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

<— Click here to go to the previous 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.

Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha

What is the movie about? :: The story is set in a high range village and at an old style family which is left with one old motherly figure and the young son who hasn’t married yet even though he has reached the age of thirty five. Sleevachan (Asif Ali) is someone who hasn’t thought of marriage at any point of his life. Kuttichan (Jaffer Idukki) has brought profiles of many different women for him, but he didn’t even try to go and see a single lady, much to the dismay of his mother, four sisters and other relatives. Even his neighbours, friends and the villagers are looking forward to see him getting married, as he is a much loved person and a helpful man. But as he realized that his mother was getting older, and she needed help, he finally decides that he can’t manage all the farming activities and look after his mother, as he is always outside home.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: A new proposal comes, and this time, Sleevachan is ready to marry, and the girl is Rincy (Veena Nandakumar), daughter of the church vicar’s sister who lives at Angamaly. Even though Sleevachan’s sisters are doubtful in the beginning stages, the two are supposed to be ideal match, and there is no hesitation from anyone’s side about getting them married, except for Richard (Rony David), Rincy’s brother who also agrees to the union of two families. There is a grand wedding ceremony which is attended by almost the whole village, but on the very first day itself, Sleevachan ends up drinking too much alcohol, and falls asleep early. But from what is to follow later, this might be the better night for him. His own lack of understanding of what happens after marriage would land him in trouble. The question remains about how he can change his ways and adapt.

The defence of Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha :: The success of Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha depends on how its situation and idea is presented to make a story with lesser content far more interesting than how it would have been, if presented directly. The main characters are nicely written, and without any melodrama or insensitive dialogues, the movie takes on the family mode quite easily. There was some risk involved with this movie, and the movie even though does take it, never really venture close to danger – the balance is maintained effectively. The music is pretty good, even though not the best. The visuals of the place are nicely captured, and it serves as another good-looking movie too. The messages here are there to be taken, even though not for everyone, and not at the same dose.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much of a content in this movie that stretches to its full length, as some parts of the movie could have been cut down to make this one and half hours – there is not that much in there to take it to two hours and fifteen minutes. The story can be considered to be too simple, and the beginning half an hour or even up to forty five minutes doesn’t have anything to catch our attention at all, and goes through a struggle to get to the point, until it begins to change the mood. There are also moments when one feels that the movie is not that realistic, and due the lesser content out there, it does drag, and the struggle is visible. The ending, even though good, needed to pack a better punch – the feel-good has itself working all the way here though.

The performers of the soul :: Asif Ali has done a fantastic job here, and it him who gets to drive the movie forward effectively. Even though Kakshi: Amminippilla was a terrible and aimless movie, he had two fantastic movies, Virus and Uyare, as well as the one fine feel-good movies in the form of Vijay Superum Pournamiyum. He makes this simple, highland villager close to life, and also natural enough. He has some fine moments for us to remember, especially in the second half of the movie. This role of the simpleton from a village on a hill, stays safe with him from the beginning to the end. Veena Nandakumar who is best known for the movie Kadam Katha, comes up with a fine, controlled performance. She delivers the most with less dialogues and more from looks and action.

Further performers of the soul :: Basil Joseph, the director of two wonderful movies Kunjiramayanam and Godha has another good role to do after Manoharam. He plays the supporting role well once again, and it is once again the kind of role which Aju Varghese would do in a similar movie. The girl who plays the role of his lover also does a fine job here. Shine Tom Chacko is there in a small role which you would miss if you don’t look around at the right time. Rony David also has a smaller role as the brother of the heroine. Jaffer Idukki has a bigger role, and we get to see him handling a funny as well as matured side. Sruthi Lakshmi and Maala Parvathi are there for shorter moments too. It can be seen that the rest of the cast are also natural, unlike Happy Sardar which released this week, and keeps itself artificial throughout its run.

How it finishes :: Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha has done a pretty good job in keeping close to the family audience while providing a few messages. After the critically acclaimed and top level Helen, this is the movie which will grab your attention. Even with new releases coming this week, its number of shows remaining the same is a sign of the possibility of the movie to stay, even though with Mamangam coming up soon, there is no clear guarantee of the same. Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha‘s title won’t really symbolize the story, but the message does work out, considering the way the movie moves forward. Among the usual feel-good movies, this one strives to be different, and trying new experiments never get old in Malayalam cinema, as we work and seek more.

Release date: 22nd November 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Nissam Basheer
Starring: Asif Ali, Veena Nandakumar, Manohari Joy, Basil Joseph, Rony David, Jaffer Idukki, Raveendran, Sruthi Lakshmi, Maala Parvathi, Shine Tom Chacko, Jayalakshmi, Sini Abraham, Jesna Sibi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Finals

What is the movie about? :: Alice Varghese (Rajisha Vijayan) is a cyclist from Kattappana who has evolved to become the national champion under the guidance of his father KP Varghese (Suraaj Venjaramoodu) who has worked as a sports coach in more than one school, and also at his own academy. Varghese is someone who hasn’t achieved much from his career as a trainer, and has all his hopes set on his daughter who is supposed to represent India at the 2020 Summer Olympic at Tokyo from 24 July to 9th August 2020. Before appearing at the event, she is also selected by the National Olympic Committee to have her training in Russia. At the first city in Asia to host the Olympic Games twice, she is supposed to be a clear favourite to gain a medal, finishing far ahead of others in all competitions. Before she leaves for Russia, she hopes to visit her friends and relatives at hometown for the last time, and she returns to Kattappana for the same reason.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: There she meets her childhood friend Manuel Thomas (Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju) one more time. Manuel has been in love with her since school days, and wanted a reply from her for a long time, but she has been evading that question with ease. She visits the school where she studied, after a very long time, and motivates the students there, along with traveling through those places which provides her with a nostalgic feeling. Varghese who has supported the Olympic dream with everything that he had in his life, never really had anything more than that small house, because the dream was the only thing that he lived for. As she makes her return, there is one last race which she will be participating in, before leaving for the Russian training – but there are twists of events that await her, and her loved ones. Fate had a backup plan to bring the twist – well, fate always finds a way, as it would follow here.

The defence of Finals :: The best thing about Finals is that it decides to change its pattern from the usual stuff which has been followed in almost every known sports movie – there would be a sportsperson or a sports team which is facing some kind of trouble, and someone would help the person or the team to rise up to the occasion and win the competition, or at least come close to doing that so that we feel that there would be a victory next year. We have the sportsperson at the top in the beginning itself in this case, and we see what happens later. But the movie is not limited to her, and the neither is it limited to her family or the people around – the world goes further, as there are many issues being discussed despite the budget and the number of big names being so less. There is the corruption and nepotism which are part of sports, which lead to the athletes from the lower strata of the society suffering – except for cricket in which everyone gets something.

Positives and negatives :: Well, it is only when the interval hits you so hard that you realize that there is a big change coming up, making this a very different sports drama – we love both sides of the interval, as each shows something of beauty, and also feeds our emotional so well, along with providing motivation. We can feel those emotions even after we are finished with the movie, a short one lasting only a little more than two hours. The beautiful visuals of the high-ranges also contribute to the same, with some nice songs to go with them. The struggle that the movie shows feels so real, as we know how the athletes other than cricketers are sidelined with ease. The absence of necessities for the other sports-persons, is something that needed attention a long time ago, especially with those games which more than nine or ten nations of the world are interested in playing. One might still feel that this is not the kind of movie they expected from the trailer, but that indeed is the beauty of it.

The performers of the soul :: Rajisha Vijayan is fantastic in a movie which brings more than one face of her, and its a step forward from the State Award winning Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, the two lesser known Georgettan’s Pooram and Oru Cinemakkaran as well as the most recent charming bildungsroman adventure, June. There is deep feeling in her performance, whether in happiness or in grief, whether in determination or in the absence of the same – the emotions can be seen going very deep here, and we are happy to see that she is always one step ahead of the character, with her preparations as well as the final work. The character here is so natural and close to life, further ahead of anything she has played in the past. If Rajisha could’nt pull this off, nobody else could have, and we see that she never struggles in doing the same – she is that good as of now. This could be another award winning performance, and we wouldn’t doubt that.

Further performers of the soul :: Suraaj Venjaramoodu in serious roles has been a revelation in the past, whether it was about a small role in Action Hero Biju or a full role in Thondimuthalum Drikshakshiyum. This is another character which carries a certain amount of melancholy, from which there is no escape – we are also part of those emotions which go deep, as the struggling coach tries to successful at at least some point. There are those emotional undercurrents which we can feel in such a way that they return to us when we are sitting idle and thinking about those moments. Meanwhile, Niranj doesn’t just shine, but glitters in this world, coming with a performance close to life, as a commoner from the hilly side of Central Kerala. We have him touching both heart and soul here with the feelings running heavy. There are those dialogues and his combination scenes with both Rajisha and Suraaj that tests our emotional strength. Tini Tom and Sona Nair provide fine support as his parents too.

How it finishes :: Even though it is announced earlier that the movie is a fictional story, the credits in the end dedicate the movie to the cyclist Shiny Siles who died in a road accident while participating in the State Road Cycle race at Manjeri in the year 2002. With or without it, this movie happens to be one of the best sports drama flicks ever produced in the country, and not watching it will be a crime, if not a cardinal sin. You feel the frustration, hopelessness, anger, fear, determination, hope, and everything else just like the characters do, and as we live a life with these characters, our second and the most realistic part of life, Finals easily becomes the best movie among the Onam releases, rising above the fighting thriller Brother’s Day and the not-so-serious comedy flicks following the same pattern – Love Action Drama and Ittymaani. The number of viewers as of now is surely low for the movie, but if we don’t support a movie like this at the theatre, we would be the barbarians, unless we are cacodemons. Here, I leave you with a song from the movie. Why you would stop yourself from falling in love with this movie and feel deep with it, is beyond me, as Finals come up with that kind of a lovely feeling in multiple ways.

Release date: 6th September 2019
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: PR Arun
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Suraaj Venjaramoodu, Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju, Tini Tom, Sona Nair, Muthumani, Kunchan, Nisthar Sait, Dhruvan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Love Action Drama

What is the movie about? :: Dinesh (Nivin Pauly) doesn’t have much of an education, and spends his time following a sumptuously rich lifestyle as he has inherited a good amount of money from his grandparents – he doesn’t care about what goes around him, and doesn’t even know the full form of MBA even though he pretends to be interested in pursuing the course. His best friend is Sagar (Aju Varghese) who is another jobless person wandering around the city with no aim in his life, and depends on Dinesh for money and enjoyment in life. With his cousin Swathy (Durga Krishna) getting married, and not accepting his proposal citing blood relation, he decides to increase the amount of alcohol and cigarettes in his life, much to the dismay of his mother (Mallika Sukumaran) who hopes that he would be responsible some day – she gets her brothers (Renji Panicker and Biju Sopanam) to advice him, but that brings no positive result.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: During the wedding night, he meets Shobha (Nayanthara), a friend of Swathy, and accidentally ends up ruining her room and landing her in the hospital. But soon, they become good friends, and she invites him to Chennai, an invitation which he is too quick to accept. But things are not that smooth there as he had expected. There is confusion between them as well as revolving around her friends Priya (Dhanya Balakrishna) and others. Along with the same, her father (Sreenivasan) wouldn’t have that much of an opinion about Dinesh either. Whenever things seem to get better and going smooth, they don’t. Now the question remains if Dinesh can finally marry the girl whom he loves, and if Shobha can find something good enough for her to stay in love with the man whom she met at her good friend’s wedding.

The defence of Love Action Drama :: The movie does have enough of whatever is mentioned in its title, love, action and drama, even though not in the favourable and admirable levels of combination. The visuals are really good, and the music is pretty good for most of the time. Even when the movie goes in the wrong direction or when the romance struggles, it is the humour that keeps the movie going, as this one has that quality of those earlier Dileep movies, which is to keep the funny side simple and connected to the audience. It can be said that Love Action Drama is not a movie that seeks clarification to whatever happens within or asks for logic behind all those – it dives deep into those ideas which have worked in the past, and while keeping the humorous side alive, has things going in its favour. Well, when you shorten the name of the movie to LAD, you get the meaning of that word as “a male person of any age between early boyhood and maturity” – it is what the movie itself happens to be.

The claws of flaw :: Love Action Drama does have its prejudices when dealing with love, and it is surely confused about where it is going. There is no real reason shown for the girl to fall in love with the hero except for the fact that he is good-looking and rich, a strange thing considering what we know of the lady’s character. Some of the comic sequences are just dumb, and the love angle goes here and there, through the opposite extremes too often. We do see some repetitions, and the lack of a solid plot can be seen here while the story goes through its ups and downs. Dhyan Sreenivasan could have made this better for sure, as we know how many people are there at his own place to give him advice. It is the reliance on comedy that saves the day every time, but when it doesn’t work with you, there seems to be the struggle that doesn’t end.

The performers of the soul :: The movie clearly depends on Nivin Pauly’s star value as well as his skill in handling this kind of a character to move the story forward. This one comes as nothing difficult for him, as his immature character in Premam was done with ease, and this one requires even less from him except for need for more humour. It is his combination scenes with Aju Varghese that takes the funny side to the next level, as we know how well they are able to handle the comedy when together. Aju Varghese handles the scenes here with ease, reminding one of how things were going in Oru Vadakkan Selfie. Yet it has to be noted that it is not him, but Biju Sopanam who sets the wheels of comedy rolling in the beginning stages, even though he is not there for long. We also see Renji Panicker dropping in to contribute to the same even though it is only for a short amount of time.

Further performers of the soul :: Nayanthara has returned to Malayalam after a very long time, and you remember that she was last there in Puthiya Niyamam, and before that, for a short cameo appearance in Life of Josutty. Even though we are all glad to see her here after a gap of three years, one does have to wonder if this role has much for her, and whether anyone else could have been enough to do this job. Puthiya Niyamam had asked for a fine performance from her, but not this movie, which just needs her to be there with a little bit of effort. Mallika Sukumaran’s role as protagonist’s mother is worth mentioning, Jude Anthany Joseph’s short stay also leaves something to ponder about. At the same time, Dhanya Balakrishna who plays Nayanthara also deserves a mention. Vineeth Sreenivasan’s role does feel a little bit short, but it is fun when he is there. Sreenivasan also has some usual work to do, playing the father figure.

How it finishes :: Love Action Drama can be considered as a movie which is applicable to all kinds of audience, especially the family viewers, because of its qualities seemingly inherited from those earlier Dileep-esque comedy movies which has stayed for long, not considering those later repetitive versions. There is no question about the fact that the movie could have been better rather than going in a predictable path and being repetitive, but this is still a movie which stays close to a mood of celebration, and it is the kind of flick that we need for Onam vacations – we move away from a solid plot and go for the comic feel-good romance, which is forgivable at this stage. We have always had different kinds of movies for Onam, and this leaves us with what seems to be a preference, with Nayanthara making a return to Malayalam movie industry after a long time.

Release date: 5th September 2019
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Dhyan Sreenivasan
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Aju Varghese, Nayanthara, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Durga Krishna, Basil Joseph, Prajin Padmanabhan, Sreenivasan, Jude Anthany Joseph, Mallika Sukumaran, Renji Panicker, Biju Sopanam, Dhanya Balakrishna, Motta Rajendran, Sunder Ramu, Gayathri Shan, Dhyan Sreenivasan (cameo), Bhagath Manuel (cameo), Deepak Parambol (cameo), Hari Krishnan (cameo)

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the review of a small movie now in 50 crores list.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Thanneermathan Dinangal

What is the movie about? :: Jason (Mathew Thomas) is a student in plus one humanities, who manages to get to science stream as one of the students in the class wished to escape from the baffling science, thus exchanging their places. He joins the science batch, but doesn’t really manage to pick up the pace, even though he is able to get into the school cricket team as a medium pace bowler and play frequently in tournaments. Despite being branded as the studious boy in the early stages as he came from a reputed central syllabus school, he soon proved to be below average or sometimes even worse in his studies. He finds some new friends who are like him, and also falls in love with Keerthy (Anaswara Rajan), a girl from the same class, a relationship which stays one-sided, much to his dismay, as he hopes to make some progress in it. There is another girl named Steffy (Gopika Ramesh), but he feels that Keerthy is his true love.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But this is the least of his problems as he has problems with another student from the nearby class room. Still, the biggest of his problems is something else, the new Malayalam teacher who comes in the place of the teacher on leave – Ravi Padmanabhan (Vineeth Sreenivasan) is the new teacher whom everyone loves. He keeps teaching in an interesting manner, with stories and even stops other teachers from punishing students. He gets a heroic image in the eyes of the students, and is appreciated by the Principal who considers Ravi to be of the same wavelength as he is. Jason feels that he is a fraud as Ravi doesn’t teach much in the class, and everything that he does is more or less attention-seeking. Keerthy as well as his best friends admires Ravi too, and he has a cold war against the new teacher who seems to have a prejudice against him too. How will his school life progress now?

The defence of Thannermathan Dinangal :: It can be seen that Thannermathan Dinangal doesn’t deviate from its focus at any moment, and this focus is the main things that leads to its success. The movie feels realistic and funny throughout its run, and it also does come up with some nostalgia. We remember how June did the same effectively some time back, and here we are there again. It feels close to life with ease, and the kids of the school are all too good – we notice most of them and we remember them with ease, as they keep coming up with something to memorize. The music is really good, and the song “Ee Jaathikka Thottam, Ee Jaathi Ninte Nottam” stands out with ease, not just with the lyrics and music, but with what we see on the screen with the two youngsters doing a fantastic job. It is one song which can go on to become the song of the year along with a few others.

The claws of flaw :: Some parts of the movie does go a little too much, especially with Vineeth’s teacher character. There is the feeling that this kind of teacher is rather unrealistic, and we are immediately reaching for our dose of willing suspension of disbelief, but in a realistic movie, it is not that easy to use and work on our imagination. The movie could have also shortened the time spent outside the school, and some of the outside characters make less or no impact at all. There are also those extra moments which could have been added, as we look back to our school days. But considered the movies like Oru Adaar Love dealing with plus two life, we understand how difficult it is to come up with a movie like Thannermathan Dinangal – it is even more difficult to have these work for all kinds of audience, and as it seems to be achieved, there is no more searching through the flaws.

The performers of the soul :: Mathew Thomas of the Kumbalangi Nights fame plays the main character in this movie, and he excels as the protagonist. His expressions and dialogues are all too good, and he keeps on impressing us throughout he movie with realistic performance. There is no moment when you feel that he is not living through that school kid. There is the certainty of a lot more coming up as far as this youngster is concerned. We remember him having played a perfect role in his previous movie, and we are always ready to wait for his next movie. Anaswara Rajan of Udaharanam Sujatha fame plays the female lead, and after the recently released Evidey, she has another role in uniform, this time in plus two. She is also natural with her performance here, and the emotional moments are also handled with a certain amount of maturity.

Further performers of the soul :: Then you see Vineeth Sreenivasan doing the teacher character in style – the character might look a little bit strange, but he gives life and energy to that one in an admirable way. We don’t see him in movies that often these days, and we always need a little bit of him at regular intervals – this movie has him back. We had Aravindante Athidhikal last year with the feel-good, and here he has the humour in his hands. Irshad plays the principal of the school nicely. Nisha Sarangh of Uppum Mulakum fame is left to do nothing much here. All the kids here also come up with impressive performances, especially the one who played the main characters’ best friend and the one who has a problem with our protagonist. The watermelon juice from the shop outside the gates of the school and the nutmeg garden contributes as characters in a special way – we see them, and we remember them later, like William Wordsworth would, with the daffodils.

How it finishes :: This kind of a feeling was earlier achieved only with something like Philips and the Monkey Pen, but that was with smaller kids – June had gone beyond the school days as it progressed. Thannermathan Dinangal comes up with the journey that everyone can enjoy, which is the reason why it is still running with housefull shows, something which bigger superstar movies struggle to achieve. It has been a difficult job to find tickets for this movie during this weekend too, and we can be certain that the movie is here to stay. If after watching this movie, you feel the need to go back to your school again, there is no real surprise about it. Thannermathan Dinangal is not a movie of one generation, but of more than one, and you avoid the use of mobile phones, and change the drinks – you get back to the eighties or nineties with ease – well, after all, the 1990s kids nostalgia which have been circulating on the internet has been clearly applicable to the 1980s kids! This one is universal too! I leave you with this beautiful song from the movie.

Release date: 26th July 2019
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Girish AD
Starring: Mathew Thomas, Anaswara Rajan, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Sajin Cherukayil, Irshad, Nisha Sarangh, Kichu Tellus, Shabareesh Varma, Gopika Ramesh

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Luca

What is the movie about? :: As part of a case investigation, Police officer Akbar (Nithin George) comes across a diary which goes through the lives of Luca (Tovino Thomas) and Niharika (Ahaana Krishna). Luca is a highly talented artist who makes the best art works out of scrap materials, but is a short-tempered man who lives close to his small circle of friends. He had lost his father at a very young age, and his mother within a few years after that. He has extreme fear of death and dead bodies. Niharika is a research scholar in industrial chemistry who has come to Cochin from Bangalore as part of her research. Half-Malayali and half-Bengali, she has had a troubled childhood, and had lost her father at a very young age. Akbar is very close to divorcing his wife Fathima (Vinitha Koshy), as he is unable to forget his first love Jannet (Neethu Bala) who left him for reasons unknown to him, and is often adviced by his senior officer Jayaraman (Thalaivasal Vijay).

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The story goes through the love story of Luca and Niharika as well as the tale of Akbar going through his investigation with the help of his junior officer Aloshy (Anwar Shereef). The friendship and later love of Luca and Niharika develops after latter has a bad opinion about the former’s works, which she changes soon. Later, the two meets again, only to have her move to one of the empty rooms in his house, as she feels safer there. The only two people who are at the home most of the time are those who do the household duties, Martin (Chempil Asokan) and Salomi (Pauly Valsan). Niharika’s uncle Jayaprakash (Srikant Murali) despises her attitude and actions, but as she hates him, things come as no surprise. But there would be a few incidents which would change the lives of Luca and Niharika, but nothing changes regarding love.

The defence of Luca :: There is beauty in every frame of Luca. It is more or less like having a wizard, an overlord of aesthetics at work here, as we see beauty on the big screen, which never gets even close to fading away. We have home which is a work or art by itself, and the presence of rain makes the scenes even more beautiful. At the same time, we see some of those elements which have certain significance in the society, and the role that childhood plays in the lives of people and how it affects them as grown-ups can be seen. The movie is also strong with its emotional moments, especially in the end, as it deals with love in a deeper way rather than what is usually seen on the outside. There are also those moments which are there to stay for now, and we feel that a few things are rather symbolic of something else. The narrative strength of the tale keeps the movie together, and one has to love the way it progresses.

The claws of flaw :: Luca does not become your usual flick about romance. Well, it goes beyond that, and can make Romeo and Juliet feel that they can do better at a few things – it is that kind of love that is deeper that what our common movie watchers can take on. There is also a certain tragedy associated with it, and it stretches a bit with the story. One would also think that the tale could have been better, with a deeper investigation side. The mystery could have unfolded in another way too, and with such visual beauty on the screen, the movie had all it needed to go bigger. There is also that usage of flashback which is a little more than one would want to have. There might have been the feeling that Luca was going to be Charlie, but that didn’t happen, as this one develops its own identity.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas’ avatar is nothing less than stunning, as we see the character go through the journey of colours. Even though this is not your usual character, he makes his character both lovable and believable, set close to all that defines Kochi Biennale. He is here after three highly appreciated critical and commercial success movies, Virus, Uyare and Lucifer, and this happens to be one fantastic year for him already – we still have half an year to go. Well, the last year was not less grand either, as we had more. Ahaana Krishna hasn’t been there in many movies, and we remember seeing her last in Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela – she has nicely blended in here and has done a fantastic job. She has become the character with ease, and we see her excel in the emotional as well as romantic moments, as she makes a fine combination with Tovino.

Further performers of the soul :: Nithin George who plays the police officer in charge of the investigation comes up with a brilliant performance. He plays the man who lives in his memories, and hopes for answers from the past, and we go on the journey with the character. There is the beauty of serenity in that performance, and the situation that he is in also has us interested. Vinitha Koshy who played the teacher in Aanandam once again has interested in her character. Chempil Asokan and Pauly Valsan makes a perfect pair as the helping hands of the house. Anwar Shereef gives good support as the junior police officer. Jaffer Idukki is there for only a short period of time, and Thalaivasal Vijay only has a little more time with bigger dialogues. Srikant Murali leaves a mark with certain moments. Neethu Bala makes some good impact with one song which she is part of.

How it finishes :: Luca easily gets to the list of the best movies of the year, and it does the same with the love story side rather than getting into some other genre – the investigation and twist are there, but the focus continues to be with the romantic side. With some wonderful music in there, the flick had already caught out attention, and it is one movie which you shouldn’t miss for the beauty on the screen. Along with the same, the socially relevant issues also stays there. As it stands, Luca will continue to stay strong in our theatres. One would wish to watch it again for the emotional content as well as the power of aesthetics, both never backing away from giving the best, just like the actors in there. Have a look at a song from the movie, among the best of the year so far.

Release date: 28th June 2019
Running time: 151 minutes
Directed by: Arun Bose
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Nithin George, Ahaana Krishna, Neethu Bala, Anwar Shereef, Rajesh Sharma, Vinitha Koshy, Sooraj S Kurup, Shalu Rahim, Chempil Asokan, Devi Ajith, Jaffer Idukki, Neena Kurup, Pauly Valsan, Srikant Murali, Thalaivasal Vijay, Raghavan, Hansika Krrishna

<– Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Uyare

What is the movie about? :: Pallavi Raveendran (Parvathy) has had one particular dream since childhood, from the first time she traveled in a plane – to become a pilot. It is the same reason why she decides to stop pursuing her degree at Union Christian College as soon as she gets selected for the course. It doesn’t bring any joy to her lover Govind Balakrishnan (Asif Ali) who is very possessive about her, as she has to go and join the training academy at Mumbai. Her father Raveendran (Siddique) provides full support to her, as she begins her journey towards achieving her greatest wish and the one ambition that never left her. At the academy, she meets Sariya D Costa (Anarkali Marikar) who would go on to become her best friend – she would warn Pallavi about the possessive nature of her relationship with Govind, but nothing comes out of it.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As her course is almost complete, the new graduates go on a party at night and Pallavi joins them, but not before lying to Govind that she is going to sleep. Govind who had reached Mumbai as part of job hunting finds this out, causing a rift between the two. As Pallavi tries to break up with him, the possessive Govind throws acid on her face. With a weakened eye sight, she gets rejected as pilot, and goes back home. It is during one of her journeys from and towards home that she meets an acquaintance, Vishal Rajashekharan (Tovino Thomas), and it would bring a certain change. With the support of Vishal and Sariya, there would be an opportunity for her that she might not have even come close to guessing. But is that chance something that can be taken, and will that be an effective one in her case?

The defence of Uyare :: The struggle in the movie goes deep and there is no exaggeration regarding the same. It feels real with the actors and actresses nicely getting into their characters providing quality work. The characters and their transformation can also be seen, and how the movie begins in the control centre nicely unfolds the narrative. The issues faced by acid attack survivors and those in over-possessive relationships are nicely shown. The last moments of the movie are among the best, with some thrills added to the emotions which go strong throughout the flick. We are able to feel the pain of the protagonist even before the life-changing incident occurs, and after that, the emotions strengthen. At a time when violence against women has failed to come down, this is cent percent relevant. Even though the news about acid attacks have been from the North, we have had strange and terrible actions from scorned lovers here too.

Positives and negatives :: Compared to those facing the same problem from other backgrounds, the comeback might not seem this easy, with some situations seemingly custom made and out of the otherwise realistic spirit here, like the case of the flight. But one inspiring incident can change things, as we look at it. But the same is not really the focus, as we see how the protagonist accepts her as she is, and takes another bold step forward – never does she look for compassion, and she is not the one who is looking for favours, as she moves on through another path. It is when the movie becomes not about the acid attack and the scars, but the later rise, like a phoenix from the ashes. As a phoenix has the rebirth by rising from the ashes of its predecessor, the main character also will have the same transformation, from the ashes of her dreams of flight, to the same flight which had rejected her. As Maya Angelou said, like moons and suns, with the certainty of tides, like hopes springing high – the character rises and it is joy to watch.

The performers of the soul :: Parvathy leads the way here as she did in Take Off – Asif Ali is another common factor here, once again playing a character not bringing her anything for the future despite being in a relationship earlier. This might be her Take Off this year, and even though she was a crowd favourite with Ennu Ninte Moideen and Charlie while Qarib Qarib Singlle had her going further North, this performance surely stretches far ahead. The change in her character, and the courage that she displays against adversity can be clearly seen as a reflection of the positive changes that have come across an already brilliant actress. The moments after the acid attack shows her calibre, and also later with the determination when many lives are at stake. The girl who plays Parvathy as a school student, Evelin also seems similar both in looks as well as the enthusiasm – nobody would say that she is not the same character in childhood.

Further performers of the soul :: Asif Ali plays a possessive lover who has been with the main character since childhood, and there is some villainy written over him from the beginning itself, even though the signs become further clear later. He does the same calmly. His character, for some reason, doesn’t create that much of a scene that we would notice, and keeps away for most of the time. He had started the year with the feel-good of Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, and we would have hoped for more of his character here. Well, it is Tovino’s character that we remember though, as the one who tries to help the main character get back to life. Nivin Pauly had done a similar role in Mili, but this one is closer to life. Take a look back to his previous Malayalam movies, and we see Lucifer, Ente Ummante Peru, Oru Kuprasidha Payyan, Theevandi and Maradona – we wonder if he can go wrong these days. Anarkali Marikar of Aanandam fame does a fantastic supporting job and Siddique as usual does great.

How it finishes :: The performances are indeed the strength of the movie, and with Parvathy leading the way, the movie has all the ingredients to fly high – it is still doing the same as it goes on in the theatres even after a month of its release, as Athiran did, rising with the opinions of critics as well as the common man. As a tribute to the acid attack survivors, one need to watch this one, but one would notice that it is not all. We see the strength of ambitions, powered by courage and determination, as this becomes an inspirational movie, not just for women, but also for each and everyone who is forced to struggle due to the cruelty of fate, or others around them. Lack of freedom, especially in a relationship, is not something to boast about, for control and manipulation are not love – it comes as a strong message with Uyare too. It is still not late to watch this one, and remember that dreams, as it is with hope, are meant to rise, like the sun, not to be buried in the catacombs for the interest of the possessive sentinel.

Release date: 26th April 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Manu Ashokan
Starring: Parvathy, Tovino Thomas, Asif Ali, Siddique, Anarkali Marikar, Pratap K Pothen, Prem Prakash, Rajani Murali, Bhagath Manuel, Preetha Pradeep, Sreeram Ramachandran, Mathew Arun, Evelin, VK Baiju, Kay Kay Menon, Ajay Mathew, Irshad, Anil Murali, Latheef, Blessy Kurian, Samyuktha Menon (cameo)

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

June

What is the movie about? :: June Sarah Joy (Rajisha Vijayan) considers herself to be an ordinary girl with no special talents, which is the reason why she is upset that most of the other students who join her class are able to do so much more. Her parents (Joju George and Aswathi Menon) care very much about her as she is their only child. Noel (Sarjano Khalid) is her newfound best friend who is elevated to the level of her boyfriend. They get to connect well with each other as they are both considered to be lagging with their talents. As time progresses, she is able to make new friends, and her Plus Two batch of 2007 is finally able to become a batch to remember not just for the students, but also to the teachers. But at the same time, when her parents find out about Noel, she decided to end their relationship. She joins a nearby college while he travels to Mumbai to stay with his parents and to continue his studies.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The best friends go in their own ways, and June is left with the memories of Noel. She goes through her college days without much of an enthusiasm as she is still caught in her life in Plus Two. After completing her degree, she decides to go for an interview in Mumbai and meet Noel at the same time. She stays with her Plus Two classmate Abhirami a.k.a. Mottachi (Vaishnavi Venugopal) who is also working there, and finds Noel to begin the next phase of their relationship. But things are not that easy as she thought they would be. She has to deal with his family as well as hers, and at the same time, maintain her own independence. About their life, what Noel thinks might not be the same either. So, the question remains about what awaits her in the rest of her life.

The defence of June :: The strength of June lies not just in the performances lead by the female lead, but also in the memories that it creates. It takes us back to the school days, and even though it is not an exact reflection of the memories as it was recreated in Om Shanti Oshana, this one is surely an effective one, thanks to a better performance from the female lead in comparison to that older version. The movie is also a clean entertainer for the family audience, with nothing that makes them doubt about their plan to watch the movie – keeping it so, and at the same time, funny would have been a difficult job, but is done with skill. The climax and the final scenes are beautifully done too, and it talks not just of love, but of nostalgia and friendship that comes back after a long time. The music is nice, and suits the mood of the movie. The songs come too often, but they are nice to hear.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s idea to skip the college days completely is one strong negative point on this movie – the second half could have used some of that too, and in that case, being a coming-of-age story in the lines of Premam and Om Shanti Oshana, this one has a little missing part. There is no life that serves as a coming-of-age story without the college days, because it doesn’t matter who denies the same, there is something about those moments all the time. It is where bildungsroman struggles. The movie is also a little bit too long, which is why one can feel certain drag with the romance. There was surely more scope to make this one better. It has to be noted that not everything in the movie brings the memories of school days, and not all jokes serve to be that effective. But as the industry is once again becoming hesitant to experiment, June is surely one another welcome move.

The performers of the soul :: Rajisha Vijayan who won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for her performance in her debut film Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, which was also her first movie, once again makes an impression, as we had expected from the trailer. Georgettan’s Pooram and Oru Cinemakkaran never really gave her any challenge as movies which kept at a certain level, never trying to rise or give its female protagonists opportunity to do much. She takes over the protagonist, and has the sixteen year old going through to the next ten years of her life, even though three years at college are absent. The moments during the Plus Two time period are done with amazing skill, and the latter moments are not far behind, and they seemed to come naturally to her. With the whole movie completely dependent on her performance, she makes sure that she comes up with only the best.

Further performers of the soul :: Along with Rajisha, there are others to add to this one very well. Joju George gets another fine role after Joseph, unlike the insignificant one he had to do in Lonappante Mamodeesa. He nicely gets into the father role here, and has some funny as well as touching moments to go with it. Aswathi Menon who is best known for Sathyam Sivam Sundaram and its highly popular song “Walking in the moonlight” has the mother role here, and she makes it a good one. Sarjano Khalid, the debutante who plays a male lead does well, as if he’s been there before. Arjun Ashokan has also done a good job, especially in the second half. Among the actors and actresses who plays the protagonist’s friends, it is Vaishnavi Venugopal who shines the most. That should be among the most natural performances not by a main or secondary heroine, in a long time. The other newcomers are also good talents, as we can see here.

How it finishes :: Releasing at the same time as Oru Adaar Love released, this one uses less hype and more quality to be assured of a more solid run. After Aadu 2, Vijay Babu becomes the producer again here, and we expected a performance to remember from Rajisha Vijayan – it is the same that we get here. This one stays close to life and memories, along with being another feel-good movie which touches our hearts after Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, Njan Prakashan and Ente Ummante Peru. June is also one movie which does so much justice to the trailer, as it is more or less the same thing that we watched earlier and expected. Even though Kumbalangi Nights and 9 are there, this movie should take over some of the presence of the latter, and keep going, because the movie is many different things to different people.

Release date: 15th February 2019
Running time: 141 minutes
Directed by: Ahammed Kabir
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Joju George, Sarjano Khalid, Aswathi Menon, Vaishnavi Venugopal, Nayana Eliza, Arjun Ashokan, Sanju KS, Akhil Manoj, Harisankar, Sruthy Suresh, Margret Antony, Raveena Nair, Aju Varghese (cameo), Sunny Wayne (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kumbalangi Nights

What is the movie about? :: Four brothers Saji (Soubin Shahir), Bonney (Sreenath Bhasi), Bobby (Shane Nigam) and Franky (Matthew Thomas) live in a small house which on an abandoned side of the fishing village of Kumbalangi. Born and brought up in a remote area on the island which came to be connected to mainland Kochi by a bridge only a few years back, they have been living happily, content with what they have. Their small area itself forms a very small island where people abandon their dogs and cats. Saji and Bobby doesn’t have jobs even though the former manages to get something without working. Bonney works with a music and dance troupe while Franky is a student and a football enthusiast. Things seem to be going smoothly even though none of them has any real purpose in life. They fight with each other and also with others, and have some drinks, wasting their time without regret. There are no thoughts about future either.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Things have a twist when Bobby falls in love with Babymol (Anna Ben) who has been admiring him for a long time. She works in a resort at Kallenchery side of Kumbalangi as a tourist guide and also runs a home-stay near her home. The two wants to get married, but her sister Simi’s (Grace Antony) husband Shammi (Fahadh Faasil) decides things in the house due to her father’s demise, and he wouldn’t have him as a co-brother. Shammi wants someone who is equal to him, and asks Bobby to get a job and renovate their small house. Bobby finds out that Shammi is not someone who can be reasoned with, and gets to work. But can Bobby get to marry considering the fact that Shammi is considering more than what he says? Also, can the brothers settle their differences and stop fighting each other at regular intervals for different reasons?

The defence of Kumbalangi Nights :: The first thing that strikes you here is the presence of those Chinese nets against the beautiful backwaters and greenery, captured so wonderfully. At night, the sight becomes even more beautiful, becoming the enchanting Kumbalangi – the visuals are too good. Supporting the same, are some excellent performances from each person on the screen – being a movie which gives equal importance to its characters, we see nobody backing down here. The emotions and the funny side stand at two sides of the backwaters, sometimes jumping into water together, and at times, one after the other. As a realistic take on the life of struggling people, we listen to the local slang, and we also see common factors of life. If you have been to Kumbalangi, you will see a few things which will remind you of the village – not just the fishing nets, but also the bridge to Kumbalangi, the path to Kallenchery, the Kallenchery Resort and others. There we love the simplicity that the movie displays.

Positives and negatives :: The nights at Kumbalangi is a tale of the abandoned, who seek redemption within the world which has become a part of them. The lives of the subaltern nicely gets the treatment that it deserves. It is not like those movies which choose “jobless youngsters becoming gangsters” to show the same idea, because Kumbalangi Nights nicely manages to think above that idea. It destroys the stereotype that Angamaly Diaries also created earlier in the name of a realistic tale, and goes for real, common people instead of thugs. Kumbalangi Nights is a welcome metamorphosis from the usual to the unusal, an extension of the movies like Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Drikshashiyum. As it touches you deep with its realistic depiction of all things with even more realistic dialogues, from the talk about true love to those related to family and relationships, there is no reason for you not to watch it. You can ask for more from the story, but the tale here is of life itself. It still takes some time to get going, and can be considered to be slow in the beginning by a few.

The performers of the soul :: The four actors who play the four brothers form the core of the movie. Among them, it is Shane Nigam who plays the Romeo character that touches your heart very early. He excels in those romantic sequences too. We remember those early signs in Kismath which were so nicely carried into Parava, and Shane is now here, playing another character so naturally. Soubin Shahir is fantastic with those emotional scenes and the character never fails to bring the funny side alive too, even when things are going very serious. He has those moments that touch hearts so well in the second half. Sreenath Bhasi plays the mute character very well with actions and expressions. Matthew Thomas who plays the school boy is not far behind either. We see how well they combine to make the moments in this flick so much better. In their journey, in their transformation, in their brotherhood, we find our messages of life as they find redemption.

Further performers of the soul :: Two leading ladies add to it in the same way. Grace Antony does her job in a believable manner, becoming the local house wife as one would expect her to be. She also proves that she can handle the funny side really well. At the same time, the debutante who leaves a fantastic mark here is Anna Ben. Among all the dialogues in the movie, it is those that she says that stays with us for long. Those related to “true love” and “knowing Jesus” are among them – we feel those to be so natural that whether they are emotional or funny, they go deep. Then you see Fahadh Faasil who steals the show each and every time he appears on the screen, and by the end, we see him in a performance that we least expect. There is more to his character than what meets the eye, and we have had that feeling before, in Varathan – no we are not going to find such exaggeration here, because this is the life of everyman with struggles rather than someone with the silver-spoon. We have no heroes here – instead, we have people whom we understand, and their myriad of emotions taking roots within us. Heroism is shown to be abnormal, and what the villain wishes to display – others live life.

How it finishes :: This is one movie which surely doesn’t look like the director’s debut film, as one would find it difficult to come up with complaints here. The choice of Kumbalangi is a smart one too, and it makes sure that things get closer to perfection unlike Paippin Chuvattile Pranayam which couldn’t do the same even with backwaters all around. There is poetry in Kumbalangi Nights, with its beautiful backwaters, and the lives of people who face abandonment just like their surroundings, and how they seek redemption. It is a realistic through the common man’s life with all those emotions coming from within, and we see how the setting contributes to making the story even more beautiful. Last year, we had to wait till Joseph to have the best of the year, and this year, this month, with Kumbalangi Nights, the best of the year might have come early. With it lighting up our world, we no longer have the darkness of the nights, as they are replaced with (k)nights in shining armour who reflect the light.

And here is one beautiful song to add to it:

Release date: 7th February 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Madhu C Narayanan
Starring: Shane Nigam, Anna Ben, Grace Antony, Sreenath Bhasi, Soubin Shahir, Fahadh Faasil, Ramesh Thilak, Matthew Thomas, Dileesh Pothen

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vijay Superum Pournamiyum

What is the movie about? :: Vijay (Asif Ali) represents a generation of young men who were forced to do engineering even as they want to do something else. He struggled hard and finally managed to pass the exams after multiple efforts. But his dream is to become a chef and for the same, he keeps trying. But his father Chandramohan (Siddique) is convinced that he shouldn’t do cooking after studying engineering, and gets him a job in a call centre. He meets Reshma (Viviya Santh) there and falls in love, only to end up realizing that she was cheating on her – his expression of his anger becomes viral on Youtube, and he also losses his job. His parents feel that the only way to make him responsible is to get him married to a rich and educated girl who would also be able to provide him with financial support. Finally, they find such a family and a girl.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This leads them to the house of Venugopal (Renji Panicker) who wishes to see his daughter Pournami a.k.a. Pinky (Aishwarya Lekshmi) married as soon as possible. Being an MBA holder and wishing to become a successful entrepreneur, she has the record of failing in every business she tried to begin, and in the process, losing the money her father invested in her ventures. As the two meet and talk, the door of the room which was being repaired, gets closed and is automatically locked. As the two are locked inside with the carpenter being called for, they are left with a few hours to talk about their past, present, future and ambitions. This talk changes the journey of life for both of them. They don’t find them as good match for each other and are not in a mood to marry soon, but destiny has other plans.

The defence of Vijay Superum Pournamiyum :: Remake of a Telugu movie Pelli Choopulu starring Vijay Devarakonda and Ritu Varma which is also known to have a Hindi remake called Mitron, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum does manage to make it completely Keralite with its moments nicely reflecting life easily. The feel-good elements work nicely, and the movie is light-hearted throughout its run, despite having moments which could have driven it through another path. The first half is full of fun, and the second one comes with an emotional touch as expected. With a simple plot, the characters are of interest right from the beginning itself. There are things that you can relate to, and it is a fine watch for the family audience in more than one way. The messages are good, and these also go for all kinds of audience of the present age.

The claws of flaw :: The second half, except for the final moments, doesn’t have the fun as the first half had. The radio talk sequence also could have something better to replace it, as it made things look too easy in the end. There is too much of a journey on the expected path, and the divergence could have been shown in a better way. There is the confusion, inability to talk about one’s love for each other, business deals relating to wedding and more, all of them going in a predictable manner. After the food truck business started, there was actually scope for more too. The songs are okay, and there is a nice one; the background music is good enough to give the feeling – there are those strange and ridiculous dance sequences in one song though, which don’t even come close to being funny. There are times when the movie seems to get into the melodrama mood, which was kind of out of place. Well, this is the first big Malayalam movie of the year, and you can expect more every time.

The performers of the soul :: Asif Ali plays the immature youth unable to do anything positive in life, and lacking confidence – it is something that he does with ease and in a believable way. We remember how he did the confused young man roles in the movies like Thrissivaperoor Kliptham, Avarude Raavukal and Adventures of Omanakkuttan. The irresponsible youth role was safe with him even in the earlier movies like Kavi Uddheshichathu..? and Anuraga Karikkin Vellam. Aishwarya Lekshmi coming out of the Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, Mayaanadhi, Varathan trio of big hits critically appreciated, does another fantastic job in portraying the lady who is set to leave a mark – she is once again a long way ahead of the rest, getting into her role so well. She has all those moments in control, no matter what is thrown at her.

Further performers of the soul :: Siddique and Renji Panicker handles the father roles here really well, with former going through his familiar territory nicely and latter doing what he has been doing so well since Om Shanti Oshana – the father who is very much caring for his children and supports them in more than one way. Another father figure who is there for a lesser amount of time is Devan who has not a lot to do. Aju Varghese has only a smaller role, but it is significant, and the funny side is strong during his presence. Balu Varghese and Joseph Annamkutty Jose support with enough jokes to add to the fun too. Shantikrishna has another mother role which she continues after the recently released Ente Ummante Peru in which she was there only for a few minutes. Darshana Rajendran also has some friendly, cute support in store for the protagonists. Then there is KPAC Lalitha doing the perfect grandmother yet again.

How it finishes :: As the third movie that united Jis Joy and Asif Ali as director and leading actor, following Bicycle Thieves and Sunday Holiday, this movie was expected to have something special in store. Bicycle Thieves was a dumb movie with foolish twists which were not needed, but Sunday Holiday had nice feel-good factor in store. With Vijay Superum Pournamiyum too, it was the same thing that the audience expected, and it is the same that they received, but in an even better package. Njan Prakashan is still running in the theatres with strong feel-good elements and Ente Ummante Peru had no shortage of the same; Thattumpurath Achuthan despite lagging behind had also tried the same – in this season of feel-good supported by Christmas and New Year, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum has its own high position to be proud of.

Release date: 11th January 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Asif Ali, Balu Varghese, Aju Varghese, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Siddique, Darshana Rajendran, Devan, Joseph Annamkutty Jose, KPAC Lalitha, Maya Menon, Renji Panicker, Shantikrishna, Austin Dan, Viviya Santh, Shaheen Siddique, Rajesh Sharma, K. S. Chithra, Harisanth Sharan

<— Go to the next big movie review of the year!

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Njan Prakashan

What is the movie about? :: Prakashan (Fahadh Faasil) is someone who is looking for easy money instead of going for the profession that he is skilled in – the job of a male nurse in one of the hospitals in the state or even the nation doesn’t seem to appeal to him, as he wastes his days doing nothing useful other than complain. His hope for a better job sees some light when he once again meets his former lover Salomi (Nikhila Vimal) who studied in the same nursing college. He was consistently avoiding her as she wasn’t that rich as he expected her to be. But the information that she is leaving for Germany to work at a salary of above three lakhs, his love for her quickly returns to him. He hopes to marry her and go to Germany, only to divorce her and marry someone from a rich and reputed family later. For achieving the same, he begins showing his love towards her and her family in different ways.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Now known as PR Akash after changing his original name, he is determined to leave for Germany, whatever happens. He seeks the help of his father’s former student Gopalji (Sreenivasan) who is a labout supplier, and even learns German after shifting to the city. For achieving his German dreams, he even pretends to be an orphan and secretly marry Salomi at the register office. He even tries and succeeds in getting the remaining cash which is needed for her to leave for Germany. Everything seems perfect until her father lands in the hospital. Twist of fate lands him at another place, as a male nurse to a rich child Tina (Devika Sanjay) who has been an eternal pain to her nurses until they left, and he also comes across Shruthi (Anju Kurian) who is struggling to keep her life going after the death of her father. For him, Germany no longer is the option or the dream.

The defence of Njan Prakashan :: There are some wonderful performances to power this movie, and along with the same, it also holds a mirror in front of the society – it is more or less a satire, as we see more than one people you know in the form of Prakashan. Our protagonist is someone who is not willing to work hard thus choosing any chance for easy money, complaining about one thing or the other, being sceptical and jealous about others, and more. We do meet people having these qualities often, which is why the movie becomes a reflection of those around us. The movie as a satire is funny, but not throughout, and it leaves us with some questions, along with invoking the emotional side slightly as well as brutally. As the movie reaches the end, it becomes that morality tale which has the lesson being taught as it finishes. The second half of the movie is top quality, racing ahead of the first, towards glory in the end with the climax and beyond.

The claws of flaw :: Njan Prakashan could have been more natural and it would have been as good as Maheshinte Prathikaaram – instead, this one has been polished, and certain cliches have been added, with the progress being more or less in an old format. The repetitive mode of comedy is rather strange considering the fact that these moments have a lot more to contribute to the overal quality of the movie. The first half of the movie is kind of dull in most parts, with jokes being present at times, and it doesn’t work at some points either. If the first half was reduced in length and more was added to the second, that would have helped the movie further. There is also the absence of some good songs, which should be the selling point of such flicks. We also see no attempt to capture the beauty and tranquility of the villages, as the same could also been positive addition to the movie. The talk about migrant labour population also gets nowhere in the end.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is once again the man to look out for, as there are shades of Maheshinte Prathikaaram in his character, and the same is combined with the other side of his character in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. Fahadh easily manages this role with every ingredient that the character needed, and it comes as no surprise for us, considering the variety he has been bringing until his last movie, Varathan. We see him excelling in the natural fun moments as well as those strong emotional moments. The change that comes within the character is also nicely displayed by him, and is complete by the end. He also gets to show some shades of his character in Oru Indian Pranayakadha, the earlier combination between him and the same veteran director. The role from Carbon should also be coming to one’s mind as part of those different, yet similar faces of the man who has shown us many faces on the big screen.

Further performers of the soul :: The two heroines of the movie are Nikhila Vimal and Anju Kurian. Nikhila who had her first lead role in Love 24×7 was last seen in another wonderful performance in Aravindante Athidhikal. Anju’s lead role in Kavi Uddheshichathu was a memorable one. The former leads the first half while the latter influences the second. Both are perfectly suited for their roles, and we look forward to seeing them in more movies. Devika Sanjay who plays Tina in this movie with her debut, makes her first one grand, without doubt. She is someone for the future of the industry without doubt. The different shades of a lone school girl is nicely portrayed by her. Sreenivasan remains strong throughout the movie, even though one would feel that his character could have been a lot funnier consider the role and the setting.

How it finishes :: Ente Ummante Peru, Thattumpurath Achuthan, Pretham 2 and Njan Prakashan have been the Christmas moves, and all of them have been doing pretty good, with Odiyan also staying there. Well, the best of the year, Joseph is not finished yet, and we know that there are so many options out there. Among these movies, Njan Prakashan surely has an advantage, because of how it ends, and regarding how it can be connected to the common man’s life. As the year comes to an end, there are things that we need to make sure about, before taking those new year resolutions. Njan Prakashan is that kind of a movie which helps one to do that with ease. The change that needs to happen, is clearly shown in this flick, as we look forward to another year, a better one, with better us.

Release date: 21st December 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Sathyan Anthikad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Nikhila Vimal, Anju Kurian, Sreenivasan, Aparna Das, Aneesh G Menon, Sabitha Anand, KPAC Lalitha, Veena Nair, Manjula, Manjusha, Jayashankar, Munshi Dileep, Devika Sanjay, MG Sasi, Shania D’Souza

<— Click here to go to a previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Thattumpurath Achuthan

What is the movie about? :: Achuthan (Kunchacko Boban) is a favourite of the villagers, and as a Krishna devotee, is close to the village temple and its committee. He has only good opinions about him in the village, and is considered to be someone who is more than just helpful to others. But one day, while trying to help his friend, he lands in trouble, and is branded a thief. The Sub Inspector of Police Justin John (Kalabhavan Shajohn) does let him go, but as he is branded in one way, things don’t go that much positive with him – his wedding ceremony is cancelled, and he also losses his job. With his best friend, he tries to have his revenge, but that also becomes another problem for him. His honesty remains under the shadow of doubt, but while reading a letter intended for Lord Krishna, everything changes for him, and becomes the first big twist in favour of him.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The letter is about a girl known by the name Jayalakshmi (Sravana), written by her mother Girija (Bindu Panicker). It is a request to Lord Krishna about saving her daughter from her former lover who keeps threatening her about a few photos and videos which they took together when they were in love. A few twists lead Achuthan to their house, and while hiding on the top of the house, decides to help them. But it is not that easy, as the person who is tormenting them is not the usual lover seeking her to be back with him – there is more to that person than what is known. With Jayalakshmi seeking to end her life, Achuthan has not more than a few days to work something out, or things will go beyond his control. Can the simple village man be good enough to outsmart this engineering graduate from a reputed college outside Kerala and bring hope to this family which has been hoping for a miracle for a long time?

The defence of Thattumpurath Achuthan :: There is strong feel-good factor in this movie, and there is also some magic realism to give it a little bit more as a special ingredient even though not at the best possible dose. Kunchacko Boban seems to be nicely suited to this role in more than one way, on many occasions. He has things working out in his favour all the time, and has the grand support that he need. It has a certain amount of magic realism in store too, as we see the presence of magic in the otherwise usual world. The movie has divinity in parts, and the dreams coming true forms the major part of it – the same also adds to the visuals in a beautiful way. There is also the reflection of certain foolish love which can be seen with the immaturity of the female lead’s character, coming right out of the college days. The movie also has a very nice ending to come, after a little struggle by the latter part.

The claws of flaw :: The music in the movie is a big let down, and it is irritating to see that it keeps coming again and again, even when we don’t need it at all – it is as if there is an attempt to prove something, or as if it is nice to have more songs in a flick like this. But having songs for the sake of having them, and not having them as good enough, won’t do a movie any good as you can see here too. Magic realism could have also been better used in this movie, and we know what the same can do, like we saw in the magical movie, Amen a long time ago. Even the Nandanam fun mode couldn’t be repeated in this movie, and neither could it have the Pranchiyettan and the Saint mode. There is the presence of exaggeration too, and a few things are rather too convenient. A lot more is often expected when there is a Lal Jose movie, and the Kunchacko Boban combination leaves more desired.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban leads the way here, as he has a role similar to that of his previous flick, Johny Johny Yes Appa. He has a family to save in this movie too, and goes under the name of a thief once again. He did the same role in Shikkari Shambhu, his best flick of the year. So, this role comes as no challenge to him, and the romantic side is here to serve him once again. A good-hearted man from village was perfectly shown by him in the movies like Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho and Jamna Pyari, and when we have him in such a role, there is the assurance that things will keep a minimum level. After Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum, Lal Jose – Kunchacko Boban combination is being brought back, and everyone was sure that it couldn’t be that bad. It is the trust in that combination that has been tested here, and has managed to work pretty well.

Further performers of the soul :: Sravana, a new face plays the role of heroine, but has very less to do here – she has less number of dialogues, but seems to be a talent for the future, as Lal Jose does find a new heroine each and every time. There is a long list of actors and actresses who are from the reality show Naayika Naayakan, among which I could identify Venkitesh, Meenakshi and Malavika. It is surprising that none of the so called websites specializing in Malayalam cinema or professional reviewers have given clear details about the cast, and it is something which we common movie viewers cannot find out without outside help. Johny Antony brings some fun while Nedumudi Venu is underused. Kalabhavan Shajohn also has his moments in this one, especially related to the comic side. Adish Praveen does a nice and cute job as the child with his dreams becoming reality.

How it finishes :: For the Christmas season, it seems that a certain amount of divinity is becoming part of the movies of the times, with no barriers among religions. As the Onam season never really had any celebration or release of new flicks, this is the season that could bring the best for Malayalam movie industry – note that the Pooja season also had to have an early harthal. So, even though the last movie of Lal Jose, Velipadinte Pusthakam couldn’t blend into the mood of 2017 Onam, this one, even though not during Onam has a part of Christmas in it. As a nicely suited movie for the family audience, Thattumpurath Achuthan has enough fuel to stay in the race until the end of the holidays this year and right into the next year. It only needs the family audience to have the power and keep it running. No matter how it turns out to be, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Release date: 22nd December 2018
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Sravana, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Hareesh Perumanna, Vijayaraghavan, Johny Antony, Nedumudi Venu, Seema G Nair, Meenakshi, Malavika Krishnadas, Veena Nair, Sethu Lakshmi, Irshad, Adish Praveen, Bindu Panicker, Biju Sopanam, Santhosh Keezhathoor, Thara Kalyan, Amina, R Vishva, Thejus Jyothi, Venkitesh VP, Roshan Ullas, Siddhi Vinayak, Kochupreman, Anil Murali

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Theevandi

What is the movie about? :: Bineesh (Tovino Thomas) started smoking at an early age, and tries to go on with his life without having any responsibility. He has a few friends around whom most of his life happens. The smoking which he started in school followed him to youth, and even though that bothers his lover Devika (Samyuktha Menon), they continue the relationship. Her father Madhu (Suraaj Venjarammood) is not confident about the relationship as he knows that he is a chain smoker due to which the title “Theevandi” was given to him – there is no positive side in the future which he sees about Bineesh, but he reluctantly agrees as Devika is certain about it. He talks to Bineesh’s brother-in-law, Vijith (Saiju Kurup) who works with him in the same political party and gets Devika and Bineesh engaged.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But Devika discovers that the smoking habit of Bineesh is beyond all limits and decides that she can no longer continue to be in love with a man who is obsessed with cigarettes. As she decides to be no longer engaged, another problem arises about who would be the next MLA of the constituency, following a terrible accident involving the MLA who has only a few days left to live. The two possible candidates are Bineesh’s brother-in-law and his possible father-in-law which brings another problem to light. In between all of these, is his smoking problem, and as long as the same exists, he can solve nothing. Can there be a solution to Bineesh’s problems, and how far can he go to make it happen? Or will he take the easy way out?

The defence of Theevandi :: There is the certainty of fun as far as Theevandi is concerned. Some jokes will be remembered for longer than we think, that is for sure. The message also arrives strong, and gets stronger and stronger as the movie progresses. The song “Jeevamshamayi Thaane” might be the best moment of the movie, with some other songs to join in. The music of the flick is very good, and there are some nice visuals of the beautiful village at which the flick is based. There is simplicity all around, and the message which the flick deals with, is serious and beyond the limitations. It is complicated when we see the whole of it, and the message against smoking is something of universal relevance. If the movie can inspire at least one person to give up smoking and lead a better life, there is great success being shown here – that one person will surely not be the end of it.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Theevandi could have done even better with its content. Being a movie which was supposed to release in June, this has been delayed for too long. The length of the move is also a negative thing, especially considering the fact that the main purpose here to provide one message, the one thing that it attempts more than the others. Some moments which were supposed to be funny, also falls short. The ending of the movie is certainly interesting and feel-good, and after a good beginning, it is the middle part that has somewhat a struggle. The political side could have also been a better satire. The tools and the premise were present there, but we see a struggle to go too deep in there, and maybe that concerns the possible risks.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas has another role of a flawed hero after Maradona and Mayaanadhi. He has done this job naturally, and there is no moment when he seems to be in trouble. The protagonist’s problems are nicely shown, and the man caught in the terrible situation has our attention. Samyuktha Menon makes a big impact in her first big role. As the industry seems to have less big names among current actresses, her performance here should elevate more of the cinema of these times too. She excels in the romantic and funny sequences, and just holds the ground during emotional scenes. The pair has fine chemistry running through, and the same feeling that was conveyed through the popular romantic song in the movie, goes on even when she seems to show less interest.

Further performers of the soul :: Despite being provided with an exaggerated character, Surabhi Lakshmi manages to bring the most fun of the same. The character seems to be forced into existence without detailed thoughts, but she could manage that, and make things work. Suraj Venjaramood is comfortable in this role which is mostly serious with some chance for comedy. We remember how he nicely kept the balance earlier with Varnyathil Aashanka, Oru Muthassi Gadha, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum and Aby – here he has no problems in doing the same again. Shammi Thilakan also brings the funny elements, even though for a lesser amount of time. Sudheesh and Vijilesh do leave a few things for the funny side too. Rajesh Sharma is also there leaving a mark.

How it finishes :: These are the days when the Malayalam movies are making a comeback after a short break caused by the Kerala Floods. It is the return of the films as much as the return of the state to the normal world. It is with more interesting releases including Ranam and Theevandi that Malayalam movies are making a return, as movies like Koode and Maradona have been there for quite long. The case of Theevandi is stronger because it deals with a socially relevant movie. Translated better as “the vehicle of fire” rather than as the literal translation “the train”, this movie certainly becomes a better notice against smoking than any of those small advertisements shown in the beginning of the flicks. It marks a fine return of Malayalam movies as it surely seems to serve its purpose. You might also want to watch the video song from the movie which has become so popular.

Release date: 7th September 2018
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Fellini TP
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Samyuktha Menon, Surabhi Lakshmi, Rajesh Sharma, Suraaj Venjarammood, Shammi Thilakan, Sudheesh, Krishna Praba, Neena Kurup, Vijilesh, Musthafa

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.