America Mappillai

What is the story about? :: Rangarajan (Raja Krishnamoorthy) and Vasantha (Leela Samson) along with the children Ganesh (Arjun Chidambaram) and Sunanda (Namita Krishnamurthy) seems to be living pretty much a good life until Ganesh gets very much afraid of being forcibly married to Mythili (Gayathri), the daughter of Ragunanthan (Delhi Ganesh). He plans with his friend, Michael (Rakesh Ram) to get rid of that problem, and finally decides to tell his parents that he is gay and has a boyfriend named Karthik (Gokul Anand). He hopes to bring Karthik home, and make everyone believe the same, but as he is actually homosexual, hesitates in acting as Ganesh’s boyfriend, but the confusion which this situation was to create had only begun there, with more to follow.

How is it different from what you see all the time? :: Unlike the usual series that we get to see around here, this one is more or less direct, even when it keeps the limits – there is no unnecessary melodrama that comes in here. There are moments when you think that the drama is going to reach another stage, but thankfully, it doesn’t. There are moments when it thinks divergent so well, and we can applaud on its ability to do so, without making things complicated at all. Being simple and powerful is surely not an easy thing to do, but America Mappillai does manage to do so. It also rises above the usual predictability factor to deviate the experience to the new path, the one which is not usually taken. We are no longer slaves to that repeated world of usual serials, as we have programmes like this.

What is so special here? :: The characters are indeed special – with so much of a simple story here, they had to be better, and they really are. They are the ones that keep this story going, and the actors and actresses have done a very good job with their characters. Well, even those who are there for only those smaller roles do nicely. Some moments just go cute even when least expected. Each episode comes in the name of a colour, and the reflection of that particular colour can be seen nicely. With a usual home and its people facing different and rather complicated situations, the series try to do something difficult, but that is achieved without alienating the family audience – there is always that kind of a risk and this one nicely goes past the same without trouble. Maybe this would mean that ZEE can come up with an interesting one in Malayalam too, later.

How things have been getting further divergent :: Nowadays, ZEE is targeting the young population as they are coming up with new and original shows on ZEE5. Well, ZEE Entertainment has been known for its traditional approach, as we know the channel for bringing us all the entertainment in the old fashioned way. Well, now we see that things have changed, with welcome divergence. We also see that ZEE is focusing different language based content too, and it is the privilege that we get here by using the ZEE5 app. The app has a fine collection of television shows, originals and movies in different languages, and it is always fun to get it in the language that we want them to be using. The collection is interesting, and one would need to take a look to know more.

The problem of being in doubt :: As it was with Hamlet and many others, the protagonist is in doubt. Well, you can say that he is in more than just doubt – he doesn’t want to be committed for more than one reason. Along with the same, he is also bothered about what people would think, and still wants to do things according to his desires. It is a certain confusion that most of the people are facing these days, with unnecessary inputs from many relatives causing further trouble. Among these relative concerns, a job and marriage are two of the most significant things that keep ringing into one’s ears. The idea is that not having a job or not being married is just not the right thing, especially if most of the relatives of the same age has already done these. Well, this comparison can cause problems, as it does for our protagonist here too.

Soul exploration :: As the series shows, the idea of being divergent is difficult to accomplish. Whatever be the idea, people usually find it difficult as part of a society. The world has its own written rules, anything that doesn’t match that, is in trouble. It brings that confusion which never really ends, and even with the seemingly happy ending of this series, we can expect that to come back at some point. As we do know, there are no happy endings in real life, and there is certainly no happily ever after. This series makes sure that it gets close enough to that by giving that feeling of all coming together well enough, and satisfies the audience who wishes to have something similar to that. With the short length and good work from the cast, the series makes sure that this gets its point right there, without going away from the core.

How it finishes in the end :: Well, America Mappillai is a series that can’t be ignored. As ZEE5 brings this new kind of entertainment outside the usual and expected path, we are sure to be in need to try the same with premium subscriptions, seeing how it is supposed to work so well to bring all the fun. Praveen Padmanabhan who has directed the episodes seem to have made sure that it will work well with almost all kind of audience. Give it a try and download the ZEE5 app to watch the show as well as others. It can bring more to your world of entertainment, and there is a good chance that the next most interesting series in your own mother tongue will be there. This is the time to spend some time to explore #ZEE5 and #ZEE5Originals with #AmericaMappillaiOnZEE5.

Release date: March 2018 – April 2018
Running time: 10-15 minutes per episode
Directed by: Praveen Padmanabhan
Starring: Raja Krishnamoorthy, Leela Samson, Arjun Chidambaram, Namita Krishnamurthy, Gokul Anand, Rakesh Ram, Gayathri

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Red Jacket

Vampire Owl: Revenge has been my motivation to live for centuries.

Vampire Bat: But we don’t really live – as we were already dead and transformed into vampires long ago.

Vampire Owl: I was referring to life on this world after death.

Vampire Bat: Even that way, I am sure that all of your human enemies should have dead by now. It has been centuries!

Vampire Owl: Yes, but revenge is still sweet, and I have a Hamlet type problem, but I need to have it.

Vampire Bat: Well, in that case, the only option is to ask Doctor Frankenstein to bring them alive. But I am not sure how far he will be able to go.

Vampire Owl: No, because in case of a failure, I will be forced to take my revenge on the doctor too.

Vampire Bat: Don’t you realize that revenge never really bring anything in the end?

Vampire Owl: I am not sure, but revenge has been quite a popular thing in vampire history too.

Vampire Bat: Let me tell you that it is of no good. You waste your life trying to do it, and it is a terrible loss.

[Gets three cups of Kumily tea with a piece of marble cake].

What is the movie about? :: There is a man in red jacket who is killed by another man working under him, who wishes to take his place, not by slowly working his way up, but by simply getting rid of his boss. The killer establishes himself as the new boss and take the dead man’s red jacket for himself. He gets to live the dead man’s life and establishes himself a big shot in the city, and years later, as someone even having the chance of becoming an MLA or a minister at some point – he keeps growing with the city. It is after these many years that we see Vetri (Kowshik) who is looking for revenge against a man called Gaja (Gani) who had killed his father twenty years ago, pointing back to the incident which was shown in the beginning of the movie. He has already failed many times to have his revenge, even hiring contract killers to do the work but for no use, and this time, he feels that he will do it directly.

So, what is to follow in this tale of revenge? :: With the help of his friend Reddy (Peekay), he decides that he will make one move against the killer of his father, who has gone on to become bigger than his father had ever been, with newspapers and magazines talking about the man all the time. It has been the only thing that kept him moving forward in his life, and there is nothing that he wouldn’t do to restore his father’s place. But is he strong enough to do that, and is someone as powerful and experienced as Gaja going to fall for the trap set by the young man? Reddy had already warned him against the possible consequences and did set up someone from Gaja’s group of men to help him when there – but will all these be for nothing in front of an enemy who seems rather invincible? Is the need for revenge bigger than everything else in human life? What happens when it become bigger than life itself for the youth?

On Red Jacket and beyond :: The tale of revenge has been nicely packed, and we have some nice moments and dialogues to go with it. There are also some interesting twists to come, and it keeps us guessing about what is to happen next, with the revenge as well as what could follow after that. The same is well-supported by a fine cast which goes so nicely with the tale. With so many short-films around, there is some fine work by the team here to make this an interesting and entertaining twenty minute run. In the end, we will only wonder about what it means to have revenge – isn’t there another reaction to our action, which will once again keep the chain of events going? It is a series of events that never ends, and it won’t matter what we think about revenge, or about how it can end, as it goes on, like the certainty of the tides. Well, an act of revenge can be nothing less than opening a door to another beginning, which will leave scope for another attempt at retribution, and it can get nastier, and costlier as it repeats itself.

Soul exploration 1: The need for revenge :: The central theme of Red Jacket remains about revenge, which runs directly through its centre. The movie is powered by the need for vengeance, and it drives its protagonist through troubled waters, as he never thinks about another way out – he is far beyond redemption as this need takes over him from all possible directions. Revenge has been something for which people have striven for, rather so much – but, we see that the protagonist’s friend himself ask is it isn’t better to make things better by beating their enemy through business, but our young protagonist immediately says no, as the idea of revenge has been more about one thing in our culture, and it certainly involves self-destruction along with destroying one’s enemy. It is the same thought that drives our hero here, and there are no thoughts about the consequence of the action – a reflection of the arrogant youth of all times.

Soul exploration 2: The need for power :: The movie’s title is the next thing that becomes the focus, as red jacket is the one worn by the men in power. It stands out in almost every shot, and it gets special attention in those moments when everything else is shot in black and white. When it is there, you see it as the symbol of power, and the one thing that everyone wishes to wear, but those who wear it are all murdered – as with great power comes those who wish to take it away from you. When you are that much visible, it makes you a target. Yet, people wants to hold on to those positions of power, which provides them power over others – people feels the need to have more of fame, and there is no clue of what they are facing. What do people attempt to achieve with social media? That should be exactly the same thing, and as much as power and fame feels good, it also has the other side which has the power to end everything which is not permanent.

How it finishes :: Red Jacket is the first short-film from the team behind it, and has been made in both the Tamil version which I watched, and a Kannada version – but after watching this one, we are sure that there are more to come following the tale. The same will make it to the list of my favourite Indian short-films among those I have come across in the last few years. It deals with the idea of revenge in a way that makes it a highly intriguing run throughout those twenty minutes. The subtitle option is also available, and by the end, the message is loud and clear about revenge, that those who take up the sword and live by it, will die by the same; for violence never really solves anything, but makes way for more of blood to flow. The release date of the short-film is pending, and will be updated when it is announced. When it is up for everyone to watch, do make sure that you don’t miss the twenty minute long saga of revenge. UPDATE: Movie released, and can be watched from the below link.

Release date: To be announced
Running time: 20 minutes
Directed by: KV Raja Saravanan
Starring: Kowshik, Gani, Prashanth, Peekay, Arun, Chethan, Rafeek, Chida, Santosh


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Papanasam

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Vampire Owl :: We have missed two remakes of Drishyam and might miss another one after watching this movie.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, if and only if there are no more remakes of the same movie.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t think that there will be another remake as the Bollywood version is coming this month-end.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, Bollywood is the finishing line for all copies and remakes, I guess.

Vampire Owl :: Absolutely. Wait! What is the notice that you are carrying?

Vampire Bat :: It is a mandatory statement which I recreated for this movie. It says that as we have watched the original so many times and as it is the one more related to our lifestyle, it is possible that the rating which we give here might not be suitable to be compared to the oiriginal, or with any other movie which is not a remake.

Vampire Owl :: I like that statement. With this warning, we can be sure that the brainless fan-boys won’t go psycho.

Vampire Bat :: Not just the fan-boys, but also the pseudo-intellectuals.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, the judges on the other side of the river of blood who think that they are the only intelligent people on the surface of Earth. I understand.

Vampire Bat :: The statement will work as long as they read at least the beginning and the end of this review.

[Waits in the queue].

The defence of Papanasam :: Even though I had watched all these before multiple times, I felt very good, and it is the success of Papanasam. Jeethu Jospeph once again has things running well, and we can see shots of his other movie Memories when the protagonist is thinking about saving his family – another shot is from the movie Anwar. I could actually go through that wonderful feeling that I had while watching the original without losing strength at any moment. The suspense and the thrills are abundant, and there are some beautiful shots of nature too. The story of the man who tries to save his family from breaking down after an unintentional murder committed by a member out of hopelessness, goes on to work wonders once again. I am not going to go through the story again; you can read it from my review of the original at Drishyam Movie Review. Outside the review which I wrote at that time, I don’t need to say much in defence here because the story is the biggest hero and you know that plot.

Positives and Negatives :: Papanasam happens to be a remake which had a tough task to meet the quality of that amazing original. So, what we have here is a nice achievement, but unless the remake manages to come up with something special which was not there in the original, I wouldn’t consider it as good as the original. The original felt more original to me, with no bones broken during the beatings and slightly better for me as it was less brutal, less emotional and still having the same intensity. But still, if I say that one of them is better than the other, it might not do justice, which is why I am using “me” a lot. Drishyam was better for me, and I am sure that a lot of people who have watched the original and about ninety five percent of the Malayalis will think so. But from a neutral point of view, they might be the same. I did feel that the songs were just bad though. The first half was too stretchy too. I am also personally against the title change.

Soul of the movie :: Kamal Haasan was the right choice to do the role which Mohanlal did to perfection in the original. I do wonder why there was a doubt about the same – if someone had asked me, I would have told the same much earlier, despite an initial doubt about the same. But in that case, if you ask for the same about the Bollywood version, I would have chosen Aamir Khan. But that was never to happen, and Ajay Devgan and Akshay Kumar were to be my next best choices considering the need to cater to the audience. I haven’t watched many Kamal Haasan movies in the last few years, and I am glad that this is the movie which I had chosen to spend my money for. I loved his performance the most in the last few minutes, and if someone else was chosen instead of him, that would have left me not just disappointed, but angry – I can feel that.

Performers of the soul :: There is no comparison between Mohanlal and Kamal Haasan in their roles, because they have managed things in their own ways, in such a way that fault finding is not there as a property to be taken. You know when you see class, and you know the same in both these movies. Even though Gauthami was good, Meena has a slight edge over her, when we look at it without second thoughts. Niveda Thomas is undoubtedly a step ahead of Ansiba Hassan; there was a lot of emotion and power in her portrayal of the character. It is nice to see her doing this role; this should help her a lot in the future. I haven’t found such a fine performance from a very young supporting actress for a very long time. Winner of the Kerala State Film Award for Best Child Artist in Veruthe Oru Bharya has now reached this stage.

More Performers of the soul :: Esther Anil plays the younger daughter in three out of the five versions of the movie, and here also, she is so good. Bollywood should have had her in the cast too, but I guess that they were not looking for a fine proven supporting cast, but to make use of the power of the script which is always there as the winner. Esther might be the best available child actress at this time, and it has been made clear again and again. It is time to give her even more chances. Asha Sarath maintains the same intensity, just with more emotions this time, and Anant Mahadevan also becomes more emotional character compared to the sensible and stable one played by Siddique in the original. I loved Kalabhavan Shajon’s character in the original for it was balanced, but Kalabhavan Mani is rather ruthless here and it also works. Roshan Basheer also reprises his role as the bad boy.

[After the show].

Vampire Owl :: Why were those people sitting behind us comparing Mohanlal and Kamal Haasan?

Vampire Bat :: They are just clueless. They don’t know anything. Just think about how can we compare Lord Ruthven and Lord Dracula?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, both are legendary vampires with great skills, even though we are closer to Uncle Dracula – it won’t affect the quality of the performance.

Vampire Bat :: I hope that the fans won’t find our vampire comparisons offensive though.

Vampire Owl :: I am sure that those with even a small part of the brain active won’t. This is the best comparison that we can come up with because we are vampires with root-canaled fangs.

Vampire Bat :: You can never predict the living humans. If you want to predict behaviours, go and predict that of a dead human.

Vampire Owl :: I like that idea. May be we will watch the Bollywood version too.

Vampire Bat :: We have come so far. I don’t see why not.

Vampire Owl :: I shall call the whole team for that.

Vampire Bat :: Well, do that if it is even remotely possible.

Release date: 3rd July 2015
Running time: 181 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Kamal Haasan, Gauthami, Niveda Thomas, Esther Anil, Kalabhavan Mani, Asha Sarath, Anant Mahadevan, M. S. Bhaskar, Roshan Basheer, Charle, Delhi Ganesh, Ilavarasu, Arul Dass, Sree Raam

papanasam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

David

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The Vampire Bat was re-introduced into this world, but he is struggling to be a movie-watcher with so many horrible movies around. David was a relief, and therefore he shall write about it, but considering the fact that only seven of the fourteen movies he watched in the last thirty days managed to be satisfactory, he surely wishes to sleep for a century and wait for that day when no movies are made. There should be discount for tickets for the Vampire Bat, for he saves so many movies of the world from being left unwatched. He is doing a great service, for which even free tickets might be not enough. May be free tea with tickets would do. The Vampire Bat shall look towards the firmament for now and wait for that moment when it starts raining movie tickets.

Why wouldn’t the Vampire Bat be disapponted. He had to watch Race 2 – old wine in an old bottle, while Kammath and Kammath and Lokpal were old wine in older leaking bottle. Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla was more like fish out of water gasping for air. While Da Thadiya had fish evolved with legs and thus made good contact with the people of the land, this little fish could make not keep people of the land or a flying Vampire Bat interested. Midnight’s Children had already lost its battle in a comparison to the novel. The Vampire Bat has been digging his own grave so that he could be buried in there forever, until something called David came to his attention. Then he went to watch it in Hindi and ended up watching it in Tamil. But it is not something he complained about, as he enjoyed the movie and considered it the best Indian movie he watched so far this year even as there is a long way to go.

What do we know about David in movies? There was the 1988 Malayalam movie David David Mr. David starring Balachandra Menon and Sumalata. But that would be totally unrelated to this one. Then there was King David of Bible, the ruler of Israel. The righteous king even with all his flaws, the warrior poet was mostly responsible for the Book of Psalms. But that was never the beginning, as the story of David and Goliath might be of more popularity. How it would relate to the upcoming Malayalam movie of the same name will be another story. Back to the original story, there stood Goliath, the strongest and the tallest of all, and there was young David with his sling and stones. Then fell the strongest; and the weak became strong. This has been repeated in the history with the rise and fall of huge empires all around the world.

The Hindi version has three Davids, but here there are only two to deal with. The first one belongs to 1999 Mumbai. He is a musician just like the Biblical figure. But his peaceful life is disrupted when his father, a priest is attacked by an anti-Christian group as part of communal politics. The second one belongs to 2010 Goa, a fisherman leading a happy life. He falls in love with a deaf and dumb girl who is soon to be married to his good friend. Both of them have to make decisions which will change their lives forever – one of them seeking revenge while the second one seeking love. But both of them would be committing their own acts of evil which they might repent for the rest of their lives. The battle is between the conscience and desire – between goodness and the basic desires. The world around plays a major part in dragging them to both sides. But eventually what triumphs forms the central point of the story.

Both Davids have to face their own inner demons which take the form of Goliaths – one of revenge and the other of lust (the one-sided infatuation based on looks could never be termed as love, but as sin – for King David himself had committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah and later married her). The same David had killed her husband, a murder which one of our Davids would have also committed. Even as the external opponents, the minions who are responsible for this situation of revenge to be created – they look stronger in the case of the musician, but the internal demon would work better in the case of other. The ultimate result of the battle against the two demons occur only in the end, even as the scene is shown to be set right at the beginning of the movie. It is the battle of the two Davids against two Goliaths, both internally and externally. This is a battle which is fought both physically and mentally, but is finally won in the mind.

Vikram has once again proved that he is such a versatile actor. Even as he is shown mostly as an alcoholiac, his character is never boring or withour passion. Jiiva has come up with a strong performance too. There are moments of pure awesomeness in the movie. The rest of the cast has successfully supported these two, on whom the stories are based on. It might not still be found an entertainer but I never found it boring at any moment. The transition between the stories are quite well done, and as both of them keeps the interest-level high, there is not much of a confusion in the change. Last year, we had Cloud Atlas which had too many stories to deal with. After that experience, one couldn’t be blamed of being confused and left in a slough of strange thoughts. This one has just two – both of them simple and never leaving the audience in an abyss. This is an inner journey of twins of the situation who never meet.

There are the messages of morality, making it nothing less than a morality play indirectly transformed to suit the modern world. There is good and there is evil – but as said in Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire: “Evil is always possible, and goodness is eternally difficult”. In the same book, Vampire Lestat had also added that “Evil is a point of view”. As the movie agrees with the first, I wouldn’t say the same with the second. If there was something like a point of view involved in it, the first choices would have been to succumb to revenge and lust. The first one would have been righteous payback and the second one irresistible eternal love. Some of the jokes are too foolish to suit the philosophy of the movie, but the rest add to the lighter side and throughout the movie, there is this eternal battle and the question “to be or not to be”. But our musician is no Hamlet and the man you saw at the beach is no selfish lover. There is a warning though – if you are allergic to moral advice and preachy tone can give you head ache, this movie might create no waves in your head filled with that “point of view”.

Release date: 1st February 2013
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Bejoy Nambiar
Starring: Vikram, Jiiva, Isha Sharvani, Tabu, Lara Dutta, Sheetal Menon, Nishan, Nassar, John Vijay, Shweta Pandit

david copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.