Madhuram

What is the movie about? :: Kevin (Arjun Ashokan) is the bystander for his mother, who is going to have a surgery at the government medical college hospital very soon. He is married to Cherry (Nikhila Vimal) who isn’t accepted by his mother yet. He is very much tensed about it, and spends most of the time wondering about what is to happen next. Sabu (Joju George) is there as a bystander for his wife Chitra (Shruti Ramachandran). There are also others who have become part of the hospital during their time spent out there. Ravi (Indrans) is a retired postman who is waiting for his wife to be discharged, while celebrating forty years of marriage. Thajudeen (Fahim Safar) is a bystander for his father who is forced to come there because the doctor in the hosptial is very famous, and a quick surgery is required. Despite how much how much Ravi talks about the importance of staying in long marriage and how much Sabu reasserts the same, Kevin and Cherry are on the verge of a divorce. Cherry wonders if it will happen as soon as his mother is healthy and asks him to leave her.

So, what happens happens around here? :: Thajudeen is to first one to leave the hospital from the group, as his father has a stroke and dies, causing moments of silence and depression everywhere around them. Kevin’s tension only further increases as the surgery is delayed, and after knowing about the death of Thajudeen’s father. The same also affects Ravi upto an extent, as he is also a little bit worried. Sabu talks to the others about his love story with Chitra which happened at Kunjikka’s (Jaffar Idukki) restaurant, where she used to come and have biriyani in secret. They married after causing a lot of problems in the neighbourhood. Ravi’s tale is about him falling in love with his wife while delivering letters at a locality, and it was another case of love story wrecking havoc around. When Kevin’s anxiety problems get better, they are surprised to find that Sabu is surprisingly angry at the hospital staff, which leads to the big revelation by Doctor Rajah (Lal) about Chitra. This makes them wonder how long he has been in the hospital.

The defence of Madhuram :: The movie has to be appreciated more for its optimistic viewpoint about relationships, and life that goes on with love and endurance against all odds. With Joju George who seems to go through the whole thing as if living through it rather than acting, and Shruti Ramachandran who blends in to this role in a realistic manner like no other, this one feels like a safe watch from the beginning itself. The movie’s messages about relationships is beautiful, as it celebrates being in marriage, and with love. The movie also knows where to place the emotions, without any overdose of melodrama coming into the picture to ruin things. The humour which the movie uses in the initial stages brings some early delight, and as it passes on to the sad and emotional side, it makes sure that the balance is not lost, and we are not put into a world of eternal depression, for there is faith, belief and hope at all times. The taste of love between husbands and wives never losses its charm, for love in marriage is shown as a thing with wings more than that of the other kinds of relationships.

Positives and negatives :: Some dialogues might feel like a little too much in the view of life, but the actors who deliver them make it even more effective – the emotions are so well portrayed through them, and we appreciate the choice of performers here again and again – you see how Joju and Indrans make us feel, and the rest are following them so well, effectively. The visuals of the hospital are also nice, and songs with all the picturization makes us feel the emotions which are present at all times. The food also stays with us, and the focus in the same also contributes to the overall mood, which is surprisingly a happy one for most of its run, even though it is set in a hospital and there is the long wait for some risky surgeries going on throughout the film. You also see that this one basically maintains the balance between optimism and realism, unlike Jis Joy movies like Sunday Holiday, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and Mohan Kumar Fans which have so much of optimistic attitude that one feels that there is too much of positivity in life which is not really there. Without the same, this one makes you feel the love, and you are into the emotions.

The performers of the soul :: The director here is blessed with a fantastic cast which anyone would wish to have in a work of drama. It is led by none other than Joju George, the man who touched our emotions the best, not with an emotional drama, but with an investigative thriller, Joseph – that was one turning point which still holds strong in our minds, and this drama holds strong with its emotional content, thanks to him more than anyone else. We have always known what he is capable of, and here is one more testimony to his skills. The combination of Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran is something to remember for long, as their relationship has a lot to take away in this tale of different relationships between many couples. Shruti Ramachandran was already there in the highly emotional drama, Kaanekkaane, which was another film which released in the same platform. This love story of the two over one biriyani and more food, is a thing of high quality and the flashback keeps us glued to the seats and in love. They also have some nicely visualized songs to support their cause – you also remember some simple, yet lovely dialogues.

Further performers of the soul :: After the Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran story, we have the other tale of husband and wife, with Arjun Ashokan and Nikhila Vimal playing the couple without that much of love, and with one mother standing in between them, leading to a possible divorce in future. Arjun Ashokan had the role of a lover in June which came from the same director and has no problems here, while Nikhila Vimal was last seen in the horror movie, The Priest. Her ability to deliver some natural performances were seen in two different roles in the movies Aravindante Athidhikal and Njan Prakashan, and she continues to establish herself as a leading actress with such roles. Even though this is the secondary love story, and is often rushed, raises itself with the performances of the two. Indrans has another touching performance to deliver here after Home, and this character also stays close to us. Jaffar Idukki, Jagadish and Lal also come up with some delightful performances, even though in smaller roles. Fahim Safar, Navas Vallikkunnu and Malavika Sreenath are also notable.

How it finishes :: The movie does have its surprises, but the intention here is to bring an emotional surprise rather than the usual one, and the director is successful in doing the same. There is emotional strength which is equal to, or at times even at a higher level than Kaanekkaane also of Sony LIV, for this movie is purely a relatable drama for many people, and it is about husband and wife relationship. The Tovino-Suraj starrer of the same platform had elements of a thriller, and therefore not relatable for all times, but when we look at Madhuram, its emotional intensity is of the common man’s soul. Well, the work that these OTT platforms have done to make our Christmas celebration better, is to be appreciated, for we have already had the greatest superhero film in India in Netflix, and this one is a collection of emotions, which we are to cherish. Well, with these movies being available everywhere in the online platform, you can give some credit to the Corona virus pandemic for bringing these national and international level of attention.

Release date: 24th December 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Ahammed Khabeer
Starring: Joju George, Shruti Ramachandran, Nikhila Vimal, Arjun Ashokan, Lal, Indrans, Jagadish, Malavika Sreenath, Jaffar Idukki, Babu Jose, Sminu Sijo, Thirumala Ramachandran, Navas Vallikkunnu, Fahim Safar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bodies at Rest

Vampire Owl: Can the bodies be ever at rest as long as the undead are there?

Vampire Bat: We have never been at rest, as far as I know.

Vampire Owl: The castle is witness and proof to that particular statement.

Vampire Bat: I guess that they didn’t have a vampire or zombie to turn them.

Vampire Owl: Even a sorcerer or a witch could do that. Necromancers were actually available for consultation.

Vampire Bat: Even Dr. Frankenstein was available for the bodies.

Vampire Owl: Well, I wouldn’t recommend Mr. Frankenstein to do that again.

Vampire Bat: He is known for that one event involving the creation of life.

Vampire Owl: Yes, he is notorious for the same, and it is not a good sign.

Vampire Bat: Still, he is the one I look forward to, for creating dumb creatures with no teeth, those which walk like zombies.

[Gets a strawberry cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: A much respected pathologist Chen Jia Hao (Nick Cheung) and his assistant Lynn Qiao (Yang Zi) continue to work late at a public morgue on the evening of Christmas, as people begins to celebrate. Even though it is the time to rejoice, there is not much of a crowd outside due to the thunderstorms occuring outside, and people being advised to stay at home at least for the night, or until a notice comes from the authorities. It is then that three armed criminals come into the morgue, demanding that the doctor and his assistant give them a bullet from the dead body of a girl was shot dead earlier. They beat up the elder security guard known to everyone as Uncle Jin (Shu-liang Ma), and the doctor seems to have been left with no option, with phone cables being cut, mobile phones taken, and nobody left inside the building, as it is Christmas evening with a terrible weather making everyone leave early.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The three men who goes under the names, Santa (Richie Jen), Elf (Carlos Chan) and Rudolph (Jiayi Feng) manages to get a bullet from the doctor, but it turns out that it was not one from their gun. The doctor had managed to trick them into believing that he had taken the bullet out of the girl’s dead body, but he hadn’t. After the criminals leave, he takes the body from her back, and manages to break out of the room where they were locked in, only to be chased by the returning criminals again, as he tries to sneak out of there with his assistant and the injured security guard. But the criminals are quick, and they want to get that bullet to remove any proof, because this case has many implications. Can there be hope for the trio to escape and give the bullet to the police, before the criminals catch up to them? Are there other secrets which are to be revealed as time passes? Will this really be a Christmas night with joy, or is there unlimited terror awaiting them all?

The defence of Bodies at Rest :: The movie does have an interesting premise, with three people being caught in a morgue with three masked killers ready to shoot at them, unless the decide the give away the evidence of a murder – it is the kind of thing that keeps us interesting from the beginning itself. As the movie begins, there is a fine shot of the Chinese city that displays the beauty of modernity at night with the lights, and also showing the severity of nature with thunderstorms coming in strong and seemingly without an end – it is more or less an early reflection of what is to follow, as the thriller unfolds. The action scenes in the movie are all believable, as they fight normally, and both the doctor and his assistant while trying to resist, get themselves on the receiving end of the punches and kicks. There are some twists to be revealed in between, and you are in full support of the two protagonists to make it out, while the three classical Aristotelian unities of place, time and action are maintained, with everything happening in the morgue at a night, focusing on one bullet and dead body, having only minor exception.

The claws of flaw :: Bodies at Rest could have done more, and there is absolutely no doubt about it here – there are enough dead bodies in the morgue to assure that, and there is enough going on inside and outside which could have further contributed to increasing the level of this movie. A morgue is always a place of eerie and fear, and with some dead bodies, the same could have been achieved – even the corpse of the girl doesn’t serve as a reason for adding some terror in here. It would have had many places to hide, and even the morgue could have had secrets to be unveiled. The two protagonists, especially the girl could have found more spaces to escape through, as she is quite small. A better connection between the doctor and the main antagonist could have also been nice. The villains often end up being funny, and that is not too good considering the fact that they are wearing the masks, holding the guns, and are ready to murder anyone to take the bullet out of the dead girl’s body.

Peformers of the soul :: Nick Cheung plays the main character here, the one who qualifies as the protagonist from the first scene itself. He is very good, as we see the doctor handling things so well, and he goes through the character nicely. The man who is ready to take a hit to save the forensic evidence has you supporting him throughout the movie. There is also a flashback about him which is discussed here, and it becomes linked to the criminals who have something more to hide than the case of one bullet inside a young girl. Yang Zi is a lovely addition to this movie, and one has to say that she provides some surprises that we love. It has to be said that she fights incredibly well, as she runs away from the criminals, and she brings kind of an escape attack every time here. The three criminals are played very well, and Richie Jen stands out among them as the leader and the focused one. Carlos Chan and Jiayi Feng supports well enough to keep the team going. Shu-liang Ma who plays the security guard gets less to do, but does it okay.

How it finishes :: Bodies at Rest tries to compete with other thrillers which seem to make something out of an idea which feels great from the beginning itself, and the action is well restricted to a single place during one night with all the focus there. It does succeed in doing that up to an extent, but one is not supposed to expect something like The Autopsy of Jane Doe, for this is not that kind of near-perfect thriller. We do have an urge to watch these kinds of movies, with people locked in a morgue full of dead bodies and criminals hunting them, all being something that catches our attention and interest easily. Even though the reviews haven’t been that kind to this one, this Chinese movie is something that will keep you interested throughout the movie, and even before the attack on the morgue – it has that kind of a perfect setting to begin things. Bodies at Rest is only the fourth full-length Chinese movie I watched, and it was surely worth the one and half hours of run-time.

Release date: 16th August 2019
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Starring: Nick Cheung, Richie Jen, Yang Zi, Carlos Chan, Jiayi Feng, Shu-liang Ma

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Tell Me How I Die

Vampire Owl: This looks more like one of those “death-star” experiments from Doctor Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: Well, he doesn’t work with the humans anymore, and so this can’t be his work.

Vampire Owl: I never understand what he meant by “death-star” though. Isn’t that a Star Wars thing?

Vampire Bat: Well, he is the star and others die. That could be one of the reasons.

Vampire Owl: I certainly wish that it was the other way around.

Vampire Bat: A dead Frankenstein is surely not a good Frankenstein, especially when he returns again. So, you can stop thinking about it that way.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that he has traveled beyond the boundaries of life already.

Vampire Bat: He has even told me how you die.

Vampire Owl: What? That is impossible. I would prove him wrong.

Vampire Bat: Which is why he mentioned only about Lady Death being involved.

[Gets three cups of self-made tea with Good Day biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A group of youth from different parts of the state comes together at a medical facility for the drug trials, which turns out to be the easiest way to make some quick money. They get all the facilities until the trials end, but till then, they are not supposed to leave the facility or communicate through mobile phone to anyone. Anna (Virginia Gardner), a waitress looking for better options and more money also joins the team of young people at the facility. The other people participating in the experiment includes Den (Nathan Kress), Kristen (Kirby Bliss Blanton), Marcus (Mark Furze), Scratch (Ryan Higa) and others. They are told that they can choose to leave before taking the drug, but will not be allowed to leave the premises once they take the required dose. The officials confirm that this restriction is placed for their own safety because there is the possibility of some strange side-effects.

So, what happens next? :: This drug which could be unsafe, has some of the testers in doubt, but these experiments have already been done before, and people have walked out; there is also the presence of specialists, which meant that precautions were enough. So, everyone in the group decides to take the drug and enjoy the facilities provided there. Kristen and Marcus are the first two people to feel the effects of the drug, as they see the future, or rather go through it, to come back to the present again. They are confused, with their life repeating before them more than once. But they go and see those in charge, and are assured that this is quite normal and natural after taking the drugs. Only some people in the group are expected to have these effects on them, and so the two are told not to speak about this to anybody else, as they awaited more results.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: Anna is the next one to see the future, but this goes further as she sees each and every person among them dying a horrible death. But the result is that she is sedated and tied up so that there is no panic among the others. Meanwhile, Den, Kristen, Marcus and Scratch plans and escapes from the facility, only for Den to make them come back for the others, especially Anna, who might all die inside there if the vision Anna had indeed was about future. Their worst fear comes true as the others are killed by a stranger. Anna manages to get herself free from the restraints and they unite, except for Scratch who never got back inside. Anna keeps having visions of them being killed, and Scratch finds something which he was not supposed to find. They discover that Dr. Jerrems (William Mapother) who is in charge had locked himself inside a bunker, and the serial killer on the loose is someone who was earlier experimented on, and now he wants revenge on everyone.

The defence of Tell Me How I Die :: We have another tale of people being used for testing drugs having unexpected effects on the volunteers. The idea is expanded cleverly here, and with the interesting developments in the first half, gets our attention right where it needs to be. We are given the license to expect the terror to be unleashed in one way or the other. With its limited resources, the movie has surely done well enough, one has to admit – there is nothing that big being tried here, and we notice the same easily. Even for a movie that is not known to have that much of a budget, this one does look good – there is nothing to blame visually here. The movie also has the potential to develop its main character in such a way as to make a big serial killer out of it with a possible sequel. Kirby Bliss Blanton whom we know from The Green Inferno, and the protagonist Virginia Gardner are the pick of the cast here.

The claws of flaw :: What we feel the first time after watching this movie is that it had so much scope with its idea, and the basic thing could have been explored further. There is even a serial killer, the villain who is on rampage, and he gets his kills so easily – but the movie doesn’t bring him as a scary figure or try to make him a character whom nobody is going to forget. There could have also been a better way of seeing future, and the same could be used to bring effectiveness to the cat and mouse game between the killer and his possible victims. There is also an ending which is not that effective, and we have a certain amount of confusion about how things turn out in the end. We demand more, without doubt, especially after everything is set up nicely with a sequence of events – we ask for scares, and big twists which can turn things upside down as the core is revealed, but the choice taken here is not to do anything special and just go on, which is rather surprising.

How it finishes :: There has been many experiments which have been the theme of movies like Ex Machina and Morgan, but both those movies were about creating something new, while this one is focused on enhancing human abilities. Once again, we have people trying do the strange and the unpredictable in the name of science, crossing some areas which were not supposed to be crossed. Tell Me How I Die is going to be just another one of those stories which will have our attention, and keep going through the same. It will be an interesting choice for some time-pass, and maybe it will have us watching more of similar movies again. After all, the world is never really that short of such ideas. There are always smaller movies which tries to get through with an interesting idea – you can surely add this one to that list of movies which try to do more with what it got.

Release date: 2nd September 2016
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: D.J. Viola
Starring: Virginia Gardner, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Nathan Kress, Ryan Higa, Mark Furze, Ethan Peck, William Mapother, Marnie Alexenburg, Mark Rolston, Katie Booth, Christopher Allen, Shaun Brown, Julia Ling, Daisun Cohn-Williams, Barry Habib

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela

What is the movie about? :: Chacko (Lal) and Sheela (Shanthi Krishna) are a couple in the city who are going through their usual days. The former was working at Kuwait until a few years ago, and the latter is a Chemistry professor at the nearby college. While their youngest child Sarah (Ahaana Krishna) lives with them, their eldest child Mary (Srinda Arhaan) lives with her husband Tony (Siju Wilson) nearby. Their only son Kurien (Nivin Pauly) is working at London, and it has been some time since he last visited India. It is during one of these days that Sheela develops a doubt if she has breast cancer. The talk about the same frightens Chacko, who consults his good friend and dentist Varkichan (Dileesh Pothan). The man refers Chacko to a reputed doctor of a famous hospital in Cochin, Saiju (Saiju Kurup) who has cured many patients suffering from cancer. After consulting him and undergoing the tests, they confirm the same, that she does have stage two breast cancer.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is at the same time that Kurien returns to Cochin for spending a forced break, as Sheela had called and asked him to come as soon as possible without saying any reason. He gets the feeling that she had called him to get him married, as most of the other relatives of his age have been married already, and his siblings also share the same thoughts. The only other reason could be related to their grandfather, but he has been the same for years, and there is absolutely no change regarding his health. Chacko, who is afraid of the disease, struggles to even talk about it to his children – but one day, he manages to let them know the truth after a series of misunderstandings. Everyone in the family is shocked and sad, and are cent percent confused about what to do next. The family which had things going straight without any intermissions, gets a lot of thinking to do after that revelation.

And what else is to follow in the adventure in the land of crabs? :: Kurien’s only relief is his long lost friend Subbu (Krishna Shankar) whom he meets after a long time. Sheela tells her family to support her happily, but everyone remains sad and depressed. They decide to get a home nurse to look after the grandfather as Sheela is not well. Their search for one ends with Yesudas (Sharafudheen) whose conditions are agreed upon. Meanwhile, while taking his mother to one of the chemotherapy sessions, Kurien meets a girl from Bangalore named Raichel (Aishwarya Lekshmi) who had arrived in the hospital with her parents, as her father also had cancer. They become good friends, and Kurien feels very much attracted to her. Meanwhile, Sarah is also in love. Chacko keeps struggling to make himself adjust to the understanding and fear of his wife’s disease. In this newly confused world, the battle between chemo and the crab goes on.

The defence of Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela :: There are two sides to Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela – a humorous one and the emotional one. The humour is there in the movie all the way – the light-hearted side of this flick will make it a much loved title for this Onam season for the families. The emotional side is there, as the family is shaken by the unexpected trouble, and we see how they overcome the same, but never missing out on bringing a little comedy here and there. The balance which has been maintained here without letting the flick stumble into some kind of melodrama, is a remarkable achievement. The use of the right cast also makes sure that things work better. The movie leaves us with the message that it is the unexpected twist in life that makes us stronger, and it is the difficulties that makes us capable of more – positivity added there when the trap of hopelessness is present. Along with the same, it is once again re-iterated that family is that important, and it would come over almost all the other things in life; something that most of the new generation would need to realize at some point.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does take the safe route rather than trying anything special or unexpected. It might be rather too simple for the liking of some people, unlike Adam Joan, the other good movie of the Onam-Eid season which makes sure that it is more like the exact opposite of this movie – like a mirror image which reverses things. Well, we have interesting movies at both sides of the mirror, and it is a positive sign for the Malayalam movie industry. Yet, one wonders why it was so necessary to add a romantic side to this movie which adds nothing more than a little bit of cuteness along with a song – without the same, this one would have finished in less than two hours, and Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela would have had no moment of deviation from its beautiful family stuff. In a world when youth wishes for quick movies, the movie’s dilatoriness will trouble more than one person, but if you relate to the characters well enough, such a problem can vanish into thin air. There could also be people who want some parts of this movie to be more serious; well could have been even more touching for sure.

Performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly goes through his role comfortably, as the lazy, Lays eating, London-er with more Keralite thoughts than anything else. There is also a little bit of romantic side for him here, but it is once again the family stuff that he gets to handle, and does very well. When the movie is cute, and the hero is Nivin Pauly, I wonder what can stop the family from rushing into the theatres. It has been a long time since we saw Shanthi Krishna, and it is good to see her back, and she remains the strong point of this movie from the beginning to the end. Lal also joins in and makes this role exactly at the right place. Ahaana Krishna’s second role also seems to be a good choice, as she seems to be doing what Aima Rosmy Sebastian has been doing – she has more to do than the heroine, Aishwarya Lekshmi who has a memorable presence, but gets less time on screen. The Aluvaite Premam team has kind of a get together with Siju Wilson, Krishna Shankar and Sharafudheen there, and strengthens the funny side, and so does Srinda.

How it finishes :: You will find Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela from the debutante director Althaf Salim to be a treat for the whole family, even without trying anything huge. It stays close to life and closer to the heart with those simple moments of life, and simpler instances of comedy being nicely woven into the plot. One has to wonder how well Nivin Pauly has been choosing his movies – from those dual releases of Ivide and Premam, it has been such a fantastic journey. The last three movies, Action Hero Biju, Jacobinte Swargarajyam and Sakhavu have been different in core, and all three of them are worth the appreciation. Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela continues that sequences of interesting movies. With the Tamil movie Richie supposed to come up soon, our movie here will raise hope to an even higher level. As of now, there is no void as it has been at certain points of time, and we have enough to enjoy this vacation season. I wish all of my readers a Happy Eid, as well as a Happy Onam in advance! 🙂

PS: Relate the crab to cancer, and there is more than one meaning which you can take from “the land of crabs” in the title.

Release date: 1st September 2017
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Althaf Salim
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Lal, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Ahaana Krishna, Shanthi Krishna, Siju Wilson, Srinda Arhaan, Krishna Shankar, Sharafudheen, Dileesh Pothan, Saiju Kurup, Sidhartha Siva

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.