Chathur Mukham

What is the movie about? :: Clement (Alencier Ley Lopez) used to be a professor in the Kerala Agricultural University, and even though he has retired from service, has a certain amount of interest in science which can be matched by nobody else. Due to his skills in science, he is approached by Antony (Sunny Wayne) who wishes to talk to him about a certain kind of energy which can be associated with ghosts, but this time, he is trying to connect the same with science in one way or the other. Clement is a strong believer in science, but not in ghosts, and he is not ready to believe in Antony’s tale about energy in the form of ghosts. Then, Antony comes up with the full story about the woman who was haunted by ghosts, Thejaswini (Manju Warrier). She is someone who spends most of her time in the social media, and has everything related to her life posted on Instagram. She belongs to a new generation which believes that technology is an important part of life, and also that women needs to have education and financial independence before getting married.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Hailing from Kollam, she works with her old friend, Antony who has been running a CCTV business at Thiruvananthapuram as a new venture. Things seem to work out well for her until a strange incident occurs during a ritual at temple and she losses her phone in the temple pond. This leads to her deciding to go for another phone, and she hopes she can find the cheapest one with multimedia features. It is then that she comes across a special offer in a website which seems to have started only a few days ago. This is a type of phone belonging to a brand that nobody had heard about, and they guess that it is some kind of new Chinese device. She orders the same, and gets it only to find out that there is something strange about it. She finds out that there are messages going out of it without her consent, and she even gets electrocuted from the charger, but the mobile phone seems to have full charge even after a long time period of usage. Initially, she feels that only the selfie camera of the phone is the weaker link.

And what is to follow with the terrifying series of events? :: But there is much more to the mobile phone than what meets the eye. The sequence of events unfold in such a way that she becomes afraid of her own mobile phone. She tries to get rid of the phone multiple times, but it ends up being with her, or forces her to take it back in one way or the other. Even dropping the phone in the middle of the road or the temple pond doesn’t help. As the phone continues to come towards her and cause problems, she becomes confident that there is a ghost haunting the phone. She approaches a local magician, but the spirit scares him away too, and she is forced to live with the phone which seems to slowly taking her to death. Clement is still not convinced, and decides to see the woman anyway. But this leads them to a strange past that the mobile phone seems to have a strange and mysterious past, and it is not the only phone that belongs to the same category.

The defence of Chathur Mukham :: The film provides a good deviation from the usual horror films, with technology bringing the horror again, as it was surely tried before, but not with this much focus on science. The cinematography is one thing that increases the effectiveness of this film, as we can see them. These are not the usual horror settings, but the different ones which can provide the environment in a similar manner with variety. With the mobile phone at the centre, this doesn’t even need to have that much of the usual jump scares in action to bring the horror to the social media and the usual dose of technology. There is also the chance of a sequel which is left behind at the end. The special effects are used well enough, and there are some fine explanations to the horror which is added here too. Having Manju Warrier as the main character is also a good addition. With technology being an integral part of our lives, the ghost from technology is more relevant here in comparison to those spirits which wandered through cemeteries and old haunted houses.

The claws of flaw :: There are the usual kind of things which have been done before, and these repetitions bring us back to different films which we have seen before, like The Ring and The Final Destination series. The dramatic side is also not that effective in comparison, and some characters are just not used well enough. With the concept having the deviation, the film could have made it even more innovative, but by the end, film is moving more towards a safer side rather than anything else. It could have also focused on the background, or added more scares, which are not considered either. The ending could have also been better, because there was the chance for creating something grand. It could have also had some science fiction elements taking over in between, but that doesn’t happen, and the film could have also had more deaths, and more spreading of terror. When you have spirits in store within a mobile phone and when it has effect on technology and electricity, you know there are no limits that need to established – it could have run free.

Performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier leads the way in a horror film, and even though this genre is not unfamiliar to her, when we consider The Priest, this is time she faces the ghost, her own fears and death as a strong character. Sunny Wayne, just like he did in Sara’s and June, has the supporting role in another heroine-centered film, which he does in his usual way, being the second most important character around here. He doesn’t really have his moments this time though, but manages to hold on. Niranjana Anoop is unfortunately wasted in a small role here, and the character doesn’t even get killed by the ghost – a few others at least had moments in that way in comparison. The other actors who deserved more attention, including Rony David, Srikant Murali, Babu Annur etc also have their roles limited. Alencier Ley Lopez is the only other actor who comes into the spotlight, and this happens to be a nice change for him from the usual roles. Meanwhile, Shyamaprasad is notable in his small role, while mobile phone is definitely a character all by itself with its ghostly presence.

How it finishes :: Identified as techno horror, the film does have its moments. We have already had ghosts haunting electronic devices, especially mobile phones – the Bollywood film 3G was related to the same, and this one is certainly a better creation in comparison, even though it released eight years later. Pretham and Pretham 2 were also wanderings through the spiritual presence in technology. There are many things that make Chathur Mukham different though, and Manju Warrier is surely one of those elements. This one also works as a warning against the presence of technology in our lives. This is the kind of film which could have released on the OTT platforms much earlier – this delay has made the interest in the movie much lesser, and the fact that it didn’t release in Amazon Prime Video also contributes to that. Cold Case with its ghost in the refrigerator had already made the supernatural working online, and now we have this ghost to haunt the OTT, which it surely does pretty well.

Release date: 8th April 2021 (India), 8th July 2021 (ZEE 5)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Ranjeet Kamala Sankar, Salil V
Starring: Manju Warrier, Sunny Wayne, Alencier Ley Lopez, Rony David, Shyamaprasad, Niranjana Anoop, Babu Annur, Srikant Murali, Shaju Sreedhar, Kalabhavan Prajod, Balaji Sarma, Navas Vallikkunnu, Saranjith

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Cold Case

What is the movie about? :: ACP Sathyajith (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is in charge of an investigation of a case which has turned cold. As a skull is discovered in the backwaters near Trivandrum, from within a cover, and it becomes an internet sensation, the requirement is to discover its origins as soon as possible. But Sathyajith has to start with no clue on where to begin the investigation, but with the help of CI Ziyad (Anil Nedumangad) and the new recruit Neela (Pooja Mohanraj), he has to make a move quickly. At the same time, Medha (Aditi Balan) is a recently divorced mother of a little girl, and finds a new home somewhere around Trivandrum. She is an investigative journalist who is interested in paranormal happenings, only to find something strange in the new house which she had rented. There is something cold about her new home, and the AC, refrigerator, television, laptop, lights – everything electric seems to have something to do with it. To add to it, her daughter also has a strange doll given by her sister who committed suicide.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Medha finds out a name from a blind occult researcher, Zara Zacchai (Suchitra Pillai), and the presence had a name, Eva Maria (Athmiya Rajan), who has a troubled history. She tries to find out the secret behind the disappearance of the woman with that particular name, while Sathyajith also comes across a similar name, from a dental transplant which remained on the skull. Now the question remains where Eva Maria has disappeared, and whether the skull points to somebody else. Medha’s advocate who filed the divorce, Haritha Manakkal (Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli) points her to Eva’s previous husband who is now married to a wealthy lady, and Sathyajith also digs up her past, from her family which included her stepmother and children. But Eva Maria hadn’t disappeared for everyone, and some people feel that she had taken a spiritual path. There is more than what meets the eye about Eva, but with ghosts and murderers around, can truth somehow make it outside?

The defence of Cold Case :: Here, Cold Case comes up as another interesting thriller with a supernatural side, combining both elements quite well. The supernatural side is also nicely used, even though it is not combined well enough in totality. There are some nice moments of horror around here, and there are fine twists to go with it. With some red herrings added here and there, the film makes sure that we don’t get that much of a clue about who is behind all of these happenings. There is always something here to keep the horror going, and the suspense does keeps us guessing – we do come up with many possible villains, but this asks for more than the usual guesses. The use of refrigerator and the cold works pretty well, but the hair doesn’t. Above everything, the cast is also good, and with fine support, things work better. This one can have its sequel for sure, as there is that opening which is left to be explored in the end.

The claws of flaw :: Cold Case, while trying to do it differently, focuses on too many things, and due to the same reason, has some diversion, which was not needed. The problem with having such diversions is that the most important thing, the police investigation is not always on the lead. The other side following the supernatural lead often seems to be not necessary, as we keep having moments from both sides. An expansion of the supernatural, and making it connect directly with the police investigation would have improved the work further. The idea about another death is also kept in the balance, to be explored in a sequel if there is any. The film certainly had so many opportunities, and it should have taken it, maybe even at the expense of extending the film by half an hour or so. If this had released when most of the Indian states were in lock-down, it would have managed many more audience too, but this is surely going to gain its fans, anyway.

Performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran in a thriller has always been joy to watch, and there is no better example for the same than Memories, one of the best investigation thrillers of all-time as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned. Kunchacko Boban’s triple thrillers of Anjaam Pathira, Nayattu and Nizhal seemed to suggest that a deviation was coming in the genre, and the usual police officer solving a case was gone, a case reiterated by Tovino Thomas in Forensic – none of these films had the police officers solving the problem. Prithviraj as the protagonist, the police officer goes after the case here in a more systematic manner as we see it. He is certainly the hero here, even though the tale does provide a side for the lady protagonist too. He is indeed the one who solves the problem here, and any ghostly help which comes from outside was not that much needed. We see that Prithviraj comfortably go through the role here, and has no direct contact with the paranormal side to ask for help.

Further performers of the soul :: Aditi Balan makes her Malayalam debut in style too. She does have her moments, but her character doesn’t have that much strength to add to this investigation, which is in control of the police. Almost all the supernatural elements are related to her, and she excels in her first Malayalam film, far above her character, as we also see the focus shifting to her effectively. This is also one of the final films of the talented Anil Nedumangad, who died by drowning in a dam reservior a few months ago. He once again proves to be of fine support yet again. Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli who was last seen in Malayalam cinema in the movies Angels and Salt Mango Tree can be seen in a certain kind of a return here too, and she has done a neat work here. Alencier Ley Lopez has much more to contribute here than what earlier met the eye. Athmeeya Rajan of the Joseph fame is once again here as the lady everyone is searching for, and she has done some fine work, even though we have much less of her on the screen.

How it finishes :: Cold Case is not the usual kind of investigative thriller, as there is the supernatural side going strong from one angle, which might have been less expected from the work. There are lots of interesting moments in this film, and it also leaves a scope for a sequel in the end. It is part of that long list of thrillers which have brought the entertainment to us during the COVID-19 season, and with some horror effects to add to the investigation, this is also one nice flick to watch in the theatre, if there is ever any opening of the same in the upcoming months. We can only thank Amazon Prime Video for bringing us films like these which keeps the entertainment coming to our laptops. When Kilometers and Kilometers released on television, people had the feeling that this was not going to work, but now we have so many films which have released or had a later release in the OTT platform. Cold Case makes it there, and it also scores well, just like the other Malayalam films which came to OTT, with Drishyam 2 in the lead.

Release date: 30th June 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Tanu Balak
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Aditi Balan, Anil Nedumangad, Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, Nitha Promy, Athmeeya Rajan, Pooja Mohanraj, Suchitra Pillai, Gibin Gopinath, Alencier Ley Lopez, Parvathy T, Baby Aleena, Tessa Simon, Rajesh Hebbar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mohan Kumar Fans

What is the movie about? :: Mohan Kumar (Siddique) used to be a huge superstar until he lost the race to the younger stars. He does believe that it was the result of black magic done by his rival actors. After a long gap, he does get a role to play in a critically acclaimed movie, for which everyone feels that he will get an award. His daughter Sreeranjini Mohankumar (Anarkali Nazar), is an interior designer who wishes to be a singer, for which she tries her luck in different reality shows. Krishnan Unni (Kunchacko Boban), is a youngster who is also trying to make it big as a playback singer. They meet at a reality show, and he is also sent to work for Mohan Kumar as the driver by Prakash (Mukesh), his old friend and a struggling producer who is trying to make a film with Kripesh aka Aghosh Menon (Vinay Forrt), a young superstar who is extremely arrogant, and thinks that he is above everyone. Krishnan Unni and Sreeranjini start competing in the reality show, mostly as a team, and Mohan Kumar also becomes fond of the young man who is there to help him.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Kripesh continues to try to make a name in the industry, as his fame rises, and tells everyone that his living together partner Brighty Menon (Deepa Thomas) is a sisterly figure, and fakes different events in which he is shown as a man with love and respect, raising his popularity even higher with PR work. When Arun Rajeev (Adil Ibrahim) and Prakash approaches him with a new film script, his demands only get higher. Meanwhile it is just another downwards journey for the former star, as the critical acclaimed film is taken out of the theatres much to the dismay of Mohan Kumar, who felt that he was going back to that stardom with all the appreciation he received, even more than Kripesh who was originally supposed to be the hero, but was sidelined in front of his fantastic performance. After a fight with Hamsa Randathani (Nisthar Sait), his name is nicely taken out of the Kerala state awards final list, but there is still hope for National Awards – yet, it is to be seen if they can find a way to take it to Delhi with time running out, and a lot more to be done.

The defence of Mohan Kumar Fans :: The movie’s messages are strong, for it is against the vanity and arrogance which has been going on in the film industry. The lack of quality in the visual media is also shown, and it also displays YouTube, Instagram and other social media as what it is, showing how celebrities use fake videos or good for nothing videos just to gain popularity, while skilled performers and quality actors don’t get the recognition they need. Well, if one actress stand outside her home and take a video, it gains so many viewers and appreciation, and it more or less shows the same. Well, you know that literacy means the ability to read and write, and with so many videos being preferred over written content, one has to wonder if it is because of the lack of literacy among people. Our YouTube-Instagram loving celebrities in the film might be suffering from that illiteracy too. It is shown with very nicely prepared humour with fine satire, and the feel-good factor is also high around here. The songs are just okay, and it is not short of some touching moments.

The claws of flaw :: As this movie makes fun of a certain group of people and says the truth about them, such people won’t like it – especially the blind superstar fans, creators of nonsense in YouTube and Instagram as well as those so called celebrities who try to become popular by fake means. For others, they will surely like the film, but they won’t be able to dismiss the fact that this should have had more depth with its content. Mohan Kumar Fans is that kind of a film which could have taken each of its strong elements into another level, but it is certainly not able to do that because it has chosen to travel through a safe path – the feel-good side can always get you over the line, but if you stick on to that, and play safe, it is like aiming for run-a-ball in an IPL match when there is good chance for stroke-play. Maybe, they did so because there was not much of a competition in the theatres with less number of big Malayalam films being released and less number of people watching in the theatres – but that would just be an excuse if we think so.

The performers of the soul :: This one comes after the director’s films which have maintained the feel-good factor at some point, starting with Bicycle Thieves, my least favourite film in a long time, the definite improvement in Sunday Holiday, the bigger improvement in Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and now this film, which also has Asif Ali in a cameo, making all these films Asif starrers. Well, you know that who else was there in all these movies, and it is Siddique, with his biggest role in this movie, as he is the real protagonist here, with everything centered around him, and all things being about him only. It ultimately becomes all about the positive message that is spread through his life, and in that, this movie races ahead of all among the director Jis Joy’s movies, except Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, which was much more ahead in the race. Siddique, the veteran actor, nicely stays at the core of the film, and manages everything in his usual style. If this much was done in a feel-good film, you can guess how much more could have been done if this was a serious tragedy.

Further performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban outside the thriller mode of Nizhal and Nayattu, does have his moments, as he is indeed the hero here, trying to keep the main character happy and ready to take the risks just for the sake of the man. Anarkali Nazar is a lovely addition here, as we see her for the first time, and despite the introduction not being that great, we see that the emotions work really well for her. Among the rest, it is Vinay Forrt who stays with us the most, with one of the best satires on the superstars who can’t really act, but tries to get mileage through videos posted in YouTube, Instagram or any social media. As video medium attracts the illiterate and those who find it difficult to read English, these celebrities get more attention that they need, and being as fake as the character he displays here, their first option will always be YouTube to fake their life in front of the blind fans, who will share the same in social media, displaying their foolishness as much as they can. After Saroj Kumar, his Aagosh Menon strikes gold with the satire.

How it finishes :: Mohan Kumar Fans does take an approach which the movies like Driving Licence didn’t have the courage to take. Instead of taking the side of the common man, it had stood with the superstar and his fans. This movie is courageous in that case, taking the side of the common people, and it focuses on the gracious actor instead of the dumb superstar, the dumbness of the latter nicely shown throughout the film, and it also shows everything fake that has been running through YouTube. We keep seeing those celebrities doing YouTube videos, and we know that they are all fake, but there will always be those people who watch such nonsense posted by such people who are only looking for fame. Well, if a celebrity post any nonsense on YouTube, everyone wants to watch that, and if something sensible is posted on YouTube by the common man, you know how it is left unnoticed – it is such an age, when quality is not rewarded, a common problem with the visual media in comparison to the written one. This is the same reason why people who are looking for easy paths to success without hard work won’t like this flick. For others, this works in varying levels of interest, mostly on the higher levels.

Release date: 19th March 2021 (Theatre), 21st May 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Anarkali Nazar, Siddique, Mukesh, Sreenivasan, Saiju Kurup, Vinay Forrt, Ramesh Pisharody, TG Ravi, Alencier Ley Lopez, Major Ravi, Joy Mathew, Krishna Shankar, Adil Ibrahim, Sudheer Karamana, KPAC Lalitha, Deepa Thomas, Srikant Murali, Anjali Nair, Prasanth Alexander, Sreelakshmi, Sethu Lakshmi, Nisthar Sait

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lonappante Mamodeesa

What is the movie about? :: Lonappan (Jayaram) runs a watch repair shop in the small town of Manjapra near Angamaly, and Shameer (Hareesh Perumanna) is the one who does all the repairing jobs there. Lonappan doesn’t get much of an income from the shop, but he is not able to close it because it is family property. He is unmarried, and also has 3 unmarried sisters (Shanthi Krishna, Nisha Sarang & Eva Pavithran) – as they are not getting married, he is also not thinking about getting married. He is someone who used to be called “Tolstoy” for his story-telling abilities when he was a child. But the situation at home had forced him to stop his studies and take over watch repairing business. He is not satisfied with the same, and doesn’t even try to make things better. The watch repair shop remains exactly in the same shape as it used to be earlier.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: One day, Lonappan has a get-together with his former classmates from nearby school, and he realizes that he is the only one in their class who couldn’t get settled down. His old friends Kunjootan (Dileesh Pothan) and Neelima (Kaniha) are married, and they have settled down with good jobs in the Middle East, even though Lonappan was supposed to be the smartest of the students in their batch. The confidence given by the two makes him wonder what he can do differently to achieve success. There is frustration in his mind, but that doesn’t stop him from trying a few things differently much to the dismay of his sisters who find his actions to be strange and hopeless. Now the question remains if he can find success in his life. Whether his newly found plans will work or not, will be revealed only in the future.

The defence of Lonappante Mamodeesa :: The protagonist nicely becomes an example of people who couldn’t get to become what they wanted in life because of circumstances, and what was imposed on them by family and relatives. It is a case that is quite common, and it is a situation that too many people have faced in India, especially in Kerala – the rise of engineering was only one of such cases. With the feel-good elements, it is something that we can’t hate, and as a reflection of an everyman character, it is something that we don’t want to avoid. The emotional side is strong at times, and we can stay close to the life of the main character. It is up to the character to go through another baptism to bring the change to his character, and it is baptism by fire that can make sure about it.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is certainly confused about how it is going to bring about the change in the protagonist. The quick ending makes that clear, as we wait for something special to happen, but there is no such thing. The music is not memorable at all, and some of the characters in the film are not even needed. The subplots are not that much there, and some incidents don’t really have purpose. The transformation of the protagonist is not shown in the best way, and the movie is lacking in comedy, even though there were many chances for the same. Even the leading lady is wasted without being given much of a chance to keep staying on the screen. There are so many opportunities being wasted here, as we know that this was meant to be more. Lasting for just more than two hours, this feels longer because of missing the path on different occasions.

The performers of the soul :: Jayaram is the one family favourite actor whom we love to in roles like this. But it is a disappointing truth that except for last year’s Panchavarnathatha, there hasn’t been a movie which could rise above average status since Nadan and Lucky Star in 2013. Daivame Kaithozham K Kumar Akanam, the other movie of 2018 was a big pain, and we can be glad to see that this movie comes close to bringing the glory back up, even though it never really manages to do that in the end. Jayaram surely has returned to form, being at his comfort zone, playing a character which brings him no real challenge. Playing a commoner who has to go through many struggles, something related to family and at other times related to personal life wouldn’t bother him at any moment, and we can see the lovable Jayaram model on a number of occasions, and it brings us hope that things can get only better.

Further performers of the soul :: Anna Rajan with the Angamaly Diaries and Velipadinte Pusthakam fame plays the female lead, even though there is not much there for her to make an impression. Eva Pavithran who was last seen in Rockstar, Nisha Sarang of Uppum Mulakum fame, and Shanthi Krishna who had made a comeback with Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela are there as the three sisters of the protagonist, doing a fine job. Hareesh Kanaran is there to bring the comic side to good effect, but we can see that it is limited – the opportunity for comedy itself is not that much there to be taken, and it is wastage of his skills. Kaniha is there just for the sake of being present. Dileesh Pothen has some nice moments for us to remember, as he does that each and every time he comes on the screen. Alencier Ley Lopez’s priest role is also something that goes limited. Joju George, after the greatness of Joseph, gets a role to be forgotten.

How it finishes :: A return to family track can be seen for Jayaram with Lonappante Mamodeesa, and we know that there is hope for more. The main idea is about dreams and how people are often unable to reach where they wanted to be, or where they deserve to be – the power of the twist of fate is so. This one appeals more to the family audience that anyone else, and goes the predictable way to bring the feel-good factor. The focus on feel-good for success has let something else go missing though – we remember how Njan Prakashan, Ente Ummante Peru, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, all tried feel-good with fine effect within a gap of one month. Even though this one wouldn’t live up to that level, it also goes on to make it count in the list of movies belonging to the same category, and striving to get into the minds of the family audience.

Release date: 1st February 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Leo Thaddeus
Starring: Jayaram, Anna Rajan, Eva Pavithran, Joju George, Kaniha, Hareesh Perumana, Shanthi Krishna, Alencier Ley Lopez, Dileesh Pothen, Niyas Backer, Nisha Sarang, Innocent, Sneha Sreekumar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Oru Kuprasidha Payyan

What is the movie about? :: An orphan, Ajayan (Tovino Thomas) was doing different kinds of work, and finally he settled down in a Restaurant named Paradise with Jineesh (Balu Varghese), his good friend who is also with him. He does almost every job in the restaurant, and has the special duty of bringing idli from Chembakam (Saranya Ponvannan) to the restaurant – it is something that he has to do early morning. At the same time, Jalaja (Anu Sithara) who also works in the same restaurant is in love with him, and soon their attraction towards each other grows further. But things change for the worst when Chembakam is murdered by an unknown assailant. The local police investigation doesn’t reach anywhere, and crime branch is assigned the investigation after the protests from people. The new police officer in charge of the case is Simon George (Sujith Shankar) who has an envious record with the number of solved cases.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Simon is determined to solve the case in one way or the other, and the local people seems to know nothing much about what could have happened on that night of murder. It is then that they interrogate Bhaskaran (Alencier Ley Lopez), a drunkard who comes up with a strange and baseless accusation. Simon decides to develop on the same, even though there is not much truth in it. Soon, Ajayan finds himself framed for the murder of Chembakam. Simon makes sure that he confesses to having committed the murder, after days of torture. Everything is perfectly planned by Simon, and against Ajayan, the famous lawyer Suresh Narayanan (Nedumudi Venu) is set to appear. The court has the junior lawyer Hannah Elizabeth (Nimisha Sajayan) fighting the case for Ajayan as her first case. This one wouldn’t be the case she wanted to begin her career, but she decides that it is her best chance.

The defence of Oru Kuprasidha Payyan :: The movie deals with a variety of themes and we alienation, society’s labels, human emotions running high, and more, as the movie goes through its journey reflecting the contemporary society itself. It is a struggle of more than one person, even though it is just one person whom we see. Everyone has something to prove as well as a few things to lose, and more than one worlds collide in proving the point – the movie shows the same nicely, and never does it back down from showing the people as they are, and the society as it is, with no exaggerated character. The movie has some nice courtroom scenes with nothing overdone there. We also have some twists with the proceedings, and the struggle of a lone man without hope is not something that has reflected in our world so well, just like the abuse of power, prejudice and opportunism go along with the movie well.

The claws of flaw :: With this movie coming from the director of the critically acclaimed movies like Thalappavu and Ozhimuri, the expectations were certainly high. Such a level of movie isn’t here, as another path is taken. The first few minutes of the movie were also not really needed, because a quick entry to action is always the best in a flick like this, and that could have made this movie just above two hours – an appropriate length, and also very quick with its proceedings. The court room scenes are the movie’s strength, and therefore, being there early would have done the movie more favours. The film also chooses a middle path, not going for the mass audience, and not going the exact other way either, which means that it won’t be for all, but is meant mostly for those who are looking for a believable and good cinematic experience. Still, we feel that it ends too soon without that expected grandeur in the end.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas is back at the top again, after his Theevandi and Maradona, both having a great run as well as some nice opinions as he reflected this generation of youth with two tragic flaws in both cases, even though none of them lead to his fall. Well, Mayaanadhi, just like Guppy was that movie which set a wonderful fairy-tale kind of path for him, which seems to be at the strongest point right now. You remember him doing secondary roles in Ennu Ninte Moideen, Charlie and Style in succession, but you see where he is now – there is that display of simple and human emotions which is there better than ever this time. The emotional side is nicely handled, and he plays the character that is the representative of someone who has nobody to help, and as the character says, there is always someone from above who will be there to help.

Further performers of the soul :: Anu Sithara is one actress who has done very well in the industry with certain charm, but never really managed to go beyond a certain level with her movies, as almost all of them couldn’t rise to become the flicks which they promised to be. She has a smaller role here compared to what we thought, but she is really good in this avatar. It is very much a suitable one, as she proves. Beginning with a lead role for the first time in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, Nimisha Sajayan also couldn’t get a movie of that level after that. But Nimisha is too good in this movie in which we can see the struggling junior lawyer seeking to give her best, perfectly placed in her hands. Sujith Shankar’s police officer is a solid one, and so is Nedumudi Venu’s lawyer lacking in humanity.

How it finishes :: With Drama and Kayamkulam Kochunni still running in the theatres, Oru Kuprasidha Payyan makes a grand entry into the shows, promising to be something special considering the fact that it comes from the director of movies like Thalappavu and Ozhimuri. Malayalam movie industry surely needs some thrillers, as those days of Drishyam and Memories seem to be long gone. We are in need of more thrillers like Oru Kuprasidha Payyan which doesn’t just have the murder investigation in there, but also something hidden behind the real scene. A mirror to the contemporary society is another recommended factor in cinema, and it is exactly what Oru Kuprasidha Payyan becomes, in part. There is more than what meets the eye to Oru Kuprasidha Payyan, and it is why the flick shall endure and won’t yield to the rest of the flicks currently running in the theatres.

Release date: 9th November 2018
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: Madhupal
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Anu Sithara, Nimisha Sajayan, Dileesh Pothan, Alencier Ley Lopez, Siddique, Balu Varghese, Saranya Ponvannan, Shwetha Menon, Nedumudi Venu, Sukanya, Sreelakshmi, Maala Parvathi, Sujith Shankar, Sudheer Karamana, G. Suresh Kumar, Madhupal

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Ira

What is the movie about? :: Dr. Aryan (Gokul Suresh) arrived at Cochin from Kolkata, trying to leave a mark in his own home state, but is accused of murdering the Minister of Forests and Wildlife Protection, KP Chandy (Alencier Ley Lopez) who seemingly dies due to cardiac arrest. The much discussed case becomes a favourite for the media, as the minister was already in the news for corruption allegations, and his son, the next big name in politics, Jacob Chandy (Shanker Ramakrishnan) is looking forward to punish the man who is supposed to have murdered his father. Aryan is accused of being a naxalite and part of a group which is known to target politicians, and police is very much interested in making him confess to this crime. It is during these times that Inspector Rajeev (Unni Mukundan) arrives to take over the investigation from Delhi.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Rajeev doesn’t have a smooth run with the investigation, as the Commissioner of Police, Satheesh Varma (Kailash) is not interested in helping him. Even the people at the hospital seems to be not that much interested in helping him. But beginning with the taxi driver who dropped Aryan at the nearby church, Rameshan (Saju Navodaya), Rajeev begins to solve the mystery. There is more than what meets the eye with this tale, and he soon finds one love story which becomes the core of the whole thing, with Jennifer Jacob (Niranjana Anoop), the neighbour of Aryan, and his own tale of love with a girl whom he met in a forest near Kothamangalam, a long time ago – Karthika (Miya George). Now, the question remains about who is so much interested in framing Aryan as the murderer of a minister, and it is a difficult question to solve.

The defence of Ira :: We can see that the suspense stays strong throughout the movie, and there is the nice use of opportunities for twists towards the end. The first half as well as the second, has its thrilling moments as well as an effective emotional side. The entertainment side is strong throughout its run, and it has the audience interested in the investigation, and the predicament of the main characters. It is something offering a full run of entertaining moments, even adding some jokes here and there, with some of them working well. We can see how much the politicians manipulate people, and how so many incidents are twisted to be of advantage to them – we see where the common man’s place is, and what they are made to believe by putting them into a coma of indirect oppression. The visuals are very good, especially those of the forest, as we see that it is close enough to the locations where Pulimurugan and Shikkari Shambhu were shot – the beautiful world on the other side of Kothamangalam.

The claws of flaw :: There seems to be reflection of real life moments in the movie, but they really have no point here, and we see that they are unable to affect the movie well enough to make an impact worth remembering – these are more or less like the ingredients added to catch the attention of the viewers with the manifestation of a strange visage. We can also guess a number of things about this movie, as there is not that much focus on making sure that all minor twists hold ground. The movie could have also focused more on its title, as its oppressed including the tribals and the common people facing powerful politicians, never really get enough of justice, even though the poetic justice is delivered by vengeance. This could have been a better thriller, no doubt about that – it could have had a smarter investigation, and a stronger backstory which would be able to connect better with the right kind of bridges between the past and the present.

The performers of the soul :: Unni Mukundan doesn’t have any problem with this police role, the kind which he has already done before. From the nice entry in the beginning, he has things under control, with no real challenge being present in there to play this particular police officer for him. Gokul Suresh seems to be getting better with every movie, and we see how things have managed to rise in quality from Mudhugauv to Masterpiece, and now here. Even though Unni Mukundan’s police officer is established as the hero very early, we come to know in the end that all that Gokul’s character did was of high purpose, from the very first moment itself, with or without him knowing about it. There are also signs of a younger Suresh Gopi with his work, and the viewers are sure to wait for more from him. The significance of him being in an action-thriller is displayed so.

Further performers of the soul :: As you will notice here, the movie does have quite an interesting list of actors. The main female lead would be Miya George, even though she has lesser time on the screen, arriving late, and leaving rather early – she is very good in her work here. It is rather surprising that we don’t see that much of her work these days, Niranjana Anoop has more presence, and has done a pretty good job. There is a long way to go for her, in the industry for sure. Alencier Ley Lopez plays the corrupt politician in a nice way, Shanker Ramakrishnan plays a pretty good negative character for most of the time. Lena plays a strong character, that of a lawyer with ease, and Saju Navodaya only has a few moments to bring the laughter, which he manages; so does Nelson during the flashback moments.

How it finishes :: Ira has enough to make sure that the viewers are engaged at all moments. It might not be the best investigative thriller of our times, but it possesses enough in there to make sure that the audience is entertained. One might think that it could have been made better, as the premise was set very well. But it has been difficult to make good stories of investigation for some time in Malayalam industry, and Ira makes sure that something more is added to that genre. Well, thrillers don’t usually have enough support from the audience, unless it has those family elements like Drishyam, and also has a big superstar at the helm. Let us hope that this one has that support, as experimentation in the genre seems to have stopped rather too early. If the early opinions about the movie is going to continue, Ira might be followed by more of similar flicks.

Release date: 16th March 2018
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Saiju SS
Starring: Unni Mukundan, Gokul Suresh, Miya George, Lena, Alencier Ley Lopez, Niranjana Anoop, Shanker Ramakrishnan, Neeraja, Saju Navodaya, Kailash, Nelson, Mareena Michael Kurisingal

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Vimaanam

What is the movie about? :: Venkateswaran a.k.a. Venkidi (Prithviraj Sukumaran), a man with hearing problems, is the latest recipient of Padma Bhushan for his grand achievements in the field of Aeronautics. But it turns out that he has a past which is deeply set in emotions. As he travels back to his hometown in Kerala from Delhi despite the warnings of his good friend Elias (Major Ravi), his flashback is revealed. It goes back to that time when he was going through his school days. From then, there was only one thing which interested him, and it was all about flying. His desire to fly got him to a bigger need, to build an airplane, inspired by Roger’s (Alencier Ley Lopez) tales about how the first flying airplane was invented. He grew up dreaming about the same, and not being interested in studies much, despite being an excellent student. There is someone who had supported him all the time, and continued to do so; that would be Janaki (Durga Krishna), his childhood friend who plans to join MBBS – they have been in love for longer than they can remember.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As Venkidi is half-Christian and half-Hindu, the possibility of their love story becoming something that would be approved at Janaki’s home, is very less, despite him following the same Hindu traditions. But their love continues to grow, and causing trouble for the romance is Anand (Saiju Kurup) to whom Janaki’s father hopes to marry her off, as his family is rich and settled in Singapore. Meanwhile, with the help of Janaki, Roger and his favourite uncle (Sudheer Karamana), Venkidi keeps trying to fly his new machines, none of which manage to rise from the floor. The whole village makes fun of his attempts, but he is not the kind of person who would back down. During difficult times, Venkidi and Roger, with the help of Janaki, steals an engine, which does help them to fly, but flying won’t be enough to get the lovers together in a society which looks for more than just that.

The defence of Vimaanam :: The movie tries to be another inspirational movie in Malayalam, and adds to that long list of similar movies which have tried to do the same, a few being Mili, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam, Rani Padmini, Udaharanam Sujatha, My God and Aby. Yes, the inspiration to achieve the dreams which have been there for long, is right there. It achieves the same, and makes one feel the power of dreams, not just with the dream of the protagonist, but with that of a shared dream, which gets its significance by the end – as some people would say, that one’s dream is not his or her alone, as it is shared by all those who are beloved. The love story scores more due to the songs, as this flick undoubtedly has some delightful songs, as do its romantic competitor, Mayaanadhi. Well, this one uses subtitles whether it is English or Hindi, and it is something which people related to Mayaanadhi couldn’t do for Tamil. The visuals are also good, and the setting of this movie is something which is capable of achieving a lot more than what we can see on the big screen.

The claws of flaw :: We can see that a simple tale based on real-life people has been exaggerated a lot rather than keeping the simplicity in place. Vineeth Sreenivasan starrer Aby, which released in February this year also dealt with the same thing, about its protagonist trying to make an airplane and fly, fighting against all odds. A number of people might have felt that this is more of a repetition, with bigger budget, and more familiar cast. But the fact remains that Aby was a much simpler story, and it had some light moments of fun to go with it; this one lacks the same. You remember the Jomonte Suvisheshangal becoming the repetition of Jacobinte Swargarajyam, and the same is the case here, causing Vimaanam not to go that high as it could have. The romantic side of this movie, and the incidents surrounding the same, are also the same old wine in that bottle which was available in the market from February itself. There is absolutely no attempt to make this one special, even there were so many chances in there, and the result is a certain predictability with drag in between.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran comes up with more here, as we see him in another avatar, unlike his recent adventures of the year, Ezra, Tiyaan and Adam Joan. Among the young stars, he has been the one with the most variety in his roles, and with Vimaanam, there is nothing there to compared with his previous roles of 2017. Vimaanam‘s role is rather easy for him, compared to the other three characters which he had played in the year, which included a troubled man tackling a Jewish creature of pure darkness, a former gangster turning into a mystic and a father hoping to find his kidnapped daughter who might be in the hands of Satan worshipers – even the movie before that, Oozham had him seeking vengeance; in comparison, this one brings no challenge to him. As he has played character from real life with charm, significant examples being Celluloid and Ennu Ninte Moideen, you know what to expect when he is out there.

Further performers of the soul :: When we look at Aby and this movie, we keep looking for something new, and that new element is Durga Krishna, the debutante actress who brings cuteness and energy to the flick, in a performance which is certain to bring her more roles in the future. The character might feel single-dimensional, and cent percent predictable in a world itself having no surprises, but her work makes the same work for the audience. Alencier Ley Lopez is certainly the man to look out for in the movie, as this character seems to be so well suited for him. Sudheer Karamana is not far behind in that case either, for he was against flight in Aby, but is with all support for his favourite boy’s flight in this one. Eric Zachariah who plays Prithviraj’s childhood has one delightful performance for us, which would prepare us for what is to follow, a wonderful child actor there. Anarkali Marikar has a smaller role, but it is nice to have her there after Aanandam. Lena and Saiju Kurup are good as usual.

How it finishes :: Vimaanam is a movie which was much talked about for a long time. Even as Aby had overtaken the movie with its own protagonist trying to make an airplane and fly like Jacobinte Swargarajyam did before Jomonte Suvisheshangal, this one was something which kept the audience’s interest alive due to the presence of Prithviraj Sukumaran in a different look. But you will find that even with its cliched characters and melodrama, Vimaanam has managed to fly, and battle Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeevi Aanu 2 which has been the youth favourite even before it had released, and even with Mayaanadhi, Masterpiece and Aana Alaralodalaral there with Tiger Zinda Hai, this flight is also catching our attention. It is more or less a reflection of the noble intentions of a movie which is hoping to inspire more and more dreams in a world of chaos. Vimaanam might be the one right family movie for Christmas, catering to the needs of the full family outing, unlike the rest of the movies which are focusing on selections.

Release date: 22nd December 2017
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Pradeep M Nair
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Durga Krishna, Alencier Ley Lopez, Lena, Sudheer Karamana, Saiju Kurup, P. Balachandran, Anarkali Marikar, Major Ravi, Nandhu, Master Eric Zachariah, Ashokan, Tesni Khan, Liya Anu Varghese, Baby Durga Premjith

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Tharangam

What is the movie about? :: Padmanabhan Pillai a.k.a. Pappan (Tovino Thomas) used to be the Sub Inspector of Police working in the traffic department until getting suspended on an unfortunate night during a special operation not approved by the department, along with his good friend and subordinate officer Joy C (Balu Varghese). This incident which lead to the death of their senior officer Antony (Manoj K Jayan) has them wandering around the city in need of money, as they need to pay Ittimani (Alencier Ley Lopez) a sum of five lakhs. Their senior officer Sivadasa Menon (Vijayaraghavan) assures them that he will do all that he can to get them back in the uniform. It is him who come up with a special duty for them, which could bring them some money as part of an unofficial investigation. With things not being that great with his girlfriend Malini a.k.a Malu, Pappan decides to take the job, as some easy money with less risk is not that much of a bad idea.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This unofficial investigation is provided to them by Tharian Mathew (Shammi Thilakan), who offers them a lot of money to find what is going on with his wife, Omana Varghese (Neha Iyer) who owns a restaurant chain in the city and its surroundings. He suspects that she is having an affair, and wishes to divorce her after finding proof of her adultery. As the two friends go on their newly discovered adventure, they only find out that something is strange with the people that she meets, but there is no proof of her having an affair. But when they are watching her, someone else is watching them – Christopher Luke (Sijoy Varghese) is the man after them, and then there is their earlier enemy from the failed operation, Siju (Saiju Kurup) who comes in their way. There is so much going on with their lives that the whole thing seems to be messed up. Can they make the necessary changes to make things better?

The defence of Tharangam :: There is something different in the way this movie begins and ends, and even though the same is not something seen before, it has never been this fresh. It is a fine experiment as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned – with the hero and a lot of characters surrounding him, and add all the fun, you will find something like Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyaanu here, as our heroes as well as more than one teams of villains are looking for one thing that goes missing. The movie also has a strong side of fantasy to go with the real incidents, even though they are only related in a few occasions. There are messages about people being responsible for their own fate, as God provides them with a number of choices in their life, as one little act of kindness or cruelty, can change everything. There is a lot of dark humour present in this one too, as it nicely deviates from the usual foolish comedy which could have been served here with the subject on another day.

The claws of flaw :: Tharangam doesn’t go through the path which the common audience would expect – the trailer had given less idea about what it was going to be in totality, but even then, this seems to have deviated a lot, and will not leave the viewers with the usual and expected kind of experience for them to cherish. Maybe, they could have shortened the fantasy side, and maybe even limited the same to a few dialogues. The romance also disappears earlier than one would expect. There are opportunities of humour being lost, and there are moments when the audience can feel lost. The two cops could have handled the whole thing with lots of funny moments, but such an attempt is not made, as this one tries to bring one thing after the other, creating a mixture which not everyone can take home. The divergence is a fine thing, but the doubt about where to go with the same, is rather strange when we look deep. It is the story that needed to rise more when needed.

Performers of the soul :: It is nice to see Tovino Thomas coming up with different types of roles, as he could do with the two big movies Godha and Oru Mexican Aparatha, as well as that much respected movie on the internet, Guppy. But we know that his best is still to come, and that can even go bilingual. We see him go through the comic side rather easily. Balu Varghese supports him well, even though one wonders why there is no big memorable comedy sequences in this movie even there was more than one chance. The “Luketta” call from the two is just one of them. The one person whom we miss early is Manoj K Jayan, who has only a few minutes of presence there. Dileesh Pothan surprises us in his avatar and is very good with the same, even when the movie could have gone on without extending that sequence a little too much in the beginning.

Further performers of the soul :: Santhy Balachandran makes a much memorable debut here, and she has some very nice moments as well as dialogues in the movie – one can be sure that there are miles ahead for her in Malayalam movie industry. We keep feeling that she is capable of more if provided the bigger roles. One is going to find it hard to believe that this is her first movie. The other new face, Neha Iyer is also strong with her character into which she seems to have dived deep – there is more than face to this character, which she reflects with skill. Saiju Kurup has another character who catches our attention with ease, as he had in Pokkiri Simon, Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, Adventures of Omanakuttan and Alamara earlier. Sijoy Varghese is strong with the negative side of the character throughout his existence in this movie. Alencier Ley Lopez, Vijayaraghavan and Shammi Thilakan get rather shorter, but important roles in this movie.

How it finishes :: Tharangam is that kind of a movie which you can either love or hate, and there is also the option to stand in between – it is more of a movie of the audience, as each viewer can have a separate opinion regarding the same. The level of enjoyment regarding this movie is different, as you notice those simple things which affect your opinion. We know that crime comedy thrillers are not that easy to bring to the common audience, and this one has surely tried hard to do the same, even with those flaws. Dhanush has also made his Malayalam debut as a producer with Tharangam. It has been on the list of much awaited movies for quite some time, and one song with Tovino Thomas and Santhy Balachandran had brought further need to watch this movie as soon as possible. Now, we have this one for Pooja holidays, and if you like movies like Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyaanu, there is a good chance that you will like this one too, and the overall quality of Tharangam feels more – be ready for some experimentation on screen. I will leave you with the wonderful song from the movie.

Release date: 29th September 2017
Running time: 153 minutes
Directed by: Dominic Arun
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Balu Varghese, Santhy Balachandran, Neha Iyer, Dileesh Pothan, Sijoy Varghese, Alencier Ley Lopez, Vijayaraghavan, Manoj K Jayan, Shammi Thilakan, Saiju Kurup, Sanju Shivram, Unni Mukundan (cameo)

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Udaharanam Sujatha

What is the movie about? :: Sujatha Krishnan (Manju Warrier), who stopped school at ninth standard, hopes to provide good education to her daughter Athira Krishnan (Anaswara Rajan) who is no mood to study, and despite considered smart, raises questions about how she has reached so far with her studies. The Trivandrum district collector (Mamta Mohandas) is Sujatha’s role model, but Athira has no such plans as to getting close to even trying for civil service examinations – Mathematics of tenth standard is terror enough for her. Athira enjoys her life watching television and playing with her friends, doing not much of reading, even telling her mother that she only wants to be a servant like her, and work at households, giving the excuse that it is the children of engineers who become engineers, and kids of doctors become doctors. This worries Sujatha who has been looking for better education for her daughter, and complains to Paul George (Nedumudi Venu) who owns the house where she mainly works.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Paul asks her to get her daughter to the famous institution which trains the students so well that they can be nothing less than highly successful in their lives. Cherian (Alencier Ley Lopez) who runs the institution tells her to have her daughter score at least fifty percent marks in the examination, and he will be ready to give them a big discount in fees. But Athira’s skill lies in becoming first from behind, as her scores are always in single digits, never really getting past what batsmen get from a lofted shot over the boundary during a game of cricket. So, Sujatha decides to join school too, and with the help of Sreekumar (Joju George), the most feared Mathematics teacher and headmaster of the school who is persuaded by Paul, she gets special permission and joins the tenth standard of the institution, much to the dismay of Athira who feels ashamed by the same. Now, the question remains about what change it can make.

The defence of Udaharanam Sujatha :: We will find the movie’s main character as someone who the common man can relate to, with ease. There is always the presence of those parents who dreams for their children, and there are always those kids who don’t want to do anything with their lives. We have the simple moments that touch us, and then there is the moment of final realization that helps the movie to rise further. There is the reflection of the difficulties that a mother has to undergo for the child, and we see the new generation who has no awareness, or doesn’t want to think more about the same. We also find the focus being made on the importance of education, and on being thankful to our own people, our family, especially our parents. Yes, along with some humour as well as emotional moments, Udaharanam Sujatha is that kind of a movie which would catch the attention of family audience more than any other, no matter what superstar it would have.

The claws of flaw :: Seemingly having two movies as its base for the story, Nil Battey Sannata and Amma Kanakku, in Hindi and Tamil respectively, one would expect more from this particular tale, with Manju Warrier right there in the lead. You will also find that the movie is an overreacher with what its characters achieve. There is no Doctor Faustus, but one has to feel that a simple movie like this would have had simple steps steadily moving towards glory. We feel that it is too quick to get there, using that cliched twist to make the child understand the significance of her mother and the dreams – maybe the other movies which came earlier had similar things, but there has been enough time to re-organize things. Well, we are pretty much confident that not that many people have watched or even heard about those other flicks; that much was certain from the audience watching this movie. There was also chance for more humour, and the emotional side could have been stronger.

Performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier handles another movie with care, and she has this character in full control. She is here after that wonderful movie which was C/O Saira Banu, and the inspirational sports movie, Karinkunnam 6s; the thriller Vettah also showed a certain divergence, and here she is now, being part of another one of those interesting women-centric movies that has more than what you would think from outside. She has the funny side as well as the emotional one working well here. One has to feel that there will be no replacement for her for a long time. Supporting her very well is Anaswara Rajan as the daughter who has her own way of living her life. She rightly joins in to play her role, and only gets better as the movie progresses. Her combination with Manju Warrier had moments that will immediately catch our attention, more on the emotional side rather than with the funny part.

Further performers of the soul :: Regarding the funny side, we leave that to Joju George who excels with the comedy, and it is him whom we can hundred percent depend to make us laugh here. There are so many moments of laughter being generated in the class room, thanks to him who is also one of the producers of this movie. It is that kind of a character who can be used for a full movie based inside a school. Meanwhile, Alencier Ley Lopez only has a small role to play in this one, appearing twice to be noted. Mamta Mohandas also has a little role to play in this one, as we remember seeing her last in Thoppil Joppan and Two Countries. It is always a pleasure to see her, and there are lots of movies in which we had wished for her to be a part of, as we watch them on the big screen, and see someone missing from its soul. Then there is Nedumudi Venu who plays the inspirational role, as he keeps motivating like no other in this movie.

How it finishes :: There is the certainty of existence of two movies which have dealt with the same thing, and Udaharanam Sujatha also comes in there as the third of them. I wouldn’t be able to comment on Nil Battey Sannata or Amma Kanakku, but Udaharanam Sujatha has its heart at the right place. You might need to think not that much about the transformation and those final moments which go a little too ambitious, but Udaharanam Sujatha is a movie that will attract family audience like a strong magnet, as it has that feel-good factor with positive messages in favour of education, and dreaming high. Well, there might be so many other inspirational movies, but Udaharanam Sujatha goes more family-oriented than any other. So, the question remains if you are ready to be inspired by Sujatha’s example? Do you know someone who has gone through a similar example of a path?

Release date: 28th September 2017
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Phantom Praveen
Starring: Manju Warrier, Anaswara Rajan, Nedumudi Venu, Mamta Mohandas, Joju George, V Suresh Thampanoor, Alencier Ley Lopez

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Velipadinte Pusthakam

What is the movie about? :: Pheonix College of Arts and Science was established ten years ago as a result of the efforts of Vishwanathan (Anoop Menon), a local man who was killed on a terrible night after he made this possible. The location of this college is at a coastal village, where most children stop education at the school level itself, and a few don’t even bother to get to the verandah of nursery. There have been the presence of rich people like Mathan Tharakan (Siddique) and his right hand man, a criminal Kakka Ramesh (Chemban Vinod Jose) who don’t want the local youth to attend college, as it would deprive them of the workers for their fishing business. The college did develop into a popular institution ten years after its inception though, and people from city also joined in to make the campus a mixture of different kings of students, as the number of students from the village doesn’t get any higher, with fishing being a traditional job for the locals.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Into this college where the memories of Vishwanathan is more treasured that anything else, there has been the entry of violence – there is nothing political or religious in nature with the quarrels being rather social. With more students filling in the vacant seats left by the locals, there are two groups which can’t afford to see each other. The first one is led by Franklin (Sarath Kumar), as the son of the best friend of Vishwanathan, coming from the local fishing community – proud and not backing away from a fight. They ridicule those coming from outside as rich beggars who have been trying to take away their opportunities and buy seats with cash. The second one has their leader in Sameer (Arun Kurian) who is an angry young man coming from a rich family in the city, and wastes no time in getting into fights and ridicule his rivals for being poor and doing fishing.

And what else is to follow with the book of revelation? :: The two gangs find one reason or the other to fight it out at open spaces or inside the college auditorium when there is the need for some privacy. Supporting the city gang against the village team is the vice principal of the college, Prem Raj (Salim Kumar) who has become an irritation to the female students as well as the teachers, earning him the nick name Kamaraj. Franklin and his team gets rid of him with a nicely executed plan which exposes him in front of the principal. He manages to continue as a professor, while the post of vice principal goes to Michael Idicula (Mohanlal), a happy and easy-going professor who teaches Malayalam. With a grand entry, he manages to be a favourite of all students, and even manages to win the trust both Franklin and Sameer at the same time. But there is one more thing that he will need to do, and by doing the same, he will make sure that there will be some revelations, not just about himself, but also about Vishwanathan and his death.

The defence of Velipadinte Pusthakam :: The movie is entertaining for sure, and the first half has a lot of funny moments to add to the cause – whenever there is something related to the college and its people, there is the comic side that comes up; it is Salim Kumar who handles that all the time. The visuals of the coastal village is very good, and there are some dialogues to remembered, some as serious ones, and a few from the comic side – this is never the complete with its funny side though. With its ups and downs, the movie depends on Mohanlal to save it, and it is his presence that makes the audience miss some of the troubles that this movie has. There are some twists in this movie, some are on the funny side, and the rest are on the more serious angle – some of the thrills come not that strong, but they are surely present there. The most interesting song remains the one you have already listened, and had become the big hit.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s trouble is with its second story, which makes one wish to return to the college, and keep things there. The thrilling side is not used as one would have wanted it to be, and the revelation of the suspense could have been done in a much better manner. There is also the lack of focus on a number of characters that could have done wonders. The second half becomes inferior to the first, and the curse of the second half tightens its grip on rather too many occasions. We also think that there would be some relevant social theme being taken about the rich and the poor, which is not there – with those early clashes, that could have been on the list of things to show for sure. Also, Mohanlal as a lecturer could have become the perfect lecturer to transform this college through a series of interesting events, rather than skipping through all that. This one is also too long a movie, which is why there is the feeling of dragging in between.

Performers of the soul :: Mohanlal, in his usual style, manages to cover the limitations of the script here. Due to the same, this movie also becomes a treat for the fans, who will get to clap here and there, especially with his entry and more in the second half. Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol from this year, and Oppam and Pulimurugan from last year have all been doing wonders for him. Anoop Menon has much to with flashbacks, and he remains pretty much suitable, but has not many dialogues. You will find out that Sarath Kumar as well Arun Kurian finds themselves limited as their characters’ rivalry is lost rather too easily. The work here is no challenge for them. Even Anna Reshma Rajan fades away in the process, and so does almost every female character including Priyanka Nair and Sneha Sreekumar. Salim Kumar here has one a full swing comedy attack as he launches one funny dialogue after the other, and with ups and downs, some of them misses by a long distance, but there are a few others which are close to target. The two negative characters played by Chemban Vinod Jose and Siddique are solid, without doubt.

How it finishes :: How much Velipadinte Pusthakam would work for you, certainly depends on your expectations. The expectations were also so high for this one – this was also the movie I was looking for, with Lal Jose and Mohanlal coming together, and the cast from Angamaly Diaries, Sarath Kumar and Anna Reshma Rajan doing some memorable roles. Yes, even more expectations than what was there for Njandukalude Nattil Oru Idavela and Adam Joan. If that much is your expectation, there will be some trouble. The movie is actually quite far away from what you might have expected from the trailer. I was surely surprised by how much the movie has deviated from what I had thought about it, and it is due to the same, that I have crafted the story in such a way that none of the twists, whether serious or funny, are revealed. If you are watching Veilpadinte Pusthakam, be prepared for the deviation. You can’t deny the presence of fun though, especially if you are watching it with family.

Release date: 31st August 2017
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Mohanlal, Anoop Menon, Anna Reshma Rajan, Arun Kurian, Sarath Kumar, Chemban Vinod Jose, Alencier Ley Lopez, Priyanka Nair, Siddique, Salim Kumar, Jude Anthany Joseph, Sneha Sreekumar, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Krishna Kumar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sarvopari Palakkaran

What is the movie about? :: Jose Kaithaparambil Mani (Anoop Menon) is a police officer working in the special branch, based out of Palai in Kottayam. He is on the search for the right girl to marry, as everyone feels that the time has already passed for the same, and a few years later, he will have zero scope in the marriage market. His father Mani Chacko (Alencier Ley Lopez) and a friend Joymon (Balu Varghese) are the two people who are actively looking for the girl. But they are not able to find the right one for him, as Jose rejects everyone without regret. He finds all girls to be too modern, and not suitable for his lifestyle – sometimes, there is a problem with how the girl greets him, at other times there is a problem with what she wears, and on some occasions, he just feels that the girl is too proud. It is only after a long search that they find Linta (Anu Sithara) who is working at Cochin. Despite her not perfectly matching his viewpoint, they get along, and get engaged.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: After being transferred to Thrissur and taking charge there, ASP Chandra Sivakumar (Gayathri Arun) assigns to him the case of a human trafficking which has Mani Swami (Nandhu) as the main link, who is known to find young girls to transport to the Middle East – he also has the charge of kindapping and rape of an iillegal immigrant on his head. While chasing for the man who occasionally visits the city, he comes across Anupama Neelakandan (Aparna Balamurali) who is an activist working for the betterment women and children, and is also working with a theatre group. Jose who is searching for the wanted criminal to bring justice to the victim and Anupama who is looking to help the victim as well as many others like her, finds each other as stumbling blocks more than once. With the help of SI Ramesh Kumar (Chali Pala), he wants to get rid of her, but it is not that easy. And Mani Swami seems like someone who can’t be stopped – unless there is a twist in the tale.

The defence of Sarvopari Palakkaran :: The movie is surely a believable one in most parts. There is absolutely no heroism associated with the protagonist, and it has more of a collection of flawed characters without glorifying any particular side. It surely has a wonderful start, and an interesting finish – in between, there are some sequences which will catch our attention. There is some social relevance with this movie, but it is not given that much focus. We see two sides and two ways of thinking colliding here, and both of them come together as one. We also have some humour at work here, other than some of the comedy which is forced with situations created out of nowhere. There is also a twist, or rather two of them in the end, which works nicely, even though there is a certain stretched feeling present. There are some beautiful visuals in here too, starting from Palai, moving towards Thrissur and then Cochin as well as the highlands of Idukki, and finally into Murdeshwar with its huge Shiva statue and surroundings.

The claws of flaw :: There are moments in this movie which go nowhere. The first song during the credits is one of them, and then there are those points which has no hesitation in defying common sense – maybe the characters are supposed to be somewhat dumb when facing certain situations. Well, there is not much in the songs of this movie – they just try to keep us away. There is also that hidden camera sequence involving the protagonist’s father and friend, which could have just been removed; there is also too much of meaningless scenes between the police officer and the activist, which seems to be strangely done. Maybe, without these, a shorter length of the movie would have made things perfect. Also, they leave the town of Palai too early, and one has to wonder how much the title is justified here – this is not really about him being from a place if you look at it, for it is more about him being conservative and orthodox; could work with someone from any place or district in the same manner.

Performers of the soul :: The one who stands out here is Aparna Balamurali, without doubt. Even though Jimy Augustine from Maheshinte Prathikaaram will remain her most memorable character, and it seems that it will be so for quite long time, she has been creating some fine effect with Oru Muthassi Gada and Sunday Holiday. This one would get to be her second most noticeable character after Jimsy – it is rather more versatile than each and every role she has played, if you look at it. She makes her entry later, but becomes the big screen presence without leaving a chance for doubt. The other heroine, Anu Sithara, even though looking so good in this avatar, pales in comparison, being provided with a predictable character – there is not much to do for her rather than being the love interest of the protagonist. She surely has her one or two nice dialogues with stand out though, entirely different from what she did in Happy Wedding, Fukri and Ramante Edenthottam.

Further performers of the soul :: It is rather surprising that we haven’t seen that much of Anoop Menon for some time, and his only movie this year was Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol. But it has to be noted that he had three fine movies last year among others, and other than the more discussed Paavada and Karimkunnam 6s, he had the underrated Maalgudi Days – a movie which had won Janaki Menon the Best Child Actor Award at the fort sixth Kerala State Film Awards for portraying the character of Atheena. Sadly, his movies have been underrated compared to the others, and it is a grave mistake – we see him fit right into the role here, and at no point do we separate the character from the man. The best thing about him is that he is stays as close to life as possible – there is nothing strange, or super cop model being tried here, as he becomes the everyman police officer. Balu Varghese has a smaller role, and the humour seems to be forced by him and Alencier Ley Lopez along with Chali Pala. Nandhu does a fine job while Gayathri Arun makes her presence here in a role rather not needed.

How it finishes :: This movie thankfully focus on those expected features of the place where it is based – those flicks based on the place, on the district where the place stands, or even on the neighbouring districts have always been based on a protagonist who drinks alcohol most of the time, beats up a lot of people, and then go back to drinking alcohol again. When he is not doing these in this order, he is doing the same mixing things up. Still, he is not just a good man, but a hero – whether it is the more recent Thoppil Joppan or any of them in that long, older list, things have been the same. Despite the name which suggests that it is about the man being a part of the town rather than anything else, Sarvopari Palakkaran dares to move away from that stereotype which had become a curse. Along with the same, it brings an interesting story which is not big in scope, but works – surely more for the family than Chunkzz.

Release date: 4th August 2017
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Venugopan
Starring: Anoop Menon, Aparna Balamurali, Anu Sithara, Vijayakumar, Alencier Ley Lopez, Balu Varghese, Chali Pala, Nandhu, Roshan Basheer, Gayathri Arun, Manju Satheesh, Manuraj, Nithin Susheel

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

What is the movie about? :: Prasad (Suraj Venjaramoodu) and Sreeja (Nimisha Sajayan) are in love after a certain misunderstanding between them. Living near Vaikom at a village where the caste feeling is high, both are at trouble due to Sreeja’s father and relatives being fully against the marriage and threatens them. The result is that both of them runs away from the place after their wedding, and goes to a remote place in Kasargod where they have bought some land and a place to stay, hoping to get into agriculture. But it turns out that there is no water available there, and things once again takes a twist. They decide to get a loan against her gold ornaments, but her necklace ends up being stolen when in the bus, messing up with their plans. This theft was committed by a man known by the same name, Prasad (Fahadh Faasil) whom Sreeja had seen devouring it to escape being caught with it.

So, what happens next? :: So, the KSRTC bus driver, conductor and the travelers join to take the man to the nearby police station. It is more of a remote area, which doesn’t have leaves too many options for the police than to wait, as Sreeja is certain that the man had stolen her necklace and the thief tells the police that he has stolen nothing, and is working at a road-side eatery making porottas. But when the police asks for an id, he has none, and so they decide to keep him at the police station and wait. With no other option left, the couple also has to wait to find a way to find the necklace from him, as nothing could be proven otherwise. The police officer in charge of the case, A.S.I. Chandran (Alencier Ley Lopez) assures them that the thief is a smart one, but he solves such cases all the time, and will get them their necklace. So, who is the smartest of them all – is it the thief, the couple or the police officer?

The defence of Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum :: The question of Dileesh Potham brilliance rises again, and we can see that there is something about it everywhere that fuels this movie. It is a fine narration that takes the story to another level, as we have the perfect example on how to make simplicity so interesting. Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is once again an everyman movie like Maheshinte Prathikaram, and those elite classes will not get their due here – there is almost no person in this movie who can be put into that “rich” category, which brings us the real movie for the people, which has never been the self-proclaimed “local” movies. The humour is also working, and they are also based on simple things of life – still there are twists. Once again, we see that the visuals are nice, as you know who in charge of them with the camera. The music is good, with “Kannile Poika” nicely visualized. There is the message hope and forgiveness, even though they are not readily visible.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel a little bit slow and a little bit dull at moments of the first half, as we expect it to be fun-filled entertainer like Maheshinte Prathikaram which had absolutely no moment which will make us doubtful. The emptiness that you feel in between, and the repetition that might seem to occur are also certain to be seen. You do feel at times, that this has a little too much of a remider of Action Hero Biju – so, if you don’t like that movie, there is a chance that Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum will not be that interesting to you too. The story also doesn’t have that much in it to talk about, as things are rather simple, and the whole thing is focused to particular places. If you are looking for the usual kind of a movie, this will not claim to be one, which might be a good thing for a few, and not an interesting thing for some others. There could have been a bigger punch by the end, which is not there.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has his second movie running in the theatres at the same time, as Role Models is already there, having released for Eid with Avarude Raavukal and Oru Cinemakkaran – his earlier movies were Take Off and Maheshinte Prathikaaram, and it has been a fine run which continues into this movie too. Fahadh’s work, no matter how good or bad a movie is always something to look forward too – after all, this one is really good. There is a certain balance in his work, and even the simplest emotions from him brings the claps from the audience – the thief’s smiles score big. Suraj Venjaramoodu brings a performance which brings him back to the “fortress of seriousness”, with a full role rather than what he had in Action Hero Biju – he even has the romantic side to explore nicely. The National Award Winner for Best Actor in 2013 is the hero in this one, even though the term has less potential in a realistic story having no heroism.

Further performers of the soul :: Nimisha Sajayan makes a good debut with this movie too, as her work is simple as well as memorable. We see her taking it further with some realistic emotional scenes. It will be nice to see her in a different performance in one of the upcoming movies, and I remember having read that she has signed for another movie already. The next memorable character in the movie is played by Alencier Ley Lopez, who plays the police officer again after Njan Steve Lopez, and combines forces with Fahadh Faasil and Dileesh Pothan once again after Maheshinte Prathikaaram. You remember Vinay Forrt becoming the officer in control of things in Kismath where almost everything happens in the police stations – Alencier gets to do the same, but he has another mode on with Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. There is also the presence of some lesser known faces, who all do a fine job – it seems that the right ones are chosen for sure.

How it finishes :: We have all known what Dileesh Pothan is capable of, with his Maheshinte Prathikaaram, the National Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam and also for Best Screenplay. The same combination of him with Fahadh Faasil returned here, and as expected there is something for us to be impressed, as we were waiting with expectations being a lot high. The movie with a realistic side will always have more for us than what any of those big superstar movies possess. It is the same realization that makes a lot of people to arrive at the theatres on a rainy day, defying all odds to get a ticket for this rather simple a movie – even the advance bookings have been even more. When the first movie was a success, the second movie has become a bigger challenge, as he has to match the glory, and here, with his brilliance continuing, Dileesh Pothan has kept Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum working, even though not as much as Maheshinte Prathikaaram.

Release date: 30th June 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Alencier Ley Lopez, Nimisha Sajayan, Soubin Shahir, Shince Mathew, Jithin KC, Vettukili Prakash, Sreekanth Murali

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

CIA

What is the movie about? :: Aji Mathews (Dulquer Salmaan) spends most of his time working for the leftist party and keeping his communist ideology active to that extent that he keeps seeing his all-time favourite historical figures, Lenin, Karl Marx, Stalin and Che Guevara whenever there is some crisis or when something special needs to be done. He does visit his old college whenever there is time, even though he had passed the degree exams some time ago – he remains a respected figure among the students there. It is there that he meets Sarah Mary Kurian (Karthika Muralidharan), the daughter of a rich businessman settled in the United States, and is living with her maternal uncle Baby’s (Maniyan Pillai Raju) family. She has a completely different ideology, and wishes to return to the United States as soon as her studies are over, but falls in love with Aji who is a popular figure in the local wing of the leftist party and its activities.

So, what happens next? :: But things won’t go that smoothly as planned for the two lovers, as Sarah is called back to the United States as her mother is not well, and it turns out that they are making her marry someone against her will by the end of the month. Now without even having a passport for which there never seemed to be a need, Aji has to get himself to the United States with less than a month left. All travel agencies tell him that it is impossible, and his best friends Hari (Dileesh Pothan) and Jomon (Soubin Shahir) also asks him to drop the idea. It is then that Aji’s cousin brother, Cyril (Jinu Joseph) tells him about an idea which he shouldn’t try – it turns out to be the one that he was going to try, with hopes of being at her lover’s place before her wedding ceremony. His family bids him adieu hoping that he will find a job in the United States and settle there with the help of his cousin brother, but Aji’s plan is rather divergent.

And what is there to follow? :: Aji has the whole plan thought about clearly. The first item on the list is to travel to Nicaragua, after getting the passport on time. With it being the closest nation to the United States which doesn’t require a visa for a holder of Indian passport, that seemed to be the one right option at that time. It is something which he does with ease, and also makes it to the office of the Communist Party there. The next part of the journey remains the more complicated side, with the need to travel to Mexico on road through Honduras and Guatemala, and then crossing over the border to the United States, with his cousin brother waiting for him on the other side. During his journey, he will meet a Sri Lankan Tamil cab driver who has been eternally trying to get to the United States, a Mexican family of four that needs to cross the border for survival, a Pakistani man attempting to get to his wife and daughter who have left him, a Chinese man looking forward to the freedom in the United States and also a Malayali girl, Pallavi (Chandini Sreedharan).

The defence of Comrade in America :: Just like Amal Neerad’s previous effort sometime ago, Iyobinte Pustakam, this one also remains visually excellent, focusing in Kerala through Palai and Ramapuram, going towards the Latin American nations. It is the beauty and the style on the screen that brings the best here, even though we keep asking ourselves at times if this could have been a better experience. The funny side has strength in the first half. There is also a thrilling journey in the second half, even though it isn’t taken control of, completely. Love, politics and journey – these were the factors in focus for Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, and maybe it is from this particular flick that we have Comrade in America, which is certainly a better movie if you look at it without prejudice. There are also emotional moments here and there which work, but the same is not the case for all of them. To add to it, the background music is perfectly suited for this movie, and will have you asking for more situations with it.

The claws of flaw :: The focus on the story seems to be rather so much less, with the movie going on predictable lines in the first half, and there is not much of an effort put in the second half too. Its comrade side is clearly half-baked, and the romance between the lead pair just doesn’t seem to be there – one often feels that there was no love, but the protagonist was just trying to keep his promise. The movie has style and mass more when it is rather not that much required – a protagonist seems to be someone who can even load and use a gun – when it is asked about why he doesn’t need a final anointment, he misses a trick, and doesn’t focus on his need to be with his love; even by the end, there is a struggle with the character which seems to be feeling a need to become “mass” for his fans, and for the same justifies hooliganism. There is no battle between the ideologies of capitalism and communism as the title seemed to suggest.

Performers of the soul :: It is Dulquer Salmaan’s star value and the effort that he seems to have put into this role that will catch your attention right from his stylish introduction to the credit scenes. The first half seems to be not of that much challenge, but the second half is surely something that brings the effort out of him, and he delivers here as expected from him. Still, it has to be noted that this is the nth movie that has him leaving his home, and he does the same thing that he did in Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi in a better way, and unlike Charlie, there is nobody searching for his character instead. The next one to catch our attention is not any of the heroines though, as it is Dileesh Pothan, the director of Maheshinte Prathikaaram in his role of the leader of the local party committee and combines with Soubin Shahir to bring the funniest moments of the movie; you remember the same in Rani Padmini. Then there is Siddique, once again flawless with his comic side.

How it finishes :: The movie, despite having two heroines, doesn’t use them much though, and among the two, it is Chandini Sreedharan who lights up the screen when she is there – as she returns after Darwinte Parinamam. Karthika Muralidharan gets less and does less, as far as this flick is concerned. Well, the focus had to be on Dulquer Salmaan; his fans are certain to find this a very nice treat for these holidays. Red has been a dominant colour and the movies have been going left with the likes of Oru Mexican Aparatha and Sakhavu, starring Tovino Thomas and Nivin Pauly respectively – Comrade in America comes with the addition of some romance and a journey abroad to add to the same, at the cost showing less of the leftist ideas. Instead, the focus is more on the protagonist’s attempt to get to his destination, with the support of some wonderful visuals – with all the crowd support, this movie is certain to give any other superstar’s flick a competition for sure.

Release date: 5th May 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Chandini Sreedharan, Dileesh Pothan, Surabhi Lakshmi, Jinu Joseph, John Vijay, Siddique, Karthika Muralidharan, Priyanka P Nair, Soubin Shahir, Vishnu Gopal Nair, Nandamuri Balakrishna, Sujith Sankar, Maniyan Pillai Raju, Alencier Ley Lopez, Len Prasad, Julio Antonio Alonzo, Murillo Alves, Nathan Amir

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rakshadhikari Baiju

Vampire Owl: This character reminds me of myself during my early days.

Vampire Bat: You mean the days before you became a vampire.

Vampire Owl: No, my early days as a vampire apprentice.

Vampire Bat: I have heard that you performed really bad during those days.

Vampire Owl: No, I had balance in all aspects of life just like this man in the trailer.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see how this can be termed as balance.

Vampire Owl: Well, my case was all about balancing everything in life with so much skill that I managed to develop just from the inside.

Vampire Bat: There is no balance in life; one thing goes the right way, and something else losses the way.

Vampire Owl: I am actually writing a book on it, with special thanks to you.

Vampire Bat: That is an action completely against balance.

[Gets the tickets with cardamom tea and cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Baiju (Biju Menon) is everything for a group of people at Kumbalam, a region which is commonly considered as a part of an extended Kochi, but still retains its simple, village-like life. Surrounded by the Vembanad Lake, the place is connected at both sides by bridges, which is slowly and steadily transforming the lives of the people there. Here, this man leads a group of youngsters who are part of a cricket team which has been trying to win local tournaments, but not with that much success – it hasn’t stopped them from trying though. The team’s members include Manoj (Deepak Parambol) and Unni (Aju Varghese) among the others. Manoj has fallen for a girl in the neighbourhood named Rose (Anagha L K Maruthora) who also seems to have some interest in him, while a co-worker, Sreekala (Krishna Padmakumar) has fallen for Unni who is not interested in her and is looking for a girl to marry all around the state.

So, what happens next? :: His lack of interest in his job despite being in government service doesn’t make his wife Ajitha (Hannah Reji Koshy) happy, and the same is the case with his parents. He also spends money from his pocket to help his friends in need, and is the major force behind leading a boy in his team to Ranji trophy and later into an IPL team. Despite avoiding all the responsibilities at home as well as office, he is still a loved man everywhere. Being an irrigation department official and also a patron of the Kumbalam Brothers Club will keep him going through a journey which started when he was just a kid, along with George (Dileesh Pothan) and other friends of him, who have all settled outside India or at least outside Kerala. But he remains in his hometown, doing the same things as if it is to go on for eternity – but how long can these continue during a time when modernisation comes up, and who all will be with him?

The defence of Rakshadhikari Baiju :: There is an abundance of humour in Rakshadhikari Baiju, and it is no surprise with the cast that we see here. With the simple things that could happen in anyone’s life, the tale progresses nicely, even as there is nothing like Chinthavishtayaaya Shyamala unlike expected at one point. With the performances and events, things just seem natural here, with nothing artificial added. The message that the movie provides is also something for this age, when children try to replace the outdoor sports for computer games and more and more of mobile gaming – the movie asks its viewers to encourage outdoor sporting events which will improve the health of an upcoming generation, and also to save those free spaces, the green open grounds with trees in villages and towns. There is also that feeling of nostalgia that will come back to us seeing all these happenings. A realistic tale about common people is always better than a fake story claiming to be realistic, whether it is about a slow love story that will take an eternity to finish doing something or related to a tale filling a town with criminals who love pork.

The claws of flaw :: What surprises one the most is that there are villains in the movie, and along with one coming right out of a modern world which has no real face, there is another one played by Padmaraj Ratheesh, which goes absolutely nowhere – there never seems to be any need except for one funny sequence or two which works due to Biju Menon’s comic timing. There is also the love angle added with the character named Rose, which is also pretty much wasted just as our protagonist’s own love story flashback that comes into the present. Without these, the movie would have saved a lot of time, and the extra length of the movie could have been cut down to make this a very good entertainer with no dull moments; but here we see those sequences which are not really needed. The simplicity of the movie also needed more of the touch of feel-good and nostalgia to power it to the next level, and the same is also not there.

Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon once again becomes what the character needs him to be, and this role is no surprise for sure. Just like he did in Vellimoonga and Swarna Kaduva, he uses the simple incidents in life to evoke laughter, and he is well supported here. Aju Varghese keeps doing what he does the best, and provides the fun-filled support. Deepak Parambol does the role that could be of the second hero fine enough, despite his character losing way by the end. It is Hareesh Perumanna who has some of the funniest moments in the movie though, and his character has the comic side strong and written all over. Dileesh Pothan has only his presence for only a few minutes though, and still there is a lot of fun with his sequences starting with the dialogue about having changed by being rich. Hannah Reji Koshy whom we had seen for the last time in Darwinte Parinamam has a nice stay here as the leading actress too.

How it finishes :: This is one of those lesser hyped movies which can stay long just by being the movie that everyone can watch and enjoy, somewhat close to what Vellimoonga did even if not being that much of a force, considering the fact that families only have Sakhavu as the newer movie that is left to go for, Puthan Panam being pretty much a clear terrible movie, and also having an ‘Adult certificate’. The Great Father and 1971: Beyond Borders should also be there along with the undisputed best Malayalam movie of the year so far which is Take Off, but our movie starts a new innings here with not much of a challenge for a week which is in the safe zone. If you liked the Biju Menon starrers Vellimoonga and Swarna Kaduva, there is no doubt that you will like this one too, and so this one is a safe bet; there is a little bit of Anuraga Karikkin Vellam feeling in this one too. Simple, and without complicating things, the movie here stays close to life, and also allows the viewers to take the messages home.

Release date: 21st April 2017
Running time: 162 minutes
Directed by: Ranjan Pramod
Starring: Biju Menon, Hannah Reji Koshy, Aju Varghese, Deepak Parambol, Hareesh Perumanna, Dileesh Pothan, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Alencier Ley Lopez, Janardhanan, Indrans, Vijayaraghavan, Chethan Jayalal, Vishal Krishna, Aabid Nassar, Ambika Mohan, Nebish Benson, Krishna Padmakumar, Anjali Aneesh, Anagha L K Maruthora, Sankar Induchoodan, Sasi Kalinga

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Take Off

What is the movie about? :: Sameera (Parvathy) is a divorced nurse who is trying to work hard in the local hospital and pay the debts of her family, as well as ensure that the studies of her younger sisters are also dealt with. She was formerly married to Faisal (Asif Ali), and has a child, but they were separated due to problems in both families related to her work as well as the differences in way of seeing things. Shaheed (Kunchacko Boban) who works as a male nurse in the same hospital, is in love with her, and is hoping to marry her if she agrees some day. Both of them are expected to go to Iraq for work soon, and in that way, earn a better salary. Sameera finally decides that it is better for her to marry Shaheed and move on, as he is also moving to Iraq, and her relatives would make her get married to someone else anyway; at least she finds Shaheed as a good person and he is in love with her.

So, what happens next? :: After marriage, Sameera gets pregnant, but they soon have to move to Iraq and join the new job. They have heard that the place is not that safe, but there are other nurses who work there and earn a good salary. It is the year 2014, and ISIS has launched itself into the major cities of the nation. It is at the same time that Sameera’s son Ibrahim a.k.a Ibru (Master Eric) comes to live with her. Their location, Tikrit, as well as Mosul where Shaheed had traveled to with the military, all are under attack despite the repeated assurances that the army of the country will keep them safe. Sameera is shocked when she realises that Mosul is captured by the extremists and has become impossible to reach on phone. She approaches the Indian ambassador to Iraq, Manoj Abraham (Fahad Faasil) who assures her that he will do his best to find her husband.

And what is to follow between the chaos and destruction? :: It doesn’t take the ISIS long to take full control of all significant landmarks in the city of Tikrit with the military falling and later becoming a non-existent force there. The militants also make it inside the hospital and keeps the nurses as hostage. Shaheed is still in Mosul, captured by the militants there. But Manoj is determined to rescue and bring all these people back to India in one way or the other. For the same, he works with Ranjan (Prakash Belawadi), his superior officer as well as Jayamohan (Prem Prakash) who is a rich Malayali businessman with many connections in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. With the External Affairs Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Kerala in contact with him, he will try a plan which is claimed to be risky by more than one person, but is considered to be the best option to bring the nurses home by Manoj himself.

The defence of Take Off :: The movie is based on the captivity of forty six Indian nurses by ISIS, and their evacuation by the Indian government, which was one of those celebrated events and a major achievement for the nation – it takes a lot of effort to recreate and add something extra for the creative and cinematic side, and still keep it simple and real. The director has succeeded in doing the same here. The movie has nicely handled the situations of war, and also related to the hostage crisis – with terrorism to be worked with here, things could have gone different ways, but all goes well in this movie; we see balance and maturity in everything here. The emotional side is also strong, and things are kept realistic as well as interesting at the same time, a quality which has been only fakely attributed to certain movies these days.

Positives and negatives :: The first half of the movie is more about the family drama, with the final few minutes getting the protagonists to reach Iraq, with the terrible disaster of a war waiting to happen. From there, it is a thrilling adventure, and the movie works as two here. This movie is visually geat, and also has some nice music as well as background score to go with the same. The movie, despite not trying to bring anything out of the box, got all of us interested, with how this tale is told, and how the characters feel simple and real as the common man who wishes to make money for their families while protecting the same. Even with its smaller budget compared to the Bollywood movies like Airlift which deals with the evacuation of Indians too, Take Off can easily give a fine competition – in simple words, it is surely better than the Bollywood movie dealing with this. There is a better re-imagination here for you to watch.

Performers of the soul :: There is no shortage of interesting performances here, and Parvathy manages to keep her character at the right place, even living through the war on most of the occasions. The different stages of life of her character are nicely portrayed, and this is sure to bring more and more applause as the movie runs in the theatres and will be watched by more followed the highly positive opinions – following Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. Kunchacko Boban has a controlled performance here as he once again plays a character who will appeal really well for the family audience, after Kochauvva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. Then there is Fahadh Faasil who arrives in the second half, and steals the show – there are so many moments for him as he goes strong after Maheshinte Prathikaaram once again, and the last few moments are undoubtedly his. The child actor Eric is also too good. Prakash Belawadi, Prem Prakash, Asif Ali and Alencier Ley Lopez also catch our attention with their smaller roles.

How it finishes :: We had the Akashay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur starrer Airlift directed by another Malayali, Raja Krishna Menon, which had dealt with a similar crisis and somewhat same kind of situation which released in 2016 and had received many positive opinions. While Airlift was based on the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, this one is based on the 2004 ISIS invasion of Iraq. Both are about evacuating the Indians left in the nation torn by war, and both has the patriotism as well as the final success that goes with the same – both have also received a lot of critical acclaim, and has been in the news even before the release. The comparisons maybe many, and it is certain that what we need are movies like Take Off and Airlift which deals with the situations related to common people who struggle anywhere in the world, and it is also significant how realistically their tales are told. This is the best movie of the year so far, as it joins C/O Saira Banu, Alamara and Honey Bee 2 which are running in the theatres stronger than the rest.

Release date: 24th March 2017
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Mahesh Narayan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Parvathy, Fahadh Faasil, Prakash Belawadi, Asif Ali, Prem Prakash, Alencier Ley Lopez, Parvathi T, Anjali Aneesh Upasana, Master Eric, Joju George, Sidhartha Siva, Devi Ajith, Divya Prabha, Prashant Nair, Rukhsar Rehman

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.