Twenty One Grams

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: There were no vampire apprentices available.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jana Gana Mana

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

Vampire Bat: The trailer had impressed many people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: And vampires continue to be avoided.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

CBI V

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

Vampire Bat: That was one human eternity ago.

Vampire Owl: It was a memorable experience for sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Innale Vare

Vampire Owl: Is this movie about yesterdays?

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

Vampire Owl: Our yesterdays are pretty much far away.

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

Vampire Owl: Not all centuries are the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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.

12th Man

What is the movie about? :: A few friends from college come together at a resort far away from civilization – Zacharia (Unni Mukundan), Mathew (Saiju Kurup), Nayana (Sshivada) Shiny (Anusree), Merin (Anu Sithara), Sidharth (Anu Mohan), Jithesh (Chandhunath), Sam (Rahul Madhav), Fida (Leona Lishoy), Aarathy (Aditi Ravi) and Annie (Priyanka Nair) come together with their families after a very long time. Zacharia and Annie had just found out that they are going to be parents. Sidharth and Aarathy are going to get married soon, and this particular party is on them. The resort is fully booked only for them, and a lot of facilities are available for them. As they play cricket, Siddharth’s big shot ends up hitting Chandrashekhar (Mohanlal), who is angry that he lost his bottle of liquor when the ball hit him. He asks for a replacement, but there are not bars or beverage shops nearby. To avoid him, the resort arranges some local toddy, but in the final stages, that also becomes becomes unavailable, and the group has to provide him with the alcohol. He accepts it and leaves.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: After Chandrasekhar leaves, the group decides to take it to the next level. There are too many calls attended by the participants of the programme, and they decide to make all calls and messages which reach their mobile phones during the time period public, in a game of trust. But it is not that simple a game as they had thought, despite Nayana and Fida supporting the same very much. In the first phone call itself, the problems between Zacharia’s mother and wife is revealed, as the former talks about latter’s pregnancy and related issues. Now, Zacharia is in support of the game, saying that let everyone go through the same situation. Two phone calls go on without creating much of a problem, but soon, Mathew’s financial problems are revealed to everyone. But that will not be the biggest revelation, and soon, there would be a revelation that would affect their friendship. Then, soon enough, there is a murder in the premises. Now, the question remains about what can happen next in this small world in the middle of nowhere? Who is the trouble maker here?

The defence of 12th Man :: What interests us the most here is the visual setting, and the atmosphere that it provides the catalyst to help the whole story. This is the kind of world where murders could happen without a trace. The beauty of the place is another thing, and that would surely make one want to visit the area, The twists are really well built in the movie after the death happens. There are different viewpoints being nicely explored around here. Most of the film keeps close to the three classical unities, and maintains its effectiveness using the short time period of the tale. The voice cast is also strong around here – Mallika Sukumaran, Kottayam Pradeep, Soubin Shahir, Aju Varghese and Murali Gopy. Mohanlal can be seen as nicely taking over control here from an environment in which there was nothing like that. He has played a different police officer, and excels in the second half. The movie does a fine job in exposing the fake friendships going on with masks always present there. It reflects how friendships over drinks are the quickest to break apart, and that those built on lies have no existence at all.

The claws of flaw :: Playing games in a building was earlier seen in the Bollywood movie Chehre. This movie takes a lot of times to get there. The final conclusion with the killer is not that conclusive. Some of the revelations are rather too predictable, and with a setting like this, they could have tried more to keep things smarter – this is not the same audience that the makers are facing, or OTT has changed their world by a long way, and the expectations won’t be the same. The initial moments with silly jokes based on the protagonist surely feels more dumb than ever; maybe it would have worked in the theatres with the fans sitting all around. The fans are known for making the nonsense a case of brilliance, but when a movie is releasing on OTT, it has to be smart, as the fans can’t create that kind of an influence, and there are people around the world who are judging this. The movie could have also used the environment in an even better way. Each character could have also been explored further, for there was a lot of talent out there. The film is also too long.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal is not present on the screen when a lot of interesting things happen around here. He has a terrible, mostly dumb entry in the beginning, which falls flat on its face, while going on becoming more and more irritating. It seems to be fashion to show drunk people becoming heroes. But later, after a murder happens, things only get better, and the character is finally given a true existence outside alcohol and talking nonsense. Mohanlal is completely in control of things in the later stages, as he leads the journey with efficiency. It is always nice to see the two sides of him – Bro Daddy was there on the other side. The next person to catch our attention is Leona Lishoy, the actress who has been seen as someone with different dimensions, always notable in any role that she plays, whether it is the mother in Annmariya Kalippilaanu, sister in Maradona or the investigator in Anveshanam; often rising above the movie itself. We knew how she fared in Mayaanadhi, and she comes up with the divergence here too. Some people do their roles rather too perfectly and she is one of them.

Further performers of the soul :: The next person who catches our attention is Anu Sithara, and she has played the good girl image really well – she does look different around here, and that also suits her. Anusree does the job of the most irritating female character of last few years after Srindha in Sherlock Toms. It does feel like a little too much at times. Priyanka Nair and Saiju Kurup are here after that interesting thriller called Antakshari, and both of them once again proves to be solid performers, even though not seen as a pair this time. Unni Mukundan does nothing heroic like in Meppadiyan, and has only a role which is at par or at times, a little below most of the others. Sshivada seems to be playing the one respectable character out there, who doesn’t keep secrets to save herself. Anu Mohan and Chandhunath comes into the picture strong enough. Rahul Madhav plays another character with more than what meets eye well, and that actually applies to all of them. Nandhu and Siddique gets rather smaller roles which they go through with ease. Aditi Ravi supports well within the group.

How it finishes :: When the name Jeethu Joseph is associated with any movie, we know that it will have something of relevance as far as the thrills are concerned. Even though Oozham did have a struggle to go through its nonsensical world, Memories and Drishyam were the biggest thrillers of the industry at that time. This movie attempts to get into that particular group of greatness too. Yet, the journey is not of that high quality, and never does it provide the innovation to feel that this is not something we haven’t seen before. The best movies are indeed the ones which have Jeethu Joseph writing and directing all by himself, but this one doesn’t have the script from him. Yet, this one surely goes on an interesting journey, with its own twists and turns in a setting which adds to the overall mood. I am always in support of a murder investigation mystery in which everyone is a suspect – with the perfect surroundings, things have a minimum guarantee.

Release date: 20th May 2022 (Hotstar)
Running time: 163 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Mohanlal, Unni Mukundan, Saiju Kurup, Anu Sithara, Leona Lishoy, Sshivada, Aditi Ravi, Priyanka Nair, Anusree, Anu Mohan, Rahul Madhav, Chaghunath, Nandhu, Pradeep Chandran, Chali Pala, Siddique

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@ 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

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

@ 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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Naradan

Vampire Owl: I am glad to find this one finally coming to the OTT.

Vampire Bat: Yes, especially as it is on Amazon Prime Video.

Vampire Owl: With Minnal Murali on Netflix, Tovino has risen to be an even bigger star.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we don’t really need the local theatre stars anymore.

Vampire Owl: It has always been difficult to watch the superstar movies in theatre.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the corona virus changed that up to an extent.

Vampire Owl: There are too many things that the virus has changed.

Vampire Bat: Smarter movies getting better appreciation all around India through OTT should surely be one of them.

Vampire Owl: Let there be more skills displayed in films.

Vampire Bat: It is all about watching the right movie and avoiding the others. In the case of some movies, we know that they are to be avoided, whatever happens.

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

What is the movie about? :: Fr Daniel Purambokkil (Jaffer Idukki) is an activist who provides sensational news for the media while trying to help the poor people in need. He is a regular part of the telvision channel talks. Chandraprakash (Tovino Thomas) is one of those new age journalist who wishes to do those kind of stories which increases the rating of his channel – he is always forced to take it to another level by the channel, News Malayalam, but decides to keep it going naturally as he has been doing for quite a long time. Pradeep John (Sharafudheen) is part of a less popular channel, Vartha 24 X 7, and manages to come up with sone interviews to improve its viewership all of a sudden. Shivadas Kurup (Joy Mathew), Chief Editor of News Malayalam is not happy about the viewers choosing another channel instead of them who have better infrastructure and has had a bigger audience throughout history. Vartha 24 X 7 seems to get debates based on maoists and related news which would bring more of the audience into interest.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Pradeep John joins News Malayalam, much to the dismay of Chandraprakash, who feels that he has been sidelined by a new person who gets the same position and salary, along with better options to excel in the media field. Babuji (Vijayaradhavan) who has different special interests in politics and business comes up with an idea to make the best use of this particular opportunity. With his business partners, he plans to start a news channel which can attract the best revenue options from advertisers. Chandraprakash who is now known as CP, begins the channel with a big news related to Thomman Varghese (Kunchan), the Minister of Finance. The minister accused of being part of a sex scandal, and is forced to resign. Despite the best attempts of News Malayalam, it soon losses the number one spot among news channels. Narada News goes through the paths less taken – it is basically without moral principles as the focus is only one being the number one; where does that lead CP and his team?

The defence of Naradan :: The journalism that goes too hungry for TRP gets a dose here, as that side has been explored without any second thoughts to go with it – with a better ending, things could have been more in the movie’s favour. When Swantham Lekhakan released in 2009, this was a lot more relevant, and when Run Baby Run came into the picture in 2012 and Love 24×7 released in 2015, it continued to stay relevant – despite the YouTube channels gaining a little too many viewers, this one manages to establish the TRP hunt well, thanks to the leading performance from Tovino Thomas. There are some interesting moments related to the field, and we are all taken to this particular world from the beginning itself. One can also find some relations to incidents which happened in real life, but with the corona virus pandemic after that Jio revolution, things seem to have changed even further. Still, one would agree to the fact that news is not to be made for emotions, but discovered for the truth that it happens to be. Maybe, the movie would have been more relevant, releasing a few years ago.

The claws of flaw :: The problem with Naradan is that despite keeping on showing the mirror to media as a whole, it doesn’t show the same with the Youtube channels which do the same – except for a very few channels of high quality, there has been the lack of truth in Youtube, a case which will affect the common man’s senses more than the usual television channels, as the Jio revolution has made sure that anyone can say anything in the name of video blogging or vlogging. Unlike the usual media, the control is so much less there. The ending of Naradan is also not that convincing – there is a certain lack of power around there too. There could have also been a better show of the fight between the channels. In movies like this one, emotional side is also important, but the same doesn’t get to rise in its level either. The movie could have been strong with its pillars, but it decides to just go on without setting the base, which is why it seems to come down with its score here and there – the strong foundation is surely missing around here, along with the overall quality being low.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas once again comes up with some excellence here, but his role should have been closer to what he had played in Kaanekkaane instead of coming up with that change all of a sudden. Forensic had him in the thrillers, but Naradan has him with the negative side effectively. Anna Ben has a short period of time to perform here, even though the Kumbalangi Nights, Sara’s and Helen star remains solid during those moments – a better finish would have helped her cause more though. Vijayaraghavan and Joy Mathew have those smaller, but effective roles, even though they should have been there for more. Sharafudheen’s controlled role is really good. Balachandran Chullikkad and Jayaraj Warrier also have those smaller, but notable roles, which could have been expanded too – they just seem to disappear in between. Jaffer Idukki comes up with another role of a priest after Bro Daddy, and that seems to work really well for him. Renji Panicker and Lukman Avaran makes some good lawyers here too.

How it finishes :: Naradan would have been more effective if it came a few years earlier – the media that we know has been replaced by YouTube these days, and the common man seems to believe what is seen on the internet more than the television channels, and with so many such content in YouTube, the real Narada News would be one of the online channels. We do see so many channels which contradict with the news that they come up with, and we have also seen so many fights going on between these people. One would keep wondering where the truth lies with these channels, as there seems to be not much which can be trusted in the online world of chaos with social media being in the front to spread such news – Whatsapp universities and Facebook colleges do that more than anything else, but that is one blame which the films forgets with convenience, but we find some truth and engaging moments here. This is also not an easy task to deal with this topic, but the director of some of my favourite films like Rani Padmini, Mayaanadhi and Virus could have surely done better.

Release date: 3rd March 2022 (Theatre); 8th April 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 149 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Anna Ben, Joy Mathew, Vijayaraghavan, Sharafudheen, Balachandran Chullikkad, Raghunath Paleri, Jayaraj Warrier, Kunchan, Rafi, Dileesh Nair, Rajesh Madhavan, Indrans, Lukman Avaran, Jaffer Idukki, Renki Panicker, Vijaykumar Prabhakaran, Koottickal Jayachandran, Navas Vallikkunnu

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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.

Salute

Vampire Owl: This movie surely had our attention early enough.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we noticed something about this one quite long ago.

Vampire Owl: We have all been fond of such thrillers.

Vampire Bat: This seems to be something on the lines of Meppadiyan.

Vampire Owl: Yes, a thriller which seems to reflect the usual happenings.

Vampire Bat: A thriller that makes us more conscious then!

Vampire Owl: We should be better aware of the human world for sure.

Vampire Bat: We can never be aware enough about human evil.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but it is always better to be prepared.

Vampire Bat: Well, you will know that you can never be enough prepared for anything what the humans can offer.

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

What is the movie about? :: SI Aravind Karunakaran (Dulquer Salmaan) was one of the investigating officers on a murder case which was investigated by him and his brother who is also in the police force, DySP Ajith Karunakaran (Manoj K Jayan) along with a few others. They find the only person who holds a definite grudge against the murder victim and had also spoken against him – the same person had so many motives to commit the murder. The police feels cent percent sure that he was the one who committed the murder, and plants evidence against him, leading to his arrest. It is at the same time that another person seems to be linked to the murder, but the same police officers decide not to investigate on the case any more as it is closed, leaving everything to the court. Aravind is not happy about it though, and wishes to make a difference. But his brother and other senior police officers make sure that he won’t have any access to any clues, and keeps him busy with other work.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Aravind is fed up with the situation and decides to take five years leave without salary. He pursues a course in the North, and in the process meets Dia (Diana Penty) with whom he falls in love. She is the daughter of a military officer, and they start a live-in relationship. Things seem to go on in a usual manner, and then his niece Malavika Ajith (Saniya Iyappan) invites him to her wedding which is to happen soon. Ajith also asks him to come home early and be part of the preparations. He decides to return home, even though he had decided to leave his past behind. When he gets back to his hometown, he takes Dia with him, and the family members except Malavika are not pleased about the same. There, he gets the news that the man who was framed in the murder is now convicted in the case. He decides to cancel his leave and ho after it once again. But can he solve the case better this time, after so many years?

The defence of Salute :: It can be seen that Salute keeps the whole thing procedural, and there is no masala which is often added with the usual police movies which are more categorized to action rather than anything else. Some of the Bollywood movies have brought us shame in the recent years with their depiction of police officers, and I am sure that most of the sensible people wished for a change – mass masala is indeed not a genre, and is the lack of creative imagination and skills. Even for those films without much of action added, this remains very realistic in comparison. The emotional side also remains strong throughout the movie, as not all battles here are meant to hurt the others, and yet requires to serve justice. The way in which the story is told, as it moves from one point to the other, is to be applauded. It also have very less predictability in its working. There is the reflection of the intelligence of the writers and director displayed at regular intervals though the progression of the tale.

Positives and negatives :: The movie talks about impersonation, which happens rather too often than one would think about. It is something which can easily happen in our world, as people tend to believe others rather too easily. Some people have the skills to talk very well, and in the end, the common man will only end up believing the person and as a result, is cheated. The movie is still slow, and it has a little too much of a length than what was needed – maybe it could have been shortened by removing a few moments with the romantic side or family drama. This is also not the movie for everyone, as some people will be looking for a much different thing. You don’t get an invincible hero here, but you do get the faceless villain, and there is a certain amount of beauty related to it. Along with the same, there are many red herrings, and as we move from one clue to the other, we feel that we are so close to finding the person responsible for all of these, but the slip is so nicely orchestrated around here.

The performers of the soul :: This indeed among Dulquer Salmaan’s best movies in some time, and he has given the right controlled performance required for this particular role. There is no beating up the villains or taking the extreme measure to catch one of them – he is a flawed character like the one Prithviraj Sukumaran played in Memories or Joju George played in Joseph, even though much younger and more energetic. Dulquer plays the police officer who is held between the requirements of duty and family really well, and in between all of these, romance was indeed unnecessary. I am not fond of people who remember Dulquer for movies like Bangalore Days – he needs to come the mind for works like this one! On the other side, there is Manoj K Jayan, and the tension between the two brothers are shown very nicely, as the veteran actor also comes in strong as the elder brother and superior police officer. Diana Penty’s Malayalam debut is good to watch, but nothing much is added by the character. Saniya Iyappan plays the happy and cheerful niece well. There are a good number of people who play the police officers well here too.

How it finishes :: Salute is not your conventional police investigation thriller, as it follows a path which is much better, even though not for the taste of the typical fan boys. This is also a good reason for the movie to release on the OTT platform rather than the theatre. Movies like this one will not have that much of an appreciation from the usual crowd of the theatres, but with the release on SonyLIV, it has reached a bigger audience all around India – it is the kind of crowd that would be happy with divergent movies like this. With a fine narrative style, and having no police officer who throws people around, we are into the realistic mode – the cop here is not perfect, and neither is the world around him. We see the reflection of our own universe, for the usual police movies with throwing people around seem to belong to another multiverse, a parallel universe where the protagonists are superheroes with special powers which will bring the DC and Marvel metahumans to shame. We are real, and so is this movie – there is no wrong turn.

Release date: 17th March 2022 (SonyLIV)
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Rosshan Andrrews
Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Diana Penty, Saniya Iyappan, Manoj K Jayan, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Saikumar, Binu Pappu, Alencier Ley Lopez, Sudheer Karamana, Deepak Parambol, Irshad, Rajesh Sharma, Boban Alummoodan, Ganapathi S Poduval, Indrans, Vijilesh Karayad, Maala Parvathi, Nitin Thomas

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Meppadiyan

Vampire Owl: So, this is officially the third Malayalam movie that we watch this year.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Bheemante Vazhi was watched last year, and review posted this year.

Vampire Owl: Well, it was not really that good an adventure.

Vampire Bat: That was indeed a path which shouldn’t have been travelled.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this one is a better path in comparison.

Vampire Bat: I have travelled through too many paths of similar quality.

Vampire Owl: You only travel through the clouds these days.

Vampire Bat: I make my own path through the clouds.

Vampire Owl: I hope that this movie shows enough of human evil.

Vampire Bat: I have read that this film has enough of that.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Xavier (Aju Varghese), Democratic Malayora Congress Youth Wing President burns down a small hotel namely Ammini tea shop. Even though he is blamed for this, there is no proof for his involvement in the act. At the same time, Jayakrishnan (Unni Mukundan) continues as an expert autombile mechanic who has a high reputation for his skills in the village. One of his best friends is Varkey (Saiju Kurup) is someone who spends his time with alcohol and cigarattes, and also tries all the business activities which don’t work. Still, his wife Annie (Arya) supports him all the time. He also gets into regular fights in bars, and wants to make some easy money. He also runs a small business venture known as Varkey Stores without any responsibility. People say that he has destroyed all the reputation that his father had created, and lost most of the money and property which belonged to his family. But he continues to think big, and hopes to make quick profits. Jayakrishnan is in love with Renuka (Anju Kurian), who is a temporary school teacher.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Renuka wants him to get a government job and get settled in life, but he is not so sure about it, as he is confident about his abilities. She is also featured in the rank list of the last examination which she wrote. But he feels that by doing what he does the best, he could be successful in life, and getting a government job or going to the Middle East is totally unnecessary. It is then that Varkey and Satheesan (Jordi Poonjar) comes up with a plan to buy the land where the Ammini tea shop was standing, belonging to Yacob (Kundara Johny) and Stella (Nisha Sarang), and Jayakrishnan who requires ten cents of land also becomes part of it. As they decide to buy the land and gives an advance, they are forced to get money for half of the plot immediately as Yacob’s daughter is going to get married soon, and they have made arrangements having this in mind. But Jayakrishnan will only get the required money after a few months, and Varkey’s home and lands are going to be taken away by the bank. Now, they have to find some quick money, but the path which they choose will lead to many complications.

The defence of Meppadiyan :: The movie is a reflection of the common man’s suffering as he is the one who lands in trouble due to all these problems, and the terrible complications which government offices and the government itself brings on. Then there is the reflection of the inherent evil in humans which has gotten bigger in scope due to the greed for money that has cast a pure evil shadow on everyone. It is so close to truth that most probably, after watching this movie, you will no longer trust most of the people around you, as an understanding of evil humanity is provided without a chance to doubt it. I desire to call this the warning movie for everyone, and if you are going to sell or buy something that costs a lot, maximum care is to be taken. The film captures the essence of a village really well, and there are some nice twists which are added here and there, mostly related to problems being added one after the other to trouble the common man. It was only a few days ago that we read about a man who committed suicide due to problems related to his land, and this is also a grand reminder.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s beginning stages seems to be stretched with a certain amount of predictability, and some parts of the movie can be guessed. Some of the websites about this movie also provided the spoilers without that much of a warning, and there was also an unnecessary controversy created related to that, even though I wouldn’t see any such problem related to that. The emotional side is also a little bit more stretched than how it should have existed here. The female characters could have also had something to do here, instead of being worried for most of the time and depending on the main characters for help. Also, much earlier, the movie was expected to be a thriller, but those elements are very much limited. Even though we do understand the evil which is present in this movie, we should have been able to see its reflection as pure evil, like how we associate them with goblins and orcs – well, even though they belong to fantasy, some of the humans are exactly like them, not that much with appearance, but with what goes on inside. Trust a human, goblin or orc too much, you might be gone forever. The ending could have been better, and not quickly forced like seen here.

The performers of the soul :: Unni Mukundan who plays the main character, just lives as the man, as this seems to be one role which suits him so well. He plays the one man who is determined to get things right for everyone, and we are left to support him above everyone else as he seems to be the only one who doesn’t have any negative shades – those other positive people are all more helpless than him. His character serves as a mortal instrument to understand the evil humanity around us, and this understanding which will prevent us from trusting people again will be helpful to us in future, and considering the same, Unni Mukundan’s performance is a blessing in a fake world of chaos. Aju Varghese plays a good friend who also takes commission, and so not so good – interesting performance there. Anju Kurian’s role is good, but limited in presence. Saiju Kurup plays the usual dumb and lazy person who hopes to get rich by one good deal, but doesn’t have the ability to do that, and once again he is good. Indrans is very much notable in his role. Kottayam Ramesh also contributes nicely, while Kundara Johny and Nisha Sarang also got their moments.

How it finishes :: Meppadiyan‘s basic idea is that most of the people, as well as the government and politics remain evil at all times. It is a perfect understanding of the world that surrounds us. One should understand that in this money-oriented world, there is no hope for good common man, unless he has a huge amount of luck or gets a favour from the heavens. Everyone around you is looking for monetary benefits, and it will be nice if everyone takes the warning out of this movie and be careful with dealing with people all around. Living in this world and trusting humans will be more difficult than ever after watching the film – what we can do is to take the best precautions, for you cannot trust any person, not your friend, government official or the government itself. Everyone is after your money, and these are the kind of people who will beg for cash out of a beggar’s bowl. Along with being an interesting emotional thriller, Meppadiyan works as a warning against the devils that are around you. The movie leaves a doubtful, but really careful person, which will help for your future dealing with those who live around you, as this seems to be inspired from things heard and seen in our world – stay awake to possible evil, and make sure you take no wrong turn.

Release date: 18th February 2022 (Amazon Prime Video); 14th January 2022 (Theatres)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Vishnu Mohan
Starring: Unni Mukundan, Aju Varghese, Anju Kurian, Arya, Kottayam Ramesh, Saiju Kurup, Indrans, Nisha Sarang, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Kundara Johny, Pauly Valsan, Jordi Poonjar, Manohari Joy, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Major Ravi, Krishna Prasad, Sreejith Ravi, Aparna Janardhanan, Naveen Illath

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bhoothakaalam

Vampire Owl: So, the title could mean the days of the past as well as the days of the ghost.

Vampire Bat: It is a nice play on the words being used here.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Malayalam movie industry can have good horror anymore?

Vampire Bat: Well, horror is the only reality of life. So, it is always possible.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the realistic tendencies of the industry can help.

Vampire Bat: Yes, what is life, but a collection of horror of reality?

Vampire Owl: I can’t disagree. I once heard the story of the devil finding the burning hell as a better place to live in comparison to Earth.

Vampire Bat: Well, you know what humans are capable of. They have already made their world a place worse than hell.

Vampire Owl: So, who are the real monsters?

Vampire Bat: Humans are the real monsters, from the day of birth itself. You should see how they torment their own people.

[Gets a chicken biriyani and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: Vinu (Shane Nigam) is a D.Pharm graduate who is living with his mother, Asha (Revathy) in what seems to have been a very unhappy household since the death of Vinu’s father post leaving a lot of money to be paid back for the loans which were taken. His grandmother dies after living most of her life on the bed after a terrible stroke which she barely survived, and the life of mother and son which was full of negativity only gets worse after the demise. Vinu has been looking for a job for a long time, but as he is focusing on getting some work in his field, and is also trying to keep the search close to home, he is not really able to make any progress with that. Depression seems to come naturally to him, as well as his mother, who is a school teacher for small children. Asha is also hesitant to send him anywhere distant, especially to go for a job which is not directly related to the course which he studied. She also temporarily losses her job, as she ends up hitting a child accidently.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The mother and the son continues to have arguments over the past, present and future, as Vinu decides to find a job outside Kerala or even India at some hotels where his friends are working. Asha finds him as a rather useless person, as she originally wanted him to study MBBS, and they had spent a lot of money related to that too. But soon, things get worse, as Vinu feels that he was locked within a room by his dead grandmother, who moves around in the wheel chair. Asha feels that he needs counselling, but he doesn’t agree. George (Saiju Kurup) who runs a counselling centre comes home to help him, but Vinu is not happy about it at all, as he feels that he is being marked as an alcoholic and drug addict. George also feels that the sleeplessness might also be a reason, along with the mental problems which runs within the family. Vinu is in love with Priya (Athira Patel), but has stopped returning her calls, as he does almost nothing, while staying in his room, or in front of the television. But he continues to see and feel things – can this mean something else?

The defence of Bhoothakaalam :: Starting off as a movie which seems to have characters with some mental problems related to trauma, it smoothly enters the horror mode after some time. With many options being left behind, one can make different guesses about what actually happened. The minimum elements are used effectively, and the atmosphere of the house also brings a certain amount nostalgia – like our old houses which had mosaic on the floor along with some old style furniture as well as spaces on the wall. The darkness and shadows are pretty much effective in bringing the scares, and there is much to be felt about the possible presence in the house – they contribute to reaching a point where the title can be justified. The emotional side is also very much working, and there is much of the feelings going through here. Even with all the terror coming from outside, there is also the presence of the depressing past related to regret which continues to haunt everyone – the memories can be disorienting enough, as we move forward through a world of chaotic mind here too.

The claws of flaw :: Bhoothakaalam often restricts itself in the use of horror, except for the finally fifteen to twenty minutes when the film is finally allowed to unleash itself, bringing all the elements which it had in store, but didn’t use early enough. It does take its own time, and one feels that it is moving too slowly during that period of time. There are movies which slowly gets stronger, like Come Play, In Fear and It Follows, and one might feel that this might not feel that new with the early slow movement. The mind could have been given better focus, and the presence in the house could have also been better explained, thus leading to a better final finish. It is surely not that scary as some people seem to talk about it – there is something to be frightened about, but not that much as what the reviews exaggerate here, for only those who haven’t watched Hollywood horror movies at all can be that scared about it. After all, these are not the days when people are scared of ghosts that much, because humans have proven themselves to be more evil, each and every time. Ghosts have to be a special kind of scary to rise about human demonic acts.

The performers of the soul :: Shane Nigam continues his work more out of Kumbalangi Nights rather than the other movies, as he once again plays a similar youth who doesn’t really have a job for a multitude of reason, even though he is better educated this time. Revathy’s work continues to be a thing of quality, as he plays a mother role with a difference. There are moments which rises above the natural so well. James Eliya seems to be the man with logic, and has his moments of advice. Jilu Joseph has a small presence as a psychiatrist, as it is Saiju Kurup who deals with the counselling more, and even finds out a few secrets about the house – one would have loved to see more actions being taken by him here. Manju Pathrose plays the usual nosy neighbour, a role which is quite short. Valsala Menon played the grandmother, and that was the role which also lasted for only a few minutes as the movie continues to focus on the mother-son duo for almost all the time. Athira Patel is more or less the Mamitha Baiju of Operation Java coming in here as the seemingly forced love affair which in this case doesn’t reach anywhere in comparison.

How it finishes :: When we think about ghosts and past, the first movie which comes to our mind is Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, a Gothic romance horror which was not watched by that many people in this part of the world. But the past that haunts this movie is more or less related a good number of other horror movies, with one haunted house as well as a psychological side, both complimenting each other, sometimes from a distance, and at times, getting close enough and going through one another in style. Bhoothakaalam doesn’t hesitate to combine its elements, and then come up with the defining moments in the final stages of the film. This is surely a good deviation from the usual horror movies that we have in the Malayalam movie industry, and just like some of the other Sony LIV movies which released in the last few months, like Madhuram and Kaanekaane, this one also has a strong emotional side to go with. Well, you can also have some interesting horror with relationships running emotional in the background, for the ghosts are better and truer with their emotions than the fake humans.

Release date: 21st January 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Sadasivan
Starring: Shane Nigam, Revathy, Athira Patel, Saiju Kurup, Manju Pathrose, James Eliya, Jilu Joseph, Valsala Menon

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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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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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