Theerppu

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

Vampire Bat: Well, OTT can take much more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Bat: Human creativity has been corrupted terribly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Paappan

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

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

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

Vampire Bat: Some returns are more important than others.

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

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

Vampire Owl: We are no strangers to grand returns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Heaven

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

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

Vampire Owl: You mean beyond heaven and hell?

Vampire Bat: Somewhere in between, to be exact.

Vampire Owl: Are you talking about the purgatory?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Solamante Theneechakal

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has transformed a few.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Malayankunju

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the floods and landslides of the last few years?

Vampire Bat: Yes, 2018 floods was too terrifying for vampires too.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this movie will be a Fahadh Faasil show.

Vampire Bat: You mean, more focused on him than the big works like Joji and Malik.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why it should be any different.

Vampire Bat: There can always be balanced acts.

Vampire Owl: The focus always shifts to Fahadh Faasil at some point of time.

Vampire Bat: We remember the much earlier Fahadh Faasil movie which was focused on high ranges too.

Vampire Owl: Maheshinte Prathikaaram was one of its kind.

Vampire Bat: Well, so was Kumbalangi Nights which deserved better accolades than what it had received then. Still my favourite movies of him would still be the earlier ones in the form of Amen and Diamond Necklace.

[Gets a blueberry cake and three scoops of blackcurrant ice cream].

What is the movie about? :: Anil Kumar aka Anikuttan (Fahadh Faasil) is an expert electrician who serves the locals of the high ranges of Kerala. He is the one whom almost everyone depends on, whether it is about laptops and mobiles or related to general household items like televisions, refrigerators and washing machines, with any possible doubts being cleared using Youtube. Sumesh (Deepak Parambol) is his best friend, and helps him with obtaining the electrical equipments required for repair, as they live closer to the forest area. His father Radhakrishnan (Jaffar Idukki) had committed suicide a long time ago, and he had been unhappy about it for a long time, leading him to becoming frequently angry towards others and even resulted in him acting strangely for most of time. His mother Shanthamma (Jaya S Kurup) is particularly unhappy about how he has been living his life – as the child next door cries all the time, he feels disturbed and not able to concentrate on his work, leading to more fights with neighbours.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: All of these points to his sister Sandhya (Rajisha Vijayan) eloping with Deepu (Arjun Ashokan) on the night before her marriage, the event thus becoming the major reason for the suicide of Anil’s father. Even though his uncle Surendran (Indrans), neighbour Poulose (Irshad) and a few others are still in support of him, he doesn’t gain any fans among the people around. As his sister comes back to the area with her child, he is not ready to go and see her. He also gets into fights with the locals, and lands in the police station. But he somewhat gets along with these people, but it has been raining heavily for a long time, and an alert was already issued. Most of the people nearby had already moved from the area, and Anil’s neighbours plan to get out there the very next morning. Anil is adamant that he won’t leave his house, despite the warnings of his mother. But the landslide occurs during that night, and everyone seems to have perished. Anil tries to get out of the area underneath the land and try to save others who might have also been caught in there, but can he?

The defence of Malayankunju :: The struggle that the main character has to face, feels as real as possible. The skills with cinematography seems to have worked in favour of the movie, not just underneath the ground, but also outside with the shots, even though there are no shots of this particular world like in one of the best quality films in high ranges for sometime, John Luther. There are no exaggerations in this tale which is close to reality from the beginning to the end – the protagonist is no hero, and struggles with the problems of the mind reminding us of North 24 Kaatham which had a different crisis from inside. The movie is very much well shot in parts, and with some fine use of lighting and sound effects, creates the desired effects to take us to that world. The nature with all the greenery works close to the tale, even though environment is pushed to the background for quite a long time. This seems to be a movie custom made for Fahadh Faasil, and he assures the audience about the same. He continues with his excellence, and when he is there, you know that the movie will rise further, even if caught in the ordinary at times.

The claws of flaw :: With the premise, one would have expected this to be a disaster movie with the visuals of the terror also coming into the picture. The time spent underneath the ground could have also looked better, with some more smaller events of interest – the situation outside could have also been shown from outside, about what had actually happened, and how the news channels report the incidents – these could be easily achieved without making things complicated or exaggerated. The idea of having the father appear in the dream-like sequence doesn’t work, considering the mood which the film has been maintaining. Some of the characters are there to do very less, and it is disappointing considering their skills. The sudden interest in humanity which is displayed by the protagonist seems to be forced, as he looks like the one who is interested in his fellow humans all of a sudden. The movie had already stretched a little bit too much with the events in the early stages. After all, as people watch survival thrillers in different languages, they are no strangers to the idea. The songs are also not that interesting.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has never stopped amazing us with his works, and it is to be noted that even with the ordinary stories like Ayal Njanalla and Role Models, he has elevated the movie to a classic level, and there is no question about those works which have managed to be close to perfection with his presence. We have been seeing him as the actor who has been part of movies from different languages and having more and more fans from different parts of the world and even outside the nation. Here, he is excellent in displaying the protagonist’s desire to survive against all odds, as he is caught in the debris which remained after the landslide. Rajisha Vijayan plays another role in which she does a fine job, even though one would have wanted to see her more, as we had only recently seen how well she managed to work as the sole star in Keedam, a quality which was also seen in Kho Kho, Finals and June, all of them having her rising above all expectations. The usual veterans are surely strong in here, in the form of Indrans, Irshad and Jaffar Idukki. Nilja K Baby also gets a good role which is performed well, and we would expect RJ Nilja as part of more similar movies – more of future for the film industry.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to have had its inspiration from the landslides which occurred in Kerala, especially from the year of Kerala’s biggest floods of the century till the year of the corona virus – the devastation of the times seems to serve as inspiration for creativity as much as for caution. The horror related to natural disasters has never been too far away from us. This one works as an eye opener for all people, as everyone needs to come together during the disaster which unites humanity, and let them get out of the boundaries of religion, caste, race and language. The disaster has been used to remind people of what they have been missing, and some fantastic performances make sure that it gets to the viewers. It also works as the triumph of humanity when it discovers what it had lost in the last few years – hope and love for the other. Malayankunju successfully urges the audience to reclaim the same, even though a world of chaos and destruction awaits to be unleashed on unsuspecting people.

Release date: 11th August 2022 (Amazon Prime Video); 22 July 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Sajimon Prabhakar
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Rajisha Vijayan, Indrans, Nilja K Baby, Johny Antony, Jose MV, Deepu Navaikulam, Jaffar Idukki, Jaya S Kurup, Deepak Parambol, Arjun Ashokan, Meera Krishnan, Binu Manambur, Irshad, Chali Pala, Meera Krishnan, Remya Suresh, Kiran Peethambaram

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pathaam Valavu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vaashi

Vampire Owl: I did like the trailer enough to go for this particular movie.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we are less interested in watching movies in general.

Vampire Owl: We can’t leave the movies just like that.

Vampire Bat: We are not leaving them. We just don’t watch that many of them.

Vampire Owl: It is a deviation from our earlier policy.

Vampire Bat: There are no permanent policies in a world of chaos.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that chaos hasn’t left our world again.

Vampire Bat: I will not hesitate to say that it is forever.

Vampire Owl: Why is it that humans can’t keep the chaos to themselves?

Vampire Bat: Maybe they are too busy with evil that chaos is no longer deemed necessary.

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

What is the movie about? :: Advocate Ebin Mathew (Tovino Thomas) and Advocate Madhavi Mohan (Keerthy Suresh) are collegues who have only started some progress in their field of expertise. While Ebin struggles to find the cases, Madhavi feels that she is wasting her time under a senior lawyer who doesn’t value her at all. Even though Madhavi is not even able to submit documents to the court properly, she blames other for it, and continuously plays the victim card. Advocate Satheesh Mulloor (Baiju Santhosh) tells them that there is a room available for setting up a lawyer’s office. They start working together, also falling in love in the process, and soon, Ebin gets appointed as the public prosecutor, as his influential brother-in-law manages to get his name ahead of the other lawyers trying for the post. Soon, as both of them are forced by their parents to get married, the two finally decide to get together with one another, even though Madhavi feels that she is not ready, as she is not settled yet. She is insecure because she always feels that she is targeted because she is a woman, but in reality, she remains an irritating person who doesn’t know how to talk to people with mutual respect. Ebin gets his first duty in the form of Anusha Shivakumar (Anagha Narayanan) who has filed a case against Gautam Ganesh (Anu Mohan), which goes forward as breach of promise to marry after intercourse.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Anusha had also tried to commit suicide after he had refused to marry her. But it turns out that Ganesh is a relative of Madhavi, and she is forced to take the case, much to the shock and dismay of Ebin, as he sees her in the court in defence of the accused. The two decide to keep the matters of court away from their personal lives in the beginning stages. Even though the two families find their marriage idea with the case going on in the background complicated, they agree to the alliance despite the community differences. But their battle against each other in the court soon begins to cause problems in their personal life, and most of the time, they try not to let anyone else know about the crisis. Ganesh assures Keerthy that he made no promise to marry Anusha at any point of time, and that they didn’t come close to a proposal either. Ebin and Madhavi continues to fight over the case, and the relationship gets to a new low. But the question remains about how far they can go on like this, and also about who will win the case in the end? Who will be the one desiring for a win the most? Where will pride and prejudice lead them?

The defence of Vaashi :: The film is pretty much effective as a courtroom drama, and has its moments to lift the level. It doesn’t make a mess of things even when there were so many chances – it sticks to the points instead of looking for mass masala dialogues like Jana Gana Mana, and there is not that much of a stress on romance and other usual nuisance which comes to ruin a film which deals with the relevant things. The movie has control over the world, and doesn’t go on to add the dialogues to get the claps. There are messages about right and wrong, while also talking about the complicated situation of law, as subjectivity and objectivity might come up with different results every time. It reminds us that people can’t be understood by just feeling that we have known them for very long, and also that balancing work and family is important. The songs are mostly good, even though not that much effective to remember for long. It is the combination of the leading performers that makes this one better – they do make us feel that they are stronger together, and the supporting cast contributes nicely. This is the kind of the movie which makes you feel the need to watch it from the trailer itself.

The claws of flaw :: The emotional side is not that effective unlike how it seems to have been intended. The movie rushes through some of the moments which should have taken more time, while it slows down for no particular reason at times. It doesn’t try to make the point strong enough, and in the end, even though there seems to be valid ideas, there are rather too many of them, and we feel that they bring conflict with each other, as ending struggles. The final talk about no right and wrong being present feels rather foolish, as one just can’t put everything in the grey zone, for good and evil makes the grey, sometimes a lighter version or at other times the darker one. Having one’s own principles matter in life, and trying to be righteous is not a bad thing. You just can’t avoid the opportunity to find the right thing to do, and it is where the spectrum of feel-good films lie, and we appreciate them for the amount of goodness it displays against the chaotic world – the female lead’s ideas also go vague from the beginning itself. In the end, it feels that the movie is trying to lose the meaning rather than to find it by the end.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas has another interesting movie for him, and manages to come up with a fine performance yet again. Minnal Murali star has had the different varieties of movies – Kaanekkaane of the emotional side, Forensic of the thriller side and Kilometers and Kilometers of the funny side. He gets to shine here, more than anyone else, as his character feels that it is the naïve young woman that needs justice as there was manipulation. Keerthy Suresh is back to Malayalam movie industry, and we only hope that she is here to stay. Even though her character does seem irritating in the beginning stages, she gets her moments in the later stages, and finishes off really well – the dialogue from Maayanadhi is nicely used in her speech, providing a reminder that women often get away easily due to the favourable laws and men are punished. Baiju Santhosh has another solid role which is done very well. Anagha Narayanan gets her moments to perform, and she contributes well – she could be the talent that Malayalam cinema industry could use more in future. Anu Mohan also gets a good role to work with after Twenty One Grams, and there is no trouble there either. Rony David also has a notable role which will be remembered. Kottayam Ramesh as magistrate is very much a fine act too. At the same time, Nandu plays the father figure in a convincing manner.

How it finishes :: The movie manages to be an engaging courtroom drama for most of its run-time. There are moments when the struggles appear, but with some other sequences, the movie gets over them. Here, we have something at almost all times to make up for what goes missing, and it is a film of ups and downs, but it talks about two sides of a problem effectively. The idea becomes even more relevant in the contemporary world, as similar cases have been in the news for some time, and one can only wonder if there will be answers to some questions which are raised by such situations. The world is a strange place, and it often struggles to provide truth in a world of lies. The movie also seems to have focused on taking a safe side, as there is no clear conclusion derived around here. It seems to try and make sure that it makes some point, but as it is reluctant to take any risk, the questions remain. Well, this is one movie which was of interest due to the cast and the premise, and considering the same, it has delivered well enough.

Release date: 17th July 2022 (Netflix); 17th June 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Vishnu G Raghav
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Keerthy Suresh, Anagha Narayanan, Anu Mohan, Baiju Sathosh, Rony David, Kottayam Ramesh, G Suresh Kumar, Maya Menon, Sreelakshmi, Nandu, Maya Viswanath, Arya, Vanitha Krishnachandran, RJ Raghu, Meera Nair PS, Amal Rajdev, Vijaya Kumari

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Keedam

Vampire Owl: The name of this movie is interesting.

Vampire Bat: I also support people to use similar names for their movies.

Vampire Owl: We should also grow some vampire pests at home.

Vampire Bat: Uncle Dracula managed to get rid of the pests after a long struggle.

Vampire Owl: We should use the pests to our advantage.

Vampire Bat: You can’t control these pests at all. Only the witches can do it.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that they might use the pests against us?

Vampire Bat: They are good with such small creatures.

Vampire Owl: Well, I would expect an attack at any moment.

Vampire Bat: You should have faith in at least some witches. We are not so different from each other.

[Gets a masala dosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Radhika Balan (Rajisha Vijayan) lives with her father, Retired Advocate Balan (Sreenivasan) while working as a cyber-security expert at her own start-up company with her partner Vijay (Rahul Riji Nair). She is good friends with CI Charles (Vijay Babu), whom she helps as part of an investigation. Radhika is adamant that one’s privacy should always be respected and that their firm should only help people who have compromised their privacy due to hacking or carlessness. It is then that she accidentally calls a wrong number and Kili Biju (Mahesh Nair) who is on the other side continues to bother her on phone. He gets her name through True Caller App and finds more information about her by searching her name on Facebook. She is frustrated and decides to complain to the police, and things go out of control at the police station. Biju’s friend Thurumbu Aji (Renjit Shekar Nair) is a man who has been on the criminal records for a long time, and was also involved in a murder case – he decides to lead his friends (Anand Manmadhan and Arjun Ranjan) in an attempt to make Radhika’s life a living hell, and doesn’t leave her father out of it either.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: They follow her at her home and office, and also goes on to destroy the reputation of her father – it feels like wherever she goes, they are present at the location. When they decide that they are finally done with Radhika and her father, she decides that this is not the end. She decides to get into their privacy by hacking their mobile phones, so that they won’t think about doing this to anybody else again. Vijay is worried about her actions, and the same is the case of her father, but she is not ready to go back on it. She manages to get into the phone of Biju, and even though it is only revenge that was looking for, she comes across the information that could mean more than that. It turns out that even though they live as scrap-dealers, there is more to them than what meets the eye. They are involved in gold smuggling and other illegal activities, and they work as carriers for different people in different areas. Radhika might be dealing with a little bit too much, and it will be of the best interest for everyone if she backs down, but will she? What will Aji and his group do when they find out that she is spying on their crimes?

The defence of Keedam :: We can see that Keedam chooses a realistic character who doesn’t create any magic within a thriller unlike what is often expected. The female protagonist here does what she has always done the best, and she does the same in style. The messages about cyber security is more or less of a reminder of the world that we are living in, and leaves the idea that we need to be more careful when we are using any electronic device. There are some defining moments here which makes things more interesting. The final moments are indeed thrilling, even though the much needed final closure was not there to be taken. The divergence that the movie possesses is to be appreciated, and unlike some other industries, Malayalam seems to have all those movies, with the makers moving from one category to the other with relative ease, and even coming up classic stuff in between. The father-daughter relationship is shown well, reminding one of the same in Helen and Uyare with Lal-Anna and Siddique-Parvathy, even though the father figure here is more worried and weakened, and still doesn’t trouble her with his lectures much.

The claws of flaw :: Keedam doesn’t use its resources to the best advantage – the premise was so good, and there were so many paths which it could have travelled; there is no limitation in the cyber world. Cyber security is no longer the topic of a selected few, and the rise of Jio and the spread of COVID-19 did change the situation for internet and its unlimited resources which came upon unsuspecting people all of a sudden – most of them were easy prey to cyber problems as they were not ready, and the youth just fell into the mobile gaming trap. The film could have dealt with such problems more effectively like Operation Java. Often, there is the feeling that something is missing in between. As it follows this particular pattern, there is the unconvincing feeling coming up at times. The ending could have also been better, and it didn’t need the forced extra scene there. The movie had also started with Hindi lines with the beginning credits, and that provides the feeling that someone speaking Hindi was involved in crimes or that this happens outside Kerala and Tamil Nadu, a rather strange to do, whatever be the reason.

The performers of the soul :: Rajisha Vijayan who could be a part of the much acclaimed Jai Bhim after the sports drama Kho Kho, once again does an excellent job in another role of interest. There are not many roles which she can’t do in the industry, as she rises above the other actresses with movies having her as main protagonist. She gets into this character which is very much different from her much appreciated roles in June and Finals, and always looks comfortable with the same. Rahul Riji Nair who directs another film with the same lady lead has things in control as the actor too. Sreenivasan is present in the father role, and has done the character of a concerned father well. Vijay Babu plays a sensible police officer with all the qualities which are needed with it. Manikandan Pattambi of Marimayam fame manages the negative character well, and it is his dialogue which seems to give the title to this movie. The rest of the antagonists of the group have managed their roles well, and in a realistic manner, led by Renjit Shekar Nair. For this movie, the choice of antagonists did work in its favour, even though in the end, there should have been more in store for them.
How it finishes :: Keedam is a movie which could have achieved so much more – there was so much potential considering the topic which it was dealing with. But with its idea and the protagonist to be noted, there is another step in the right direction, and it remains very much interesting at the same time too. It is another reminder of Malayalam movie industry’s courage to venture into unfamiliar territories, as it had already done with the superhero stuff in Minnal Murali stuff, while also having one of the most human films in the form of Madhuram releasing in different OTT platforms within the gap of a few days. Rajisha Vijayan might be the best actress we have in Malayalam film industry now, and we know that people don’t get Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress on debut movies just like that as she did in Anuraga Karikkin Vellam. She has dealt with sadness, depression, anger, fear, love and friendship with so much effectiveness in her movies. The movie could have had more for her, but as it seems now, is an entertaining thriller which also has a realistic side in parts.

Release date: 1st July 2022 (ZEE5); 20th May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Riji Nair
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Vijay Babu, Sreenivasan, Manikandan Pattambi, Renjit Shekar Nair, Anand Manmadhan, Mahesh Nair, Rahul Riji Nair, Arjun Ranjan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Twenty One Grams

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: There were no vampire apprentices available.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jana Gana Mana

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

Vampire Bat: The trailer had impressed many people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: And vampires continue to be avoided.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

CBI V

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

Vampire Bat: That was one human eternity ago.

Vampire Owl: It was a memorable experience for sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Innale Vare

Vampire Owl: Is this movie about yesterdays?

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

Vampire Owl: Our yesterdays are pretty much far away.

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

Vampire Owl: Not all centuries are the same.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

John Luther

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

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

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

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

Vampire Owl: The last one we watched was Forensic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

12th Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Antakshari

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

Vampire Bat: The human game was indeed interesting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.