Jai Bhim

What is Jai Bhim about? :: The movie begins with a group of people who are supposed to be from some lower castes or tribes having some police cases forced on them without any particular reason other than their community of birth. In the end, almost all the cases fall on them, as police closes the pending cases by putting them on these people. Raja Kannu (K Manikandan) catches snakes and rats in the village, and lives in a tribal area of a remote village with her wife Senggeni (Lijomol Jose). The tribe is known for their useful job, which helps the rich people of the area who boasts of their higher caste status, and won’t care about these people. But Raja Kannu is also arrested by police in the name of a robbery which happened in the house of the village head, as there is a lot of force on the cops due to the same. The police says that her husband had escaped with three other tribals on a fateful night. They are helped by as Maithra (Rajisha Vijayan) who has been working as a teacher among the tribals, and was trying to provide them with enough education and some identity to go with it.

So, what happens next in this tale? :: Advocate Chandru (Suriya) leads cases for the downtrodden people, and has managed to help many people before. But in this particular case, police has already prepared everything, and with enough proof being ariticially created, this eems to be very difficult for Chandru. SP Ashok Varadhan (Sibi Thomas) wants the case to be solved at any cost, and the local police officers go further to manipulate everything from the first point. Chandru visits the whole area with Maithra, and tries to find some clues. But will he be enough for this particular case, as many more false witnesses are being added, and it becomes a thing of prestige for the government? Can truth go above the false witnesses in an age of hopelessness and lies? The question still remains if the three are even alive and Chandru wants IG Perumalsamy (Prakash Raj) to investigate the office, and Advocate Ram Mohan (Rao Ramesh), the most prominent and respected lawyer will stand against Chandru for the government and the police.

The defence of Jai Bhim :: It is up to Suriya and Lijomol Jose to keep the film strong at the top, and there is no point where you feel that they are not fully immersed in these characters which they portray. Seeing the latter in such a role was a surprise, and one would wish her back in many more Malayalam movies. The film is a valiant take on ferocious discrimination and injustice which has been forced on people just for their birth in a particular community. In doing that, the film remains strong at all times. In staying with the subaltern against the strong and the influential, it makes some very strong points. The same is portrayed without using the useless mass fight scenes, which would have been there if this film was taken a few years ago, but the movie chooses not to satisfy the brainless mass. There are many emotional moments in the film, and the agony that the weak goes through is portrayed realistically rather than with the unnecessary extras. The intensity that the film carries is a lot too, and the strength only increases as the film progresses.

Positives and negatives :: The film does take some time to go through its beginning stages, and it does have the predictable stuff at work too. From the moment it starts, we are somewhat sure about what would happen even without knowing the history of the real-life tale, and we feel that the film could have been a little shorter. Some dialogues could have been avoided, but a few others could have had more detail, like when talking about the Rajan case which happened long ago in Kerala. Rajisha Vijayan could have also had more to be done, even with some good time being spent on the screen. It is always normal to expect more from this kind of a film, because we know the kind of topic it deals with. There is always something to take home in this kind of movies though, and this one, even though dealing with a topic which people might be aware of, leaves us with the reminder that injustice still exists, and there is the need for someone to raise the voice at the right time for the right people, and not for some celebrities who have their own ways of saving themselves, having their own influence and power.

Performers of the soul :: Suriya has one strong performance added here, and it seems that he has become the character like a fine reflection of a determined, enthusiastic, righteous lawyer. The focus that is required in the character is shown without the extreme heroism that would have taken over in some other movie, but not in this case. There is no violence related to the man either, as there is no beating up the bad guys, and there are no stylish dialogues, which makes the character blend in right into the film’s mood. It does feel that he is really into the character so well, and becomes a mirror of the ideology inside him. This is also the first Suriya film that I have reviewed here, and I am glad that this movie could be chosen for the same. Lijomol Jose, whom we know for the lovely supporting role in Maheshinte Prathikaaram and the lead role in Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, has her biggest role here, and she has performed exceptionally, making her the leading actress, the woman who was wronged, and seeking justice. I hope that she would continue in the film industry after marriage too.

Further performers of the soul :: K Manikandan in the husband’s role has death coming to his character after a fine performance. Prakash Raj plays a solid police officer with his own ideology, which we love, and he is the one cop whom you would love to have in your universe of reality. Rajisha Vijayan, who won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for her debut film, Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, also has her moments, being a strong part of this. We know what she has done in Kho Kho, June and Finals, and she could suit at any place with grace. She has a superior status among this generation of actresses in Malayalam film industry, and so when she is there, you wish to check out the movie. The villains are all good too – when you look at them, they are not the same kind of antagonists, for the work at different levels. They are all united by a few things, but you see the divergence that runs through them, with them acting different even when doing the same job. There are lots of supporting cast members who also do some jobs worth appreciation, staying strong in the background throughout the film.

How it finishes :: There have been many courtroom dramas, and Pink might be the most famous among them – this one nicely adds to the list of those films. Unlike most of such movies which have dealt with similar topics including bringing justice to the subaltern, this one has its complete focus on such divisions and atrocities committed in the same name. The film is also supposed to be based on a petition which was filed in 1995, and the characters are also known to be based on real-life people with real-life incidents forming the background of the film. There is always the feel for some need for films on discrimination, and this one makes a welcome addition, as it makes some strong points about the same. It is also available with audio in Hindi, and therefore, it should be accessible to a much bigger audience on Amazon Prime Video. Theatres have opened, but you still have moves like this one on OTT, and you know you have to trust the OTT.

Release date: 2nd November 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 164 minutes
Directed by: TJ Gnanavel
Starring: Suriya, Lijimol Jose, Rajisha Vijayan, Prakash Raj, Rao Ramesh, Guru Somasundaram

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Balan Vakeel

What is the movie about? :: S Balakrishnan (Dileep) is a lawyer who works under the reputed advocate Pramod Sujanapalan (Arjun Nandakumar). But he hasn’t been able to achieve much in his professional career due to his stammer, even though he was known to be a smart & intelligent person during his college days. His father and mother (Siddique and Bindu Panicker) are concerned about him, but are sure that he can only be a failure in life, with former also being a chain smoker who tries different drugs. His first successful case is that of Ansaar Ali Khan (Aju Varghese), a local goon who is involved in a robbery case. Ansaar doesn’t have the cash to pay as his fees, and therefore provides him with a place to stay at low rent. But this new place has Irumbu Babu’s (Bheeman Raghu) presence, and he considers it to be his own room and wants him to leave. But it will be the smallest of his problems.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is then that his brother-in-law P Mohanan Pillai (Suraj Venjaramoodu) comes up with a plan to make some easy money. He asks Balakrishnan to be a part of it, and she accepts the same reluctantly. He sends a notice to a given address asking for compensation in the name of a woman (Priya Anand) who claims to have been abused by the person at the address. But it turns out that it is the address of the DGP of Kerala Police, KE Eapen (Renji Panicker) who is suprised to get the same. The charge of investigation goes to Indhulekha Marar (Lena) who gets only a limited amount of time to solve the case. Meanwhile it turns out that the person whose name is in the letter is Anuradha Sudharshan (Mamta Mohandas), a woman who is completely unaware of this. There seems to be some conspiracy behind all these. But there is no clue regarding where to begin.

The defence of Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel :: There are the twists in store in Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel for sure, and there is mystery awaiting to be revealed, related to a conspiracy. We also have incidents which seems to reflect reality, but there is the certainty of exaggeration regarding the same. The emotional flashback in the movie becomes effective with the last twist, but otherwise it feels strange, and makes you wait the whole time trying to find something out of it. There is also the presence of a fine cast to support everything out there, making sure that they manage all that this movie can provide. There is some good humour out there, even though not throughout the flick. It is seen more in the initial stages, starting from the introduction of the main character itself. The interval punch is strong enough to make one interested in the second half, even though the first half wasn’t that much there.

The claws of flaw :: It can be seen that there is no attempt to make this movie go through a fully entertaining path, and there is no plan to make this a perfect journey as an investigation thriller either, as this is caught somewhere in between. The jokes are also just partially effective, and we see that the funny side in the name of children hitting older men, people falling on electricity lines and surviving, a drug addict father instead of the usual alcoholic one etc – they are just there for the sake of adding some strange funny side. There is also the presence of some unnecessary mass scenes, and the hero sending people flying around comes in, and the struggling protagonist that we wanted to watch from the trailer is lost. Having such a protagonist beating up people all of a sudden works against the overall mood of the movie, and what we know about the protagonist. The songs are not that good either.

The performers of the soul :: This seems to be a movie nicely made for Dileep, as he has this in control, just like many other movies of the same kind. There is no problem here, as he had played advocate trying to serve justice before in Passenger, and there was Mamta Mohandas there too, with the same name for her character, Anuradha. Well, Passenger is a movie long way ahead of this one, without doubt. Mamta Mohandas is here for a full role unlike what she had in 9. There is not much for her to do regarding the investigation here though, as she is the victim and there is the protagonist to save the day. A little romantic side added there seems to be rather forced though, as this movie could have done without it. The focus on its main idea would have been enough, and trying to play cupid between the main character didn’t do both of them any good.

Further performers of the soul :: Siddique’s father character is kind of strange, but brings the funniest moments of the movie with ease. There is his comic timing that lightens up the movie really well. Aju Varghese is the next person in the comedy department, and it works well for him most of the time too – he does get some memorable funny ones. Suraj Venjaramoodu also has the comedy working in his favour, even though at parts it seems out of order. Priya Anand gets another smart role after Ezra and Kayamkulam Kochunni, but with lesser time spent on the screen. Veterans like Ganesh Kumar and Renji Panicker right there, doing what they do the best in police roles. Another person who shines so well inside the uniform is Lena, who is also there Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam, and mystery-solving journey of puzzles which is also running in the theatres.

How it finishes :: For B Unnikrishnan, this movie comes after Villain, which was a smart one for sure. Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel does take the path of Vikadakumaran and Jolly LLB, a trend related to a struggling lawyer whenever the same is the protagonist. This one has its moments of thrills and twists are brought into the scene, but there is not doubt about the fact that this could have done better. There is the fine premise already set, and the idea that has scope for a lot, but it is not utilized in the best way. Maybe we have to wait to get something better out of a story related to courtroom, and we can do that. Until then, lets watch Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel and enjoy the interesting side. For those who wants the more realistic side, there is always Kumbalangi Nights & June running, and seemingly good enough to keep doing the same for a long time.

Release date: 21st February 2019
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: B Unnikrishnan
Starring: Dileep, Mamta Mohandas, Priya Anand, Aju Varghese, Siddique, Ganesh Kumar, Renji Panicker, Bindu Panicker, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Saiju Kurup, Vamsi Krishna, Harish Uthaman, Lena, Arjun Nandakumar, Pramod Sujanapalan, Bheeman Raghu, Veena Nair, Pradeep Kottayam, Thesni Khan, Sajid Yahiya

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Vikadakumaran

What is the movie about? :: Binu Sebastian (Vishnu Unnikrishnan) is a lawyer who gets only those smaller cases which don’t get him any appreciation in life. Even though his dreams are huge, he never really gets close to achieving them. He goes through a mundane existence in and out of court, and this has lead to a certain lack of interest which makes him careless in dealing with those lesser cases which gets too. His best friend and support is Manikandan Pillai (Dharmajan Pillai) who helps him to get some new cases. Binu is in love with Sindhu (Manasa Radhakrishnan) who runs a canteen near the court. The fact that he only has his mother and a sister with hearing problems, and that his father had left nothing much for the family makes his consider all options to get to fame and money.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is then that Roshi Balakrishnan (Jinu Joseph) and Aishwarya Nair (Rosin Jolly) enters the scene. There is an incident involving the death of a home guard, a hit and run case in which both of these are involved. The former is a rich and young businessman who is known for many illegal activies, and the latter is a popular film actress who is looking to leave cinema field after getting engaged. Soon, the actress is also found dead, and Binu finds himself fighting against Roshi in the beginning, and later defending his case. His friends as well as the media remains divided on this, but it is to be seen how Binu would end up in his career with this kind of a big case. Will there be justice served for anyone in the end?

The defence of Vikadakumaran :: There are enough funny moments in this flick to keep it going. The credit for the same goes to Vishnu and Dharmajan attempting to repeat what was done in Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan. There are some nice moments in the court, both funny and effective, even though there is nothing that raises the bar, in a world where there have been movies like Yes Your Honour, Melvilasom, Jolly LLB, Jolly LLB 2, and Pink – it is still better than that over-hyped disaster of a movie throwing a court-scene out of nowhere, called Queen; the Malayalam one. The movie also nicely ends up with poetic justice being served at the final moments. A common person’s story is depicted well enough, and in doing the same, the main performers do good job. The songs are just okay, not providing too much. There will be fun in store for sure, with some twist to come in the end which will be satisfactory.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt that this movie could have done more with each and every aspect, whether it is the comedy, thrills, twists or the court-room drama. There is the presence of a little too many co-incidences, and we could have had better explanations and even better situations both inside and outside the court. There is also the problem of the villain’s overall smartness going with the wind, and the hero getting the smartest of them all, without nothing much happening in between. We could have also had some social issues being dealt with, considering the premise, and those who thought that something was going to be done by the lawyer regarding the first scene in the movie, one is certainly going to be disappointed. Considering its similarities with other movies with a lawyer as the protagonist, it had to do better, but it never really even try to bring a special ingredient – it could have, but that might not have been the priority.

The performers of the soul :: Vishnu Unnikrishnan is back this year after the memorable fun ride which was Shikkari Shambhu. He rightly suits this role, and has no problems in blending in here. If he was co-staring with Kunchacko Boban in that movie, this Easter weekend, he is in competition with the same actor who has Kuttanadan Marpappa at the theatres, both flicks focusing on the comic side. The combination of Vishnu and Dharmajan gets all the attention from us with the funny side which never ends. Baiju also contributes to the fun without second thoughts, and Rafi has his funny moments too. Jinu Joseph plays a powerful negative character in this movie, and he does that in style as he did in Iyobinte Pusthakam. He is the kind of villain that we always need, with a level of antagonism that stays afloat at all times. Indrans’ small role is very much memorable.

Further performers of the soul :: Manasa Radhakrishnan, the lady lead might be remembered more for playing Jaseela, the protagonist’s sister in Tiyaan. She does a fine job here, even though there is not that much of an opportunity provided for her – being just the love interest of the hero seems to be the priority. Lets have more of her in the industry. Rosin Jolly has an interesting role to play in this one, which she manages well, even though it is surprising that so many of the popular reviewers have mistaken her to be Leona Lishoy. It is understandable to make mistakes for the common man and the bloggers, but when the big names who are claimed as professionals do it, one has to doubt one’s purpose of writing a review. Megha Mathew’s role is restricted in such a way that there is almost nothing for her to make even the least impact. The female characters never really get the boost they need with this one.

How it finishes :: The movie is more or less a fight for justice, for two dead people, one a common man and the other a celebrity, and the responsible person being the same. We expect a lot of sparks as well as emotional sequences, but they are never really things of concern here. We also notice that it never really reaches the level of the movies like Yes Your Honour, Jolly LLB, Jolly LLB 2 and Pink. But if you are looking for some simple fun with a purpose, you can surely choose Vikadakumaran – just don’t expect too much, and enjoy the entertainment, for this one is never really boring at any moment. The same mood seems to be carried on towards the end, as we get to that end. It is more or less the harmless family movie, the kind of flick that Sreenivasan would do again.

Release date: 30th March 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Boban Samuel
Starring: Vishnu Unnikrishnan, Manasa Radhakrishnan, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Baiju, Rosin Jolly, Jinu Joseph, Jayan Cherthala, Megha Mathew, Nelson, Arun Ghosh, Indrans, Mahesh, Rafi, EA Rajendran, Nizhalgal Ravi, Sunil Sukhada, Seema G Nair

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