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.

Shikkari Shambhu

What is the movie about? :: Philippose (Kunchacko Boban) is a thief who works close to two other thieves, Achu (Vishnu Unnikrishnan) and Shaji (Hareesh Perumana). The three had made an attempt to steal a golden cross from a church in Kunnamkulam area, only to fail in the attempt and escape to the highranges. They decide to stay hidden in a remote place, and the news that there is a tiger attack in Kuruthimalakkavu, makes them travel all the way there disguised as hunters. They also have their eyes set on the statue in the village temple which is said to date back long, and is valued at crores. They are welcomed by the group of villagers lead by the Panchayat President Sudhakaran (Maniyanpilla Raju) and the local priest Father Luko (Johny Antony), and are offered five lakhs to catch the tiger. The three feels that this is a big opportunity for them to make some quick money.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The three lives in the fear of being attacked by the tiger, and along with their adventure, Achu falls in love with the daughter of the Panchayat President, Revathy (Alphy Panjikaran) who is a college student. At the same time, Philippose has his interest set on Anitha (Shivada Nair), who is one of the more active and stronger women in the area. They do end up capturing the tiger, but it turns out that this doesn’t stop the killings. It won’t put an end to their problems either. So, is there one more tiger that they need to handle? Can another Shikkari Shambu incident of pure luck save them? But even luck has its limits, as the three friends attempt to make one last stand to save the village as well as get the money that they wanted. This is the time for them to find all their courage, but are they up to it? How many people will have to die before they can?

The defence of Shikkari Shambhu :: The movie has the formula that works, right out the movies like Ordinary, which was acceptable to so many types of audience. There is a lot of entertainment in store, beginning with the comic side that runs through, and also the mystery to come to light along with the big twist to arrive by the finish. The visuals are stunning, and it is not limited to the beautiful “mazha” song which has already become the best song of the year without doubt. When you look closely, you see that Shikkari Shambhu is surely better than Pulimurugan, even though that much of a box-office collection is not there to be taken – this one is still more fun, has a better story, and there are cent percent better female characters, along with coming up with better songs and visuals. Well, you begin laughing from the very beginning itself, and when you see that happening in a multiplex in a mall with the family audience, the movie has won the hearts.

The claws of flaw :: The tale could have been better in the middle parts, and there was scope for more with this trio trying to make something out of their stay in a village haunted by wild animals. There is the feeling of the movies like Ordinary, and a little bit of Romans in this one, and you will also think that this flick is a little too long. A bit shortened, this one could have done without some moments. The tiger doesn’t come up well enough to create an impression either. The fact that this movie didn’t have its shows in a number of theatres including Carnival Cinemas Angamaly and Carnival Cinemas Muvattupuzha, was surely a terrible thing, as we can be sure that so many people wanted to watch this movie after being addicted to the “mazha” song which is undoubtedly a pleasure to look out for, on the big screen. A little more care, and this one could have done even better – it could have had the special ingredient and could have attempted a deviation from the usual path.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban handle this role with ease, and we remember that he played a thief in his last movie of 2017 too, in Varnyathil Aashanka. This character does work for him very well, and never does he need to try more. The song “mazha” itself seems to be custom made for him, something which makes the viewers immediately interested in the flick itself. Shivada has a fine role here, paired opposite Kunchacko Boban, making this her one more notable role after Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam. Her character is strong, determined, and with those qualities that surely make this one a different role for her – there is more than what meets the eye to the strength of this particular female character. Vishnu Unnikrishnan, after Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, continues to be the boy next door, carrying most of charm into this one too.

Further performers of the soul :: Alphy brings good work in her first full role, paired opposite Vishnu as the movie progresses. She is sure to stay there in the industry with some good roles to come. Hareesh Perumana scores the best in this movie, and you don’t need to think twice before asserting the same. We know that he has always been good, no matter what people will say about a movie as a whole. He has been having a good time in the Malayalam movie industry, and this one has him controlling the funny side, rising above everyone else. The movie’s advantage is that he is there throughout the flick. Two directors Johny Antony and Aji John plays interesting roles in the movie too, and the former provides some fun moments which scores big. Salim Kumar has only a smaller presence as a police officer, but when he is there, the whole theatre has no problem in getting into a laugh riot.

How it finishes :: Sugeeth has had a good run with Kunchacko Boban in the lead, beginning with Ordinary and the last one being Madhura Naranga. With a title that reminds us of the comics character who used to be very special for us, Shikkari Shambhu once again brings us one of the better family entertainers of our times, with the content that is suitable for almost all kinds of audience. After the depressing Daivame Kaithozhaam K Kumaraakanam which claimed to be a family entertainer, but ended up being a miserable copy of ideas from other movies creating a mess, the viewers will find Shikkari Shambhu to be a relief among the flicks which are never really what they claim to be. But Shikkari Shambhu is surely the one movie which you would love to go through more than once for its comedy, which will be a big asset to our comedy channels in the future, unlike Aadu 2 which was surely overrated. I hereby leave you with a lovely song from the movie:

Release date: 20th January 2018
Running time: 140 minutes
Directed by: Sugeeth
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Vishnu Unnikrishnan, Shivada Nair, Alphy Panjikaran, Hareesh Perumana, Johny Antony, Aji John, Salim Kumar, Sphadikam George, Maniyanpilla Raju, Krishna Kumar

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.