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

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— 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.

Nizhal

What is the movie about? :: John Baby (Kunchacko Boban), a district court judge gets into a car accident after being in a fight with rash bike rider. After the accident, he begins to see things, and when there is sunshine, he keeps seeing dark clouds and rain. His psychatrist Dr TP Basheer (Rajesh Hebbar) tells him that it is just post-traumatic stress which will be over in a few days. He is also forced to wear a mask to make sure his damaged nose wouldn’t suffer any more damage, and will stay stable. He is not able to continue with his job as he used to, and his senior, Ajith Kumar (Saiju Kurup) is doubtful about his mental status. His best friend Rajan (Rony David) and wife Shalini (Divya Prabha) helps him, as latter is also a psychologist. From Shalini, he gets to know about a boy named Nitin (Izin Hash) who had written a story of murder when teachers had told the students to do some creative writing exercise. The teachers are concerned because as a child, he was supposed to write about things less terrifying by a long way.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As this has him interested, he meets Sharmila (Nayanthara) the boy’s mother with the help of Shalini so that he could get rid of the feeling that something is wrong. Even though she doesn’t agree in the beginning, she lets them into their home fearing the police getting into the act. Nitin seems to be a happy little boy who lives with his mother in a luxurious flat in the middle of the city, and his only contact is Megha (Aadya Prasad), a college student who comes regularly to teach him, and is his only real friend. Nitin gets close to John easily, especially due to his mask which reminded him about Batman and Robin. Soon, things take a turn, as they understand that the murder which the boy had talked about, is something which had really happened. The body which was supposed to be hidden in the area which he mentioned actually existed, as they fnd a skeleton which was about thirty years old. Now, the boy has another story, and things begin to get serious with police involved.

The defence of Nizhal :: There is a certain amount of quality that we can witness as far as b is considered as a mystery thriller – this is the style which some of the Prithviraj movies had possessed, those belonging to the same genre. The technical department is quite strong here, and we see some fine visuals and the background score as well as the other sound effects are of top quality. The mystery is well maintained throughout the film, and there is the suspense which is not revealed that easily. The movie, as a thing of mystery has that Hollywood touch in different areas. It never lets the slowing down of the tale to hurt it, because there is the artistic quality which makes everything feel relevant and running. The first half is surely better than the second, and the interval punch is of top quality, as it is where you get your expectations to the highest point. From there, the movie travels through the safer zone in comparison.

The claws of flaw :: The climax could have surely been better, instead of seemingly taking everything towards what seemed to be a rather convenient ending – not really appropriate for a movie which had taken itself out of the comfort zone in the early stages making one feel that this was going to be something divergent beyond expectations. There are also those situations which could have been more twisted than what is seen on the screen, and moments when it could have taken a big leap. We could have also seen better reasons for what has happened on the screen, but that is also not here to be taken. The comic relief, even though is pretty good, disappears too soon, and the seriousness is not transformed into that next level as it was needed, when we see the final moments of the film. One can’t really blame that as the biggest mystery and fear has been about the Corona virus for some time now. The movie also needed better advertising because there are still people who don’t know about this one.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchako Boban has been winning with his thriller movies, from Anjaam Pathiraa to Nayattu, the first one being an investigation thriller and the second one being a survival thriller against all odds. With all these movies, it is clear that he is getting rid of that romantic hero image once again, as this works really well for him. I would expect to find many more of similar movies with him in the lead, as we see how well this has suited him. After Love Action Drama, Nayanthara makes another return to Malayalam cinema, and this time it is into another genre, even though this time, we don’t have the whole thing centered around her – there is no real romantic side to this tale, and it is indeed a positive thing in a mystery thriller based on murders. Her character is also limited in comparison, and maybe it could have had more dimensions rather than being important as the mother of child causing trouble.

Further performers of the soul :: Izin Hash who plays the kid does the usual job quite well too. Saiju Kurup does things well in a role which suits him. Lal makes an appearance in the end, and it is the kind of role, though significant, stays on for the last fifteen minutes or so. Maybe, he could have had something to do earlier in the film too, and that would have made the whole thing better. Rony David who is best remembered for Aanandam, plays a significant role here too, and Divya Prabha who were among the nurse characters in Take Off has a nice role here, as a child psychologist, which she does to perfection – another case of finding the right support cast. We also see Marimayam‘s Vinod Kovoor and Star Magic‘s Kollam Sudhi in smaller roles, and we can hope for more of them later too. Among others, Aadhya Prasad seemed to be a notable newcomer, and we can find out that the lesser roles are given to those who are suitable for the job.

How it finishes :: Nizhal is the latest in the list of those Malayalam movies which were forced out of the theatres due to the COVID-19 complete lock-down being brought on the state. It is a fine choice, as nothing reaches viewers like Amazon Prime. After Drishyam 2 became a huge success and Joji received some high level critical opinion, it was already too late for a movie like this to have its release in the OTT platform. So, finally it arrived, and one can be sure not to be disappointed with this mystery thriller, as it is more than the usual mysteries which you see everywhere. It was also nice to see parts of UC College, Aluva being included in parts of the movie – the college had its biggest appearance in Premam, but here also, we are happy to see that grand educational institution which only recently completed one hundred years since its beginning. Nizhal, as a mystery thriller wins its battle, and lets hope that we win ours against COVID-19 too. Stay safe, everyone.

Release date: 9th April 2021 (Theatre), 11th May 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Appu N Bhattathiri
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Nayanthara, Lal, Rony David, Saiju Kurup, Izin Hash, Divya Prabha, Vinod Kovoor, Aneesh Gopal, Siyad Yadu, Sadiq, Aadhya Prasad, Rajesh Hebbar, Kollam Sudhi, Sreelatha Namboothiri

<— If looking for horror genre in Amazon Prime, read this review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Take Off

What is the movie about? :: Sameera (Parvathy) is a divorced nurse who is trying to work hard in the local hospital and pay the debts of her family, as well as ensure that the studies of her younger sisters are also dealt with. She was formerly married to Faisal (Asif Ali), and has a child, but they were separated due to problems in both families related to her work as well as the differences in way of seeing things. Shaheed (Kunchacko Boban) who works as a male nurse in the same hospital, is in love with her, and is hoping to marry her if she agrees some day. Both of them are expected to go to Iraq for work soon, and in that way, earn a better salary. Sameera finally decides that it is better for her to marry Shaheed and move on, as he is also moving to Iraq, and her relatives would make her get married to someone else anyway; at least she finds Shaheed as a good person and he is in love with her.

So, what happens next? :: After marriage, Sameera gets pregnant, but they soon have to move to Iraq and join the new job. They have heard that the place is not that safe, but there are other nurses who work there and earn a good salary. It is the year 2014, and ISIS has launched itself into the major cities of the nation. It is at the same time that Sameera’s son Ibrahim a.k.a Ibru (Master Eric) comes to live with her. Their location, Tikrit, as well as Mosul where Shaheed had traveled to with the military, all are under attack despite the repeated assurances that the army of the country will keep them safe. Sameera is shocked when she realises that Mosul is captured by the extremists and has become impossible to reach on phone. She approaches the Indian ambassador to Iraq, Manoj Abraham (Fahad Faasil) who assures her that he will do his best to find her husband.

And what is to follow between the chaos and destruction? :: It doesn’t take the ISIS long to take full control of all significant landmarks in the city of Tikrit with the military falling and later becoming a non-existent force there. The militants also make it inside the hospital and keeps the nurses as hostage. Shaheed is still in Mosul, captured by the militants there. But Manoj is determined to rescue and bring all these people back to India in one way or the other. For the same, he works with Ranjan (Prakash Belawadi), his superior officer as well as Jayamohan (Prem Prakash) who is a rich Malayali businessman with many connections in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. With the External Affairs Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Kerala in contact with him, he will try a plan which is claimed to be risky by more than one person, but is considered to be the best option to bring the nurses home by Manoj himself.

The defence of Take Off :: The movie is based on the captivity of forty six Indian nurses by ISIS, and their evacuation by the Indian government, which was one of those celebrated events and a major achievement for the nation – it takes a lot of effort to recreate and add something extra for the creative and cinematic side, and still keep it simple and real. The director has succeeded in doing the same here. The movie has nicely handled the situations of war, and also related to the hostage crisis – with terrorism to be worked with here, things could have gone different ways, but all goes well in this movie; we see balance and maturity in everything here. The emotional side is also strong, and things are kept realistic as well as interesting at the same time, a quality which has been only fakely attributed to certain movies these days.

Positives and negatives :: The first half of the movie is more about the family drama, with the final few minutes getting the protagonists to reach Iraq, with the terrible disaster of a war waiting to happen. From there, it is a thrilling adventure, and the movie works as two here. This movie is visually geat, and also has some nice music as well as background score to go with the same. The movie, despite not trying to bring anything out of the box, got all of us interested, with how this tale is told, and how the characters feel simple and real as the common man who wishes to make money for their families while protecting the same. Even with its smaller budget compared to the Bollywood movies like Airlift which deals with the evacuation of Indians too, Take Off can easily give a fine competition – in simple words, it is surely better than the Bollywood movie dealing with this. There is a better re-imagination here for you to watch.

Performers of the soul :: There is no shortage of interesting performances here, and Parvathy manages to keep her character at the right place, even living through the war on most of the occasions. The different stages of life of her character are nicely portrayed, and this is sure to bring more and more applause as the movie runs in the theatres and will be watched by more followed the highly positive opinions – following Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. Kunchacko Boban has a controlled performance here as he once again plays a character who will appeal really well for the family audience, after Kochauvva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. Then there is Fahadh Faasil who arrives in the second half, and steals the show – there are so many moments for him as he goes strong after Maheshinte Prathikaaram once again, and the last few moments are undoubtedly his. The child actor Eric is also too good. Prakash Belawadi, Prem Prakash, Asif Ali and Alencier Ley Lopez also catch our attention with their smaller roles.

How it finishes :: We had the Akashay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur starrer Airlift directed by another Malayali, Raja Krishna Menon, which had dealt with a similar crisis and somewhat same kind of situation which released in 2016 and had received many positive opinions. While Airlift was based on the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, this one is based on the 2004 ISIS invasion of Iraq. Both are about evacuating the Indians left in the nation torn by war, and both has the patriotism as well as the final success that goes with the same – both have also received a lot of critical acclaim, and has been in the news even before the release. The comparisons maybe many, and it is certain that what we need are movies like Take Off and Airlift which deals with the situations related to common people who struggle anywhere in the world, and it is also significant how realistically their tales are told. This is the best movie of the year so far, as it joins C/O Saira Banu, Alamara and Honey Bee 2 which are running in the theatres stronger than the rest.

Release date: 24th March 2017
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Mahesh Narayan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Parvathy, Fahadh Faasil, Prakash Belawadi, Asif Ali, Prem Prakash, Alencier Ley Lopez, Parvathi T, Anjali Aneesh Upasana, Master Eric, Joju George, Sidhartha Siva, Devi Ajith, Divya Prabha, Prashant Nair, Rukhsar Rehman

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.