Pathaam Valavu

Vampire Owl: So, there is the tenth turn where the twist lies.

Vampire Bat: We vampires are not worried about the turns. We fly over them.

Vampire Owl: Humans do not fly, but their spirits do float.

Vampire Bat: We don’t have the spirits. But we fly.

Vampire Owl: Where do you think a vampire’s spirit cross over to the other world?

Vampire Bat: I am expecting a river of blood there too.

Vampire Owl: So, you think that there will be blood on the way there.

Vampire Bat: Blood will be part of our afterlife as it is now.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that blood also has the spiritual significance.

Vampire Bat: Vampires have been spiritual for a long time.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Sethunath (Indrajith Sukumaran) is the officer who is in charge of the Kattappana police station. His wife Suja (Swasika) is pregnant, and Sethunath rarely comes home due to his busy work. After a long time, he finally decides to take a few days off. It is then that he is asked to bring a prisoner who got out on parole and did not return – Solomon (Suraj Venjaramoodu) was arrested as part of a sensational case, and him not returning came as a surprise for most of the police officers. Sethunath visits Solomon’s house with a few other officers in company, just before he goes on a fifteen days leave, as his superior officer as Shihab Ali (Major Ravi) asks for one last duty to be finished. The team gets to Solomon’s home and also finds him, but fails to capture him. But he is caught by Xavier (Nisthar Ahmed) who has a large estate in the area, and they transfer him to the police. On the way back to the police station, there is a landslide on the tenth turn, and the team is forced to stop and have tea and snacks. There, Solomon tells Sethunath his story.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Solomon was someone who survived one of the biggest landslides the highranges had ever seen, at the age of six. He lived as favourite of the locals, especially of the local priest (Sudheer Karamana) who has served as his local guardian. He falls in love with Seetha (Aditi Ravi), who elopes with him with the help of her sister, Anitha (Krittika Pradeep), and in the process, gets disowned by her rich and influential family. They soon have a child too. Varadhan (Ajmal Ameer), the local police officer who was supposed to marry her is particularly angry with them, especially as his next marriage reached the verge of divorce. He also gets transferred to the highranges soon, with a fight breaking out between him and Solomon, and this leads to Varadhan being relieved of duty and going home early. It is then that their child also goes missing, and the dead body is found between the rocks on the next day. Varadhan becomes the usual suspect for the locals, and there is fear in his eyes. His senior officer asks him to go on leave, but he is determined not to go from there. But where does this lead Solomon?

The defence of Pathaam Valavu :: This is a thriller that also goes on the path of a revenge with the support of flashbacks. There are moments of excellence, and unexpected elements of humour are also present with some flashbacks. The visuals give a beautiful feeling to the happenings around here too. The emotional side does the job well, and in between, the cute moments also get something to work on. It is the kind of the movie which could have gone The Great Father way, with the father of a child doing unbelievable acts in stylish dresses as if he was a rich monkey man, but manages to keep things realistic instead – well, you don’t want exaggerations when dealing with this kind of topics. Dealing with the life of the common man which is filled with simple happy moments of family, and turning it into moments of worries have been used effectively in Drishyam and Drishyam 2 along with the remakes – the same idea still continues to work. In the end, it also gives a social message, and finishes well as if poetic justice would return with a little help provided.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does start slow, as nothing much happens in the first thirty minutes or so, as it takes a little bit more time to establish itself. There is also some slow motion forced in there, against the overall mood of the movie. The loss of thrills to emotions can also be seen at times here. There is a lot of predictability that comes to the scene during the later stages of the movie, despite having the twists to provide the power. Some of the clues are also given in the early stages of the movie itself , which is re-established in the later stages too. The clues should have been hidden to keep the audience guessing. The red herring which the movie provides losses the steam because of the unexpected clues which are left in the process of moving the tale forward. The audience had the right to guess the killer differently, but such an opportunity is ruined too early. If the opportunity was better used, this movie could have been something bigger.

The performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu remains the strongest element of this movie, and manages the emotional side really well yet again. He has been doing such roles with perfection for some time now, with its highest point in Kaanekkaane, and most recently in Jana Gana Mana. Yet, the one performance from him which would stay with me even more is from Finals. Indrajith Sukumaran has displayed a certain amount of skill in portraying the police officers, last seen in Night Drive – there is the feeling of not exaggerating the cop role when he is playing the role; it has been there since Angels. Aditi Ravi has been an underrated actress, and her realistic performance as a mother is a reminder of her skills. Her recent release, 12th Man did not give her enough opportunity, and it was only Alamara which used her potential well enough. Ajmal Ameer gets a good role in Malayalam movie industry after a long time, and he did come up with a fine performance until the character was just pushed to the background for seemingly no real reason.

How it finishes :: Pathaam Valavu becomes another interesting addition to the long list of engaging thrillers. It does have the moments, and there are other areas where it could have scored more. Yet, one thing I won’t get is that people call movies like these as one-time watchable; well are all movies not to be watched once? There is absolutely no point in keeping on watching a movie again and again, except for the jokes and songs. There have already been two fine thrillers in this year in the form of John Luther and Twenty One Grams, and this one, even though not that good as the two murder mysteries, still serves its purpose with effectiveness. It is also a reminder that we no longer need those big names to play the central character and make the movie a success. We are no longer in that age of superstars, even though fans can still disagree and go to the theatres as a crowd, providing money to their favourite heroes.

Release date: 22nd July 2022 (Manorama MAX); 13th May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 115 minutes
Directed by: M Padmakumar
Starring: Indrajith Sukumaran, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Aditi Ravi, Ajmal Ameer, Sudheer Karamana, Baby Kanmani, Swasika, Sohan Seenulal, Aneesh G Menon, Jayakrishnan, Major Ravi, Nisthar Ahmed, Abhinav Raj, Binu Adimali, Shaju Sreedhar, Idavelu Babu, Joy John Antony, Sudheer Paravoor, Nandhan Unni, Krittika Pradeep, Pria Menon, Thushara Pillai, Anjana Appukuttan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam

What is the movie about? :: Fr. Vincent Kombana (Amith Chakalakkal) is the parish priest and also a much respected figure in the small remote island of Arayamthuruth. Being an ex-policeman, he believes in getting things right in his own way, and how to have control over the small law and order problems that happen in the island. He is determinted to make sure that everyone around him walks the right path. For the same, he walks around at night, and checks if nobody causes any trouble. One night, while going through his usual walk, he witnesses a murder, but it turns out that he just can’t speak about it. But he has to let the people and the police know about this crime without talking about it. Being a trained ex-policeman, he plans on finding the reason behind the murder and about how the victim ended up being one.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: On the other side of the events is Joy Kattukkaran (Dileesh Pothan), a man with many secrets. Part of the same parish, he is one of the richest men in the village, and with his wife Lissy (Lena), seems to live a happy life. The other seemingly nice men in the village (Nandhu and Nedumudi Venu) also have their own secrets. The seemingly Victorian Compromise, was not working in anyone’s favour, as most people out there were not what they seemed to be. Caught between them, and hoping to solve a mystery won’t be Fr. Vincent Kombana, but Komban Vincent, a man with a long past during his life at Mattanchery. Now the question remains about how far the priest can go to bring the murderer to justice while staying within the borders of religion. Before the feast occurs at the church, he has to do it.

The defence of Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam :: The trailers had showed that there is something out there to be witnessed in this movie with grandeur. There is no lack of style here, and we are also introduced to a different kind of priest, and a beautiful remote island which brings a lot of beautiful visuals. There are some nice moments to go with it too. After Paippin Chuvattile Pranayam and Kumbalangi Nights, this is another movie to bring that kind of a setting with backwaters and showing simple lives along with problems faced by the locals. There are some nice twists happening here, and the interval punch is a perfect one. There are some funny moments, but the focus shifts, and we are given the idea that there is more to come with a major shift in the proceedings – the movie goes forward with the links being connected nicely. Things come together nicely in the end, and we are left with something to guess too.

The claws of flaw :: With the premise and the idea, Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam could have surely achieved much more. There are moments when the movie go extra-stylish and with some more drama than needed. It also shows a certain shift from the major point at times, and also takes some time to get into the mood – it is with the interval that the movie gets clearly into that path. With a murder mystery at the centre, and having a number of talented actors for support, this could have gone forward with many twists and turns as well as shocking revelations, instead of revealing a little too much early. When choosing an unconventional path, going for something special is easier, as things will easily blend in – it hasn’t been focused on, that much. Some of the jokes were also less effective, and there was chance to add more in that department too.

The performers of the soul :: Amith Chakalakkal brings life to the role of an ex-policeman and priest nicely. We have seen him in some notable roles, but the most significant one was surely as the leader of the gang of youngsters in Pretham 2. He remains strong throughout this movie, and even goes rather extra-stylish at some moments. The character could have done with less heroism, and without that stylish hero image. Among the senior actors, it is Dileesh Pothan who is there for more than anyone else. With certain negative shades, this is something that he does with ease, in his usual style. We know what he can make out of even the simplest of roles, and the director leaves something for us in the acting department too, every time. The negative side is safe with him, in a way that it rises when needed, so well.

Further performers of the soul :: Lena is there for a short time, but leaves her mark with ease – maybe she could have been there for more, one would feel so. Anjali Nair has that kind of a role which she has done a lot of times before – her smaller roles have remained notable. Shammi Thilakan provides some fine support in between, staying close to the protagonist. This is one role that becomes significant in more than one way concerning the story. Nedumudi Vendu doesn’t have much to do though – his character itself could have been replaced by any other doing the same kind of actions. Sudhi Koppa is also left with a small role, and Nandu has more though. The second outing of the director Rejishh Midhila after Lal Bahadhur Shastri of 2015 also helps him to make a point, as the whole level has advanced from there.

How it finishes :: It is always great to have movies like this without the so called superstars doing so well – Joseph did the same, rising out of its low budget status to become the best Malayalam movie of the year 2018, something which nobody expected with so many big budget movies releasing in the year with many big names associated with them. This one won’t be the same for this year, but the effort has been good to go this far, with its title coming from Manianpilla Raju’s character Hitchcock Kanjikkuzhi in the movie No. 20 Madras Mail. During these times when good thrillers are hard to come, Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam takes the pain to bring something different, and it is to be appreciated. It is to be noted that we have had some good time with Malayalam movie industry so far, and it has been just near 2 months.

Release date: 22nd February 2019
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Rejishh Midhila
Starring: Amith Chakalakkal, Dileesh Pothan, Lal, Anjana Appukuttan, Baby, Dheeraj Denny, Gokulan, Sudhi Koppa, Anjali Nair, Nandu, Kainakary Thankaraj, Shammi Thilakan, Nedumudi Venu

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mohanlal

What is the movie about? :: Meenakshi (Manju Warrier) a.k.a. Meenukkutty is a die-hard fan of Mohanlal who was born on the same day on which the actor’s first movie, Manjil Virinja Pookkal released. Right from childhood, she used to be that huge a fan of the actor that she couldn’t stand anything said against him – she could only be pleased by things related to Mohanlal. After growing up, nothing changed for her, and she is finally married to Sethumadhavan (Indrajith Sukumaran) who has been in love with her since their childhood times at the same classes in the same school. As Meenakshi just goes on watching Mohanlal movies on the first day first show, and fighting with people who speaks against the actor, the marriage itself seems secondary to her. Sethumadhavan who couldn’t even think about not loving her, decides to keep her happy by allowing this strange addiction which goes over everything else.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But things only get worse, and Sethumadhavan decides to end his life by jumping in front of a train. There he meets a stranger (Soubin Shahir) who is sitting in the railway station with his dog. Sethumadhavan tells his story to the new friend who seems to be a little crazy himself. The story begins from their childhood when he develops certain interest for Meenakshi, and to their marriage and beyond. Meenakshi’s interests only get stranger, and it gets to the worst situation with her getting pregnant after a long wait, and them losing their child because of her need to watch another Mohanlal movie on the first day first show. But that wouldn’t change her, and after moving to a new place, there would me more to affect their family life in a terrible manner. How can they fight through this struggle which keeps repeating itself?

The defence of Mohanlal :: There is nostalgia being awakened in this movie, as Mohanlal movies had been defining our childhood. We see a fine beginning to this movie, with reference to Manjil Virinja Pookkal in which Mohanlal made the entry as a villain. The song in the beginning is the best of them all, and sets a fine mood for everything. The scenes involving the children are too good, as they grow up watching Mohanlal in his movies, and the youth also has a few moments during its short existence. It is the first half maintaining a certain level that makes sure that people are very much interested in knowing what is to follow. The movie is also a clear improvement from the director’s earlier movie, IDI: Inspector Dawood Ibrahim. The comedy is also better than the earlier fan stuff movie, Pokkiri Simon, even though there is no twist or suspense to this one.

The claws of flaw :: There seems to be not much care given for the story here, as it is rather too ordinary, with nothing innovative happening, even though there was surely the chance for something special. The reflection of fan stuff is also done in a strange manner. The fan thing is more or less irritating at times, and the length of the movie is also a little too much for such a story which never tries to raise its level. The justification provided for extreme fan worship is even stranger, and never does it seem to bring things together – its ending is rather forced to become a happy one, and the reality, as one would expect, can only be much worse. There was the chance to lighten up the nostalgia with each moment of life, but such a plan is never there. This never seems to have the plan to show a normal fan who has controlled love for the favourite superstar. The first half is some fun, while the second half drags on.

The performers of the soul :: Even though we can say that Manju Warrier is perfectly suited for this role, there will be opinions that the character has been overdone, and is more or less irritating for anyone’s taste. Some of the actions of the character just can’t be justified, and providing justification here would do more harm than good. Coming out of C/O Saira Banu, Udaharanam Sujatha and Villain last year followed by Aami, this character has no strength, no matter into which genre we put this one. Yes, there are moments which stay, and the comic side is handled better in the early stages, while the latter moments never even come close. Indrajith had two thrilling adventures last year in the form of Tiyaan and Lakshyam, both taking different paths, and here we have a change again. He seems comfortable in this role, and he plays the helpless husband facing fan nonsense with no problems.

Further performers of the soul :: Meenakshi, known the best for Amar Akbar Anthony and Oppam, makes the childhood moments memorable, with Vishal Krishna of Maalgudi Days and Annmaria Kalippilaanu fame. Shebin Benson and Krittika Pradeep also have some shorter moments of glory, with latter earlier being seem in Aadhi as the girl who admires the leading character. Soubin Shahir provides some fun, but the character never really suits this movie. The same can be said about Salim Kumar who has too short a role, which makes no contribution to the overall story. Even Aju Varghese who plays a major character has the role being given less attention, with ineffective jokes – Hareesh Perumanna is also wasted in a small presence. There are many characters, with faces that can be recognized easily, but most of them seem to be present for the sake of being there.

How it finishes :: This is the movie that needs Mohanlal to fuel it, but it doesn’t deserve the star due to the ordinary stuff that it provides in the name of an extraordinary actor. When you name a movie Mohanlal, there is a certain expectation about keeping a level, but we see that it is the only thing this one tries to focus to bring the fans. We do feel those movies with which we grew up with, and at the same time, we keep wondering if this is the best tribute that was there to be watched. After all, this is Vishu, and we Keralites deserve more. This year had many movies, but as of now, it has been struggling to catch up with the flicks which released last year during the same months. Is this the loss of creativity around here, or because the big ones are yet to come? We will see that, and until then, Mohanlal might be the movie that families can enjoy up to an extent along with some Mohanlal fans, depending upon what you are looking for.

Release date: 14th April 2018
Running time: 140 minutes
Directed by: Sajid Yahiya
Starring: Manju Warrier, Indrajith Sukumaran, Aju Varghese, Krittika Pradeep, Baby Meenakshi, Shebin Benson, Master Vishal, Unni Krishnan, Salim Kumar, Soubin Shahir, KPAC Lalitha, Hareesh Perumanna, Sreejith Ravi, Anjali Aneesh, Siddique, Balachandran Chullikkadu, Pradeep Kottayam, Riyas Doha, Sudhi Koppa, Sunil Sukhada, Manoj Guinness, Sajan Palluruthy, Kottayam Nazeer, Anjana Appukuttan, Praseetha Menon, Sethu Lakshmi, Asha Aravind, Unni Rajan P Dev, Sreya Remesh, Molly Kannamaly, Prithviraj Sukumaran (voice)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pretham

pretham

Vampire Owl: So, you are saying that the ghost has finally arrived.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it has come to provide us with its presence.

Vampire Owl: I heard that this one even has a mentalist?

Vampire Bat: Yes, one mentalist played by Jayasurya.

Vampire Owl: The looks do seem very interesting.

Vampire Bat: And when it is from the director who has brought us a number of good movies.

Vampire Owl: It has been a long time since we have seen an interesting ghost. I hope that this one will qualify to be there as a good one.

Vampire Bat: There is no reason to think that a ghost can’t be good. It will hurt the creature’s feelings.

Vampire Owl: Yes, we shouldn’t be judgmental towards the poor creatures from the other world.

Vampire Bat: Exactly. We need them too; they bring the balance in a boring human existence as we can’t always do the same.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with tapioca chips].

What is the movie about? :: Three youngsters Denny Kokken (Aju Varghese), Priyalal (Sharafudheen), and Shibu Majeed (Govind Padmasoorya) has begun their own business of a resort after working hard till their thirties. The three are best friends keeps remembering things from the past. They invest most of their money and also what they could manage from their ancestral wealth to buy this resort on which they have placed their hopes. They go through their lives with a crush on Suhanisa (Pearle Maaney) who learns dance at the resort, and doing only those things which are of interest, as they are no longer working under a person as they used to, and are completely out of control of their parents. Living a life full of enjoyment, and doing nothing other than those small things that come upon the resort, the three feels that this could go on forever.

So, what happens next? :: But as strange incidents begin to happen in the resort, they consult John Don Bosco (Jayasurya), a psychic and a mentalist who is referred to them by the local priest (Harish Perady) after failing to bring any change with the use of holy water. After making some attempts, he finds that the person behind all these is the restless spirit of Clara (Sruthi Ramachandran), who has a history that goes back to this resort when she last stayed here. Is John strong enough to get rid of this revenge-seeking ghost? What does she want from the three friends? Are they responsible for her death and the hopeless nature of her spirit? How can a mentalist work with a ghost who is not even interested in contacting and talking with humans? Is there something bigger hidden under the resort that should not be brought out?

The defence of Pretham :: This one successfully gets rid of the white saree idea which was too common in our horror movies – instead it goes for the black churidar which the spirit was wearing while committing suicide, which is fair as there are no shops supplying white sarees in the other world no matter which religious text we look at. The visuals are really good with the resort on the beachside, and we do get the horror comedy as we wanted to. There is just enough of both horror and comedy, not in high doses. The entertainment factor is there, varying for different people according to the tastes. With Jayasurya entering the scene as the mentalist, things get more interesting, and it is from there that the movie gets more engaging as a horror movie. In the end, we also get to see some of the cruel, sadistic face of the new generation youth which looks for success only, as it doesn’t matter for them that whose little dreams are crushed in the process – there is also the social issue.

Claws of flaw :: This one still happens to be predictable, and the message is also not brought to the screen in the best way. It is also not for the people who have watched so many horror movies and are looking for big scares – they are not much there for some reason. There were so many moments which could have had them, and we think that they are going to arrive, but that doesn’t happen at all. This one doesn’t really go on to become a special one with big difference, even with a mentalist as its main character, and that is a disappointment that Pretham doesn’t even try hard enough for the same. The comedy is also flawed at parts, with the adult jokes getting nowhere and some of them won’t connect with anyone at all. With a cast that has full ability to bring the fun, one has to wonder why that was not utilized to the maximum.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, Jayasurya is the pick of them all – it was already clear in the trailer, and it is reiterated very often in this movie from the first moment he shows up on the beach. Just like a wide variety of characters that he has played throughout his career, this one also leaves a mark, and it is due to him that the movie gets to be at a better strength all of a sudden. He comes, and delivers as it was expected of him – there is no question of doubting this man and the character played by him. He is no Sunny Joseph of Manichithrathazu, but a mentalist is indeed something new in a Malayalam movie. Among Aju Varghese, Sharafudheen and Govind Padmasoorya, it is the first two that create the fun here. Pearle Maaney looks strangely uncomfortable with the whole situation. Harish Perady is sadly limited to a smaller existence.

How it finishes :: One can be pretty sure that this won’t get to the level of Su.. Su… Sudhi Vathmeekam which was the last effort from the same director, but I would consider this to be surely better than Punyalan Agarbathis; in these three movies, it was all Jayasurya, and he is the pick yet again. This is surely a big escape from the past this year that had what might be Jayasurya’s worst movie which was IDI – Inspector Dawood Ibrahim. If you are looking for an enjoyable horror comedy, you are sure to have it; but there won’t be anything more than that – there is enough for some fun, and we get to take the messages home. Well, we don’t get many horror movies in Malayalam; and there are surely not enough ghosts. The Prithviraj Sukumaran-Tovino Thomas starrer Ezra might change this in a very different way, but until that, lets watch Pretham as we are not looking for The Conjuring or Insidious here.

Release date: 12th August 2016
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Aju Varghese, Sharafudheen, Sharanya Menon, Govind Padmasoorya, Sruthi Ramachandran, Pearle Maaney, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sunil Sukhada, Sathi Premji, Harish Perady, Devan, Vijay Babu, Nyla Usha, Arya Rohit, Anjana Appukuttan

pretham

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.