Thallumaala

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Bat: The smaller fights are not of relevance.

Vampire Owl: They can help stop the bigger wars.

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

Vampire Owl: Well, Uncle Dracula might agree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nna Thaan Case Kodu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Makal

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Bat: The witches would not mind that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Prakashan Parakkatte

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

Vampire Bat: You are misunderstanding the title.

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

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

Vampire Owl: You mean living in goodness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jo and Jo

Vampire Owl: The movie seems to have gathered some extra attention.

Vampire Bat: Some movies always get some unexpected attention.

Vampire Owl: Most of them also get the unwanted.

Vampire Bat: Well, there are many unwanted movies.

Vampire Owl: You are talking about the movies with so called superstars.

Vampire Bat: Yes, in comparison, this one is capable of more.

Vampire Owl: Yet funny movies mostly get more ratings than they should.

Vampire Bat: Let us not think about comedy right now.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that these are bad times.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there are never good times when humans are involved.

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

What is the movie about? :: Jomon Baby (Mathew Thomas) and Jomol Baby (Nikhila Vimal) are the two children of Baby Palathara (Johny Antony) and Lillykutty Baby (Sminu Sijo). Both the children do not like each other, and fights continuously, sometimes without any reason at all. Manoj Sundaran (Naslen K Gafoor) and Ebey Kuruvilla (Melvin G Babu) are Jomon’s best friends, and the former also has a crush for Jomol. Baby is an understanding father even though both of his children are more irritating than anything he had known before, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down days. Baby doesn’t have that much of a work because these are the corona times, and Lillykutty is not happy about her children being rebellious against her. Jomol is not happy and often violent for no reason because she feels that Lillykutty likes Jomon more as he is the younger one and male. Jomon is a very irresponsible student and son, whose only contribution towards home is the one fish that he gets once in a bluemoon while trying fishing with his friends.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Member Shibu (Binu Adimaly) is consistently trying to get Jomol married to someone who is settled outside India, especially because Lillykutty wants to see Canada, United States of America, United Kingdom or similar countries after she settles down there – Jomol is very hostile about that idea as she is not the kind of person who wishes to leave her comfort zone. One day, Jomon finds a letter seemingly of romance, addressed to a person named Jo, and also a green motor-bike leaving the area. He feels that Jomol is having an affair, and throws the letter away. He feels that she will leave them all, and go with a stranger on a motor-bike. Jomol who picks up the letter later, finds the writings for someone named Jo, and feels that Jomon is having a romantic affair at this age, which means that the girl would most probably be below eighteen, and therefore it is an illegal affair. Jomol decides to take the help of their grandmother to find out the truth, while Jomon is helped by his friends, especially Manoj who is heart-broken about his crush having an affair. What would actually be the truth?

The defence of Jo and Jo :: When we look at Jo and Jo, some people might find it perfect to relate, especially the kind of new generation that is not ready to give their elder sister the deserving respect, and spends their time playing nonsensical games when not wandering around with friends for smoking or drinking alcohol. The film is a fine representation of such a generation, and also that of a new generation of elder sisters who fail to take responsibility of the younger brother – in that case, the boys who serve more as friends are surely better. Still, it does feels that the new generation is gone beyond repair, thanks to the mobile and internet addiction brought to everyone by Reliance through Jio and schools through the online classes in the time of COIVD-19 lock-downs. The film clearly shows that the future is lost with a new generation coming up from online schooling. The humour which has been used for the same is somewhat working, and those who are able to relate to these might find the proceedings to be even better.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much in Jo and Jo that you have not witnessed before in different forms in a few movies and some homes, even though there is the exaggeration. Sometimes, this idea of exaggerating is a little too much. The problem that the main character has with his bowels is made fun of in a miserable manner, and those are not really fit to get anywhere near quality jokes. When making a family movie, one also has to make sure about the language. There are strengths being displayed in this movie, but they don’t get the required focus. A better awareness about the genre was required here. One actor who should have been used more is Sagar Surya of the Thatteem Mutteem fame. The moments related to corona could have also been more fun – a lot of innovations could have been used there too. After all, there is more about corona virus than what is reported in the news; you just need to look a little more for inspiration. For a movie dealing with simple things, it feels a little long, and also has some irritating moments. The feel-good factor just goes missing, and there is almost no good thing about family here.

The performers of the soul :: Mathew Thomas who set the ball rolling with Kumbalangi Nights and Thanneer Mathan Dinangal, continues his good form around here too, even though that much of power cannot be seen around here. The talent is visible at points around here, but not as a whole. Nikhila Vimal who debuted as the lead in Love 24×7 and only recently had different types of performances in The Priest and Madhuram, gets a role which is still much divergent from her previous performances. Yet, sometimes, her character feels overdone, and one would love her the most from that work of grace which was seen in Aravindante Athidhikal. Johny Antony who is known more as the director, earlier seen in Home, has evolved into Ranji Panicker – Lalu Alex mode with ease, and is the one true lovable character in this movie. Naslen K Gafoor who traveled a different path with Kuruthi, does what he has been usually doing with ease. Melvin G Babu is the one who nicely adds to the fun, often better than the bigger names around here. Sagar Surya’s small role is made effective enough too. Sminu Sijo makes a fine mother too.

How it finishes :: It is nice to see that Jo and Jo releasing on Amazon Prime Video less than one month after its theatre release. These are the times when the corona virus is becoming stronger than ever, and crowds should be taken care of, even though political parties and celebrities would care less about common man who is forced to suffer due to the never ending attack of the virus. If it was stronger and better focused, it would have been able to leave an emotional impact or a result of pure fun, but due to it going through everything randomly, it is only a somewhat effective entertainer without an emotional side to be taken further. If it has tried to send a message, there has been failure related to that. The movie can be considered as a random funny movie about happenings in a family during COVID-19 lock-down times, without expecting too much – there is nothing grand here, and no contribution towards the intellect. You can just go through this movie because you wish to see something which could naturally occur in families, with the funny side, avoiding the terrible exaggerations in between – nothing more is granted here.

Release date: 10th June 2022 (Amazon); 13th May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Arun D Jose
Starring: Mathew Thomas, Nikhila Vimal, Naslen K Gafoor, Melvin G Babu, Johny Antony, Leena Antony, Sminu Sijo, Sagar Surya, Hareesh Penga, Binu Adimaly, Kalabhavan Shajohn

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bro Daddy

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Uncle Dracula used to be called by the same name?

Vampire Bat: As far as I can remember, that was Uncle Bro.

Vampire Owl: Well, I guess it varies by vampire and the century of existence.

Vampire Bat: The existence is the crime. You are not to speak about it.

Vampire Owl: I am talking about the undead existence without the human soul.

Vampire Bat: Well, that should be acceptable, as the absence of the evil human soul is much appreciated in our realm.

Vampire Owl: What do you think about our decision to watch this movie?

Vampire Bat: Well, with the Corona virus at its peak, the fact that they didn’t release this movie in theatres is to be appreciated.

Vampire Owl: Yes, a superstar movie in the theatre means a super spreader.

Vampire Bat: It seems that the producer and director of this movie are sensible people. Let other movies take the credit for being super spreaders.

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

What is the movie about? :: Eesho (Prithviraj Sukumaran) and Anna (Kalyani Priyadarshan) have been good friends since childhood, and have carried over the same as a romantic relationship in such a manner that they even started living together in Bangalore without anyone having any clue about it. Their motherly figures Annamma John (Meena) and Elsy Kurian (Kaniha) wish to have the two youngsters married to each other, as they belong to a similar social status, being part of rich and influential families of the area. Even their friends and relatives find the possible marriage alliance to be an interesting one. The fathers John Chacko Kattadi (Mohanlal) and Kurian Maliekkal (Lalu Alex) are not that interested in the same because latter used to be in love with the former’s wife during pre-degree days. But the two remains good friends, and Kurian handles the advertising matters of Kattadi’s business. Kattadi’s fame is rather unmatched, as they have lot of business ventures, mostly focusing on Kattadi TMT steel bars. Kurian is into the advertising business, while Eesho is working at an advertising company in Bangalore.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Everything seems to go smoothly around here. But there are secrets which needs some cover up, as both Anna and Annamma are pregnant, and John and Eesho don’t want anyone to know about it as of now. It seems that now there is the need for a plan, so that the two can get married, and the function can happen smoothly, and later, they can talk about the pregnancies and related stuff. For the same, the two need to get married as soon as possible, with the blessings of Kurian and Elsy. But Kurian is not really fond of Eesho as latter finds the former’s advertising company to a cheap one in comparison to the multi-national company where he has been working. Yet, it seems that Kurian won’t disagree to the words of John, but there is the need for much more of plans to come. Eesho would still need to get into the good books of Kurian, and for the same, he would also need to use more than one of his skills. As Elsy also comes to know about the pregnancy, all of them will have to come together, and make sure that Kurian will be happy about this alliance – will he be the happy one too?

The defence of Bro Daddy :: The movie depends on humour and feel-good, as well as a certain amount of drama to keep itself going. Whenever it seems to go down, the cast nicely lifts it up. There is some nice humour that comes in between, and this one is kept close to family even though there was the opportunity to go for ridiculous jokes like Ittymaani: Made in China. The messages that the movie provide are pretty good too. It shows that family is indeed important, and a small adjustment made in career won’t matter – as long as you have a job at what you are the best at. It is a fine message for a new generation which keeps on changing jobs for better salary, leaving families behind. The movie also keeps the whole thing light-hearted, never choosing to explore the dark side of all of these, and the emotions, even though present are kept in such a way that there is no exaggeration of the emotional side – it just provides what is required with a simple feel-good family movie that keeps one entertained without making one think too much. Well, it was always moving towards the happy ending, we know.

The claws of flaw :: There is a certain amount of predictability in here, as expected from this kind of a movie. There are so many sequences which seem to progress the way we can guess. We also come up against a certain amount of lagging in between. A certain amount of lag can also been seen related to the revelation of things. The length is a little bit more than what was required. If the event management idea was removed, that would have helped the movie further. The beginning hadn’t impressed that much with the common jokes added, and more of life in Bangalore could have only done the movie favours. There is also too much focus on the luxury home visuals, seemingly trying to help an architect or the seller of a house. It does feel like the idea is to go and come up with life of the richest, giving the feeling that almost everyone else do not exist. The world itself is different around here, like being part of an alien planet. Some of the characters whom we see around also feel wasted, as the focus is indeed on the members of two families only.

The performers of the soul :: The movie does have a long list of memorable cast, something which is not often seen related to a family comedy drama. Mohanlal leads, and he does the same with the kind of role which audience has loved him doing. Prithviraj and Kalyani plays the usual youngsters in love, without anything new added around here, except for maybe the cuteness quotient. Lalu Alex is once again the father of the leading lady, and it is something he has done a lot in the past, even though most of similar roles have gone to Renji Panicker following Om Santhi Oshana. He shows that he still maintains the expertise in this kid of roles. Meena is once again looking good with Mohanlal, like it was in Drishyam, Drishyam 2 and Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol. Kaniha is also as notable as the rest as the mother of the leading lady. Jagadish does have a notable role here, while Soubin Shahir’s role to add some quick humour is only partially affective. Mallika Sukumaran once again drops in as the typical old mother figure, a role which would go to her with ease every time. Unni Mukundan, Nikhila Vimal and Kavya Shetty have cameos.

How it finishes :: This is the second directorial venture from Prithviraj Sukumaran after one of the biggest films in Malayalam cinema, Lucifer, which still remains strong in our minds, with the next one coming in 2023 in the form of a sequel. With Mohanlal and Prithviraj joining forces again, this was a movie which was much awaited. It has the skill to deliver as the humorous feel-good movie with effectiveness. There will not be grandeur associated with it, as things are kept simple, keeping it within the predictable lines throughout its run. The cast has elevated the same by adding humour in their own ways, and keeping it close to life. In one way or the other, the movie seems to stand on the exact opposite path of Sara’s which would have dealt the whole episode in a different manner, but Bro Daddy takes the path which the families would to see, and the one which might feel rather selfless in nature. But one can only wonder what it means to be selfless in a chaotic, brutal world? When was the last time we had a society with humans who were not selfish?

Release date: 26th January 2022 (Hotstar)
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Prithviraj Sukumaran
Starring: Mohanlal, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Lalu Alex, Meena, Nikhila Vimal, Kaniha, Soubin Shahir, Jagadish, Kavya Shetty, Unni Mukundan, Mallika Sukumaran, Sijoy Varghese, Antony Perumbavoor, Jaffar Idukki, Joji Mundakayam, Charle

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bheemante Vazhi

Vampire Owl: So, they are going to talk about the path taken by Bheeman.

Vampire Bat: It is like the path which is constructed by Bheeman.

Vampire Owl: Are we talking about Chhota Bheem or Jai Bhim here?

Vampire Bat: No, this has absolutely no relationship with them.

Vampire Owl: It is indeed strange, because then we will have go to mythology.

Vampire Bat: This person has a real name, and it is not Bheeman.

Vampire Owl: So, he is pretending to be Bheeman.

Vampire Bat: I would suggest that you focus on watching the film instead of thinking about this particular Bheeman.

Vampire Owl: Well, it is what we are supposed to do, right?

Vampire Bat: It is what we always do without failing.

[Gets a blueberry cake and three glasses of mango shake].

What is the movie about? :: Sanjeev Shankar a.k.a. Bheeman (Kunchacko Boban) is in a relationship with Blessy (Vincy Aloshious), but it isn’t really among his first relationships or the last, as she does get married – he doesn’t have any regret about the same. His idea of marriage is closely related to a large amount of dowry it is for the same that he requires a good road in front of him house. The present path is a small one, allowing only one motor-bike or scooter to squeeze through the area. When his mother has health problems, he is forced to carry her all the way through the small paths which led to and from his house. When the local ward councillor, Reetha (Divya M Nair) talks to him in detail about it, and assures the people of the area about the possibilities of the municipality granting some government fund and building a road if everyone out there was willing to give a part of their land for the purpose. Most of the people do agree to it, and they also make the hesitant Gulaan Paul (Naseer Sankranthi) accept the proposal, after Bheeman has a long talk with him.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: But municipality is not the only place from where they should get the approval. There are more than enough approvals required from different government department for we always have KWA, KSEB and many other government institutions along with the usual stuff that comes into the picture. Then, there are two plots, one which is required to give a lot of land for the purpose, belonging to Dr Cederic Simon (Ashvin Mathew) who has settled outside, and is not really bothered about having a good road in front of his house where he rarely stays. Then there is Oothampilly Kostheppu (Jinu Joseph) and his brother Oothampilly Caspar (Bhagath Manuel) who has zero percent interest in all of these, as they live where the path begins, and so big vehicles can enter their home from the other side. Kostheppu is also a greedy man who doesn’t give anything to anyone free, or even with discount. As there is a railway line passing nearby, Bheeman will also need the NOC from Indian Railways, for which he contacts Kinnari (Megha Thomas) to whom he is attracted. The list of requirements only get longer, and he wonders if this is even possible.

The defence of Bheemante Vazhi :: After two big thrillers Nizhal and Nayattu, Kunchako Boban is back to working on the family movies. Mohan Kumar Fans had him bringing the same after Virus and Anjaam Pathira, and here he leads well again. The not-so-good-hearted hero is the commoner who has to make some fine plans, and these form the core of the movie. The movie focuses on going sarcastic, and some of them do work. It also has the elements of realism embedded in it, except for the final moments when things seem to be rather strange. Disputes about paths and plots are common during these days, and these are the things which lead to the worst situations, as we do read in newspapers about brothers trying to kill each other and neighbours attacking one another in the name of the borders of their lands and the paths being cleared. Here, we have one man with inherent evil in nature being brought to light, even though there is no violence to support the same. The struggle which is shown here does feel real, and so do the people who fail to think from the viewpoint of others.

The claws of flaw :: The emotional side which we expected from this film is rather weak, and it is mostly due to slow progress of the movie, and the dragging feeling that it possesses, as this is the kind of content which deserves not more than one and half hours – that should be the maximum. The name of the movie also feels strange as the main character doesn’t have anything that reminds one of that grand character from Mahabharata – there is also no fight scenes to go with the same. Another confusion about the title is related to the feeling that this could be about the main character’s way, but it is not about that either. This is surely a better movie than Chemban Vinod Hose’s earlier film, Angamaly Diaries which was much appreciated for reasons unknown to me and everywhere whom I came up with, but still fails to rise higher. The beauty of the location is also not that much captured, and the world here is not presented in an interesting manner. There are also so many moments in the film which drags it down and makes slower and slower, with repetitions being everywhere. Then finally, by the end, everything seems to be forced, and problems are resolved in a flash.

Performers of the soul :: This one from Kunchacko Boban for the family audience after some time seems to be a different kind of return, as the dark shades of this particular character is more than what he usually come up with – he has been a thief in Varnyathil Aashanka, Shikkari Shambhu and Johny Johny Yes Appa, but this is another kind of the shade. Here, he is not a likable character in any ways, and this time, he is not steadfast in love, with the quality that has followed him in so many movies deserting him without trace. Even though he is indeed the protagonist, the one person who catch our attention the most is Jinu Joseph, who plays a perfect commoner antagonist – the troublesome neighbour who has no love for his people. He had two entirely different roles in Iyobinte Pusthakam and Rani Padmini, as well as others, and this one is completely divergent. The four main actresses, Divya M Nair, Megha Thomas, Vincy Aloshious and Chinnu Chandni shares the space, but those other than Divya are mostly forgettable. Chemban Vinod Jose, Binu Pappu and Nirmal Palazhi provide good support while Suraj Venjaramood’s nice entry doesn’t go on for a long enough time period. Bhagath Manuel and Naseer Sankranthi also have notable roles.

How it finishes :: The very slow and often dragging Bheemante Vazhi is somewhat entertaining in parts, and the interest for the movie should be different for each person. Yet, it makes a usual family movie which can be watched for New Year. As I finish this particular review, I also want to wish all of you a very Happy New Year. 2021 hasn’t been that much of a great year for all of us, and it can be considered even worse than 2020, because the latter was a fine, happy year till the end of March when the lock-down was finally declared. 2021 had also seen so many Corona virus related deaths, and it is only the usual depressing thing, for we have had many depressing things in the year. Well, still we see that humans haven’t learnt their lessons – there were those devastating floods and then the COVID-19 pandemic, and people are worse than ever. This movie has a few of such people too, as we look closely – if things go like what is happening right now, one can only be assured that humanity deserves the extinction which is coming to them, and it is only sad that some other species will also suffer due to them.

Release date: 30th December 2021 (Amazon); 3rd December 2021 (India)
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: Ashraf Hamza
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Chemban Vinod Jose, Jinu Joseph, Megha Thomas, Vincy Aloshious, Divya M Nair, Arya Salim, Chinnu Chandni, Naseer Sankranthi, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Jeeva Janardhanan, Ashvin Mathew, Bhagath Manuel, Binu Pappu, Shabareesh Varma, Nirmal Palazhi, Anand Bal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Madhuram

What is the movie about? :: Kevin (Arjun Ashokan) is the bystander for his mother, who is going to have a surgery at the government medical college hospital very soon. He is married to Cherry (Nikhila Vimal) who isn’t accepted by his mother yet. He is very much tensed about it, and spends most of the time wondering about what is to happen next. Sabu (Joju George) is there as a bystander for his wife Chitra (Shruti Ramachandran). There are also others who have become part of the hospital during their time spent out there. Ravi (Indrans) is a retired postman who is waiting for his wife to be discharged, while celebrating forty years of marriage. Thajudeen (Fahim Safar) is a bystander for his father who is forced to come there because the doctor in the hosptial is very famous, and a quick surgery is required. Despite how much how much Ravi talks about the importance of staying in long marriage and how much Sabu reasserts the same, Kevin and Cherry are on the verge of a divorce. Cherry wonders if it will happen as soon as his mother is healthy and asks him to leave her.

So, what happens happens around here? :: Thajudeen is to first one to leave the hospital from the group, as his father has a stroke and dies, causing moments of silence and depression everywhere around them. Kevin’s tension only further increases as the surgery is delayed, and after knowing about the death of Thajudeen’s father. The same also affects Ravi upto an extent, as he is also a little bit worried. Sabu talks to the others about his love story with Chitra which happened at Kunjikka’s (Jaffar Idukki) restaurant, where she used to come and have biriyani in secret. They married after causing a lot of problems in the neighbourhood. Ravi’s tale is about him falling in love with his wife while delivering letters at a locality, and it was another case of love story wrecking havoc around. When Kevin’s anxiety problems get better, they are surprised to find that Sabu is surprisingly angry at the hospital staff, which leads to the big revelation by Doctor Rajah (Lal) about Chitra. This makes them wonder how long he has been in the hospital.

The defence of Madhuram :: The movie has to be appreciated more for its optimistic viewpoint about relationships, and life that goes on with love and endurance against all odds. With Joju George who seems to go through the whole thing as if living through it rather than acting, and Shruti Ramachandran who blends in to this role in a realistic manner like no other, this one feels like a safe watch from the beginning itself. The movie’s messages about relationships is beautiful, as it celebrates being in marriage, and with love. The movie also knows where to place the emotions, without any overdose of melodrama coming into the picture to ruin things. The humour which the movie uses in the initial stages brings some early delight, and as it passes on to the sad and emotional side, it makes sure that the balance is not lost, and we are not put into a world of eternal depression, for there is faith, belief and hope at all times. The taste of love between husbands and wives never losses its charm, for love in marriage is shown as a thing with wings more than that of the other kinds of relationships.

Positives and negatives :: Some dialogues might feel like a little too much in the view of life, but the actors who deliver them make it even more effective – the emotions are so well portrayed through them, and we appreciate the choice of performers here again and again – you see how Joju and Indrans make us feel, and the rest are following them so well, effectively. The visuals of the hospital are also nice, and songs with all the picturization makes us feel the emotions which are present at all times. The food also stays with us, and the focus in the same also contributes to the overall mood, which is surprisingly a happy one for most of its run, even though it is set in a hospital and there is the long wait for some risky surgeries going on throughout the film. You also see that this one basically maintains the balance between optimism and realism, unlike Jis Joy movies like Sunday Holiday, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and Mohan Kumar Fans which have so much of optimistic attitude that one feels that there is too much of positivity in life which is not really there. Without the same, this one makes you feel the love, and you are into the emotions.

The performers of the soul :: The director here is blessed with a fantastic cast which anyone would wish to have in a work of drama. It is led by none other than Joju George, the man who touched our emotions the best, not with an emotional drama, but with an investigative thriller, Joseph – that was one turning point which still holds strong in our minds, and this drama holds strong with its emotional content, thanks to him more than anyone else. We have always known what he is capable of, and here is one more testimony to his skills. The combination of Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran is something to remember for long, as their relationship has a lot to take away in this tale of different relationships between many couples. Shruti Ramachandran was already there in the highly emotional drama, Kaanekkaane, which was another film which released in the same platform. This love story of the two over one biriyani and more food, is a thing of high quality and the flashback keeps us glued to the seats and in love. They also have some nicely visualized songs to support their cause – you also remember some simple, yet lovely dialogues.

Further performers of the soul :: After the Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran story, we have the other tale of husband and wife, with Arjun Ashokan and Nikhila Vimal playing the couple without that much of love, and with one mother standing in between them, leading to a possible divorce in future. Arjun Ashokan had the role of a lover in June which came from the same director and has no problems here, while Nikhila Vimal was last seen in the horror movie, The Priest. Her ability to deliver some natural performances were seen in two different roles in the movies Aravindante Athidhikal and Njan Prakashan, and she continues to establish herself as a leading actress with such roles. Even though this is the secondary love story, and is often rushed, raises itself with the performances of the two. Indrans has another touching performance to deliver here after Home, and this character also stays close to us. Jaffar Idukki, Jagadish and Lal also come up with some delightful performances, even though in smaller roles. Fahim Safar, Navas Vallikkunnu and Malavika Sreenath are also notable.

How it finishes :: The movie does have its surprises, but the intention here is to bring an emotional surprise rather than the usual one, and the director is successful in doing the same. There is emotional strength which is equal to, or at times even at a higher level than Kaanekkaane also of Sony LIV, for this movie is purely a relatable drama for many people, and it is about husband and wife relationship. The Tovino-Suraj starrer of the same platform had elements of a thriller, and therefore not relatable for all times, but when we look at Madhuram, its emotional intensity is of the common man’s soul. Well, the work that these OTT platforms have done to make our Christmas celebration better, is to be appreciated, for we have already had the greatest superhero film in India in Netflix, and this one is a collection of emotions, which we are to cherish. Well, with these movies being available everywhere in the online platform, you can give some credit to the Corona virus pandemic for bringing these national and international level of attention.

Release date: 24th December 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Ahammed Khabeer
Starring: Joju George, Shruti Ramachandran, Nikhila Vimal, Arjun Ashokan, Lal, Indrans, Jagadish, Malavika Sreenath, Jaffar Idukki, Babu Jose, Sminu Sijo, Thirumala Ramachandran, Navas Vallikkunnu, Fahim Safar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham

What is the movie about? :: A former television actress Haripriya (Grace Antony) feels that she is stuck in an unromantic marriage with Pavithran (Nivin Pauly), who is has been a junior artist and acting coach for a long time, without any success. Their marriage was fixed by a mutual acquaintance, Sivakumar (Sudheesh) who works in the cinema field, as both had some film ambitions which didn’t materialize as they had wished for. Pavithran took loan against Haripriya’s grandmother’s golden earrings for helping his friend, and it had become another reason for their marriage landing in trouble, along with his usual unsuccessful pursuits in the film industry, along with that acting coaching going nowhere. The two are now on the verge of their separation, and as his acting coaching classes are also held in the corner of Haripriya’s father’s restaurant, Pavithran gets some gold coated earrings to replace Haripriya’s golden earrings for the time being, and both are finally together, with an added plan to go on a romantic trip.

So, what happens next in this tale? :: As Haripriya’s brother ask for the earrings to be used for loan for her family’s expenses, Pavithran decides to speed up the romantic trip and steal the earrings. They get room at an expensive hotel, thanks to Sivakumar’s contacts in the film field. There, they meet Jobby (Vinay Forrt), the manager, and Shalini (Vincy Aloshious), the receptionist. One of the room boys, Manaf (Rajesh Madhavan) seems to develop a special liking for Haripriya’s earrings. A mostly successful writer, Balachandran (Joy Mathew) is also there, along with a drunkard, Surendran (Jaffar Idukki) whom almost everyone detests. Pavithran successfully steals the earrings, and hides them. But soon, he realizes that it has been stolen from that location, as he cannot find it either. Haripriya will not stop until she makes sure that each and every person in the hotel is innocent. Jobby who has to go and meet his lover’s parents are also stuck there, and Shalini who is forced to work late without salary is more than just angry about the situation. Can anyone find a solution here?

The defence of Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham :: The movie is fun enough, and mostly mindless fun, when we look at it. The whole thing depends on the messed up lives of everyone who is seen on the screen – none of them seems to be happy, and they are all facing troubles due to one thing or the other. It is a true reflection of our world, in which there is no real happiness, and a certain search for the same leads us nowhere. We see that there is nothing that goes right in this particular hotel, which holds a mirror to a Corona virus affected, climate change affected world of chaos. Everyone has their different problems, and each one of them is shown coming together towards this one particular incident. The set design is really good, and it could even suit a horror movie, as there are reminders of The Shining and its sequel, Doctor Sleep. The setting serves the purpose more than any other thing in the film. Some of the humour is quick to rise, and there are the jokes which do no feel that dumb as some others are. There is some satire that works in the background too.

The claws of flaw :: Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham doesn’t have that much of an effectiveness with its jokes as we would expect in the beginning. In the later stages, it only becomes more and more repetitive in nature. The calls for the manager as well as one drunkard who remains irritating for most of the time doesn’t score that much as expected in the later stages of the film. There is a little bit too much of stretching of the whole thing. The same thing goes on moving forward, and the idea to bring a message in here is lost. It is more or less an opportunity lost in that case. Often it goes down to the level of the kind of movies which we have detested for the buffoonery that gets repeated – such films are not there now, but we do remember such a past. Kanakam Kaamini Kalaham did have some good hype related to the cast, and the trailer despite not giving out a clear idea, did make us feel that there is something special in store, but that much is not there to be taken.

Performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly leads the movie well as expected. This is similar to what he had done with Love Action Drama, another comedy film which could only partially work with its humour. But for someone who has done many movies with some effective light humour, this won’t be a step forward. The one whom we remember for Thattathin Marayathu and Om Shanti Oshaana‘s light comedy was quite a different star, and that was the one whom we continued to prefer. It seems that the same has been lost up to an extent. Grace Antony had her best movie in the form of Kumbalangi Nights, and this one has her as the sole lead. She has provided an entertaining performance here too. Vincy Aloshious plays the other female character of importance, and we would be remembering that one well enough too. She should be considered as the pick of that Naayika Naayikan show on Mazhavil Manorama along with Meenakshi, especially with the way they do comedy.

Further performers of the soul :: Sudheesh has another role which runs through the movie with focus on the beginning and end, and it is good to see him in such roles, like the one we saw in Theevandi. He has been the one actor who has been there from our childhood itself. Vinay Forrt can be considered as playing the funniest character around, and we also feel for the character trying so hard. He and his mobile phone do become interesting from the beginning itself. Joy Mathew plays a role suiting him well. Jaffar Idukki plays a drunkard who is often too irritating, but most of the time, he manages the same in an okay manner. Rajesh Madhavan as Manaf comes up with a notable performance here, and he is the one character who scores when least expected. Sudheer Paravoor as Vijesh Nair is another employee character that we will be noting. There are a few other interesting characters, and they all blend into the hotel atmosphere really well.

How it finishes :: Life has been very serious in the last few months as far as OTT films are concerned. Well, we know what has been happening everywhere, and there is no confusion about the films being serious with a world of chaos all around. Starting from Drishyam 2, we have had a series of serious films, like Kaanekkaane, Sunny, Malik, Kuruthi and others, which have held on to the serious characters really well. The number of comedy movies has been comparatively less, as we look at them. So, this one serves something light-hearted in between, even though it is certainly not that effective. As the theatres have opened now, the movie needed to be of better quality to keep the audience in the OTT platform. Now, with the theatres having opened, people will be moving there unless there is enough power in the OTT to keep them online. The challenge of Kurup is there to stay for long, as it seems. Well, we know that more is to come soon.

Release date: 12th November 2021 (Disney Hotstar)
Running time: 169 minutes
Directed by: Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Grace Antony, Vinay Forrt, Vincy Aloshious, Joy Mathew, Jaffar Idukki, Sudheesh, Rajesh Madhavan, Sudheer Paravoor, Sivadas Kannur, Neeraja Rajendran, Ratheesh Balakrishna Poduval

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bhramam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sara’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mohan Kumar Fans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kilometers and Kilometers

Vampire Owl: I have been waiting for this movie for a long time.

Vampire Bat: This was the next film which we were supposed to watch before COVID-19 came up in March and theatres closed.

Vampire Owl: Well, one of the many things which one virus had changed.

Vampire Bat: A change which brought the movies home.

Vampire Owl: I was thinking Amazon Prime or Netflix in that case.

Vampire Bat: For a change, we have the first television channel release here.

Vampire Owl: Well, it is good to have such a release.

Vampire Bat: Yes, after all, everyone is not into those online platforms.

Vampire Owl: Finally, a release for the common man.

Vampire Bat: Let us makes sure that we don’t miss this!

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

What is the movie about? :: In the village of Thalanadu, Josemon (Tovino Thomas) doesn’t have any job, and struggles to keep everything going, including paying fees for his sister’s studies. He only manages to get some small jobs which don’t translate to anything. He finally decides to sell his Royal Enfield which the family valued a lot. It is then that Cathy (India Jarvis) comes to visit India, starting from Kerala, after winning a lottery. As this is her final destination before return to the United States of America, she hopes to spend the rest of her money there, and with the help of Appachan (Joju George), Josemon finds this as an opportunity to make some quick money. They make their journey to different parts of India, and when they are in the North, their bags get stolen. Now, they have to find the documents which they had lost, and return to Kerala, but with no clue of what had happened with the theft, the same might not be easy.

The defence of Kilometers and Kilometers :: Simple fun and feel-good elements are abundant in this movie. The light-hearted fun in this movie is suitable for everyone in the family, without pretensions. There is the presence of the good message, giving importance to values and relationships over money, a message which has always been there, but is something which people these days won’t care about. What can surprise us the most is that even the people from earlier generation are still proud of their sons and daughters earning more, instead of being proud of their education or acts of goodness towards fellow human beings. The message will stay significant for a long time, because people won’t change, and this one is another addition to that particular message. The visuals are very good, and we would love to see how the places are being depicted. The performances are also very good. The emotional moments are working well too.

The claws of flaw :: People might not find many things new with this film, and it does maintain a certain amount of simplicity here. The idea is indeed in the old style mode, as you can see from the beginning stages itself. The predictability factor is high around here, as soon as the first major turning point occurs. Going innovative surely wasn’t the idea at work around here. As the promotion was not that much even for the first Malayalam movie which released on television, some people might have missed this movie at least in parts. The film could have actually done more with a greater number of characters, and more locations added, making this a travel movie too. But the journey actually gets stuck a little bit too early for our liking. There is no mingling with the cultures of different parts of India, and we only see small parts of the lifestyle being scattered here and there. The final moments, even though emotional enough, is a little too much of cliche.

Performers of the soul :: When COVID-19 started its side-effects, the earlier Tovino Thomas movie, Forensic was running in the theatres but reaching an early unexpected end, and his next film is here, this time completely off the theatres from the beginning itself. He has been one actor whose movies kept a certain level on most occasions, except for maybe one film in between which went full masala. His performance here reminds one of Ente Ummante Peru a little bit, and he does that with ease. There were clues about what was to be expected, from the trailer itself. Basil Joseph, the director of two smart movies Kunjiramayanam and Godha also brings some early humour here, and it is the one thing that lifts up the movie in its early stages – Joju George can also be seen contributing well during those stages. Longer final moments would have meant that these characters would have had a chance to add some more feel-good fun.

Further performers of the soul :: It is to be noted that Sidhartha Siva, director of the crowd favourites like Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho and Sakhavu nicely takes over the humour, and manages the same really well in the later stages of the film. His talk about the flashback is done with some fine humour, and he keeps bringing the laughter. The moments in Rajasthan are elevated with his use of the funny side. We have already seen him handling the humour really well, and this one has him around for a long period of time. India Jarvis does the job well, and plays the character as expected. From the performance, one would feel the need to see her in more Malayalam movies with similar characters being in requirement. She is not the random person who plays a European or an American just because there is space for the same, as she does much more. Sudheesh also has a very small, but notable role in the beginning stages of the movie.

How it finishes :: Kilometers and Kilometers has been a movie which had to wait quite some time due to COVID-19. At a time when we were wondering if something was actually going to happen, as theatres are still not opening any time soon, the movie has come to Asianet. During the pandemics, having a feel-good film delivered home can surely help to lighten the mood, especially during Onam. Still one has to wonder if most people did have time to watch this movie during the time of Onam celebrations at home. I would like to wish all of you who are reading this, and everyone from Kerala, a Very Happy Onam. Let us face this Corona Virus pandemic together, and rise together, as we did during the floods in the last two years. I really hope that Asianet shows the movie again, because it is a fun flick which can provide the feel-good factor to the Onam Celebrations. After all, we are having a ten day vacation here instead of the usual COVID-19 forced or flood-forced holidays.

Release date: 31st August 2020
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Jeo Baby
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Joju George, India Jarvis, Sidhartha Siva, Basil Joseph, Sudheesh

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Malayalam drama.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Varane Avashyamundu

What is the movie about? :: Neena (Shobhana) is a divorced mother who is living with her daughter Nikitha (Kalyani Priyadarshan) in the busy city of Chennai. As Neena had eloped from home and married, the only relative who comes to see them is her uncle Manuel (Lalu Alex) while her husband lived far away from them. While Neena works as a teacher of French language, Nikitha also supports herself with a job, and is looking for a groom in a matrimonial website all by herself. Those whom she finds as match include Alphonse (Siju Wilson) and Aby (Rahul Rajasekharan), a Motor Vehicle Inspector and an NRI respectively. In the same block of apartments where they are living, Major Unnikrishnan (Suresh Gopi), a retired army officer also lives alone. He is known for his anger management issues due to which he often gets into trouble, and is disliked by the people living near him.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Bipeesh (Dulquer Salmaan) is the new resident at the apartments, beginning his stay with an argument with Nikitha over their two-wheelers. Nikitha is not fond of him as well as Unnikrishnan who also buys a dog which is almost as huge as him. Major Athmaram (Major Ravi) who was also in the army tries to solve Unnikrishnan’s anger management issues by sending him to his friend who is also a doctor – Doctor Bose (Johny Antony). Unnikrishnan is someone who had managed to climb Mount Everest during his youth, and is also someone who participated in the skirmishes at the Indo-Pakistan border. But he finds it difficult to mingle with people, especially with ladies. The kids of the apartments particularly hate him for his rough attitude. As he tries to change his behaviour, he ends up getting closer to Neena, which changes the lives of Nikitha and Bipeesh as well. But what does it mean for his anger?

The defence of Varane Avashyamundu :: The movie runs on its cast which is an enviable one. It has one generation of veteran performers in the form of Suresh Gopi and Shobhana, and another generation with Dulquer Salmaan and Kalyani Priyadarshan, making it something which everyone from more than one generation feeling the need to watch it. The focus being on the elder stars is the best thing about this movie, as it works really well with the tale to connect with everyone. The funny moments work really well, and the credit for the same rests mostly with Suresh Gopi, supported by Johny Antony. The setting of the apartments in the middle of a city, and people going through their flawed, but interesting lives is nicely shown here. There are some messages given, and most of the time, it is about life and relationships. But, it should have had more depth, in more than one way.

The claws of flaw :: One trouble that Varane Avashyamundu seems to face is that it doesn’t have a script to match the cast that it possesses. It had to be better focused on what it was doing, and the same would have allowed us to go beyond that initial drag with ease, and that ending which seemed to be rushed, even though it cannot be termed terrible. The predictability is always there, as we know which direction this is heading – there is no need for any special skill for the same. The need to put the feel-good factor into place would always be a priority, considering the fact that this movie’s competitors were all focused on other genres including the year’s first big hit Anjaam Pathira which is clearly on the other side with the shades. The movie doesn’t have memorable songs or music, and it could have also been shorter, removing some scenes. Even some characters seemed to be rather unnecessary here.

The performers of the soul :: If there is a question about the leading performer in the movie, that is not the leading young pair – it is Suresh Gopi who makes the retired army officer a joy to watch. We had last seen him in My God, and here we have him doing the comedy and emotions exceptionally well, and his character and the changes undergone are too good. Shobana adds to the charm here, and her combination scenes with Suresh Gopi as well as Kalyani. Urvashi also has a memorable role to add here. But at the same time, Dulquer Salmaan doesn’t have much of a screen time – his character is also one which doesn’t suit the overall mood of the movie, and the romance here is also half-baked, seemingly built on fake emotions and therefore lacking in strength. Johny Antony is the next person to bring the comic side alive, while Siju Wilson and Major Ravi also have a few similar moments. Meanwhile, Lalu Alex is there with another usual, but memorable kind of role.

Further performers of the soul :: Kalyani Priyadarshan has her first Malayalam movie, and Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham will be the next. As the daughter of the renowned film director Priyadarshan and the popular actress of her time Lissy Priyadarshan, her debut was long overdue. The other star children had already arrived, and we know what nepotism can do to you, as it was proven with the star kids, even though not that much as it has done with Bollywood. At least in the case of Malayalam movie industry, the sons and daughters can act, and often even excel in what they do, a case which have made the industry rise above the usual brainless acts of Bollywood. Kalyani is no exception either, as she nails her emotional and funny moments. Often reminding one of Bhagyalakshmi Prabhu who plays Meenakshi in Thatteem Mutteem especially with KPAC Lalitha around, she gets to be perfectly fit in this family feel-good stuff.

How it finishes :: Anoop Sathyan, son of the veteran film director Sathyan Anthikad is at the helm of this movie. He is known to have served as assistant director at Malayalam film industry and have also directed independent documentaries. There is a certain Sathyan Anthikad touch that can be seen in this movie, and the same can’t be denied, especially in a feel-good movie directed by his son. It is just with the setting that the difference can be seen – otherwise the model is more or less the same. A shift from the village to the city can be felt more, as it is a change from a very rural setting to a very urban metro setting. But the characters are shown in a simple and lovable manner as we have seen in those rural settings, which make this movie a fine watch for the family audience. There is no question about what the one clean family movie can be, with a modern setting.

Release date: 7th February 2020
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: Anoop Sathyan
Starring: Suresh Gopi, Shobana, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Dulquer Salmaan, Urvashi, Lalu Alex, KPAC Lalitha, Johny Antony, Siju Wilson, Major Ravi, Sarvajith Santosh, Meera Krishnan, Sreeja Ravi, Rahul Rajasekharan, Wafa Khatheeja Rahman, Krishna Chandran A Nair, Vidya Menon, Aravind Venugopal, Theni Murugan, K Gopal, Nalsen K Gafoor, Lal Jose (cameo)

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.