Dybbuk

Vampire Owl: I am surprised that they have come up with a remake of Ezra after four years.

Vampire Bat: Yes, four years is a long time for a movie like Ezra.

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time when we had loved a Bollywood horror movie so much?

Vampire Bat: I am also not sure about that. We have been into Hollywood and other foreign language horror only.

Vampire Owl: I would like to know where this one stands in comparison with the original.

Vampire Bat: We had watched the original too long ago. Therefore, I am not sure if we can compare these well enough.

Vampire Owl: I only hope that our memories are as sharp as the vampire manual says.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that this one will have some difference, surely more than what the remakes like Drishyam have.

Vampire Owl: Ghosts need to be shown as somewhat different, because they are all not the same when at different places and affecting different people.

Vampire Bat: Well, maybe the demon of Ezra really needed another outing, and this one can serve it well, like vampires always needed.

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

What is this remake of Ezra all about? :: The death of a Jew in Mauritius marks the end of a century old history of Jews in Mauritius – he was the last Jew around there, part of a group of Jews who had taken refuge in the island to escape persecutions and possible genocides. A mysterious box from the house goes missing, and soon, a local man is found dead without leaving any clues about the murder. It is indeed a strange case, and police hopes that something will lead them in the right direction. A newly married couple, Sam Issac (Emraan Hashmi) and Mahi Sood (Nikita Dutta) seems to be having a problem-free life until they move to Mauritius and the latter brings an antique box back to their new residence in the island. It is an isolated place, more or less like a holiday home, with no human to disturb them. But that would change soon enough, as what she brought back home as part of decorating the place turns out to be a Dybbuk box, which is supposed to be claimed by a Jewish demonic spirit called Dybbuk.

So, what happens next in this tale of horror out of a myth? :: Meanwhile, Sam is still working, as he is part of a company named Zayke, which deals with the disposal of nuclear waste from Europe. He feels that there is a certain amount of hallucination going on with her, as she had a miscarriage just some time ago. The spirit maintains all the qualities of the usual spirits, but is supposed to be among the most dangerous among them all. There is not much known about the same though, as there are not many Jews they know, with most of them migrating to Israel early enough. There would be strange things happening in the house very soon, and soon, a nightmare would begin for them. They think about getting rid of the box, but the spirit already has its place. To read the Hebrew inscription on the box, they contact a professor who gives them the translation. The same person also gives them the contact details of a rabbi who seems to be the only one who can help them. But are they moving in the right path against this particular evil spirit?

The defence of Dybbuk :: There is variety here, which this move inherits from its original, and there is quality in the looks too, with improvements there. The visuals are used well to create the horror advantage, and the darkness as well as the creepy elements are adjusted well with the use of sound effects, and these work really well in the first half to make us interested in a second half which promises further. The visuals of Mauritius nicely adds to the beauty in totality. There is also a lot in the story here, unlike the usual horror movies, and the creature that does the haunting around here is not among the usual ones, as the myth is comparatively new, especially for those who haven’t watched the original. There is the feeling of antiquity as well as a beauty not of this world being portrayed here. There is also that one twist that happens by the end, but that is not too innovative. But we do see that this one has a very slight edge over the original, and yet both remains the same in many elements as well as repeated scenes.

The claws of flaw :: It has to be noted that the evil spirit doesn’t have the terrifying presence that it had in the first half, being repeated in the second – the final exorcism, brings nothing huge, even though were always going for the big finish to lift the film in the end. There were so many possibilities with this movie with the new demon, and the unlimited number of chances are not used at all – it is kind of strange that the movie doesn’t take its opportunities as much as it could, just like the original didn’t. Dybbuk could have been scarier, and there is no doubt about that, with the original idea already being displayed on the big screen with the support of big sound systems – this one being released on Amazon Prime Video, there was the requirement of more power to keep the audience in fear and at the edge of their seats, but we see that such strength is not there, even though we can approve and appreciate the improvements which were made here. Yet, the background story of the spirit was better in the original.

Performers of the soul :: In a movie that has Emraan Hashmi as the protagonist, it is him who leads the way – in comparison with Prithviraj Sukumaran, one has to say that there has been some difference added to the role, but he has managed well, as he did the same in Chehre, the thriller which also released on Amazon Prime Video a few days ago. His affiliation with horror is here to stay, as it seems – there are a few other Malayalam films with certain thriller elements which could have him in the remake, one would feel. Nikita Dutta has come up with a very good performance as the lady in distress, being forced to be part of a demonic activity in which she is completely immersed. There is not much difference in her performance in comparison to the work in the original, but she does seems to have more emotions coming her way – there was the requirement to have a song like “Lailakame” for her too, with that much quality. The rest of the cast fills in well, and we have to look out for the Rabbis this time, and not the priests of the usual background – they have chosen the appropriate ones to play these roles too.

How it finishes :: There has a little shortage of horror movies in Malayalam movie industry, but Bollywood has chosen to remake this one, which is why, one can be sure that the Indian cinema as a whole, has the requirement is for more good horror. We do not have the need for more drama and more romance – there is so much of the same already, as well as those silly masala movies, and we need to move out of them whether with remakes or originals. Therefore, Ezra‘s remake is something which has to be appreciated, and the fact that there is no missing out here is a fine thing. Remaking a Malayalam movie can only mean good things for Bollywood, even though the exact opposite might not mean the same. As far as this film is concerned, the remake is done really well, and even with the limitations of the original maintained the same, there are a few moments which make this movie work as an improvement, with added visuals and special effects. So, Amazon Prime Video can be happy to have this one at a time when people are slowly just starting to think about choosing the theatres over OTT.

Release date: 29th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 152 minutes
Directed by: Jay K
Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Nikita Dutta, Darshana Banik, Pranay Ranjan, Denzil Smith, Ivan Sylvester Rodrigues, Vivana Singh, Sudev Nair, Manav Kaul, Yuri Suri, Vipin Sharma

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Hindi film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bell Bottom

What is the movie about? :: The movie is set during a time period when India was having rather peaceful moments with Pakistan, even though there were many internal conflicts due to different separatist or terrorist-oriented groups being formed within the country, threatening its unity and integrity. It was also the time period when too many flights were being hijacked, much to the dismay of the Indian Prime Minister of the time, Indira Gandhi (Lara Dutta). The newest flight to be hijacked is Indian Airlines flight IC 691, which left Delhi Airport on a fateful morning with passengers including the women’s Kabbadi team of India. It was also the seventh hijacking in the last five years, and this time, the flight had deviated a long way from its path, and there was no communication. Different departments and organizations keep blaming each other for matters of national security, but the Prime Minister calls for immediate attention. They call up the man who has all the information about hijacking, an analyst, also a RAW agent, Anshul Malhotra (Akshay Kumar), codenamed Bell Bottom.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Anshul also has some personal interest in the cases of hijacking, after being happily married to Radhika Malhotra (Vaani Kapoor), and always trying to clear UPSC with lots of hard work. His mother, Raavie Malhotra (Dolly Ahluwalia) was traveling to Great Britain in an Air India flight which was hijacked and taken to Lahore, Pakistan. Even though there was a negotiation between the two governments and also with the terrorists which led to release of the hostages, but only Raavie came back home dead, and it was reported in television that she died of natural causes. But Anshul never stopped focusing on the hijackings which had happened, as he was chosen as part of RAW. Back to this particular hijacking which seems to lead to a group known as Azaadi Dal, but Agent Bell Bottom is sure that this is the work of ISI, and Pakistan has always wanted something to do with these incidents.

And what else is to follow here with the hijack and the investigations? :: As Agent Bell Bottom has a long past related to all of these investigations, his superior officers are confident about his skills, but when the flight lands at Amritsar airport for a change. But when the airplane takes off from Amritsar and once again lands at Lahore airport, Agent Bell Bottom is once again called for an opinion, and this time, they will have to choose a different path. This time, there has to be that change to make a heavy impact, and also to assure that there will be no more hijackings and releasing of terrorists along with millions of dollars as ransom. But it seems that if negotiations are not allowed in Lahore, the airplane will land somewhere else, in a nation where India will be forced to negotiate. Agent Bell Bottom is prepared for the same though, and he calls of a team for an operation which only Mossad had tried before with some success. But they only have time till the next sunset.

The defence of Bell Bottom :: The movie does make the best use of the time period during which it is set. It is something which seems to be focused on, really well. The makers seem to have done a lot of research and has also done some good work in the recreation. The patriotism at the tip of everything also works well for most of time, and the emotional side works less in comparison. Bell Bottom keeps itself floating because it quickly goes back to where it needs to focus, whenever a deviation is being made. It also quickly leaves the usual Bollywood model to the background, and the same hesitates to make its return, and we end up appreciating the same. The final moments of action are also of fine quality, and even when there was the chance to overdo the same, they never take it – they don’t go that much realistic as Take Off had done, but we know how the paths are different, and therefore we know the choices that the makers have to make. The focus on entertainment makes the fine delivery here.

The claws of flaw :: There are surely those moments which were not needed, and some of the initial moments with emotional touch could have been avoided in a movie like this. The film could have directly gone into action, and the initial moments only seem to try and slow down the action just because a romantic song and a background with a tragedy can be there for long enough to be the motivation for what is to come later. There is also the feeling of watching what we have seen, a number of times. Movies like this one can have its own repetitions, but that has to be kept at the minimum. Some of the plot turns are also rather predictable, and those are not the elements which needed to be added in a film like this which could have used more suspense and bigger twists. In the end, we also see that things are solved rather too easily, instead of having a group of events coming together due to circumstances – films like this one can have bigger brains working behind.

Performers of the soul :: You see Akshay Kumar doing what he has done really well with a few movies in the past which has dealt with similar topics and situations. He had faced similar moments in films like Baby and Airlift, and had done the job with so much of quality related to his work – it is something which suits him really well, and we can always trust him to do this kind of job. He would make a perfect spy in a film like this at any moment. I would prefer to see him in films like these, rather than those comedy movies where he is often placed among some lower quality jokes. Lara Dutta as Indira Gandhi might be the biggest surprise which is in store here, even though we knew it from the trailer, and she blends in really well. Vaani Kapoor’s role is more or less the usual one in which we see the lady leads of Bollywood in a movie like this, and that is done well too. Huma Qureshi also has something to add for shorter period of time.

How it finishes :: Bell Bottom might remind us of some of similar films, but not related to hijacking, but in relation with the covert operations abroad. Most of us were not able to watch this movie in the theatres due to COVID-19 pandemic making the grand return in the form of second wave. This one had released during the Independence Day weekend, and there was also Shershaah on Amazon Prime, which would have been the first preference at that time, because most of the audience have Amazon Prime Video, and not the other options. But as a movie, we can consider Bell Bottom to be the winner of that week as far as Bollywood is considered, even though in the case of Malayalam films, it was Kuruthi rising above every other film. With a touch of patriotism and thrills being always there, it is good to welcome this film to Amazon Prime too, as we are still awaiting the opening of theatres in Kerala, with COVID-19 numbers coming down.

Release date: 19th August 2021 (India), 16th September 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Ranjit M Tewari
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Denzil Smith, Adil Hussain, Aniruddh Dave, Thalaivasal Vijay, Dolly Ahluwalia, Mamik Singh, Zain Khan Durrani, Abhijit Lahiri, Sumit Kaul, Sunit Tandon, Jatin Negi, Kavi Raj, Amit Kumar Vashisth, Anjali Dinesh Anand, Ashok Chhabra, Balram Gupta, Girish Sharma, Nitin Khanna, Karim Saidi, Deesh Mariwala, Ahmed Yahya Berrada

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Indian film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Phantom

phantom (2)

Vampire Owl :: Finally, we have someone whom we can add to our team.

Vampire Bat :: I have no idea what you are talking about. This movie is not related to any Phantom about whom you have heard. Actually, not even to Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Vampire Owl :: What? Not the Ghost who Walks? Not the Phantom of the Opera? Not even the usual ghost?

Vampire Bat :: No is the answer for all the three questions.

Vampire Owl :: I still like this poster. It seems to be designed with certain skill.

Vampire Bat :: Well, they have cancelled the shows for Double Barrel. What choice do we have?

Vampire Owl :: I believe that watching a non-Malayalam movie for Onam is a true case of cruelty.

Vampire Bat :: Well, we are forced to do the same.

Vampire Owl :: Phantom it is then!

Vampire Bat :: I am sure that the movie will have its moments.

[Gets the tickets and goes to buy cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan), a former soldier who was dishonorably discharged from the Indian Army has another chance at reclaiming his lost reputation and the love of his ex-military father. As RAW looks for the least suspected and less known face which they can depend on, Daniyal seems to be the best choice, despite that one bad decision which was made at the India-Pakistan border. He is given the task to eliminate a number of masterminds behind the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks, as an unofficial mission without the approval of the Indian Government. With the help of a former intelligence agent Nawaz Mistry (Katrina Kaif), Daniyal starts his mission at London, which will be followed by targets at other parts of the world.

The defence of Phantom :: As expected, Phantom is a thriller which attempts to make something which hasn’t happened to be represented as a possible truth which the audience are supposed to like. The feelings of every Indian will be touched here. With regular doses of patriotic statements and some interesting moments of action and thrills, Phantom does manage to accomplish that. With the early statements and the shots, this movie does create that feeling required in the viewer to move on. The idea is always there, and it never ceases to make the audience think over it again and again. The locations are really well created. There is a very realistic feel concerning the environment everywhere throughout this movie. The pace is kept good, and there is no dull moment, and even a possible romance doesn’t really happen, which is a clear bonus in the end. The ending is also something to be loved.

Claws of flaw :: The inability to use the full potential of Phantom is rather disappointing – there was so much to be done and something like the earlier espionage thriller Baby was possible here. But it just goes on and on with its material without completely developing the same. It does begin in a smarter way which somewhat struggles during the later stages, and when they do, they just add the gunshots or the chases. This should have been an espionage thriller movie with precision rather than making too much noise – in the gamer’s terms, instead of going Hitman: The Silent Assassin, this one becomes Unreal Tournament or Quake 3 Arena at times, chasing and shooting people around. One has to wonder why the thrills could not be embedded into this story instead of just coming and going; the story itself has the problems in the later stages, but couldn’t this have made it a lot stronger?

Performers of the soul :: The movie rests on the shoulders of Saif Ali Khan who plays the man who makes the difference and brings justice to the victims of the terrorist attacks not only in Mumbai but also at the other places. Even though he doesn’t go on to create that huge impact as this character, he surely controls things. He maintains that tough looks, and keeps the determination required for his character. The best moments from him are also in the first half of the movie, even though Katrina Kaif gets them in the second along with a few lesser known actors. The support is actually very good here, and there are times when the viewers wish for them to be there for more time on the screen. Katrina Kaif is not required to do that much here, but she manages things very well. The characterization make sure that not too much is demanded.

Soul Exploration :: There is the tagline “A story you wish were true”. It talks about the known fact that the masterminds who were really responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks are still living in peace and the truth that justice was not served to victims of that brutal terrorist attack which remains a permanent scar. The movie tells the viewers about how it could have been, and what would have been able to bring peace to the souls of the deceased. There is the freedom of being a fantasy movie asserted and taken right from the moment that tagline was first displayed on a poster. But it surely makes one think about all which have been said, and it does ask relevant questions. The shades of patriotism are also strong, and the strength of rewind can be seen here.

How it finishes :: It is only later that Phantom doesn’t really justify its title. The reason is its transformation as the whole thing moves from the strong point which was the brain to be adventurous. There is a car chase and public exchange of gunfire to kill the main villain which was not according to the movie’s soul – there was surprisingly no back-up plan. But as mentioned earlier, this does end well and along with being a thriller, this one has the strength to touch the emotions. So, Phantom remains an interesting movie which could have been even better. Well, this is Onam, and lets take some time to enjoy this movie too along with those large number of Malayalam movie releases as the festival season in Kerala going on in full power. I wish you all a Happy Onam! Enjoy and watch more movies!

Release date: 28th August 2015
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Kabir Khan
Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Katrina Kaif, Mir Sarwar, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Rajesh Tailang, Denzil Smith, Qazi Touqeer, Brandi Alexander, Paul Lazenby

phantom

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.