Aadhyarathri

What is the movie about? :: Manoharan (Biju Menon) never really had the best of times during his childhood and youth, with everything reaching the worst situation, having his elder sister eloping with someone in the village, and his father having a cardiac arrest at the same time. Even though the marriage at his home didn’t happen, he take the profession of a marriage broker after he fixes a wedding ceremony and saves the bride’s family from humiliation. For two decades, he continues in the same profession, and there is no wedding ceremony in the area happening without him playing a part in it. He is the first person who comes to anyone’s mind when they think about wedding, and sometimes even other significant functions which are part of people’s life. Along with the same, he also runs a tutorial college for the local students.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Manoharan is that kind of a person who has everything planned as far as relationships are concerned. He knows which boy will be suitable for which girl, and for the same, he supports only arranged marriage. Any case of falling in love is strictly opposed by him, and all the youth from the area are afraid of his interventions in their possible love affairs. It is during these times when he gets a chance to arrange the marriage of Kunjumon (Aju Varghese), the richest man in the village, and Aswathy (Anaswara Rajan), a modern, educated girl of the village who lives in Bangalore – the combination was always a risky one, but as Manoharan was always a godfather-like figure to Aswathy, he takes the risk. But it is not that easy to get this one done, and the question arises if he will fail in arranging a marriage for the first time.

The defence of Aadhyarathri :: The humour used in this movie is simple, and the message is indeed to ask the girl’s consent before fixing marriage, a case which would have worked better if it had released about ten to twenty years ago. The movie has its own feel-good factor to add to the same, and it is a simple movie with no pretensions, going through everything directly. The visuals are nice, and the setting contributes to the same very well. The nicely created situations make sure about it, and we have another movie for the family audience with jokes that can be accepted by everyone. During these Pooja holidays, you need a movie to look forward to with family, and this might be the right one, staying above the bigger hyped Onam releases like Love Action Drama and Ittymaani too. Also, look out for the Kuttanadan Baahubali dream song which is really attractive.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does feel a little outdated, as these are those days when the youth takes their own decisions with ease, and parents are on the backfoot in almost everything. These are also those days when parents keep agreeing to what the children want because there is just one kid or two, and they want to get them all that they wish for. With a new generation of children and youth, this movie might not serve much, and can focus on only a small number of people in need in a world when people fall in love indiscriminately and set their former lovers on fire. The movie has to work in a world in which almost everyone of the generation has a boyfriend or girlfriend, and therefore struggles. It also feels incomplete with some characters being lost and others serving no purpose. There is also the lack of focus on the progress of the narrative. Sometimes, it feels that parts of it is just forced.

The performers of the soul :: Biju Menon is once again at ease playing this kind of a role. Vellimoonga, Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu, Swarna Kaduva, Anakkallan, Salt Mango Tree – all these had him playing the commoner’s role and handling the light-hearted humour in the leading role with ease. Here too, the movie is dependent on him to do what he has been doing the best, and the same is handled with the skill that he possesses, and has once again displayed without stepping back. Anaswara Rajan, after Udaharanam Sujatha, Evidey and Thanneer Mathan Dinangal makes fine impact, even thought not that much as we have seen in the two previous movies. Other than that song on the ship, she doesn’t have really have much of memorable moments in the movie, and someone elder would have been the best for this role. At the same time, it is to be noted that there is no romantic angle to the main character, which is to be appreciated.

Further performers of the soul :: Anu Sithara’s cameo seems totally unnecessary, and that is one scene added to prove a point in an easy way instead of proving it through the progress of the story itself, and it seems that she was chosen to assert the same in an even bigger manner. Aju Varghese does a nice job in the movie, and does the exact amount of comedy as it was needed – there is no overdose here even though the tendency was always there. Manoj Guinness is the one who plays the sidekick role here, and he is fine at most parts of the movie, even though some of the comedy is surely lost. Sarjano Khalid of June fame has a dull character to play here, and does less. Biju Sopanam has some funny moments to add, and Pauly Valsan does the job well as expected while Vijayaraghavan does another interesting role to fine impact. But it is to be noted that not all characters get their due.

How it finishes :: Coming from the director of the much appreciated Vellimoonga, and having the same leading actor, the expectations were very high, and this one does come close on many occasions. Still, it does fall short in comparison, and is no match for that movie which had everyone in love with the flick. Vellimoonga had set things in motion enough to make way for a good number of movies with similar theme, and Biju Menon himself had played so many of such roles. This one won’t have that much of an impact, but with Pooja holidays around, the family audience might be very much interested in this particular flick. It doesn’t seem to attract that many people right now, but in the next two days, that number should increase, and the movie should do well enough, even though not like its earlier superior relative, Vellimoonga.

Release date: 4th October 2019
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Jibu Jacob
Starring: Biju Menon, Aju Varghese, Anaswara Rajan, Sneha Babu, Manoj Guiness, Ashwin Jose, Vinod Kedamangalam, Sarjano Khalid, Sree Lakshmy, Prasad Muhamma, Shiny T Rajan, Naseer Sankranthy, Biju Sopanam, Pauly Valsan, Vijayaraghavan, Anu Sithara (cameo)

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Love Action Drama

What is the movie about? :: Dinesh (Nivin Pauly) doesn’t have much of an education, and spends his time following a sumptuously rich lifestyle as he has inherited a good amount of money from his grandparents – he doesn’t care about what goes around him, and doesn’t even know the full form of MBA even though he pretends to be interested in pursuing the course. His best friend is Sagar (Aju Varghese) who is another jobless person wandering around the city with no aim in his life, and depends on Dinesh for money and enjoyment in life. With his cousin Swathy (Durga Krishna) getting married, and not accepting his proposal citing blood relation, he decides to increase the amount of alcohol and cigarettes in his life, much to the dismay of his mother (Mallika Sukumaran) who hopes that he would be responsible some day – she gets her brothers (Renji Panicker and Biju Sopanam) to advice him, but that brings no positive result.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: During the wedding night, he meets Shobha (Nayanthara), a friend of Swathy, and accidentally ends up ruining her room and landing her in the hospital. But soon, they become good friends, and she invites him to Chennai, an invitation which he is too quick to accept. But things are not that smooth there as he had expected. There is confusion between them as well as revolving around her friends Priya (Dhanya Balakrishna) and others. Along with the same, her father (Sreenivasan) wouldn’t have that much of an opinion about Dinesh either. Whenever things seem to get better and going smooth, they don’t. Now the question remains if Dinesh can finally marry the girl whom he loves, and if Shobha can find something good enough for her to stay in love with the man whom she met at her good friend’s wedding.

The defence of Love Action Drama :: The movie does have enough of whatever is mentioned in its title, love, action and drama, even though not in the favourable and admirable levels of combination. The visuals are really good, and the music is pretty good for most of the time. Even when the movie goes in the wrong direction or when the romance struggles, it is the humour that keeps the movie going, as this one has that quality of those earlier Dileep movies, which is to keep the funny side simple and connected to the audience. It can be said that Love Action Drama is not a movie that seeks clarification to whatever happens within or asks for logic behind all those – it dives deep into those ideas which have worked in the past, and while keeping the humorous side alive, has things going in its favour. Well, when you shorten the name of the movie to LAD, you get the meaning of that word as “a male person of any age between early boyhood and maturity” – it is what the movie itself happens to be.

The claws of flaw :: Love Action Drama does have its prejudices when dealing with love, and it is surely confused about where it is going. There is no real reason shown for the girl to fall in love with the hero except for the fact that he is good-looking and rich, a strange thing considering what we know of the lady’s character. Some of the comic sequences are just dumb, and the love angle goes here and there, through the opposite extremes too often. We do see some repetitions, and the lack of a solid plot can be seen here while the story goes through its ups and downs. Dhyan Sreenivasan could have made this better for sure, as we know how many people are there at his own place to give him advice. It is the reliance on comedy that saves the day every time, but when it doesn’t work with you, there seems to be the struggle that doesn’t end.

The performers of the soul :: The movie clearly depends on Nivin Pauly’s star value as well as his skill in handling this kind of a character to move the story forward. This one comes as nothing difficult for him, as his immature character in Premam was done with ease, and this one requires even less from him except for need for more humour. It is his combination scenes with Aju Varghese that takes the funny side to the next level, as we know how well they are able to handle the comedy when together. Aju Varghese handles the scenes here with ease, reminding one of how things were going in Oru Vadakkan Selfie. Yet it has to be noted that it is not him, but Biju Sopanam who sets the wheels of comedy rolling in the beginning stages, even though he is not there for long. We also see Renji Panicker dropping in to contribute to the same even though it is only for a short amount of time.

Further performers of the soul :: Nayanthara has returned to Malayalam after a very long time, and you remember that she was last there in Puthiya Niyamam, and before that, for a short cameo appearance in Life of Josutty. Even though we are all glad to see her here after a gap of three years, one does have to wonder if this role has much for her, and whether anyone else could have been enough to do this job. Puthiya Niyamam had asked for a fine performance from her, but not this movie, which just needs her to be there with a little bit of effort. Mallika Sukumaran’s role as protagonist’s mother is worth mentioning, Jude Anthany Joseph’s short stay also leaves something to ponder about. At the same time, Dhanya Balakrishna who plays Nayanthara also deserves a mention. Vineeth Sreenivasan’s role does feel a little bit short, but it is fun when he is there. Sreenivasan also has some usual work to do, playing the father figure.

How it finishes :: Love Action Drama can be considered as a movie which is applicable to all kinds of audience, especially the family viewers, because of its qualities seemingly inherited from those earlier Dileep-esque comedy movies which has stayed for long, not considering those later repetitive versions. There is no question about the fact that the movie could have been better rather than going in a predictable path and being repetitive, but this is still a movie which stays close to a mood of celebration, and it is the kind of flick that we need for Onam vacations – we move away from a solid plot and go for the comic feel-good romance, which is forgivable at this stage. We have always had different kinds of movies for Onam, and this leaves us with what seems to be a preference, with Nayanthara making a return to Malayalam movie industry after a long time.

Release date: 5th September 2019
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Dhyan Sreenivasan
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Aju Varghese, Nayanthara, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Durga Krishna, Basil Joseph, Prajin Padmanabhan, Sreenivasan, Jude Anthany Joseph, Mallika Sukumaran, Renji Panicker, Biju Sopanam, Dhanya Balakrishna, Motta Rajendran, Sunder Ramu, Gayathri Shan, Dhyan Sreenivasan (cameo), Bhagath Manuel (cameo), Deepak Parambol (cameo), Hari Krishnan (cameo)

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Thattumpurath Achuthan

What is the movie about? :: Achuthan (Kunchacko Boban) is a favourite of the villagers, and as a Krishna devotee, is close to the village temple and its committee. He has only good opinions about him in the village, and is considered to be someone who is more than just helpful to others. But one day, while trying to help his friend, he lands in trouble, and is branded a thief. The Sub Inspector of Police Justin John (Kalabhavan Shajohn) does let him go, but as he is branded in one way, things don’t go that much positive with him – his wedding ceremony is cancelled, and he also losses his job. With his best friend, he tries to have his revenge, but that also becomes another problem for him. His honesty remains under the shadow of doubt, but while reading a letter intended for Lord Krishna, everything changes for him, and becomes the first big twist in favour of him.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The letter is about a girl known by the name Jayalakshmi (Sravana), written by her mother Girija (Bindu Panicker). It is a request to Lord Krishna about saving her daughter from her former lover who keeps threatening her about a few photos and videos which they took together when they were in love. A few twists lead Achuthan to their house, and while hiding on the top of the house, decides to help them. But it is not that easy, as the person who is tormenting them is not the usual lover seeking her to be back with him – there is more to that person than what is known. With Jayalakshmi seeking to end her life, Achuthan has not more than a few days to work something out, or things will go beyond his control. Can the simple village man be good enough to outsmart this engineering graduate from a reputed college outside Kerala and bring hope to this family which has been hoping for a miracle for a long time?

The defence of Thattumpurath Achuthan :: There is strong feel-good factor in this movie, and there is also some magic realism to give it a little bit more as a special ingredient even though not at the best possible dose. Kunchacko Boban seems to be nicely suited to this role in more than one way, on many occasions. He has things working out in his favour all the time, and has the grand support that he need. It has a certain amount of magic realism in store too, as we see the presence of magic in the otherwise usual world. The movie has divinity in parts, and the dreams coming true forms the major part of it – the same also adds to the visuals in a beautiful way. There is also the reflection of certain foolish love which can be seen with the immaturity of the female lead’s character, coming right out of the college days. The movie also has a very nice ending to come, after a little struggle by the latter part.

The claws of flaw :: The music in the movie is a big let down, and it is irritating to see that it keeps coming again and again, even when we don’t need it at all – it is as if there is an attempt to prove something, or as if it is nice to have more songs in a flick like this. But having songs for the sake of having them, and not having them as good enough, won’t do a movie any good as you can see here too. Magic realism could have also been better used in this movie, and we know what the same can do, like we saw in the magical movie, Amen a long time ago. Even the Nandanam fun mode couldn’t be repeated in this movie, and neither could it have the Pranchiyettan and the Saint mode. There is the presence of exaggeration too, and a few things are rather too convenient. A lot more is often expected when there is a Lal Jose movie, and the Kunchacko Boban combination leaves more desired.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban leads the way here, as he has a role similar to that of his previous flick, Johny Johny Yes Appa. He has a family to save in this movie too, and goes under the name of a thief once again. He did the same role in Shikkari Shambhu, his best flick of the year. So, this role comes as no challenge to him, and the romantic side is here to serve him once again. A good-hearted man from village was perfectly shown by him in the movies like Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho and Jamna Pyari, and when we have him in such a role, there is the assurance that things will keep a minimum level. After Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum, Lal Jose – Kunchacko Boban combination is being brought back, and everyone was sure that it couldn’t be that bad. It is the trust in that combination that has been tested here, and has managed to work pretty well.

Further performers of the soul :: Sravana, a new face plays the role of heroine, but has very less to do here – she has less number of dialogues, but seems to be a talent for the future, as Lal Jose does find a new heroine each and every time. There is a long list of actors and actresses who are from the reality show Naayika Naayakan, among which I could identify Venkitesh, Meenakshi and Malavika. It is surprising that none of the so called websites specializing in Malayalam cinema or professional reviewers have given clear details about the cast, and it is something which we common movie viewers cannot find out without outside help. Johny Antony brings some fun while Nedumudi Venu is underused. Kalabhavan Shajohn also has his moments in this one, especially related to the comic side. Adish Praveen does a nice and cute job as the child with his dreams becoming reality.

How it finishes :: For the Christmas season, it seems that a certain amount of divinity is becoming part of the movies of the times, with no barriers among religions. As the Onam season never really had any celebration or release of new flicks, this is the season that could bring the best for Malayalam movie industry – note that the Pooja season also had to have an early harthal. So, even though the last movie of Lal Jose, Velipadinte Pusthakam couldn’t blend into the mood of 2017 Onam, this one, even though not during Onam has a part of Christmas in it. As a nicely suited movie for the family audience, Thattumpurath Achuthan has enough fuel to stay in the race until the end of the holidays this year and right into the next year. It only needs the family audience to have the power and keep it running. No matter how it turns out to be, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Release date: 22nd December 2018
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Sravana, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Hareesh Perumanna, Vijayaraghavan, Johny Antony, Nedumudi Venu, Seema G Nair, Meenakshi, Malavika Krishnadas, Veena Nair, Sethu Lakshmi, Irshad, Adish Praveen, Bindu Panicker, Biju Sopanam, Santhosh Keezhathoor, Thara Kalyan, Amina, R Vishva, Thejus Jyothi, Venkitesh VP, Roshan Ullas, Siddhi Vinayak, Kochupreman, Anil Murali

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C/O Saira Banu

What is the movie about? :: Saira Banu (Manju Warrier) is a post woman who lives for her adopted son, Joshua Peter (Shane Nigam). Joshua is the son of a photographer who went missing in the forest and was declared dead long time ago, and this particular award winning photographer, Peter George (Mohanlal – voice only) had adopted Saira a long time ago, after her whole family had committed suicide. Joshua is in love with Arundhati (Niranjana Anoop) who studies in the law college just like him, but it goes on only with interest from his side. His other love is for photography like his father, and he tries hard to make something out of this passion with the support of his young mother. He is finally rewarded one day for his hard work as he wins a contest and is selected to go to Paris. But on the same day, some twist of events happen.

So, what happens next? :: There is a case registered against Joshua, which happens to be not as simple as Saira had thought, as this one is a hit and run case, and the victim had died, with witnesses there to testify. As it threatens to destroy his life and career even though he claims that he is innocent, Saira decides to prove that her adopted son is telling the truth. But fighting the case against Joshua is Annie John Tharavady (Amala Akkineni), one of the most successful lawyers, and is determined to win this case too. Joshua and Saira has no option with all lawyers backing out due to one reason or the other. But she will not surrender – still the question remains if she stands a chance against Annie who is determined to get his side to win every time? Where does Joshua’s future go from this situation from where there seems no chance of redemption?

The defence of C/O Saira Banu :: The movie goes through some interesting incidents in the society, including the case of migrant workers, noodles ban, kiss of love protest, and one other thing which was in the news, but can’t be revealed due to its effect on the suspense factor. There is some comedy that is working in the first half, and there is a second half which has a good amount of thrills to go with that unexpected twist to go with the climax – it succeeds in making people guess and come up with an ending which will be acceptable to most of the viewers along with being a nice surprise for everyone. There is also the message about the reality of this world, on what has been happening with a society which has been divided on the basis of class more than anyone can imagine. Along with the same, C/O Saira Banu is a good-looking movie too.

The claws of flaw :: The first half of the movie will feel a bit longer for one’s liking, as the time taken in establishing the mother-son relationship is a little too much, and some of jokes are not that effective either; same is the case of melodrama too. Better comic stuff in the first half would have helped to keep a momentum in the first half, maybe with some more sequences in the college or the post office – even the neighbourhood was a place which had some good scope. The end credits scene also ends without a warning, when you feel that there was going to be something to be added in the end. You will also feel that there is more than one side to a happy climax and ending; there will be questions if that good feeling is really that good, or is it just an illusion of the same.

Performers of the soul :: This one has Manju Warrier playing the titular character, and the most important role in this movie, and we are glad to see her in another role which provides her the prominence that she deserves and works on really well – Rani Padmini was the last one to get her to that level, even though Karinkunnam 6s and Vettah did show the signs. It is for those emotional moments that we need to look out for the most, and there is that bit of determination in her character against all odds which works so well for her. It is her return that has helped the Malayalam movie industry so much to bring the heroine-oriented roles to the front, something that has been struggling to be there. I don’t see anyone doing such roles like she did for quite some time, something that started so well for her with How Old Are You? and might continue in the same way, as we are seeing now.

Further performers of the soul :: Meanwhile, Amala Akkineni makes her return to Malayalam movies after a very long gap – her last two movies were Ente Sooryaputhrikku and Ulladakkam, with Suresh Gopi and Mohanlal respectively, both releasing in the year 1991 – those were also her only two Malayalam movies before this one. She remains solid in her lawyer character in this one, and the character’s determination has a clear reflection on her. Shane Nigam has his second big role after Kismath despite being there for longer – here he plays a character that has almost no happiness, and there are so many similarities to his role in his previous movie; but he manages the same well. Niranjana Anoop has less to do, which she does fine. It is Biju Sopanam who scores the most outside the main list. There are also those names which are underused, from Joy Mathew to Sujith Shankar.

How it finishes :: Unlike what some people had said, Mohanlal is not making a special cameo appearance in this movie, even though his voice is there. There is enough for everyone with C/O Saira Banu, and the family audience will be the one to benefit the most. Coming from a debutante director, this one is more than one can expect while dealing with a topic like this. It is surely the best movie in Malayalam to have released so far – forget those people who are claiming the same for movies which claim to be realistic when they are not, because C/O Saira Banu is the flick that follows the path of Drishyam, as a family movie as well as a thriller, becoming part of two different genres in two halves. This one is certain to weave its magic among the audience, even if a little bit late – watch it now, and try not to figure out why you didn’t watch this one earlier.

Release date: 17th March 2017
Running time: 156 minutes
Directed by: Antony Sony
Starring: Manju Warrier, Amala Akkineni, Shane Nigam, Niranjana Anoop, P. Balachandran, Joy Mathew, Indrans, John Paul, Ganesh Kumar, Jagadeesh, Sunil Sukhada, Biju Sopanam, Sujith Shankar, Mohanlal (voice only)

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