu Mohan, Baiju Sathosh, Rony David, Kottayam Ramesh, G Suresh Kumar, Maya Menon, Sreelakshmi, Nandu, Maya Viswanath, Arya, Vanitha Krishnachandran, RJ Raghu, Meera Nair PS, Amal Rajdev, Vijaya Kumari

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

<<< Click here to go to the thriller of the year.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Keedam

Vampire Owl: The name of this movie is interesting.

Vampire Bat: I also support people to use similar names for their movies.

Vampire Owl: We should also grow some vampire pests at home.

Vampire Bat: Uncle Dracula managed to get rid of the pests after a long struggle.

Vampire Owl: We should use the pests to our advantage.

Vampire Bat: You can’t control these pests at all. Only the witches can do it.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that they might use the pests against us?

Vampire Bat: They are good with such small creatures.

Vampire Owl: Well, I would expect an attack at any moment.

Vampire Bat: You should have faith in at least some witches. We are not so different from each other.

[Gets a masala dosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Radhika Balan (Rajisha Vijayan) lives with her father, Retired Advocate Balan (Sreenivasan) while working as a cyber-security expert at her own start-up company with her partner Vijay (Rahul Riji Nair). She is good friends with CI Charles (Vijay Babu), whom she helps as part of an investigation. Radhika is adamant that one’s privacy should always be respected and that their firm should only help people who have compromised their privacy due to hacking or carlessness. It is then that she accidentally calls a wrong number and Kili Biju (Mahesh Nair) who is on the other side continues to bother her on phone. He gets her name through True Caller App and finds more information about her by searching her name on Facebook. She is frustrated and decides to complain to the police, and things go out of control at the police station. Biju’s friend Thurumbu Aji (Renjit Shekar Nair) is a man who has been on the criminal records for a long time, and was also involved in a murder case – he decides to lead his friends (Anand Manmadhan and Arjun Ranjan) in an attempt to make Radhika’s life a living hell, and doesn’t leave her father out of it either.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: They follow her at her home and office, and also goes on to destroy the reputation of her father – it feels like wherever she goes, they are present at the location. When they decide that they are finally done with Radhika and her father, she decides that this is not the end. She decides to get into their privacy by hacking their mobile phones, so that they won’t think about doing this to anybody else again. Vijay is worried about her actions, and the same is the case of her father, but she is not ready to go back on it. She manages to get into the phone of Biju, and even though it is only revenge that was looking for, she comes across the information that could mean more than that. It turns out that even though they live as scrap-dealers, there is more to them than what meets the eye. They are involved in gold smuggling and other illegal activities, and they work as carriers for different people in different areas. Radhika might be dealing with a little bit too much, and it will be of the best interest for everyone if she backs down, but will she? What will Aji and his group do when they find out that she is spying on their crimes?

The defence of Keedam :: We can see that Keedam chooses a realistic character who doesn’t create any magic within a thriller unlike what is often expected. The female protagonist here does what she has always done the best, and she does the same in style. The messages about cyber security is more or less of a reminder of the world that we are living in, and leaves the idea that we need to be more careful when we are using any electronic device. There are some defining moments here which makes things more interesting. The final moments are indeed thrilling, even though the much needed final closure was not there to be taken. The divergence that the movie possesses is to be appreciated, and unlike some other industries, Malayalam seems to have all those movies, with the makers moving from one category to the other with relative ease, and even coming up classic stuff in between. The father-daughter relationship is shown well, reminding one of the same in Helen and Uyare with Lal-Anna and Siddique-Parvathy, even though the father figure here is more worried and weakened, and still doesn’t trouble her with his lectures much.

The claws of flaw :: Keedam doesn’t use its resources to the best advantage – the premise was so good, and there were so many paths which it could have travelled; there is no limitation in the cyber world. Cyber security is no longer the topic of a selected few, and the rise of Jio and the spread of COVID-19 did change the situation for internet and its unlimited resources which came upon unsuspecting people all of a sudden – most of them were easy prey to cyber problems as they were not ready, and the youth just fell into the mobile gaming trap. The film could have dealt with such problems more effectively like Operation Java. Often, there is the feeling that something is missing in between. As it follows this particular pattern, there is the unconvincing feeling coming up at times. The ending could have also been better, and it didn’t need the forced extra scene there. The movie had also started with Hindi lines with the beginning credits, and that provides the feeling that someone speaking Hindi was involved in crimes or that this happens outside Kerala and Tamil Nadu, a rather strange to do, whatever be the reason.

The performers of the soul :: Rajisha Vijayan who could be a part of the much acclaimed Jai Bhim after the sports drama Kho Kho, once again does an excellent job in another role of interest. There are not many roles which she can’t do in the industry, as she rises above the other actresses with movies having her as main protagonist. She gets into this character which is very much different from her much appreciated roles in June and Finals, and always looks comfortable with the same. Rahul Riji Nair who directs another film with the same lady lead has things in control as the actor too. Sreenivasan is present in the father role, and has done the character of a concerned father well. Vijay Babu plays a sensible police officer with all the qualities which are needed with it. Manikandan Pattambi of Marimayam fame manages the negative character well, and it is his dialogue which seems to give the title to this movie. The rest of the antagonists of the group have managed their roles well, and in a realistic manner, led by Renjit Shekar Nair. For this movie, the choice of antagonists did work in its favour, even though in the end, there should have been more in store for them.
How it finishes :: Keedam is a movie which could have achieved so much more – there was so much potential considering the topic which it was dealing with. But with its idea and the protagonist to be noted, there is another step in the right direction, and it remains very much interesting at the same time too. It is another reminder of Malayalam movie industry’s courage to venture into unfamiliar territories, as it had already done with the superhero stuff in Minnal Murali stuff, while also having one of the most human films in the form of Madhuram releasing in different OTT platforms within the gap of a few days. Rajisha Vijayan might be the best actress we have in Malayalam film industry now, and we know that people don’t get Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress on debut movies just like that as she did in Anuraga Karikkin Vellam. She has dealt with sadness, depression, anger, fear, love and friendship with so much effectiveness in her movies. The movie could have had more for her, but as it seems now, is an entertaining thriller which also has a realistic side in parts.

Release date: 1st July 2022 (ZEE5); 20th May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Riji Nair
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Vijay Babu, Sreenivasan, Manikandan Pattambi, Renjit Shekar Nair, Anand Manmadhan, Mahesh Nair, Rahul Riji Nair, Arjun Ranjan

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

<<< Click here to go to the previous Malayalam film review.

<<< Click here to go to the review of the most anticipated film of the year.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Infinite

Vampire Owl: I have often walked towards infinity.

Vampire Bat: You are not supposed to touch the infinity portal.

Vampire Owl: I never really touched it. I just go near it.

Vampire Bat: Your presence near the infinity portal can be chaotic.

Vampire Owl: I assure you that I have a positive relationship with it.

Vampire Bat: The portals can get into your brain very easily.

Vampire Owl: You mean like the zombies do.

Vampire Bat: I am talking about manipulation of mind.

Vampire Owl: You mean, like the device Doctor Frankenstein invented.

Vampire Bat: Mr Frankenstein invents too many fake things.

[Gets a ghee cake and three cups of Peermade tea].

What is the movie about? :: It is revealed that there are people who are gifted with a perfect memory of all of their past lives, called the Infinites. Among them, there are two groups which try to gain supreme power, one being the Believers, dedicated to using their knowledge for the protection and growth of humanity. The other groups, Nihilists, find this power as a curse – they have the power to end all life on Earth, and only the Believers stand in their way. In the year 1985, a man in chased by a huge group of people including the police, right on the highway. He drives off a bridge and falls to escape from them, while his associates are killed by a strange man with a powerful explosive weapon. In the present, many years after the incidents, it is shown that a man named Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg) has schizophrenia, and he feels that his dreams are his memories. As he has a history of violence, he struggles to get a job, and is one step away from paying the bills. This just don’t seem to work for him as he sees things and takes anti-psychotic drugs.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: For some reason, he is able to do things that he has no idea about. He was never trained to be a bladesmith, but manages to create too strong a sword. He tries to sell it to the local gangsters, but as their leader try to cut a girl’s hand off, he intervenes only start a fight. He end up being arrested by the police. In the police station, he meets Bathurst (Chiwetel Ejiofor) a man who keeps calling him by another name, and talks about his past in this life and others. He also threatens to kill him if he doesn’t bring his memories back. As Bathrust has almost made him memorize some of the things, Nora Brightman (Sophie Cookson) arrives in a bullet proof car and saves him, as the two manage to outsmart Bathurst. After escaping, he feels that he is having another psychotic episode and will soon wake up in a hospital. Nora tells him that his visions are realities from other lives. He says that whatever he is doing now are possible due to the special skills that he used to have in another life.

And what more is to follow in this world of different lives in chaos :: Nora tells him that there are about five hundred of them with the ability to remember their past lives – the skills from their earlier lives also stay with them. She tells him that she is one of the Believers who understand that their gift is a responsibility unlike the Nihilists who see the curse in it. The Believers have to act fast enough to make sure that the Nihilists won’t cause the end of all life on Earth. Both groups believe that Evan is the reincarnation of Heinrich Treadway from that event in the past where he drives off the highway to his fall. He is taken to the location known as the Hub, which is located quite far away that they have to use an airplane. He meets many other members of the group, who hopes that he is really the person they are looking for. There, he understands that Bathurst was once a part of their group, and that they were friends – then he had lost his faith and turned to another side. Bathurst wishes for the world to end so that there would be no more reincarnation – there should be no life on this world to reincarnate into. Can he and his people be stopped?

The defence of Infinite :: This movie does have sci-fi elements strong. There is also the presence of enough action around here. The world is well-created, and the secret area is a beautiful space with a lot of detail about it. There are multiple action sequences that will be remembered, starting from the protagonist’s escape from the prison and the last one feels the most significant among them. The special effects are nicely used to support this, and there is some fine computer generated imagery that powers them all. It does have Mark Wahlberg, who has been the one actor whom we have preferred in the action movies, and he blends in here quite well too. It is good to see Sophie Cookson in a full action thriller having all the seriousness, instead of going through the Kingsman nonsense of the lowest level. She becomes a lovely action star in this one. Chiwetel Ejiofor makes a strong villain, except for a little struggle in the end. Wallis Day and Kae Alexander are two other notable performers in there with some extra action.

Positives and negatives :: The thoughts about memories and reincarnations makes one feel like going back to a few Bollywood movies of the 1990s – there is no value to them now, except for bringing up the nostalgia again and again, as they were rather too emotional, a lot more than needed. The movie could have used the preface even better, with much more of the grandeur here. There is so much of potential around here, that much to actually go on to become a cult classic with reincarnations, but it doesn’t seem to try that much. Taking the risks doesn’t seem to be this movie’s method of going forward, as it does feed the usual at times. The movie’s success is a lot in its mystery which is always there, and there is also the fact that they have successfully created a world which fits in the willing suspension of disbelief for most of the time. I find it rather surprising that the critics didn’t find the movie to be that good – it is certain that if it had released here before the corona virus pandemic, it would have brought in a lot of money.

How it finishes :: Infinite is as much an interesting work of science fiction as many others which bring something innovative at all times, whether it is The Matrix, Jupiter Ascending, Reminiscence, Free Guy or anything else which remains similar and different at the same time. It is a smooth journey which remains engaging at all times. Well, it is not easy to bring a science fiction concept out of nowhere and make it work with efficiency. The same seems to have been achieved here with the help of a new world, something which is so well-created and managed. As a movie talking about reincarnations, it does leave a message that despite the fact that we do fall, there is a chance to try again – it is pretty much a positive message, but one does wonder if depending on one to reincarnate will be the best option in that case. Well, the movie is indeed an entertaining one, and it does leave us hope that we all will get out second chances – in a world like this, mistakes might be the only thing that comes right, and instead of reincarnation after death, what we might need is a resurrection, just not in the form of a mindless zombie.

Release date: 10th June 2021
Running time: 106 minutes
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Sophie Cookson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jason Mantzoukas, Rupert Friend, Toby Jones, Dylan O’Brien, Wallis Day, Tom Hughes, Raffiella Chapman, Kae Alexander, Liz Carr

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.