Theerppu

Vampire Owl: So, we get to watch another one on OTT.

Vampire Bat: Well, OTT can take much more.

Vampire Owl: Some of the best of Prithviraj has come on OTT.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why these platforms shouldn’t have the best.

Vampire Owl: There are not many movies which we have been waiting for this year.

Vampire Bat: That hasn’t stopped us from watching more.

Vampire Owl: Yet, that hasn’t been enough.

Vampire Bat: I believe that the best of the movies have already released.

Vampire Owl: So the creativity is no longer strong as it used to be?

Vampire Bat: Human creativity has been corrupted terribly.

[Gets a paneer pizza and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: Ram Kumar Nair (Vijay Babu), a business tycoon has decided to host a meeting with an old friend whom he would be meeting after a very long time, surprising his wife, Mythili Ram Kumar (Isha Talwar) who has never seen him as someone who values friends, family and relatives above money. Even the servant at their resort is suprised by this particular decision. It turns out that this was also going to be a business deal. Later, it is seen that Abdulla Marakkar (Prithviraj Sukumaran), an eccentric man meets his old friend, Parameshwaran Potty (Saiju Kurup) who is also accompanied by his beautiful and commanding wife Prabha Nair (Hannah Reji Koshy). Prabha is skeptical and develops an instant disliking to Abdulla as she realizes that there is a troubled history running between Potty’s two friends, and it could be too personal to talk about even among friends. It turns out that Potty and Prabha are going to meet Ram in the upcoming meeting which is supposed to solve all their monetary problems which mounts to many crores. Their only other friend is Kalyan Menon (Indrajith Sukumaran) who is the DIG of police.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Ram shows the couple the resort which depends on historical exhibits to attract the foreigners. Soon, it turns out that Ram is only interested in Prabha with whom he has been chatting on Instagram for a long time. It is his sexually motivated interest in Prabha which seems to have brought her and Potty an invitation for a business meeting, and not the old friendship from school which was lost a long time ago. Due to his his infatuation with Prabha, Ram makes fun of Potty and decides to rename the couple’s brand with Prabha as the CEO, also contributing with three crores for the purpose. In comparison to Prabha, Ram considers his wife Mythilli more as a business partner whom he married for the purpose of growing his company. The richer and smarter Mythilli considers Ram as a womanizer who doesn’t hesitate to spend his money for women whenever there is a chance. Aware of her image of voluptuousness that has interested Ram, Prabha doesn’t reject his sexual advances, much to the dismay of Potty, who feels that soon, his wife will be living with the billionaire.

And what is to follow as events get more complicated? :: They are also expecting Kalyan Menon, who is also a partner of Ram in his business deals, but he is delayed by a far-right political organization conducting a programme, which could lead to riots in the city. They are also not able to get Kalyan on the mobile phone, as he remains busy – while awaiting him, they find another person on the door who decides to come in. It is Abdulla Marakkar who has come in, with the reminder of the terrible past of cheating which has been forced upon him and his family, as revenge seems to be closer to him than ever. He would make this a circus of horror with doors locked, and a working antique double-barreled gun in his hands. He would find the special exhibits of the resort including what is claimed to be that bat used by Kapil Dev in 1983 World Cup, spectacles used by Mahatma Gandhi, wine possessed by Saddam Hussein and many more to be interesting, but not that much as the terrible past which was handed over to him by the family of Ram. Considering the situation of Prabha, on which side would Potty stand, and when will Kalyan come to make his own contribution?

The defence of Theerppu :: The movie does have some interesting references running through it, and the expectations that rises in the beginning gives enough hope to keep the audience interested in watching the rest of the movie. The visuals are really good, and world which it creates for a resort of antiques works like a dream. The location works in favour of the mood of the movie. The serving of the basic idea of revenge also stands apart from the usual movies which would have a quick or brutal resolution to the fire of vengeance that would run deep. The cast works perfectly in favour of the movie, as Prithviraj Sukumaran makes an attack like in Kuruthi, and despite the late entry, Indrajith Sukumaran makes an impact. Vijay Babu seems to suit the role really well, while Saiju Kurup once again makes a slow, but effective work. Isha Talwar goes through a smooth journey as the main lady character. Hannah Reji Koshy of Darwinte Parinamam and Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu has a role to remember here, and among the newer actresses, she definitely requires more roles. Siddique’s role in the flashback remains a thing of interest as usual, with the veteran actor showing the same strength.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s final statement seems to be problematic as it seems to be further away from the reality that we have known through these times. The weak cannot defeat the powerful in the ways shown in the movie, that is for sure, as the rich and the influential would always find a way. There are many paths which it could have taken to come up with a better idea with its premise. It could have worked as a more serious drama or thriller without seemingly moving through an ordinary path full of pot-holes which needed some better directions. It does seem lost at times, and confused with where it is actually going. The flashback scenes, despite looking fine, often struggles to provide the desired effect, and some of the characters from the past do not stay, despite seemingly having the power in the beginning stages. The present does not take the effect of that treachery of the past with that much strength because the connection is not that well-made, and the less required deviations are rather easily seen as we look.

How it finishes :: Theerppu is a movie which could have surely been something more with the long line of strong cast and the visual style which it had developed with the premise. The trailer had provided the effect of watching something in an international level, but that losses some power beyond the visuals. Clearer ideas and a focused journey would have made this a more interesting work in the end, especially because there are too many layers at work as far as this film is concerned. We have had many interesting stories of revenge in the past, and even the very successful serial killer movies in Malayalam like Anjaam Pathiraa have pointed to the acts of vengeance. Yet, this is the movie in which revenge gets divergent and ends in a different manner than what is commonly expected. It makes sure that entertainment will be provided with such divergence. You can always watch Theerppu for that kind of a chance which does not hesitate in moving away from the regular.

Release date: 30th September 2022 (Hotstar); 25th August 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Rathish Ambat
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Isha Talwar, Indrajith Sukumaran, Vijay Babu, Hannah Reji Koshy, Saiju Kurup, Siddique, Sreelakshmi, Srikant Murali, Mammukoya, Suzanne Bernert, Lukman Avaran, Shaju Sreedhar, Alancier Ley Lopez, Aswin Kumar, Poojappura Radhakrishnan, Shameem Rein, Vinod Vaswani

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Paappan

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

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

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

Vampire Bat: Some returns are more important than others.

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

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

Vampire Owl: We are no strangers to grand returns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Thallumaala

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Bat: The smaller fights are not of relevance.

Vampire Owl: They can help stop the bigger wars.

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

Vampire Owl: Well, Uncle Dracula might agree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Heaven

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

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

Vampire Owl: You mean beyond heaven and hell?

Vampire Bat: Somewhere in between, to be exact.

Vampire Owl: Are you talking about the purgatory?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Solamante Theneechakal

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has transformed a few.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pathaam Valavu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Innale Vare

Vampire Owl: Is this movie about yesterdays?

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

Vampire Owl: Our yesterdays are pretty much far away.

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

Vampire Owl: Not all centuries are the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

John Luther

Vampire Owl: It has been 826 days. That is a long time.

Vampire Bat: 826 days after watching a movie in the theatre, and now we are back.

Vampire Owl: The OTT life was quite long during that time, right?

Vampire Bat: Yes, mostly of Prime Video and Netflix, and then others.

Vampire Owl: The last one we watched was Forensic.

Vampire Bat: That was a good end to the sequence before corona virus.

Vampire Owl: Well, we remain the same even now.

Vampire Bat: We continue to live in a world without hope.

Vampire Owl: There is no movie that can be close to the reality of hopelessness.

Vampire Bat: Well, we will watch this movie for now, and think about the meaninglessness of a hopeless life later.

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

What is the movie about? :: Circle Inspector John Luther (Jayasurya) of Devikulam police station is someone who is very much committed to his duty. He is fully supported by Sub Inspector Felix Joy (Deepak Parambol) who also spends a lot of time dedicated to duty. The absense of John during the major programmes at his home has his wife Jessy (Athmeeya Rajan) and sister Leena (Drishya Raghunath) in sadness, and his parents (Siddique and Sreelakshmi) in disappointment. On the night before his sister’s engagement, John finds him in trouble due to two cases. The first one is related to a political murder and the second one is a man-missing case following an accident which kills another person. The first case leads to John getting physical with the goons and ends up getting smashed on the head with a tube-light, which leads to him going deaf on one year, and requiring to use hearing aid on the other. But with a boy also found to be missing, he has to get back to the case and solve it within a deadline of two weeks.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: He discovers that the two missing cases have no relation with each other, and there is soon a woman that goes missing. The death in the first accident, and the missing person of the same accident seem to have no common person behind them. Their only clue is a pickup truck which doesn’t have the registration number displayed on one side, which makes it very difficult for them to go forward. All of these incidents have happened in a certain area which doesn’t seem to have many people around. As this takes place in the high-ranges between the tea plantations, there seems to be a shortage of CCTV cameras too. But they hope that there could be that one witness who might have seen one of these victims just before or after being taken away by the criminal. Still, it is to be noted that the man who is behind all of these can’t be a common criminal – there might be a lot more to him. John and Felix have to be very careful in this case. Can they find out the mastermind before there are more victims?

The defence of John Luther :: As far as the thrills are concerned, they are here to stay with this particular movie. There is the grand mystery running through the middle, which never losses strength. The suspense could be maintained, and it keeps us guessing. There are red herrings which almost makes us think the other way. The quality that we see on the big screen is too good – the beauty of visuals is always there, whether it is about the long shots of the enchanting Munnar and Cochin or the classic shots of night with danger lurking in the corners. The final moments have us more in fear than anything else, as the villain is revealed, but not with further twists. The songs are interesting, and they support the happenings of the movie well. The background score is effective, and the use of sound effects to support the proceedings also need to be appreciated. The darkness in a very good ally for this particular movie, as much as the different noises used around here – the scene at the beginning is a nice example of the same.

Positives and negatives :: One would be right to find some cliches here, but we have always required most of them to keep the cinematic world moving forward with strength. The movie could have given more significant chances to its female main leads to perform, as they are pushed to the background rather too early. There is a little bit of horror touch to the movie at times, and that could have worked even better if the elements were introduced much earlier. The movie is a reminder to us that any person among us could be a psycho killer, and idea that could save lives – well, those who enjoy when we fall are no less of such killers either. After all, all human beings are born evil, and this film once again shows how effective in evil they can be, especially when they feel that they are done with the society. We blame the evil spirits and demons, and maybe even categorize vampires as pure evil, but humans have always been the root of all evil. The dark world of the investigation in this movie also points towards the same, and we can’t agree less.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya is someone who performed all alone in Sunny last year, and this time, he gets a fine team, and we have him with a fine performance here. We believed that he was indeed the actor to be trusted while booking a movie ticket after such a long time, and also at Lulu Mall; quite an expensive one in this case. One would think that after watching so many films in the theatre from 2013 to 2020 until corona virus brought the trouble, the celebrities will be supporting this blog, but that is wrong, because only a very few of my reviews like Meppadiyan and Luca have been shared by the leading actors of respective films. Anyway, coming back to Jayasurya, he looks and performs like the dedicated actor that he always has been. From the perfect police officer to the flawed one like we see in Memories, he is to be appreciated for how well he has brought the quality in here. It is to be noted that Deepak Parambol also brings some fine support in here, as the police officer who is not left far behind, but stays beside the main character. Athmiya Rajan and Drishya Raghunath are lovely, but has less screen time. The villain is really good, but can’t reveal more about him due to spoiler possibilities.

How it finishes :: You always have time to support a dark mystery thriller placed on an investigation. We did welcome movies like Anjaam Pathira, Antakshari and Forensic with much appreciation. Like the latter movie, this one also keeps its killer as the psycho and not a revenge seeker, which lets it have the advantage over the rest of the similar movies which attempt to turn themselves into random movies of vengeance. The time it takes to come to the final villain also needs to be appreciated, as the suspense is successfully maintained until then. This is also the first movie I have watched in the theatre after 826 – the last one was Forensic just before corona virus had made that big run. It is always good to watch thrillers as much as horror movies, as we are better prepared to face all the evil in the world after watching these movies, and we know when to be ready, and when to give up and just die. After all, evil is too natural for humans, and there is always someone trying to lie, cheat and steal, as well as murder us, or make our life a living hell; its in human nature.

Release date: 27th May 2021
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Abhijith Joseph
Starring: Jayasurya, Athmeeya Rajan, Drishya Raghunath, Siddique, Deepak Parambol, Sivadas Kannur, Pramod Velliyanad, Sreelakshmi

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Antakshari

Vampire Owl: This reminds us of the great game that we had in the castle.

Vampire Bat: The human game was indeed interesting.

Vampire Owl: Yet, humans play more of the evil games.

Vampire Bat: It is just a part of their evil nature.

Vampire Owl: Evil is part of their nature more than ever these days.

Vampire Bat: Can you guess how many evil humans are in this movie?

Vampire Owl: I am guessing that at least ninety five percent of them will be evil.

Vampire Bat: It is not really a big percentage for any group of humans.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has determined it be as high as ninety nine most of the time.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that this has anything to do with Mr Frankenstein and his fake experiments of no meaning.

[Gets a chicken samosa and three cups of orange tea].

What is the movie about? :: Circle Inspector Das (Saiju Kurup) is the officer in charge of a police station in the remote area of a hilly terrain, where Srinivas (Sudhi Koppa) joins as a probationary officer while hoping to solve a big case as soon as possible. Das gets into a fight with Vasudevan (Vijay Babu), who is a local leader of a prominent party, and also has multiple business interests. On the very next day, Das’ daughter is almost strangled to death by a man wearing a paper mask, saved only because of his wife Chitra (Priyanka Nair) noticing it at the right time. Despite threatening Das and his family before, Vasudevan denies any kind of involvement in the act, affirming that his problems are solved face to face, and there will be no hiding. Das has the habit of playing antakshari where each person sings a song, and the next person begins with the letter on which the previous person’s song ended. On the day on which his daughter was attacked, he had also received a call from an unknown number asking him to sing a song, or his daughter will be singing instead.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Their senior officer Jayachandran (Binu Pappu) and the local head constable Hariharan (Kottayam Ramesh) are not really fond of Das, as they are on the side of Vasudevan, and do not want him to solve too mysterious a case. He also comes against a strange, mute girl named Nayana (Ishita Singh) who has come to her grandparents’ home from Delhi. There is something about her, as she also seems to be hiding some secrets which nobody would want to know. Das and Srinivas slowly, but effectively connects the dots and finds out that similar murders have happened before, but police had closed the cases. Some of those murders were also considered to be accidents, and the deaths of the fathers after the murders of their children were considered to be accidents or suicides as a result of alcoholism and depression. The two officers end up finding a chain of events which lead a long way back, but will they be able to find the person behind it in time or is there another murder on the path?

The defence of Antakshari :: The movie has a police officer who is rather ordinary, and it has his struggles in finding the psychotic murderer, who is really that crazy as in Forensic, and very unlike the non-psychotic revenge seeker in Anjaam Pathira. The cop doesn’t have that much of a flaw as the protagonist of Memories, but is very much relatable with a usual kind of family and personal problems. The movie is shot nicely, and with some fine performances, leaves scope for a possible sequel – despite the low chances, we hope that such an attempt is made; there are also other similar trials of investigation which can be combined with this one to create a shared universe. Such a sequel can also talk about those elements of this movie which seems lost, and maybe, it can be a serial killer universe instead of a cop universe. This is the kind of movie which Bollywood would use to make a super-cop, but thankfully, we don’t leave it in their hands. The movie doesn’t take the predictable path either, as there seems to be the possibility of fun discovered in taking the road less taken, on the lines of Robert Frost.

The claws of flaw :: Antakshari is quite slow in its progression, and there are characters who don’t really play much of a role in moving the tale forward. A few things also go without explanations. The whole saga of one family with an abusive father, frustrated mother, music-playing son and cat-loving daughter facing a mysterious girl don’t fit in here at all – neither do the broken guitar and dead cat. This is that kind of a family which could have been there for namesake, but so much of time is wasted on them. If a red herring was intended, that should have been a part of the storyline – there was another villain out there who could have served the same. The young engineering student who is in love with a mysterious mute girl makes no sense, even if the vampires were to turn cent percent vegetarian. Without these moments, the movie could have been shorter, and the pacing could have surely been better. This one lets the lost moments go lost rather than get it back and link them. There were so many paths that this film could have taken, that is for sure.

The performers of the soul :: Saiju Kurup shines really well as the police inspector who has this investigation on a personal level rather than anything else, like Joju George of Joseph. He has been one actor who didn’t get enough opportunities to lead, but this is one chance which he holds on to. He is someone who suits this kind of a police officer really well. Sudhi Koppa plays the role of the supporting officer well, and it is also not a role he is stranger to. He is another performer whom we need to see very often, as there seems to be a lot of requirements for quality actors rather than entertainers. Binu Pappu doesn’t have that good and understanding police officer role here, but does this shade with ease. Priyanka Nair who did have some fine roles years ago has another one to remember here. Among all the roles being performed here, Ishita Singh’s role remains the one which doesn’t seem to give us any idea of its purpose of existence – feels like an absurd side around here, even though she suits the character. The rest of the characters mostly just have to play along here, but more notable are the woman and child from the flashback. Vijay Babu has a small role.

How it finishes :: Like Salute, Antakshari is another movie which doesn’t depend on the foolish mass masala to go through investigations by police officers. It is very good and effective because it doesn’t cater to those brainless fans who visit the theatres and get a movie crores of business while losing all their money to petrol, parking fees, highly expensive food and others. This movie is for the others, who look out for the new releases on OTT platforms, as the Corona virus pandemic has shown us that it is indeed the right thing to do. Well, you have the choice not to go to the theatre and watch those foolish dance and music to which insanity is unleashed in between a story – I would call for the lack of the same every time. The mass masala genre itself is a fake thing created for the superstars and their children to call their fans to the theatres and by creating the fake vibes, they make the rest of the audience feel that the movie is fantastic – lets see how long these star kids who fly around beating people and doing dumb romance will go. After that, you can come back to good movies like this one.

Release date: 22nd April 2022 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Vipin Das
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Priyanka Nair, Sudhi Koppa, Vijay Babu, Binu Pappu, Thomas Kunnampuzha, Shabareesh Varma, Sruthy Suresh, Kottayam Ramesh, Boban Samuel, Sandeep Pradeep, Ishita Singh

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Night Drive

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time when the vampire team was on a night drive?

Vampire Bat: We only have night drives around here. We don’t go for morning drives.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the night drives have been rare too.

Vampire Bat: That is because we don’t drive, but fly.

Vampire Owl: Not all vampires can fly, or even glide.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we bats and owls do.

Vampire Owl: Yet, we can go for a drive in the vampire-mobile.

Vampire Bat: It is a bat-mobile, and it is my private property.

Vampire Owl: You don’t use it as you can fly.

Vampire Bat: It will not be used for night drives, and that is final.

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

What is the movie about? :: Georgy Jacob (Roshan Mathew) works as an Uber driver and hopes to migrate to the Middle Easy for a better future. He is in love with Riya Roy (Anna Ben), a very popular news reporter, and they used to be childhood friends for a very long time. They do keep a certain amount of distance between them, as Riya’s father, Roy Mathew (Renju Panicker) who has retired from the military forces is not fond of Georgy. For Riya’s birthday which is also the Christmas evening, they decide to go on a night drive without her father knowing anything about it. At the same time, Rajan Kurup (Siddique) is caught in a gold smuggling scandal which was discovered by Riya and her channel, a case which has been transferred to NIA. He expects to be arrested by the squad on the very next day, and asks Chacko Cherian (Kalabhavan Shajohn) to find a way to get rid of the gold in his home before NIA comes for the raid. Rajan’s trusted aid Jaleel (Sudheer Karamana) assigns the minister’s personal assistant Balu (Kaliash) to get the gold to a safe house.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Meanwhile, Riya who was driving the car gets into a fight with Circle Inspector Benny Moopen (Indrajith Sukumaran) who was doing routine vehicle checking. Benny lets them go so that he can avoid any of the people there spreading the news about him bothering a lady in the middle of the night, but is clearly angry about the incident. Riya who keeps arguing with Georgy over the earlier incident suddenly spots someone in front of their car, and the vehicle seems to have hit that person, who is revealed to be Balu with a bag full of gold. The two manages to take him to the hospital, which brings Francis (Prasanth Alexander) who owns the car they were driving and Ammini (Sreevidya Mullachery) handles that particular Uber fleet operations to the hospital too. The police officer in charge of the case is Benny, who is only happy to torment Riya and Georgy over the incident. He decides to keep them in the hospital, but the arrival of Chacko at the hospital with other motives complicates things.

The defence of Night Drive :: The movie seems to move forward naturally in the beginning stages, with likable characters and the incidents which can be related by different people from various stage of their lives. The beginning stages go on with the usual, and feels like the natural order of things. It does have some fine twists, and a few red herrings are also there to make sure that one doesn’t guess it the right way. The different characters in the movie are not really what they seem to be, as the visages tend to show differently on diferent occasions. There are moments which keep you at the edge of the seat, as these are characters whom you like. The cast has been chosen well here, as you feel that there would have been tendency to go for a few others, but here we have characters getting equal importance instead of the focus shifting to one person. The visuals of Cochin are really good around here. This is the kind of movie which should have released directly on OTT, as there is a certain possibility of this going popular among the audience outside Kerala if it was first released online.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie had built up so well, the final scenes are not that much up to the mark. There is the plan to bring some mass action in the end, but it doesn’t suit the overall mood of the film – a darker version of the final moments would have done better for this particular movie. Let the outdated superstars do the mass action for their brainless fans, and the new generation of actors should go for class and perfection. These are not the times of such fan nonsense in the theatres, as we have the post-corona virus OTT loving audience as a strong force, and this is the flick which will be watch more on such platforms rather than anywhere else. It had a certain realistic side to the proceedings until the makers decided to go full action in the last few minutes with a specific background story added to the main characters. The first few minutes could have been shortened too, as there seems to be an extension of the less important happenings then. The conclusion could have also been kept at a higher level.

The performers of the soul :: Roshan Mathew has been continuously working hard to come up with some memorable performances, last seen in the Amazon Prime Video release, Kuruthi, a thriller with many messages. Coming out of the first big role in Aanandam and the earlier smaller ones in Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Puthiya Niyamam, he has evolved a lot to reach this higher level. His performance in this movie is realistic for most of the time, and something to be appreciated, until the mass moments come in the end. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen has already let Anna Ben set a bar which is difficult for her to overcome – even with a film like Sara’s having her as the life and soul. Indrajith Sukumaran is solid as the police officer who seems strict as well as menacing, and at the same time, likes to have a strong grip on his investigation. Siddique once again plays the corrupt politician with sinister motives well, and reminds one of Jagathy Sreekumar of Passenger. Kaliash once again has a good supporting role and so is Kalabhavan Shajohn, while it is nice to see Sreevidya Mullachery of Star Magic fame playing a memorable role here – she is indeed a lovely talent, and the fair reason for anyone to watch the popular show in Flowers television channel.

How it finishes :: Night Drive becomes a movie of interest without that much of a hype associated with it. It has some fine moments of interest, and successfully deviates from the tendency to go full nonsense like in that Shane Nigam – Shine Tom Chacko film of misery and shame, the pariah of a movie called Ishq. When two lovers are on a night drive, the situation can be tackled well to make a thriller of quality beyond the usual and the expected, as shown around here. This movie seemed to have Roshan instead of Shane, Indrajith instead of Shine and Anna instead of Ann, with the main characters going for a night ride as part of celebrating the lady love’s birthday, and in the process being stopped by the man claiming to be the police officer – seems so familiar for those who have watched that movie, but this one takes a completely different route, and also involves other characters in a journey of twists which are not about just two, three or four people. Night Drive is successful and delivers nicely when we take a fine look.

Release date: 11th March 2022 (Theatre); 10th April 2022 (Netflix/Manorama Max)
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Vysakh
Starring: Roshan Mathew, Anna Ben, Indrajith Sukumaran, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Sreevidya Mullachery, Kailash, Muthumani, Prasanth Alexander, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Siddique

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pada

Vampire Owl: I had heard some good opinions about this movie from outside Kerala.

Vampire Bat: These days, good Malayalam movies get nice opinions from outside.

Vampire Owl: And the bad ones get the mass opinions from inside the state.

Vampire Bat: Yes, about the masses, it has been so for quite a long time.

Vampire Owl: I thought that humans have survived to go past the mass masala.

Vampire Bat: Well, not everyone has a fully grown brain to do that.

Vampire Owl: The existence of such a strange genre itself is a crime.

Vampire Bat: It is rather the useless genre.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that humans can have some intellect with movies?

Vampire Bat: Maybe with movies like this one around.

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: The Adivasi Land Act Amendment seems to have changed the life of the tribal people by a long way, as in the year 1996, in Palakkad, Rakesh Kanhangad (Kunchacko Boban) gives an interview and says that he is now a fugitive for strange reasons. He talks about the situation of the adivasis and the new laws passed without any protest from any Member of the Legislative Assembly, something which could actually drive them away from their lands within the forests. Aravindan Mannur (Joju George) is also someone who is frustrated with the system, and hopes that there will be a change through the actions of the people. Balu Kallaar (Vinayakan) is also a determined man who leaves his wife Sheeja PK (Kani Kusruti) and children behind citing some important work. Narayanan Kutty (Dileesh Pothan) is also someone who wants to see some change, and the same is the case of Mini KS (Unnimaya Prasad) who supports what these people seems to be planning.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Rakesh Kanhangad, Aravindan Mannur, Balu Kallaar and Narayanan Kutty are determined to get inside the collectorate with some sinister plan for the collector. But it seems that the collector won’t be there for the day, and they are forced to return on the very next day. The team feels that it is a good thing as they are not that prepared or organized – one more day for preparation can only help their cause better. They decide not to be seen together, and make their own preparations for the next day all by themselves. Mini remains anxious about Narayanan Kutty being a direct part of this, but is forced to return home as he insists on the same. Sheeja also remains worried about her husband, but can do nothing about it. Rakesh manages to nicely evade the police despite being caught in the name of a case in which he was acquitted. But the plan won’t go as straight forward as they had wanted it to happen.

The defence of Pada :: It can be seen that Pada nicely and slowly gets into action, and by the interval, it has the main thing being initiated. The movie keeps on going through the realistic treatment of the whole thing, never really trying to build up the tension in a twisted or forced manner. There is no unnecessary action, and there is no romance at all, which means that the movie is kept close to reality – the two would have only brought a deviation away from the real world. The movie does make a strong point towards the requirement of the subaltern, and there is the strong political statement related to the governments which have come and gone, but never cared about the people who really needed the attention of the people in power. Well, it can serve as more of a reminder that the government doesn’t care about most of the people, and the politics has rarely helped the common man, and never came to the service of those who were even further below in status. A reminder of how the government machinery works can only help us at all times.

Positives and negatives :: There is indeed grandeur related to the cast here – the leading four, Kunchacko Boban, Joju George, Dileesh Pothan and Vinayakan were always sure to bring quality around here. The two main women, Kani Kusruti who won the Best Actress at Kerala State Film Awards for her exceptional work at Biriyaani and Unnimaya Prasad who has come up with some of the most memorable performances out of even small roles. Then there is the classic Prakash Raj and Indrans who has come into serious roles with a lot of strength and class. Shine Tom Chacko and Sudheer Karamana are the kind of actors who work strongly in the background every time – could have been used better for sure. At the end of the movie, there are the clips to show that this was a real incident, and we also have the realization to understand that nothing much changed after that in real life too. The world belongs to a few, and the majority are fooled easily – a reminder of the same is always good, and serves a fine purpose. Well, after many movies like this one, you have the same world – some people won’t even like the film’s slow pace, and lack of surprises or innovations.

The performers of the soul :: Coming out of the less interesting and often struggling Bheemante Vazhi, Kunchacko Boban is back to form again within a thriller of quality. Related to the earlier Nizhal, Nayattu, Virus and Anjaam Pathiraa, there was the rise of thrillers in his bio-data – he has very soon become no stranger to this genre, unlike his early romantic journeys which continued for so many years then. He leads the way strong and sharp around here. Joju George has been choosing some of the right movies since Joseph, and the last classic choice was Madhuram – this one is no exception, and he does a fantastic jon as usual. Dileesh Pothan, the legendary director of our times, Maheshinte Prathikaaram, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum and Joji comes up with another realistic performance, and Vinayakan also does the same. Shine Tom Chacko and Sudheer Karamana are limited to small, but still notable roles. Prakash Raj has a solid presence in the second half, while Unnimaya Prasad and Indrans do their job in a rather usual manner. Biriyaani movie’s classic actress Kani Kusruti’s role is also limited, but there is charm in the actress’ small presence itself.

How it finishes :: This is another one of those realistic movies which has a hostage situation in the centre. If we imagine Bollywood doing a similar film, we can only feel threatened about the intellectual poverty that we would have to come up against, and end up being devastated in the process. But with Pada releasing here, we can only be thankful. Whether it is the case of the subaltern or the struggle for independence, they are best done in a realistic manner, showing the struggles that people go through, rather than making some mass masala entertainer out of them. We don’t need to make superheroes out of people who struggled for us – we should respect them for these struggles rather than portray them as metahumans who have had it easy because they were too powerful. I would never understand why people have the wish to demean the people who fought for us, and thus make an attempt to annihilate their dignity. I wouldn’t support such a cause, because for me those who struggle and win are the true triumphant ones, and not those who are shown to fly and fight hundreds of people at once in the process.

Release date: 10th March 2022 (Theatre); 30th March 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Kamal KM
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Joju George, Dileesh Pothan, Vinayakan, Unnimaya Prasad, Kani Kusruti, Prakash Raj, Indrans, Arjun Radhakrishnan, Jagadish, Salim Kumar, Savithri Sreedharan, TG Ravi, Shine Tom Chacko, VK Sreeraman, Gopalan Adat, Dasan Kongad, Siby Thomas, Bitto Davis, James Elia, Sajitha Madathil, Hari Kongad, Vivek Vijayakumaran, K Rajesh, Kottayam Ramesh, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Devendranath Shankarnarayanan, Unni Vijayan, Kannan Nayar, Sunil Annur, Rajeevan Vellur, Haris Saleem, Nithin George, Ishitha Sudheesh, Master Davinchi, Santhosh Keezhattur

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kaaval

What is the movie about? :: Thamban Maathan (Suresh Gopi) and Antony Joseph (Renji Panikkar) used to be close friends for a long time, but now Antony is left alone at his home with his two children, Rachel Antony (Rachel David) and Alex Antony (Evan Anil). Antony’s health has been failing for a long time, and is troubled by those who had loaned them money, as well as some former adversaries. He wishes to get Rachel married as soon as possible, but it seems like an impossible task, as those who had provided them with money won’t allow that. The local SI Madhu K (Kichu Tellus) doesn’t care about what happens to Antony, as police has always held a grudge against him due to a few incidents which happened many years ago. They are only happy about Antony being at the receiving end of all these troublesome incidents. Head Constable Aravindakshan (Sadiq) is the only person who thinks otherwise, but is helpless. It is evident that the locals will also haunt their family in the name of their past.

So, what happens happens around here? :: Things would seem to go on as usual, but is only a matter of time until Thamban dies and the situation gets worse for Alex and Rachel. During their troublesome past, Thamban and Antony had been fighting against the local bigshot Kuzhiyil Chandy (Suresh Krishna), as well as the police officers SI Muralidharan (Sreejith Ravi) and PC KP Varghese (Shanker Ramakrishnan). Situation continues to go out of hand further, as the whole thing intensifies with retaliations happening all the time. Soon enough, Varghese is found dead, and it becomes a matter of self-respect for Muralidharan and the entire police force. But the cops won’t depend on themselves for the act, as there are many others who are looking to get back to the two. As the intensity of the rivalry increases, Antony is beaten up and has his leg amputated, while Thampan somehow manages to survive the attempt to murder him. Antony’s wife asks Thampan to go away and cause no further problems there, to which he agrees. But now, he will need to make the much needed comeback.

The defence of Kaaval :: When we talk about the movie, it is clear that it is dependent on Suresh Gopi to keep it going. The strength here is all focused on that core on which the structure is built. The movie seems to be made for him to play this character, one which is supposed to make a comeback as he himself is doing here. There are some moments to remember, and those are all related to him making that grand return. The movie also has most of its characters as evil, and it is basically the reality about our world – humanity’s degeneration has been shown to catch our attention, for these are the times when you just cannot trust people who choose to live on hatred towards their fellow creatures. There is also some fine twists to go in the end, and as the mystery is revealed, it is not something you have predicted, even though the same could have been revealed in a more interesting manner instead of just talking about it. The visuals are all beautiful, and one can only love this setting with greenery all around.

The claws of flaw :: The movie follows somewhat the usual pattern that was chosen a few years ago, and such a repetition can be seen as being followed here too. It also does drag, and this much of a length should have actually been avoided. The flashback here is also too weak and pretty much predictable, with a few weaknesses coming in there, as the same also ends rather quickly to let in the newer world. If the movie had released much earlier, its flaws would have been mostly forgiven. We are also predicting too much of the things around here, and that goes for even the dialogues. The strength of the movies like Ekalavyan, Commissioner, Lelam and Vazhunnor cannot be emulated even in a much smaller dose. The film also seems to have been in a hurry to end, as the final moments don’t do justice to all the build-up, for there were so many ways in which the movie could have ended, and none of them are taken. The quick end can now only be justified by a sequel, but one can have doubts about the same. Then there is also the burden of expectations.

The performers of the soul :: Kaaval is the film that marks the return of Suresh Gopi after the much awaited earlier return in Varane Avashyamund – that was not a comeback to his comfort zone though, but we did see the spark returning there. The film here has him returning to his usual style instead of the comic side which was prevailing in that movie which released last year. He has two other similar films coming up in the form of Ottakkomban and Paappan which seems to share the feeling which is not so far away – the two also seems to have more grandeur related to its scope. As we look around here, it is more or less the Suresh Gopi that we have loved to watch in the past – the years haven’t changed him related to what he has been doing doing for sure. Renji Panicker comes up with some fine combination with Suresh Gopi, and the two would have made a fine team if the film was released many years earlier, for the movie itself has elements which could link it to many years ago.

Further performers of the soul :: Rachel David plays the role of the daughter figure, and she has done the same in a convincing manner, with a much better role than what she had on her debut as the leading actress. Evan Anil, the brother of Drishyam‘s Esther Anil also plays one significant role here, which stays as notable. The two youngsters do show some promise, and it is not really that much of a surprise. Among the villains, Kichu Tellus does stay strong in comparison with the others, while Suresh Krishna’s character is dead too early. The film also has its own dose of surprise villains, as the twists related to them are there to be taken, and bring the surprise in the end. There are lots of known names around here, and they all play their parts well enough. You see Shanker Ramakrishnan, Sreejith Ravi, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Rajesh Sharma and others, all playing fine roles as part of the tale. This never goes short with actors and actresses.

How it finishes :: Kaaval doesn’t bring anything new, but does come up with some additions the memories of the past. It is an entertaining movie, even with some stretching in between. But some advancement according to a new world was surely required, for some innovation in the usual thing can always be taken. With a shorter run-time, and moving somewhat away from the older formula, this could have surely been much better. Even without the same, we can be happy with the grand return that Suresh Gopi has received, and be glad that we are reminded of those movies of the 1990s which we have cherished for so long. With the release on Netflix, we are also able to watch that at a time when the new variant of COVID-19 is threatening to close the theatres again and has us worried. During these troubling times, we are reminded of those Suresh Gopi movies which have entertained us with big action and heavy dialogues. Kaaval is a reminder, and something of that nostalgia that will live forever.

Release date: 27th December 2021 (Netflix), 25th November 2021 (India)
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: Nithin Renji Panicker
Starring: Suresh Gopi, Rachel David, Renji Panicker, Evan Anil, Kichu Tellus, Kannan Rajan P Dev, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Muthumani, Sadiq, Sreejith Ravi, Suresh Krishna, Shanker Ramakrishnan, Rajesh Sharma, Pauly Valsan, Chali Pala, Baby Parvathy, Anjali Nair, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Santhakumari, Gilu Joseph, Aristo Suresh, Anitha Nair, Ambika Mohan, Aman Panicker, Jaise Jose, Ajmal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Minnal Murali

What is the movie about? :: The movie begins with a drama, Pallikkunnile Punyalan, which takes place as part of a church festival, and the firecracker warehouse catches fire, leading to the death of many people in the village. Then we get to the happenings of the same riverside village at the present. Jaison (Tovino Thomas) is a tailor who is now running his father’s shop, and hopes to go to the United States at some point. He is in love with Bincy (Sneha Babu), but her father who is a police officer makes sure that he doesn’t meet her again. Bincy is also no longer interested in him, as her marriage is now fixed with a richer man, Aneesh (Jude Anthany Joseph). On an eventful day, two bolts of lightning strikes both Jaison and the waiter at the local tea shop Shibu (Guru Somasundaram). But both of them come out of the lightning strike without much of problems – small side-effects like cough and cold are there though, and even the doctor feels that they seem to be okay for some strange reason. Soon, the two will find out that the side-effects are not really what they though they would be. There is much more to what meets the eye with the recent incident, and it would take some time to figure things out.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Soon, the two people who were struck by lightning begin to discover their superpowers. While Shibu discovers them all by himself, Jaison is helped by his nephew Josemon (Vasisht Umesh), who is a big fan of the superhero comics. When his father Varkey (P Balachandran) is attacked by a police officer, Jaison decides to take the matters into his own hands and attack the police at a school festival. At the same time, Shibu robs a bank in the village, and the name which Jaison wrote on the wall, Minnal Murali is blamed for both the incidents. While both men were hit by lightning, their powers seem to vary though. While Shibu seems to control objects around him, Jaison seems to focus on his strength and speed, and former seems to have an upper hand when they meet on the road. Jaison’s newfound ally is Bijimol (Femina George) who runs a travel agency and martial arts coaching class, but they are not able to figure out the other person who is behind the crimes which are happening around. But for Shibu, it is not that difficult to find the other person with superpowers.

The defence of Minnal Murali :: This is one movie which looks really good, and world in which the whole metahuman battle is set, is a place which never ceases to have further scope. It is to be noted that the smaller parts of the movie are as interesting as the grand things which is seen and appreciated as usual part of a superhero film. The film also maintains a Shazam-like funny side, and even more at times, even though the comic side that we see here is stronger in comparison. It also boasts of some social commentary to go with it, and the message about loneliness and loss only gets stronger by the end. The emotional side is also strong enough to keep it going. This film happens in a place which is down to earth and real, and how the director manages that in between all of these so well is to be appreciated too. The final showdown is among the best that you can get, with a setting which makes you so much interested in it. There is also that fun fight before the interval, which is a joy to watch, living up to a festival mood. Then we also relate to the superhero so well, and that is always supposed to be the perfect first thing. There is no dumb superstar nonsense like hero and villain flying around with slow motion punches and kicks, for this one knows how to use its superhero strengths and not overdo the same.

Positives and negatives :: There was always a lot of expectations about this particular movie in comparison with the others. If you have seen the promos with The Great Khali and Yuvraj Singh, as well as the special Muthoot Ad, you know exactly how it was going so strong long before the release – there were also comic strips on the front page of newspapers, and today, the whole front page of some newspapers are dedicated to the film. The hype was surely high, and one can be glad that it has delivered so well – some usual superhero repetitions can still be seen, as we look at this one. The first few minutes of the film do go slowly though, and it could have been a shorter movie avoiding them, or of the same length with more action added to it. The possibility for a sequel is left behind in the end, and even though one wonders what can happen in a village like this, the chances are already shown. Even though the usual Avengers and Justice League’s superhero comparison would be there, I would compare this one more to an Indonesian movie, Gundala – there was lightning striking and a hero rising – but the focus was on the city in that case, and the situation was also different in another world which required separate treatment.

The performers of the soul :: After Kaanekkaane, Tovino Thomas has come up with another fantastic performance, but this time, of another kind, leaving nothing common in between – that one was a work of grand emotions, and this one, something of grandeur on the screen. His two films of 2020, Forensic and Kilometers and Kilometers were also not in any way similar to each other, as one crime thriller and a comedy drama. He has seen a lot of variety through the years, and we see how well he fit into the grand costume of a superhero too. Femina George adds to the heroines as another character to remember in her first work of grandeur. She plays the strong female lead with martial arts expertise, and will have more to do in the final moments of the film too. She is surely a talent for the future in Malayalam movie industry. Guru Somasundaram plays the villain with the strength that we expect from such a character, and even better than most of the superhero movies struggling with villain problems. He also has some emotional moments working so well for him. The grand battle between the two sides is what we keep waiting for, at all times – he excels during those final moments where the battle goes grand, and with a backstory of anger and anguish, is an excellently crafted antagonist with situations.

Further performers of the soul :: Vasisht Umesh has been the star of the promos, and serves as a kind of superhero trainer, as he brings a lot of light moments in the movie. He brings the most humour around here, and there are some fine cute moments with him around. Aju Varghese adds to the humour as usual, and he doesn’t deviate much from what he has been doing for long. Along with him, Rajesh Madhavan and Baiju Santhosh also play police roles of interest. Jude Anthany Joseph and Sneha Babu adds some humour in the beginning stages, but are not used that much – same is the case of Bijukuttan and Mammukoya who have become usual parts of Basil Joseph movies. Shelly Kishore also gets a role of substance after some time. Harisree Ashokan’s role here is rather serious, and we will remember this one too. The other name that we note here is of Azees Nedumangad from Star Magic fame – we see him in a small role here too. P Balachandran plays a father character here, with an emotional side. Almost all of these people contribute to the humour so well – the same works very nicely.

How it finishes :: Minnal Murali, even though is in possession of enough special effects for support, is not too dependent on the same like some of the other superhero stuff which has released in India. Instead, we have focus on the content, and that is where the movie scores heavily. We remember that the focus was all on Krrish as the sample superhero movie after Shaktimaan did the same thing a long time ago. But Krrish was basically taken out of Hollywood, and there is nothing new about it other than having so many things copied from English movies. But Minnal Murali takes it to a more natural world instead, and with a fine origin tale, has the flavour of Kerala in it – the absence of overrated nonsensical romance and related songs come as bonus too. The world is also a small one, and like the one we have witnessed before in Basil Joseph’s previous movie, Kunjiramayanam – it helps a lot to keep the hero close to our heart, as there is no need for the huge overdose of saving the world against all odds, as he saves the village and that is indeed enough. With a fine superhero created in a perfect environment, you are now ready for a franchise. You can now be sure that you are going to love it. MERRY CHRISTMAS! 🙂

Release date: 24th December 2021
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Basil Joseph
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Femina George, Vasisht Umesh, Guru Somasundaram, Jude Anthany Joseph, Sneha Babu, Aju Varghese, Shelly Kishore, P Balachandran, Bijukuttan, Harisree Asokan, Baij Santhosh, Basil Joseph, Roji P Kurian, Syam Cargoz, Mammukoya, Gibin Gopinath, Devi Chandana

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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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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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