Aanakkallan

What is the movie about? :: The central character of the movie is Pavithran (Biju Menon) who is a man spending his time in prison for committing robbery in a palace and museum. But his life gets better when a skeleton is found in the palace while the place was undergoing renovation. It is found out that the skeleton is almost as old as the time when the person was committing the robbery at the place. The police figures out that he could be either the suspect or the witness, and Pavithran agrees to the fact that he witnessed the murder taking place, and the killer getting rid of the body. As he assures them that he can recognize the killer, the police officers in charge KV Esthappan (Siddique) and Rajendra Babu (Suresh Krishna) decides to get him a parol. With a special permission from their superior officer Alex T Kuruvilla (Shivaji Guruvayoor), they make a master plan.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This master plan involves taking Pavithran to Esthappan’s wife house, from where he eloped with his wife Nancy Palakkal (Sarayu) a long time ago. By returning there, they would get a chance to stay close to Anandapuram Palace where the body was found. Pavithran would be forced to stay in the house as Esthappan’s friend who is a rich businessman from Palai. Despite their doubts, the parents of Nancy, Thomachan Palakkal (Sai Kumar) and Kochu Tresia (Bindu Panicker) welcomes them home. From there, a series of confusing events occur related to their lives. There are secrets to be revealed and mysteries to be solved, about Pavithran’s past, and that particular night on which the murder is supposed to have taken place. But as someone who is in prison for robbery and cheating, can Pavithran be trusted to help the police well enough?

The defence of Aanakkallan :: Being a movie which has a certain amount of confusion in itself, Aanakkallan can use some defence in its favour. There is no doubt about the fact that the movie begins well, and even before Biju Menon makes his entry, the beginning is set. The idea is good here, with an attempt made to solve a mystery regarding a skeleton found in a palace – to solve the case, a thief is needed too, and that man has a strange past. Well, this could have surely developed into something bigger as there is no shortage of content, and the fun is always there to be added. We remember how well Biju Menon added to the same in Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu. The funny side gets some regular contributions even when there are those problems of repetitions as well as the confusions.

The claws of flaw :: There is much that one would expect from a movie like Aanakkallan with Biju Menon in the lead, as people will have their own idea about how it would turn out to be. But the movie struggles to do the same, to meet the expectations. There are moments when the movie keeps making us feel the drag, as it goes above two and half hours, without that much of a content to boast about. The songs are all bad, and unnecessary – all of them seem to drag this piece of work towards that eternity, and most of the viewers won’t appreciate the same. There is so much of repetition here, not just with the old jokes, but also with the same kind of jokes used within the movie. The first and the second parts seem to be confused in where the movie is heading, and the long flashback in the second half is the worst part. The predictability factor is also very high.

The performers of the soul :: Biju Menon was supposed to be the one person who could hold the parts together, and one surely can’t doubt his ability in doing that – the movie surely depends on him a lot. He seems to find things easy here, as no surprises are added here in any department. Hareesh Perumanna and Dharmajan nicely contributes to the comedy at the same time, and Sudheer Karamana also joins in. But it is to be noted that none of these performers are used in a way that evokes that kind of fun to be remembered for long – there were opportunities present. Dharmajan’s Baahubali moment stands out, and Hareesh with his counters keep the movie on a better path. Suraaj Venjarammoodu once again has a rather serious role to perform here, and he has no problems in getting into this character of a thief.

Further performers of the soul :: The main female characters in this movie, Shamna Kasim, Sarayu and Anusree fail to have much to do. While Shamna Kasim’s role is more or less about being the fairest of them all, the other two are given even lesser work to do. It strange that we can’t have more. Siddique plays the police officer with ease, as he has the second most important character related to this one. Suresh Krishna does leave an impact with his funny police role here, being divergent from the serious one he played in Abrahaminte Santhathikal. Indrans is also here with an interesting character, even though limited in scope. Bala and Kailash are also there, contributing nicely to the story. But the focus, as we all know is on one person, and it is no surprise at all.

How it finishes :: The movie doesn’t go on to become a Vellimoonga, and it doesn’t even go on to become a Swarna Kaduva. This one is rather closer to Sherlock Toms which was a half-baked movie unable to stay within any genre, or do justice to at least one of them well enough. The director’s previous movie was Ivan Maryadaraman, and in comparison to that, this flick is surely an improvement. But the question would remain if that much is enough. The fact that there is still the use of the same kind of strange stereotypes and cliches after so many years and movies of attempts, doesn’t leave a true movie lover a happy one. But Aanakkallan does serve to waste some time for a lazy weekend, and this particular weekend is indeed one. There is just Kayamkulam Kochunni to make you think otherwise.

Release date: 18th October 2018
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: Suresh Divakar
Starring: Biju Menon, Siddique, Suraaj Venjarammoodu , Shamna Kasim , Anusree, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sudheer Karamana, Suresh Krishna, Hareesh Perumanna, Bindu Panicker, Saikumar, Sarayu, Bala, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Indrans, Kailash

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Panchavarnathatha

What is the movie about? :: A nameless man (Jayaram) is a mystery to many, as he owns pets ranging from cats, dogs and parrots to camels, horses, donkeys and elephants. He speaks and acts in strange ways, leading to most people of his neighbourhood belonging to upper middle class family not liking his presence in a plot right between their homes. Most of his collection of birds and animals are leftovers of a circus which had recently ceased to exist. He takes special care of his animals and birds, and sells them only to those people whom he finds fit to give them the best lives. Along with living with these creatures, he also has small real estate business and other small part-time jobs. Even though he might seem tough for people who never knew him, he is more than that, with no hesitation in helping others in need, having special love for children, as he is an orphan who never knew his father and mother.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, Kalesh (Kunchacko Boban) is the MLA of the place, who was elected earlier because his father, the former MLA had died, leaving a wave of sympathy among the common people. Despite his father being a man loved by many people, Kalesh couldn’t do much for those who elected him, and is living in a mansion of his friend, Nazir (Joju George) with his wife Chitra (Anusree) and a complaining mother (Mallika Sukumaran), who blames him being not anywhere close to his father as a politician or a social worker. With his father’s former aid Udayan (Ashokan), Kalesh hopes to claim all the glory in style with a win in the upcoming elections. His opponent for this election is Jimmy (Salim Kumar), who hopes to reclaim the consituency for his party after a long time, in one way or the other.

And what is follow with the events? :: The journeys of the two, the unnamed man and Kalesh meets when the people of the neighbourhood tries to have the animal and bird lover evicted. Kalesh is the person whom they see to accomplish that aim. But not everyone thinks about him in the same way, as the the local police officer KO Rangan (Prem Kumar) himself finds the animals and birds interesting. Things get further complicated when Kalesh is forced to give the man some space in his home because of certain twist of events. With all creatures following him, Kalesh and his family might have taken in more than what they could have. Now, questions remain about the future of the animals and birds, as well as the political career of Kalesh. Can things get better in their lives, or is this strange combination going to ruin everything?

The defence of Panchavarnathatha :: There is some good comedy followed by a fine emotional end in this flick, which is never short of being interesting for the family audience. Along with the same, there is a good message being provided here, about doing good for the others, not just to humans, but also to the animals and birds. With its everyman characters, we feel the need to attach ourselves to it, rather than some random fan movie which has fan-centered life which is not applicable to the common man who think about their families and society rather than any random superstar. The songs are just okay. Ramesh Pisharody’s first attempt at direction surely feels better and closer to heart than those movies celebrated in the name of common man like Amar Akbar Anthony and Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan. There is enough in Panchavarnathatha for most people, and the others are having problems which are surely not visible on the big screen. Some incidents in real life are also reflected here.

The claws of flaw :: There is one person whom we miss on the screen, and it is Ramesh Pisharody himself who has directed the movie, but never appears as an actor. Some of the comedy also misses out, and we feel that this kind of an idea could have had even better treatment, maybe closer to daily life’s incidents, or in a way that it goes beyond the self-inflicted restrictions – you feel the strength of the idea within this one, and the need to have more. It could have been a complete social satire, but that choice is not made even though there is politics with the ugly sides, and people within a society that has its own stranger sides. The movie is also a little too long as it deals with its content, which had to be dealt with better to go for such a long run. Also, these many animals were not needed, as it doesn’t help to take things seriously. There could have been a fine background story for the main character too.

The performers of the soul :: Jayaram is here with a different avatar, and after this year’s disaster of a movie Daivame Kaithozham K Kumar Akanam which competed with Queen to become the worst movie of 2018, he has redeemed up to an extent with this role. There is the absence of those big dialogues with this one, and the character serves with the divergence that was needed. Kunchacko Boban has this character under full control, and Anusree seems to be rightly suited for this role, as she goes natural with the performance. Mallika Sukumaran also contributes well on the usual lines. Dharmajan Bolgatty arrives later, but contributes well to the fun; before that there was Salim Kumar doing the same. Prem Kumar also brings some good contribution for the comic side, and Ashokan is there for the whole length of the movie. Joju George then brings a little more later.

How it finishes :: Panchavarnathatha is the one underrated movie of this Vishu – it seems to have managed less attention than Jayaram’s earlier lesser movies including Daivame Kaithozham K Kumar Akanam and Kunchacko Boban’s Kuttanadan Marpappa, which is rather strange. This one is surely better than Mohanlal which released with Panchavarnathatha gaining more attention, as the comedy is cent percent better working, and has characters that will appeal to us rather than some random fan girl who never really deserved to be taken seriously, as she went on to become a curse for everyone around here. We all need everyman characters, and Panchavarnathatha has something that touches the emotions along with the comic side, rather than becoming a pretender like many other movies; any kind of different uprising is always required among similar movies.

Release date: 14th April 2018
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Ramesh Pisharody
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Jayaram, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Anusree, Ashokan, Salim Kumar, Maniyanpilla Raju, Joju George, Prem Kumar, Mallika Sukumaran, Dini Daniel, Tini Tom, Seema G Nair, Kunchan

@ Cemetery Watch
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Aadhi

What is the movie about? :: Aadhitya Mohan a.k.a. Aadhi (Pranav Mohanlal) is the only son of Mohan Varma (Siddique) and Rosakutty Mohan (Lena) who eloped from home, going for that intercaste marriage which nobody supported. As their only son, he manages to gain all the support that he can get from the parents, as he has taken two years break from studies and work to pursue his dream of becoming a music director. A case of infatuation for the girl next door Aneetta (Krittika Pradeep) and trained in the obstacle course training of parkour, there are so many other options for him in life, and yet he wishes for just one thing in life. But it doesn’t go on well, as his efforts in music go unnoticed. Because of the same reason, he decides to go to Bangalore as adviced by his best friend Nadhir (Krishna Shankar). There, he is supposed to perform in Fox Club, where will get the attention of prominent personalities from cinema industry.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Even though almost everything seems to work according to the plans, things get complicated when he meets his old friend from school, Anjana (Aditi Ravi), and ends up having a confrontation with Jayashankar (Siju Wilson) who is the bodyguard of the city’s most respected and feared businessman Narayana Reddy (Jagapati Babu). In between all of this which occurs at the top of the multi-storeyed building, the son of Narayana Reddy ends up being thrown all the way down, thanks to one heated approach by Jayashankar – Anjana is the only witness out there. Now, it turns out that Jayashankar has to hide all of these, and for the same, there is only one option left for him – finish off Aadhi, and for the same, there is full force of an angry Narayana Reddy as well as the police and politicians who are on the corporate payroll.

And what follows next in the adventure? :: With Narayana Reddy stopping at nothing to finish off the young man who killed his only son, and along with Jayakrishnan, Reddy’s right hand Siddharthan (Tony Luke) also joins the party – Aadhi can do nothing, but keep running. The goons sent by Reddy also reaches Aadhi’s home, and every route out of Bangalore is blocked by the police and his teams of goons. With five lakhs on his head, there is the need to run until he meets Sarath (Sharafudheen), Mani (Meghanathan) and Jaya (Anusree). The three also got their own problems with Narayana Reddy and his people, which makes them think about giving him a chance to escape. With the help of the technical expert Ebin (Tony Luke), they think about changing the equation, but is there really a chance to at least get close to escaping? Is there a weakness which they can exploit?

The defence of Aadhi :: There is the use of parkour, the activity in which you move around quickly in an area, getting through obstacles by running fast, jumping, climbing, rolling, swinging, sliding, and all ways possible – most of us have seen it in Paul Walker’s penultimate movie, Brick Mansions as well as the 2004 French film District 13 on which it was based. These scenes are very nicely executed by Pranav, and the same is never exaggerated. There is certain smartness related to how the action sequences are executed in this one, a quality which was missing in a good number of superstar movies in the last few months, most notable one being last Decemeber’s Masterpiece. There are many thrilling moments in this one, and the emotional side makes an excellent impact too. We also have some twists to come up in the final few moments, as there is more to Aadhi by the end. There are also some funny moments which come in between, which work, even though lesser in number.

The claws of flaw :: There is nothing special in the premise and the tale here though, as we can see that there is the protagonist who accidentally kills the son or brother of an influential person who will not stop until he finds the person responsible dead – this would seem familiar, from decades ago. The same actor played the father who had his son killed in Pulimurugan, and here he losses his son yet again. One can be sure that Jeethu Joseph is capable of more, as the director who brought three different thriller experiences in the form of Detective, Memories and Drishyam. The movie also takes some time to get going, and the family sequences are just ordinary. The cameo scenes seemed to be rather unwanted, with purpose only to get those claps from hardcore fans. The length of the movie could have been lessened to make the whole thing closer to the point. Some of those longer action sequences could have been shortened to make way for separate moments.

The performers of the soul :: Pranav Mohanlal, without doubt, steals the show in this movie, from the first moments of appearance itself, beginning with those expressions and a certain simplicity that runs through. In the second half, with those action sequences to go with it, he takes the whole thing to another level, trumpeting his arrival in a grand fashion. The wait hasn’t been for no reason, as we get the culmination wonderfully. Aditi Ravi and Anusree plays the female leads, but the former has lesser time on screen, and latter has more of the comic side which also has nothing that much to do for her. It is actually surprising that we don’t see that much of the Alamara actress in movies as we would want to have. Lena and Siddique makes good parents, and are in full control of their work with strong emotional side. Sharafudheen has a funny side here too, even though things are more serious this time. Siju Wilson, Sijoy Varghese and Jagapati Babu make the villainous side here, and they remain strong throughout. Siju’s divergence is a smart move. Meghanathan and Tony Luke provide good support.

How it finishes :: The one thing about the Jeethu Joseph movies after Memories, is something which has been common in Drishyam, Oozham and Aadhi – the battle of the middle class against the rich and the influential who are after the blood of the common man. Even Life of Josutty had the middle class struggle in the core. The three could show the middle class struggling and winning against all odds in the form of thrillers. Well, everyone knows Drishyam, and Aadhi actually shows what Oozham could have been, with better execution. With no shortage of thrills, and bringing the needed variety in action sequences in Malayalam, the twists also drop-in to make this better. Well, fans have been waiting for a day this day for a long time, and one can say that their beloeved Lalettan’s son has scored high on his debut, and this is certainly another flick from Jeethu Joseph that you can admire without second thoughts.

Release date: 26th January 2018
Running time: 158 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Pranav Mohanlal, Lena, Siddique, Siju Wilson, Sharafudheen, Aditi Ravi, Anusree, Tony Luke, Sijoy Varghese, Krittika Pradeep, Meghanathan, Jagapati Babu, Krishna Shankar, Mohanlal (cameo), Antony Perumbavoor (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho

kochavvapauloayyappacoelho

Vampire Owl: This is one long list of people. I know some of them, I think.

Vampire Bat: You know Paulo Coelho for sure.

Vampire Owl: Yes, he is a much talked about figure in the New Vampire World.

Vampire Bat: The Alchemist and The Pilgrimage – you know them.

Vampire Owl: I know more than that, and I shall read more of it.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that your reading habit is coming back.

Vampire Owl: So, how is he related to this movie?

Vampire Bat: It is for us to find out by investigating while watching this movie.

Vampire Owl: It is one title of a movie that is sure to catch your attention too.

Vampire Bat: Yes, even we wonder what it is about, and the curiosity catches the audience.

[Gets three cups of tea with banana chips].

What is the movie about? :: Ayyappa Das (Rudraksh Sudheesh) is a kid who has always had the dream to travel in an airplane. He has been growing up thinking about nothing other than this one thing, and almost everybody in the village knows that. There is one toy that he always has with him, and that is a tiny model of an airplane. He and his best friend, his cousin sister Ambily (Abeni Aadhi) spends their time hoping to find him a chance, by praying to different dieties. He had two chances to go in the plane though, the first one spoiled by a disease, and the second one when his father died, having taken visa and paid for the airline tickets in both cases. With his father dead, his chances for traveling in an airplane seems to have reached a new low, but he still believes that there is some chance here or there and is not ready to give up.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: The other significant character in this movie is Kochavva, whose real name is Ajayakumar (Kunchako Boban). He is a very helpful person, and is loved by almost everyone in the village. A man known for his good heart and the intense desire to help people in need, everyone calls him by the name Kochavva, no matter they are older or younger to him. Having given up his love Anju (Anusree) due to the goodness in his heart, he is the man who is now going to help Ayappa Das in getting closer to his dream. One day, while teaching children swimming, Kochavva tells everyone about how significant swimming is, and how it can help one to achieve more, along with doing it as an exercise. Ayappa Das sees it as an opportunity to travel in an airplane by going for competitions outside Kerala.

So how is the dream to be achieved? :: The problem is that Ayappa Das is afraid of water, and it is not just some fear – it goes deeper. When almost every kid in the village was taught swimming by Kochavva, he had always stayed away – he has often felt water as death. The movie goes on to bring to its viewers on how the boy managed to overcome his fear of water, and how Kochavva uses the quote from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist – “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” to make him believe in himself, and also in the rest of the people around him. With his dream of traveling in an airplane on the line, can Ayyappa Das finally become the person that he and Kochavva want him to be? Is it possible for him to finally achieve that one thing which seemed to be not happening as everything in the universe earlier seemed to conspiring against him?

The defence of Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho :: With the whole tale based on and hoping to thrive on Paulo Coelho’s popular and best known quote from The Alchemist, there was something inspirational coming up for sure, and it could be seen from a long distance – it is the same that is delivered here, with the protagonist’s hope to achieve his biggest dream, but at the same time, there is the assertion on goodness which is in keeping one’s dreams as second priority for the sake of others. The village setting nicely supports the whole thing, and with a certain light-hearted momentum, this one manages to move towards becoming that motivational movie which is expected. “Neelakkannulla Maane” is an amazing song, which might be the best of the year so far. Everyone needs an inspirational movie, and when it is based on dreams, the feel-good effect only gets better, and surely there is more approval for such an idea.

Claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t have a full flow if we look at it, and it does drag at parts. There is also that ending which could have been something bigger, but it is not. We could have had the effect of many other motivational movies like Mili, Rani Padmini and Su Sudhi Vathmeekam, but that didn’t happen here. There are points when the pace comes down, which shouldn’t have been the case. There is no shortage of inspirational movies in Malayalam, and so this could have done better to keep itself strong, but it has managed to be surely better than the partially inspirational movies from Bollywood like Dear Zindagi which cares only about the new generation richer class minority who moans for no valid reason. The amount of humour is also a little too less considering the scope which was there – with Suraj Venjaramood and Aju Varghese there, one has to wonder why the funny lines were kind of hard to come by. The final cameos were not needed either.

How it finishes :: As Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho marks the return of Udaya Pictures which was the first ever movie production company in Malayalam cinema, this one is also the seventy fifth movie of Kunchako Boban who has brought his legacy strongly. He is very good here, playing a role in which seems to be very comfortable – it is a simple role, with the protagonist driven by the simple need to help others as Fahadh Faasil’s character was driven by the simple need for revenge in Maheshinte Prathikaram. In the movie, it is the kid, Rudraksh who steals the show though. With some funny moments here and there from Suraj Venjaramood and Aju Varghese not being used to the best effect, this is one movie which thrives on the feel-good factor and positive messages, for which one should feel the need to watch Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. This is where you see intelligence in simplicity.

Release date: 9th September 2016
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Sidhartha Siva
Starring: Kunchako Boban, Anusree, Rudraksh Sudheesh, Suraj Venjaramood, Aju Varghese, Nedumudi Venu, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Abeni Aadhi, Muthumani, Mukesh, Sudheesh, Irshad, Musthafa, Maniyanpilla Raju, Mithun Ramesh, Biju Menon (cameo), Parvathy Ratheesh (cameo)

kochavvapauloayyappacoelhoo

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Oppam

oppamm

What is it about? :: Jayaraman (Mohanlal) is a blind man who works as a lift operator and attender at an eleven-storeyed apartment right in the middle of the city. He hails from a huge family, but is in debt right now as he has to pay twenty five lakhs for his friend Bappootty (Siddique) who was supposed to provide the amount to the money lender and is currently in the Middle East. He is struggling to make enough money for the wedding ceremony of his sister, which is to happen soon. Even though he is blind, he possesses a better sense of smell, hearing and touch which he uses to his advantage whenever there is the need. His good friends are Veeran (Harish K.R) and Kunju Mohammed (Mammookoya) as well as Devayani (Vimala Raman) who also work there. Whenever there is a need, Jayaraman is there, and he is that readily available helping hand for everyone.

So what happens next? :: A retired chief justice, Krishnamoorthy (Nedumudi Venu), also lives in the same apartment, and Jayaraman is his best friend and aid, as there are secrets concerning his past, and there are problems haunting him. Devayarani is in trouble with her former husband, a police officer named Madhu (Kalabhavan Shajohn) with whom Jayaraman also locks horns. One day, when Krishnamoorthy is killed, things go out of control. Jayaraman becomes the prime suspect, and the police officers in charge, Padmakumar (Renji Panicker) and Anandhan (Chemban Vinod Jose) refuses to believe in his claims of innocence, and Madhu makes things only worse. Only Ganga (Anusree), the police officer who knew him earlier, believes him. With the murderer right behind him like a shadow, will Jayaraman be able to prove his innocence? Can he face the man who seems to be a psychopath, all alone?

The defence of Oppam :: There are many moments of interest, and a lot of thrills in store with this movie which won against its competitor Oozham which released on the same day. The final moments, despite strangely set, are well executed, and the movie finishes with a certain amount cuteness and feel-good factor in store. The beginning was also well done without the unnecessary introductions, and we are taken into the whole thing in a simple and effective manner. The visuals are very good throughout the run, and Mohanlal and Samuthirakani when they are together, make a nice combination against each other. Mamukkoya has some of the nicer moments of fun in this movie which has a certain amount of comic side which is just there for some relief. Chemban Vinod Jose also has some moments of fun, and the emotional side of this movie can also be termed as strong.

The claws of flaw :: One has to say that the movie is too long, and that feeling is due to the present of too many unnecessary songs, and none of them really makes an impact either – the Punjabi wedding song might be the one that works the least. There are also too many missing points here and there in this story, and the opportunity to come up with a better movie goes missing here. There are too many things here that comes as repetitive elements; the twist concerning the child and the killer is too predictable, and the police is also made rather useless – or rather so stubborn that one is made to wonder that these people are the most remorseless and brainless officers ever to be in a Malayalam movie. The final moments are also strange, as they try to be safe where it was never meant to be safe, and with the same, risk more lives. There were surely better ways to handle the whole thing!

Performers of the soul :: As expected, and without doubt, Mohanlal is the one who lifts this movie to the next level, and hides its problems with ease, as he plays the role with no trouble at all. There are those moments involving him and Samuthirakani that stands apart. Along with him being the blind character, it is our villain that also brings things in order. Last seen in Karinkunnam 6s in this part of the world, Samuthirakani brings all the strength that is needed in a villain like this. He is only let down on a number of occasions due to the predictability that creeps in and threatens to make this villain another ordinary creature of random hate, as the opportunity to become one terrifying psycho killer is lost at too many occasions. But he rises above the problems related to his character in this tale, and brings the menace to the big screen, making things more interesting.

Further performers of the soul :: Anusree is very good at this police role. Vimala Raman is kind of misfit as the maid here, even though we are glad that we are seeing her here again after a long time and looking good. Nedumudi Venu’s role is the kind which we see often from him, and he does that with ease. Baby Meenakshi is really good here, and surely better than how it was with Amar Akbar Anthony. Renji Panicker in the police role is surprisingly not that much used here, and Kalabhavan Shajohn just gets another opportunity to beat another character played by Mohanlal after Drishyam. Mamukkoya creates some funny moments with Harish K.R and Chemban Vinod Jose has a few of them too. Aju Varghese has kind of a smaller role of the viewers’ liking though, and Innocent is also there for only a few shots. In the end, we do wish that this movie was just not like too many other movies of the same kind – there are too many characters with less to do, and a little too much of predictability at times too.

How it finishes :: It has been a long time since we saw the best of Priyadarshan, and also the combination of him and Mohanlal, even though I didn’t think that Geethanjali was that bad a movie as it was projected by the critics and the audience. Well, one can safely say that he is back in form with this one. With Pulimurugan already there and running with full strength in the theatres, Mohanlal makes a magnificent push forward, the biggest since the critically acclaimed and heavily remake-spawning flick which was Drishyam. With two of his flicks staying heavy in multiplexes and attracting the audience in the local theatres too, one can be sure that there won’t be many movies coming up with challenge, except for Aanandam, which seems to be the one other movie which is making it big. Even in the Pulimurugan rush, Oppam is another movie that needs your attention; so if you have missed it, get to where it is still playing!

Release date: 8th September 2016
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Priyadarshan
Starring: Mohanlal, Samuthirakani, Anusree, Vimala Raman, Nedumudi Venu, Baby Meenakshi, Renji Panicker, Chemban Vinod Jose, Mamukkoya, Harish K.R, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Kunchan, Idavela Babu, Aju Varghese, Manikuttan, Arjun Nandhakumar, Innocent, Kalasala Babu, Pradeep Chandran, Anjali Aneesh, Bineesh Kodiyeri, Devshi Khanduri, Sona Heiden, Arun Benny, Balaji Sharma, Poojappura Radhakrishnan, Sreelatha Namboothiri, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Bindu Murali, Suchitra Pillai-Malik, Siddique (cameo), Antony Perumbavoor (cameo)

oppam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Diamond Necklace

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As they say in the movie Neram, there are two types of time, the good time and the bad time, and the good time of Fahadh Faasil had started from Chaappa Kurishu, with no disasters at the box office moving on to Immanuel. I didn’t really like what came later though, but as we know already, another thing about our versatile actor is that we can often identify his career with the quote from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities too; “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and I would identify the same with his other movies, Annayum Rasoolum and Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla. Yes, Diamond Necklace was part of the good time, or the best of times, and it was the best from Lal Jose, no real doubt about that unless you bring Achanurangatha Veedu, Classmates or Arabikkatha into the picture with a handful of logic. Does any of these movies have this simple a plot set in too simple a world, and still come up with such an intriguing situation on screen? No, they were movies of incidents, revolving around one major incident or decision which set the events running while Diamond Necklace belongs to everyday life, and a collection of life; its celebration as the worlds of ups and downs which flows through our life, supported by beautiful songs, “Nilamalare”, “Thottu Thottu” and “Nenjinullil”.

Arun Kumar (Fahadh Faasil) is a docor who lives in Dubai and leads a life of luxury, supported by his wallet full of credit cards. He has no regret about the past or worries about the future, as he lives in the present, spending money lavishly with nobody to stop him from doing the same. His friends belong to higher league, and he shares apartment with his friend in the tallest buildig in the middle east and the world, Burj Khalifa. Savithri (Rohini), his boss in the hospital also seems to spoil him with her sisterly affection, but she is also unaware of how much of a debt Arun is putting himself into. He has acquaintances with labourers from Kerala, especially Venu (Sreenivasan) whom he tries to avoid in his stylish, high quality life which has no place for the lesser people of lower social status, even as he is still friendly with all on the outside. Driving the latest cars and enjoying life to the maximum, he meets Lakshmi(Gauthami Nair), a newly recruited Tamil nurse in his department. She is the first girl to whom he is seriously attracted. She had come to the middle east with a dream of making enough money for building a hospital in their village, so that no more people have to die there for having no facilities or money. Arun is impressed by her wits, attitude and dedication towards work.

Even as their relation blossoms, his chances of going through with it receives a serious blow, as he runs out of money and his car is towed away by the creditors. He is left with no way to go home and see his sick mother as the credits keep him in the country. He is helped by an influential man, Narayana Menon (Maniyanpilla Raju) who makes it possible for him to go back to Kerala, but at the same time, he is tricked into marriage with Narayanan’s niece, Rajasree (Anusree) who is a simple village girl who has absolutely no clue about city life nor life outside Kerala. Even as they are thought to be a rich family, Rajasree’s world is later known to be a small and simple one, not enough to pay back even a percent of Arun’s credits. When he comes back to Dubai, he is left with no place to stay, and as he doesn’t have enough advance to pay for any place, he stays in the labor camp with Venu. Lakshmi who comes to know about his marriage, ends their relationship and refuses to talk to him. Maya (Samvrutha Sunil), a relative of Savithri, is a fashion designer who was diagnosed with cancer, with a wish to start a boutique in Dubai. Her fiancee had left her due to her illness which had left her highly depressed. Arun ends up sharing her apartment and becomes very close to her.

Later, when she sees Rajasree with him, she is shocked as she didn’t know that he was married, and is admitted in the hospital. It leaves Savithri with lesser affection towards him. As he gathers her possessions, he notices a diamond necklace that she keeps with her, something which can save him from his problems. He decides to replace it with a fake one and does the same successfully. This is where the whole situation revolving around a necklace arises, as his wife finds the original necklace and wears it thinking that it is a birthday gift from him. Meanwhile, Maya almost dies due to an overdose of medicine. He is unable to get the necklace back from his wife who has shown the same to almost everyone including her foul-mouthed relatives of vanity. He often feels that he should return it to Maya and he can’t, and neither can he sell it. Caught between the worlds of greed, remorse and helpless, the only people who are with him consists of the simple labourers whom he once avoided. So, the plot still revolves around the ladies in his life, and how Arun comes out of this problem, not with any deus ex machina or a huge twist of fate, but rather with the simple things being the result of everyday happenings and common feelings makes the whole of the story. The artificial stuff has been kept out for good.

So, here is Fahadh Faasil showing his abilities as a versatile actor, moving away from the new generation trends of Chaappa Kurishu and 22 Female Kottayam, but coming up strong as an energetic youth who symbolizes the common young man of the century, with the usual attitude of “I will drink Life to the lees” which was said by the protagonist, the Ithacan king and the Greek hero, in the poem titled with his own name, Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. That suspected hedonism in the face of our inescapable mortality found in The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the Edward FitzGerald translation, going back to the eleventh and the twelfth centuries has found ever increasing rhythm in this generation, but without the octopus hand of death and the ultimate end. “Carpe diem” as they can still say, from our own most mentioned ancient poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known to most of us as Horace – “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the next day”, an idea which has developed into a liefstyle with loose morals leading to a life of unimaginable pleasure among the new generation. Epicureanism has made a more powerful entry to the new world, and as a kind of hedonism finding pleasure as the only intrinsic good, there is a new environment which is powerful and fast spreading. These, as I have already mentioned in my review of Spring Breakers, symbolizes the character Fahadh is playing in this movie.

But what does this hedonism, the power of “Carpe diem” bring to him? Does this help him to seize the day? Yes it does, but those days become long gone. I agree to the fact that we are all kind of hedonists in one way or the other, varying only in the degree. But considering the current world and the environment to which we are exposed, something which stays within the limits can rarely be interpreted as hedonism. But our protagonist belongs to the higher degree of “Carpe diem” as he puts as little trust as possible in the next day, as a man who is exposed to all the luxuries of the magical world of the city of Dubai, powered by oil, and highly influenced by modernity and science rather than antiquity, history or literature. For a man who comes the humble backgrounds of a small village, this might have been a big moment for him, being in Dubai and earning so much. It is evident in his relations with the labourers whom he consider as lesser people. But soon he realizes that they are the ones who are there to help him without asking anything in return, and it is his time to live like a common man rather than a hedonist, and live his life of responsibilities. Such a realization is supported by a beautiful ending which makes sure that his world remains one of beauty and goodness rather than crookedness and money. The movie itself is a message against irresponsible hedonism, and a support for unconditional love, responsibility and equality.

Once again, Fahadh Faasil is the man to watch out for, and I guess there is not much need to talk about the same, as it nothing unexpected. Samvrutha Sunil has a powerful role and she has done it with lots of life. Gauthami Nair makes a strong impact as the determined, powerful character. Anusree’s role is worth a lot of acclaim, and the funny moments come from her character’s stupidity, and still the goodness and love that the character exhibits makes this one quite a beautiful portrayal. Rohini and Sreenivasan have to play the roles of two seniors in the life of the protagonist who lends him advice and helping hand, and they form the world of light and goodness in his life. Diamond Necklace relates to its viewer with its tenderness and its high dose of objective correlative; with a reigning simplicity and reflections of the common incidents and random life events. It is the Malayalam movie of the year 2012, no matter how much anybody tries to prove that it isn’t. Also look out for the cinematography by Sameer Thahir; about our director Lal Jose, there is nothing more to say other than making a call to watch the movie. This was a movie which came into the theatres, disappeared, and came back again; such is awesomeness of this movie, even as only a few people recognized it during its first run, and myself came across the same during its comeback run in the local theatre.

Release date: 4th May 2012
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Samvrutha Sunil, Gauthami Nair, Anusree, Rohini, Sreenivasan, Maniyanpilla Raju, Kailash, Sukumari, Thesni Khan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Pullipulikal and Aattinkutti

pullipulikalum aattinkuttiyum )

This is the season of the Malayalam movies, and what these movies have done with the help of Chennai Express, to keep the English movies away from the theatre is quite dissappointing, to be honest. The typhoon of Malayalam movies started off with Kadal Kadannu Oru Mathukutty, followed by Neelaakasam Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, Memories and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum. I am not in favour of such a week boasting the absence of the new English movie releases, at a time when they do get released in other countries. But as I know that there can be a great next week, and all the Malayalam movie titles are interesting enough, that should solve the problem up-to an extent. There is no surprise about so many movies releasing during the Eid after a long season of drought, as the people have already rushed to the multiplexes as well as the local theatres for these movies, and the malls, or at least some of them are so crowded that the Vampire Bat had doubts if there were free Blood Biriyani being supplied there. There is also the signs of the local theatres taking the effect of these new multiplexes, as the difference in the rates of tickets has become considerably small. We had such an option, and we had to choose the multiplex – there is the shift of the balance of power.

Literally translated as “Leopards and the Little Goat” had the first signs of vulnerability and a display of what kind of audience they were targeting, with their first promo in the theatres, which had a cartoon involving three leopards, one goat and a bull. Who are the people representing these characters, is something which should be revealed with ease as one watches the movie. Its target of the family audiences has surely been achieved with this one, but the question remains if it has achieved exactly what the movie lovers wished for, and another doubt would be about its power to match the other movies from Lal Jose – in that case, this should be closer in significance to Immanuel. Otherwise, this is a little bit of what should be termed as Elsamma Enna Aankutty meets Marykkundoru Kunjaadu at Kuttand setting, with a weaker second half and a forced ending. But it is not to be denied that the movie is fun, and the first half is close enough to a laugh riot. With the beautiful settings at Kuttanadu second only to Amen, and the melodious songs score to make all the absences transform into some kind of presence, and keep the viewers attached to the world of backwaters.

The movie set in the rural area of Kuttanad centers around one hardworking youth who tries in vain to pay off his loan to the bank by running a houseboat which he might lose in case of a failure to pay the same. Chakkattutharayil Gopan (Kunchako Boban), in short – Chakka Gopan a.k.a Aadu Gopan, is the goat-man as he is widely considered to be for his beard resembling a goat. There was that character in the movie Nee Ko Njaa Cha, and an allusion to that one with a background sound of the goat might help to figure out this appearance of our hero. This is the protagonist who gets beaten up almost every day due to the bad deeds of his three big brothers, as well as his own little problems. There comes the similarities with Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, and its just that this time, the protagonist is not lazy, and can beat a few people up rather than getting beaten up all the time. He has to feed three of his brothers and mother, as well as make sure that he earns enough to keep his houseboat floating. The three brothers are the type of people who takes money even from him to keep him safe, and they never miss an opportunity to take money from others or even lie, cheat and steal. The feeling of Elsamma Enna Aankutty also runs through, but more as an invisible force. But the fact remains that all the three movies were those which I liked, and therefore, there is nothing negative out there other than a little absence of innovation.

Along with dealing with his own lazy bully brothers and attempting to pay off his loans, Gopan faces the problem of not being able to attract enough tourists to his comparatively inferior houseboat, and asks the help of Mamachan (Suraj Venjaramoodu) for some attraction which could bring in more foreign tourists. The result comes in the form of Kainakari Jayasree (Namitha Pramod), a Mohiniyattam artist. With her assistance and also with the help of Suseelan (Harisree Asokan), his problems seem to get solved until his path crosses with that of Kavalykal Kuriyachan (Shammi Thilakan). While attempting to deal with his brothers’ unruly life and his love with Jayasree, he also has to deal with the rich businessman who seeks revenge on Gopan. At the same time, he comes up with some plans to deal with his brothers as well as to keep his love with Jayasree. Even as his and Kuriyachan’s path rarely crosses each other directly, there is always the unexpected harm that he would seem to give the man who would go on to become the villain whom he himself has to deal with, not as the goat which runs away, but as the super-goat-man if such a thing exists.

Kunchako Boban has come up with the comedy avatar again, and that should satisfy most of the fans. With his new looks and style, he has done complete justice to his role, and carries the whole world on screen with his shoulders. Namitha Pramod is also that good as Kainakari Jayasree, and never manages to move away from the character. It was nice to see her character, the other dynamic lovable one along with the character of the protagonist. Suraj Venjaramoodu and Harisree Asokan handles their own familiar territory with so much ease. We have been missing this Suraj for sometime, and the latter uses his home base of comedy to the efficiency of the movie. The three brothers might have carried on the legacy of Marykkundoru Kunjaadu‘s brother, but one might still miss Biju Menon. Shammi Thilakan’s Kavalykal Kuriyachan is a fine villain indeed, but not the scary, evil Satan or the one who sold his soul to the Devil, for he is the villain of circumstances, and the result of the people knowing about his own villainy. But the fact remains that he rises to this discovered throne of bad guy, and continues to do what he did with a mask, without any visage of artificially created vanity.

The movie’s success as a comedy movie is beyond doubt, and even with its lack of flow in the script, and an ending which was rather thrown into the middle of things, there is the beauty in simplicity, and the eventual victory of goodness portrayed without being preachy or pretending to be highly virtuous. There is the beautiful portrayal of nature which joins with the melodious songs to keep it working towards the end. The messages about the importance of goodness, hardwork and belief in oneself is asserted throughout the film in one way or the other. Marykkundoru Kunjaadu had the same, but some people just noticed the fear element in it. This movie is more logical in that case, making an attempt to touch the soul with a central character who is more useful to the family as well as the society, caring less about himself. He is another Elsamma in that case, and even his love interest is not of less significance in many ways. There has been an overflow of similar themes in the past, and this movie also reflects the same in such a way as to make an impact in a path more travelled. Whether it has made a difference or not is a question yet to be answered, and until now, the future looks bright enough for this goat-man and his own leopard people of the family.

This is recommended for those who loved Elsamma Enna Aankutty and even more recommended for those who loved Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, and even those viewers who loved both of these movies a little, might find this one impossible to run away from. Nature has been a great redeemer, and for some, there is music; for the missing laughter, the others need comedy. This movie has got them all, but while looking for the logically awesome movie with a great bowl of completeness delivered as a result of the horn of plenty, there is that awkward movie of detest. But, it is highly advised that such a cornucopia is not expected in the case of this movie – Amalthea, goat and nature; something should relate, but the release of Plenty might have served as nothing less than a Pandora’s box in the case of such a movie. Therefore, lets forget the little strange things which might give the indigestion of logic fed to your brain, and enjoy this movie for the little beautiful things it got, and flies directly to the heart. The movie shall win its battle with the titles which got bigger names associated with the cast, not by much, but by what is enough to make the lamb-sheep-goat-characters live on with their goodness, lack of violence and a certain amount of love which takes its own toll on the characters.  Meanwhile, the title of this review has been adjusted to make it short – kindly don’t feel strange, for it is Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum indeed.

Release date: 9th August 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Kunchako Boban, Namitha Pramod, Shammi Thilakan, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Harisree Asokan, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Anusree, Irshad, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Bindu Panicker, Reena Bhasheer, Thesni Khan, Seema G. Nair, Ponnamma Babu

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Red Wine

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This wine is not that powerful as a thriller even with its moments of suspense, as the killer is kind of known right from the beginning itself – there is still a possiblity of expecting more twists over twists, but there is none in the end. The movie progresses slowly, unlike the traditional thrill infected flicks. Still, it has a beautiful philosophical touch and an embedded social message. The movie is surely worth watching for the performance of the leading actors, especially Fahadh Fazil & Mohanlal. There seems to be no stopping the former from his awesomeness and the latter proves why he is still considered to be at his best. The support cast has also been significant. A routine investigation movie is told in a different way this time. It is supported by another experimentation with its narratives without losing its simplicity and the path towards goodness. This can be hailed not for the chills and thrills, but for those who can make a philosopher’s stone out of the darkest and the dirtiest of metals, this might be something else.

Mohanlal’s Assistant Commissioner of Police reminds more of the cop from Grandmaster than anything else. This time, the police officer is even more philosophical. He is not a person who look for action all the time, but a slow and steady officer who understands both the victim and the murderer, and knows with ease that both are the victims of circumstances, one of his own ideals of truth, justice and equality which is despised by the land mafia, while the other of his evil past and the need to pay off his loans. He understands the complicated human minds just as the Wayanad’s twists and turns on the way up. The movie is shot at Wayanad and Kozhikode, and the stories of the subaltern of the heights of Wayanad and that of the opposite side of the evil from civilized world also creeps in. This is where Mohanlal’s character has his magnificience – to balance the characters from both sides, pure good, righteous good, forced evil and pure evil, all of them making frequent appearances as significant parts of the movie at parts. He understands the two men he is searching for, as well as the ones he is not directly searching for, as he progresses through his investigation.

Fahadh Fazil carries the movie with such an ease which makes the whole movie a simple, poetic experience. This is very unlike his performances in his recent flicks – there is no strangeness like in Annayum Rasoolum, Chappa Kurisu and Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla; there is no shades of darkness or even greyness as in 22 Female Kottayam; or that confusion and uncertainty of life as in Diamond Necklace and Friday. Here, we have a good man, of only good intentions towards the fellow humans, and with the desire to do good to the society and his people. He is an Engineering graduate who passed out of college with good marks and was good enough to get a fine job with an attractive salary at home or abroad. But he chooses to work for his people as the Local committee secretary for the left. His portrayal of the victim Anoop has given the audience his most lovable character ever; that is one character on the side of pure, unadulterated political man who stands between the modern and the traditional world, having the elements of both, in such a way that he stands between the two, understanding and interpreting both with significant ease.

As the movie revolves around the life of three characters, one can’t avoid not fail to sympathize on the third important character, played by Asif Ali. Even as he is the least likable of the three and has less time on the screen, Ramesh is a character of circumstances. He is not someone who is a remorseless man of pure evil like Django. He is not for the depths of hell nor the upper most of firmament. His life is not to be seen separate from his wife Deepthi, played by Mia George. Both of them blends into their characters well enough, and more of the sad situation is conveyed more through their looks and expressions rather than the words. This is that part of the story which is more touching in terms of a common man. Ramesh is a man with an evil past, who has turned good after marrying his lover who is from a rich family, which has lead to their isolation from their relatives. Now, as Ramesh has taken loans over loans, this is his moment where he has to choose between the good which is poverty and the lack of provisions for his family which would soon include a newborn child, as well as the evil which is security of good life for his loved ones. There is choices for him to make and whatever choice he makes, there would be a payment in blood or cash.

Well, the human life itself is like that road to Wayanad, and all these characters fit into those twists and turns. For some of them, death might be the relief and for the others, life is all that matters. Where heaven and hell fits in between them is a matter of debate, in the life which is mixed with so much of good and evil. The strength of the movie is still its cast and their performances. Meera Nandan, Meghna Raj and Kailash comes in smaller roles, as a skilled drama actress, an RDO and a cyber cell officer respectively. Meanwhile, Saiju Kurup comes up with an inspiring performance as the protagonist’s friend Navas. The debutant Maria John and Anusree also fits in, as the lover and the best friend of the protagonist. Suraj Venjaramoodu has a more serious role to play in this one, as the one who benefit the most with the protagonist’s death, a person with hidden agendas, another suspect for the investigating officer. T. G. Ravi has another lovable character, a righteous socialist worker of the party who earns the respect of the viewers right from the beginning. Still, the one who steals the show is Fahadh Fazil, and he seems to do that with such an ease that surprises the audience.

The way in which the movie is narrated gives it more life in spite of it being slow and ordinary in the first look. There is regular breaking of narratives, not in space, but in time – from the death of the protagonist to the life of another man to the progress of the investigation and then back to the protagonist’s ideologies during his lifetime. The space changes, but is still confined to Wayanad and Kozhikode. The movement is like wine poured out of the bottle, some of it which goes into the bottle, some of it to the floor, a little of it in the table and the remaining in the bottle. This is the philosophy of life, for not all can be the same, physically, intellectually, or spiritually. To be frank, the choice to go for this one ahead of 3 Dots and Amen was a big move. It was more for the love of the title and the image of the red wine in the bottle. No, it won’t replace the everlasting image of tea as the elixir of life, nor does it make a substitute for blood. The question would be about what the red wine symbolize and why is it the title of the movie. I have always been interested in the colour, my third favourite after black and blue. It is the colour of blood; that of all the martyrs and saints who died for the mankind. It was also used in the Roman and the Byzantine Empires, such was its honour. What about St George’s Cross and the Red Cross?

The human life has always been full of the colour red, also associated with, revolution, love, socialism, communism, passion, beauty. Lets leave its negative associations for this instance, for this one is everything except pessimism. The red wine itself is a symbol of humanity and their blood in a glass. Does this also symbolize the sacramental wine, the blood of Jesus Christ, for the blood of a modern age revolutionary which was to be shed? They were shown drinking the red wine and they were also shown talking about Christ being the revolutionary, and therefore this chance is surely there. The Red Wine is no Spirit; for it doesn’t glorify drinking or anything in the first half and oppose it in the second half; it sticks to its points – of humanity, right from the beginning to the end, for the red wine symbolizes the blood of a young, educated revolutionary which was shed as he stood for the righteousness. That makes a valid allusion and a wonderful imagery. Red Wine is not your typical murder mystery, for it is a philosophy; not a psychological thriller; never a supernatural thriller, as this one is of another genre and I would like to call it a philosophical thriller. If this was more powerful as a regular thriller, and if it could have conveyed the philosophy better, the movie would have been awesome, for sure.

Release date: 21st March 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Salam Bappu
Starring: Mohanlal, Fahadh Fazil, Asif Ali, Saiju Kurup, Jayaprakash, Mia George, Meghana Raj, Anusree, Maria John, Meera Nandan, T. G. Ravi, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Kailash, Anoop Chandran

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.