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.

Annmariya Kalippilaanu

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Vampire Owl :: The title itself says that the kid is dangerous. Is it actually safe to watch this particular flick?

Vampire Bat :: What? Now, you are afraid of kids?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, one kid called me bad owl and threw a stone at me when I was doing my owlish meditation.

Vampire Bat :: Owls don’t meditate. This makes no sense.

Vampire Owl :: What are you talking about? Even Kungfu Panda meditates. Why not me?

Vampire Bat :: He does Kungfu. The only thing that you do throughout the day is sleep and worry about the possible devastation of the New Vampire World.

Vampire Owl :: I meditate in my dreams. Sometimes, I even meditate inside the dream within my dream’s dream.

Vampire Bat :: You are my nightmare!

Vampire Owl :: I occasionally dream within nightmares to make them better too.

Vampire Bat :: I am going to declare you the Nightmare Owl, the one true creature of the dark nightmares.

[Gets three cups of tea with banana chips].

What is the movie about? :: Annmariya (Sara Arjun) is the daughter of a doctor couple, Roy (Saiju Kurup) and Teresa (Leona Lishoy). The latter is working with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement at the war-torn nation of Syria, with the former left to take care of their daughter all by herself while working at a private hospital called Nyle. He rarely has time to call, and even when he does, there is not enough time that he spends talking to his wife and child. Annmariya’s dream to get a medal in the fourth standard for long jump just like her father did, and is striving for the same. But she fails to do that as her P.T. teacher David (John Kaippallil) disqualifies her after calling her jump a foul in return for complaining to the principal about him harassing their English teacher, Megha (Anjali Aneesh Upasana).

So what happens next with Annmariya unleashing the fury? :: A disappointed Annmariya wishes for vengeance against the teacher, and for the same, he asks Avinash (Master Vishal Krishna) to help her, and as he has a crush on her, he readily agrees and consults Sarath (Althaf Manaf) who promises to find them a thug to beat up the bad teacher. For the same, they find Gireesh (Sunny Wayne), an idle young man looking for ways to make easy money and his best friend Ambrose (Aju Varghese), an auto-driver who doesn’t go for work. Annmariya gives him the i-phone gifted by her father to beat David, and after some intervention by her uncle Inspector James (Vijayakumar) and another thug Suku (Shine Tom Chako), he agrees to beat up her teacher, but things don’t go as easily as planned.

The defence of Annmariya Kalippilaanu :: It is great to see how another world of a child has been brought to the screen with all the innocence – following the path of the movies like Philips and the Monkeypen. There is sweetness in the way that each incident is shown in this movie, and there is also the presence of that cute funny side which comes in between. Whether it is the good millionaire named Baby who travels with the sign “Baby on board” or the loving servant at home who tries hard to speak good Malayalam, the exaggerated tales about the thug or the combinations of different actors, all come together to make this one a sweet, enjoyable ride to be taken with the family. You will have enough messages to take home too, about family, love for each other, and the bond of friendship, along with the strength that strong belief of other as well as yourself brings to you.

Claws of flaw :: Due to its simplicity, there is not much of the flaws being visible here. Everything in this movie is presented in such a cute way that we don’t feel much of the problems that threaten to come up here and there. There is a certain amount of time that the movie takes to get going in the beginning; also with the first few moments of introduction of Sunny Wayne’s character. The main idea of the movie could have been presented in an even better way – the whole thing could have been even funnier. There is also no attempt to bring anything special. Most of the time, we know what is to happen next, and we are just glad to have them coming here. There is also uncertainty regarding the angel, whether it is a real person or magic realism added. Not all characters are used to their full potential here though. The animation in between was rather strange.

Performers of the soul :: Sara Arjun is one amazing child lead, there is cent percent certainty about it, and it is so clear from this movie. We had seen her in Deiva Thirumagal with Vikram as well as Jazbaa with Aiswarya Rai – we can be confident about seeing more of her work, and that will be great for Malayalam movie industry. Sunny Wayne has a fine run throughout the movie in this role, and this character has him doing the job comfortably. Aju Varghese provides a nice support, and he is good teaming up with Sunny Wayne. Siddique provides some nice support here, and his character is both funny and interesting. Leona Lishoy does some fine work as the mother, and Saiju Kurup is good when he is there. John Kaippallil stays strong as the antagonist too. Shine Tom Chacko has another good role here, which also seems to suit him. Even those in smaller roles do interesting work!

How it finishes :: This movie comes from Midhun Manuel Thomas who had recently directed Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyanu, a movie which was so underrated during its release, and so overrated when it released on DVD. After that movie which is more or less average in totality, Annmariya Kalippilaanu is a big step ahead for him, and it leaves us wishing for more of similar movies from him; we see the silliness in the previous movie being replaced by happiness and messages in this movie – it is the kind of stuff that we people need, and the same is delivered by this movie. There will always be something about the movies like this, as we will keep feeling the need for some inspiration, and also get those special messages that are to be kept in heart.

Release date: 5th August 2016
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Midhun Manuel Thomas
Starring: Baby Sara, Sunny Wayne, Aju Varghese, Shine Tom Chacko, Leona Lishoy, John Kaippallil, Siddique, Saiju Kurup, Vijayakumar, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sethulakshmi, Althaf Manaf, Master Vishal Krishna, Bijukuttan, Anjali Aneesh Upasana, Dulquer Salmaan (Cameo)

annmariya-kalippilanu

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pulimurugan

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Vampire Owl :: Do you know that the Vampire Crocodile and the Vampire Penguin failed to get tickets for this movie?

Vampire Bat :: It was never part of their skills. You have seen their CVs.

Vampire Owl :: But we had assigned them to cinema ticket duty.

Vampire Bat :: It is absurd. Nobody on Earth gets tickets for Pulimurugan in the first attempt.

Vampire Owl :: But this is our first attempt and we are getting them.

Vampire Bat :: We have been trying this indirectly in many forms though.

Vampire Owl :: Like transforming into mist and other strange things?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, among those large number of tricks which Count Dracula had taught us during those special classes.

Vampire Owl :: Very risky ones though.

Vampire Bat :: You need them to get a chance to watch movies like this one.

[Gets the tickets with tea and cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: The tale is set in the fictional village of Puliyoor, named as the lands of the tiger, as it is consistently haunted by predators which come out of the forest. When these creatures attack them, they turn to Murugan (Mohanlal), a.k.a. Pulimurugan to become their saviour. Murugan lives with his wife, Myna (Kamalinee Mukherjee), their one daughter and his younger brother Manikkuttan (Vinu Mohan). His best friend and help is Balaraman (Lal) who helps him in being the hunter that he is. One day, he comes across Benny (Nobi) and Shiva (Bala) who are Manikkuttan’s friends, and are looking for his help. By providing them help, he will get closer to a man called Daddy Girija (Jagapati Babu) who is not the person whom Murugan thinks he is. He also locks horns with Krishnakumar (Kishore), and his number of enemies only increase as the movie comes to an end.

The defence of Pulimurugan :: From a long time ago, nothing has changed – Pulimurugan has been the talk of the town months before its release, and that remains the same even now, as shows run full with fans, youth, families and the lone watchers. Mohanlal makes sure that this one stays afloat all the time. Here is something that has tried the best to keep the overall quality high, as Pulimurugan undoubtedly looks really nice on the big screen. There is no shortage of visually stunning moments here, and almost everything has been well-captured. It is indeed great to see the action sequences which are without doubt of high quality, especially in the final moments. When they say that this is not something which hasn’t been seen before, they are not really joking about the same. It might be what you can choose to agree with, sans second thoughts.

Claws of flaw :: The expectations are indeed running high, and with this one hundred crore tag added, people are sure to feel the need for something huge. The tag of the “mass movie” is an abomination, because that specific classification itself is a lie which is used to cater to brainless people – no, Pulimurugan is not brainless, for its smartness is evident. Still, Pulimurugan has some of the most ridiculous sequences, especially the ones involving Namitha, and one involving Mohanlal lifting Vinu Mohan – along with these, there are some terrible comedy scenes which become a curse on this movie. There are also a little bit too much of unnecessary additions in the fine action sequences in the end. The songs are not that interesting, and the theme music is terrible, not original, and also not suiting the movie as a whole. The movie is the best when in the forest, and it should have stuck to that and its creatures – beyond that, with human villains of cities and towns, its not that much there.

Performers of the soul :: It is a Mohanlal show all the way, as we see him stretching beyond the limits to breathe more and more life to this character. He has brought this character close to us, and he has done the same with no problems at all – you see hard work here too, and there is a lot of it. Pulimurugan‘s female stars disappoint though, whether it is Kamalini Mukherjee whose character is more irrititating than anything else, or Namitha who is wasted from the very first moment of her existence, we see nothing positive from the female cast, and that is depressing without doubt. The truth is that even if they were not here, there was not going to be any change happening to the tale – Pulimurugan could have existed as the same man, especially with his own people of the village to care about. But the ladies are there, and they contribute nothing much positive.

Further performers of the soul :: It is absurd that there is nothing much with movie’s female department. Lal plays Mohanlal’s second-in-command, and he does his role with no trouble at all. After Mohanlal, he is the next person we are happy to see in this movie. Jagapati Babu is okay here as the antagonist, as the tiger becomes the one true enemy. Vinu Mohan does not much, and Bala has a rather predictable character here. Nobi has some fun moments, and Suraj Venjaramoodu has more, but none of them working this time here. There are a few others who came in smaller roles, but caught our attention – they are Siddique, Sudheer Karamana and Kishore. Hareesh Peradi is added to play another unnecessary character – there are too many of them here, that is for sure. We could have had less such characters and the existing ones having better things to do.

How it finishes :: This is the time when Pulimurugan has gone on to become the first Malayalam movie to get the collections over a hundred crore, and at the same time, the other Mohanlal movie in the theatre, Oppam gets to overtake Premam and become the third highest grossing Malayalam movie of all-time, after our movie here, and Drishyam. It is certainly the best of times, and Malayalam movies have been climbing up the ladder by a very long way. It feels great to have another golden age for the industry back here at this time. Lets hope that Pulimurugan scores even more, and also that there are other movies to follow, and get to the special one hundred crore club which should be expanded soon enough! May the strength be with these movies, and those special ones which are to follow in the next few months. Still, Drishyam is better by some way, no doubt about it.

Release date: 7th October 2016
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Vysakh
Starring: Mohanlal, Kamalini Mukherjee, Lal, Jagapati Babu, Vinu Mohan, Nobi, Bala, Siddique, Kishore, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Namitha, Nandhu, Sudheer Karamana, Makarand Deshpande, Hareesh Peradi, Sasi Kalinga, Sethulakshmi, M. R. Gopakumar, Baby Durga Premjith, Master Ajas, Santhosh Keezhattoor (cameo), Antony Perumbavoor (cameo), Anjali Aneesh Upasana (cameo)

pulimurugann

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Love 24×7

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What is it about? :: Roopesh Nambiar (Dileep) is a well-known television presenter and anchor working for a popular channel called Naalamidam. He enjoys almost a celebrity status among the people with his special shows. Kabani Sugathan (Nikhila Vimal) is a trainee who joins the channel, and very soon, the two become very close to each other, falling in love. Umar Abdullah (Sreenivasan) is a godfather kind of figure for them, and also their superior. Dr. Sarayu (Suhasini) is a family friend of Roopesh and Kabani’s stay is arranged with her. With her husband dead and son living the United States of America with his wife and child, she feels lonely, but is happy with the company of her old friend Dr. Satheesh (Sashi Kumar) who is a divorcee. Things seem happy, but is it really so?

The defence of Love 24×7 :: The biggest advantage of this movie is the first half which never drags or bores even for a second. There is a happy feel-good thing going on here and with some nice jokes within the limits, this movie keeps our interests high going into the second half. The first one hour and a few minutes can be considered as realistic and charming happy hours which do this movie a lot of good. The performances make sure that things work as expected. There is the presence of not many cliches here, and despite a big tendency, this one doesn’t go the way of another movie with Dileep and the same theme – Swa Le. There is a certain message against the coporate culture and capitalism, and even though that too struggles, it is the better one among them all; the rest are incomplete and meaningless.

The claws of flaw :: The characters are not without faults. Kabani remains the most developed character here, but that too is not without a struggle. The second half starts going down, and the latter part of the second half goes a lot further down. The climax has the incompleteness of the main plot, and chooses to complete the secondary plot and gives us the idea that it will complete like the secondary one some day later. It is like completing the secondary mission in a computer game and failing to finish the main objective, which will be considered a loss in that case. Well, the message that the life repeats itself has very rare chance of happening, and so this incompleteness waiting for a complete flourish and finish later is unreal. The messages which seem to be incompletely told are all pretty much ridiculous.

Performer of the soul :: I had missed Dileep’s earlier movie, Chandrettan Evideya due to having some exams, but I did hear from my trusted sources that it was a nice change for Dileep, and this one also proves to be the same. His last movies from Kammath & Kammath through Sringaravelan and Nadodimannan reaching Villali Veeran and Ivan Maryadaraman is not kind of Dileep that we wanted. They were all too repetitive, and going down in quality even as simple comedy movies – terrible jokes were increasing. But this movie bring the man back to the audience with that change which is readily acceptable. There is no need for big performances here, and it is a role which should have come easy for an experienced actor like Dileep, and he just manages things. Yes, Dileep is back and has moved away from the fake entertainers brought to the audience in the name of comedy.

The lady soul :: The rest of the cast also evokes our interest. Among them, you notice a beautiful face you have never seen before. The newcomer Nikhila Vimal does very well in a role which demanded more than one mode of performance, and in every case she manages her side with utmost sincerity, as it seems – a quality rarely found with a new actress. She is there are the struggling newbie from a rural background and then as the news anchor in a leading channel; the former remains her finer territory. Emoting without any impediment and the slang working very well for her, she adds to the list of the interesting new faces in the Malayalam movie industry. Seemingly very natural in her beauty and the performance, her only problems come from the story and the characterization, because it is clear that she has given a notable performance. The final few moments do her as well as her character no favour though.

The other performers of the soul :: We have Suhasini back in Malayalam movies again; even though she was there in Kalimannu, she hasn’t been that much present in a big way in the Malayalam movies since 2009 flick Makante Achan. It is good to see her doing an interesting and emotional role again. Sashi Kumar also looked so good in his performance, as with him, there was a certain amount of charm even to a character which was going to go unnoticed in a normal situation of events. There is a certain search about the cast done whenever the actors list is provided, and this one has lead me to a movie called Kaya Taran directed by this same actor, and reading on the same gives a feeling to know more about the work. Sreenivasan and Lena Abhilash has the roles which are no trouble to them.

How it finishes :: The director of this movie, Sreebala K Menon is also an author who won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for ‘Best Humor’ for her work – 19, Canal Road in 2005. She is also known to come up with some socially relevant short films and documentaries. She has worked as the assistant director in a number of movies, and it is time to welcome her to the Malayalam movie industry and Love 24×7 will do just fine. Love 24×7 should do okay this weekend because none of the Malayalam movies have managed to really meet the expectations. There are movies which can be watched, but none to create that impact which should be part of the festival season. Let us hope that these Malayalam movies stay enough for people to watch at the theatres itself.

Release date: 18th July 2015
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Sreebala K Menon
Starring: Dileep, Nikhila Vimal, Anjali Aneesh Upasana, Idavela Babu, Lena Abhilash, Suhasini Maniratnam, Manju Pillai, Thesni Khan, Sashi Kumar, Krishna Prabha, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Sudhi Koppa, Sidhartha Siva

love24x7

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.