Bhramam

What is the movie about? :: Ray Mathews (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a blind musician who hopes that he will be known among the great pianists of the world. It is when he crosses the road and gets hit by Anna’s (Raashi Khanna) scooter, that there is the beginning of a romantic relationship between the two – then, it is revealed to the audience that he is not really blind, but is only acting as if he cannot see. Uday Kumar (Shankar Panicker) who was one of the big superstars of an earlier time asks him to sing at his home for his wedding anniversary with his wife Simi (Mamta Mohandas). But when Ray reaches there, he finds out that Uday is lying there dead, and Dinesh (Unni Mukundan) is also there with Simi. He sees that the two are trying to get rid of the body and the clues, as they feel that he won’t know as he is blind. Soon, Uday’s body is found in the container terminal road, and a story is created about how he was murdered by his driver.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As Dinesh is the police officer investigating the case, Ray is not able to tell anything to the police, but his arrival at the police station creates suspicions for both Dinesh and Simi. Dinesh’s wife Swapna (Ananya Nair) feels that her husband can find the murderer with ease. Dinesh has further doubts about Ray’s eye sight after searching his place, but as him being a witness only helps them, they decide not to do anything. But it is then that Ray witness another murder that Simi commits, and she decides to visit him at his place. Then, she would realize that he is not really blind, and due to the same, she has to take better precautions. At the same time, Anna is worried that Ray hasn’t shown up for a long time. A worried Dinesh wants Ray dead, and a boy in the neighborhood has proof that Ray is not really blind. All these lead to a sequence of events which means that life won’t be the same again for the people involved.

The defence of Bhramam :: Bhramam, even though not an original story, is executed really well. The strength of the cast is one advantage that this film can be proud about. The recreation of the tale in this particular setting is very good – the choice of Cochin and its surroundings, especially Fort Cochin makes it a better visual treat than one would expect. There have been similar visual splendour before, but not in a way that it suits the whole thing so well. From reading about the original film, there seems to be some differences here, but nothing that someone who hasn’t watched the Hindi version can confirm. As it stands, the film does rise above the expectations which the trailer had created, especially with the black humour and the twists that it provides. There is always something different that we can expect with Bhramam, as it moves forward, as it never hesitates to move away from the usual and the predictable.

The claws of flaw :: There can be comparisons between Bhramam and the original version which was in Hindi, and we know that original can often have the advantage, but as I have not watch that one, it won’t be my job to do. There are surely some moments in this film which could have been better, and the beginning moments could have had an extension, as they were indeed cute. Some more changes could have also been added to make this not that exact an adaptation. It could have managed to get more out of the last moments too, as scope was always there. The social commentary could have also been stronger, even though the presence is felt on some occasions. Some occasions could have also had better clarity, and a few scenes could also take better strength. As a film on a musician and a pianist, this could have also had more songs to add to the quality.

Performers of the soul :: After Cold Case and Kuruthi, Prithviraj Sukumaran has another release on Amazon Prime Video, the only OTT platform, where he had fresh releases. In comparison with the other roles in these movies, this does take a fine deviation for him, and this is further away from what one would expect from the trailer. The black comedy factor does work well for him. Unni Mukundan has had a certain amount of break time after the release of Mamangam much earlier. In the role of a police officer, he makes a fine comeback, even though this role doesn’t demand that much. Shankar Panicker has a small role, as he plays a superstar of the past himself with ease. At the same time, Jagadish comes up with a role which we don’t usually see him doing, and supporting him are Sminu Sijo and Aneesh Gopal, who have some fine contributions to provide here – the three are basically the unexpected turning point providers in the film.

Further performers of the soul :: Mamta Mohandas had her voice in Sunny, after having her full works in Forensic, Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel, 9 and the quick appearance of Johny Johny Yes Appa. She is back here, playing the main role, and she has done the same in a believable manner, leaving not much to the doubts. It is always good to have her back, and it doesn’t matter how many times we miss her due to her health related reasons. Raashi Khanna has her second Malayalam film here after Villain. This is a more notable role as we look at it, and she holds on to the cuteness factor from the beginning stages, even though she has to make way for Mamta later, only to have something to add in the final stages of the film. Shine Tom Chacko also makes an appearance in a cameo, but it is a role which defines many things in the film. Nandhana Varma plays the role of the daughter of the superstar, and that also is a notable one. Valsala Menon plays a neighbour of importance too.

How it finishes :: Bhramam is the remake of the much appreciated Hindi movie, Andhadhun – basically one of the many remakes as the same film is remade in different languages. Those who have watched that critically acclaimed movie, can know the quality of this version better for sure. When we consider this film as a stand-alone work, it is also a very well done work. After all, keeping up the quality is often difficult with remakes, unless there is something like a Drishyam which can come in many languages, and can even come up with the right sequel. For now, we can be sure that Bhramam which is taken out of Andhadhun works really well in this form too, and if there was ever any doubt about that, the same was not needed. We cannot blame ourselves about the same though, as doubting is in our blood, and trusting people to make things better is never really that easy.

Release date: 7th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 152 minutes
Directed by: Ravi K Chandran
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Raashi Khanna, Unni Mukundan, Mamta Mohandas, Shankar Panicker, Ananya Nair, Sminu Sijo, Sudheer Karamana, Aneesh Gopal, Valsala Menon, Nandhana Varma, Jagadish, Rajesh Raj, Master Avyukth Menon, Shine Tom Chacko (cameo)

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Kaanekkaane

What is the movie about? :: Deputy Tahsildar Paul Mathai (Suraj Venjaramoodu) is still not out of shock after his daughter Sherin Allen Mathai (Shruti Ramachandran) died as part of a hit and run accident. He is running a case against the man who was responsible for the incident, and he reiterates the fact that he will not forgive the driver not because of the accident, but because he didn’t stop to check on her daughter, and didn’t try to take her to the hospital. Paul believes that it was this hesitation that led to the death of his daughter, as he went missing, and was not found for a long time – an earlier treatment could have saved her. Paul hopes that he will get justice for his dead daughter soon enough. His son-in-law Allen Mathai (Tovino Thomas) is now married to a woman whom he had met during one of his business trips, Sneha George (Aishwarya Lekshmi), who is also pregnant for the first time at the moment. They seem to be a happy family, and his grandson Kuttu (Master Alok Krishna) is also a happy child when he is among them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Sneha’s father George (Prem Prakash) is concerned about Paul’s infatuation with the case, but Paul is determined to keep his eyes on the case all the time. It is then that he feels that there is something strange about Allen and Sneha, as he looks into her past. Even though Allen had introduced Sneha to him much later, and had asked him permission to marry her, he finds out that they were together much earlier, from a photo dated many months earlier. Even when he was supposed to be alone for work, he was with Sneha. He feels that Allen was cheating on Sherin for a very long time, and for both Allen and Sneha, it was a comfortable death – with Sherin out of the way, they could quickly get into a relationship. He also figures out that Allen reached the accident spot from the exact opposite direction of where he was then. He decides to find out if there is something more to the death of Sherin than what meets the eye. But as he gets closer to the same, he is not finding it easy to live with anymore.

The defence of Kaanekkaane :: If you consider the emotional side, this film is one of the strongest in that category, and there is no force that can drive it out of there – this one is an emotional thriller with class. Combining family elements and bringing the thrills is no easy task, and such emotional feeling takes some extra skill. The melancholy mood is always there, and defines the work, even before the revelations are made, and we move to the ideas of remorse and vengeance in multiple dimensions. In the end, all these lead to the message of forgiveness and the relief that lies in the same. It reaches the same by following multiple paths, and we never really feel that there is such a revelation. The emotional strength of the film grows on you, and it is at its top most level by the end. All these emotions are shown as ruling these characters. The emotional undercurrents never seem to disappear, as we keep coming back to it, like the Lake Poets to the beauty of nature and the Gothic Novelists to the dark terrors of any ancient castle.

The claws of flaw :: The emotional side often takes over long above the tale of people which is explored here. The story is basic, and we see that the pace doesn’t really pick up here at any point, and there is no attempt to focus around there. The moments before one main character’s death are not that much explored, as the first wife only gets a little less of screen space for our liking. The chance to throw in some thrills here and there has also been missed, and there too, the focus shifts to the emotional side. There is not much of colour in this film, and that should be because of its melancholy side rather than anything else. The movie could have had more advertisements before its release, even though we are seeing more of it right now. It does have a big heart, but that could be something which the people outside the film might be lacking. But when we are immersed in the emotions of the film, any problem is easily forgotten.

Performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu leads the way here, and he comes up with another emotional performance, the kind in which he has excelled in the last few years, moving out of that comedy genre for long. As far as he is concerned, the list of fantastic performances is just too long, and my favourite has been Finals, in which he played the determined sportsman and father. The same fatherly strength can be seen here too, and the determination that he shows here, and how his character is displayed here are all, a few things to be remembered. There is a lot of melancholy that runs through his face, and we go through his pain as much as he does. His character is also as close to reality as possible, and the emotional depth of the film starts from him, is strengthened by him, and comes to a close with his own actions. Prem Prakash plays the father of the second wife, and the veteran actor has no problems with the work here.

Further performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas also plays a different kind of character, and like he did in Luca, has a heavy emotional performance to come up with. Here, he is okay with playing the second most important character, and he once again excels without doubt. One has to wonder how well he has risen in the last few years, and last year he had Kilometers and Kilometers as well as Forensic, but this year, he has many more films to his credit. Shruti Ramachandran who was last seen in Anveshanam has rather smaller role, but we note that down too. Then we have Aishwarya Lekshmi as the leading lady in the movie, one of the best young actresses of our times, keeping the melancholy mood of the film going forward. Seen with Tovino in one of the best combinations through Maayanadhi after her debut in Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, she is indeed the one actress whom everyone needs to watch out for, as she impresses each and every time, leaving nothing to criticize – the same is the case here.

How it finishes :: This is the movie of Suraj Venjaramoodu, Tovino Thomas and Aishwarya Lekshmi, all three coming up with splendid performances, and when we add these three to the melancholic mood which deals with themes that run through here, there is something of fine quality. The human emotions are really well portrayed through these performers, and the strong emotions are always running strong in the background. With such a strong cast, the film has no problems in portraying what it has been trying to do. It is so much multi-layered that we won’t be able to take the side of any character, and therefore we choose to travel through this journey. This is also the first Malayalam film to directly release in this particular OTT platform. Well, for every other good movie in Malayalam, we seem to have the choice of Amazon Prime Video. There is a lot more to release there in October, and that should be enough to keep the movie lovers interested even during the times of Corona virus.

Release date: 17th September 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Manu Ashokan
Starring: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Tovino Thomas, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Shruti Ramachandran, Prem Prakash, Rony David, Dhanya Mary Varghese, Binu Pappu, Sruthy Jayan, Sreeja Das, Master Alok Krishna

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Sunny

What is the movie about? :: Sunny Varkey (Jayasurya) has finally returned home from Dubai after a long time with his Logistics business failing, and these are the troubling times of COVID-19 pandemic. He used to want to become a successful musician, but left that idea much earlier. He gets a quarantine spot in Grand Hyatt Residency in Bolgatty Island, Cochin, and gets to be all alone there. SI Sadashivan Nair (Vijayaraghavan) is the police officer who is in charge of looking out for the people in quarantine there, and he keeps an eye on Sunny. He feels lonely, and is uneasy because he is not able to get any more alcohol, with the hotel changing its policies as people were creating nuisance after being drunk. Dr Erali (Innocent) tries to help him with his withdrawal symptoms and a stage of depression. Adithi (Shritha Sivadas) is in quarantine in the room above him, and they also have regular talks.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Nimmi (Shritha Sivadas) had divorced Sunny because he had an affair which he had confessed, much to her dismay. Sunny is as much disappointed about this, as he has been with his financial affairs. She is also pregnant, and it was for the second time, after their child had died a few hours after birth. He has to pay back a lot of money, as a result of his best friend making him an investment which he now regrets. Nimmi no longer wants to do anything with him anymore, and neither does his former lover Dr Anuradha (Mamta Mohandas). It also seems that some of the passengers in his flight were COVID-19 positive, and there is a chance that he might also be in trouble. But he moves on with his lonely life, which doesn’t seem to have much left for him. Yet, it is still to found if there is something more than what meets the eye. With COVID-19 around, you never know.

The defence of Sunny :: Sunny is quite a small movie when we consider its limited setting within a room. Among the classical unities of Aristotle, unity of place and action are maintained, and with a shorter quarantine, all of them could have been there. The setting is really nice, and it is good to see this particular world where parts of one’s life is revealed. There is a whole grand episode of life which is revealed here through small moments. The past, present and future gets intertwined in these incidents which occur in the grand quarantine centre. There is the usual life being reflected here, and the protagonist is very much human, trying to survive in a world which has descended into chaos for him. It shows the life of a depressed man in quarantine really well, and never does it lags behind in doing the same. These are indeed good times for emotional films, as we know what the COVID-19 affected world has come to. Amazon Prime Video has the right films for the same too.

The claws of flaw :: Sunny doesn’t live much beyond the scope here, and it is indeed predictable. A lot of things that we see here, follow the expected routine, with not many surprises to come around. The movie also maintains its slow pace throughout its run, and it is also something which doesn’t come as a surprise when we look at this particular world. It should have had more, even with life being restricted to a room – there is a lot more to be shown with the scenery and the world around, as well as what is inside. It could have also had more events for the main character, as being in quarantine in such a grand space always has more to be added – it is not like being locked in a small room. There could have been more from other characters, even with their faces not shown, as some of them are not really there, exploring their best possibilities. We wished for the sun to shine brighter with Sunny, even though we are okay with what we have around here.

Performers of the soul :: Sunny is a fully Jayasurya movie, as one would expect it to be, from the trailer, and also with the talks regarding the same. There are only a few others who have faces at least inside their masks, or have part of their faces revealed in one way or the other. This is also Jayasurya’s 100th film, and might be his best film to come to Amazon Prime Video. He has come up with a fantastic performance, as a man who doesn’t have any hope in life, and as the only one character which truly performs on the screen, has the whole canvas to himself – we can do nothing more than just applaud the same. We see different phases of his life in the quarantine room itself, and this is a character that shows a certain amount of evolution, which he reflects really well. There is not that much of a challenge provided here for him, but there is indeed something.

Further performers of the soul :: The other characters are introduced through their voices, as they call the main character or sometimes the other way around. There is something to be revealed from each character whom we identify through their voices. Some of the characters have part of their faces being shown, and the voices are those which we identify with ease, especially that of Innocent, Aju Varghese and Vijayaraghavan. They are all part of the tale, even though we don’t see them. All these phone calls play significant roles to keep the film going forward. It is nice to see people like Shritha Sivadas whom we have loved for her early works, and had gone missing for some time. Mamta Mohandas’ voice is heard for much shorter time than we would have expected.

How it finishes :: Sunny nicely sets itself during the COVID-19 and quarantine times, and has the same feeling running through it. There is the loneliness of a quarantine that runs through it, and as we know that we are going to live with COVID-19 with more and more waves supposed to come at some point, this one is closer to reality than one might think. As a movie which has only one face completely shown, and with one person having the chance to come up with all the performance. This is basically the one man film that we don’t usually see around, and it is one risk which has been taken on with success. Amazon Prime has already provided some fine experiences during the Corona virus times, and this one goes the divergent way with ease. There is always more about smaller films like these than what meets the eye, and this one is also that drama which goes feel-good and does that with effectiveness.

Release date: 23rd September 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Mamta Mohandas, Vijayaraghavan, Innocent, Vijay Babu, Shritha Sivadas, Aju Varghese, Sivada Nair, Purnima Krishnan, Binoy KG

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Home

What is the movie about? :: Oliver Twist (Indrans) is leading a normal life with his two sons, Antony Oliver Twist (Sreenath Bhasi) and Charles Oliver Twist (Nalsen K Gafoor), his wife Kuttiyamma (Manju Pillai) and father (Kainakary Thankaraj) who has memory problems. Oliver and Kuttiyamma are also feeling the problems of their old age. Antony is trying to be successful in the film field, but he is too busy with social media that he doesn’t complete the climax of the script, much to the dismay of the producer, Baby (Maniyanpilla Raju) who keeps asking if something can be done about it. His time is running out, as it has been two years after he started writing – he had directed his first film to a grand success, and this time, nobody is sure that he will finish it in time. At the same time, Charles’ interest in social media only, and nothing else is on his list of interesting things. He keeps putting Instagram stories at all times, and during the rest of the time, he is mostly sleeping.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Finally, Antony decides to return home to finish his script, and for the same, he returns home with a seven day deadline to complete his script. There he finds out that Charles is vlogging at all times, and doing nothing else. His life is highly digitalized, and he is happy to keep himself online instead of talking to anyone in the family. Antony is no different, even though his parents remember that he used to be a different person before leaving them for the city. Antony is in love with Priya (Deepa Thomas), a relationship which has lasted very long, but now he is too bust to return her calls. Her father, Joseph Lopez (Srikanth Murali) is a very rich and influential man, popular at all places. Oliver hopes to be friendly with his sons, but they don’t have that much of an interest in talking to the elders. Often, they even ignore Oliver as if he is not a part of their life. Oliver hopes that things will change, and he goes on with his life, with that wish, but Antony has very low opinion about him, and is often hostile towards him too.

The defence of Home :: There are many things which are reflections of real life incidents in the film, and one often wonders if they have come across such incidents before. Social media addiction has been an effective theme, and these days, anyone is a vlogger on Youtube, and with many followers, they think that this is life. People have been bothered more about what happens online rather than offline, and in the same the real world is forgotten, a reflection of the same is reflected here. The message about mobile phones stealing our valuable time is also provided nicely. It adds a few things about loss of relationships and health due to the use of smartphones and social media among the youth. The film, even though set most in a home and its surroundings, is visually too good, not just inside the house, but also during the outside moments. There is a lot of beauty on the screen that surrounds everything, and occasional humour adds on well. Then, there is the ending that conquers all, emotionally as strong as it could be.

The claws of flaw :: There is a lot of repetition which happens in the film, and it is surely a slow work, as we look at it. Some of the emotions are added here and there as if it was just there for the sake of it, and some incidents just become random part of the same. This comes from the man behind Philips and the Monkeypen and Jo and the Boy, and we can see similar elements being repeated here. It still doesn’t have the charm or quality of the former, which was one of the best movies released in the year, seemingly bringing a certain amount of magic to the screen. It also has its length extended a little too much, and with too many songs being added here and there, it does feel a few minutes too long. There are moments in between when we feel that this was going nowhere nowhere, and it was going to go on with the same kind of thing again and again. There are so many things coming up, and often it does seem to miss the main point, but there is the ending that brings things together.

Performers of the soul :: Indrans was earlier seen in two very serious roles this year with two films, Malik and Yuvam, playing the roles of a police officer and an advocate respectively. This one is a light-hearted, but yet emotional role for him, and having come out of fully comic roles, he has been doing this really well. This is indeed a very heartfelt performance from him, and with him at the centre of a family movie, this will be remembered as he celebrate forty years in Malayalam cinema industry, in his 341st movie in the long career. We are finally able to see him throughout a mainstream film in the lead role, and also with the most emotional touch, as he basically lives through here. Sreenath Bhasi had some very serious roles in Virus and Kumbalangi Nights not too long ago, and he now has a rather lighter version here – he had come out of that earlier “freakan” image a long time ago, and this one has him in a controlled role. Nalsen K Gafoor who was last seen in Kuruthi with all the seriousness, and earlier in Thanneermathan Dinangal with all the humour, can be seen in a realistic role of a youngster in this film, and he once again scores big. The simple comic side that he adds here brings more life to the movie.

Further performers of the soul :: It is also nice to Manju Pillai having a good role to play in a film, as we have been seeing more in the television series and comedy shows of Mazhavil Manorama. She has blended into this role really well, and one would wonder why she was not that much in similar roles before. We have always loved to watch her in Thatteem Mutteem for a long time. There are also some nice dialogues that reflects the mood of the film. Deepa Thomas has her first leading role, and she has comes up with a memorable performance too. She has indeed provided a natural performance, and we look forward to seeing her in more roles, and with more screen space in comparison to what is seen here. Srikant Murali also has a role to remember here. Anoop Menon’s act is also a good one, while Maniyanpilla Raju also drops in here and there. Vijay Babu’s role might seem very small, but is still one role that also makes a difference, with a lovely touch of humour. Johny Antony, as usual adds more humour here, while KPAC Lalitha who comes in the final stages of the movie has something special to add. Priyanka Nair also has a fine role in the flashback.

How it finishes :: Home is a movie for the present families, which are not short of this kind of a situation at different homes, due a new generation of kids who are addicted to gadgets and moving away from parents both physically and mentally. It will be remembered for some moments for the heart. The feel-good elements from the director’s earlier films can be seen reflected here, and the same kind of reflections can be seen visually too. Vijay Babu has provided us with so many of similar movies, and we have always stayed close to most of them. During COVID-19 times, having a feel-good film to watch with family was always going to be good. The messages that the film provides are effective, and leads to that one final message which raises the level of the film. Do look out for the final scenes with credits too, and it is where the movie brings a little more for the soul. So, we have our Onam movie on Amazon Prime Video, and as you watch the same, I wish you a Very Happy Onam in advance!

Release date: 19th August 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Rojin Thomas
Starring: Indrans, Sreenath Bhasi, Kainakary Thankaraj, Naslen K Gafoor, Manju Pillai, Deepa Thomas, Vijay Babu, Srikant Murali, Johny Antony, Anoop Menon, Maniyanpilla Raju, Aju Varghese

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Kuruthi

What is the movie about? :: Ibrahim (Roshan Mathew) lives in the pain of having lost his wife (Navya Davy) and daughter (Aiza Hassan) to a devastating landslide which killed twenty four people during the heavy monsoon rains and the resulting floods in Kerala. He hopes that he would be united with his wife and daughter in heaven soon enough, while his community is blaming the United States, Israel and the North of India for their plight while trying to recover from the remains of the earlier destruction. Most of the local people including Ibrahim’s good friend Kareem (Shine Tom Chacko) has moved to an area further away from the devastated area, but two families have remained at the same place, and Sumathi (Srindaa) who lives with her brother Preman (Manikandan R Achari) at the nearest house is only happy to help them whenever required. Is then that on a usual night, the town Sub Inspector Sathyan (Murali Gopy) comes into the house with a young murderer, Vishnu (Sagar Surya) whom he hopes to protect from religious violence, as this murderer himself was part of a similar religious crowd long ago.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But for the same, he has to fight the biggest religious fundamentalist that he has ever known, Laiq (Prithviraj Sukumaran), who had already attacked the police earlier with his violent group of religious fanatics. He is also the son of the man who was earlier killed in the violence, and he seeks revenge in the name of religion, community and family, while Ibrahim finds it difficult to understand the neverending hatred in his eyes. He makes a grand entry with his friends, and knows that his prey is there. He had come back from Paris earlier after getting into trouble there, and now he only knows vengeance. Laiq gets into the house with the help of Kareem, and with another helper, they manage to outsmart the police officer, ending up stabbing him. As Ibrahim sees the violence, and takes the policeman’s gun and forces Laiq and his friends to go outside, the dying policeman makes him swear an oath on his holy book that he will protect the man at any cost. But that wouldn’t be acceptable to those who just went outside.

The defence of Kuruthi :: Thrillers have been the need of the COVID-19 times, and here, one more gets added. With just above two hours of run-time, this movie manages to go through the thrills in the darkness. What is striking about this film is that it deals with the hatred which has always existed in the mind of man, something which has spread in the minds over humanity, leading to the idea of the “other”, thriving through the world. But the characters in the film are not just motivated by the same, and are instead having their own reasons for what they are doing during the one fateful night. Due to the same, there are some unexpected twists along with those which people can guess, and we also have some very strong dialogues going on here. Some of them might be very much memorable too. The performances also fuel the film really well, and it often comes from those characters who are considered to be lesser, but with less number of characters here, they all have roles to play in what happens in an eventful night.

The claws of flaw :: There were many routes for this particular thriller to follow, and the trailer had suggested many. The film follows its own, and not every moment of the same seems to go in the right direction. It does misses many opportunities to create the elements of fear when the protagonist is locked inside the house with other characters, and when it could have done better, it tries to go without taking risks. There is also a scarcity female characters in the movie, and other than Srindaa, there is only a new face, Navya Davy in a flashback along with a child actress. It also seems to be in a hurry to finish things, rather than using the atmosphere in the best possible ways. Being caught in an area like this would have brought the chance for more thrilling and scary circumstances, but while looking at philosophy, the movie seems to forget the same. It could have done that at least with the total run-time being increased by a few minutes. Well, we know where vengeance can lead a movie when there is something more to fuel the same.

Performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran who was last seen in Cold Case, another thriller which released in Amazon Prime Video, is once again strong, and even though menacing from the beginning, he could have shared this more with Shine Tom Chacko. The purpose seems to be more or less as adding the star value rather than getting him more to perform. The evolution of Roshan Mathew from that very small role of Adi Kapyare Kootamani and the student role of Aanandam has been a thing to remember, and the same will be much talked about after this film too. He is the protagonist in the film, and how the film moves on, depends on his actions. He has that pain in his eyes which is reflected in his actions. It is nice to see Shine Tom Chacko getting some nice roles, but as he was last seen in a smaller work in Operation Java, this is also a comparatively smaller screen-time, even though he has a presence throughout the film. Murali Gopy has a role which is quite easy for him, and even though he is there only for a short period of time, he leaves a mark with his actions and dialogue as he has always done.

Further performers of the soul :: It is also good that Srindaa is doing roles like these instead of silly stuff like Aadu and minute as well as useless things like in Sara’s, as her work was becoming more and more of clichés. Here, she is amazingly strong in her character, and she is the only female character in the whole movie’s present. After the grandeur of Kammattipaadam, we have seen very less of Manikandan R Achari when we think how much he has been capable of doing, and he contributes well too. Then, Mamukkoya in a serious role is memorable here with a touch of humour, and we have seen the same effect with so many of actors who were focusing in comic roles in the past – he also gets the best dialogues here. Sagar Surya whom we recognize from his light-hearted comic role in Thatteem Mutteem series in Mazhavil Manorama is also here, doing the serious role, which he does in a fine manner. It is nice to see such names familiar to families coming to the big screen. Naslen K Gafoor whom we remember from Thanneermathan Dinangal also has a strong role here to play, further away from the funny side which he had then, and the same is done effectively here.

How it finishes :: Kuruthi, even though feels like a full thriller, it is surely more than just that. It seems that during COVID-19 times, ideas of making a good thriller has also been worked on, really well. Along with the same, it also takes on a society which is driven by hatred rather than anything else, as people are divided on different lines here. It shows the people who acts differently under strange circumstances, and it also has a little bit of humour in between the bleak times, and that is a nice surprise. Kuruthi is indeed a film that tries to speak about how people have been divided, and it ends without hope for the future – the bleak times of our world, with its uncertainties get reflected here, and the same is done without COVID-19 being the villain. Well, you don’t need a virus to end the world, as you always have humans. If you have seen the Russian film, The Blackout, you will have an idea of what a virus really would be, if an alien was to look at Earth before planning a full-scale invasion of the planet. Well, the only war which you win with hatred, is that which the future generations will lose, and you can see the signs if you look backwards in history. Back to the present, you fight on social media, you battle on those Youtube comments like you are brain-dead. What is the point?

Release date: 11th August 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Manu Warrier
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Roshan Mathew, Shine Rom Chacko, Murali Gopy, Srindaa, Manikandan R Achari, Mamukkoya, Sagar Surya, Navas Vallikunnu, Naslen K Gafoor, Navya Davy, Aiza Hassan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Eighteen Hours

What is the movie about? :: A group of friends is shown as making a journey through the forest, and after meeting an accident on the way, they are shot. Then the scene shifts to six hours earlier to an airport. Six students from a school are traveling from Kerala to Karnataka to take part in an inter-school competition in Bengaluru. But unfortunately, their flight is cancelled, and they have to travel by a bus instead. Along with them, there are the teachers from the school and a former student, Anupama (Indu Thampy) who is also in trouble due to the flight being cancelled. On the way, they reach the exact same place where the accident had happened, and there the bus is hijacked by a group of gunmen who were seen earlier. The gunmen are basically trying to get away from police and cross the border with a collection of drugs which they hope to exchange for a good amount of money. For the same, they hope to keep the bus and the students with them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As the bus keep moving, the police are also after them, but with the bus in their control, they are able to keep themselves going. The man in charge of the operations is Commissioner Jayakumar IPS (Shyamaprasad). Now, as the teachers, Geetha (Devi Ajith) and Vinayan (Harikrishnan) are thrown out of the bus, the remaining students are Alisha (Sanjana Nair), Elsa (Keerthana Sreekumar), Chandrika (Keerthana P Kumar), Fiza (Abhirami), Bhoomi (Anagha Ravi) and Dwani (Parthavi Vinod), along with Anupama. Now they face the biggest problem in their life, as they realize that most probably, they won’t be going back home. Even though the police do find them, they are killed by the goons. Now, they have to take the matter into their hands and try to escape, but can they do it before time runs out?

The defence of Eighteen Hours :: There is some good experimentation in the form of a survival film here, and despite having some veteran actors in smaller roles in there, we have a lot of young blood at work, as there is some risk well taken around here. But as they all come up with pretty good performances, and with the atmosphere being used very well, film turns out to be effective. The background music is effective, and there is one good song to add to it. The camera work is fantastic, and there are some fine visuals of the forest, even though the focus actually shifts in between, which affects that possibility. Almost all of the film is focused on a forest, or semi-forest area, which is a big bonus for this kind of a theme, even though more adventures through the forest would have been preferred. The final moments also bring a twist, and has hope for a possible sequel, which turned out to be a nice idea, as this film was too short with its length.

The claws of flaw :: The film doesn’t utilize all the elements to its best advantage, even though the scope was for much more – when you get people being kidnapped with the setting in the forest, you know that the possibilities are endless. After all, a forest in nobody’s permanent ally, and it doesn’t matter what your age, gender or social and economic status used to be – a criminal or an innocent, forest has its say. We have seen similar hostage situations in films before, but this one in a more stylish take on the same, with no saviours and no planning, going rather ruthlessly at it, and in a contemporary world with drug-based crimes increasing, one would expect similar things to happen more than they used to be – COVID-19 has left people highly unstable, unpredictable and ready for anything. With a run-time of just more than one and half hours, it doesn’t establish the background story that much. It could have also used more fighting sequences, along with some extra running around and hiding – this should have focused more on escaping and hiding, but it is less in comparison.

Performers of the soul :: Indu Thampy plays the leading character here, and keeps things going, as she only gains strength. The elements of Type 1 Diabetic are nicely incorporated here, as she is supposed to be playing a character with the same health problem which she has in life, and she has some action sequences which are managed really well. Among the veteran actors, only Shyamaprasad gets something to perform here, and he plays the character well when focused on him. He has good scope in playing a senior police officer, as it is shown here. We have all loved him for his skills as a director, and one has to feel that Hollywood touch which was in Ivide and Hey Jude also being reflected here as far as style is concerned. Even he has a small role to play in his films, he has always made that memorable, and it is the same case here. We had last seen him as an actor this year itself, in Chathur Mukham, and we also remember his role in Ranam, another underrated film with its own moments of glory.

Further performers of the soul :: Vijay Babu has an even smaller role even though we feel that this was going to be a bigger role from how it goes in the beginning, while Sudheer Karamana’s work is unfortunately too small for our liking, as we all expected him to make a comeback at later stages as part of the search for the bus. One has to wonder why they needed other police officers to the lead other teams when the latter was there to make an impact. Lengthier presence of such actors were required, but I guess that they can be used better in a possible sequel in the future. The newcomers do handle the work well though. While the villains do suit their role, the girls do their job really well, and considering the fact that this is the first film for most of the cast around here, everything goes very much nicely. For a number of these performers, there will be more roles coming, and bright future is there for at least some of them, depending on how things would go in their next films. Former Miss India, Mansi Sehgal is also here in a cameo.

How it finishes :: Eighteen Hours, despite missing the chance to go higher, has its own merits running through it. It should be the belief in its strengths that made sure that this one had its release not in the theatres, but on Mazhavil Manorama as well as the app, Manorama Max. With less resources and also with a lot of newcomers, the film has managed enough to be entertaining in an atmosphere which seems to make the most out of it. Even when the film seems to struggle, it manages to raise its bar later, and just like its protagonists, the movie doesn’t give up, and goes on to bring a surprise in the end. The director’s best known film was Salt Mango Tree, along with other familiar titles like Thrissur Pooram and Escape from Uganda, but this film, even though without the big names playing major roles, gets to be better, and can inspire even better flicks like this. It adds on as another interesting release during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, coming straight to home.

Release date: 1st August 2021 (Mazhavil Manorama and Manorama MAX)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Rajesh Nair
Starring: Indu Thampy, Vijay Babu, Sudheer Karamana, Shyamaprasad, Advaith Ajay, Harikrishnan, Krishnan Balakrishnan, Devi Ajith, Vimal Vijay, Sanjana Nair, Keerthana Sreekumar, Keerthana P Kumar, Abhirami, Anagha Ravi, Parthavi Vinod, Mansi Sehgal

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Malik

What is the movie about? :: Sulaiman Malik (Fahadh Faasil) is a leader of a coastal community consisting mostly of fishermen. He is taking a break from the usual activities, and is going for Hajj, when he is arrested by the police. In his coastal village of Ramadappilly, people begin an agitation. A strike is organized to demand his release, and a curfew is imposed on the area. Soon, there are riots in the streets, and the local people take on the police. It seems that there is a political game going on in the background, with corporates having a say in the same, as PA Aboobacker (Dileesh Pothan), the minister from the area also pretends that he knows nothing, and doesn’t support the request to provide some extra security to him in prison. At the same time, there are plans being made to finish Saulaiman in the prison itself, as the police hopes that this would end their troubles, and can finally bring peace to the seaside community.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Sulaiman has had a troublesome past, as he often got into trouble in school itself, and soon lands in the juvenile home, a place where he would have to go again. After dropping out from school with his best friend David Christudas (Vinay Forrt) and Peter Esthappan (Dinesh Prabhakar) he gets into smuggling with Aboobacker and Chandran (Nisthar Sait), who controls most of the happenings in the coast. But there is a rift between the groups, and they split. Sulaiman and David lead the young group which makes inroads into the business, and makes great profit at the expense of Chandran. Sulaiman falls in love with Roselin (Nimisha Sajayan), David’s sister who is the only one from the area who has studied in a college, but not many people know about this interest. At the same time, the new collector, Anwar Ali (Joju George) provides them help to start a new school. But all of a sudden, things take another twist, and Sulaiman develops into another kind of a leader, and it would change the whole equation, leading to the present events.

The defence of Malik :: Malik maintains a certain strength throughout its run, and even with its seemingly lighter moments, the same is maintained. The film goes through the strong message of political games running wild in the background, as everything seems to be planned by people in control, the government and the corporates which use religion for their own purposes, and it is more about the religious identity rather than God as long as it stays with them – of course, this is about the corporates who pay the politicians, especially those who are rather too rich. WH Auden had said about the same in his poem, Refugee Blues, on the plight of humans in comparison to animals and birds due to politicians. There are many threads of revenge and hatred which runs right through here, and some of them also takes some fine, memorable twists. The connections made here are also nice. Here, it has the struggles of the characters, and questions about who is right and who is wrong. It also takes on what happens in between everything, as something more than what meets the eye. The visuals are also really good here, as there are some fine shots of the sea and the surroundings.

Positives and negatives :: There is something that Malik seems to miss in between, some periods of time which could have been better shown here. The ending could have also been better, as the movie finishes without leaving the mark which was set earlier. In the end, there is the understanding that there is no hope, and this is where the movie seems to try and bring the beginning of a repetition. For a film which had this much of a grandeur in store, this kind of a finish doesn’t serve enough of the purpose. Maybe, the lack of triumph on the side of the common man is more or less a reflection of what actually happens in this world where the powerful will continue to reign, and it doesn’t matter who is at the helm. It does show how terrifying it will continue to be, as long as religion is in the hands of politicians, who are more of atheists rather than believers, from the way they use religion for their own advantages. Malik can surely use a more positive sequel too, even if far from reality.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has another film added to the long list of films that have made an impact. He was last seen on OTT, then too on Amazon Prime, with a wonderful performance in Joji, and this one also follows the same suite, but in a different way, as the characters go divergent in both cases. Here, he plays another strong character, and it has been one which the audience has been waiting for, since months ago – the movie has been getting delayed all the time for releasing in the theatres, and it has come to OTT, which is a perfect move, for Fahadh has his admirers everywhere. This performance from him will be listed among the big ones too. He has moments in different points of the main characters’ life, and all these time periods have something special from his side, for the audience to remember. Nimisha Sajayan who was last seen in Nayattu, also has a fine job to do here, which she manages to do without any struggle. She also has a strong role here, and the support that she provides is of high quality.

Further performers of the soul :: The next person who has our attention is Vinay Forrt, who gets into this role with ease. He adds a natural performance to the whole thing. Dileesh Pothan comes in, and plays a typical politician with his own sinister motives, and it is done naturally too. Indrans’ role of the police officer also becomes very much notable. Joju George also has some nice contribution to provide here, and he is supposed to be doing a role which was initially meant for Biju Menon. Dinesh Prabhakar is also here, adding to the totality. Appani Sarath and Sudhi Koppa have some contributions to provide here, and they do it well, only to have only a short stay there, when we were expecting something grand to be there. Salim Kumar also has a comparatively smaller role to do around here. There is the lesser known among the cast who have also done some nice job around here, and it includes Sanal Aman who played the character of Freddy, Parvathy Krishna who played the doctor, along with some police officers and people of the village.

How it finishes :: Malik was supposed to be one grand film to be released in theatre with all the grandeur that it deserved, and even its OTT release, the film maintains some of it. The wait has been worth it, when we look at the movie as a whole. The question would be still be about if it could have been more, as the expectations were that high, and there is the certainty of deviations from what was actually expected after watching the trailer. But the film is indeed strong, and with Fahadh Faasil and Nimisha Sajayan in the lead, you would expect that. Well, it is nice to see that it has finally released, because the same wouldn’t have happened in the theatres soon enough, and releasing something like Marakkar on the big screen will be a big risk even in the month of August, as we see where the COVID-19 numbers are going – it is certainly much above what was expected, and we don’t really see things getting safer with another possible wave on the way. Until then, we can also watch Cold Case, Mohan Kumar Fans, Kho Kho, Aarkkariyam etc among others on Prime again!

Release date: 15th July 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Mahesh Narayanan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Nimisha Sajayan, Joju George, Vinay Forrt, Dileesh Pothan, Anjusha CA, Divya Prabha, Amal Rajdev, Indrans, Jalaja, Salim Kumar, Appani Sarath, Sudhi Koppa, Devan, Dinesh Prabhakar, Rajesh Babu, Meenakshi Raveendran, Rajesh Sharma, Irshad, Abhijith Krishna, Nisthar Sait, Dev Mohan, Sanal Aman, Parvathy Krishna, Devaki Rajendran, Asif Yogi

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Chathur Mukham

What is the movie about? :: Clement (Alencier Ley Lopez) used to be a professor in the Kerala Agricultural University, and even though he has retired from service, has a certain amount of interest in science which can be matched by nobody else. Due to his skills in science, he is approached by Antony (Sunny Wayne) who wishes to talk to him about a certain kind of energy which can be associated with ghosts, but this time, he is trying to connect the same with science in one way or the other. Clement is a strong believer in science, but not in ghosts, and he is not ready to believe in Antony’s tale about energy in the form of ghosts. Then, Antony comes up with the full story about the woman who was haunted by ghosts, Thejaswini (Manju Warrier). She is someone who spends most of her time in the social media, and has everything related to her life posted on Instagram. She belongs to a new generation which believes that technology is an important part of life, and also that women needs to have education and financial independence before getting married.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Hailing from Kollam, she works with her old friend, Antony who has been running a CCTV business at Thiruvananthapuram as a new venture. Things seem to work out well for her until a strange incident occurs during a ritual at temple and she losses her phone in the temple pond. This leads to her deciding to go for another phone, and she hopes she can find the cheapest one with multimedia features. It is then that she comes across a special offer in a website which seems to have started only a few days ago. This is a type of phone belonging to a brand that nobody had heard about, and they guess that it is some kind of new Chinese device. She orders the same, and gets it only to find out that there is something strange about it. She finds out that there are messages going out of it without her consent, and she even gets electrocuted from the charger, but the mobile phone seems to have full charge even after a long time period of usage. Initially, she feels that only the selfie camera of the phone is the weaker link.

And what is to follow with the terrifying series of events? :: But there is much more to the mobile phone than what meets the eye. The sequence of events unfold in such a way that she becomes afraid of her own mobile phone. She tries to get rid of the phone multiple times, but it ends up being with her, or forces her to take it back in one way or the other. Even dropping the phone in the middle of the road or the temple pond doesn’t help. As the phone continues to come towards her and cause problems, she becomes confident that there is a ghost haunting the phone. She approaches a local magician, but the spirit scares him away too, and she is forced to live with the phone which seems to slowly taking her to death. Clement is still not convinced, and decides to see the woman anyway. But this leads them to a strange past that the mobile phone seems to have a strange and mysterious past, and it is not the only phone that belongs to the same category.

The defence of Chathur Mukham :: The film provides a good deviation from the usual horror films, with technology bringing the horror again, as it was surely tried before, but not with this much focus on science. The cinematography is one thing that increases the effectiveness of this film, as we can see them. These are not the usual horror settings, but the different ones which can provide the environment in a similar manner with variety. With the mobile phone at the centre, this doesn’t even need to have that much of the usual jump scares in action to bring the horror to the social media and the usual dose of technology. There is also the chance of a sequel which is left behind at the end. The special effects are used well enough, and there are some fine explanations to the horror which is added here too. Having Manju Warrier as the main character is also a good addition. With technology being an integral part of our lives, the ghost from technology is more relevant here in comparison to those spirits which wandered through cemeteries and old haunted houses.

The claws of flaw :: There are the usual kind of things which have been done before, and these repetitions bring us back to different films which we have seen before, like The Ring and The Final Destination series. The dramatic side is also not that effective in comparison, and some characters are just not used well enough. With the concept having the deviation, the film could have made it even more innovative, but by the end, film is moving more towards a safer side rather than anything else. It could have also focused on the background, or added more scares, which are not considered either. The ending could have also been better, because there was the chance for creating something grand. It could have also had some science fiction elements taking over in between, but that doesn’t happen, and the film could have also had more deaths, and more spreading of terror. When you have spirits in store within a mobile phone and when it has effect on technology and electricity, you know there are no limits that need to established – it could have run free.

Performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier leads the way in a horror film, and even though this genre is not unfamiliar to her, when we consider The Priest, this is time she faces the ghost, her own fears and death as a strong character. Sunny Wayne, just like he did in Sara’s and June, has the supporting role in another heroine-centered film, which he does in his usual way, being the second most important character around here. He doesn’t really have his moments this time though, but manages to hold on. Niranjana Anoop is unfortunately wasted in a small role here, and the character doesn’t even get killed by the ghost – a few others at least had moments in that way in comparison. The other actors who deserved more attention, including Rony David, Srikant Murali, Babu Annur etc also have their roles limited. Alencier Ley Lopez is the only other actor who comes into the spotlight, and this happens to be a nice change for him from the usual roles. Meanwhile, Shyamaprasad is notable in his small role, while mobile phone is definitely a character all by itself with its ghostly presence.

How it finishes :: Identified as techno horror, the film does have its moments. We have already had ghosts haunting electronic devices, especially mobile phones – the Bollywood film 3G was related to the same, and this one is certainly a better creation in comparison, even though it released eight years later. Pretham and Pretham 2 were also wanderings through the spiritual presence in technology. There are many things that make Chathur Mukham different though, and Manju Warrier is surely one of those elements. This one also works as a warning against the presence of technology in our lives. This is the kind of film which could have released on the OTT platforms much earlier – this delay has made the interest in the movie much lesser, and the fact that it didn’t release in Amazon Prime Video also contributes to that. Cold Case with its ghost in the refrigerator had already made the supernatural working online, and now we have this ghost to haunt the OTT, which it surely does pretty well.

Release date: 8th April 2021 (India), 8th July 2021 (ZEE 5)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Ranjeet Kamala Sankar, Salil V
Starring: Manju Warrier, Sunny Wayne, Alencier Ley Lopez, Rony David, Shyamaprasad, Niranjana Anoop, Babu Annur, Srikant Murali, Shaju Sreedhar, Kalabhavan Prajod, Balaji Sarma, Navas Vallikkunnu, Saranjith

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sara’s

What is the movie about? :: Sara (Anna Ben) needs to get many things right, and making a name in the film field is only one of them. She has her own set of beliefs, and is not ready to step away from them, no matter the cost happens to be. From her school days itself, she was afraid of having a child, and she maintains that aversion throughout her life. She is bothered by her father Vincent’s (Benny P Nayarambalam) constant requests to get a boyfriend, without which they will come up with a match themselves. It is then that she meets Jeevan (Sunny Wayne), who had left his job in Bangalore and returned home, presently taking care of his sister’s children. When the two meet later, they are united by their lack of interest in having children, and decide to fall in love. They feel that there is a connection between them, and the two decide to wait for a few years before they marry – she hopes that she can study him well during that time, and also get her new movie going.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Their world consists of only the two of them, and they hope to keep it the same without any unwanted trouble. But when their parents come to know about the relationship, things don’t go that smoothly. They are forced to get married too soon, but the two decide to go with the flow without resisting the same. Sara continues to try and get her script accepted by a producer willing to let her direct the film. At the same time, Jeevan goes back to job again. Sara is disappointed by her inability to convince the producers, but things get only worse for her when she gets pregnant. All the relatives come to know about it, and their happiness is only matched by Sara’s disappointment. She hasn’t changed a bit as far as her ideology about children is concerned, even though Jeevan is now not sure. The equations have changed now, and what they had thought earlier might not work any longer.

The defence of Sara’s :: There can always be something about feel-good movies, and that something is carried over here too, with the feeling being too good. Jude Anthany Joseph’s mastery over the same is something on which everybody would agree. The emotional side is strong, and the light-hearted elements with the usual touch of humour works really well here. The reflections of the usual life and the disagreements between generations can also be seen in the flick. It is to be noted that the light-hearted feeling is maintained throughout the film, and it never slips away from the same during its two hours of seemingly perfect run-time, even though it deviates a little bit. As a female centered film, the protagonist does have more to tell you than what meets the eye. There is the requirement to understand that the purpose of marriage is not to have children as soon as you are married, and that parenthood is a responsibility for which everyone has to be prepared well. When people have children in less than an year after marriage, and when they choose to keep having more and more of kids almost every year, it is strange. There is always an intellectual purpose in life as far as humans are concerned, and it is being left behind by these people, both men and women. This film should be an awakening for them, as well as for those who marry early, without maturity coming to them. In India, as more the youth is more dependent on parents it takes them about twenty eight to thirty three years old to be really mature. It is surprising to see some people getting married at the age of twenty one and eighteen, and the recent cases on suicides in the name of domestic violence and dowry were all from those who married too early, especially without the women not being allowed to complete their studies or work freely.

The claws of flaw :: Sara’s could have been more with its ideas, and there was also a chance to add more of light-hearted comedy with those usual kind of situations. You are never really short of some feel-good ideas in our world, and chances for humour were many, but not many of them are taken. It often struggles to make comedy out of silly stuff. The movie should have actually released one day earlier during the weekend, and it would have had more viewers due to the weekend lock-down being imposed, and this flaw in release date will decrease its viewers by a considerable number. These are the kind of choices which make sure how many people watch the film from an OTT platform. Also expectations after Jude Anthany Joseph’s previous movies were very high, and this one has to match that, but this one is more about the ups and downs. This one is certainly not that much fun in comparison with the earlier films, and we also have a little bit more of an emotional side at work here. The final moments seem to have gone for the quick solution, instead of making things innovative. The film is also too materialistic in its viewpoint with main characters going for the selfish motive, the kind which won’t hesitate to cheat and murder if needed, and its heroine wouldn’t be ideal in a morality tale, but as she is shown as a person interested only in films, maybe she is more of a reflection of people in who are part of movies rather than common people. After all, it is difficult for the protagonist to understand that she is not an island, but it is to be noted that the people around her matches her in being judgmental.

Performers of the soul :: With his third venture which seems to resemble the earlier successful works from him, it is Jude Anthany Joseph who has our attention here, more than the main actors and actresses of this film, and it is with high expectations that we are watching this particular flick. The work of Anna Ben remains the same, natural, and perfectly suited for a role like this. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen had her realistic acting skills bringing some surprise to us. This time, we are having exactly what we expected from here, and one more natural performance brings us an lovable film. She is the one actress who makes the perfect new generation star who blends in so well with the roles given to her. Benny P Nayarambalam, Anna’s real-life father plays her father in the film too, and that is indeed a nice addition to the movie. Siddique is also there, and you know what to expect when the veteran actor is once again there, and doing his usual stuff – he has more or less become an integral part of the feel-good Malayalam movies of these times.

Further performers of the soul :: Sunny Wayne is here in a film which is not centered on him, but that comes as no surprise to him, as he was the hero in Annmaria Kalippilaanu, but was not the protagonist there too. He was very good in the earlier supporting roles, and with different roles like the villain in Kayamkulam Kochunni and the surprise entry in June, he is known for these kind of roles more than for being the sole hero in flicks like Alamara and a number of lesser known ones. Before this film, we had him everywhere with that song “Kaamini” in Anugraheethan Antony due to the producers of Chathur Mukham failing to bring it to OTT platforms at a time when films like Cold Case, Drishyam 2, Mohan Kumar Fans, Nizhal, The Priest, Aarkkariyam and Joji scored so high in Amazon Prime Video, Nayattu in Netflix and Kho Kho with Operation Java in ZEE 5. It is also good to see Mallika Sukumaran going through her usual kind of work, and we also see others who have much less to do in here, even though they all form a part.

How it finishes :: This is the third film of Jude Anthany Joseph after Ohm Shanthi Oshaana and Oru Muthassi Gadha, both of those movies being excellent feel-good entertainers, and the former had also won the Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value at the 45th Kerala State Film Awards, as well as making sure that Nazriya Nassim earned a Best Actress Award too. So, this one certainly came with high expectations, especially considering the fact that Anna Ben is a more complete actress in comparison to those who were part of his earlier ventures. The expectations do provide some good results here, as Sara’s is indeed a movie to watch without having too much of the emotional feeling while dealing with similar topics and its light-hearted take on the usual kind of stuff and with a desire for change in the attitudes of the society makes it an interesting watch during these days which still continue have a certain kind of COVID-19 lock-down restrictions going on here and there. Therefore, the audience of all age groups can give it a chance.

Release date: 5th July 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Jude Anthany Joseph
Starring: Anna Ben, Sunny Wayne, Dominic Arun, Siddique, Srindaa, Margret Antony, Siju Wilson, Dhanya Varma, Benny P Nayarambalam, Mallika Sukumaran, Prasanth Nair

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cold Case

What is the movie about? :: ACP Sathyajith (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is in charge of an investigation of a case which has turned cold. As a skull is discovered in the backwaters near Trivandrum, from within a cover, and it becomes an internet sensation, the requirement is to discover its origins as soon as possible. But Sathyajith has to start with no clue on where to begin the investigation, but with the help of CI Ziyad (Anil Nedumangad) and the new recruit Neela (Pooja Mohanraj), he has to make a move quickly. At the same time, Medha (Aditi Balan) is a recently divorced mother of a little girl, and finds a new home somewhere around Trivandrum. She is an investigative journalist who is interested in paranormal happenings, only to find something strange in the new house which she had rented. There is something cold about her new home, and the AC, refrigerator, television, laptop, lights – everything electric seems to have something to do with it. To add to it, her daughter also has a strange doll given by her sister who committed suicide.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Medha finds out a name from a blind occult researcher, Zara Zacchai (Suchitra Pillai), and the presence had a name, Eva Maria (Athmiya Rajan), who has a troubled history. She tries to find out the secret behind the disappearance of the woman with that particular name, while Sathyajith also comes across a similar name, from a dental transplant which remained on the skull. Now the question remains where Eva Maria has disappeared, and whether the skull points to somebody else. Medha’s advocate who filed the divorce, Haritha Manakkal (Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli) points her to Eva’s previous husband who is now married to a wealthy lady, and Sathyajith also digs up her past, from her family which included her stepmother and children. But Eva Maria hadn’t disappeared for everyone, and some people feel that she had taken a spiritual path. There is more than what meets the eye about Eva, but with ghosts and murderers around, can truth somehow make it outside?

The defence of Cold Case :: Here, Cold Case comes up as another interesting thriller with a supernatural side, combining both elements quite well. The supernatural side is also nicely used, even though it is not combined well enough in totality. There are some nice moments of horror around here, and there are fine twists to go with it. With some red herrings added here and there, the film makes sure that we don’t get that much of a clue about who is behind all of these happenings. There is always something here to keep the horror going, and the suspense does keeps us guessing – we do come up with many possible villains, but this asks for more than the usual guesses. The use of refrigerator and the cold works pretty well, but the hair doesn’t. Above everything, the cast is also good, and with fine support, things work better. This one can have its sequel for sure, as there is that opening which is left to be explored in the end.

The claws of flaw :: Cold Case, while trying to do it differently, focuses on too many things, and due to the same reason, has some diversion, which was not needed. The problem with having such diversions is that the most important thing, the police investigation is not always on the lead. The other side following the supernatural lead often seems to be not necessary, as we keep having moments from both sides. An expansion of the supernatural, and making it connect directly with the police investigation would have improved the work further. The idea about another death is also kept in the balance, to be explored in a sequel if there is any. The film certainly had so many opportunities, and it should have taken it, maybe even at the expense of extending the film by half an hour or so. If this had released when most of the Indian states were in lock-down, it would have managed many more audience too, but this is surely going to gain its fans, anyway.

Performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran in a thriller has always been joy to watch, and there is no better example for the same than Memories, one of the best investigation thrillers of all-time as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned. Kunchacko Boban’s triple thrillers of Anjaam Pathira, Nayattu and Nizhal seemed to suggest that a deviation was coming in the genre, and the usual police officer solving a case was gone, a case reiterated by Tovino Thomas in Forensic – none of these films had the police officers solving the problem. Prithviraj as the protagonist, the police officer goes after the case here in a more systematic manner as we see it. He is certainly the hero here, even though the tale does provide a side for the lady protagonist too. He is indeed the one who solves the problem here, and any ghostly help which comes from outside was not that much needed. We see that Prithviraj comfortably go through the role here, and has no direct contact with the paranormal side to ask for help.

Further performers of the soul :: Aditi Balan makes her Malayalam debut in style too. She does have her moments, but her character doesn’t have that much strength to add to this investigation, which is in control of the police. Almost all the supernatural elements are related to her, and she excels in her first Malayalam film, far above her character, as we also see the focus shifting to her effectively. This is also one of the final films of the talented Anil Nedumangad, who died by drowning in a dam reservior a few months ago. He once again proves to be of fine support yet again. Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli who was last seen in Malayalam cinema in the movies Angels and Salt Mango Tree can be seen in a certain kind of a return here too, and she has done a neat work here. Alencier Ley Lopez has much more to contribute here than what earlier met the eye. Athmeeya Rajan of the Joseph fame is once again here as the lady everyone is searching for, and she has done some fine work, even though we have much less of her on the screen.

How it finishes :: Cold Case is not the usual kind of investigative thriller, as there is the supernatural side going strong from one angle, which might have been less expected from the work. There are lots of interesting moments in this film, and it also leaves a scope for a sequel in the end. It is part of that long list of thrillers which have brought the entertainment to us during the COVID-19 season, and with some horror effects to add to the investigation, this is also one nice flick to watch in the theatre, if there is ever any opening of the same in the upcoming months. We can only thank Amazon Prime Video for bringing us films like these which keeps the entertainment coming to our laptops. When Kilometers and Kilometers released on television, people had the feeling that this was not going to work, but now we have so many films which have released or had a later release in the OTT platform. Cold Case makes it there, and it also scores well, just like the other Malayalam films which came to OTT, with Drishyam 2 in the lead.

Release date: 30th June 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Tanu Balak
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Aditi Balan, Anil Nedumangad, Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, Nitha Promy, Athmeeya Rajan, Pooja Mohanraj, Suchitra Pillai, Gibin Gopinath, Alencier Ley Lopez, Parvathy T, Baby Aleena, Tessa Simon, Rajesh Hebbar

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mohan Kumar Fans

What is the movie about? :: Mohan Kumar (Siddique) used to be a huge superstar until he lost the race to the younger stars. He does believe that it was the result of black magic done by his rival actors. After a long gap, he does get a role to play in a critically acclaimed movie, for which everyone feels that he will get an award. His daughter Sreeranjini Mohankumar (Anarkali Nazar), is an interior designer who wishes to be a singer, for which she tries her luck in different reality shows. Krishnan Unni (Kunchacko Boban), is a youngster who is also trying to make it big as a playback singer. They meet at a reality show, and he is also sent to work for Mohan Kumar as the driver by Prakash (Mukesh), his old friend and a struggling producer who is trying to make a film with Kripesh aka Aghosh Menon (Vinay Forrt), a young superstar who is extremely arrogant, and thinks that he is above everyone. Krishnan Unni and Sreeranjini start competing in the reality show, mostly as a team, and Mohan Kumar also becomes fond of the young man who is there to help him.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Kripesh continues to try to make a name in the industry, as his fame rises, and tells everyone that his living together partner Brighty Menon (Deepa Thomas) is a sisterly figure, and fakes different events in which he is shown as a man with love and respect, raising his popularity even higher with PR work. When Arun Rajeev (Adil Ibrahim) and Prakash approaches him with a new film script, his demands only get higher. Meanwhile it is just another downwards journey for the former star, as the critical acclaimed film is taken out of the theatres much to the dismay of Mohan Kumar, who felt that he was going back to that stardom with all the appreciation he received, even more than Kripesh who was originally supposed to be the hero, but was sidelined in front of his fantastic performance. After a fight with Hamsa Randathani (Nisthar Sait), his name is nicely taken out of the Kerala state awards final list, but there is still hope for National Awards – yet, it is to be seen if they can find a way to take it to Delhi with time running out, and a lot more to be done.

The defence of Mohan Kumar Fans :: The movie’s messages are strong, for it is against the vanity and arrogance which has been going on in the film industry. The lack of quality in the visual media is also shown, and it also displays YouTube, Instagram and other social media as what it is, showing how celebrities use fake videos or good for nothing videos just to gain popularity, while skilled performers and quality actors don’t get the recognition they need. Well, if one actress stand outside her home and take a video, it gains so many viewers and appreciation, and it more or less shows the same. Well, you know that literacy means the ability to read and write, and with so many videos being preferred over written content, one has to wonder if it is because of the lack of literacy among people. Our YouTube-Instagram loving celebrities in the film might be suffering from that illiteracy too. It is shown with very nicely prepared humour with fine satire, and the feel-good factor is also high around here. The songs are just okay, and it is not short of some touching moments.

The claws of flaw :: As this movie makes fun of a certain group of people and says the truth about them, such people won’t like it – especially the blind superstar fans, creators of nonsense in YouTube and Instagram as well as those so called celebrities who try to become popular by fake means. For others, they will surely like the film, but they won’t be able to dismiss the fact that this should have had more depth with its content. Mohan Kumar Fans is that kind of a film which could have taken each of its strong elements into another level, but it is certainly not able to do that because it has chosen to travel through a safe path – the feel-good side can always get you over the line, but if you stick on to that, and play safe, it is like aiming for run-a-ball in an IPL match when there is good chance for stroke-play. Maybe, they did so because there was not much of a competition in the theatres with less number of big Malayalam films being released and less number of people watching in the theatres – but that would just be an excuse if we think so.

The performers of the soul :: This one comes after the director’s films which have maintained the feel-good factor at some point, starting with Bicycle Thieves, my least favourite film in a long time, the definite improvement in Sunday Holiday, the bigger improvement in Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and now this film, which also has Asif Ali in a cameo, making all these films Asif starrers. Well, you know that who else was there in all these movies, and it is Siddique, with his biggest role in this movie, as he is the real protagonist here, with everything centered around him, and all things being about him only. It ultimately becomes all about the positive message that is spread through his life, and in that, this movie races ahead of all among the director Jis Joy’s movies, except Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, which was much more ahead in the race. Siddique, the veteran actor, nicely stays at the core of the film, and manages everything in his usual style. If this much was done in a feel-good film, you can guess how much more could have been done if this was a serious tragedy.

Further performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban outside the thriller mode of Nizhal and Nayattu, does have his moments, as he is indeed the hero here, trying to keep the main character happy and ready to take the risks just for the sake of the man. Anarkali Nazar is a lovely addition here, as we see her for the first time, and despite the introduction not being that great, we see that the emotions work really well for her. Among the rest, it is Vinay Forrt who stays with us the most, with one of the best satires on the superstars who can’t really act, but tries to get mileage through videos posted in YouTube, Instagram or any social media. As video medium attracts the illiterate and those who find it difficult to read English, these celebrities get more attention that they need, and being as fake as the character he displays here, their first option will always be YouTube to fake their life in front of the blind fans, who will share the same in social media, displaying their foolishness as much as they can. After Saroj Kumar, his Aagosh Menon strikes gold with the satire.

How it finishes :: Mohan Kumar Fans does take an approach which the movies like Driving Licence didn’t have the courage to take. Instead of taking the side of the common man, it had stood with the superstar and his fans. This movie is courageous in that case, taking the side of the common people, and it focuses on the gracious actor instead of the dumb superstar, the dumbness of the latter nicely shown throughout the film, and it also shows everything fake that has been running through YouTube. We keep seeing those celebrities doing YouTube videos, and we know that they are all fake, but there will always be those people who watch such nonsense posted by such people who are only looking for fame. Well, if a celebrity post any nonsense on YouTube, everyone wants to watch that, and if something sensible is posted on YouTube by the common man, you know how it is left unnoticed – it is such an age, when quality is not rewarded, a common problem with the visual media in comparison to the written one. This is the same reason why people who are looking for easy paths to success without hard work won’t like this flick. For others, this works in varying levels of interest, mostly on the higher levels.

Release date: 19th March 2021 (Theatre), 21st May 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Anarkali Nazar, Siddique, Mukesh, Sreenivasan, Saiju Kurup, Vinay Forrt, Ramesh Pisharody, TG Ravi, Alencier Ley Lopez, Major Ravi, Joy Mathew, Krishna Shankar, Adil Ibrahim, Sudheer Karamana, KPAC Lalitha, Deepa Thomas, Srikant Murali, Anjali Nair, Prasanth Alexander, Sreelakshmi, Sethu Lakshmi, Nisthar Sait

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<— Click here to go to the previous Amazon Prime film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kho Kho

What is the movie about? :: Maria Francis (Rajisha Vijayan) is appointed as a PT teacher in a girls’ school, in the remote area of a village which is surrounded by backwaters. She is forced to take up the job because her husband Ben (Venkitesh VP) was facing failure in business, and was in requirement of the money. Maria used to be a sprinter, and was very close to representing India at an international level when something terrible happened in her life. At the new school, the two people who is in support of her activities are the peon Shivaprasad (Renjit Shekar Nair) and the accountant Vinod (Rahul Riji Nair), the latter being doubtful about the requirement for a PT teacher in the school, yet being interested in Maria. After some days of doing almost nothing in the school which has historically given no importance to arts and sports, she decides to create a kho-kho team for the first time in school history, a move much appreciated by the headmaster.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: With a confused but hardworking team led by the stubborn Anju (Mamitha Baiju) who has her own mood swings and not missing her chance to pick up a fight, Maria hopes to make history through her students, and achieve greatness which she couldn’t earlier due to circumstances. The parents of the students are against the students choosing sports instead of using that time for studies, and do not appreciate the fact that the girls are going somewhere far away to compete. But as they qualify for the district level competitions, they do manage to gain a certain amount of support. The girls’ problem related to balancing studies and sports, their problem with wearing shorts within a conservative world and Anju’s attraction towards Shivaprasad might be the least of the problems with Maria will have to face here. Can she and Anju lead the team towards seemingly impossible victories and an even more elusive final triumph?

The defence of Kho-Kho :: Depending more on the emotions than anything else, Kho-Kho also has the usual moments of thrill with the games. It is the common motivational story of the underdogs who had no chance, but with hardwork and inspired performance, comes out victorious against all odds. The characters and the setting become interesting in this case, as this goes through life of common people for most of the time. We also have some nice visuals to go with the same. There are many exciting scenes here to remember too. The struggles of the characters involved here are shown well, especially the two main characters played by Rajisha and Mamitha. The feeling which was provided by Finals is somewhat repeated in this movie, and if you had like that movie, this will be on your favourite sports drama list too. The songs are pretty good, and they go on well with the visuals as well as the mood, and so does the background music. Unlike Chak De! India and Dangal, this is the real woman-centric film with empowerment, and without those unnecessary superstar exaggerations, and that feels true to life in many ways.

The claws of flaw :: Kho-Kho is certainly not that big as Finals, the other film with the same actress in the lead. The background story which keeps on moving silently is not that strong when we look at it. The premise feels similar to other movies, and we can predict a lot of things which are going to happen here. A number of training scenes and events are more repetitive rather than trying to do something different or unpredictable. To add to it, some dialogues actually look more artificial, right out of paper, rather than coming with the emotional weight. Venkitesh is also very much underused in another movie after The Priest limited him, and Thattumpurath Achuthan‘s song presence had made us feel that he would be a regular full presence. More of the girls in the cast should have got more attention though, at least half of them. The release of the movie on Asianet was delayed by a week, and it was Drishyam 2 which had its television release then, a disappointing decision from the channel which might have kept some people away.

The performers of the soul :: We have seen Rajisha Vijayan only in a few movies, and among them, we have seen such great skill. We have seen her in the grand performances from Anuraga Karikkin Vellam which brought her the Kerala State Award for Best Actress, through the nostalgia-inducing coming-of-age story of June, to the earlier sports drama of high acclaim, Finals. It is to be noted that in both sports drama, Rajisha plays a character with a tragedy to go with both life and career. With her role beginning as the trainer, the tragic background was established much earlier here. Rajisha once again has the whole thing in control here, and from the beginning to the end, it is a determined as well as emotional performance. Well, Finals was the best movie of the season when it released, but many people missed the work on the big screen, and the same is the case here too due to COVID-19, and it seems that the early television premieres are changing some of the situation here, with everyone getting the needed access not too late.

Further performers of the soul :: Mamitha Baiju who was also seen in Operation Java plays the captain of the team, and plays her role in a very much believable manner, with all the emotions and determination required for the role. She will surely be a talent to look out for, with more of similar roles. There is the rage and a flurry of emotions that she comes up with, which suits very well for her character with a troubled past. Unlike the character she played in the Balu Varghese starrer, the energy here is intense. Venkitesh VP as the protagonist’s husband has only a limited role, and we are still hoping to see him in bigger roles, like we have wanted all those actors and actresses in the Naayika Naayakan reality show to come out with their performances on the big screen. Renjit Shekar Nair and the director himself – Rahul Riji Nair comes up with good supporting performances. Vettukili Prakash’s role might have felt unnecessary. The cast of girls in the team is also nicely done, and at least quarter of them stay with us by the end, even though not more than one or two gets extra attention.

How it finishes :: Kho-Kho is another sports drama which you don’t need to miss, and it is also a film which goes through the base level of the game, without overdoing the same. Just like Finals, it is nice to see another sport with lesser fans getting all the attention, and not the highly fan favourite Indian sport of cricket or football which comes second. Cricket never really required movies as support, but some sports can have films made on them to bring out interest back to them, and this is the same case happening here. The movie is a reminder of a sport which is often left unnoticed among the bigger names. Kho-Kho is a film that can have even a sequel with this content, and there are times when it also reminds us of Godha, which brought back memories of wrestling as a sport. These are indeed the films which needs our support, and not those overrated stuff which has wandered around with a lot of hype and no substance. Kho-Kho needs to come back to television or release on Amazon Prime at some point to expand its horizons.

Release date: 14th April 2021 (Theatre), 28th May 2021 (Asianet)
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Riji Nair
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Mamitha Baiju, Renjit Shekar Nair, Venkitesh VP, Vettukili Prakash, Arjun Ranjan, Sreejith Babu, Jeo Baby, Geethi Sangeetha, Rahul Riji Nair

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aarkkariyam

What is the movie about? :: Ittyavira (Biju Menon) is a retired mathematics teacher who is spending his time alone in a village in the district of Kottayam. At the same time, his daughter Shirley (Parvathy Thiruvothu) and her second husband Roy (Sharafudheen) are living in Andheri, Mumbai, and are planning to come back to Kerala after some time, despite the COVID-19 restrictions being further imposed everywhere. The coming of Corona has kept all of them in their own space, without much contact with outside world, and the spread of Corona virus had also brought some financial crisis to Roy and Shirley. The former’s business was already failing and there is no success in mutual fund either. The two manage to come all the way to Kerala to Shirley’s hometown and meet Ittyvira, who is really happy to see them. But they are also not able to meet their daughter, as the borders are closed. They apply for permission, but soon, a nation-wide lock-down is imposed, and they are all stuck there in their home in the village.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The lock-down changes their lives by a long way, and the restrictions reach their place too. The already interior home now feels even more away from civilization. This is the time when people were only beginning to understand the COVID-19 situation, and everyone was expecting all these problems to be solved as the virus would eradicated in the end of lock-down. One of the consignments of Roy is now stuck with the customs, and without that, there is nothing much that can be done. Now, the only way to get some quick money so that they can pay back Vyshak (Saiju Kurup) is by selling the ancestral lands, and it is Ittyvira who provides them that idea. But there are some complications related to the same, as there seems to be some secrets from the past which need to be taken care of. Roy begins to feel uncomfortable about the same, but there is nothing that he can do, other than worry about the same.

The defence of Aarkkariyam :: Aarkkariyam would seem to be a usual film in a village setting, but it is surely more than that – we get the idea only later though. Every moment in this movie nicely contributes to keep it going, and it is not that long either with each second in there used in an interesting manner. It does have that fine punch at the interval, something that makes the film take another route from the second half. The title itself is a worthy one here, as we keep wondering who all knows about a number of things including a sinister event and a person who was involved in the same. The performance of the three main characters elevates the film further, and the supporting cast is also interesting. The surroundings are nicely created, and the feeling of Pala-Kanjirappilly area is given with the rural touch everywhere, from the people to the environment. The film also focuses on the different opinions that different people would have about one person, and how polarized the same happens to be – how one can pretend to be good among the common people.

The claws of flaw :: Aarkkariyam is not the kind of movie which you would expect, as it has a certain deviation in store there. It is also slow at times, and there are lots of moments when nothing happens, even though they do contribute to the mood. There is also the presence of some usual cliché stuff here, but the same will go on and pass. Even if it feels like family drama, it doesn’t suit into that genre completely, and one would have doubt about the kind of audience it is actually looking for – even though we can keep it for the common audience in general. A little bit more of the moments in Mumbai and their return to hometown as well as a few twists in between would have helped more, even if it would deviate further away from the genre. It was an opportunity for something more, and there was the chance to be a classic, but the film manages to keep it going straight and without adding any special ingredient into it – maybe because there was the feeling that it was not needed, like Kungfu Panda would agree.

The performers of the soul :: This movie, as expected has Biju Menon with a performance to remember, and that too with a different kind of work. He has embraced this role like Vijayaraghavan did, as he moved from the usual kind of hero to the senior roles. Much elder to Biju Menon, he would be the one we would expect in a role like this, something which he has done in earlier films, but not as the protagonist like we see here. We know that other older superstars are still playing the characters of lower age group, but Biju Menon has had the courage to take it to the next level. If we remember his last few films, we will see that this difference in looks has come unexpected, and by a long way. Even as everything is kept simple about the character, there is always something to remember with this act. There are also those simple dialogues will stay, and sometimes come back – it is one realistic performance to remember as we look at it.

Further performers of the soul :: The movie is indeed about Biju Menon, but others do play their part too. Parvathy Thiruvothu once again has a role to remember, as she blends in here nicely, just like she has done so many times with ease not limited to her most appreciated performances in Uyare, Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. She does get pushed to the background though, as the film progresses. It is also nice to see Sharafudheen in a serious role this time. We have been so much used to see him in those comic roles, except for that villainy in Varathan and the psychotic side in Anjaam Pathira, but those were kind of exaggerated when we have a look back – this is really a fine change here from the early comic side in Premam and the same later in Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela. The two match with their performances, and the cast has worked really well. Saiju Kurup plays the supporting role in the usual kind of way, but could have been part of more of the action too. Shoba Mohan is the only person here who gives the feeling that we have seen the person before.

How it finishes :: The first movie directed by cinematographer Sanu John Varghese is not something that we can leave behind. This is the kind of movie which I would have surely watched in the theatre early enough, if there was no COVID-19. It was a good decision to release this one on Amazon Prime Video along with Neestream, Roots Video and Cave OTT platforms because most of us were always going to watch it on Prime Video only – it is still difficult to find the movie there because of the spelling required to be exactly as it is when searching, and surprisingly it is also not on the list of the new film releases on Amazon. But we do get to it anyway, and during this time of lock-down and triple lock-down in Kerala, this is the kind of movie that reminds us of last year’s lock-down exactly as it is, and it is more or less a realistic experience that we go through – the kind which we had seen in Joji, and also in Nayattu even though this one keeps the thriller side at a distance.

Release date: 1st April 2021 (Theatre), 19th May 2021 (Amazon Prime Video, Neestream, Roots Video, Cave)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Sanu John Varghese
Starring: Biju Menon, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Sharafudheen, Arya Salim, Ganga G Nair, Saiju Kurup, Thejaswi Praveen, Shoba Mohan, Jacob George, Pramod Veliyanad

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Operation Java

What is the movie about? :: Anthony George (Balu Varghese) and Vinaya Dasan (Lukman) are two unemployed youth who have finished Engineering. Things are not easy for them, as finding a job had become more difficult than ever, and they have been trying for a job for such a long time, with neighbours and relatives ridiculing their situation. They manage to change things around as they provide a new perspective to a film piracy case cyber cell office providing a new perspective to a famous film piracy case related to the film, Premam. The police decides to reopen the case and conduct further investigation with their help. This leads them to Jerry (Mathew Thomas) and Anjali (Anju Mary Thomas) who are studying in the same school, and finally they get to the person behind all the trouble. Still, the credit of solving the case goes to the crime branch. Anthony’s former classmate and lover, Alphonsa (Mamitha Baiju) who is a nurse, also leaves him because she gets an offer from Ireland, with a grand salary package.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: When there is the chance for an internship in a cyber cell, the police officers call the two to join as the officers Prathap Chandran (Irshad) and Joy Pulimoottil (Binu Pappu) recommend them due to their previous service. The two come across different cases, most of which are the result of carelessness. There are the usual cases of cheating through Facebook, OTP etc among others which are of even more serious nature. The only media favourite case was that of Ramanathan (Vinayakan) and Janaki (Dhanya Ananya) who are trying to prove that the latter is not a part of a video. But soon, they come across a case filed by Anthony’s former lover Alphonsa who had lost more than two lakhs of rupees which she had given for a job in Ireland. The newcomers are asked to find the details of the case. But this case won’t be the only thing that they will have to worry about. This journey with the cyber cell would decide their future.

The defence of Operation Java :: There are many things that Operation Java shows without pretensions, as this is indeed a realistic work on the lines of Action Hero Biju, but without the superstar power. Almost everything here feels real, and with the usual cybercrime cases being mentioned, this stays close to what usually happens with people, and is shown in news channels. During these times when cybercrimes continue to be on the rise, the film also serves as a reminder to what all can happen, and the title Java seems to point to the computer language of the same name more than anything else. There is also the situation of the new graduates who don’t have a job shown here through the lives of the two main characters, and that can also be seen in some of the crimes being investigated here. Loss of cash from account through online means, creating fake videos and making them viral, online job scams have made part of news on many occasions.

Positives and negatives :: Operation Java might not be the movie for everyone, as there will also be people looking for the superhero mode when there is a police investigation, even though Anjaam Pathira and Forensic did make certain move against the same, minimizing action, and maximizing the focus on the procedure of finding the culprit. But you will know that this is as much enjoyable as anything else. The final case in the movie is indeed the most interesting of them all, even though there are lots of interesting things related the cyber cell happening in between. The fights which happen in between are also as realistic as it can get. When the film released, people might have been confused about what kind of a movie this was, but that problem is solved for now, and the OTT platforms deserve your presence now. The film has that kind of a cast, the type which seems to be so perfectly done, and we can expect wonders from them too.

The performers of the soul :: Balu Varghese in a serious role here instead of the usual stuff has proven to be a welcome change. He along with Lukman who was part of Unda earlier, makes a fine combination. They go through those realistic moments really well. There is also a certain amount of humour, and they go through the emotional side nicely too. The two are more or less like the usual type of people whom we see around. Shine Tom Chacko makes a nice entry in the final moments of the film, and as usual, he is great to watch – he enters realistic mode with ease. Irshad and Binu Pappu plays two likable police officers of the cyber cell, while Prasanth Alexander plays the role of the not too likable one around, as all these supporting characters leave some good moments for us to remember, with everyone being the common people and not superhuman officers who keep hunting criminals with their special skills.

Further performers of the soul :: The female characters are not given much of importance in this film, even though there is one lady police officer in the cyber cell. Even though Vinitha Koshy of Aanandam and Luca fame is here as the biggest female name on the list, she is seen for only a few minutes as a murder victim as the film nears the end. Dhanya Ananya surely has some of the most emotional moments, even when she is not speaking, but she along with Vinayakan who plays her husband doesn’t get screen time at all. Vinayakan was in most of the posters, maybe to bring more viewers into interest here. Other female cast includes Anju Mary Thomas and Rithu Manthra who don’t have screen space either. Mamitha Baiju is the only one who has something enough to do here, and she does her job quite well. P Balachandran and Johny Antony are also on the screen for very few minutes, while Mathew Thomas of Kumbalangi Nights and Thanneermathan Dinangal fame is there for that much short time period too.

How it finishes :: Operation Java is one of the movies which released directly in the theatre when the COVID-19 lockdown on theatres was lifted. It had received many positive reviews then, and is now available on ZEE 5 along with having the television premiere on ZEE Keralam. The message about the unemployed youth and awareness on cybercrimes adds to the movie’s advantages. At a time when the police investigation films continue to slide towards becoming mass entertainers, Operation Java stands apart, and can inspire some of the other industries with superstars to think beyond. As the film is now in OTT platform, one can choose to watch it from anywhere in the world, and we can expect it to come back to ZEE Keralam on multiple occasions too. Do watch the film, as these are type of movies which can keep our world realistic rather than inside escapism. There was Nayattu which released earlier, and this adds to that realistic world.

Release date: 12th February 2021 (Theatre), 15th May 2021 (ZEE 5 & ZEE Keralam)
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Tharun Moorthy
Starring: Balu Varghese, Lukman, Shine Tom Chacko, Vinayakan, Prasanth Alexander, Binu Pappu, Irshad, Vinitha Koshy, Dhanya Ananya, Dinesh Prabhakar, Mamitha Baiju, Mathew Thomas, Johny Antony, P Balachandran, Anju Mary Thomas, Sanjay K Nair, Rithu Manthra, Deepak Vijayan, Eldho Raju, Ramesh Chandran, Sreeja Ajith, Sunil Meleppuram, Shiny Zara, Anil Kumar, Dilshana Dilshad, Althaf Salim

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nizhal

What is the movie about? :: John Baby (Kunchacko Boban), a district court judge gets into a car accident after being in a fight with rash bike rider. After the accident, he begins to see things, and when there is sunshine, he keeps seeing dark clouds and rain. His psychatrist Dr TP Basheer (Rajesh Hebbar) tells him that it is just post-traumatic stress which will be over in a few days. He is also forced to wear a mask to make sure his damaged nose wouldn’t suffer any more damage, and will stay stable. He is not able to continue with his job as he used to, and his senior, Ajith Kumar (Saiju Kurup) is doubtful about his mental status. His best friend Rajan (Rony David) and wife Shalini (Divya Prabha) helps him, as latter is also a psychologist. From Shalini, he gets to know about a boy named Nitin (Izin Hash) who had written a story of murder when teachers had told the students to do some creative writing exercise. The teachers are concerned because as a child, he was supposed to write about things less terrifying by a long way.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As this has him interested, he meets Sharmila (Nayanthara) the boy’s mother with the help of Shalini so that he could get rid of the feeling that something is wrong. Even though she doesn’t agree in the beginning, she lets them into their home fearing the police getting into the act. Nitin seems to be a happy little boy who lives with his mother in a luxurious flat in the middle of the city, and his only contact is Megha (Aadya Prasad), a college student who comes regularly to teach him, and is his only real friend. Nitin gets close to John easily, especially due to his mask which reminded him about Batman and Robin. Soon, things take a turn, as they understand that the murder which the boy had talked about, is something which had really happened. The body which was supposed to be hidden in the area which he mentioned actually existed, as they fnd a skeleton which was about thirty years old. Now, the boy has another story, and things begin to get serious with police involved.

The defence of Nizhal :: There is a certain amount of quality that we can witness as far as b is considered as a mystery thriller – this is the style which some of the Prithviraj movies had possessed, those belonging to the same genre. The technical department is quite strong here, and we see some fine visuals and the background score as well as the other sound effects are of top quality. The mystery is well maintained throughout the film, and there is the suspense which is not revealed that easily. The movie, as a thing of mystery has that Hollywood touch in different areas. It never lets the slowing down of the tale to hurt it, because there is the artistic quality which makes everything feel relevant and running. The first half is surely better than the second, and the interval punch is of top quality, as it is where you get your expectations to the highest point. From there, the movie travels through the safer zone in comparison.

The claws of flaw :: The climax could have surely been better, instead of seemingly taking everything towards what seemed to be a rather convenient ending – not really appropriate for a movie which had taken itself out of the comfort zone in the early stages making one feel that this was going to be something divergent beyond expectations. There are also those situations which could have been more twisted than what is seen on the screen, and moments when it could have taken a big leap. We could have also seen better reasons for what has happened on the screen, but that is also not here to be taken. The comic relief, even though is pretty good, disappears too soon, and the seriousness is not transformed into that next level as it was needed, when we see the final moments of the film. One can’t really blame that as the biggest mystery and fear has been about the Corona virus for some time now. The movie also needed better advertising because there are still people who don’t know about this one.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchako Boban has been winning with his thriller movies, from Anjaam Pathiraa to Nayattu, the first one being an investigation thriller and the second one being a survival thriller against all odds. With all these movies, it is clear that he is getting rid of that romantic hero image once again, as this works really well for him. I would expect to find many more of similar movies with him in the lead, as we see how well this has suited him. After Love Action Drama, Nayanthara makes another return to Malayalam cinema, and this time it is into another genre, even though this time, we don’t have the whole thing centered around her – there is no real romantic side to this tale, and it is indeed a positive thing in a mystery thriller based on murders. Her character is also limited in comparison, and maybe it could have had more dimensions rather than being important as the mother of child causing trouble.

Further performers of the soul :: Izin Hash who plays the kid does the usual job quite well too. Saiju Kurup does things well in a role which suits him. Lal makes an appearance in the end, and it is the kind of role, though significant, stays on for the last fifteen minutes or so. Maybe, he could have had something to do earlier in the film too, and that would have made the whole thing better. Rony David who is best remembered for Aanandam, plays a significant role here too, and Divya Prabha who were among the nurse characters in Take Off has a nice role here, as a child psychologist, which she does to perfection – another case of finding the right support cast. We also see Marimayam‘s Vinod Kovoor and Star Magic‘s Kollam Sudhi in smaller roles, and we can hope for more of them later too. Among others, Aadhya Prasad seemed to be a notable newcomer, and we can find out that the lesser roles are given to those who are suitable for the job.

How it finishes :: Nizhal is the latest in the list of those Malayalam movies which were forced out of the theatres due to the COVID-19 complete lock-down being brought on the state. It is a fine choice, as nothing reaches viewers like Amazon Prime. After Drishyam 2 became a huge success and Joji received some high level critical opinion, it was already too late for a movie like this to have its release in the OTT platform. So, finally it arrived, and one can be sure not to be disappointed with this mystery thriller, as it is more than the usual mysteries which you see everywhere. It was also nice to see parts of UC College, Aluva being included in parts of the movie – the college had its biggest appearance in Premam, but here also, we are happy to see that grand educational institution which only recently completed one hundred years since its beginning. Nizhal, as a mystery thriller wins its battle, and lets hope that we win ours against COVID-19 too. Stay safe, everyone.

Release date: 9th April 2021 (Theatre), 11th May 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Appu N Bhattathiri
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Nayanthara, Lal, Rony David, Saiju Kurup, Izin Hash, Divya Prabha, Vinod Kovoor, Aneesh Gopal, Siyad Yadu, Sadiq, Aadhya Prasad, Rajesh Hebbar, Kollam Sudhi, Sreelatha Namboothiri

<— If looking for horror genre in Amazon Prime, read this review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.