Paappan

Vampire Owl: So, we are going to see Suresh Gopi’s true return.

Vampire Bat: Well, this is indeed the return which we have been waiting for.

Vampire Owl: So, the earlier return won’t count at all?

Vampire Bat: Some returns are more important than others.

Vampire Owl: In some cases, there are too many returns which make it insignificant.

Vampire Bat: Well, this should be the one grand return.

Vampire Owl: We are no strangers to grand returns.

Vampire Bat: Uncle Dracula’s returns would not count.

Vampire Owl: A vampire return is of fine significance too.

Vampire Bat: Not for a vampire that comes alive many times.

[Gets an onion vada and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: A dead body is discovered in a forest by some youngsters, and it is rumoured to be that of super star Ravi Varman (Rahul Madhav), but turns out to be that of his driver Rajan (Sreejith Ravi) who was the initial suspect for this particular murder. ASI Raghavan (Nandhu), SI Sabu (Abhishek Raveendran) and SI Soman (Tini Tom) are the first two police officers on the scene, and the case is transferred to be handled by ASP Vincy Abraham IPS (Neeta Pillai) under the order of SP Bhaskar Shenoy IPS (Vijayaraghavan). The murder seems to have been committed with much brutality. The evidences including the mode of operation and use of weapon seem to point to a former serial killer Iruttan Chacko (Shammi Thilakan) who is known to choose lone male victims at night randomly. CI Abraham Mathew Mathan (Suresh Gopi) who is affectionately called Pappan is asked to assist in the case as he was the one who caught Chacko earlier after a series of incidents which led to the death of his wife, Nancy (Nyla Usha).

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: These incidents which followed her mother’s death made Vincy move away from Abraham, who had taken Michael (Gokul Suresh) and his mother Sussan (Kaniha) under his wing, which complicated things further. Abraham is sure that it is not Chacko who committed these murders, but someone who might be inspired by it. Vincy is married to a thatre artist named Sidharth (Chandunath), and the news that she is pregnant makes things only a little better between them. A retired forensic expert Dr Pattabhiraman (Janardhanan) provides further evidence to Abraham related to Chacko’s case. Things get further complicated when another forensic surgeon Dr Sherly Somasundaram (Asha Sharath) seems to be attacked, and that is completely beyond the facts which the police had figured out. Sidharth is worried about Vincy taking too much of worries when pregnant. Can Abraham, Vincy or anyone find the truth behind these murders? Who would copy Chacko and become a similar murderer just because there is some grudge which has stayed for long?

The defence of Paappan :: The quality which has been associated with the movie needs to be appreciated. It is also a feature of the main characters of the film who maintains a higher level. The movie maintains the thrills and the suspense is present till the end. There is the presence of some fine red herrings around here, and the viewers are kept guessing without exaggerating the elements of strength. The procedure of investigation is portrayed well along with a certain emotional side associated here and there. Some spirit of a few older movies is maintained here. The film is also quick to get going as the murder happens rather too early, and the flashbacks just fit into the forward movement. The visuals are really good, and the area as well as the moments of terror are well-captured. There are no exaggerated dialogues or action being overdone. There is also the importance of maintaining balance between one’s family and duty being asserted, and the reminder that past could always manage to return to haunt all humans. There is the journey away from stereotypes during multiple occasions.

Positives and negatives :: The inability of Paappan to keep the last few minutes effective is rather disappointing, and the revelation of the secondary villain also lacks the same effectiveness in a movie which was going in a classic mode until then. There is the feeling that there are not enough actors to play some of the important roles even with so many big names out there. The fight scenes in the end seem to keep repeating as if in a loop, and we are made to keep wondering if it would ever end – the length of the movie is felt to be long in the last few moments than the longer periods of time when investigation goes on. For a movie like this, the usual ending was not supposed to be the right one. The flashback tale is too weak as we have a look at it. But one could still think about this movie without paying too much attention to the unnecessary details. After all, this is all about the murders, killers and the police officers set to solve the riddle – the basic thing remains to hold on to the strengths without fail.

The performers of the soul :: Suresh Gopi and Gokul Suresh have come together for the first time in a movie here. The return of the former is a grand one this time, and it has the troubles of the previous Kaaval return removed well. He is once again the police officer that we continue to love. The one person who catches our attention more than the others is Neeta Pillai, who does such a fantastic job as the leading investigator of a series of murders. Years after her first work in Poomaram, this is one work which makes her a solid performer above many other actresses who debuted in the last few years. In comparison, the role of Gokul Suresh is smaller, but maintains a fine presence in a role which also makes a difference. Shammi Thilakan’s role is a very much impressive one, and he maintains a realistic side to it. It is always nice to see Dayyana Hameed of Star Magic fame and Yuvam in the small, but notable roles too, but we would hope for more of her. Sadhika Venugopal of Star Magic is also notable here. Nyla Usha’s role in flashback is pretty much okay. Asha Sharath has her moments, while Ajmal Ameer’s role feels forced. Kaniha does the predictable role well.

How it finishes :: We never have enough of investigation thrillers which make an impact with the smartness factor effectively used. The thrillers like John Luther and Twenty One Grams successfully became the murder investigations of quality rising above the more hyped films with murder investigations, like CBI 5: The Brain. This movie also gets to that better level rather than going for the superstar exaggeration which often becomes the biggest flaw of thrillers leading with murder mysteries. There are no shortage of psycho killers who can become part of such movies, as we have had films like Forensic with the murderers who had no true motive, like revenge or hatred. A little bit more of attention could have made sure that this movie could become one of the best of its kind. Well, there are more movies which can come up with similar investigations, and after corona virus pandemic having its say, thrillers have surely done better.

Release date: 7th September 2022 (ZEE 5), 29th July 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 170 minutes
Directed by: Joshiy
Starring: Suresh Gopi, Neeta Pillai, Gokul Suresh, Asha Sharath, Nyla Usha, Kaniha, Vijayaraghavan, Chandunath, Janardhanan, Nandhu, Ajmal Ameer, Abhishek Raveendran, Tini Tom, Shammi Thilakan, Dayyana Hameed, Sadhika Venugopal, Baiju Jose, Sreejith Ravi, Rahul Madhav, Jewel Mary, Manasa Radhakrishnan, Malavika Menon, Rosin Jolly, Preetha Pradeep, Chali Pala, Nirmal Palazhi, Sajitha Madathil, Srikanth Murali, Madan Mohan, Benzi Mathews, Nandhu Pothuval, Kottayam Ramesh, Sinoj Varghese, Savithri Sreedharan, Sanuja Somanath, Parvathi T, Saniya Babu, Baby Kanmani, Jordi Poonjar, Sundarapandiyan, George Abraham

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Thallumaala

Vampire Owl: I heard that this movie is all about fights.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the title does signify the same.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that there could be more fights in our realm too?

Vampire Bat: We don’t have such small fights. We have only wars.

Vampire Owl: Maybe the wars could be reduced to smaller fights.

Vampire Bat: The smaller fights are not of relevance.

Vampire Owl: They can help stop the bigger wars.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that zombies and werewolves won’t agree to that.

Vampire Owl: Well, Uncle Dracula might agree.

Vampire Bat: For that, he requires a champion. The protagonist of this movie could serve as one in an undead state.

[Gets a marble cake and three cups of mint tea].

What is the movie about? :: There is a fight between Manavaalan Wazim (Tovino Thomas) and SI Reji Mathew (Shine Tom Chacko), and it is a one on one battle while their friends look on. The reason for this fight goes back by a few years, and there is a score to settle. A long time ago, Wazim was someone who usually got into fights, and after the pandemonium was over, he made friends with those who fought with him – the fights develop into a friends ciricle which includes him along with Jamshi (Lukman Avaran), Sathaar (Swathi Das Prabhu), Vikas (Adhri Joe) and Rajesh (Austin Dan). At the same time, he had also fallen in love with Fathima Beevi (Kalyani Priyadarshan), a famous Instagram and Youtube sensation based in UAE, even though she has her roots in Kerala. Despite her early doubts, she soon becomes assured that he could be the one for her, and manages to convince her parents to let her marry the man, even though none of her relatives have a good opinion about her – some of them even think that he is a useless young man who is of no good to the society.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Wazim’s parents (Johny Antony and Neena Kurup) had already ceased having good opinions about him. They want him to go and do some job in Dubai rather than wander around Ponnani town and pick up fights. After starting a fight with Siyad (Noushad Ali), and after they burn down Wazim’s father’s theatre, he is forcibly sent to the Middle East. But when he comes back, he starts another fight, this time with the group led by Reji – it lands them in the hospital, but hopes for revenge. Reji who wants to make up with them is not accepted with them, as everyone other than him and Wazim seems to be upset whenever the other group is seen around. Kalapurakkal David (Binu Pappu) who was part of Reji’s gang had warned against the two groups seeing each other again, but the situation seems to be in favour of both teams fighting each other again. At the same time, there is also a pending fight with Omega Babu (Chemban Vinod Jose) and Jamshi is depressed about it as he often remembers being beaten up by him. So, can Wazim fight these battles along with being able to marry Fathima?

The defence of Thallumaala :: This is the one movie which you might want to watch if there is the need for seeing a lot of fighting on the big screen. The movie also remains colourful throughout its run, and the visuals are really good. The humour works well during most of the time, and they have really added some fine doses of comedy in between to elevate the level of the film. There is the reminder of masculine ego which is hurt, as it was in Maheshinte Prathikaaram, where two women do talk about the madness of the major male characters who decide to go on an unnecessary fight. The audience will keep getting fights over fights, and in the end, they will have the feeling of having watched a big adventure with fists and legs as the main character never stop thinking about fights even if they cease to believe in love and the other common things in a movie. Some of the songs remain very notable, especially for the different kind of treatment. There are those dance moves which were already seen in the released songs. The world becomes different with this movie, and there is no need to have any outside interference related to this.

The claws of flaw :: Thallumaala‘s trailer had already given the feeling that this was going to be about fights, but it takes a lot of steps towards meaningless fights starting out of nowhere. The trailer itself was indeed confusing up to an extent. The first half takes some time get to be interesting, and most of the engaging moments can be seen as happening in the second half. The romantic side is rather strange around here, as there seems to be no real reason for the incidents to happen and turn the hero and heroine to marriage, especially for the lady who is very rich and remains an Instagram sensation who is adored by so many people all around the world. The story is not that strong, with most of the incidents in the film having not much of a meaning. The show of the sequence of events in also everywhere, and we don’t see anything occurring straight enough. In the first half, the tale keeps moving through different timelines as if they have a time machine – everything is basically everywhere to keep the audience confused. There were many things which could be added and also removed around here as there is struggle to be overcome.

The performers of the soul :: It is indeed great to see Tovino Thomas in a different avatar around here. His roles in Vaashi, Naaradan, Minnal Murali, Kaanekkaane, Kilometers and Kilometers and Forensic were all different, as he played superhero, lawyer, journalist, forensic expert and many others in a short period of time, and he has done the same with some fine skills. This role will be something to remember for him, as he also seems to get younger with this one, as this reckless youth is also of variety. Shine Tom Chacko indeed shines in this work, and he seems to perfectly suit the character. It would seem like the right thing to have him Soubin Shahir who dropped out of the film, as a character like this one requires Shine. Kalyani Priyadarshan, even though becomes the leading actress, has much less to do for the progress of the tale, and in between the fights which are supposed to happen at all times, would be happening with or without her presence in Kerala. Among the friends, it is Lukman Avaran who stands out, as he seem to blend in here like no other. In the other gang, Binu Pappu remains notable – in both gangs, all of them are indeed of relevance. Johny Antony’s father role is lovable, and Shafi Kollam of Star Magic fame gets a fine role to perform. Chemban Vinod Jose is there but with not much to do.

How it finishes :: Among the releases set around Independence Day and a week beyond, this particular movie seems to have the advantage over the others. It cannot be considered as the better film among these choices, but is surely the one flick that seems to attract the young audience to the theatres more than any other. The film makes us wonder if the only thing that the new generation does is to fight, and whether everything is solved by fighting with each other, a disappointing trend for a movie which has Mahatma Gandhi as the father of the nation, and after seventy five years post getting independence. Yet, there is the assurance of entertainment, and the funny side often makes sure that the fighting does not feel too cruel around here. It is to be noted that Shine Tom Chacko brings this movie back to life so well, and we end up wanting his character to win in the end. Well, this variety for sure, and it is not in the story, but in what surrounds it, as we are introduced to the one real fight movie in the Malayalam film industry. It is also realistic if we consider the number of random fights which have broken out in the state for no reason, and adorn the news.

Release date: 12th August 2022
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: Khalid Rahman
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Shine Tom Chacko, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Chemban Vinod Jose, Lukman Avaran, Binu Pappu, Johny Antony, Neena Kurup, Gokulan, Swathi Das Prabhu, Adhri Joe, Austin Dan, Assim Jamal, Shafi Kollam, VP Khalid, Noushad Ali, Bhanumathi Payyannur, Ann Salim, Mashar Hamsa, James Elia, Unni Raja, Mohammed Eravattoor, Anand Bal, Satheesh Kumar, Balan Parakkal, Babu Annur, Nasar Karutheni, Salim Kumar (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nna Thaan Case Kodu

Vampire Owl: The movie had become the big talk during these days.

Vampire Bat: It was related to the pot-holes on the roads.

Vampire Owl: Well, vampires don’t really need the roads.

Vampire Bat: Humans are really in need of some good roads.

Vampire Owl: I have heard that Doctor Frankenstein has developed a formula for it.

Vampire Bat: He cannot even prepare the levitating ground for vampires.

Vampire Owl: Sir Frankenstein is a much better scientist than what you think.

Vampire Bat: Well, you cannot depend on pseudo-scientists at all times.

Vampire Owl: He will prove his worth as an award winning scientist this year itself.

Vampire Bat: You keep waiting for it for an eternity.

[Gets an onion vada and three cups of butterscotch ice cream].

What is the movie about? :: Rajeevan (Kunchacko Boban) has been living as a thief for most of his life, and has been in and out of prison many times after being caught for such small thefts. He meets Devi (Gayathrie Shankar), a Tamil labourer, and after falling in love with her, decides to stop all illegal activities and start a family. One night, as Rajeevan returns after a temple festival, he almost gets hit by an auto rickshaw, which makes him jump over a wall – he lands in the frontyard of the local MLA’s house and is bitten by his pet dogs, only to be accused of trying to rob the politician’s home. The police and the locals believe the accusation as he has had a history of being thief, something written clearly in the police records. Devi who knows his history also suspects him, and despite her being pregnant, does not want him to be anywhere near him. Rajeevan decides that he has to prove his innocence, and also wishes to punish the person who is responsible for his plight, and for the same, he starts with finding the auto rickshaw.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He starts by finding Sureshan (Rajesh Madhavan) who was driving the auto rickshaw called Aayiram Kannumayi, and it turns out that he lost control of the vehicle as he came across a pickup truck which was driven by Johny (Sibi Thomas) tried to avoid hitting a bicycle which fell into a pot-hole in front of MLA’s house. This makes the PWD minister KP Preman (Kunhikannan Cheruvathoor) the man responsible for these sequences of events which led to Rajeevan being bitten by the dogs and branded as a thief again. He takes the advice of Advocate Gangadharan (Gangadharan Kuttamath) who is an old acquaintance – he also decides to help him in the case, even though there is not much of a hope in fighting against a cabinet minister. Even though they manage to get Chief Minister Deepa (Unnimaya Prasad) accept the complaint and approve of action, proving it in the court would be a more difficult thing. The politicians and their goons along with their money power would make things tough, but can he come out of it and hold the minister responsible for the pot-holes on the road?

The defence of Nna Thaan Case Kodu :: The satire has not been used that effectively in Malayalam movies in this century, with only a few exceptions going beyond it. But this movie has made sure that it is done well, and this time, it has also worked well with the common family audience too. The movie also serves as a reminder that Kunchacko Boban has evolved a lot, while we also realize that there are so many skilled newcomers waiting to make their appearance in the films – Malayalam movie industry seems to be taking a lot of them, unlike Bollywood which has always rooted itself in nepotism without shame. The movie scores with situational comedy as the court proceedings go on. There are also some smart dialogues added to the same, some of them which makes us think about our plight, and it does make fun of those in power whenever possible. The advantage of this movie as well as Vaashi is that they are not ridiculously loud and spitting mass dialogues like Jana Gana Mana did as if the court belonged to the protagonist’s father. We will remember this movie for the moments which focus on what the common man needs.

The claws of flaw :: With its use of the idea, Nna Thaan Case Kodu could not go on to become something like the perfect satire Sandesam and the near-perfect satirical comedy Pranchiyettan and The Saint – it falls short of making such a usage. It could have done a lot more with the content which was there to be used. There is a certain amount of lag which we also feel, as the movie goes long with the programmes in the court. The language is difficult to follow at times, and unlike Solamante Theneechakal, there is not Malayalam or English subtitle for the Tamil dialogues here, and neither it is present for the Kasargode slang which is much divergent from the same language used in other parts of the state. Maybe they could have used English subtitles for the whole movie, at least for the theatres which were part of the multiplexes in shopping malls. We also do feel that some of the situations displayed here might not be possible – even though we feel the realism, we wonder if such things can ever be possible in real life fighting against the political dominance. The tale required some extra punch to make sure that it goes to the next level.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban had shown signs of changing track from the old romantic hero and the man of humour through the thrillers like Anjaam Paathira, Nayattu, Pada and Nizhal, and even moved further from the true love elements with his Bheemante Vazhi. This one has him in another avatar which we are going to remember, as it is so much dependent on him, even though other performers are not far behind with the moments that they get – the problem is that we don’t really know the names of most of them, but we can appreciate them as a whole, as the cast seems be very well prepared to suit the world of this movie. Gayathrie Shankar makes a fine entry into Malayalam cinema, but as she plays a Tamil labourer and never speaks anything in Malayalam, the true entrance to the industry would still have to wait – she has surely come with a very good supporting performance though. Among the actors, Gangadharan Kuttamath who plays the protagonist’s advocate and PP Kunhikrishnan who plays the magistrate are to be specially noted. But most of the humour is effectively handled by Rajesh Madhavan and his lover, whose name we don’t know – their moments led to to the whole theatre breaking into laughter.

How it finishes :: Nna Thaan Case Kodu has been in the news for a few days after its release as it talked about the pot-holes on the road in Kerala in its poster, and it lead to the call for boycott of the film by some of the followers of the ruling party, but the PWD minister himself said that a movie is to be seen as the work of art. There were many discussions related to the same in the television channels. Anyway, it is nice to see that the movie has risen above all of these to become the most watched film in the theatres these days, and as a work of satire, it holds a fine mirror in front of the audience. It not just a reminder of the pot-holes which have been bothering the people of Kerala for a long time, but also a reflection of the irresponsible politicians who have gained victory over their opponents because the options were less. The movie can be considered as a protest against all the MLAs, MPs and ministers not just in Kerala, but also in the centre, as politics should not be the last refuge for anyone or the result of nepotism, but an opportunity to serve the people. This movie is indeed the needed satire of these times.

Release date: 11th August 2022
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Gayathrie Shankar, Rajesh Madhavan, Basil Joseph, PP Kunhikrishnan, Sibi Thomas, Kunhikannan Cheruvathoor, AV Balakrishnan, Shukkur, Gangadharan Kuttamath, Mridul Nair, Unnimaya Prasad, Bhanumathi Payyannur

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Heaven

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Uncle Dracula is going to heaven?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that vampires have a different afterlife.

Vampire Owl: You mean beyond heaven and hell?

Vampire Bat: Somewhere in between, to be exact.

Vampire Owl: Are you talking about the purgatory?

Vampire Bat: I wouldn’t know before death, but there would surely be blood.

Vampire Owl: Well, as long as there is blood, I am okay with it.

Vampire Bat: You don’t really take the blood substitute anymore?

Vampire Owl: Until Doctor Frankenstein invents the perfect substitute, I won’t.

Vampire Bat: Then, be assured that it will a long wait, because that pseudo-doctor and scientist with fake degree is involved.

[Gets a paneer puffs and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: A group of NCC cadets discover a dead body in the forest area where they were camping for the holidays from their school. The first police officer to the scene is Bijoy Kuruvilla (Sudev Nair), and the dead person is identified to be Fabian John (Deepak Parambol), with the help of the forensic experts who are led by Narayana Swami (Joy Mathew). According to the descriptions from the witnesses and circumstancial evidences, the police discover the murderer to be none other than Peter Kurishingal (Suraj Venjaramoodu), another police officer. Then, the movie gets a flashback when Peter is in charge of a police station in a village. He had only recently lost his wife, and has a number of cases for investigation, which he takes very seriously so that he can use them to forget the grief of loss. His mother Mariyam Kurisingal (Vinaya Prasad) takes care of his only son, as he remains mostly busy as a strict police officer. But things get worse as he comes up against a case which would prove to be personal for him, as a family is murdered, and along with them, he also find his son’s dead body, much to his shock.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Peter’s subordinate Sukumara Pillai (Alencier Ley Lopez) is posted in the case with the new officer in charge of the investigation, Inspector Kishore (Padmaraj Ratheesh) who seems to be solving the case rather quickly, and a man named Stephen (Jaffar Idukki) confesses to have committed the crime with an immigrant labourer from West Bengal, as part of an attempted robbery. Peter has his doubts, but as one of the victims is his son, his superior officer Revathi Subramaniam (Abhija Sivakala) declines him an opportunity to be part of the investigation team, but lets him have a look at it as part of a parallel investigation for which he would be solely responsible. Soon, he discovers that the man who is accused of murder, Stephen actually had nothing to do with it. This home named Heaven, where the murders took place, seem to have more than one secrets to be discovered. His discoveries soon lead to him taking over the case after joining back on duty. But it remains to be seen if he will like what he would discover.

The defence of Heaven :: Here is one more addition to the smart thrillers of our times with some fine red herrings. The investigation shown in the movie feels solid, and so does the emotional side. The movie achieves its motives without exaggerating anything at any moment. There are twists till the end of the movie, and we see that it has nicely solved the puzzles to come strong in the end with enough strength. The realistic mode is maintained while bringing up the thrills and twists, and it surely feels like something which could happen during these days when different crimes are part of the news more than ever. Even the police procedures seem to be much accurate, and it doesn’t seem to venture into those areas where the smartness of the audience is questioned; maybe it is because the film chooses to have no such superstars who have so many fans wishing for their favourite actor to destroy evil like a fallen angel. Well, this movie is also something with fallen angels, but it knows how to keep it realistic. This is the kind of film that can teach valuable lessons for Bollywood which has its non-performers coming out of nepotism, not able to emote.

The positives and negatives :: The visuals are really good, and the camera is particularly good in capturing the emotions of Suraj Venjaramoodu, with all the grief which is part of the character’s life. The moments after the son’s death is as emotional as it can get, and it is only matched by the determination in his face that comes up later. There are the inner and outer battle shown here are with their own relevance. Heaven does not hesitate in going through the emotional path of the police officer and his investigation, just like it was seen in the movie Memories which had that abiding sadness in it which would return to haunt the viewer. The movie could have actually focused on the darker side even more. The return to the initial moments come rather too late, and due to the same, people might have actually forgotten the events which had happened earlier. The movie does slow down after the deaths and following emotional troubles, and it could have used a serial killer instead of the usual vengeance ideas being repeated. The music doesn’t feel as that great in comparison to some of the other thrillers which dealt with similar themes.

The performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu handles the regretful cop role really well, and it reminds us of his earlier movie Pathaam Valavu, where he had also lost his child. The helpless and lack of hope can be seen on one side, while there is smartness on the other. He is the police officer and father to remember. The emotional struggle which was best displayed in Kaanekkaane, and added with mass in Jana Gana Mana and Driving License works really well here too, as he is indeed one of the best actors to go through a strong emotional side. The biggest support to him is provided by Alencier Ley Lopez who makes a fine cop in a supporting role; I had felt that John Luther could have really used him as a police officer too. The actors like Sudheesh and Jaffer Idukki add more of an emotional side to the film with their shorter presence. Vinaya Prasad also has the emotional grandmother role. Padmaraj Ratheesh and Sudev Nair also makes some fine police officers. Abhija Sivakala as the superior police officer is also solid. Deepak Parambol’s as well Nimisha Sajayan’s smaller roles are effective too. The collection of performers here makes sure that there is something interesting about all of them.

How it finishes :: Heaven gets into the list of interesting thrillers including the recently released Twenty One Grams and Solamante Theneechakal, as well as many others which came earlier. After all, the thrillers of this world mean more than just Drishyam. The movie working a lot better than the heavily hyped movies like CBI 5: The Brain is a reminder that we have some new names who can do the same thing better. Well, this is the kind of film which can never work for Bollywood as the sons and daughters of superstars would not agree to act in movies which cannot progress without throwing hundreds of villains around. Movies like this should open their eyes to the idea that there is the need for more thinking differently, or the drought in Bollywood of blockbusters is going to continue forever. Bollywood’s fight with its own incompetence might be forever, but during those times, Malayalam movie industry, just like the other South Indian film industries, is coming up with some fine works of quality which are to be remembered.

Release date: 19th August 2022 (Hotstar); 17th June 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Unni Govindraj
Starring: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Sudev Nair, Sminu Sijo, Sudheesh, Joy Mathew, Alencier Ley Lopez, Jaffer Idukki, Vinaya Prasad, Abhija Sivakala, Deepak Parambol

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Makal

Vampire Owl: I feel that this refers to the daughters of darkness.

Vampire Bat: Uncle Dracula refers to to the children of darkness, but they are different.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that darkness can have many undead children.

Vampire Bat: Yet, most of them are also the children of chaos.

Vampire Owl: You just cannot have such children roaming around.

Vampire Bat: The witches would not mind that.

Vampire Owl: They wouldn’t, while looking for some special ingredients for potions.

Vampire Bat: It has somewhat gone out of fashion, especially after the hunters started targeting the lesser witches of the woods.

Vampire Owl: The witches will still maintain most of their features.

Vampire Bat: The future of witches is yet to be finalized.

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

What is the movie about? :: Juliet (Meera Jasmine) lives with her daughter Aparna (Devika Sanjay) who is studying in plus two, and preparing for medical entrance. Aparna’s father Nandakumar (Jayaram) had been working as a mechanic in the Middle East for a long time, and finally returns to Kerala after losing his job. As Nandakumar and Juliet comes from different religious, social and economic backgrounds, there is more complication here. He starts a food processing unit with the name Pravasi Food Products which gains some initial success. But it seems that the products need more publicity, as sales in the supermarkets stay at an all-time low, and he is forced to find some other methods for support. Meanwhile, Rohit (Naslen K Gafoor) keeps trying to get closer to Aparna. He even becomes a part of Nandakumar’s factory in the disguise of a migrant worker from West Bengal. He keeps trying to make an impression upon Nandakumar until finally getting caught. Nandakumar and Aparna go through regular arguments related to her dog being inside the house, the problem reaching its highest point when the dog goes missing.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: When Juliet finally gets a government job in Wayanad, things get more complicated. There is the generation gap which is always present, and misunderstandings also exist. Aparna driving the car without a license becomes another common reason for fights. Even Nandakumar doesn’t have an Indian license, and he doesn’t like the car as it was given by Juliet’s family. He also feels tha Aparna is getting too close to her male friends. Meanwhile, Juliet arranges her stay with her co-worker Fathima (Dayyana Hameed), and is not able to take off on weekends to go home and meet her husband and daughter. Premlal (Kottayam Ramesh), the superior officer at the collectorate where she works is not ready to provide any relief to the employees. It is then that something strange happens in their life, as an unknown person also becomes part of their life – coming from Karnataka, Garuda Naik (Balaji Manohar) is a man of mystery. This would change their perspective about father-daughter relationship. But will that come a little too late for their liking?

The defence of Makal :: This family drama moves forward with a touch of humour, which seems to work very well with the audience for whom it is intended. The messages for the families related to parenting and family attachment are always there, as one would expect from this kind of a movie. Most of the struggles shown here feels very much real, and the problems with a new generation of teenagers are portrayed close to reality. It shows how difficult it is to take care of the new generation of such teenagers who rarely listen to their parents, despite seemingly staying with them and using their money for what seems to be forever. As this kind of movies are not easy to find among the categories these days, it is good to see this one coming back too. The emotional sequences are mostly working, and the credit to the same goes to a certain amount of nostalgia that goes towards the past. These are the kind of movies which takes us into the past, and places that world in the contemporary world, and we remember the values which are rarely present during these days when there is a new generation descending into chaos – it can be lamented, while the feel-good factor of this film is strong.

The claws of flaw :: There are many unnecessary sequences in the movie which makes one feel that they lose the focus on regular intervals. With better focus, some of the dialogues and situations wouldn’t have found light in relation to this particular movie, which had the potential for much more. The feeling of being outdated is also there at times. The major twist which happens in the movie is indeed the strangest addition which feels rather unwanted, and a movie which was going the realistic path seems to struggle in finding some realism from that moment. Before the incident, there were also the repetitions which never hesitate to appear out of nowhere. One would feel that some characters should have had more purpose around here. Some moments just gets added to bring more humour in here. Even the main characters seem to be irritating at times, but considering how the real-life people go about, blaming them for being so feels rather difficult. The small romantic angle added here seems to serve nothing other than some humour and a little bit more of emotions, even though all of these were already there.

The performers of the soul :: Jayaram has been having some skill in maintaining this kind of family-oriented films, and that quality is still here, even though the world has changed a little too much from those early times. The fatherly figure has suited him very well for some time now. Meera Jasmine makes her return to Malayalam cinema industry as a grand one, as she is the leading lady again, maybe marking a permanent stay around here. Devika Sanjay who was earlier seen in Njan Prakashan is the one person whom we notice more than anyone else, as she once again scores in playing the teenager with the usual problems which are reflective of the new generation. Naslen K Gafoor of Thanneer Mathan Dinangal and Kuruthi kind of variety and most recently seen in Jo and Jo, has much less to do, but still adds to the humour really well – still, this is a character with minimal impact on the tale. Sreenivasan makes a notable, but less influential appearance here too. Innocent and Siddique remain strong as the veterans. The smaller roles of Nilja K Baby and Dayyana Hameed would also be remembered, and the two are surely going to make it big sooner or later.

How it finishes :: It is clear that the audience intended for this particular movie are the groups which come to the theatre as families. For the other audience, this would seem like something which they have already seen. The movie released on the OTT platform much later than the other, and it comes as a surprise as it could have easily grabbed more viewers with an earlier release. It is late by at least two months, and such a delay would have been heart-breaking for the fans of Meera Jasmine waiting to see her return. We have known what Sathyan Anthikad movies have been capable of, and not much change has come across them. We can still feel the absence of some common names which were part of the cast in his most films, some of them not alive anymore and others not being there for some reason. Well, the 1980s and 1990s were the classic ages of the director, and it is clear that he still have the power of the same family values to be brought to the audience. One can accept them or choose to reject, but these works which has the minimum guarantee are not to be avoided. Most of our parents would always prefer to watch movies like this one.

Release date: 18th August 2022 (Manorama MAX); 29th April 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Sathyan Anthikad
Starring: Jayaram, Meera Jasmine, Siddique, Sreenivasan, Innocent, Devika Sanjay, Dayyana Hameed, Naslen K Gafoor, Meera Nair, Sreedhanya, Balaji Manohar, Jayashankar Karimuttam, Nilja K Baby, Althaf Salim, Sreelatha Namboothiri, Kottayam Ramesh, Krishna Praba, Mani Shornur, Salim Hasan

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Solamante Theneechakal

Vampire Owl: Do you think that there could be honeybees in this movie?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the bees are different in this case.

Vampire Owl: I was looking forward to see a vampire bee.

Vampire Bat: There has been no bee which has been turned into a vampire.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has transformed a few.

Vampire Bat: They are pseudo vampires. They won’t count.

Vampire Owl: You continue to show your prejudice against Doctor Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: I have never shown love for dumb experiments.

Vampire Owl: You will surely love the vampire bee though.

Vampire Bat: You should see how the human bees turn out here in this movie which is noted as a romantic thriller.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Glyna Thomas (Vincy Aloshious) and Suja S (Darshana S. Nair) are police constables who are also best friends – they have also rented a place together in Cochin. While Suja is posted in traffic duty, Glyna is assigned the duties at the police station itself. CI Binu Alex (Addis Antony Akkara) is in the charge of the station, and Suja hopes to get rid of the traffic duty and somehow be part of the station duties. For the same, Suja tries to portray Sharath Balakrishnan (Shambhu Menon) as a nuisance for women, but fails miserably. She even falls in love with him later. Sharath works for Nikhil Davis (Sunil Sukhada) who runs a rent-a-car business, but also has other motives. Their love story continues well until one day Binu and Sharath comes across each other, leading to a fight. Binu vows to make Sharath suffer for laying his hands on a police officer, but it is then that a criminal named Arumughan (Manikandan Achari) makes an entry with a grudge against Binu. Then, on an eventful night, things go out of control, and Suja might be the one to suffer for it. Will at least Glyna stand with her during the crisis?

The defence of Solamante Theneechakal :: It is to be noted that Solamante Theneechakal is a movie that has been much awaited by people who had watched at least one episode of the talent hunt show from where the leading actors of the movie where selected. But considering the performances which we come across here, this is more than that – none of the leading performers show any signs of acting in their first movie. They cast indeed is the biggest strength of the movie, as the newcomers score so well with the elder stars like Joju George and Johny Antony. The thrills remain strong, right after the defining incident. The twists are also there to be taken, and the red herrings are very much effective, to make us wonder about them. The early scenes also remain cute, and the friendship is effectively portrayed, with romance almost having a role to be added. There is also a certain amount of realism in the way the life of the leading ladies are portrayed, as both Vincy and Darshana make everything feel so real. Until the life turns around, everything that they do is so natural and without hesitations – the audience falls in love with such portrayal without exaggerations or pretensions.

The claws of flaw :: The absence of the big stars might make this movie’s collections and early appreciation struggle a bit – most people are still slaves to the superstars, and there are other three already established success stories in the form of crowd favourite movies already running in the theatres, which could make this particular movie take a hit. The dark side that the movie adds, do not get that much of a strength as it was expected, and there is some predictability about a few things, even though not with the grand scheme of things. The songs are not that great, and none of them provides the feeling of romance or terror, two elements which seemed to rise above the others – one or two still provide the feel-good feeling though. The first fight scene might be the only exaggerated moment, but there is no following it up well enough. The investigating officer does seem to deviate from the main concerns in the case, but it is justified in the end. Some of the supporting cast members don’t seem to have been used with the effectiveness that they might have deserved – it is still understandable, as the focus is on establishing the new talent which did such a fantastic job on television and deserves to be in the focus throughout the film. Yet, at times it chooses to defy logic by a little bit

The performers of the soul :: It was news then that the main performers for Lal Jose’s new movie were to be selected through a talent hunt show called Nayika Nayakan which aired on Mazhavil Manorama. Darshana S Nair and Shambhu Menon were the winners of the show, and they play the lead with the romantic side in this movie. Vincy Aloshious and Addis Antony Akkara who were the runner-ups in the show also play the next important roles in the movie as expected. They were selected from sixteen contestants going through multiple rounds, and it was one of the high quality shows from which these people were selected, and they have shown the same set of skills reflected around here too. Along with Vincy, some other participants like Meenakshi Raveendran, Ann Jameela Saleem, Venkitesh VP, Amina Nijam and Malavika Krishnadas were already seen in small roles in movies. Thattumpurath Achuthan had served as a vehicle for most of them to make some relatively small appearances which would not be memorized, and this one was to become the bigger space for these four to perform in a memorable way.

Further performers of the soul :: The movie is supposed to be the next big platform for these performers to show their skills, even though their talent hunt show was something which was a memorable experience for the audience. Even the participants in that show who were eliminated earlier, like Ann Paul were enormously skilled – that left no doubt about what these people could achieve. To support them, as the centre of everything, there is also Joju George, who had his best performance in Madhuram last year along with that memorable journey through Pada this year. He feels very natural as the police officer whose portrait never gets exaggerated – we know what he can do with this from Joseph itself. The performers from the talent show makes us feel the professionalism and not the reluctance of the newcomers. Among them, Vincy Aloshious stands out as the star performer, and her moments with Addis are too good. Darshana gets into make things even better – her moments with Vincy are among the best, whether with a funny side or the emotional one, and the two make things work so well. Addis’ villainous side is a strong one, and a lot realistic, but could have used better voice. Shambhu feels perfectly suitable for this role.

How it finishes :: This seems to be a movie which should have released much earlier, if it was not for the corona virus spreading through the world. As it was intended, the movie serves as the fine platform to show the abilities of the performers selected from the talent hunt show, which would reach the bigger audience. I was still surprised to see the less number of audience for this movie, and I would hope for the numbers to increase as it has the quality – we are all admirers of good movies, as far as I know. The other successful movies at the theatre might be a reason, but this need to pick up the pace, and with some good opinions, it should surely do that – this would be one of the first such opinions. The movie has to depend on the content more than anything else with the big names being absent, and it does exactly that, with the thrilling moments and the twists that are added to the tale. With no exaggeration of action or life itself, the movie is something that has the special ingredient, which is the new young cast itself. Seeing them would make us believe that Lal Jose has indeed made the right decision once more.

Release date: 18th August 2022
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Joju George, Darshana S Nair, Vincy Aloshious, Addis Antony Akkara, Shambhu Menon, Shiva Parvathy, Johny Antony, Manikandan Achari, Shaju Sreedhar, Binu Pappu, Sunil Sukhada, Sivaji Guruvayoor, Abhinav Manikantan, Aurora Adya

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Malayankunju

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the floods and landslides of the last few years?

Vampire Bat: Yes, 2018 floods was too terrifying for vampires too.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this movie will be a Fahadh Faasil show.

Vampire Bat: You mean, more focused on him than the big works like Joji and Malik.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why it should be any different.

Vampire Bat: There can always be balanced acts.

Vampire Owl: The focus always shifts to Fahadh Faasil at some point of time.

Vampire Bat: We remember the much earlier Fahadh Faasil movie which was focused on high ranges too.

Vampire Owl: Maheshinte Prathikaaram was one of its kind.

Vampire Bat: Well, so was Kumbalangi Nights which deserved better accolades than what it had received then. Still my favourite movies of him would still be the earlier ones in the form of Amen and Diamond Necklace.

[Gets a blueberry cake and three scoops of blackcurrant ice cream].

What is the movie about? :: Anil Kumar aka Anikuttan (Fahadh Faasil) is an expert electrician who serves the locals of the high ranges of Kerala. He is the one whom almost everyone depends on, whether it is about laptops and mobiles or related to general household items like televisions, refrigerators and washing machines, with any possible doubts being cleared using Youtube. Sumesh (Deepak Parambol) is his best friend, and helps him with obtaining the electrical equipments required for repair, as they live closer to the forest area. His father Radhakrishnan (Jaffar Idukki) had committed suicide a long time ago, and he had been unhappy about it for a long time, leading him to becoming frequently angry towards others and even resulted in him acting strangely for most of time. His mother Shanthamma (Jaya S Kurup) is particularly unhappy about how he has been living his life – as the child next door cries all the time, he feels disturbed and not able to concentrate on his work, leading to more fights with neighbours.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: All of these points to his sister Sandhya (Rajisha Vijayan) eloping with Deepu (Arjun Ashokan) on the night before her marriage, the event thus becoming the major reason for the suicide of Anil’s father. Even though his uncle Surendran (Indrans), neighbour Poulose (Irshad) and a few others are still in support of him, he doesn’t gain any fans among the people around. As his sister comes back to the area with her child, he is not ready to go and see her. He also gets into fights with the locals, and lands in the police station. But he somewhat gets along with these people, but it has been raining heavily for a long time, and an alert was already issued. Most of the people nearby had already moved from the area, and Anil’s neighbours plan to get out there the very next morning. Anil is adamant that he won’t leave his house, despite the warnings of his mother. But the landslide occurs during that night, and everyone seems to have perished. Anil tries to get out of the area underneath the land and try to save others who might have also been caught in there, but can he?

The defence of Malayankunju :: The struggle that the main character has to face, feels as real as possible. The skills with cinematography seems to have worked in favour of the movie, not just underneath the ground, but also outside with the shots, even though there are no shots of this particular world like in one of the best quality films in high ranges for sometime, John Luther. There are no exaggerations in this tale which is close to reality from the beginning to the end – the protagonist is no hero, and struggles with the problems of the mind reminding us of North 24 Kaatham which had a different crisis from inside. The movie is very much well shot in parts, and with some fine use of lighting and sound effects, creates the desired effects to take us to that world. The nature with all the greenery works close to the tale, even though environment is pushed to the background for quite a long time. This seems to be a movie custom made for Fahadh Faasil, and he assures the audience about the same. He continues with his excellence, and when he is there, you know that the movie will rise further, even if caught in the ordinary at times.

The claws of flaw :: With the premise, one would have expected this to be a disaster movie with the visuals of the terror also coming into the picture. The time spent underneath the ground could have also looked better, with some more smaller events of interest – the situation outside could have also been shown from outside, about what had actually happened, and how the news channels report the incidents – these could be easily achieved without making things complicated or exaggerated. The idea of having the father appear in the dream-like sequence doesn’t work, considering the mood which the film has been maintaining. Some of the characters are there to do very less, and it is disappointing considering their skills. The sudden interest in humanity which is displayed by the protagonist seems to be forced, as he looks like the one who is interested in his fellow humans all of a sudden. The movie had already stretched a little bit too much with the events in the early stages. After all, as people watch survival thrillers in different languages, they are no strangers to the idea. The songs are also not that interesting.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has never stopped amazing us with his works, and it is to be noted that even with the ordinary stories like Ayal Njanalla and Role Models, he has elevated the movie to a classic level, and there is no question about those works which have managed to be close to perfection with his presence. We have been seeing him as the actor who has been part of movies from different languages and having more and more fans from different parts of the world and even outside the nation. Here, he is excellent in displaying the protagonist’s desire to survive against all odds, as he is caught in the debris which remained after the landslide. Rajisha Vijayan plays another role in which she does a fine job, even though one would have wanted to see her more, as we had only recently seen how well she managed to work as the sole star in Keedam, a quality which was also seen in Kho Kho, Finals and June, all of them having her rising above all expectations. The usual veterans are surely strong in here, in the form of Indrans, Irshad and Jaffar Idukki. Nilja K Baby also gets a good role which is performed well, and we would expect RJ Nilja as part of more similar movies – more of future for the film industry.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to have had its inspiration from the landslides which occurred in Kerala, especially from the year of Kerala’s biggest floods of the century till the year of the corona virus – the devastation of the times seems to serve as inspiration for creativity as much as for caution. The horror related to natural disasters has never been too far away from us. This one works as an eye opener for all people, as everyone needs to come together during the disaster which unites humanity, and let them get out of the boundaries of religion, caste, race and language. The disaster has been used to remind people of what they have been missing, and some fantastic performances make sure that it gets to the viewers. It also works as the triumph of humanity when it discovers what it had lost in the last few years – hope and love for the other. Malayankunju successfully urges the audience to reclaim the same, even though a world of chaos and destruction awaits to be unleashed on unsuspecting people.

Release date: 11th August 2022 (Amazon Prime Video); 22 July 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Sajimon Prabhakar
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Rajisha Vijayan, Indrans, Nilja K Baby, Johny Antony, Jose MV, Deepu Navaikulam, Jaffar Idukki, Jaya S Kurup, Deepak Parambol, Arjun Ashokan, Meera Krishnan, Binu Manambur, Irshad, Chali Pala, Meera Krishnan, Remya Suresh, Kiran Peethambaram

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pathaam Valavu

Vampire Owl: So, there is the tenth turn where the twist lies.

Vampire Bat: We vampires are not worried about the turns. We fly over them.

Vampire Owl: Humans do not fly, but their spirits do float.

Vampire Bat: We don’t have the spirits. But we fly.

Vampire Owl: Where do you think a vampire’s spirit cross over to the other world?

Vampire Bat: I am expecting a river of blood there too.

Vampire Owl: So, you think that there will be blood on the way there.

Vampire Bat: Blood will be part of our afterlife as it is now.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that blood also has the spiritual significance.

Vampire Bat: Vampires have been spiritual for a long time.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sethunath (Indrajith Sukumaran) is the officer who is in charge of the Kattappana police station. His wife Suja (Swasika) is pregnant, and Sethunath rarely comes home due to his busy work. After a long time, he finally decides to take a few days off. It is then that he is asked to bring a prisoner who got out on parole and did not return – Solomon (Suraj Venjaramoodu) was arrested as part of a sensational case, and him not returning came as a surprise for most of the police officers. Sethunath visits Solomon’s house with a few other officers in company, just before he goes on a fifteen days leave, as his superior officer as Shihab Ali (Major Ravi) asks for one last duty to be finished. The team gets to Solomon’s home and also finds him, but fails to capture him. But he is caught by Xavier (Nisthar Ahmed) who has a large estate in the area, and they transfer him to the police. On the way back to the police station, there is a landslide on the tenth turn, and the team is forced to stop and have tea and snacks. There, Solomon tells Sethunath his story.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Solomon was someone who survived one of the biggest landslides the highranges had ever seen, at the age of six. He lived as favourite of the locals, especially of the local priest (Sudheer Karamana) who has served as his local guardian. He falls in love with Seetha (Aditi Ravi), who elopes with him with the help of her sister, Anitha (Krittika Pradeep), and in the process, gets disowned by her rich and influential family. They soon have a child too. Varadhan (Ajmal Ameer), the local police officer who was supposed to marry her is particularly angry with them, especially as his next marriage reached the verge of divorce. He also gets transferred to the highranges soon, with a fight breaking out between him and Solomon, and this leads to Varadhan being relieved of duty and going home early. It is then that their child also goes missing, and the dead body is found between the rocks on the next day. Varadhan becomes the usual suspect for the locals, and there is fear in his eyes. His senior officer asks him to go on leave, but he is determined not to go from there. But where does this lead Solomon?

The defence of Pathaam Valavu :: This is a thriller that also goes on the path of a revenge with the support of flashbacks. There are moments of excellence, and unexpected elements of humour are also present with some flashbacks. The visuals give a beautiful feeling to the happenings around here too. The emotional side does the job well, and in between, the cute moments also get something to work on. It is the kind of the movie which could have gone The Great Father way, with the father of a child doing unbelievable acts in stylish dresses as if he was a rich monkey man, but manages to keep things realistic instead – well, you don’t want exaggerations when dealing with this kind of topics. Dealing with the life of the common man which is filled with simple happy moments of family, and turning it into moments of worries have been used effectively in Drishyam and Drishyam 2 along with the remakes – the same idea still continues to work. In the end, it also gives a social message, and finishes well as if poetic justice would return with a little help provided.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does start slow, as nothing much happens in the first thirty minutes or so, as it takes a little bit more time to establish itself. There is also some slow motion forced in there, against the overall mood of the movie. The loss of thrills to emotions can also be seen at times here. There is a lot of predictability that comes to the scene during the later stages of the movie, despite having the twists to provide the power. Some of the clues are also given in the early stages of the movie itself , which is re-established in the later stages too. The clues should have been hidden to keep the audience guessing. The red herring which the movie provides losses the steam because of the unexpected clues which are left in the process of moving the tale forward. The audience had the right to guess the killer differently, but such an opportunity is ruined too early. If the opportunity was better used, this movie could have been something bigger.

The performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu remains the strongest element of this movie, and manages the emotional side really well yet again. He has been doing such roles with perfection for some time now, with its highest point in Kaanekkaane, and most recently in Jana Gana Mana. Yet, the one performance from him which would stay with me even more is from Finals. Indrajith Sukumaran has displayed a certain amount of skill in portraying the police officers, last seen in Night Drive – there is the feeling of not exaggerating the cop role when he is playing the role; it has been there since Angels. Aditi Ravi has been an underrated actress, and her realistic performance as a mother is a reminder of her skills. Her recent release, 12th Man did not give her enough opportunity, and it was only Alamara which used her potential well enough. Ajmal Ameer gets a good role in Malayalam movie industry after a long time, and he did come up with a fine performance until the character was just pushed to the background for seemingly no real reason.

How it finishes :: Pathaam Valavu becomes another interesting addition to the long list of engaging thrillers. It does have the moments, and there are other areas where it could have scored more. Yet, one thing I won’t get is that people call movies like these as one-time watchable; well are all movies not to be watched once? There is absolutely no point in keeping on watching a movie again and again, except for the jokes and songs. There have already been two fine thrillers in this year in the form of John Luther and Twenty One Grams, and this one, even though not that good as the two murder mysteries, still serves its purpose with effectiveness. It is also a reminder that we no longer need those big names to play the central character and make the movie a success. We are no longer in that age of superstars, even though fans can still disagree and go to the theatres as a crowd, providing money to their favourite heroes.

Release date: 22nd July 2022 (Manorama MAX); 13th May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: M Padmakumar
Starring: Indrajith Sukumaran, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Aditi Ravi, Ajmal Ameer, Sudheer Karamana, Baby Kanmani, Swasika, Sohan Seenulal, Aneesh G Menon, Jayakrishnan, Major Ravi, Nisthar Ahmed, Abhinav Raj, Binu Adimali, Shaju Sreedhar, Idavelu Babu, Joy John Antony, Sudheer Paravoor, Nandhan Unni, Krittika Pradeep, Pria Menon, Thushara Pillai, Anjana Appukuttan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Prakashan Parakkatte

Vampire Owl: I think that they are trying to make the light spread.

Vampire Bat: You are misunderstanding the title.

Vampire Owl: So, humans are no longer spreading the light.

Vampire Bat: They had stopped living in the light a long time ago.

Vampire Owl: You mean living in goodness.

Vampire Bat: Goodness has not graced humans for such a long time.

Vampire Owl: Well, I have always known that humans fall easily.

Vampire Bat: When they fall, they end up very deep.

Vampire Owl: I would say they would go as deep as hellfire.

Vampire Bat: There is no fire that could burn a fried evil human.

[Gets a Little Hearts biscuit and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Das (Mathew Thomas) is a plus two student who is not interested in studies, and spends time in other activities, leading to him missing classes regularly. He lives with his parents Prakashan (Dileesh Pothan) and Latha (Nisha Sarang) as well as his younger brother Akhil (Ritunjay Sreejith). Das’ best friend is Anwar (Govid Pai) who joins him in bunking class, a process which is repeated on almost all days. They often go to the local town of Mukkom and the city of Calicut without anyone noticing. Nobody believes that any of the two friends will pass the plus two exam, and even the headmaster is not bothered about them leaving the class too early, and encourages them to leave without bothering other students. Das also falls in love with another plus two student, Neethu (Malavika Manoj), but the problem seems that she belongs to a rich family which owns the bus which travels in the same route. She also studies in a private girls’ school, which bothers him. To get close to her, he also joins the tuition centre of Suni (Dhyan Sreenivasan) where Neethu also studies.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Prakashan owns a grocery shop in the village which is not that much of a profitable enterprise, but as there are not many similar shops nearby, things don’t get that bad for them. His brother-in-law Kuttan (Saiju Kurup) spends his time wasting all the money which is earned from the shop. He is also a youtuber who has a group of people who calls themselves vloggers, but are nuisance to the locals. It is then that things get more difficult, as according to the local leader Raghavan (Sreejith Ravi) warned him earlier, Musthafa (Aju Varghese) starts Madheena supermarket near the grocery shop. Kuttan also supports Musthafa, who is his childhood friend, and the supermarket becomes a grand success. It is then that Akhil meets with an accident, and Das is blamed for the same for his reckless behaviour, especially by Latha who had always preferred her younger son over the elder one. As Akhil requires a surgery and further care, Latha is further angry at Das. Prakshan is forced to take loans from different people as there is the emergency. This turns their lives upside down, with an uncertain future.

The defence of Prakashan Parakkatte :: The movie is set up nicely to bring a tale of the common people who have their own struggles within the family. It never ceases to make one feel like it is a realistic world of simple things. The setting is really good, and there are the usual kind of people which we see around. The movie’s emotional side remains relatable and the struggles feel very much real. The truth about the youtubers who do no constructive things in life is also brought to life here in opposition to people who work hard and still can’t have enough to keep their family going. People who are looking for easy money and their spreading the curse through videos can be seen here. The visuals of this particular world nicely contributes to the overall movie, as the highlands have never really ceased being beautiful in Malayalam movies which explores the common man’s lives and struggles. The songs are good, and the one depicting plus two romance stands stronger. The cast is a really good one, and we can only love these performers going through the realistic mode.

The claws of flaw :: There is nothing new that the movie tries to bring around here. The formula has already been tested and approved, and there is no special ingredient to elevate the level of the film. Sometimes, the movie just seems to move forward without an idea about where it is heading – the direction should have been better planned here. Some of the emotional sides also feel overdone, and predictability is rather high. The ending doesn’t end the movie, but brings a continuation which seems to reflect the usual world. It could have chosen many different paths to reach the final destination, but here we see the safe path being taken instead. Taking risk doesn’t seem to be this movie’s cup of tea. The trailer and the choice of actors and actresses seemed to point to something bigger, but that much is not achieved here. There was the chance for bringing more humour here too, but without enough focus, it is not achieved. Sometimes, one does wonder what exactly the plan is. It could have added more feel-good elements, which had many opportunities to come to the scene – after all plus two life in school also becomes reflection of more opportunities.

The performers of the soul :: Mathew Thomas who had some fantastic performances in Kumbalangi Nights, Thanneer Mathan Dinangal and Jo and Jo has another work to remember here. He has always stood one step ahead of the other actors of his age. Govind V Pai of Parava fame is the one who supports him this time instead of Naslen K Gafoor who has aged a little too much to get back to his plus two avatar, and should be looking for the college roles or the elder brother roles to Mathew and Govind. Dhyan Sreenivasan plays the kind of role which Vineeth Sreenivasan had played with Mathew years ago, and this time, it is a cameo. Dileesh Pothan shines in the father role here, and the director turned actor is indeed the best choice for a role like this. Nisha Sarang of Uppum Mulakum fame joins and suits the role really well. Malavika Manoj is good addition to the role here, and she surely has a fine future ahead – she can join the new group of actresses like Mamitha Baiju and Anaswara Rajan who have had some strong presence early enough. Saiju Kurup nicely plays the typical new generation youtuber who tries the easy path without any hard work.

How it finishes :: Prakashan Parakkatte works just like those nice little feel-good movies following the trend which started with new life in Maheshinte Prathikaaram. The movie also serves as a coming-of-age story, the bildungsroman which works with the first half of life if we consider Premam as the one typical story in Malayalam film industry. The final message about money not being that important in life comes a little bit too late, and it is the kind of revelation which won’t work with people of this age where how much one earns and has in the bank account is considered to be the most significant thing, without which there is no life. One would wonder if the message of being a good person considered more important than money will work in this particular age when society depends on what lies in the bank account. But the movie attempts to provide that message and hope that thing will come together well. In the process, this becomes the usual movie with the common family problems, while being in control of the emotional side.

Release date: 29th July 2022 (ZEE 5); 17th June 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Shahad Nilambur
Starring: Mathew Thomas, Dileesh Pothan, Malavika Manoj, Nisha Sarang, Govid Pai, Saiju Kurup, Aju Varghese, Dhyan Sreenivasan, Sreejith Ravi, Ritunjay Sreejith, Nithin Sabu, Stevin Bijum

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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

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@ 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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Twenty One Grams

Vampire Owl: I am sure that most of the coffins weigh more than that.

Vampire Bat: I doubt if this a movie about coffins.

Vampire Owl: I have only recently discovered that the coffins weight so less.

Vampire Bat: Why did you lift the coffins all by yourself?

Vampire Owl: There were no vampire apprentices available.

Vampire Bat: You should understand that the coffins feel like having less weight just for us.

Vampire Owl: Yet we have vampire apprentices carrying them for us.

Vampire Bat: They have to be trained in carrying the vampire elders.

Vampire Owl: But I have known that vampire elders can float.

Vampire Bat: They are too old to stay awake for more than five or six hours – coffins are important for transportation.

[Gets a marble cake and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: DYSP Nandakishore (Anoop Menon) is assisted by CI Sunny (Anu Mohan) as they go after a series of murders which happened in the city within a small period of time. Anjali (Manasa Radhakrishnan) is the first one to be murdered, and it brought her brother Martin (Chandunath G Nair) back home after spending years abroad, as Father Joseph (Nandu) was the only person who was there to take care of her. But soon, Martin is also murdered, and his body was burnt really bad. CI Sreenivasan (Prasanth Alexander) who was in charge of the investigation had felt that Jimmy (Aji John) might be the one behind these murders as he was a former business partner of Martin, and wanted to settle terms after Martin came back to India. There was a problem between Jimmy and Martin related to a restaurant chains which they owned, and the police wonders if the former tried to bring latter back home and finish the problem forever. But Sreenivasan was not really that much interested in taking the risk against the rich and influential, and was only happy to hand over the case without being a target.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: SP Rachel (Lena) is confident that Nandakishore is the right person to solve this case which has no clues, especially as Srenivasan had kept himself too worried. A new recruit Abhirami (Mareena Michael Kurisingal) also joins the team. As the police check for the goons who were working for Jimmy, they reach a name – Tony (Bineesh Bastin) who seems to be connected. His wife confirms the fact that Tony and Jimmy had seen each other, and an amount of money was provided for some work of eerie nature. But even then, Anjali is understood to have been very much afraid of an unknown person, and there is no clue about who that one was. If the two murders are not related, they would be facing two different killers at the same time or even more. There is also an old contessa car which is seen on different occasions near the spots where the murders had occurred. Is there something more sinister at work? Are there other interesting games of murders happening around here? Can there be a psychotic serial killer at work?

The defence of Twenty One Grams :: We have another interesting crime thriller in store here, with its own fine twists. Providing twists over other twists is quite a difficult job, and this one does the same well, until things come together really well in the end. There seems to be a fine line of events being drawn here so that things could come to that end after drawing a good number of red herrings in between. There are so many characters whom we doubt as being the killer, and we also have so many motives – with the possibility of suspecting being endless, the guesses are to be mostly wrong; the movie seals some ideas in those dialogues which feels to be less relevant when spoken, but through flashbacks, we know that these things were basically clues. Predictability will not be an element here even though the film can trick you into believing that you know things better than the cops here. The movie is very well shot too, and the visuals, especially that of the city is impressive – it suits the movie’s mood really well too. The music used in the background here is really good and some effects nicely contribute to the totality.

Positives and negatives :: The pace at which the movie progress is very good, even though at times, it seems to talk more and do less – it still works as we look closer. Some background is predictable. You ability to guess the killer is so continuously tested that there are so many people you will note down as killers. A quality that this movie has, is to know how, when and where to hide, and how to reveal them all when least expected – it never uses the mass style to do that, and that makes this one a movie more for the OTT rather than for those theatres infested with mindless fans. This is certainly not a one killer or a killer with a helper movie like Forensic, John Luther, Anjaam Pathira or Antakshari. Here, we don’t have the star power of Drishyam, Cold Case or Memories, but the effectiveness makes sure that it won’t need that. The movie also has a conspiracy which needs to be brought to light, and we see that there is more than what meets the eye. This is one of those movie releases which I had actually missed – there were so many shots of this movie which could have made the film feel effective in the trailer; unlike those overhyped films, this one could have used more initial hype.

The performers of the soul :: Anoop Menon always feels like the right choice for a police officer like this – the intellectual non-CBI police officer works like a dream for him. He did play the role of superstar in Home, and there is a fine presence that he has at all times. One strong performance that we here is that of Leona Lishoy though, as the lady left in sadness due to multiple reasons. Anu Mohan provides some fine support as police inspector aiding in the case. Manasa Radhakrishnan, despite playing the character who is killed early, remains central to the plot, just like Chandunath G Nair who plays her brother here. Nandu has the role of a priest which comes well for him. Mareena Michael Kurisingal of Mumbai Taxi and Aby fame only gets a few moments to shine though. Shanker Ramakrishnan and Renji Panicker got some smaller roles, which won’t be remembered much. Bineesh Bastin has a little bit of work to do, but not for long. Aji John and Jeeva Joseph plays two characters who are part of the schemes well. Ranjith who appears only in the later half of the movie, also brings some moments of glory.

How it finishes :: Twenty One Grams might be a lesser known movie, but it manages to be a lot better than most of those higher budget films made with the bigger superstars and having those dumb mass elements for the fans. There are so many moments that keep us guessing, and after all those guesses, we feel that we had gone the wrong direction – there is a lot of skill being used here in bringing things together in the end. Maybe, one of those superstar movies can take some of those superior ideas out of this one. It seems that the movies that we less expect to be the big mystery is actually the smarter one – the best minds behind making thrillers are often hidden in the background, and to know them, we have to travel beyond the usual. There are so many movies which have gone rather unknown because they couldn’t marketed well, or the names of the actors were not part of any fan club – this one shouldn’t go lost in that manner. This is another thriller which needs to be celebrated for its smartness, and let it not fall into the deep abyss of avoidance – watch it and see how well it uses the puzzles.

Release date: 10th June 2022 (Hotstar); 18th March 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Bibin Krishna
Starring: Anoop Menon, Leona Lishoy, Renji Panicker, Prasanth Alexander, Anu Mohan, Ranjith, Vivek Anirudh, Lena, Chandunath G Nair, Aji John, Jeeva Joseph, Bineesh Bastin, Manasa Radhakrishnan, Nandu, Mareena Michael Kurisingal, Shanker Ramakrishnan, Rajeesh Kartha

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jana Gana Mana

Vampire Owl: I have wanted to watch this movie for a long time.

Vampire Bat: The trailer had impressed many people.

Vampire Owl: I have heard that there is a second part too.

Vampire Bat: An early declaration of second part is more interesting.

Vampire Owl: Malayalam film industry needs a vampire film in two parts. The movie can also have me in a major role.

Vampire Bat: The demons are different in the industry. They might not even think about taking us in.

Vampire Owl: They could even take a demon from Israel. Our realm is much bigger and more easy to access through portals.

Vampire Bat: Well, Ezra and its Hindi remake are exceptions.

Vampire Owl: And vampires continue to be avoided.

Vampire Bat: Our time will also come, sooner or later. Even Lucifer has his time.

[Gets a French Naugha cake and three cups of mint tea].

What is the movie about? :: Saba Mariyam (Mamta Mohandas) works as a professor in a central university in Ramanagara, with hopes to inspire the students with revolutionary ideas, even though she did have a better opportunity in the United Kingdom. She loves her students, and hopes to make them better people than they are, fighting injustice in the process. She is considered as one of them by the students, but not that much by the other senior teachers and the administration at the institution. But soon enough, her mother Shabana Mariyam (Shari) and younger sister as Sana Mariyam (Vaishnavi Venugopal) are shocked to find the burnt body of Saba on the side of a highway. There are continuous protests in the campus led by Gouri Lakshmi (Vincy Aloshious), and they get beaten up by the police who enters the campus with the help of the university officials. Most of them land in the hospital, and the rest continue the struggle, which spreads to the campuses all around India, especially Kerala. Government of Karnataka finds itself in a bad situation, and decides to make some quick decisions.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: ACP Sajjan Kumar (Suraj Venjaramoodu) is given charge of the case, and he is quick to find the four youngsters who were found dumping the body on the side of the road, as there is a witness in the form of someone returning home late from work. He is able to find enough clues to find them, but not enough evidence to arrest them. Even though they are finally captured by the police, there is no regret from their side. They seems to be sure that nothing much will happen to them, and that someone will save them soon enough due to their political connections. The students keep calling for their blood, and Saba’s family is not ready to accept any judgment. When faced with being taken away from the case, Sajjan decides to take matters into his hands, and murder the accused in a fake encounter, which he justifies in the name of self-defense. This leads to him becoming a hero in the eyes of the public and the media. Yet, as a number of Human Rights activists come up with a complaint against the encounter, and a court case follows much to the dismay of Saba’s mother and sister.

And what more is follow here with what we have now? :: The one who is fighting against the police encounter is Adv Aravind Swaminathan (Prithviraj Sukumaran) who has entered late in the field of law. He also has a terrible past which had led to him having a problem on one of his legs. A proficient lawyer with years of experience, Adv Raghuram Iyer (Shammi Thilakan) appears for Sajjan. The case once again gets a lot of media attention. Aravind decides to take things to the next level with his arguments, and surprisingly, the more experienced Raghuram falls behind in his law points. It seems that Aravind is going through a terrible pattern which upsets many people in the court, even the judge. It seems like he is so much in favour of the accused who were killed in the encounter. Raghuram feels that he is playing some mind games without any reason. But Aravind seems to be about more than what it seems. He makes everyone wonder what he is trying to prove. Can he actually make any difference around here? What is it about the four people killed in the encounter that makes this important?

The defence of Jana Gana Mana :: As a political thriller, this movie is indeed intense, and connection to real-life incidents are made pretty much effectively, often worth a salute. It is also thought-provoking enough, as we look at it closely. There is the criticism of the media which plays according to their need to increase the viewers, and the politicians who have always done almost the same thing by playing with the emotions of the common people. We also see the need to make sure that justice is served without inequality, and about the need to end discrimination. The focus seems to be about focusing on the right questions more than the answers. For the same, there are some very interesting moments of high impact in here. Prithviraj Sukumaran clearly steals the show here once again, and Suraj Venjaramoodu is almost that strong too. The two had combined forces earlier in Driving Licence, and keeps the quality going here too. Vincy had the chance to be the right female lead and starts well, but losses it in a way similar to what she did in the reality show which she participated – a chance missed as Mamta’s character is more like an example.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is a little bit too long for our interest, and at times, it is also too loud for the common audience. The court scene takes a lot of time to get things to be interesting, and often turns repetitive in nature. Some of the dialogues seem to be just added for the claps, and not to contribute positively to the movie. When dealing with such a serious matter, it is better not to play with the emotions – along with the dialogues, this one also uses a lot of background music according to the mood, and too many songs also ruin the progress; without them, this movie could have been trimmed a lot to make the pace better. The scenes also move from one point to the other without much of an explanation, lacking in clarity, cohesion and depth. Despite being the first movie with another to come, the timeline is just rushed through it like so many other incidents. There is a quick view of whatever happened in the life of a protagonist, and there is the earlier main character who changes so quickly for the strange reasons. The college students are shown as the most easily manipulated group, and the emotions are forced. The artificial feeling also exists here and there.

How it finishes :: The movie ends up with enough effectiveness to keep it going. There is also the talk about a possible second part of the movie, and one would also find it interesting to wait for that one. Even with all those special moments, the movie should have focused on bringing better quality on the screen, along with some more focus on the flow of the narrative – even the protagonist comes too late, and there are too many flashbacks from his life added in the end without contributing enough to this particular version. Still, most people will find it easier to remember some of the dialogues in the court and wait for the possible sequel. They seem to have left the most memorable scenes for the sequel, but in that case, they shouldn’t have shown it in the trailer – maybe, after editing, the movie felt too long? Who knows? The movie goes for a pattern that will gain the support of the crowd rather than make it a complete thing. The fact that it has worked for most people means that they haven’t done wrong in that case at all – the rest will be known through the sequel. I do have a feeling that the title would have been “Sathyameva Jayathe” if it wasn’t used so much.

Release date: 2nd June 2022 (Netflix); 28th April 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 165 minutes
Directed by: Dijo Jose Antony
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Vincy Aloshiyous, Mamta Mohandas, Sri Divya, Shari, Pasupathi Raj, GM Sundar, Vaishnavi Venugopal, Priyanka Nair, Chitra Iyer, Ilavarasu, Dhruvan, Harikrishnan, Shanavas, Midhun, Josekutty, Dhanya Ananya, Raj Bal, Shammi Thilakan, Anand Bal, Raja Krishnamoorthy, Vinod Sagar, Sagar Surya

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

CBI V

Vampire Owl: Do you remember watching the first CBI movie?

Vampire Bat: That was one human eternity ago.

Vampire Owl: It was a memorable experience for sure.

Vampire Bat: I would say the same about the second movie too.

Vampire Owl: The third film was a pretty good one too.

Vampire Bat: And let us not talk about the fourth one.

Vampire Owl: We shall directly talk about the fifth one instead.

Vampire Bat: I think that we will talk about the sixth and the seventh soon enough.

Vampire Owl: I know that this series is as immortal as we are.

Vampire Bat: Immortality can also be a curse, so better be careful.

[Gets a strawberry cake and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Balagopal, DySP, CBI (Renji Panicker) and Vinay, CI, CBI (Ramesh Pisharody) talks about a very difficult case which CBI had to face and attempt to solve, when asked by Aparna (Malavika Menon), an IPS Trainee. It included a series of murders which started from the murder of a minister, and went on happening. It was the murder of a journalist as Bhasuran (Chandunath) and one of the police officers involved in the investigation, CI Josemon (Jayakrishnan), that brought the requirement for a quick solution. DYSP Sathyadas (Saikumar) is in charge of the investigation, but is least interested in solving the case – his concern is more about making some money with the information that he has. IG Unnithan (Anoop Menon) who has absolutely no confidence in the present status of investigation and wants to leave this case to CBI. Sathyadas is also surprised to find out that his wife Advocate Prathibha (Asha Sharath) is in support of placing CBI in his place.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Sethurama Iyer, SSP, CBI (Mammootty) is in charge of the case, and he is assisted by Balagopal and Vinay, along with other CBI officers, Sudhi (Prasanth Alexander) and Anitha (Ansiba Hassan). Chacko, DySP, CBI (Mukesh) also joins them according to request, and they get significant leads from Vikram, DySP (Retd.) CBI (Jagathy Sreekumar) who had an accident while investigating a sensational case. DYSP Babu Raj (Santhosh Keezhattoor) and SI Iqbal (Sudev Nair) are two other police officers who are not really fond of this particular investigation. There seems to be fingers pointed towards a miner Sam (Harish Raj) who had problems with honest authorities, as he has always been into illegal sand mining. But nothing much is known, even from his wife Merlin (Swasika). Then there seems to be a name Mansoor (Soubin Shahir) which seems to be there on most occasions, but it leads nowhere. The connections seem to be difficult to make, as there is too much of complexity around here.

The defence of CBI V: The Brain :: There is no reason why one wouldn’t want to watch another sequel for this particular franchise. The pillars of the earlier movies have remained, even though somewhat withered. This film builds on the same, and uses most of its strengths to gain the advantage. This one is actually bigger than any of the earlier movies in scope, as it is not about the murder of the commoners – the first victim here is a very respectable minister, and there is a lot of complexity in the motives and methods of murders happening around here. You always need such heroes from far away to save the world, even if they are no Avengers. There are some nice twists as usual, and the suspense is surely maintained about the main villain and the motive. The same music and the same people keep coming to us to bring back the childhood nostalgia at all times – there seems to be so many things that keep us reminded about that past in which there were so many wonderful movies which are to be remembered for long for the content.

The claws of flaw :: A comparison to the previous movies of the franchise would place this one in a difficult situation, except when looking at the fourth movie. The name itself rather feels strange – The Brain seems to point at some of those strange supervillains. The movie could have surely used a better twist in the end – the surprise is surely there, but the motive could have been there; if that is not possible, one should get a full-psycho killer. The dialogues could have also been better – there is nothing here to remember here in that field. The title was a pointer to the same, as there has been too much focus on gaining advantage from the name which this particular franchise has had for many years. But the makers don’t seem to understand that the world has changed, and these are not the times of superstars who are bigger than the world around them. It also has someone who is supposed to be the killer all the time, when the mystery focuses on one person in particular rather too much, it feels less like CBI and more like a few others movies we have watched.

The performers of the soul :: Mammootty surely maintains the expertise in this, even after so many years. His character does look much more tired this time though. Even as we miss the old leader of the pack of CBI, this one still still holds strong enough. After so long, this is the one character for whom he is remembered, whether younger or older. The movie also brings Jagathy Sreekumar back to the screen after a long time, and that is indeed nice to see – they have managed to blend him in here with a certain amount of smartness. Soubin Shahir’s character is a strange one which seems not suitable for this franchise, and he can’t shine because of the same reason. Ansiba Hassan of Drishyam fame seems to be there only for the sake of having a lady in the team. Among the other members of the team, only Renji Panicker seems to shine, and that shining also seems to be not without any trouble. Santhosh Keezhattoor and Sudev Nair are sidelined too easily after a good beginning, as the purpose seems to be lost later. There is a long list of people including Swasika who are ultimately left to serve less here.

How it finishes :: We are never short of the need to have murder mysteries being solved while fighting against all odds. We have always been fans of the CBI stories, right out of the childhood and full of nostalgia. This remains the one franchise in which there is a minimum guarantee assurance. You know that this can’t be that good as it used to be, but you also know that this will mostly serve the purpose. The fans are going to be extra happy about this one, as the character will once again make them more alive than usual. The final thought will always be about never being able to leave the CBI series ever. They will come back to you as much as the certainty of the global warming and corona virus, as well as maybe the end of the world too. Yet, this should have been better as the basic structure has always been there to provide enough – there is so much of the same as far the franchise is concerned; mostly like a free-hit in cricket. Well, at least we do have some of the old style entertainment with some new elements added, which would work well enough up to an extent. The franchise lives on to fight another day. But fight against better new stand-alone murder investigation thrillers like John Luther, Anjaam Pathira, Forensic and Antakshari is not easy.

Release date: 12th June 2022 (Netflix); 1st May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 164 minutes
Directed by: K Madhu
Starring: Mammootty, Mukesh, Jagathy Sreekumar, Soubin Shahir, Anoop Menon, Saikumar, Renji Panicker, Dileesh Pothan, Asha Sharath, Kaniha, Prasanth Alexander, Malavika Menon, Malavika Nair, Ansiba Hassan, Ramesh Pisharody, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Sudev Nair, Jayakrishnan, Swasika, Prathap Pothen, G Suresh Kumar, Ravikumar, Rajkumar Sreekumar, Harish Raj, Idavela Babu, Arjun Nandhakumar, Krishna, Chandunath, Azeez Nedumangad, Sajipathi, Aniyappan, Kalabhavan Jinto, Maya Viswanath, Lukman Avaran, Sminu Sijo

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Innale Vare

Vampire Owl: Is this movie about yesterdays?

Vampire Bat: From the title, it seems that yesterdays are important.

Vampire Owl: Our yesterdays are pretty much far away.

Vampire Bat: The vampire yesterdays have always been centuries away.

Vampire Owl: Not all centuries are the same.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but they are all short for us.

Vampire Owl: Not just for us, but for all immortals.

Vampire Bat: Depends on how we will take the immortality.

Vampire Owl: Does this movie fit into our immortal calendar?

Vampire Bat: It is something which is yet to be seen.

[Gets a green apple cake and three cups of chocolate tea].

What is the movie about? :: Adhi (Asif Ali) is a superstar who is now going through a struggling phase as an actor. His movies haven’t been getting the success that they used to have, and he no longer remains the crowd-puller despite having so many fans and fan clubs. Due to his lavish lifestyle, he also has a lot of debts to be paid. Due to the same reason, he is forced to act in many advertisements, most of them which he doesn’t like at all. He is in love with Aishu (Reba Monica John), whose family doesn’t approve of such a relationship, as Adhi does have other affairs too – he is almost living together with a married actress named Karthika (Athulya Chandra), and he successfully keeps that a secret. Jomi (Rony David) handles things for him as the efficient manager, but the debts seem to get worse, as money lenders even reach his home and take away his cars. Both Aishu and Karthika are infatuated with him, and is not ready to leave him at any cost. Karthika knows that she is not the only one for him, but finds comfort with him in the absence of her husband who never bothers to call her or come home.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: At the same time, a stranger who identifies himself as Sharath (Antony Varghese) is following him. He seems to collect information about him through cameras and hidden voice recorders. Aadhi who one day comes to know that Karthika is carrying his child, tries to get there as soon as possible, and finds a lady who calls herself Shaani (Nimisha Sajayan), and she offers him a lift. She asks him to come to her home and see her husband once, and adds that she is ready to give him the car so that he can go wherever he wants to. Finding this to be a comfortable option, he gets to her apartment, only to find himself locked inside one of the rooms. It is later revealed that Sharath and Shaani has other plans for him. It seems to be motivated by money in the beginning, but there seems to be something different about these two. Yet, the need to save a house from being taken away by the bank seems to be a priority. But they don’t seem to know that Adhi has no money. How can any of them get what they want at this stage?

The defence of Innale Vare :: The movie doesn’t exaggerate things, and seems to go on without adding the unnecessary things including those highly emotional and romantic songs which would have been there for the taking. The tension and anxiety are maintained most of the time, and there are enough twists to keep things going around here. There is a certain amount of mystery about a lot of things around here, and the same is solved in the end, as different sides seem to come together. The idea about how technology can be used to make a person disappear by impersonating him or her will also keep us interested – Cold Case had also dealt with some part of the same, and this one takes it to another level. The messages from this type of movies might to be more careful about what we choose to do, no matter which side we are on, for even the most social ones can suffer – it is also easy to misunderstand someone. Yet, the movie’s main message seems to be that if we try to know people, everyone is good, as it seemed to be in most of the movies of the same director that came much earlier.

The claws of flaw :: The movie surely had a lot to do with its premise, and it doesn’t manage to come up with enough on most occasions. It seems to have struggled hard to make it a feel-good movie, wandering a long way away from where it seemed to be heading in the earlier stages. For an effective thriller, this one needed to keep a certain amount of its darkness as an interesting element which contributes throughout its run. There is almost no intensity with this thriller, and the characters seem to be not motivated enough to do most of the things – they seem to let things go on without trying hard. It is also too long with its content which is not strong enough to withstand time. The final twist and ending could have used some polishing, even if the purpose was to leave with a happy finish. There are too many repetitions around here too, and predictability also has a role to play. Some of the moments are shown just for the sake of being there, and in the process, it elongates the movie to a length that would have been stronger for more content.

The performers of the soul :: Asif Ali who finally has his first direct OTT release, does a good job, as things happen around his character. It is not that much of a big or challenging role though. It is good to see Antony Varghese in a role with a difference, which he seems to find okay. Nimisha Sajayan disappoints for most part of the movie though, in a work which seems to be unnatural. Even for the audience, she seems to be overacting in front of the police in scenes, but the cops within the film don’t seem to find it so – there is also that certain expression she seems to maintain, which doesn’t suit here, as much as in her earlier movies. Rony David is really good in another supporting role, and Irshad does the police job well again. Reba Monica John’s role is unfortunately a little bit too small, but she proves to be suitable in that one. Athulya Chandra does job well, as she seems to reflect the character in concern really well. Nandu is there in a small role, and so are a number of performers who make the smaller contributions.

How it finishes :: The fact that the director switches from feel-good movies like Sunday Holiday, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and Mohan Kumar Fans, the effect seems to be lesser than what the genre deserved. His first movie and the only thriller, Bicycle Thieves was one of the worst thrillers which graced Malayalam movie industry with a twist which was as dumb as it could get. This one is surely much better than that, but one has to wonder about the purpose of making feel-good thrillers – most of the time, such combinations form a strange paradox which is not acceptable. When actors play actors, there seems to be something lacking too, and the same was seen in movies like Driving Licence too. But the makers do manage to bring things together as the movie nears the end, and this seems to be the kind of thriller which would also make the family audience happy, as such light thrillers are not easy to find. Well, if this kind of thrills happen in real life, there would be terror guaranteed, but not that much in this case.

Release date: 8th June 2022 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Antony Varghese, Asif Ali, Nimisha Sajayan, Reba Monica John, Rony David, Nandu, Irshad, Athulya Chandra, Anand Bal, Siddique Ismail

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.