Seconds

seconds. (1)

Vampire Owl :: I can’t spare seconds. No, I am owlifying right now. Don’t you realize that?

Vampire Bat :: Seconds? What about seconds? I am talking about sparing hours for the movie called Seconds.

Vampire Owl :: I doubt if I am available. I am at work. I have already prepared the giant globe of domination to owlify the world. I just need a suitable power source. I can’t risk losing my focus due to a movie now.

Vampire Bat :: I see this as your evil plot to blame me after I watch this movie alone.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t understand why I would do that. You are the movie watcher and I am the side-kick for now. But after owlification, all of you will be my side-kicks.

Vampire Bat :: I don’t see how your plan is going to work. Lets watch the movie instead. This will make four Jayasurya movies in a month in the theatre. Isn’t it something new?

Vampire Owl :: Four? That is shocking – even I can’t play four roles in my life.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, Iyobinte Pusthakam, Lal Bhadur Shastri, Mathai Kuzhappakkaranalla and now Seconds.

Vampire Owl :: I see the level of movie coming down with each of them. This is why you should place your head on the rails for that movie train too.

Vampire Bat :: Even the boogeyman has been more generous with movies.

[Starts the car].

The people of the story :: An insurance agent, Veeramani (Jayasurya) lives in an agraharam with his wife (Anusree Nair) and is troubled by the lack of confidence and due to a certain amount of fear that he seems to have, he struggles to sell and achieve his target. He gets an appointment with a psychatrist and hopes to solve his problems. Meanwhile, a sales manager named Teena (Aparna Nair) is hoping to pay off her family’s debts which has risen up to a sum of twenty five lakh rupees which is clearly beyong her abilities. At the same time, a wedding photographer called Feroze (Vinay Fort) is trying to reach somewhere high in his profession with good contacts and is also hoping to buy a building for a new shop. A goon who spends most of his time in jail, Thampi (Vinayakan) is the next person on the list, and he wanders around having drugs. There is the point of view of each of these characters taken into consideration, and they are brought together in a lift.

What is it about? :: The movie is about the above mentioned people coming together in a lift of a big apartment building in the city of Cochin, and three of the four people are murdered on the location. We are only shown that Teena murders Thampi, as the other killings occur when lift gets stuck in the middle with no power. The prime suspect is Teena as expected, but the question remains if it was Thampi who murdered the rest and tried to kill Teena as he is the typical bad guy and criminal. Out of the two other people, it seems that only Veeramani has a chance for survival. As the investigations progress, the answer to all the question lie somwhere in the flashback. But there seems to be no link between these people, and the question remains about the motive as it doesn’t seem to be there at all. Four strangers in a lift, and three dead; not the best case to solve for any police team – how will it go this time?

The defence of Seconds :: The movie starts with a full power sequence, a death and the murder which happens; from there, it goes on to the usual stuff which gets the power back in the second half, and ends nicely with a twist. The struggling middle manages to connect the beginning and the end to create the desired effect, even as the theatre response still seemed pretty bad. Its non-linear pattern of narration is actually nicely woven to create the desired suspense, even as the frequency of the same could have been reduced along with the repetitions that we notice. The reason why we avoid some of the faults is due to the hope that the mistakes are corrected by the next movie. Malayalam movies still have a lot to explore in the thriller territory, and let this movie be another step in the same direction – a very small one. The cast performances are also a plus for sure. Lets categorize this one as an action-drama-thriller; should work better that way.

Claws of flaw :: Seconds struggles to keep the audience interested, as it doesn’t have that much of a powerful characterization, and neither does it gives us the characters to cheer for. It also works on the drama side too much, and its thriller side is virtually absent throughout the half sans the first few minutes. There is a lot of drag between the first nice sequence and the final ones, as what comes between is just ordinary drama that we see too many times at different occasions. In that case, we can consider the movie to be too long, as without a better characterization, this show of the life of characters is rather dull. We could have gone from the first sequence to the second half without bothering much about the life of these characters, but that certainly wouldn’t have been possible considering the already short length of the movie – there comes the need for a longer investigation and more thrills. It is a problem with the plot as a whole, but it is good as parts. There is also too much of the breaking of narrative and the re-telling of the same scenes which affect the flow.

Performers of the soul :: Making us wonder if there was clumsiness or laziness in characterization as well as the script, the four protagonists emerge here, and among them, Aparna Nair needs the most applause as she does her job with a fine touch. It is nice to see her in a major role after some time. In a role that is no challenge to him Jayasurya also excels. Vinay Fort is very good, but is often undone by the character’s lack of stability. Vinayakan also goes through his role with ease like nobody else. Salim Kumar just has a cameo in which nothing much is to be done, and Indrans and Sasi Kalinga are also limited to a few minutes on the screen. Anusree also has less dialogues and presence. Shankar Ramakrishnan is okay. May be the actors had a better chance with a better characterization and a better idea about what the makers were trying to achieve with the mixture of things.

How it finishes :: The movie leaves one with a strange feeling, like it seems that the movie is okay, but there is so much of incompleteness about it, and it did contribute with some boring moments to add to the already monotonous life. The movie should have been more clear in what it tries to achieve. Its power is the suspense and the twist about the murder mystery, which should have been further explored – here, the investigative side is too weak. The message here is still about the looks though, on how it can be deceiving, and how each second affects the life of a person according to one decision that he or she makes during the same. This could have been better than Angels, and still it isn’t – but the fate for both movies seems to be the same, especially with Lingaa and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies coming next weekend, and the former is expected to take a lot of audience away as it focuses on a similar audience. But lets hope for the best.

Release date: 5th December 2014
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Aneesh Upasana
Starring: Jayasurya, Vinay Fort, Aparna Nair, Anusree Nair, Ambika Mohan, Vinayakan, Indrans, Salim Kumar, Riyaz Khan, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Sasi Kalinga, Narayanan Kutty

seconds

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Up and Down

up&down (3)

We all get stuck in the lift. Those who haven’t are the ones who are waiting to get stuck there. Two years after the release of his Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty, this director has returned with what is listed as a psychological thriller – Up & Down: Mukalil Oralundu, which deals with the same issue. But I would not say that it is psychological, as it is more of a murder investigation; a suspense thriller of the recent Mumbai Police model, but the style resembles Banking Hours 10 to 4. But this surely has a good advantage over that; the advantage of the powerful base plot which forms the undercurrents. But the question would be about how it surfaces and faces those ships and boats, the critics and the common man who watches them after watching Neram, English and Mumbai Police in the other theatres. The more famous movie review sites doesn’t seem to have taken this one well, but as long as I am concerned, this is surely above average, and this successfully entertains more than any other Malayalam movie after the age of Amen. Even with its flaws, and the times when sharks become little crocodiles, this wide sea of thrills manages to make an impact on the viewers.

The whole thing happens in the tallest building in the city, a flat where a major event is taking place at the top, that is the twenty fourth floor. There is a lot of preparation going on, and there are many important guests arriving on the day. But it is not in a room, in a hall or at the premises of the flat that the story takes place, as the film is a story of eight people and a kid who gets stuck in the lift on a day when there is a major program there. The trapped people include the lift operator of the flat (Indrajith), the city police commissioner (Ganesh Kumar), the flat’s builder and a major businessman (Baiju), his wife who is a dancer and is dressed for an item in the program (Remya Nambeesan), an alcoholic writer and a stoic personality with a “Carpe diem” attitude to life (Prathap Pothen), an IT professional who plays the role of Godse in a drama for the program and also the secretary of the residents association of the apartment (Rejith Menon), his girl friend and the one in charge of the program (Sruti Menon), a former NRI from the United States who play the role of Mahatma Gandhi for the program’s drama item (Nandhu) and a little kid (Master Devaraman).

The writer keeps telling everyone that he reached there early morning; the kid keeps enquiring about his mother (Meghana Raj) and the lift operator himself tells the police commissioner about his doubts on the missing person. They are on their way to the top of the flat for the program when the lift gets stuck. The man who comes to repair the lift is an alcoholic (Koch Preman) and this delays the process further. The lift has a lot of problems, and this time, it causes bigger trouble as the function has to begin, and soon the writer has chest pain. They also find that there is a dead body on the top of the lift, and the police commisioner guesses that one of the people in the lift is responsible for the murder. He pledges to find the real victim before the lift is opened. But the question remains if it is possible in such a small space with so many people being related to the murdered person in one way or the other. The talks and actions of the people in the lift keeps on raising more and more suspicions. Even the investigator and the most respected people in the lift doesn’t seem to the kind of righteous people who can’t commit a brutal murder. Slowly, a good number of secrets are revealed, which would change their lives once they get out of the trapped area.

This one is more of Meghana Raj’s movie than anybody else. She is present in most of the flashbacks where the core of the movie is revealed. It might also be Ganesh Kumar’s best police role ever. Indrajith has very little to do as the serious lift operator who never has a moment of happiness in life. Prathap Pothen has the most interesting role in the movie, as an alcoholic who enjoys his life without worrying about the past, present or future. He provides the best comic relief with Nandhu. In many ways, this might be one of the most interesting intellectual alcoholics, a reminder of the wise fools of William Shakespeare (that was a little far-fetched) who provides those funny lines as well as the words of wisdom. It is the strangeness of his character that works the best in a situation of being trapped in such an environment. His character is most well-drawn, and the rest are just a little less developed. Some of them really don’t have any interesting character traits at all. The presence of flat characters subtract some points from the situation, and the scenes outside the lift losses in comparison to what happens inside the lift.

So where does the 2010 American supernatural thriller film come into the picture? No, The Night Chronicles: Devil doesn’t really come into the scene here. It had the supernatural within modern city life while this one has the usual crime within the modern urban life. There is no people getting killed one at a time, and there is surely no devil. The only common thing is the lift and the only similar event is the people getting trapped in the lift. So there is no place for Lucifer, Beelzebub, Satan or whoever he is. But in a world where the humans can do his job better than him, who needs that personality from the depths of the pain’s own abyss called inferno? There are satan’s little helpers who are both intellectually and spiritually better people of evil than the prince of darkness and eternal pain. Well, this one is successful in building that tension which remains there for most of the time. It is close to being brain dead in the end due to its attempt to come up with something strange and the requirement of another twist, but still, considering the fact that we have seen much worse Malayalam movies, and the greatest disasters of the Malayalam movie industry, this is not at all a bad thing in its glory.

The movie would have been better if the creators had simply forgotten about everything outside the lift and there were more incidents inside rather than the outside. That would have been more of the psychological piece as expected. May be the makers thought that the common movie watcher of this world who hasn’t watched movies like Buried might not stand a chance if they had to face with a monotonous environment such as a plain lift. The need for some colourful factors always comes to the scene when entertaining crowd-puller movies are considered. The movie’s subtitle “Mukalil Oralundu” would signify God, but there is no such direct involvement. The operation of the lift can be related to that divinity, but it is not something that can be directly connected. If the title means the dead body on the top, that would make more sense, but that would turn the usage into a rather funny thing. The more interesting thing might be about considering the lift as a character, which works as it wants itself to. Such a thing can’t be avoided even if that factor is also not explored. The supernatural clearly takes the backseat when the not-so-natural human beings takes control and leads the way.

To be frank, I have been waiting for this one for quite a long time, as the release date was changed from 17th May to 24th May; something unusual for me to long for a movie which had no special cast or nothing to boast about – I was impressed by the trailer and this being a thriller added to the longing. But the movie doesn’t seem to give what the trailer conveys to the viewer. The mystery should have been a little more bifurcating for my mind if it was so. But here, the mystery is straight, but still strange. This suspense works very powerfully throughout the first half and the movie soars high despite of some small troubles, and goes through with half of the second half without too much trouble, but it is the end that fails to justify the means. It was as if everything was made just to make the end happen, or the finish was just made for the movie to end. It is somewhat uninspiring, but everything else throughout the movie is worth all the attention. It might not be what one expect after watching the best of the world, but with the limited resources, it has been turned into something which can be watched for the fun and thrills, especially that first half which keeps one guessing about what happens next, or what can’t happen next.

Release date: 24th May 2013
Running time: 115 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: T. K. Rajeev Kumar
Starring: Indrajith Sukumaran, Meghana Raj, Prathap Pothen, Remya Nambeesan, K. B. Ganesh Kumar, Baiju, Nandhu, Sruti Menon, Rejith Menon, Master Devaraman, Kochu Preman, Vijayakumar

up&down copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.