Kumbalangi Nights

What is the movie about? :: Four brothers Saji (Soubin Shahir), Bonney (Sreenath Bhasi), Bobby (Shane Nigam) and Franky (Matthew Thomas) live in a small house which on an abandoned side of the fishing village of Kumbalangi. Born and brought up in a remote area on the island which came to be connected to mainland Kochi by a bridge only a few years back, they have been living happily, content with what they have. Their small area itself forms a very small island where people abandon their dogs and cats. Saji and Bobby doesn’t have jobs even though the former manages to get something without working. Bonney works with a music and dance troupe while Franky is a student and a football enthusiast. Things seem to be going smoothly even though none of them has any real purpose in life. They fight with each other and also with others, and have some drinks, wasting their time without regret. There are no thoughts about future either.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Things have a twist when Bobby falls in love with Babymol (Anna Ben) who has been admiring him for a long time. She works in a resort at Kallenchery side of Kumbalangi as a tourist guide and also runs a home-stay near her home. The two wants to get married, but her sister Simi’s (Grace Antony) husband Shammi (Fahadh Faasil) decides things in the house due to her father’s demise, and he wouldn’t have him as a co-brother. Shammi wants someone who is equal to him, and asks Bobby to get a job and renovate their small house. Bobby finds out that Shammi is not someone who can be reasoned with, and gets to work. But can Bobby get to marry considering the fact that Shammi is considering more than what he says? Also, can the brothers settle their differences and stop fighting each other at regular intervals for different reasons?

The defence of Kumbalangi Nights :: The first thing that strikes you here is the presence of those Chinese nets against the beautiful backwaters and greenery, captured so wonderfully. At night, the sight becomes even more beautiful, becoming the enchanting Kumbalangi – the visuals are too good. Supporting the same, are some excellent performances from each person on the screen – being a movie which gives equal importance to its characters, we see nobody backing down here. The emotions and the funny side stand at two sides of the backwaters, sometimes jumping into water together, and at times, one after the other. As a realistic take on the life of struggling people, we listen to the local slang, and we also see common factors of life. If you have been to Kumbalangi, you will see a few things which will remind you of the village – not just the fishing nets, but also the bridge to Kumbalangi, the path to Kallenchery, the Kallenchery Resort and others. There we love the simplicity that the movie displays.

Positives and negatives :: The nights at Kumbalangi is a tale of the abandoned, who seek redemption within the world which has become a part of them. The lives of the subaltern nicely gets the treatment that it deserves. It is not like those movies which choose “jobless youngsters becoming gangsters” to show the same idea, because Kumbalangi Nights nicely manages to think above that idea. It destroys the stereotype that Angamaly Diaries also created earlier in the name of a realistic tale, and goes for real, common people instead of thugs. Kumbalangi Nights is a welcome metamorphosis from the usual to the unusal, an extension of the movies like Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Drikshashiyum. As it touches you deep with its realistic depiction of all things with even more realistic dialogues, from the talk about true love to those related to family and relationships, there is no reason for you not to watch it. You can ask for more from the story, but the tale here is of life itself. It still takes some time to get going, and can be considered to be slow in the beginning by a few.

The performers of the soul :: The four actors who play the four brothers form the core of the movie. Among them, it is Shane Nigam who plays the Romeo character that touches your heart very early. He excels in those romantic sequences too. We remember those early signs in Kismath which were so nicely carried into Parava, and Shane is now here, playing another character so naturally. Soubin Shahir is fantastic with those emotional scenes and the character never fails to bring the funny side alive too, even when things are going very serious. He has those moments that touch hearts so well in the second half. Sreenath Bhasi plays the mute character very well with actions and expressions. Matthew Thomas who plays the school boy is not far behind either. We see how well they combine to make the moments in this flick so much better. In their journey, in their transformation, in their brotherhood, we find our messages of life as they find redemption.

Further performers of the soul :: Two leading ladies add to it in the same way. Grace Antony does her job in a believable manner, becoming the local house wife as one would expect her to be. She also proves that she can handle the funny side really well. At the same time, the debutante who leaves a fantastic mark here is Anna Ben. Among all the dialogues in the movie, it is those that she says that stays with us for long. Those related to “true love” and “knowing Jesus” are among them – we feel those to be so natural that whether they are emotional or funny, they go deep. Then you see Fahadh Faasil who steals the show each and every time he appears on the screen, and by the end, we see him in a performance that we least expect. There is more to his character than what meets the eye, and we have had that feeling before, in Varathan – no we are not going to find such exaggeration here, because this is the life of everyman with struggles rather than someone with the silver-spoon. We have no heroes here – instead, we have people whom we understand, and their myriad of emotions taking roots within us. Heroism is shown to be abnormal, and what the villain wishes to display – others live life.

How it finishes :: This is one movie which surely doesn’t look like the director’s debut film, as one would find it difficult to come up with complaints here. The choice of Kumbalangi is a smart one too, and it makes sure that things get closer to perfection unlike Paippin Chuvattile Pranayam which couldn’t do the same even with backwaters all around. There is poetry in Kumbalangi Nights, with its beautiful backwaters, and the lives of people who face abandonment just like their surroundings, and how they seek redemption. It is a realistic through the common man’s life with all those emotions coming from within, and we see how the setting contributes to making the story even more beautiful. Last year, we had to wait till Joseph to have the best of the year, and this year, this month, with Kumbalangi Nights, the best of the year might have come early. With it lighting up our world, we no longer have the darkness of the nights, as they are replaced with (k)nights in shining armour who reflect the light.

And here is one beautiful song to add to it:

Release date: 7th February 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Madhu C Narayanan
Starring: Shane Nigam, Anna Ben, Grace Antony, Sreenath Bhasi, Soubin Shahir, Fahadh Faasil, Ramesh Thilak, Matthew Thomas, Dileesh Pothen

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Lonappante Mamodeesa

What is the movie about? :: Lonappan (Jayaram) runs a watch repair shop in the small town of Manjapra near Angamaly, and Shameer (Hareesh Perumanna) is the one who does all the repairing jobs there. Lonappan doesn’t get much of an income from the shop, but he is not able to close it because it is family property. He is unmarried, and also has 3 unmarried sisters (Shanthi Krishna, Nisha Sarang & Eva Pavithran) – as they are not getting married, he is also not thinking about getting married. He is someone who used to be called “Tolstoy” for his story-telling abilities when he was a child. But the situation at home had forced him to stop his studies and take over watch repairing business. He is not satisfied with the same, and doesn’t even try to make things better. The watch repair shop remains exactly in the same shape as it used to be earlier.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: One day, Lonappan has a get-together with his former classmates from nearby school, and he realizes that he is the only one in their class who couldn’t get settled down. His old friends Kunjootan (Dileesh Pothan) and Neelima (Kaniha) are married, and they have settled down with good jobs in the Middle East, even though Lonappan was supposed to be the smartest of the students in their batch. The confidence given by the two makes him wonder what he can do differently to achieve success. There is frustration in his mind, but that doesn’t stop him from trying a few things differently much to the dismay of his sisters who find his actions to be strange and hopeless. Now the question remains if he can find success in his life. Whether his newly found plans will work or not, will be revealed only in the future.

The defence of Lonappante Mamodeesa :: The protagonist nicely becomes an example of people who couldn’t get to become what they wanted in life because of circumstances, and what was imposed on them by family and relatives. It is a case that is quite common, and it is a situation that too many people have faced in India, especially in Kerala – the rise of engineering was only one of such cases. With the feel-good elements, it is something that we can’t hate, and as a reflection of an everyman character, it is something that we don’t want to avoid. The emotional side is strong at times, and we can stay close to the life of the main character. It is up to the character to go through another baptism to bring the change to his character, and it is baptism by fire that can make sure about it.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is certainly confused about how it is going to bring about the change in the protagonist. The quick ending makes that clear, as we wait for something special to happen, but there is no such thing. The music is not memorable at all, and some of the characters in the film are not even needed. The subplots are not that much there, and some incidents don’t really have purpose. The transformation of the protagonist is not shown in the best way, and the movie is lacking in comedy, even though there were many chances for the same. Even the leading lady is wasted without being given much of a chance to keep staying on the screen. There are so many opportunities being wasted here, as we know that this was meant to be more. Lasting for just more than two hours, this feels longer because of missing the path on different occasions.

The performers of the soul :: Jayaram is the one family favourite actor whom we love to in roles like this. But it is a disappointing truth that except for last year’s Panchavarnathatha, there hasn’t been a movie which could rise above average status since Nadan and Lucky Star in 2013. Daivame Kaithozham K Kumar Akanam, the other movie of 2018 was a big pain, and we can be glad to see that this movie comes close to bringing the glory back up, even though it never really manages to do that in the end. Jayaram surely has returned to form, being at his comfort zone, playing a character which brings him no real challenge. Playing a commoner who has to go through many struggles, something related to family and at other times related to personal life wouldn’t bother him at any moment, and we can see the lovable Jayaram model on a number of occasions, and it brings us hope that things can get only better.

Further performers of the soul :: Anna Rajan with the Angamaly Diaries and Velipadinte Pusthakam fame plays the female lead, even though there is not much there for her to make an impression. Eva Pavithran who was last seen in Rockstar, Nisha Sarang of Uppum Mulakum fame, and Shanthi Krishna who had made a comeback with Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela are there as the three sisters of the protagonist, doing a fine job. Hareesh Kanaran is there to bring the comic side to good effect, but we can see that it is limited – the opportunity for comedy itself is not that much there to be taken, and it is wastage of his skills. Kaniha is there just for the sake of being present. Dileesh Pothen has some nice moments for us to remember, as he does that each and every time he comes on the screen. Alencier Ley Lopez’s priest role is also something that goes limited. Joju George, after the greatness of Joseph, gets a role to be forgotten.

How it finishes :: A return to family track can be seen for Jayaram with Lonappante Mamodeesa, and we know that there is hope for more. The main idea is about dreams and how people are often unable to reach where they wanted to be, or where they deserve to be – the power of the twist of fate is so. This one appeals more to the family audience that anyone else, and goes the predictable way to bring the feel-good factor. The focus on feel-good for success has let something else go missing though – we remember how Njan Prakashan, Ente Ummante Peru, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, all tried feel-good with fine effect within a gap of one month. Even though this one wouldn’t live up to that level, it also goes on to make it count in the list of movies belonging to the same category, and striving to get into the minds of the family audience.

Release date: 1st February 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Leo Thaddeus
Starring: Jayaram, Anna Rajan, Eva Pavithran, Joju George, Kaniha, Hareesh Perumana, Shanthi Krishna, Alencier Ley Lopez, Dileesh Pothen, Niyas Backer, Nisha Sarang, Innocent, Sneha Sreekumar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.