Driving Licence

What is the movie about? :: Hareendran (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a superstar who is in no shortage of fans, gaining all success with continuous superhit movies breaking one box-office record after the other. He is a typical, arrogant, billionaire star who doesn’t care about people in general. His love for cars is well-known, but as nobody had asked him for a driving licence for a long time, he had lost it somewhere, and the shooting of the climax required the licence. For the same, he attempts to get a new one issued by Motor Vehicle Inspector Kuruvilla (Suraj Venjaramoodu) who is a die hard fan of the star. Even though Kuruvilla is a lot interested in meeting the star, things don’t turn out so well with media coming to know about the superstar driving all these years without a driving licence. Hareendran is particularly angry about this being flashed on the news.

So, what happens with the events here? :: At the same time, the other big superstar on the big screen, Bhadran (Suresh Krishna) is trying to get some success with his movies, as it is Hareendran’s movies which get all the attention and the best of theatres. He tries to exaggerate this problem between the two, and is successful up to an extent, as the news is everywhere on all television channels. At the same time, there is the attack on Kuruvilla’s family, and further problems between Hareendran and the producer of the movie, as he wants to leave to the United States with his wife for her treatment before completing the film. But he would really need that driving licence, but because of the confusion and humiliation which he had faced due to the superstar, Kuruvilla is reluctant, but with his contacts, the arrogant Hareendran would try to force him out of his options.

The defence of Driving Licence :: The movie has two people in different fields set against each other, with certain background humour working well all the time. Some of the scenes seem to stand apart, and the interval punch is very good. Some of the situations are nicely created, and well acted too. The visuals are pretty good to add to the same. There are some elements of the evil of blind celebrity worship and the celebrity attitude being shown here, even though the focus is not that much to be seen. The common man’s plight is shown, even though heroism is once again left to the superstar. The focus is partially on different aspects of the society, and there are some messages to be taken home. The whole thing is kept simple, and there are no pretensions here, as many things are shown as they should be, even though the deviations can’t be denied.

The claws of flaw :: It is sad to see that the movie deviates from what should have been its most important message, against the fanatic fans – here, the movie takes the most extreme level, as the so called superstar talks in support of his loyal fans who almost murdered a police officer in an extreme case of crowd frenzy. The superstar’s rich and filthy arrogance is allowed to win over the common man with ease, which is a shame, because the movie without a second thought chooses to go against everyman with its support for violent fans and arrogant superheroes. Some characters are of no use too. Even though the movie focuses on the mood of Christmas, there is nothing much in there to reflect the same. Some parts of the film just looks not needed. There is also a problem with the movie’s flow, and it bothers everyone that it is only the good everyman character who gets beaten up, and all the evil people around him are shown in better light, and spared the rod.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran after his highly underrated thrillers as the lead, Brother’s Day and 9, has the superstar to play, and it doesn’t become difficult for him at any moment. It is the kind of star who is shown as the bigger superstar of the industry, and that gets done rather easily. Playing the roles of actors in movies, the extra performance which is to be put in seems to be rather less in almost every case. Suraj Venjaramoodu continues to impress in the emotional sequences, and the comedy as usual, comes natural to him in this movie too. We have been witnessing much of such skills in the last few years rather than sticking to the humorous side. The roles of simple common men have been coming very fine to him. The child actor Adhish Praveen also comes with a nice performance as the child who wants his father to win against the giant superstar at least once.

Further performers of the soul :: Mia George is the heroine who gets more dialogues, and has some funny moments of her, as she shines in a role which brings the laughter in a simple manner. Deepti Sati, the other heroine does look beautiful, and has less to do – but the purpose is served well in her case too. Salim Kumar plays a kind of cameo which becomes relevant in the end, but is irritating during most of its existence. It was good to see Lalu Alex there doing a fine job, and we need to see him more in the industry. Idavela Babu and Vijayaraghavan play two irritating characters from the movie industry. Major Ravi and Shivaji Guruvayoor have some smaller roles to play too. At the same time, Suresh Krishna is really funny in his avatar, and the same can be said about Saiju Kurup too. Nandhu has a memorable tole to play here too.

How it finishes :: Driving Licence could have been a better movie if it had shown the courage to show evil as it is. But the movie hesitates in doing the same, and finds the rich celebrity and his fans abusing and almost murdering a common man to be okay – maybe they did the same to satisfy their large number of fans, but it cannot be considered as a fair thing. The good start of the movie should have been better maintained, especially in the second half – the ending should have been better too. Still, as these are holidays, it is easier to have these kinds of movies running in the theatres, as we have that kind of family audience who have come out to enjoy the Christmas vacations. So, this works for some simple fun, but could have been more with its premise. After all, getting a driving licence never ceases to be a thing of interest.

Release date: 20th December 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Jean Paul Lal
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Mia George, Deepti Sati, Lalu Alex, Suresh Krishna, Arun, Idavela Babu, Vijayaraghavan, Salim Kumar, Saiju Kurup, Adhish Praveen, Major Ravi, Kalabhavan Navas, Sohan Seenulal, Nandhu

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Malayalam review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Invisible Actor

Vampire Owl: An invisible actor? Did the actor become invisible after a case was registered against him?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that it is not what they meant. There could be many meanings for the same.

Vampire Owl: Then, has the invisibility elixir been stolen from Doctor Frankenstein? This calls for code bloody red alert on level twenty eight!

Vampire Bat: When did he invent that? It is not even on the research list.

Vampire Owl: Well, I am sure that he would have invented that. He is just not telling us. People invent such things all the time in those science fiction books.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr. Frankenstein has any role to play in this short-film.

Vampire Owl: I am writing an article on the evil side of invisibility anyway.

Vampire Bat: Some people are just invisible even without the elixir.

Vampire Owl: Just like people being alive and immortal without the Elixir of Life.

Vampire Bat: It is another myth. What we have here is real.

[Gets some banana chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: The crew of a movie has gathered in an old style Kerala house to shoot for the biopic of a renowned Kathakali artist known as Govindan Master (Kalasala Babu). This particular person, whose name is only taken with so much respect, had such an undying love for the art form that he used to bunk his classes to see and learn it at the academy from a distance. It is said that his father, upon realizing his passion, and his lack of interest in regular studies, let him study Kathakali from an early age, and the art form had become his life, until his last breath. This Kathakali Master had given up his whole life for the same, not asking for anything in return. His performances had inspired many to follow his path, and had elevated Kerala’s own colourful contribution to the story play genre of art to another level. His Kathakali performances had made him a legend, with no parallels.

So, what happens next with this tale of making a biopic? :: It turns out that the superstar (Saiju Kurup) who is supposed to play the character is nowhere to be seen. The whole crew has been waiting for him for quite a long time, but there is no sign of him, and he doesn’t even attend the phone – everyone else is there, and they are worried when they will be able to begin the whole thing, and sends people searching for him at the hotel where he is staying and in the surrounding areas of the town. The breakfast time is over, the lunch is done, and finally the superstar arrives with that dialogue about him being a really punctual person. He listens to the story without much interest, while clicking on his mobile phone’s screen. He looks at the photo of the Kathakali artist as if it doesn’t matter – but little does he know that the character he is playing, is watching him.

Soul exploration 1: Of actors and superstars :: One can divide the movie world into two – one which has the actors, and the other which has the superstars. In our world, both often come together, but we often see some actors who deserve better than the superstars, but it is the superstar movie which go on to become the big hit each and every time. There are those one hundred crore movies in Bollywood, which have almost nothing in them other than its superstars – take a look at those top ten movies, and almost all of them have depended on their superstar rather than the actor. I would think otherwise – if Nawazuddin Siddiqui acts in a movie, I would watch that movie for sure, maybe even twice; whether it is Raman Raghav 2.0 or Te3n from last year. I have never really been interested in these superstars – the day they become more superstars and less actor, is the day they sacrifice their best part.

Soul exploration 2: Within and outside a character :: It is a usual thing to change the character to match that of the superstar – there are so many movies which make us feel the same, and naming a few of them would only bring the fan chaos on us. The superstars will say that they practiced cricket to play a cricketer, lived with gangsters to play a mafia don, slept at a cemetery for a horror movie, had classes at a music academy to play a musician and so on, but we know how fake that could be, just like they come on television and tell everyone that this is his or her best performance ever. But to become a character, the so called superstar needs to know the mind, thinking in the way the character think, and acting the way he would. Otherwise, it is the character that would become the superstar and not the other way around. Will some of our superheroes who need to know this realize the same one day?

Soul exploration 3: An eternity within a performance :: There should always be more in a flick with a performance than just being part of a big hundred crore movie. We have the need to see each character on the screen as a different person – it is the same which has been missing in some of those movies which degrade themselves into what is often termed as mass masala. There is the need to rise above the same, as what is often known to cater to this particular genre is nothing other than pure absurdity. It is the terrible and unfair strength of these mindless mass movies which have been devouring the actor and bringing the superstar out on too many occasions. Then there are those fan clubs which are only interested in turning the cinema halls which is for entertainment and thoughts, into something resembling nuisance. It has to be countered with not a mass performance, but with the beauty of an rternity within a work.

How it finishes :: The movie has two actors who have been rather underused by the industry if you look at their movies. Kalasala Babu amazes us in his presence for the short period of time, while we have Saiju Kurup who had some nice and funny roles in Adventures of Omanakuttan and Alamara doing a wonderful job as the superstar. They make the final few moments of this short-film rise to a higher level, and we have something which is worth more than a usual short movie. I have watched a good number of short-films in the last few days, with choosing to review only less than half of them which seem to be worthy, and among them, this one should have a top place. Invisible Actor wishes for the actor to become invisible and the character to take over when the shooting begins – it should be how we should differentiate actors from superstars; movies need actors, and they could let everyone keep the superstar side out, letting the acting flow, no matter how popular the actor is.

 

Release date: 6th July 2017
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Avinash Chandran
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Kalasala Babu, Jayasankar, Akhil Lekshman, Arun, Naresh

Watch Invisible Actor here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Red Jacket

Vampire Owl: Revenge has been my motivation to live for centuries.

Vampire Bat: But we don’t really live – as we were already dead and transformed into vampires long ago.

Vampire Owl: I was referring to life on this world after death.

Vampire Bat: Even that way, I am sure that all of your human enemies should have dead by now. It has been centuries!

Vampire Owl: Yes, but revenge is still sweet, and I have a Hamlet type problem, but I need to have it.

Vampire Bat: Well, in that case, the only option is to ask Doctor Frankenstein to bring them alive. But I am not sure how far he will be able to go.

Vampire Owl: No, because in case of a failure, I will be forced to take my revenge on the doctor too.

Vampire Bat: Don’t you realize that revenge never really bring anything in the end?

Vampire Owl: I am not sure, but revenge has been quite a popular thing in vampire history too.

Vampire Bat: Let me tell you that it is of no good. You waste your life trying to do it, and it is a terrible loss.

[Gets three cups of Kumily tea with a piece of marble cake].

What is the movie about? :: There is a man in red jacket who is killed by another man working under him, who wishes to take his place, not by slowly working his way up, but by simply getting rid of his boss. The killer establishes himself as the new boss and take the dead man’s red jacket for himself. He gets to live the dead man’s life and establishes himself a big shot in the city, and years later, as someone even having the chance of becoming an MLA or a minister at some point – he keeps growing with the city. It is after these many years that we see Vetri (Kowshik) who is looking for revenge against a man called Gaja (Gani) who had killed his father twenty years ago, pointing back to the incident which was shown in the beginning of the movie. He has already failed many times to have his revenge, even hiring contract killers to do the work but for no use, and this time, he feels that he will do it directly.

So, what is to follow in this tale of revenge? :: With the help of his friend Reddy (Peekay), he decides that he will make one move against the killer of his father, who has gone on to become bigger than his father had ever been, with newspapers and magazines talking about the man all the time. It has been the only thing that kept him moving forward in his life, and there is nothing that he wouldn’t do to restore his father’s place. But is he strong enough to do that, and is someone as powerful and experienced as Gaja going to fall for the trap set by the young man? Reddy had already warned him against the possible consequences and did set up someone from Gaja’s group of men to help him when there – but will all these be for nothing in front of an enemy who seems rather invincible? Is the need for revenge bigger than everything else in human life? What happens when it become bigger than life itself for the youth?

On Red Jacket and beyond :: The tale of revenge has been nicely packed, and we have some nice moments and dialogues to go with it. There are also some interesting twists to come, and it keeps us guessing about what is to happen next, with the revenge as well as what could follow after that. The same is well-supported by a fine cast which goes so nicely with the tale. With so many short-films around, there is some fine work by the team here to make this an interesting and entertaining twenty minute run. In the end, we will only wonder about what it means to have revenge – isn’t there another reaction to our action, which will once again keep the chain of events going? It is a series of events that never ends, and it won’t matter what we think about revenge, or about how it can end, as it goes on, like the certainty of the tides. Well, an act of revenge can be nothing less than opening a door to another beginning, which will leave scope for another attempt at retribution, and it can get nastier, and costlier as it repeats itself.

Soul exploration 1: The need for revenge :: The central theme of Red Jacket remains about revenge, which runs directly through its centre. The movie is powered by the need for vengeance, and it drives its protagonist through troubled waters, as he never thinks about another way out – he is far beyond redemption as this need takes over him from all possible directions. Revenge has been something for which people have striven for, rather so much – but, we see that the protagonist’s friend himself ask is it isn’t better to make things better by beating their enemy through business, but our young protagonist immediately says no, as the idea of revenge has been more about one thing in our culture, and it certainly involves self-destruction along with destroying one’s enemy. It is the same thought that drives our hero here, and there are no thoughts about the consequence of the action – a reflection of the arrogant youth of all times.

Soul exploration 2: The need for power :: The movie’s title is the next thing that becomes the focus, as red jacket is the one worn by the men in power. It stands out in almost every shot, and it gets special attention in those moments when everything else is shot in black and white. When it is there, you see it as the symbol of power, and the one thing that everyone wishes to wear, but those who wear it are all murdered – as with great power comes those who wish to take it away from you. When you are that much visible, it makes you a target. Yet, people wants to hold on to those positions of power, which provides them power over others – people feels the need to have more of fame, and there is no clue of what they are facing. What do people attempt to achieve with social media? That should be exactly the same thing, and as much as power and fame feels good, it also has the other side which has the power to end everything which is not permanent.

How it finishes :: Red Jacket is the first short-film from the team behind it, and has been made in both the Tamil version which I watched, and a Kannada version – but after watching this one, we are sure that there are more to come following the tale. The same will make it to the list of my favourite Indian short-films among those I have come across in the last few years. It deals with the idea of revenge in a way that makes it a highly intriguing run throughout those twenty minutes. The subtitle option is also available, and by the end, the message is loud and clear about revenge, that those who take up the sword and live by it, will die by the same; for violence never really solves anything, but makes way for more of blood to flow. The release date of the short-film is pending, and will be updated when it is announced. When it is up for everyone to watch, do make sure that you don’t miss the twenty minute long saga of revenge. UPDATE: Movie released, and can be watched from the below link.

Release date: To be announced
Running time: 20 minutes
Directed by: KV Raja Saravanan
Starring: Kowshik, Gani, Prashanth, Peekay, Arun, Chethan, Rafeek, Chida, Santosh


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.