Paippinchuvattile Pranayam

What is the movie about? :: Very close to the city, but still, very far away from the urban setting, there is the small island which is known by the name Pandarathuruthu, and the first half of that name itself is enough to know how that place is considered to be, by not just the people from outside, but also those who live there. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge has said in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the people of the island also faces the same situation – “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink”, surrounded by salt water, and having only a few boats – as all roads lead to Rome, all of those boats get them to the city, and nowhere else. This is the tale of the simple people in that particular place, where everyone spends more time waiting for water in a long queue in front of the common tap at the centre of the island, rather than doing anything else. The rest of the people do simple jobs, including fishing, painting and also a little bit of farming which doesn’t need much of fresh water.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is around that place of local gathering around the tap meant to collect water, that Govindankutty a.k.a Govutty (Neeraj Madhav) and Teena (Reba Monica John) falls in love. While there is the scarcity of water there, one can see no difficulty in getting some love, as far as these two are concerned. Govindankutty leads a happy life with his good friends Ayyappan (Sudhi Koppa) and Bashi (Rishi S Kumar) earning enough through painting work and a few dance performances when opportunities are available. There is not much of a complaint from them about their lives, despite the unavailiability of water bothering them all the time. They know that people have tried to bring better facilities to the island before, but nothing has happened with those politicians who keep making excuses, and life goes on. Any further attempt would be waste of time, according to them.

And what is to follow in this small adventure at the island? :: Babumon (Dharmajan Bolgatty) is the one to suffer the most, as no girl wishes to get married to someone without access to drinking water. Teena’s parents are also not ready to get her married to Govindankutty, and they are also looking for someone who got access to clean water, from anywhere outside the village. Despite his mother (Sethulakshmi) asking for the bride, Teena’s parents (Jaffer Idukki and Thesni Khan) are not ready to accept the proposal. It is more or less the reflection of their realization that nothing good can happen in Pandarathuruthu and the people of the island will never have access to clean water. But when one tragedy strikes, they have to think differently, and understand that it is the time to act. It is upon the youth to make the difference, but are they up to it? One journalist named Shyam Prakash (Aju Varghese) is ready to help them, but will that be enough?

The defence of Paippinchuvattile Pranayam :: There are moments in Paippinchuvattile Pranayam that keep rising like the certainty of tides – we see them coming and going. The humour is present here and there, and the lead has a good chemistry going on in movie’s favour. Some good visuals of the place will have our attention, and we see the huge buildings of the city on one side and this small world on the other. The music is good, even though they are used without care at some places. There are messages in store, and we have social issues being discussed, after the lack of availability of clean water in many areas. There were those islands around Cochin which had problems in getting drinking water, something we have been reading about since childhood. Even though a lot of problems have been solved now, it remains something that is present at one place or the other. Paippinchuvattile Pranayam adds something there.

The claws of flaw :: With a little more than two hours of length, some parts of the movie do make us feel a certain amount of drag. There is also the whole thing not used to its advantage, as this one could have been funnier, as well as having a thrilling end which could be a lot more of a difference maker with its ideas. The final moments could have been polished to bring an effect which would have made this one a social thriller with romance to go with it. The romantic side also makes way for the rest of the things too easily – there is not that much of strength with it if we consider the fact that the title Paippinchuvattile Pranayam as well as the expectations were all related to that only. There is also the need for the ability to relate to the problems of the common man, without which, this movie can go flying far away; this one would be more for the common audience, the everyman who can reflect these elements better as well as the invisible villains.

Performers of the soul :: Neeraj Madhav right out of Lavakusha and Oru Mexican Aparatha this year leads the way, and he is comfortable in being this kind of a hero, as all things are in control here. Reba Monica John seems naturally suited for this role, and is there throughout, winning points with big smiles and enchanting expressions, unlike that small presence which she had in Jacobinte Swargarajyam despite being the leading actress there too. As one might have figured out with the trailer and songs, she fits in, even without that many dialogues. Sudhi Koppa is the one actor who supports so well as he rises to the occasion, and he does a fantastic job with those emotional side, more than that comic side which was there earlier. We already saw him in Alamara, Lakshyam and Udaharanam Sujatha in notable roles this year among the others, and he gets his best here. Dharmajan strengthens the funny side, which would have struggled a lot without him. Aju Varghese has a smaller role which is managed easily. Sarath falls prey to a badly written negative character.

How it finishes :: Among those movies about common people made with what seems to rather lower budget, Paippinchuvattile Pranayam will surely have a good position. It is always nice to see tales being made about common men and not those money laundering bourgeoisie class attached to pubs and parties. It can’t claim to be perfect or close to being perfect in what it deals with, but it is as close to reality that we can get, and it is close to the heart of everyone who feels for those who are in need. But concerning others who have no heart for the sufferings of others, this wouldn’t be the movie. This is the age of superheroes with Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League running in the theatres, and one can go for them without thinking too much, for the big entertainment. But if you care, try giving a chance to the smaller movies about everyman, like Paippinchuvattile Pranayam. In simple words, call it “Love, water & other social issues”.

Release date: 24th November 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Domin D’Silva
Starring: Neeraj Madhav, Reba Monica John, Aju Varghese, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sarath Appani, Sudhi Koppa, Sruthy Jayan, Jaffer Idukki, Rishi S Kumar, Tesni Khan, Sethulakshmi, Indrans, Anoop Chandran

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nirnaayakam

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Vampire Owl :: Do you know that I am still officially missing?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, it is actually the only thing that everyone clearly knows about you right now. Some people still say that you are dead. But I haven’t really believed it yet.

Vampire Owl :: Forget it; people are just crazy, especially the Vampire Crocodile and his long lost Ramesh-Suresh 5 Star brother, the Vampire Alligator. I have connected to you through telepathy to let you know that I can’t be here for this movie.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, everybody knows that already. When was the last time you were there for a Malayalam movie for first day first show? Seriously, you will only go for Bollywood and Hollywood these days?

Vampire Owl :: But I was planning to be there for this movie called Nirnaayakam which is supposed to be something special with a certain amount of social relevance.

Vampire Bat :: I thought you were looking forward to watch Premam instead.

Vampire Owl :: What did you just say? I don’t like such words. I declare them banned. No love stories for me in this life until further notification.

Vampire Bat :: Well, I thought so. And we can’ t watch Lukka Chuppi because it has too much of drinks, as it seems in the trailer. No romance, no drinks, no smoke – it is being recommended to be the next vampire policy against watching these sybaritic movies from humans.

Vampire Owl :: Humans will still watch them, but let’s go for those movies with social relevance then. You should go and watch this and movie and let me know more about it when I establish the next telepathic connection.

Vampire Bat :: Or may be you can use a mobile phone.

[Cuts the connection].

What is it about? :: Ajay (Asif Ali) is a young man who always wanted to be a soldier, even though he was never a person known for his courage. In the end, when he is going through the training at National Defence Academy, he decides to quit as he feels that it is not his purpose and can’t do it. As he returns to his home at Mysore, his father who had left the family long ago, calls and asks him to visit him as his health is pretty much bad. So he returns to Kerala for meeting his father, as he also feels that the change will only do him good. There he understands that his father is suffering from cancer and needs a bone marrow transplant from him. Another thing that he understands is that his father who is a lawyer has been working on a case which would do big changes to the life of the common man.

The defence of Nirnaayakam :: There was a definite opportunity to make this one a megalith among the stones even though it is not really taken. The social drama and the commentary do the work of the paladins of this collection of elements. They are the conquistadors of the heart and mind of the audience in the battle meant for vanquishing the rest of the material in the journey. The moments in the court remains the highlight of the movie, and there was the need for more of the same. When we realize where we are heading to, things get more interesting. The climax is nice, and the arguments are well done. May be the focus could have shifted to the social side rather than keeping it personal for too long – the movie’s genre should have been social drama or social thriller, and it was to be the cornerstone all the time instead of its late arrival here.

The claws of flaw :: Nirnaayakam‘s social message comes very late; we keep waiting and waiting, and by the time it arrives, a quarter of the second half of the movie had finished. The family drama is some real pain, and completely fails to connect with the audience. The romance is lost in the eternal abyss of hopelessness. A complete dose of social commentary which can keep running through full movie could have done the flick a lot of good. The socially relevant content should have been right there at the front rather than taking the backseat throughout a first half which fails to impress. It is a tiresome journey, and the end results might not be enough for some people. These are the reasons why the audience can question this movie, but they surely cannot doubt its intentions.

Performers of the soul :: Asif Ali remains strong throughout the movie, and he does make one feel those emotional moments closer and with depth. His direct influence on the strong point of the movie, the court-room drama is rather less though, and that denies him any gargantuan moment in the core of the movie, which is rather unfair. But the paramount skills of the veteran actor Nedumudi Venu comes to rescue there as he steals the climax, and Sudheer Karamana gets his chance with some nicely written lines. I would also like to add that Malavika Mohanan has improved from her disaster which was Pattam Pole; even in a smaller role, she leaves a mark as the heroine even though romance is dead in this movie – the Vampire Bat acknowledges that she is very pretty. Prem Prakash gets a fine role which he manages with efficiency. Rizabawa, Saiju Kurup, Ashokan, Sanusha Santhosh, Lena Abhilash, Hemanth Menon, Shanker Ramakrishnan and a lot of others can be seen in smaller roles.

Soul exploration :: It is the early reluctance in treatment of this subject of relevance that makes the soul go weaker in this movie. Even when this movie gets lost in the meaningless family drama, there is the hope for that social drama which is expected to come at any moment. We are given a chance to look at what happen with our lives due to the politicians getting the special treatment, and the police as well as the administrative service allowing the same. When the rich and those in power gets special treatment, the common man has less value. The story of the movie focuses on the incdient when a girl dies because she couldn’t get medical care when needed, as a political leader’s procession block the city and causes a heavy traffic congestion. The core of the movie which comes around in the second half deals with how the common people get the verdict in their favour.

How it finishes :: Nirnaayakam‘s trailer was interesting, and it gave the feeling of a thriller coming up with something of high social relevance and leaving behind a message, but in a number of sites, it is mentioned as a family drama or even romance which twists its case. There is a lot of court-room drama promised in the trailer, but the action there is also limited, and the romantic side is like now you see it, and then you won’t. Caught between its confusion of the genres, Nirnaayakam does fail to focus on what was its strength of Brobdingnagian proportions, the social commentary – the perfect opportunity to gain the support of the normal audience who were to give this movie all the needed support on the very first day is not really used. But still, if you are judging a movie by its intentions, this one has the heart and soul at the right place.

Release date: 5th June 2015
Running time: 112 minutes
Directed by: VK Prakash
Starring: Asif Ali, Malavika Mohanan, Tisca Chopra, Nedumudi Venu, Adil Ibrahim, Prem Prakash, Sanusha Santhosh, Lena Abhilash, Sudheer Karamana, Hemanth Menon, Saiju Kurup, Ashokan, Anoop Chandran, Krishna Prabha, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Rizabawa

nirnaayakam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

God’s Own Cleetus

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I have taken the liberty to anglicize Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus into God’s Own Cleetus just like how Daivathinte Swantham Naadu becomes God’s Own Country. No, this is not that much of a lovable character to be baptised twice, but it is the effort of the actor behind the character and the way in which he has done justice to that character which makes Cleetus our own. Yes, you might find the world of this movie asking for a better treatment, but for a debutant director and the background which has been used, this is a very good recovery for a movie which didn’t impress the audience by its trailer nor with the brief storyline which was shared. Let me be clear about one thing; this movie could have gone either way, to the depths of abyss or to the heights of the lost paradise regained. If there is a question about where it stands at the moment, it is a long way from that abyss. Yes, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus has survived, and did use its survival instincts well enough to add on to that survival guide new stories of goodness and faith. If you don’t like this movie, that is still understandable, but it can never stoop low enough to deserve hatred, that is where this movie plays safe, and it is how this movie shall hold on to its audience during this Onam vacation.

It will be facing a tough competition from the most awaited movie of the Onam, Dileep’s Sringaravelan, a possible surprise in the form of Indrajith Sukumaran’s Ezhamathe Varavu, and an interest-seeking Fahadh flick North 24 Kaatham, as we leave D Company out of that list. The Hollywood’s challenge in the form of Grown Ups 2 has self-destructed, and Bollywood’s John Day along with Horror Story are too much limited in shows with an adult-rated Grand Masti not to be an Onam favourite for sure. With pretty much a good competition in store, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus might not be expected to do that good, but the verdict for the other Malayalam movies are not really out yet. Why would we still need movies like this to survive? Because it has tried its luck in an unfamiliar territory even if the fuel is a familiar one. It has a little bit of Chamayam, Pranchiyettan and The Saint and Amen in it, hidden well, but not from the eyes of experienced movie watchers. But, has the movie relentlessly tried to dig these movies out? The answer is no. There is nothing in common as a whole, and our movie has successfully brought out a legacy of its own, not from the ashes, but out of the most valuable sparks which could give rise to a phoenix.

The story tells the story of Cleetus (Mammootty), a feared criminal who causes problems wherever he goes. He is an alcoholic and always ready to do anything for money. As a parish priest Sunny Vadakkumthala (Siddique) chooses him to act as Jesus Christ in a drama as part of a church programme without knowing his true identity, something he does after rejecting a lot of people, chaos breaks loose among the theatre artists. The priest decides to persist with him and his sidekick (Aju Varghese) despite knowing his true identity, in the belief that the experience of being a character such as Jesus Christ might reform him, thus taking a huge risk considering the massive show which is going to happen and the audience expected. If Cleetus changes or makes the people around him change, whether the drama happens or Cleetus makes a clear mess out of it is left to be seen. Will Jesus Christ’s life change Cleetus or will his life change the fate of the drama in a horrible way? The movie answers the question very late, as every time, he would seem to get a little better, the world around him changes needing him to make those adjustments he is not used to make.

The whole movie undoubtedly rests on Mammootty, and as once again he rises to occasion, it is a treat to all the fans and neutral audience alike. No, Cleetus is not Immanuel, Kunjananthan, Bavutty or Mathukkutty, for he is a gunda, and he is surely nowhere near Pranchiyettan. A long list of characters of goodness is teared apart here, as our protagonist starts as the sinner who is not even set on the path to redemption. Unlike the others, Cleetus is a man who rises and takes the chalice of goodness, finishing it with relative ease. There is no denying that the image gets some self-imposed backlashes, but nothing that will not contribute to Cleetus being more and more human, with the shades of grey rather than pitch black – after all who can deny some mood-swings? Do we love Cleetus? The answer would be no. But he gets as close to being lovable as possible for a man seeking redemption, and he seemed to have attained some of it by the end. He comes that far by keeping himself far away from a superhuman image which could come across this time, even as there is no denying the fact that our protagonist beats up a lot of people, something which was expected right from the beginning.

Even as the movie belongs to Mammootty in an undisputed manner, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Thesni Khan handles the humour department quite effectively. Suraj remains the strong link of humour in this flick. Rejith Menon has made his presence felt, as the one and only Romeo character in the movie. Honey Rose is very good in her role, and it a matured character that we see this time. Sanam Shetty has that beautiful presence, something which she carries over from what we saw in Cinema Company, that grace and beauty which was talked about as that of a Greek goddess in that movie; for there is no denying who is the Aphrodite as well as the Juliet in this movie. Vijayaraghavan leaves a mark as one of the villain characters, and so does Kailash. Siddique was at his best, doing a character which he seemed to perfect. It is impossible to keep him out of this world where he once again does a fantastic job. There is a tremendous energy in his character, and also that much needed serenity, the two things which seemed to suit each other very well. One of our favourite comedy stars on television, Ullas Pandalam also makes good mark in the movie.

So, can the worst of people change and go back to God? Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus shows us that all hope is not lost. As the character goes through playing the life of Jesus Christ, his attitude towards life changes too, as a lot of the events in the life of Christ seems to be reflecting in his own world in a small and slightly similar manner. We have a man who has no previous acting experience, like Manoj K. Jayan in Chamayam. No, I am not really comparing, for that one would make it to my all-time favourite list, or may be more than one list. As that monologue in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts” – here Cleetus plays one, and plays it fine and it replaces his real life as his new role, and it didn’t just go away as one of the parts which he played, as it stayed on with him. It is “Quod fere totus mundus exerceat histrionem” (Because almost the whole world are actors) as Petronius is supposed to have given us. Some of us live our part and others play our roles, and in both cases, the path is similar and leading to the same destination.

Well, we know that it is never late to turn to God. It is the faith, belief and hope that is supposed to guide us rather than materialism. Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus comes up with a great spectacle of divinity by the end, something which is comparable to Amen’s final battle of music, even as this one is less about music and more about the scenes. Is there a hidden magic realism in it? Does it have the magic touch of Pranchiyettan and The Saint helping the movie on moving forward? These are questions which can have more than one answers. But for now, this movie has done its part, but not living upto its potential. The life of Cleetus and his transformation could have been a lot more interesting. It was so close to achieving that balance that a little Icarus-sun battle might have brought it closer to its current rating. It is still your choice if you are to choose one man, who is both the saint and the sinner, saviour and the punisher, redeemer and the destroyer, moving from the path of evil to the way of goodness paved by angels and showered by blessings. This is another Pilgrim’s Progress from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The destiny of Cleetus now stands in the hands of the viewers, and its final fate is yet to be decided.

Release date: 12th September 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Marthandan
Starring: Mammootty, Honey Rose, Aju Varghese, Sanam Shetty, Rejith Menon, Kailash, Siddique, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Thesni Khan, Vinayakan, Vijayaraghavan, Anoop Chandran, P. Balachandran, Ullas Pandalam

cleetu copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.