Varathan

What is the movie about? :: After spending a long time in love, two IT professionals working in Dubai, Aby (Fahadh Faasil) and Priya (Aishwarya Lekshmi) gets married, and has been expecting their first child. But as the child dies and Aby is forced to give up his job due to his boss feeling that they can’t afford him anymore, the two decides that their time at the big city is over. Priya wishes to go back to her ancestral home, and they settle down in her father’s estate at Pathinettaam Mile, an area that goes a long way into the highranges. They travel to the new place, and stays at her father’s cottage which has a long history going back to the time of the British. There they come up against the locals who are not happy about their existence there in a modern and foreign style, something which they consider to be against local culture and traditions of the small village area.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is Joice (Sharafudheen) and his friends and relatives including his childhood friend Jithin (Vijilesh Karayad) who had studied with Priya in a school in Pathinettaam Mile that creates most of the problems for them. This gang that has a history of being infatuated with Priya from the school days, decides to take things further by spying on the couple. Priya finds people near the house at regular intervals, and suspects that they are up to no good. The only person who seems to be interested in helping them is the Benny (Dileesh Pothan) who had been taking care of the place in their absence. Aby and Priya find out that there is more problems for them to solve than what were seen, but the question remains if it is that easy for them to survive in a strange world which provides not much for the outsiders.

The defence of Varathan :: There is no shortage of style in this movie, and the music is really good, whether it is in the background or being there as part of some wonderful songs. There is a visual treat for store in here too, a quality which has always been there in Amal Neerad movies, and being at the best in his previous movies, Iyobinte Pustakam and CIA: Comrade in America. The thrills are also strong in this one, and the terror here is real. The movie also asks some relevant questions about the attitude of a lazy, booze-loving, jobless new generation, and also the perspective of a judgmental society which categorizes people by the way they live and how they dress. There is a stylish beginning and a thrilling, extra-stylish ending that is seen in this movie. The movie’s transformation into a home invasion flick in the end has a strange beauty which makes it travel right between the genres.

The claws of flaw :: If you have watched the movies like Don’t Breathe, you know how well the home invasion flicks can turn out to be – Varathan is only partially that, and often you wonder if it does have that genre confusion. Between the beginning and the end, there is the middle part which lags, and got its own problems with keeping the movie going without repetition. The struggle is there, and it is as real as the terror itself. The final transformation is also a little too quick for everyone to follow with a willing suspension of disbelief. The movie trailer had also seemed to suggest more – there was scope for having strange mysteries and terrible secrets being revealed, with the psychological side being stronger than ever. But such a diversion never arrives. The tale could have also been more believable if the setting was different, maybe in some of those areas of NH10.

The performers of the soul :: The movie is Fahadh Faasil’s second one in this year, coming after Carbon which released in January. It has been a long time considering the fact that the works of other actors have been releasing quite frequently. You will find this one as a wait which matters a lot, because it is a wonderful performance that he comes up with. There is more than one phase to his work, as there is stoicism that runs through him in the beginning, and as patience keeps running out, the beast is to be unleashed in the end. The transformation that comes across him is brilliantly shown on the screen, and he has those moments in the end which changes the mood of the film all of a sudden. Well, when he is around, he rises above the movie itself, not with his fans as the superstars do, but with the performance – this one has no surprises there, and we know that the expectations are to be met in that particular department every time.

Further performers of the soul :: There is no doubt about what Aishwarya Lekshmi can do either, as she began with Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela and went on to act in Mayaanadhi, a movie which brought her all the appreciation that a new actress in the field could gather. The intensity that she displays in this movie is something that we haven’t seen for a long time. The emotions are strong with her, and we feel the depth all the time. We have had many actresses who came into the industry and disappeared rather soon, but Aishwarya in one actress who is certain to be here – a movie with Fahadh and her around was always going to a work with some fantastic performances, and that was absolutely true. Sharafudheen comes in an avatar which is different, and that kind which is not usually associated with him, and same is the case of Vijilesh who was last seen in Theevandi. Dileesh Pothan has a nice small role, and Unnimaya Prasad of Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Parava fame as well as Chethan who is best known for Guppy leaves some impact.

How it finishes :: The movie becomes special more because of the treatment rather than anything else. The story might seem like something which you know, and wandering through different genres, the transformation is certainly too quick for some of the viewers to like. But just like his other movies, Amal Neerad has surely brought something for us to remember – it could be one element, and something which is coated in so much style, but we have it each and every time. Mangalyam Thanthunanena which has released on the same day with Kunchacko Boban and Nimisha Sajayan has a very deep struggle in there, and therefore, the success of Varathan should come as no surprise. It becomes an example of a stylish thriller with great visuals, music and a wonderful cast. Ranam had the style, but this one thrives on the thrills, especially at the end.

Release date: 20th September 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Dileesh Pothan, Arjun Asokan, Sharafudheen, Vijilesh Karayad, Nisthar Sait, Chethan Jayalal, Jinu Joseph, Kochu Preman, Unnimaya Prasad, Maala Parvathi, Shobhi Thilakan


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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rakshadhikari Baiju

Vampire Owl: This character reminds me of myself during my early days.

Vampire Bat: You mean the days before you became a vampire.

Vampire Owl: No, my early days as a vampire apprentice.

Vampire Bat: I have heard that you performed really bad during those days.

Vampire Owl: No, I had balance in all aspects of life just like this man in the trailer.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see how this can be termed as balance.

Vampire Owl: Well, my case was all about balancing everything in life with so much skill that I managed to develop just from the inside.

Vampire Bat: There is no balance in life; one thing goes the right way, and something else losses the way.

Vampire Owl: I am actually writing a book on it, with special thanks to you.

Vampire Bat: That is an action completely against balance.

[Gets the tickets with cardamom tea and cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Baiju (Biju Menon) is everything for a group of people at Kumbalam, a region which is commonly considered as a part of an extended Kochi, but still retains its simple, village-like life. Surrounded by the Vembanad Lake, the place is connected at both sides by bridges, which is slowly and steadily transforming the lives of the people there. Here, this man leads a group of youngsters who are part of a cricket team which has been trying to win local tournaments, but not with that much success – it hasn’t stopped them from trying though. The team’s members include Manoj (Deepak Parambol) and Unni (Aju Varghese) among the others. Manoj has fallen for a girl in the neighbourhood named Rose (Anagha L K Maruthora) who also seems to have some interest in him, while a co-worker, Sreekala (Krishna Padmakumar) has fallen for Unni who is not interested in her and is looking for a girl to marry all around the state.

So, what happens next? :: His lack of interest in his job despite being in government service doesn’t make his wife Ajitha (Hannah Reji Koshy) happy, and the same is the case with his parents. He also spends money from his pocket to help his friends in need, and is the major force behind leading a boy in his team to Ranji trophy and later into an IPL team. Despite avoiding all the responsibilities at home as well as office, he is still a loved man everywhere. Being an irrigation department official and also a patron of the Kumbalam Brothers Club will keep him going through a journey which started when he was just a kid, along with George (Dileesh Pothan) and other friends of him, who have all settled outside India or at least outside Kerala. But he remains in his hometown, doing the same things as if it is to go on for eternity – but how long can these continue during a time when modernisation comes up, and who all will be with him?

The defence of Rakshadhikari Baiju :: There is an abundance of humour in Rakshadhikari Baiju, and it is no surprise with the cast that we see here. With the simple things that could happen in anyone’s life, the tale progresses nicely, even as there is nothing like Chinthavishtayaaya Shyamala unlike expected at one point. With the performances and events, things just seem natural here, with nothing artificial added. The message that the movie provides is also something for this age, when children try to replace the outdoor sports for computer games and more and more of mobile gaming – the movie asks its viewers to encourage outdoor sporting events which will improve the health of an upcoming generation, and also to save those free spaces, the green open grounds with trees in villages and towns. There is also that feeling of nostalgia that will come back to us seeing all these happenings. A realistic tale about common people is always better than a fake story claiming to be realistic, whether it is about a slow love story that will take an eternity to finish doing something or related to a tale filling a town with criminals who love pork.

The claws of flaw :: What surprises one the most is that there are villains in the movie, and along with one coming right out of a modern world which has no real face, there is another one played by Padmaraj Ratheesh, which goes absolutely nowhere – there never seems to be any need except for one funny sequence or two which works due to Biju Menon’s comic timing. There is also the love angle added with the character named Rose, which is also pretty much wasted just as our protagonist’s own love story flashback that comes into the present. Without these, the movie would have saved a lot of time, and the extra length of the movie could have been cut down to make this a very good entertainer with no dull moments; but here we see those sequences which are not really needed. The simplicity of the movie also needed more of the touch of feel-good and nostalgia to power it to the next level, and the same is also not there.

Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon once again becomes what the character needs him to be, and this role is no surprise for sure. Just like he did in Vellimoonga and Swarna Kaduva, he uses the simple incidents in life to evoke laughter, and he is well supported here. Aju Varghese keeps doing what he does the best, and provides the fun-filled support. Deepak Parambol does the role that could be of the second hero fine enough, despite his character losing way by the end. It is Hareesh Perumanna who has some of the funniest moments in the movie though, and his character has the comic side strong and written all over. Dileesh Pothan has only his presence for only a few minutes though, and still there is a lot of fun with his sequences starting with the dialogue about having changed by being rich. Hannah Reji Koshy whom we had seen for the last time in Darwinte Parinamam has a nice stay here as the leading actress too.

How it finishes :: This is one of those lesser hyped movies which can stay long just by being the movie that everyone can watch and enjoy, somewhat close to what Vellimoonga did even if not being that much of a force, considering the fact that families only have Sakhavu as the newer movie that is left to go for, Puthan Panam being pretty much a clear terrible movie, and also having an ‘Adult certificate’. The Great Father and 1971: Beyond Borders should also be there along with the undisputed best Malayalam movie of the year so far which is Take Off, but our movie starts a new innings here with not much of a challenge for a week which is in the safe zone. If you liked the Biju Menon starrers Vellimoonga and Swarna Kaduva, there is no doubt that you will like this one too, and so this one is a safe bet; there is a little bit of Anuraga Karikkin Vellam feeling in this one too. Simple, and without complicating things, the movie here stays close to life, and also allows the viewers to take the messages home.

Release date: 21st April 2017
Running time: 162 minutes
Directed by: Ranjan Pramod
Starring: Biju Menon, Hannah Reji Koshy, Aju Varghese, Deepak Parambol, Hareesh Perumanna, Dileesh Pothan, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Alencier Ley Lopez, Janardhanan, Indrans, Vijayaraghavan, Chethan Jayalal, Vishal Krishna, Aabid Nassar, Ambika Mohan, Nebish Benson, Krishna Padmakumar, Anjali Aneesh, Anagha L K Maruthora, Sankar Induchoodan, Sasi Kalinga

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.