Mooniloraal

Vampire Owl: But there are only two of us.

Vampire Bat: When we are there, the presence of four can be seen.

Vampire Owl: I don’t understand. How can there be four when we are only two people?

Vampire Bat: You need to count the guardian angel too.

Vampire Owl: Doesn’t that make the total as three?

Vampire Bat: No, my guardian angel and yours. It makes a total of four.

Vampire Owl: Are you sure that vampires also have guardian angels? It is never mentioned in the books at the great vampire libraries?

Vampire Bat: Yes, guardian angels are provided without discrimination.

Vampire Owl: Is it a new guardian angel or is it the same as we had before we died and became undead?

Vampire Bat: You are surely angelophobic. The fear for angels is quite common in the case of owlish vampires.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: The three are best friends – Sam (Don James), Jithu (Steve Antony) and the more philosophical of them, Vishnu (Johns Mathew) who is living with the realization that change is necessary, and will happen, as they ponder about their life at Winnipeg in Canada, far away from home. It is a friendship which has been going on for a long time, and is what they consider is forever. Sam and Vishnu meet a restaurant over a cup of coffee, after which they go on a ride in former’s car who tells his friend that their destination is a place where he hasn’t gone, but needs to go at some point. The road through which the car goes is something of scenic beauty, and they enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way, and Vishnu is interested in the surprise which is in store for him in between the busy and rather too modern life they are living.

So, what happens next? :: Their families need them to come back home leaving their life away from home and settle down at their hometown, but they have settled down rather too much to make their return. On their way, their car meets with an accident, but there seems to be no big problem after the collision. At the same time, Vishnu gets a call from Jithu talking about the death of Sam which had just happened in a car accident. This leaves Vishnu confused about the person who is with him in the car and their destination. A rather weird and frightening feeling comes up right from within him. He then shouts to get the car stopped and runs away only to reach a cemetery which has only fallen leaves and tombstones to give company. So, is it true that Sam had died in a car crash? If it is so, who is the one with him? Which kind of demons or spirits are Vishnu hiding from? What is the thing with being at a cemetery far away from the city?

Soul exploration 1: A case of reality and illusion :: Coming up with the tagline “The Strangest Imagination is Reality”, the movie exactly about the same, bringing a mystery in which one is doubtful about what is reality and what an illusion would be. Along with the illusions spread by media and fake news, we also have our own personal illusions which come back to us depending on the situations – on some cases, it is even bigger. The line between reality and imagination is so thin in so many cases that illusions tend to take over. We ourselves have had such feelings more than once, but we are hesitant to talk further about it in fear of the world. We live in that kind of a world where logic gets a better spot compared to imagination and creativity; money gets more value than values – it is a world which is closer to chaos than order, even if it pretends to hold on to the latter.

Soul exploration 2: Friendship and alienation in a land far away :: It feels strange being away from your roots, and even if it is to another city just a few hundred kilometres away, there is that feeling to get back home – the nostalgia and homesickness are things that humans usually can’t live without. It makes people do stranger things, and despite denying the same, there is that feeling about our own lands that come back – unless you are orcs forced to leave your world like in Warcraft, or humans looking for hope in new planets like in the case of Pandorum and Passengers. You have seen similar complications in the underrated Ivide too. In a land a long way away from home, it is friendship that matters the most, and here we have three of them, and their friendship which has something strangely working within – it is what becomes nicely solved by the end. Alienation in an alien land is another level, when you look at it.

How it finishes :: Not to be confused with the 2006 movie Moonnamathoral, Mooniloraal is a short-film which keeps you wondering about what is to happen next. It is the perfect example of another short-film which is smarter than a good number of those full-length movies which have been arriving in the theatres with the labels of being thrillers. Malayalam short-films are coming up with more ideas these days, and Mooniloraal is the reflection of something that has even enough to be made into a full-length movie, as we notice the friendship, thrills and twists maintained in the right balance bringing the clarity between the two, but certainly not radically ending the cycle – it is fittingly established that there are a few things that will never end. Mooniloraal from Triune Productions is the kind of movie that brings the twists nicely, but not without leaving clues – the final twist brings things together, and we once again understand that there is more than what meets the eye.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: This is why I told you that I am not going to the lands of the dark elves even if it is on a diplomatic mission.

Vampire Bat: Dark Elves play no role in such cases.

Vampire Owl: Dark Elves use dark magic to cause disruptions in the bridge connecting life and death, leaving some souls trapped in between. It is a crime.

Vampire Bat: But how is it related to this short-film?

Vampire Owl: Didn’t you see the supernatural forces affecting even technology? It is something which only the Dark Elves can do, joining magic with science.

Vampire Bat: You don’t have any proof for that. The other world always finds a way.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but when they are aided by Dark Elves, it is easier. As the Wood Elves, or the High Elves – they will tell you the stories.

Vampire Bat: There is caste-related violence going on between the three groups of elves – do you think that any of them will tell you the truth about the other?

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that they are no more united against the joint forces of orcs and goblins?

Vampire Bat: Well, you need to read The Great Vampire Imperial Times at some point. These days, they even have a special offer for free coffins.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 25th January 2017
Running time: 19 minutes
Directed by (DOP): Jessay Gopuran
Starring: Don James, Steve Antony, Johns Mathew, Rosamma Nelson (voice)

Watch the movie Mooniloraal here:

Other recommended short-films from India: Red Jacket, Mangalyam Thanthunanena, Moonnamathe Vazhi, Invisible Actor, Grace Villa, Culprit, Ima, Mrithyumjayam.

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Force II

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Vampire Owl :: Do you know how long we have waited for a sequel here?

Vampire Bat :: Five years. Just have a look at IMDb.

Vampire Owl :: Why do we have to wait so long? Don’t we deserve the sequels much earlier?

Vampire Bat :: I agree. They tend to make it bad when releasing a movie after too much of time.

Vampire Owl :: The first movie a good one, even if it was a remake.

Vampire Bat :: Especially when we haven’t watched the original.

Vampire Owl :: And everything or rather everyone has changed in this movie.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, except for John Abraham.

Vampire Owl :: So, we are going for this right now. May the force be with us.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, in a few minutes; just count till four hundred and twenty five.

[Gets the tickets with tea and cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: After the episode with Vishnu (Vidyut Jamwal), ACP Yashvardhan (John Abraham) lives in the memories of his dead wife, Maya (Genelia D’Souza), and gets into fight with the gangsters and criminals of the city, which goes on naturally cool for him. But when three Raw agents are killed in Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai, and one of them is his good friend, he decides to get involved in more than just fights in the streets with thugs. He finds a message from his friend, which he decodes and gives to the RAW chief Anjan (Narendra Jha) who is impressed. He is provided with the special permission to go on the mission to the place in the message, which is Budapest, the capital of Hungary, instead of one of those Chinese cities where the three agents were murdered.

So what happens next? :: The RAW officer Kamaljit Kaur a.k.a. KK (Sonakshi Sinha) also joins him in the quest, even though she is doubtful about the inclusion of a simple police officer. When they reach the city, they are welcomed by an explosion, which makes them realize that RAW agents are not even close to being safe. There is someone on the inside who knows the names of the agents undercover, and all of them, especially the seventeen agents in China are in grave danger. There are a number of people in their list of suspects, but everything points to Shiv Sharma (Tahir Raj Bhasin) in the end. But there is something about him, as he always stays one step ahead of them. They find it almost impossible to get him out of Budapest, and at the same time, another agent gets killed. This newly found enemy has something more to do than to just kill the RAW agents – what is it?

The defence of Force 2 :: The action sequences are well-planned and executed very nicely. The presence of patriotism and thrills are things of certainty here. There is quick pacing, and we are never bored, and you can see that there is the complete absence of drag throughout its run. There is not much of the songs here and it is a relief, which many other Bollywood movies should also provide us with, instead of throwing all those tunes towards us – maybe one would want the songs like the predecessor, but with our hero going on full attack, they were not to be here. The visuals of Budapest are really good, and there are so many occasions when we are lost in them and feel the need to visit Hungary, and even go further through Central and Eastern Europe on a special journey. The movie is emotionally strong too, and there is the tribute for the unsung heroes of the nation. The story has a lot with all these.

The claws of flaw :: The story is not something which we haven’t heard before – it is up to the hero to save more than just the day, with that extra dose of heroism along with the special dose of patriotism coming right through. The similarities with Hollywood situations are there, as you will notice depending on how much of those international movies you get to watch. There are also a little too much extra with the way in which the big action sequences are added – they could have been avoided, and the movie should have stuck to those which feel realistic, even when maintaining that style. There are lots of moments which remind one of a first person shooter, and it comes as kind of a pain. There are explanations which do go missing with the antagonist’s past and all, but within the movie’s scenario, things go fine, and that will satisfy your brains well enough. The comedy is not good.

Performers of the soul :: John Abraham comes up with an intense performance here, and we feel the force in his performance right from the beginning to the end. We have seen him in a similar role in a more realistic way in Madras Cafe, and here he goes more entertaining in this action-packed thriller – there is no real shortage of intensity from him here either. From the first time I had seen Force, I was sure that there was more to be done in that movie for him, and this sequel brings him the opportunity to do the same, for which he has no problem at all – we have the force right through him. Sonakshi Sinha looks nice and does mostly okay, and as expected, it is John who gets to steal the show. Tahir Raj Bhasin who is the antagonist in this thriller has managed to do a great job, and adds this performance to what he did in the much appreciated Mardaani.

How it finishes :: Force 2 is the right sequel to its predecessor, and it makes sure that we are thrilled throughout its run, and this one is a fine action thriller which is worthy enough to rule the weekends with all kinds of audience. As you can remember, the trailer was pretty much interesting, and this one stays strong to live up to the expectations. There were other choices to make this weekend, and for me, that included the Malayalam movie Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, and the Hollywood flick, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them – I am pretty sure that I made the right choice to watch Force 2. I am sure that people will have many reasons to go for another movie, but Force 2 is undoubtedly the right movie, because it is one entertaining package with enough application of brains.

Release date: 18th November 2016
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Abhinay Deo
Starring: John Abraham, Sonakshi Sinha, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Paras Arora, Narendra Jha, Boman Irani (cameo), Genelia D’Souza (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Naku Penta Naku Taka

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Vampire Bat :: There is a problem with your tongue?

Vampire Owl :: No, its the title of the movie we are going to watch. I couldn’t say it at the ticket counter. So I said this time for Africa.

Vampire Bat :: Isn’t that title in Swahili?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, but if it was in Malayalam, it would include the tongue being at Penta Menaka.

Vampire Bat :: I had first thought that it could be any non-English, non-Malayalam, non-Hindi movie.

Vampire Owl :: People do complain that Malayalam movies are using English titles. So, this should satisfy them.

Vampire Bat :: May be Swahili movies can use Malayalam titles.

Vampire Owl :: This was a big risk though, they were going to cancel the show stating there are not enough people.

Vampire Bat :: Happens with me for at least three out of every ten movies I watch.

[Enters the movie hall].

What is it about? :: Shubha (Bhama) is determined that she will marry only a man working in the United States of America. She and her father are so obsessed with the nation that her mother, uncle and the broker decides to present the next guy as an engineer working in America, instead of being the staff of a company in Africa. As Vinay (Indrajith Sukumaran) sends a visa to her right after their marriage, she can’t wait to get to America, but after told that they are going to the United States through Kenya, she arrives there only to be told that he works there and it was a plan spearheaded by her mother who was disgusted with her not getting an allience due to her need for a groom working in America. Even as he despises him in the beginning, she soon beings to get along. She also becomes friends with the Malayali neighbours who stay nearby, and even gets close to some natives. But then, a death will happen which will change their lives, and they will be on a run from police, gangsters and also a group of natives. At the same time, a man named Anton Kulasingam (Murali Gopy) also enters their lives, giving them no clue as to what is happening. They only know that they somehow need to get to India.

The defence of Naku Penta Naku Taka :: The name of the movie means “I Love You I Need You”, not the title which suits the movie the best, but still there is a nice song in there with the same lines, and it is beautifully done. The big advantage of this movie is that even when the thrill factor is low, the movie uses its ground advantage to work in its favour; with its power of variety, even when it is a little stupid, this one remains cool. The first half an hour of the movie remains really funny, with our leading characters taking control. Then the world goes the thrilling way, and it manages the transformation quite well and the suspense is maintained quite nicely, especially in the first half. Even as the three major incidents which change their lives are different, they are nicely managed and connected as one couldn’t have occurred without the previous one, and the highest points of tension are reached, but not without some amateurish weakness that can be mostly forgiven. The beauty of Kenya is nicely captured and the cinematography department needs some special applause, as Africa’s landscapes and wildlife becomes known to us through this piece of work. We need such movies which are not shot in the usual places like Europe, North America, Middle East and the South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore) – good to see this one going different.

The claws of flaw :: The name of the movie has undoubtedly kept people away from the theatres – even I was sure that this was no Malayalam movie until I was told. It hasn’t succeeded in making the fans believe that the poster is not of a dubbed movie, and only those who follow the films news regularly can know that this is a Malayalam movie with a Swahili name, even as the English name for the other African movie Escape from Uganda was not interesting either. Most of the theatres don’t have this movie being screened either, and that should mean missing lots of business in the local theatres. The movie doesn’t make full use of its resources, neither of the funny side that it begins to explore nor of the thriller side where it attempts to reach. Both areas could have been a lot stronger, considering how well it started and maintained the variety in its presentation. The villain also doesn’t become evil according to the day’s standard, and shooting people is not that bad these days since Joker made The Dark Knight appearance. The ending has no strength, and it is as if it was getting drainer of its power from a few minutes ago. The second half is also inferior to the first half and a few more minutes after the interval which keep us thriller and hoping for something huge. The thrill factor is often low in the latter parts of the movie.

Performances of the soul :: Indrajith Sukumaran, that name is oftten enough to watch a movie which promises variety. Amen and Left Right Left were his class acts last year, and when he comes up with the first big variety of this year (Masala Republic not included), we are indeed interested. He excels in the funny scenes and continues his form into the rest of the story in a nice way. His inherent acting skills is only matched by the cuteness of Bhama who gives a peaceful performance with all its beauty and her own. You have to love her a lot in the beginning stages when she comes to Africa and realizes that her husband lied to her about America. A little more of such stuff could have given her more opportunities, that is for sure. Anusree has just some screen time, and would disappear for a long time only to appear later for a few minutes. Murali Gopy looks stunning throughout the movie, and proves that he is the right option for being Hitman Codename 47 if the game is adapted into Malayalam – well, people copy anything and everything these days, so who knows? It would have been better if he had more evil deeds to commit rather than shooting people; he is menacing in his style and way of talking and acting, but that is all the character has.

Soul exploration :: Naku Penta Naku Taka is a story of love and survival, even as it doesn’t go deep into either of them. As Indrajith and Bhama forms a nice on-screen pair, and the latter is incredibly cute in her expressions, especially with anger and blushing, may be it didn’t feel the need to get them through terror which has even half the power of the hell’s abyss. But the main theme of the movie remains the same, something which it decides to keep away from the dark side up-to an extent. It is the struggle of a husband and wife to escape from the problems that they face in Africa, seemingly similar to Escape from Uganda, but still finding an identity of its own, and the character of Murali Gopy plays a major part in helping the movie to do so. The expectation that this will work out in the level of Left Right Left is clearly wrong, and with the same protagonist who impressed us in that movie as well as Amen, this movie is just the entertainer with variety, not something which one can ponder over for long – Amen and Left Right Left still remains in my mind, and the characters stay there and so do the situations. Naku Penta Naku Taka is not without ideas, but doesn’t make an attempt to try hard with it, or add fire to the same.

How it finishes :: The 2013 movie Escape from Uganda was the first Malayalam movie to be extensively shot in Africa, and may be the only Malayalam movie to be shot in Uganda. If we look at those reviews on the internet, it has received almost the same kind of reception from the internet critics as for this one, or may be worse if we include some specific reviews. If we go outside Malayalam, the one movie we can remember easily should be Maryan, but that is clearly a different story. Naku Penta Naku Taka has to be appreciated for the effort which it has taken, and its bravery to choose to be different. There is one other thing that I like, and that is that this movie is sponsored by tea, as we can see the logo of Gokulam Love Tea on some of the posters of the movie – yes, how can I not watch a movie which has tea advertisements? Tea is such a big part of the life of the Vampire Bat, and this one inspires to drink more; not the best occasion to say this, but what is life without tea? Indrajith fans and future Bhama fans, take this opportunity to check out this movie. This is the movie that you need, to take a break from the inferior work that superstars have been providing us with, and lets take time to appreciate such lesser known works without huge stars; it will only be good for the industry.

Release date: 13th June 2014
Running time: 120 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Vayalar Madhavan Kutty
Starring: Indrajith Sukumaran, Bhama, Murali Gopy, Shankar, Anusree Nair, Sudheer Karamana, Sunil Sugada

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.