Malik

What is the movie about? :: Sulaiman Malik (Fahadh Faasil) is a leader of a coastal community consisting mostly of fishermen. He is taking a break from the usual activities, and is going for Hajj, when he is arrested by the police. In his coastal village of Ramadappilly, people begin an agitation. A strike is organized to demand his release, and a curfew is imposed on the area. Soon, there are riots in the streets, and the local people take on the police. It seems that there is a political game going on in the background, with corporates having a say in the same, as PA Aboobacker (Dileesh Pothan), the minister from the area also pretends that he knows nothing, and doesn’t support the request to provide some extra security to him in prison. At the same time, there are plans being made to finish Saulaiman in the prison itself, as the police hopes that this would end their troubles, and can finally bring peace to the seaside community.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Sulaiman has had a troublesome past, as he often got into trouble in school itself, and soon lands in the juvenile home, a place where he would have to go again. After dropping out from school with his best friend David Christudas (Vinay Forrt) and Peter Esthappan (Dinesh Prabhakar) he gets into smuggling with Aboobacker and Chandran (Nisthar Sait), who controls most of the happenings in the coast. But there is a rift between the groups, and they split. Sulaiman and David lead the young group which makes inroads into the business, and makes great profit at the expense of Chandran. Sulaiman falls in love with Roselin (Nimisha Sajayan), David’s sister who is the only one from the area who has studied in a college, but not many people know about this interest. At the same time, the new collector, Anwar Ali (Joju George) provides them help to start a new school. But all of a sudden, things take another twist, and Sulaiman develops into another kind of a leader, and it would change the whole equation, leading to the present events.

The defence of Malik :: Malik maintains a certain strength throughout its run, and even with its seemingly lighter moments, the same is maintained. The film goes through the strong message of political games running wild in the background, as everything seems to be planned by people in control, the government and the corporates which use religion for their own purposes, and it is more about the religious identity rather than God as long as it stays with them – of course, this is about the corporates who pay the politicians, especially those who are rather too rich. WH Auden had said about the same in his poem, Refugee Blues, on the plight of humans in comparison to animals and birds due to politicians. There are many threads of revenge and hatred which runs right through here, and some of them also takes some fine, memorable twists. The connections made here are also nice. Here, it has the struggles of the characters, and questions about who is right and who is wrong. It also takes on what happens in between everything, as something more than what meets the eye. The visuals are also really good here, as there are some fine shots of the sea and the surroundings.

Positives and negatives :: There is something that Malik seems to miss in between, some periods of time which could have been better shown here. The ending could have also been better, as the movie finishes without leaving the mark which was set earlier. In the end, there is the understanding that there is no hope, and this is where the movie seems to try and bring the beginning of a repetition. For a film which had this much of a grandeur in store, this kind of a finish doesn’t serve enough of the purpose. Maybe, the lack of triumph on the side of the common man is more or less a reflection of what actually happens in this world where the powerful will continue to reign, and it doesn’t matter who is at the helm. It does show how terrifying it will continue to be, as long as religion is in the hands of politicians, who are more of atheists rather than believers, from the way they use religion for their own advantages. Malik can surely use a more positive sequel too, even if far from reality.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has another film added to the long list of films that have made an impact. He was last seen on OTT, then too on Amazon Prime, with a wonderful performance in Joji, and this one also follows the same suite, but in a different way, as the characters go divergent in both cases. Here, he plays another strong character, and it has been one which the audience has been waiting for, since months ago – the movie has been getting delayed all the time for releasing in the theatres, and it has come to OTT, which is a perfect move, for Fahadh has his admirers everywhere. This performance from him will be listed among the big ones too. He has moments in different points of the main characters’ life, and all these time periods have something special from his side, for the audience to remember. Nimisha Sajayan who was last seen in Nayattu, also has a fine job to do here, which she manages to do without any struggle. She also has a strong role here, and the support that she provides is of high quality.

Further performers of the soul :: The next person who has our attention is Vinay Forrt, who gets into this role with ease. He adds a natural performance to the whole thing. Dileesh Pothan comes in, and plays a typical politician with his own sinister motives, and it is done naturally too. Indrans’ role of the police officer also becomes very much notable. Joju George also has some nice contribution to provide here, and he is supposed to be doing a role which was initially meant for Biju Menon. Dinesh Prabhakar is also here, adding to the totality. Appani Sarath and Sudhi Koppa have some contributions to provide here, and they do it well, only to have only a short stay there, when we were expecting something grand to be there. Salim Kumar also has a comparatively smaller role to do around here. There is the lesser known among the cast who have also done some nice job around here, and it includes Sanal Aman who played the character of Freddy, Parvathy Krishna who played the doctor, along with some police officers and people of the village.

How it finishes :: Malik was supposed to be one grand film to be released in theatre with all the grandeur that it deserved, and even its OTT release, the film maintains some of it. The wait has been worth it, when we look at the movie as a whole. The question would be still be about if it could have been more, as the expectations were that high, and there is the certainty of deviations from what was actually expected after watching the trailer. But the film is indeed strong, and with Fahadh Faasil and Nimisha Sajayan in the lead, you would expect that. Well, it is nice to see that it has finally released, because the same wouldn’t have happened in the theatres soon enough, and releasing something like Marakkar on the big screen will be a big risk even in the month of August, as we see where the COVID-19 numbers are going – it is certainly much above what was expected, and we don’t really see things getting safer with another possible wave on the way. Until then, we can also watch Cold Case, Mohan Kumar Fans, Kho Kho, Aarkkariyam etc among others on Prime again!

Release date: 15th July 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Mahesh Narayanan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Nimisha Sajayan, Joju George, Vinay Forrt, Dileesh Pothan, Anjusha CA, Divya Prabha, Amal Rajdev, Indrans, Jalaja, Salim Kumar, Appani Sarath, Sudhi Koppa, Devan, Dinesh Prabhakar, Rajesh Babu, Meenakshi Raveendran, Rajesh Sharma, Irshad, Abhijith Krishna, Nisthar Sait, Dev Mohan, Sanal Aman, Parvathy Krishna, Devaki Rajendran, Asif Yogi

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<— Click here to go to the previous Amazon Prime Video review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Hollywood review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Joji

What is the movie about? :: Joji Panachel (Fahadh Faasil) is the youngest son of Panachel family, an engineering drop-out who has now failed in his latest attempt in the tourism field due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Living somewhere in the isolated part of the highlands, where his father Kuttappan PK (Sunny PN) owns many acres of land around their house, Joji condemns the fact that everyone considers him as a failure. Kuttappan’s other two sons Jomon Panachel (Baburaj) and Jaison Panachel (Joji Mundakayam) fear him as much as Joji does, and the terrifying head of the family is ruthless in his attitude towards his family members. He keeps all the money to himself, and the sons are ever dependent on him. Jaison and his wife Bincy Jaison (Unnimaya Prasad) are highly obedient towards him, while Jomon also has his son Popy Panachel (Alister Alex) living with him after just recently completing the procedures of his divorce.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is a world where Kuttappan maintains full control, and Jomon is a son who seems to be becoming just like his father. Joji is upset about nothing positive happening in his life, while Popy is a hopeless young boy himself. Bincy also has no hope for future, while her husband the son in the middle, Jaison has no courage to do anything that could change the sequence of events for everyone in the family. But when Kuttappan has a stroke while once again trying to show his strength in front of everyone else, the regular sequence of events is disturbed. The doctors and most family members feel that there is no comeback for him, and even the local priest Fr Kevin (Basil Joseph) believes that now only prayers can save him. But to everyone’s surprise, the 74 year old man survives death and comes back to them in a wheelchair. The fear factor is back, but now there is a chance for everyone to have a deviation here.

The defence of Joji :: Joji thrives on the realistic feeling that it generates with the thrills, something which Dileesh Pothan carries over from Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, with setting coming back to the highlands yet again. The time, from a Google search, the location seems to be more Kottayam than Idukki, and the atmosphere here is nicely set – could even serve as a lesson for anyone who makes a film based on the Koodathayi cyanide murders. This kind of a world is something that could take Malayalam cinema further, especially considering the fact that this flick is no longer limited to the local theatres, but gracing many nations of the world. The build-up is really nice, even though a little bit slow, and it has us expecting a lot to follow, considering the fact that a good number of main characters have certain secret motives. The film does make us remain suspicious at all times, even though some of those doubts are really without any reason. The camera work is excellent, and you also get to see some spectacular shots.

The claws of flaw :: The ending here is not that effective, and there we can see a big opportunity gone missing in a movie which was going to be far more efficient in divergence. One would expect one master twist in the end, but the final moments were just predictable and without the strength that such a movie needed to have. Seeing a top quality psychopath running out of ideas, and nobody stepping into take his place creates a struggle in the end. Even though there is the talk of this being an adaptation from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, one would find that to be an unnecessary addition to the details about the movie, because the protagonist whom we see here is none like that particular character. I wouldn’t connect that Elizabethan age drama to this one because it feels like not doing justice to both – this one works separately, and could have achieved more with this premise. Also, the female character representation is too low here.

The performers of the soul :: Just like the earlier Dileesh Pothan movies which had Fahadh Faasil as the main character, this one also depends on him to bring the magic, which he does with a certain amount of ease, as he has done before in multiple occasions as part of many different movies. We can also find traces of what was seen in Kumbalangi Nights with his psychotic character that brought the twist in the end. That was a movie which should have been sent for the Oscars, and Fahadh has another performance here that follows the much appreciated self-proclaimed hero of Kumbalangi. Unnimaya Prasad is also here doing a really interesting character, someone who seems to have hidden dark shades, even though the same is not explored further. An opportunity to bring the Macbeth element with a guilt-filled Lady Macbeth is not taken here, against expectations. We had seen her most memorable role in Anjaam Paathira, and this is the next most memorable thing.

Further performers of the soul :: Baburaj’s performance in this movie serves as a big boost too, as he excels in the serious as well as the funny moments. In the end, we feel the character as a person who holds on to his own values, and the same differentiates him from others, even though he is still an alcoholic with not control over his tongue – a character nicely executed. Shammi Thilakan’s character also catches our attention, and it is also as realistic a character as we can get. Sunny PN who plays the controlling father character will also have our attention from the beginning itself. Basil Joseph’s role of the priest is a welcome addition too, even though it doesn’t directly affect the storyline. It is to be noted that the director of movies like Kunjiramayanam and Godha has played a good number of interesting roles until now. The lesser characters are also nicely added to the film, as we see them contributing really well in what seems to be nice roles for them.

How it finishes :: During the continuing time of COVID-19 pandemic, this movie has released in Amazon Prime Video, and that has been a nice idea indeed, at least for most of us who haven’t really started visiting theatres again as the cases of infections are still going up. This one is another winner for Dileesh Pothan as a director, as he scored three out of three with simple, realistic movies. I would place this movie between Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, better than the latter, but not that much of an interesting thing as the former. It seems that a pandemic like this version of mutating Corona virus has given us more thriller movies than those films with hope which were filling up the theatres before we went into that lock-down, an example being seen in Kilometers and Kilometers starring Tovino Thomas which served as a light-hearted feel-good film. We are surrounded by horror and suspense, and it is a fine change.

Release date: 7th April 2021
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Unnimaya Prasad, Baburaj, Basil Joseph, Shammi Thilakan, Joji Mundakayam, Sunny PN, Alister Alex, Renjith Rajan, Dhaneesh A Balan, Renjith Gopali

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous full OTT release.

<— Click here to go to the previous full TV release.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Unda

What is the movie about? :: A team of police officers from Kerala travels to certain Maoist affected area in Chhattisgarh for election duty. Mathews Anthony (Ranjith) leads the team through the journey in the train, and right through the village area. But accommodation is not provided for all of them at the same place, and they are separated into different teams. The team is lead by Manikandan CP (Mammootty) gets to stay in a polling booth which is isolated and situated near the forest which is known to be infested by Maoists. Leading the support is Jojo Samson (Shine Tom Chacko) who is angry about his wife sending him a divorce petition which he is not ready to sign. Among the other police men are Varghese Kuruvila (Jacob Gregory), Aji Peter (Rony David) and Gireesh TP (Arjun Ashokan) among others. Aji and Gireesh are not in good terms with each other either. The other members of the team also have their own differences.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The location has an ITBP commando Kapil Dev (Bhagwan Tiwary), and nothing else for their support. The arms and ammunition that they have with them might not be enough either, as the ITBP Commander Dakota Akanito (Chien Ho Liao) advices them to ask for something more from Kerala, as there are land mines everywhere, and Maoists attacks keep happening during random intervals at random places. But it seems that help from Kerala might not be coming anytime soon, and the ITBP wouldn’t helping those police men whom they called for support. So, as Maoists threaten to attack, the team is on their own, with their own little personal problems also coming into the scene. Now, the question remains if they can survive these days till the end of election, as the landlords and their goons will also have a say in this. I will be up to Manikandan to lead the way, but he is not the kind of person who is into violence.

The defence of Unda :: There is certain beauty and quality in how the police men are portrayed here, and even the leader is not shown as someone who could know most of the things and go on beating up people. Each member of the team is different, and we see how people from different parts of Kerala have to face the strange and hostile environment for the first time – we witness how they have to adapt and survive, but there is something from home that continues to go strong in them. The setting is used nicely to create the impact, and we feel that we are traveling through the same place with the same team. We want these people to survive like never before, and we hold them close. There are thrilling moments, and we also have a certain dose of humour, which is also something of interest. The final scene of action is highly entertaining, with action, thrills and humour added, all at the right quantity.

Positives and negatives :: The story-line might seem to be not much, as there is just the tale of a few police men facing the Maoists in the middle of nowhere. But it is more than that when we look close, and we see what the subaltern has to face; the poor, the low caste, the scheduled tribes, all of them – the word “poor” defines them well enough, as it is common to all of such deprived men and women. They are surrounded by all kinds of people, hunted, and maybe killed, only to find the blame still with them, even after death – the perpetual blame is the weight that they have to carry to the grave and beyond. We see a certain moral crisis, and there is always the question about where the newly landless people can go. The movie provides no answers, and finds no solution to the problems that the world face, but we know that we will need them – they are not to come from the movie, but from a real world beyond all limits of fiction.

The performers of the soul :: As expected, and with top quality and realistic performance, Mammootty leads from the front. He has had some characters which would beat up everyone and throw them all around, in the last few years, with the recently released Madhura Raja and the earlier movie Masterpiece which came across the biggest of such a problems. This movie goes the exact opposite way, and it is beautiful in doing the same – the way in which Mammootty plays this role will have us wishing for the character to have the final victory, and the same we wish without hope. In those other movies, things were direct, but in this case, it is beautifully complicated, and we love to watch him here. Right from the introduction of his character, we know that things are going to be different this time, and Mammootty thrives on this divergence which keeps us close to the common man’s police officer, someone who is not going to kick or punch people into the sky to make Superman proud.

Further performers of the soul :: Shine Tom Chacko has had a good run during the recent days, and the roles which he played has been very much memorable. This one is no exception, and the last moments have the whole of our attention. At the same tim, , Arjun Ashokan and Rony David also catches our attention, and so do almost everyone in the small police team in the voting booth. We do get only a few moments from Dileesh Pothan and Kalabhavan Shajohn as well as a little more from Ranjith as far as these names are concerned. Actors like Omkar Das Manikpuri and Bhagwan Tiwari comes up with some emotional side to remember too. Easwari Rao who plays Mammootty’s wife in a cameo-like performance is the only female character with a name, and the only one that we can remember. The cameo from Vinay Forrt and Asif Ali were rather unnecessary, and just the news of missing bullets could have been enough.

How it finishes :: With the name of the movie being Unda, there has been many speculations, but it is indeed about the bullets – it is certain that the name has left some people away from the movie, as this is a film which deserved a better opening. But the bookings are picking up now, as the opinions have all been positive. There will be higher booking in the coming days, and the movie is surely here to stay, as this is a flick which is to be taken seriously. Lets hope that the movies that deal with similar topics remain close to reality like this one, and don’t go on to finish off the laws of gravity by sending villains flying in the air. Unda nicely manages to bring everything together, and use its elements to gain advantage. The result is that there is the thrilling ride with humour and messages stored in there. This is the kind of movie that serves better, and does the same faithfully unlike those mindless mass entertainers which serve as darkness to the senses. Well, it has been a fine year in the first half itself with movies like Kumbalangi Nights, Virus and Uyare rising very high.

Release date: 14th June 2019
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Khalid Rahman
Starring: Mammootty, Shine Tom Chacko, Jacob Gregory, Ranjith, Arjun Ashokan, Bhagwan Tiwari, Dileesh Pothan, Omkar Das Manikpuri, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Chien Ho Liao, Easwari Rao, Sudhi Koppa, Rony David, Lukman, Abhiram Poduval, Noushad Bombay, Asif Ali (cameo), Vinay Forrt (cameo)

<— Click here to go to a previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Virus

What is the movie about? :: Kozhikode District collector Paul V Abraham (Tovino Thomas) gets an urgent call when he is about to leave home. There are a series of events that lead to the same, and most of it happens in the Kozhikode Medical Centre. A nurse named Akhila (Rima Kallingal), was taking care of a young man named Zachariah (Zakariya Mohammed), who was admitted to her hospital for fever, but is now suffering from the same symptoms. Dr. Abid Rahman (Sreenath Bhasi) is having his normal shift in the hospital as his lover and medical student Sara Yakub (Madonna Sebastian) shows signs of ending their relationship – at the same time, more and more patients are being admitted in the hospital. But the signs that some of these patients show are not natural, as the doctors figure out that something strange and unusual is coming up. It is also not limited to one or two people anymore, and there is panic.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The samples are sent to Manipal to be tested by the experts led by Dr Suresh Rajan (Kunchacko Boban), and it is confirmed that it is Nipah virus which has affected the patients. With no vaccination or specific treatment available for the epidemic, the only hope for the goverment is quarantine, and hope to find the source, as well as make sure that it didn’t spread to many people. The team lead by Health Minister CK Prameela (Revathi) includes the collector Paul V Abraham with Dr Smrithy (Poornima Indrajith) and Dr Annu (Parvathy) in an attempt to stop the infection from spreading. First identified in 1998 in Malaysia, the disease, in most cases has taken the lives of those who were infected. With people not related to the first patient, like Unnikrishnan (Soubin Shahir) getting infected, there are questions raised how the source could be found. Are the authorities good enough to find it?

The defence of Virus :: The movie nicely deals with a situation that Keralites, especially those from Kozhikode and Malappuram districts in the north of the state had to go through. With the virus showing its signs of return in the central area now, the case has gained further significance. One won’t fail to notice how the movie has kept itself close to reality, and how each character has been given significance, with each actor having a job to do. The movie is never dependent on one person, as there is no main character – there are only people who tries to help others, and a few others who try to survive in a world which is threatened by something new, and something deadly. The movie was a need, as the world needed to know the story, and making it a memorable one was Aashiq Abu’s duty, which he did with ease, as we have three good memories in a row, with Rani Padmini, Mayaanadhi and this one.

Positives and negatives :: The movie might feel slow at some points, but it quickly goes past the same. We are able to place ourselves in the place of the characters, and we go through their emotions with ease. The emotional strength of the movie is high, and it can even be more with different people, and their perspectives. The thrills are also there, and we keep close to the whole thing, each moment. Parts of the movie might be fictionalized, but our director surely knows where to stop that. The location is as nicely captured as the people themselves. The view from the top more or less makes us feel the city. You know what is going to happen in the end, and you want to know how we reach there, and to go through that journey, we are with the characters like never before – in creating that closeness to the characters, the director has succeeded.

The performers of the soul :: The movie has a fantastic cast, and the talent can be seen in each part of it. Parvathy comes up with another great job after Uyare, and this one has one more natural performance from her. Two of the three best movies of the year belongs to her, with the other one without her presence is Kumbalangi Nights. Tovino who was Parvathy’s co-star in Uyare had only memorable performances, with Lucifer, Ente Ummante Peru, Oru Kuprasidha Payyan, Theevandi and Maradona giving him a continuous impressive run in Malayalam movie industry. Here, once again, he owns his role. Kunchacko Boban didn’t have that much of a great run with his previous movies, but he is right there, solid with this role of a doctor. Asif Ali continues his choice of some good movies with another emotional role. Vijay Superum Pournamiyum had provided a great beginning to the year for him. Joju George, after Joseph, continues to strike our emotions in a beautiful way.

Further performers of the soul :: Indrajith Sukumaran and Rahman has smaller, but memorable roles, especially with the former who manages to come up with some nice moments in between. It is also great to see Poornima Indrajith after such a long time, and this is a role to remember for sure – nice to see Remya Nambeeshan there too. Revathi manages to do the job of Health Minister in a believable manner. The similarity in appearance has also been achieved up to an extent. Madonna Sebastian doesn’t have much to do here, and neither does Sharafudheen. Rima Kallingal is quick to come and go, and stays in memories because of the emotional connect with the real-life character being attained. Meanwhile, Sreenath Bhasi gets a different role this time, and he manages to provide complete justice to the same. He had provided some signs of the same in the last movie, but that was a mute character – this time, he raises the bar. The roles of Jinu Joseph and Dileesh Pothan are small, but to be noted. Unnimaya Prasad and Soubin Shahir also catches our attention.

How it finishes :: Virus is already the biggest movie of the weekend, with so almost all shows being booked early. The success here lies in the fact that it shows everything in a realistic manner, never do we see those unreal heroes – we feel that almost every character in there are people like us, and therefore part of us. We can feel the pain and troubles of the characters, as well as reflect the same. As Nipah virus once again becomes a cause of concern, this becomes a thing of focus yet again. Virus is a movie that needs to be watched for how it shows the people showing their fighting spirit and their concern for others, in a battle for survival. It is also a memory of the people who lost their lives in the process, especially the nurse, Lini Puthussery who died while doing her duty. It is the same reason why this movie needs to be watched more than any other.

Release date: 7th June 2019
Running time: 152 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Joju George, Jinu Joseph, Rahman, Soubin Shahir, Indrajith Sukumaran, Parvathy, Poornima Indrajith, Remya Nambeeshan, Revathi, Madonna Sebastian, Sreenath Bhasi, Indrans, Rima Kallingal, Dileesh Pothan, Senthil Krishna, Sharafudheen, Shebin Benson, Zakariya Mohammed, Sudheesh, Savithri Sreedharan, Darshana Rajendran, Basil Joseph, Lukman Lukku, Ann Saleem, Haris Saleem, Sajitha Madathil, Leona Lishoy, Nikhil Raveendran, Sreekanth Murali, Vettukili Prakash, Sreedevi Unni, Ambika Rao, Divya Gopinath, Unnimaya Prasad, Sundara Pandyan, Binu Pappu,Vimal Muraleedharan, Nilambur Ayisha

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam

What is the movie about? :: Fr. Vincent Kombana (Amith Chakalakkal) is the parish priest and also a much respected figure in the small remote island of Arayamthuruth. Being an ex-policeman, he believes in getting things right in his own way, and how to have control over the small law and order problems that happen in the island. He is determinted to make sure that everyone around him walks the right path. For the same, he walks around at night, and checks if nobody causes any trouble. One night, while going through his usual walk, he witnesses a murder, but it turns out that he just can’t speak about it. But he has to let the people and the police know about this crime without talking about it. Being a trained ex-policeman, he plans on finding the reason behind the murder and about how the victim ended up being one.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: On the other side of the events is Joy Kattukkaran (Dileesh Pothan), a man with many secrets. Part of the same parish, he is one of the richest men in the village, and with his wife Lissy (Lena), seems to live a happy life. The other seemingly nice men in the village (Nandhu and Nedumudi Venu) also have their own secrets. The seemingly Victorian Compromise, was not working in anyone’s favour, as most people out there were not what they seemed to be. Caught between them, and hoping to solve a mystery won’t be Fr. Vincent Kombana, but Komban Vincent, a man with a long past during his life at Mattanchery. Now the question remains about how far the priest can go to bring the murderer to justice while staying within the borders of religion. Before the feast occurs at the church, he has to do it.

The defence of Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam :: The trailers had showed that there is something out there to be witnessed in this movie with grandeur. There is no lack of style here, and we are also introduced to a different kind of priest, and a beautiful remote island which brings a lot of beautiful visuals. There are some nice moments to go with it too. After Paippin Chuvattile Pranayam and Kumbalangi Nights, this is another movie to bring that kind of a setting with backwaters and showing simple lives along with problems faced by the locals. There are some nice twists happening here, and the interval punch is a perfect one. There are some funny moments, but the focus shifts, and we are given the idea that there is more to come with a major shift in the proceedings – the movie goes forward with the links being connected nicely. Things come together nicely in the end, and we are left with something to guess too.

The claws of flaw :: With the premise and the idea, Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam could have surely achieved much more. There are moments when the movie go extra-stylish and with some more drama than needed. It also shows a certain shift from the major point at times, and also takes some time to get into the mood – it is with the interval that the movie gets clearly into that path. With a murder mystery at the centre, and having a number of talented actors for support, this could have gone forward with many twists and turns as well as shocking revelations, instead of revealing a little too much early. When choosing an unconventional path, going for something special is easier, as things will easily blend in – it hasn’t been focused on, that much. Some of the jokes were also less effective, and there was chance to add more in that department too.

The performers of the soul :: Amith Chakalakkal brings life to the role of an ex-policeman and priest nicely. We have seen him in some notable roles, but the most significant one was surely as the leader of the gang of youngsters in Pretham 2. He remains strong throughout this movie, and even goes rather extra-stylish at some moments. The character could have done with less heroism, and without that stylish hero image. Among the senior actors, it is Dileesh Pothan who is there for more than anyone else. With certain negative shades, this is something that he does with ease, in his usual style. We know what he can make out of even the simplest of roles, and the director leaves something for us in the acting department too, every time. The negative side is safe with him, in a way that it rises when needed, so well.

Further performers of the soul :: Lena is there for a short time, but leaves her mark with ease – maybe she could have been there for more, one would feel so. Anjali Nair has that kind of a role which she has done a lot of times before – her smaller roles have remained notable. Shammi Thilakan provides some fine support in between, staying close to the protagonist. This is one role that becomes significant in more than one way concerning the story. Nedumudi Vendu doesn’t have much to do though – his character itself could have been replaced by any other doing the same kind of actions. Sudhi Koppa is also left with a small role, and Nandu has more though. The second outing of the director Rejishh Midhila after Lal Bahadhur Shastri of 2015 also helps him to make a point, as the whole level has advanced from there.

How it finishes :: It is always great to have movies like this without the so called superstars doing so well – Joseph did the same, rising out of its low budget status to become the best Malayalam movie of the year 2018, something which nobody expected with so many big budget movies releasing in the year with many big names associated with them. This one won’t be the same for this year, but the effort has been good to go this far, with its title coming from Manianpilla Raju’s character Hitchcock Kanjikkuzhi in the movie No. 20 Madras Mail. During these times when good thrillers are hard to come, Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam takes the pain to bring something different, and it is to be appreciated. It is to be noted that we have had some good time with Malayalam movie industry so far, and it has been just near 2 months.

Release date: 22nd February 2019
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Rejishh Midhila
Starring: Amith Chakalakkal, Dileesh Pothan, Lal, Anjana Appukuttan, Baby, Dheeraj Denny, Gokulan, Sudhi Koppa, Anjali Nair, Nandu, Kainakary Thankaraj, Shammi Thilakan, Nedumudi Venu

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ente Ummante Peru

What is the movie about? :: Hameed (Tovino Thomas) is left with nobody to call a relative after the death of his father Haider (Renji Panicker). Even though he inherits the big house along with his father’s business as well as a few acres of land, he is lonely – as he has nobody to call his own, he is not able to get married to a respectable family either. He, along with Beeran (Hareesh Perumanna) and Hamsa (Mamukkoya) keeps looking for a suitable alliance for him. He soon falls in love with Sainaba (Saipriya Deva), a girl whose proposal had already come for him, but was rejected by her father because he seemed to be nothing less than an orphan. While he is running his family business and looking for a way to marry Sainaba, he comes across a will left by his father, which points to two women, and one of them could be his mother. He decides that this is his chance to find his family.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: So, the the wives are to be given a share of the property, and there is the need to find both of them to figure out which one his mother is. The two of them are located in Kozhikode and Ponnani in the form of Ramlath (Shanthi Krishna) and Aisha (Urvashi), the former being married with two children and the latter living alone in her house on the side of the lake. But the question remains if this can happen because the truth is still hidden in some of the pages about which there is not much information, even for Haider’s good old friend, Sivankutty (Dileesh Pothan) who seemed to know almost everything about his friend’s past. Can Hameed rise above all these to get what he wants? Will he finally cease being an orphan? Can he finally marry the girl whom he loves? It would take a journey not just through North Kerala, but through North India to make sure about that.

The defence of Ente Ummante Peru :: Unlike the usual stories with the same setting, this one never really does manage to keep selling the same thing again and again. But the tale is kept simple and enjoyable for families. It sticks to the point from the beginning to the end, never really deviating from the path or having moments of dullness – the total movie length makes sure that it stays put. There is nothing exaggerated here with everything going on while staying close to life. The feel-good factor never really falls behind here, and the visuals, wherever it is set, stays good. The emotional side is strong, and by the end, it reaches an even better level. Along with the expected comic side, the use of gallows humour is to be noted – it is the human condition that makes us think on more than one occasion, as the point of life and its meaning is always something to ponder about with death making a grand entry at so many unexpected times.

The claws of flaw :: There is no special ingredient with this one, as we look deep into this tale of search for the main character’s mother. This is the kind of story that we have heard for a long time, with search being for parents or siblings. The children separated from their parents or brothers is an idea which goes older than some of those very old flicks, not just in Malayalam or South India. Even Oru Indian Pranayakatha had a similar search with its main character looking for both parents, after returning from Canada and collecting clues leading to more than one state in India. The songs and music are not really that good. We never really get that much of a romance between the leading characters, and one has to remember that Tovino used to be an expert in that. The journey through Uttar Pradesh could have been more interesting, and the supporting characters could have been closer to our heart that what they seemed to be.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas is the one to keep this movie going with a realistic and lovable performance once again. His last movies Oru Kuprasidha Payyan, Theevandi and Maradona – all were among the strongest flicks of the year. Here, we continue to admire his work, as the emotional state of a man looking for his mother is nicely shown – he is someone who is looking for his last hope in changing things. This is not the first time that he has shown this with the same strength though. Urvashi had a fine role in Aravindante Athidhikal, but here she has a lot more to do, and she has done the same well. It is in no way, an easy character to play this time, as her role becomes the most significant thing in the movie ever since she makes her entrance. We hope that we see her in more movies, and without that many breaks in between.

Further performers of the soul :: Meanwhile, there is a new face in Malayalam movie industry in the form of Saipriya Deva who plays the heroine, and she does that with a lot of charm. It can be seen that the movie doesn’t focus on her at all, as far as the complete plot is considered. We can surely keep her close to our hearts though. Malayalam movie industry does need its heroines more than its heroes, and more skilled actresses will elevate the level of the characters that they play. At the same time, Hareesh Perumanna in charge of the comedy, and he does that with amazing skill. Shanthi Krishna has a smaller, but emotionally strong role – since her return in Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, we have all wished to see her on the big screen very often. Mamukkoya and Siddique got the kind of roles which they have done before, and brings no challenge to them, while Dileesh Pothan makes a short, but nice appearance of significance.

How it finishes :: There are four Malayalam movies releasing in the beginning of Christmas vacation, and this is just one of them. Unlike the others, this movie seems to have made no big claim, and therefore the expectations have been kept low. We know what expectations could do to a movie like Odiyan, and how the low expectations for DC movies did help Aquaman in the early stages. Ente Ummante Peru brings the surprise not only due to the lower expectations, but also with how it remains so simple and yet so effective at the same time. It is one movie which possesses and displays the true spirit of Christmas season, more than anything else. Therefore, choosing Ente Ummante Peru over most of the other movies won’t be that difficult a job. The idea of feeling happy and leaving the theatre with a smile on one’s face never has a substitute, especially when with family.

Release date: 21st December 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Jose Sebastian
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Saipriya Deva, Urvashi, Shanthi Krishna, Hareesh Perumanna, Dileesh Pothan, Mamukkoya, Siddique

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Joseph

What is the movie about? :: Joseph George (Joju George) is a retired police officer spending his time with alcohol and cigarettes. He doesn’t have much time for the outside world except for some of his friends from police department, and lives alone in his house. He is a brilliant police officer who never really managed to use his skills to the best effect. He has suffered losses in his family life too, with his daughter Dayana Joseph (Malavika Menon) being lost to an accident a few years ago. He is separated from his wife Stella (Aathmiya) who is now married to Peter (Dileesh Pothan). When Stella meets an accident and dies, it sends him into further depression, as he had always loved her, despite not being able to express his feeling well enough. As an expert investigator who still helps the police department with finding clues to twisted cases, he feels something strange when standing near the place where Stella had the accident.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Joseph finds a few things to be out of place there. He tries to read all the reports together, but is able to feel that this is more or less a planned incident rather than an accident. He calls his friends in the police department who are also retired, and Sudhi (Sudhi Koppa) who was a senior of his daughter in the engineering college, and is now working in the cyber wing. The result is that Joseph finds something shocking behind all these. There is one link between everything, and the roots go deep, and long. To solve this mystery and bring those behind the crime to justice, he would have to travel through those paths less traveled, and take that kind of a risk which someone else wouldn’t even think about. So the question remains if he is ready to do that, and can his friends support him in the same?

The defence of Joseph :: There are many other movies, and then there is Joseph. The movie thrives on the strength of its emotions, and with its investigation, there is even more. There are some twists to follow, and the music nicely supports the mood as well as the elements of mystery that goes right through. The songs are pretty good, and we are sure to enjoy listening to them. There is also one thing that we can value the most, and it is staying close to reality. Joseph has no exaggeration, something which similar thrillers with superstars would have. As there are no superstars who want to beat up their villains, we have a story here which is very much believable. There is no action here, and the police officer here does nothing physical – he is just the smart one, and yet not the perfect one in any way. He is with his flaws, and he is an everyman police officer in whom we can find someone whom we know.

Positives and negatives :: Considering the mood of this movie, it is Memories that we remember before any other movie, with one protagonist, a police officer who has lost his wife and child looking forward to solve a murder mystery or two. The next movie that it reminds us of, is Angels, a movie which had its own twisted ending – something we were not expecting at all. The idea in that movie as well as that of Apothecary can find the reflections here. There might be certain doubts about the genre, as the movie goes on between more than one of them. People can feel that the flashbacks were somewhat longer, but they are all beautiful – almost every moment of this movie has beauty in one way or the other. The visuals are nice, and the feeling of terror that is shown is real, that too without showing anything disturbing with blood and gore.

The performers of the soul :: Joju George is indeed the biggest asset of this movie, as he comes up with a terrific performance as the protagonist, the man with the scar who has lost almost everything he held close to his heart. There is abiding sadness on his face which strikes the hearts of the audience very hard. There is a beautiful scar that he leaves in our souls, and it is due to a performance that stays with us for long. With his career best performance, he has our admiration, and the choice for the protagonist here is perfect, with no seeking perfection to become a hero – Joju’s police officer is the common man, and someone whom we can relate to, because he is not in the sky, but on Earth. From the beginning to the end, we are into his journey, from those simple moments in life to the complex times. Along with the same, we also carry the weight of his emotions, as the character gets so close to the depth of our souls. We, with our waxen winged hearts, like Icarus, burn in the fire of those emotions, and we are delighted about the same.

Further performers of the soul :: Dileesh Pothan, the master of Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is one the other side, showing the enduring sadness from another side, and he contributes with the same as does the rest of the supporting cast. Irshad and team bring nothing less than some wonderful support. Aathmiya also has a memorable performance in there as the wife, and it is also an emotionally touching role from her side. Malavika Menon has a rather small, but notable role here. Johny Antony is once again good in the role of a priest after doing the same in Shikkari Shambhu. You also notice how solid Sudhi Koppa is once again – we had seen the range of his performance in Paippin Chuvattile Pranayam, and here he plays a solid police officer in the cyber wing. His character can actually have a spin-off – I might be asking for a lot, but that is certainly a nice possibility.

How it finishes :: Joseph is that kind of an emotional investigative thriller which will stay with you for so long, and the melancholy that it provides will stay strong. The sadness that this movie possesses has the power to take over you too, as the feelings of the protagonist here are the same as any other common person would have. There is a certain amount of skill in the way in which the whole thing is presented, and we have the kind of protagonist who stays close to life rather than go for the exaggerated heroism. The way in which the whole story is built, will have you interested in each moment, and as the final scenes point to something that needs our attention, everything comes together and we have the best Malayalam movie of the year so far – Joju George can be proud of this one.
Release date: 18th November 2018

Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: M Padmakumar
Starring: Joju George, Dileesh Pothan, Madhuri Braganz, James Elia, Sudhi Koppa, Johny Antony, Idavela Babu, Irshad, Aathmiya, Malavika Menon, Jaffer Idukki

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Oru Kuprasidha Payyan

What is the movie about? :: An orphan, Ajayan (Tovino Thomas) was doing different kinds of work, and finally he settled down in a Restaurant named Paradise with Jineesh (Balu Varghese), his good friend who is also with him. He does almost every job in the restaurant, and has the special duty of bringing idli from Chembakam (Saranya Ponvannan) to the restaurant – it is something that he has to do early morning. At the same time, Jalaja (Anu Sithara) who also works in the same restaurant is in love with him, and soon their attraction towards each other grows further. But things change for the worst when Chembakam is murdered by an unknown assailant. The local police investigation doesn’t reach anywhere, and crime branch is assigned the investigation after the protests from people. The new police officer in charge of the case is Simon George (Sujith Shankar) who has an envious record with the number of solved cases.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Simon is determined to solve the case in one way or the other, and the local people seems to know nothing much about what could have happened on that night of murder. It is then that they interrogate Bhaskaran (Alencier Ley Lopez), a drunkard who comes up with a strange and baseless accusation. Simon decides to develop on the same, even though there is not much truth in it. Soon, Ajayan finds himself framed for the murder of Chembakam. Simon makes sure that he confesses to having committed the murder, after days of torture. Everything is perfectly planned by Simon, and against Ajayan, the famous lawyer Suresh Narayanan (Nedumudi Venu) is set to appear. The court has the junior lawyer Hannah Elizabeth (Nimisha Sajayan) fighting the case for Ajayan as her first case. This one wouldn’t be the case she wanted to begin her career, but she decides that it is her best chance.

The defence of Oru Kuprasidha Payyan :: The movie deals with a variety of themes and we alienation, society’s labels, human emotions running high, and more, as the movie goes through its journey reflecting the contemporary society itself. It is a struggle of more than one person, even though it is just one person whom we see. Everyone has something to prove as well as a few things to lose, and more than one worlds collide in proving the point – the movie shows the same nicely, and never does it back down from showing the people as they are, and the society as it is, with no exaggerated character. The movie has some nice courtroom scenes with nothing overdone there. We also have some twists with the proceedings, and the struggle of a lone man without hope is not something that has reflected in our world so well, just like the abuse of power, prejudice and opportunism go along with the movie well.

The claws of flaw :: With this movie coming from the director of the critically acclaimed movies like Thalappavu and Ozhimuri, the expectations were certainly high. Such a level of movie isn’t here, as another path is taken. The first few minutes of the movie were also not really needed, because a quick entry to action is always the best in a flick like this, and that could have made this movie just above two hours – an appropriate length, and also very quick with its proceedings. The court room scenes are the movie’s strength, and therefore, being there early would have done the movie more favours. The film also chooses a middle path, not going for the mass audience, and not going the exact other way either, which means that it won’t be for all, but is meant mostly for those who are looking for a believable and good cinematic experience. Still, we feel that it ends too soon without that expected grandeur in the end.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas is back at the top again, after his Theevandi and Maradona, both having a great run as well as some nice opinions as he reflected this generation of youth with two tragic flaws in both cases, even though none of them lead to his fall. Well, Mayaanadhi, just like Guppy was that movie which set a wonderful fairy-tale kind of path for him, which seems to be at the strongest point right now. You remember him doing secondary roles in Ennu Ninte Moideen, Charlie and Style in succession, but you see where he is now – there is that display of simple and human emotions which is there better than ever this time. The emotional side is nicely handled, and he plays the character that is the representative of someone who has nobody to help, and as the character says, there is always someone from above who will be there to help.

Further performers of the soul :: Anu Sithara is one actress who has done very well in the industry with certain charm, but never really managed to go beyond a certain level with her movies, as almost all of them couldn’t rise to become the flicks which they promised to be. She has a smaller role here compared to what we thought, but she is really good in this avatar. It is very much a suitable one, as she proves. Beginning with a lead role for the first time in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, Nimisha Sajayan also couldn’t get a movie of that level after that. But Nimisha is too good in this movie in which we can see the struggling junior lawyer seeking to give her best, perfectly placed in her hands. Sujith Shankar’s police officer is a solid one, and so is Nedumudi Venu’s lawyer lacking in humanity.

How it finishes :: With Drama and Kayamkulam Kochunni still running in the theatres, Oru Kuprasidha Payyan makes a grand entry into the shows, promising to be something special considering the fact that it comes from the director of movies like Thalappavu and Ozhimuri. Malayalam movie industry surely needs some thrillers, as those days of Drishyam and Memories seem to be long gone. We are in need of more thrillers like Oru Kuprasidha Payyan which doesn’t just have the murder investigation in there, but also something hidden behind the real scene. A mirror to the contemporary society is another recommended factor in cinema, and it is exactly what Oru Kuprasidha Payyan becomes, in part. There is more than what meets the eye to Oru Kuprasidha Payyan, and it is why the flick shall endure and won’t yield to the rest of the flicks currently running in the theatres.

Release date: 9th November 2018
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: Madhupal
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Anu Sithara, Nimisha Sajayan, Dileesh Pothan, Alencier Ley Lopez, Siddique, Balu Varghese, Saranya Ponvannan, Shwetha Menon, Nedumudi Venu, Sukanya, Sreelakshmi, Maala Parvathi, Sujith Shankar, Sudheer Karamana, G. Suresh Kumar, Madhupal

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Drama

What is the movie about? :: Rosamma John Chacko (Arundathi Nag) has always had a desire to be buried in Kattappana, next to her husband, at their own parish cemetery where their ancestors were buried. But as she is in London with her youngest daughter Mercy (Kaniha), she is afraid that she can’t go back home if she is dead, as none of her children are in Kerala or even India. Mercy who used to be a nurse, is married to Dr Mukundhanunni (Shyamaprasad) who is a reputed cardiac surgeon in London after falling in love, and they are settled in United Kingdom with their two little children. Her eldest son Philip (Suresh Krishna) is a millionaire settled in the United States of America while her second son Benny (Tini Tom) is now in Australia with his wife who is a nurse. Her another daughter Ammini (Subi Suresh) is a nurse working in Canada, and has been living there with her jobless husband Anto (Johny Antony).

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: She also has her youngest son whom she loves more than the others, and Jomon (Niranj S) who is living in Dubai has no say in anything. His presence at United Arab Emirates itself is at the mercy of his good friends. So, with her sons and daughters in the United Kingdom, United States of America, United Arab Emirates, Australia and Canada, she is found dead on her bed while asleep. So, now the question remains about her funeral. The idea to which almost everyone agrees to, is that she is to have a funeral at London. For the same, the two elder brothers assign Dixon (Dileesh Pothan), a funeral director who runs his own funeral services in partnership with Rajagopalan (Mohanlal). The desire of the sons to have their mother’s funeral programme to be grand gives Dixon the idea that this is his chance to make it big.

And what else is to follow here? :: Everything seems to be going smoothly, but then, Jomon resists this idea, and asks for a funeral in Kattappana, at the cemetery where his mother had always wanted to be buried. Even though Mercy, as well as Mukundhanunni who is afraid of his mother-in-law’s spirit wandering around the house without attaining peace does agree to the same, none of them has the voice against the elder brothers who decide on it. It is then that Rajagopalan decides to have a say in the process. He feels that the old lady should get the funeral that she had always desired. But Dixon who has taken the advance payment for the funeral function won’t agree to it, and neither will the lady’s sons who got all of these planned very well. So can Rajagopalan find a way to make things happen as well as re-unite with his wife Rekha (Asha Sarath) who had thrown him out of the house in the name of a poem from the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda?

The defence of Drama :: The movie does deal with a situation that could happen very often in future – it is more or less something which has been dealt with in a realistic manner. When we consider the number of our relatives outside India, it makes about twenty five percent, and if it is about someone who is outside Kerala, that can make up to seventy five percent of the total number of people. The movie certainly shows a reality that a lot of people are going to face. The older generation will have their houses and funerals in trouble soon enough. There will be those busy times at some point, when their opinions will not ever come to being something that the new generation will listen to. But it is all based on money, isn’t it? The movie is also a morality tale, with money finally becoming the least important thing. The flick also has some comedy in there, and the visuals when showing England, is pretty good.

The claws of flaw :: The movie seems stretched, without doubt. It does seem too long, and should have been kept short by removing certain parts. Maybe the introduction of Mohanlal could have happened much earlier, and things could have started happening as early as possible. There is also a certain amount of repetition here, and we can see some struggle with the flow. More focus could have been there with the characters, especially the sons and daughters of the deceased lady, and the problem that a new generation of money and career seeking youth gives to the old generation could have been focused better. Also, considering the fact that this movie comes from the director who gave us the flicks like Pranchiyettan and The Saint, Indian Rupee, Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha, Spirit and Thirakkatha, this is not really the movie that we expected.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal doesn’t have any problems with this character as it seems usual and natural for him – there is special to be done or to be divergent. Asha Sarath doesn’t have that much to do here. We note that there are directors here coming in notable roles – Dileesh Pothan, Shyamaprasad, Johny Anony, Renji Panicker, all of them having their interesting moments. Suresh Krishna and Tini Tom plays the two siblings based in United States of America and Australia nicely in their own styles. Kaniha had a rather irrelevant role in Abrahaminte Santhathikal, but here she has a nice role, and has the emotions running strong with this one. Baiju has the funny side to handle, even though the department struggles most of the time. Arundathi Nag plays the corpse for most of the time, but has her moments when not inside the box. Jayaraj Warrier, Shaalin Zoya and Jaffer Idukki got some smaller roles here, but they are notable despite the short stay there.

How it finishes :: How many young men and women go in search of jobs elsewhere, and how many of them remain in Kerala? Do they really settle outside because there are zero opportunities here? It is nice that they show those five nations – United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia and United Arab Emirates. These are those places where our people will never cease to try to go and work, along with more nations in the Middle East as well as New Zealand. But is it always worth it? You will have to think over that with the situations created in this flick. It does leave one with a few things to keep thinking, and that seems to have the focus over the entertaining side. With the challenge there with Kayamkulam Kochunni, Drama seems to have just enough to keep going, and it seems to be a choice not to try to have more.

Release date: 1st November 2018
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith
Starring: Mohanlal, Asha Sarath, Arundathi Nag, Dileesh Pothan, Shyamaprasad, Kaniha, Baiju Santhosh, Johny Antony, Tini Tom, Shaalin Zoya, Subi Suresh, Niranj S, Suresh Krishna, Renji Panicker, Jaffer Idukki, Jayaraj Warrier, Shankar Panicker

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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.

Neerali

What is the movie about? :: Sunny George (Mohanlal) is gemologist who works for a reputed firm. He is an expert in the science dealing with natural and artificial gemstone materials, and is considered to be someone at the top of the company heirarchy with his experience and connections. Working at Bengaluru, he only makes some visists back to Kerala when possible. His wife, Molykutty (Nadhiya Moidu) is pregnant with twins after a long wait, and as the date approaches earlier than expected, it calls for an urgent visit back home. The other two girls in his life, Naina (Parvatii Nair) and Lekshmi (Megha Mathew) are attracted to him, and the former is so attached to him that she is not willing to let him go. But Sunny sneaks out of the office and travels to Kerala in the pickup truck of Veerappa (Suraj Venjaramoodu) who has his own problems. To add to this, they are quietly followed by a team of goons lead by Rajan (Dileesh Pothan).

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: They are traveling through the highranges, and all of a sudden, they come across someone crossing the road, and while trying to save the man, hits on the side of a truck, leading to Veerappa losing control of the vehicle. They go all the way down, and stops at the edge of the cliff further below the road. The two are stuck inside the vehicle, with just the back tyres stuck on a log. With the front side of the pickup truck suspended in the air, they have no way of getting out. Veerappa is seriously injured and cannot move, while Sunny’s attempts to get back to the cliff bear no fruit. Veerappa’s mobile is stuck in a precarious position while Sunny’s mobile has no outgoing facility because of Lekshmi forgetting to pay the bill despite being assigned the task. The two incoming callers Naina and Molykutty are in no mood to hear what he has to say as the former thinks that his intention was always to cheat her and the latter feels that she is going to die. Is there a chance for escape though?

The defence of Neerali :: A good survival thriller is something that we have all lacked for a long time – Hollywood had so many of them including The GreyThe Shallows, The Martian, Everest, Gravity, 127 Hours, The Revenant, Buried and others, while Bollywood had that less known little flick known as Trapped. There are moments that has us on the edge of the seat, and the question mark about more than one thing is always present. We also have interesting questions being asked here, about relationships and on what it takes to survive, even though they are not taken that much further. There are moments when movie go a little philosophical, and we see a little bit of magic realism with the protagonist’s father making an appearance with a gun pointed at him. There is no heroism from the protagonist this time, and it is a clear bonus, and having a the main character as a helpless and rather realistic one is always better than having those supercops and superfighters. The visuals are nice too.

The claws of flaw :: We can see that Neerali was aiming for more, but it is not that much there as a survival movie – so many things could have added to this tale of survival, and we could have had the protagonist facing more, and getting out of all those troubles in a believable way. We know how well the mobile phone can be used in a survival thriller as proven by the movie Buried. The idea to bring back the Nokketha Doorathu Kannumnattu model with Mohanlal and Nadhiya is still something to be questioned, as all the references fall flat, and fails to make any positive impact – the same only gets irritating. The first half had actually promised more than what the second half could deliver. Adding some better music would have been nice too. There are also a few things that are left untouched in the end, and one is left wondering if it was done intentionally, and if it was done so, one has to wonder about its effect.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal does a great job as the protagonist in peril as expected, and it is on him and his character that the whole thing is centered on. Its own his actions that most of the happenings in the movie proceeds – the decisions that he make would decide not just his life, but also that of others. We see the helplessness as well as the abilities nicely reflected here. We would have still wanted to see him as a more close to life character here though. Suraj Venjaramoodu is the other character whom we see here with Mohanlal for more time that anyone else, as the traveler and partner in distress, hanging above death staring from underneath. His character isn’t given that much of a depth, and we know him mostly from the dialogues made in the vehicle. He looks good here, and the kid who plays his daughter has also done a natural job. But we know that Suraj could have had more with at least some nice dialogues inside the pickup truck hanging from above.

Further performers of the soul :: Nassar has an appearance which last a few minutes while Dileesh Pothan is wasted in a role which doesn’t go anywhere – something that we don’t see with him on the screen often. Nadhiya Moidu is the biggest disappointment in this movie, as the pair never connects to the audience and the same can be said about her character – it is clearly overdone, and we feel that her presence is more as a necessary pregnant character rather than anything else. There is nothing good that she adds to the movie, and Girly Mathew of Nokkatha Doorathu Kannumnattu gets the bad name because of the attempt to drag that feeling into this flick in which the same doesn’t belong at all. Parvatii Nair does her job really well though, and she seemed to blend in so well into this character with certain problems for herself. Megha Mathew who was there for only a few minutes also leaves a mark, as we notice the same early.

How it finishes :: We can see that Neerali ventures deep into that survival thriller territory, which Malayalam cinema industry hasn’t been that interested in exploring. With some more of imagination, the movie could have done very much better – this one is still a thriller with its moments, but more could have been achieved. Yet, we can hope that there will be more of similar movies to come, and that the genre could get a much needed boost. Next time, when someone makes an attempt at this, it could go deeper. Until then, let us be glad that this movie has made an attempt at variety, and could do without much of heroism or style from the protagonist, leaving us with more of a human world rather than that of strange superheroes made from the so called superstars. Neerali brings the divergence, and we appreciate the same.

Release date: 13th July 2018
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Ajoy Varma
Starring: Mohanlal, Nadhiya Moidu, Parvatii Nair, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Dileesh Pothan, Megha Mathew, Saikumar, Nassar, Santhosh T Kuruvilla, Bineesh Kodiyeri

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Tharangam

What is the movie about? :: Padmanabhan Pillai a.k.a. Pappan (Tovino Thomas) used to be the Sub Inspector of Police working in the traffic department until getting suspended on an unfortunate night during a special operation not approved by the department, along with his good friend and subordinate officer Joy C (Balu Varghese). This incident which lead to the death of their senior officer Antony (Manoj K Jayan) has them wandering around the city in need of money, as they need to pay Ittimani (Alencier Ley Lopez) a sum of five lakhs. Their senior officer Sivadasa Menon (Vijayaraghavan) assures them that he will do all that he can to get them back in the uniform. It is him who come up with a special duty for them, which could bring them some money as part of an unofficial investigation. With things not being that great with his girlfriend Malini a.k.a Malu, Pappan decides to take the job, as some easy money with less risk is not that much of a bad idea.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This unofficial investigation is provided to them by Tharian Mathew (Shammi Thilakan), who offers them a lot of money to find what is going on with his wife, Omana Varghese (Neha Iyer) who owns a restaurant chain in the city and its surroundings. He suspects that she is having an affair, and wishes to divorce her after finding proof of her adultery. As the two friends go on their newly discovered adventure, they only find out that something is strange with the people that she meets, but there is no proof of her having an affair. But when they are watching her, someone else is watching them – Christopher Luke (Sijoy Varghese) is the man after them, and then there is their earlier enemy from the failed operation, Siju (Saiju Kurup) who comes in their way. There is so much going on with their lives that the whole thing seems to be messed up. Can they make the necessary changes to make things better?

The defence of Tharangam :: There is something different in the way this movie begins and ends, and even though the same is not something seen before, it has never been this fresh. It is a fine experiment as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned – with the hero and a lot of characters surrounding him, and add all the fun, you will find something like Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyaanu here, as our heroes as well as more than one teams of villains are looking for one thing that goes missing. The movie also has a strong side of fantasy to go with the real incidents, even though they are only related in a few occasions. There are messages about people being responsible for their own fate, as God provides them with a number of choices in their life, as one little act of kindness or cruelty, can change everything. There is a lot of dark humour present in this one too, as it nicely deviates from the usual foolish comedy which could have been served here with the subject on another day.

The claws of flaw :: Tharangam doesn’t go through the path which the common audience would expect – the trailer had given less idea about what it was going to be in totality, but even then, this seems to have deviated a lot, and will not leave the viewers with the usual and expected kind of experience for them to cherish. Maybe, they could have shortened the fantasy side, and maybe even limited the same to a few dialogues. The romance also disappears earlier than one would expect. There are opportunities of humour being lost, and there are moments when the audience can feel lost. The two cops could have handled the whole thing with lots of funny moments, but such an attempt is not made, as this one tries to bring one thing after the other, creating a mixture which not everyone can take home. The divergence is a fine thing, but the doubt about where to go with the same, is rather strange when we look deep. It is the story that needed to rise more when needed.

Performers of the soul :: It is nice to see Tovino Thomas coming up with different types of roles, as he could do with the two big movies Godha and Oru Mexican Aparatha, as well as that much respected movie on the internet, Guppy. But we know that his best is still to come, and that can even go bilingual. We see him go through the comic side rather easily. Balu Varghese supports him well, even though one wonders why there is no big memorable comedy sequences in this movie even there was more than one chance. The “Luketta” call from the two is just one of them. The one person whom we miss early is Manoj K Jayan, who has only a few minutes of presence there. Dileesh Pothan surprises us in his avatar and is very good with the same, even when the movie could have gone on without extending that sequence a little too much in the beginning.

Further performers of the soul :: Santhy Balachandran makes a much memorable debut here, and she has some very nice moments as well as dialogues in the movie – one can be sure that there are miles ahead for her in Malayalam movie industry. We keep feeling that she is capable of more if provided the bigger roles. One is going to find it hard to believe that this is her first movie. The other new face, Neha Iyer is also strong with her character into which she seems to have dived deep – there is more than face to this character, which she reflects with skill. Saiju Kurup has another character who catches our attention with ease, as he had in Pokkiri Simon, Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, Adventures of Omanakuttan and Alamara earlier. Sijoy Varghese is strong with the negative side of the character throughout his existence in this movie. Alencier Ley Lopez, Vijayaraghavan and Shammi Thilakan get rather shorter, but important roles in this movie.

How it finishes :: Tharangam is that kind of a movie which you can either love or hate, and there is also the option to stand in between – it is more of a movie of the audience, as each viewer can have a separate opinion regarding the same. The level of enjoyment regarding this movie is different, as you notice those simple things which affect your opinion. We know that crime comedy thrillers are not that easy to bring to the common audience, and this one has surely tried hard to do the same, even with those flaws. Dhanush has also made his Malayalam debut as a producer with Tharangam. It has been on the list of much awaited movies for quite some time, and one song with Tovino Thomas and Santhy Balachandran had brought further need to watch this movie as soon as possible. Now, we have this one for Pooja holidays, and if you like movies like Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyaanu, there is a good chance that you will like this one too, and the overall quality of Tharangam feels more – be ready for some experimentation on screen. I will leave you with the wonderful song from the movie.

Release date: 29th September 2017
Running time: 153 minutes
Directed by: Dominic Arun
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Balu Varghese, Santhy Balachandran, Neha Iyer, Dileesh Pothan, Sijoy Varghese, Alencier Ley Lopez, Vijayaraghavan, Manoj K Jayan, Shammi Thilakan, Saiju Kurup, Sanju Shivram, Unni Mukundan (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pokkiri Simon

What is the movie about? :: Simon (Sunny Wayne), known more as “Pokkiri” Simon after the name of the Vijay movie is the leader of the Vijay fans association of the locality. His two best friends, and members of the association are “Hanuman” Biju (Jacob Gregory) who spends most of his life’s time trying to become Vijay’s bodyguard, and “Love Today” Ganesh (Sarath Kumar) who has the nickname after one of Vijay’s earlier movies. They spend almost all of their time, talking about Vijay’s movies and celebrating whenever one of his movies get a release in Trivandrum. On the other side, there are Surya fans including “Singam” Suni (Sajid Yahiya) who continue celebrating the latest sequel to Singam. There is also some compeition between them, and the gang of Vijay fans lead by Beemapally Noushad (Saiju Kurup) who has his own fan association based around the mosque. Both of them tries to make the best out of ten year celebration of Pokkiri, and lands in the police station.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Landing in the police station is nothing new for them, as SI Sathyan (Baiju) finds it easy to catch them for making nuisance all around the theatre in the name of fan club based activities. The one to save them each and every time is CI Alex John (Dileesh Pothan), a police officer from a rich family having an eye on politics. Simon’s father Yesudas (Ashokan) is also a police man, but just like his mother and sister, has not much of an opinion about him. Simon and his friends who do no job, and wanders all around the locality as considered to be nuisance rather than anything else. The only thing Simon manages to do outside the friends circle in the fans association, is to write random PSC examinations, including the police tests to satisfy his father. The only thing they wait for is to watch another Vijay movie – without the same, there is no life for them.

And what else is to follow with the fan adventures? :: The parents of Simon have lost hope in him getting a job, and they wish to get him married. But the problem is that he wants to marry only the girl whom he saw whistling during a Vijay movie. Simon soon finds her again while playing cricket on the beach. Deepa (Prayaga Martin), who is the daughter of a rich sea captain, is the girl whom he wish to marry. Using the plans from a former scientist of ISRO, Seetha Raman (Nedumudi Venu) who turns out to be a Vijay fan too, Simon tries to get her attention, and finally manages to win her love. But things are not that smooth, as there are people like Arjunan Pillai (Shammi Thilakan) and Indran Pillai (Marshal Tito Wilson) who are running all kinds of criminal activities in the city. The young blood of the fans association manages to make both of these brothers angry, and it is no more about sweet love.

The defence of Pokkiri Simon :: There are some funny scenes here which will work, thanks to the long line of interesting cast managing to keep things strong. There is also the reference to Vijay movies, along with something for Pulimurugan. One can be sure that those who follow Vijay movies will find this one more entertaining, and so will those who watch Tamil movies very often. Yes, the fan stuff scores. There is also that part of the story that goes on like the common man’s life, and you will find one final twist waiting for you. If you like Amar Akbar Anthony, I am sure that you will have no problems in finding this one good enough. This movie also follows the same pattern, with the life of the common people with some comedy in the first half, and the second half having a twist, when the unexpected person becomes the villain; from being one of the best among good people in the flick, as he joins the other villains who have been there – in this case too, it is related to a missing girl.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s weakest point is the romantic angle, and the same never really gets going. One can safely say that it even stumbles on many occasions even without starting to get better. The songs also suffers the same fate. There was the feeling that this movie would also focus on the good deeds done by fans in the name of their favourite stars, but that is not there – instead, they do the comparison of stars to gods as a justification which might be the strangest that you would ever get. It is rather bizarre during these days when superstar godmen who reflect gods get convicted. There are also many characters who don’t get what they deserve, as they exist and go on without making the desired impact. The people who don’t follow many movies, and don’t watch much of Tamil cinema will have less to take home. Also, you will find that the movie could have managed all its elements, bringing them together in a better way. It could have been a better movie to become a better tribute to Vijay.

Performers of the soul :: The friendship of the three characters played by Sunny Wayne, Jacob Gregory and Sarath Kumar is undoubtedly better than the same shown in Amar Akbar Anthony. The latter two takes it more on the funny side, while Sunny Wayne is very good playing the main character. He has provided us some good work with Annmariya Kalippilaanu and Alamara, but for some reason, they don’t go on to stay at the theatres like some of those overrated movies with no content do. Marshal Tito Wilson from Angamaly Diaries is also there, playing one of the two antagonists, and he is surely a strong point here, joining Shammi Thilakan who scores on the evil side. Dileesh Pothan is a perfect addition as the police character who impresses with his different side, and Baiju and Ashokan plays two different cops in support well. Prayaga Martin only has a character existing there to be part of that bad romantic side, and she never gets in form – in the end, she disappears like Namitha Pramod in Amar Akbar Anthony. Before that, there are some terrible moments for her, including one song.

How it finishes :: Pokkiri Simon should be a must watch for Vijay fans, and for the rest, it could provide some time-pass. Following the pattern of Amar Akbar Anthony more than any other, we can also see a little bit of Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan mode in here. There are those jokes, and also the dialogues which are from Vijay’s popular movies. The director’s previous movie, Darwinte Parinamam was also an underrated movie, and this one also has elements of silver lining even when the clouds are dark, but it isn’t lifted high enough from there. If you are a fan and you can relate to this, that would be great, for there seems to be an attempt to make this one a colourful and quick entertainer. One thing is for sure, and it is that unlike those movies which have claimed to do great with similar cast, this one surely manages to do better – Pokkiri Simon does that for the fans.

Release date: 22nd September 2017
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Jijo Antony
Starring: Sunny Wayne, Jacob Gregory, Prayaga Martin, Sarath Kumar, Dileesh Pothan, Nedumudi Venu, Ashoka, Baiju, Shammi Thilakan, Marshal Tito Wilson, Bitto, Thara Kalyan, Saiju Kurup, Pradeep Kottayam, Sajid Yahiya, Rohni, Vijay Menon, Tanuja Karthik, Sinoj Varghese, Anjali Aneesh, Jude Anthany Joseph, Hena, Sudeep Kopa, Govindan Kutty

PS: Velipadinte Pusthakam, Adam Joan and Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela seems to stay on… 🙂

@ 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.

Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

What is the movie about? :: Prasad (Suraj Venjaramoodu) and Sreeja (Nimisha Sajayan) are in love after a certain misunderstanding between them. Living near Vaikom at a village where the caste feeling is high, both are at trouble due to Sreeja’s father and relatives being fully against the marriage and threatens them. The result is that both of them runs away from the place after their wedding, and goes to a remote place in Kasargod where they have bought some land and a place to stay, hoping to get into agriculture. But it turns out that there is no water available there, and things once again takes a twist. They decide to get a loan against her gold ornaments, but her necklace ends up being stolen when in the bus, messing up with their plans. This theft was committed by a man known by the same name, Prasad (Fahadh Faasil) whom Sreeja had seen devouring it to escape being caught with it.

So, what happens next? :: So, the KSRTC bus driver, conductor and the travelers join to take the man to the nearby police station. It is more of a remote area, which doesn’t have leaves too many options for the police than to wait, as Sreeja is certain that the man had stolen her necklace and the thief tells the police that he has stolen nothing, and is working at a road-side eatery making porottas. But when the police asks for an id, he has none, and so they decide to keep him at the police station and wait. With no other option left, the couple also has to wait to find a way to find the necklace from him, as nothing could be proven otherwise. The police officer in charge of the case, A.S.I. Chandran (Alencier Ley Lopez) assures them that the thief is a smart one, but he solves such cases all the time, and will get them their necklace. So, who is the smartest of them all – is it the thief, the couple or the police officer?

The defence of Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum :: The question of Dileesh Potham brilliance rises again, and we can see that there is something about it everywhere that fuels this movie. It is a fine narration that takes the story to another level, as we have the perfect example on how to make simplicity so interesting. Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is once again an everyman movie like Maheshinte Prathikaram, and those elite classes will not get their due here – there is almost no person in this movie who can be put into that “rich” category, which brings us the real movie for the people, which has never been the self-proclaimed “local” movies. The humour is also working, and they are also based on simple things of life – still there are twists. Once again, we see that the visuals are nice, as you know who in charge of them with the camera. The music is good, with “Kannile Poika” nicely visualized. There is the message hope and forgiveness, even though they are not readily visible.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel a little bit slow and a little bit dull at moments of the first half, as we expect it to be fun-filled entertainer like Maheshinte Prathikaram which had absolutely no moment which will make us doubtful. The emptiness that you feel in between, and the repetition that might seem to occur are also certain to be seen. You do feel at times, that this has a little too much of a remider of Action Hero Biju – so, if you don’t like that movie, there is a chance that Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum will not be that interesting to you too. The story also doesn’t have that much in it to talk about, as things are rather simple, and the whole thing is focused to particular places. If you are looking for the usual kind of a movie, this will not claim to be one, which might be a good thing for a few, and not an interesting thing for some others. There could have been a bigger punch by the end, which is not there.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has his second movie running in the theatres at the same time, as Role Models is already there, having released for Eid with Avarude Raavukal and Oru Cinemakkaran – his earlier movies were Take Off and Maheshinte Prathikaaram, and it has been a fine run which continues into this movie too. Fahadh’s work, no matter how good or bad a movie is always something to look forward too – after all, this one is really good. There is a certain balance in his work, and even the simplest emotions from him brings the claps from the audience – the thief’s smiles score big. Suraj Venjaramoodu brings a performance which brings him back to the “fortress of seriousness”, with a full role rather than what he had in Action Hero Biju – he even has the romantic side to explore nicely. The National Award Winner for Best Actor in 2013 is the hero in this one, even though the term has less potential in a realistic story having no heroism.

Further performers of the soul :: Nimisha Sajayan makes a good debut with this movie too, as her work is simple as well as memorable. We see her taking it further with some realistic emotional scenes. It will be nice to see her in a different performance in one of the upcoming movies, and I remember having read that she has signed for another movie already. The next memorable character in the movie is played by Alencier Ley Lopez, who plays the police officer again after Njan Steve Lopez, and combines forces with Fahadh Faasil and Dileesh Pothan once again after Maheshinte Prathikaaram. You remember Vinay Forrt becoming the officer in control of things in Kismath where almost everything happens in the police stations – Alencier gets to do the same, but he has another mode on with Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. There is also the presence of some lesser known faces, who all do a fine job – it seems that the right ones are chosen for sure.

How it finishes :: We have all known what Dileesh Pothan is capable of, with his Maheshinte Prathikaaram, the National Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam and also for Best Screenplay. The same combination of him with Fahadh Faasil returned here, and as expected there is something for us to be impressed, as we were waiting with expectations being a lot high. The movie with a realistic side will always have more for us than what any of those big superstar movies possess. It is the same realization that makes a lot of people to arrive at the theatres on a rainy day, defying all odds to get a ticket for this rather simple a movie – even the advance bookings have been even more. When the first movie was a success, the second movie has become a bigger challenge, as he has to match the glory, and here, with his brilliance continuing, Dileesh Pothan has kept Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum working, even though not as much as Maheshinte Prathikaaram.

Release date: 30th June 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Alencier Ley Lopez, Nimisha Sajayan, Soubin Shahir, Shince Mathew, Jithin KC, Vettukili Prakash, Sreekanth Murali

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.