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.

Athiran

What is the movie about? :: The year is 1967, and a worried Lakshmi (Shanthi Krishna) finds their family murdered while Nithya (Sai Pallavi) is seen playing with a thread. The situation seems to points to her as dangerously abnormal and a murderer. Five years later in 1972, Dr. MK Nair (Fahadh Faasil), a psychiatrist from Trivandrum Medical College is sent to check out the activities in a mental asylum situated far away from civilization, between the trees in the wilderness. This grand mansion which was built by the British has limited access to other places. Dr Benjamin Diaz (Atul Kulkarni) who served in the 1972 India-China War and a master hypnotist is the resident doctor as well as the owner of the asylum. He is very strict in his methods and doesn’t like anyone from outside making a visit. Renuka (Lena) is in control of things there, and Avarachan (Nandhu) provides further help from outside.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: There are strange incidents happening in the asylum. The inmates include Anna Maria (Leona Lishoy), a religious person, P Subrahmanya Iyer (Vijay Menon), an English professor, Vadakkedath Kamala Lakshmi (Surabhi Lakshmi), a person of too much concern for everyone around her, Jeevan Thomas (Sudev Nair), and a happy and strange romantic person. But it turns out that there is one more patient, and she is hidden and locked away in a cell, considered to be extremely dangerous and uncontrollable – the person is none other than Nithya who lives a restrained life, hostile to those who very rarely come to visit her. The newly arrived doctor realizes that there is something strange about her as well as the working of the hospital – he even has some dream visions and hallucinations when he is there, but some of them might be close to reality.

The defence of Athiran :: We have had a good number of psychological thriller, but after the 1990s, not many movies could rise above a certain level, and Athiran comes as a breath of fresh air – we always needed our own Shutter Island, and this one becomes the same, but with its own different twists. A Cure for Wellness is another movie we are reminded of. There is a similar beautiful setting here just like that island in Shutter Island and the mountain ranges in A Cure for Wellness, as the camera nicely brings all of the same to perfection. There is a Gothic building out there, and has a similar setting as one would have seen in movies like Crimson Peak, even though in the absence of the ghostly presence, is not used to the maximum – we had already seen 9 using a similar setting. The songs and the picturization also prove to be really attractive, and the suspense is maintained until the end as we remain thrilled.

The claws of flaw :: The similarities to A Cure for Wellness and Shutter Island can’t be ignored. There is another movie called The Ward which deals with a similar situation. All these are set in places dealing with “wellness” of the patients, and has similar moments of horror related to treatment procedure, along with secrets there that should be revealed. There is clear influence in bringing a certain Hollywood style, also resembling the Victorian Gothic Model, but the success of the movie is that it has done the same really well, and local elements have been mixed with some skill behind the same. We still have the feeling that something missing in there, and the other patients’ characters could have been better developed. With a setting like this, there was hope for bringing some intensely terrifying moments, but it is not there. Nights in a mental asylum far away from civilization can always bring more, and so can a mentally unstable murderer of family members.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is one actor who has come up with minimum guarantee in the last few months, and we look at his previous movie to make sure about that. His last three ventures in Malayalam movie industry were Kumbalangi Nights, Njan Prakashan and Varathan, all three gaining both critical and commercial success. These movies also had less hype in comparison to the others, and Athiran actually came up with no real boost in marketing – I came to know about this movie very late, and even then I didn’t know that this was a Malayalam movie; the film survived with people’s opinions. It is to be noted that there is a certain change that comes across the character he plays in each of the four movies including this one. One can also note that Fahadh has done a fantastic job here as the main character in a psychological thriller – playing a character in a mental asylum wouldn’t come easy, whether the role is of a mental patient or not.

Further performers of the soul :: Sai Pallavi has returned to Malayalam movie industry once again, and it called for a change, a welcome one, as there is no dance performance around here. She is the kind of actress who can do this role so well, as she showed such signs in Kali itself, even though it was not needed then. Well, here she excels in portraying the character with autism and more. This one is her best performance in the industry so far, clearly better than Premam, and surely better than that which didn’t really matter in the miserable Kali. Atul Kulkarni who has come up with some memorable performances in Malayalam movies before, brings a strong antagonist. Leona Lishoy, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon and Sudev Nair who have their moments as the patients never really get going though, with no real mention about their tales of the past. Lena and Nandhu gets limited in their roles, Shanthi Krishna is there for a few minutes. Renji Panicker is impressive when he is there.

How it finishes :: Athiran is one movie which has been running for so long despite releasing without making much of a noise. One month later, it can be seen that the movie is still going strong, despite Avengers: Endgame taking the most number of viewers, creating the collection record like never before, overtaking Titanic and closing in on Avatar, the effect being seen here too. Athiran, one month later, is challenging the bigger movies like the crowd puller Oru Yamandan Prema Katha and the critics favourite Uyare. It is nice to see a psychological thriller doing such a job, as it has been the genre, with a fee exceptions not bringing the major part of audience to the theatres, especially the family audience. But things have changed now, and Athiran has stood tall when the opportunity came, and it does so in Hollywood style, in a grand environment.

Release date: 12th April 2019
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Vivek
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Sai Pallavi, Lena, Sudev Nair, Leon Lishoy, Prakash Raj, Renji Panicker, Atul Kulkarni, Shanthi Krishna, Nandhu, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Njan Prakashan

What is the movie about? :: Prakashan (Fahadh Faasil) is someone who is looking for easy money instead of going for the profession that he is skilled in – the job of a male nurse in one of the hospitals in the state or even the nation doesn’t seem to appeal to him, as he wastes his days doing nothing useful other than complain. His hope for a better job sees some light when he once again meets his former lover Salomi (Nikhila Vimal) who studied in the same nursing college. He was consistently avoiding her as she wasn’t that rich as he expected her to be. But the information that she is leaving for Germany to work at a salary of above three lakhs, his love for her quickly returns to him. He hopes to marry her and go to Germany, only to divorce her and marry someone from a rich and reputed family later. For achieving the same, he begins showing his love towards her and her family in different ways.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Now known as PR Akash after changing his original name, he is determined to leave for Germany, whatever happens. He seeks the help of his father’s former student Gopalji (Sreenivasan) who is a labout supplier, and even learns German after shifting to the city. For achieving his German dreams, he even pretends to be an orphan and secretly marry Salomi at the register office. He even tries and succeeds in getting the remaining cash which is needed for her to leave for Germany. Everything seems perfect until her father lands in the hospital. Twist of fate lands him at another place, as a male nurse to a rich child Tina (Devika Sanjay) who has been an eternal pain to her nurses until they left, and he also comes across Shruthi (Anju Kurian) who is struggling to keep her life going after the death of her father. For him, Germany no longer is the option or the dream.

The defence of Njan Prakashan :: There are some wonderful performances to power this movie, and along with the same, it also holds a mirror in front of the society – it is more or less a satire, as we see more than one people you know in the form of Prakashan. Our protagonist is someone who is not willing to work hard thus choosing any chance for easy money, complaining about one thing or the other, being sceptical and jealous about others, and more. We do meet people having these qualities often, which is why the movie becomes a reflection of those around us. The movie as a satire is funny, but not throughout, and it leaves us with some questions, along with invoking the emotional side slightly as well as brutally. As the movie reaches the end, it becomes that morality tale which has the lesson being taught as it finishes. The second half of the movie is top quality, racing ahead of the first, towards glory in the end with the climax and beyond.

The claws of flaw :: Njan Prakashan could have been more natural and it would have been as good as Maheshinte Prathikaaram – instead, this one has been polished, and certain cliches have been added, with the progress being more or less in an old format. The repetitive mode of comedy is rather strange considering the fact that these moments have a lot more to contribute to the overal quality of the movie. The first half of the movie is kind of dull in most parts, with jokes being present at times, and it doesn’t work at some points either. If the first half was reduced in length and more was added to the second, that would have helped the movie further. There is also the absence of some good songs, which should be the selling point of such flicks. We also see no attempt to capture the beauty and tranquility of the villages, as the same could also been positive addition to the movie. The talk about migrant labour population also gets nowhere in the end.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is once again the man to look out for, as there are shades of Maheshinte Prathikaaram in his character, and the same is combined with the other side of his character in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. Fahadh easily manages this role with every ingredient that the character needed, and it comes as no surprise for us, considering the variety he has been bringing until his last movie, Varathan. We see him excelling in the natural fun moments as well as those strong emotional moments. The change that comes within the character is also nicely displayed by him, and is complete by the end. He also gets to show some shades of his character in Oru Indian Pranayakadha, the earlier combination between him and the same veteran director. The role from Carbon should also be coming to one’s mind as part of those different, yet similar faces of the man who has shown us many faces on the big screen.

Further performers of the soul :: The two heroines of the movie are Nikhila Vimal and Anju Kurian. Nikhila who had her first lead role in Love 24×7 was last seen in another wonderful performance in Aravindante Athidhikal. Anju’s lead role in Kavi Uddheshichathu was a memorable one. The former leads the first half while the latter influences the second. Both are perfectly suited for their roles, and we look forward to seeing them in more movies. Devika Sanjay who plays Tina in this movie with her debut, makes her first one grand, without doubt. She is someone for the future of the industry without doubt. The different shades of a lone school girl is nicely portrayed by her. Sreenivasan remains strong throughout the movie, even though one would feel that his character could have been a lot funnier consider the role and the setting.

How it finishes :: Ente Ummante Peru, Thattumpurath Achuthan, Pretham 2 and Njan Prakashan have been the Christmas moves, and all of them have been doing pretty good, with Odiyan also staying there. Well, the best of the year, Joseph is not finished yet, and we know that there are so many options out there. Among these movies, Njan Prakashan surely has an advantage, because of how it ends, and regarding how it can be connected to the common man’s life. As the year comes to an end, there are things that we need to make sure about, before taking those new year resolutions. Njan Prakashan is that kind of a movie which helps one to do that with ease. The change that needs to happen, is clearly shown in this flick, as we look forward to another year, a better one, with better us.

Release date: 21st December 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Sathyan Anthikad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Nikhila Vimal, Anju Kurian, Sreenivasan, Aparna Das, Aneesh G Menon, Sabitha Anand, KPAC Lalitha, Veena Nair, Manjula, Manjusha, Jayashankar, Munshi Dileep, Devika Sanjay, MG Sasi, Shania D’Souza

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@ Cemetery Watch
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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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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
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Role Models

What is the movie about? :: Gautham Shekhar (Fahadh Faasil) is a man who is always concentrating on his work, and is so busy earning money, that the only person whom he regularly speaks to, is the mobile’s assistant app. He wakes up early in the morning and goes through everything according to the schedule. The boss of his company (Dileesh Pothan) is always calling him names in front of his colleagues despite his hardwork, and he lives his life according to calculations, drinking the maximum amount of water and even making sure that he goes to the urinal frequently according to plan. He has no friends and no love, and he is always busy, and when he is not busy, he is just asleep at night. If he ever gets any time to do anything, he dedicates those moments for studying too, and he has special interest in studies regarding astronomy. He has declared himself cent percent against having fun because it is of absolutely no use.

So, what happens next? :: His father and college professor Shekharan (Renji Panicker) is too worried about the same, and therefore contacts his son’s former best friends from college, Rexy Joseph (Sharafudheen) and Jyothish Narayanan (Vinayakan) whom he had himself evicted from the institution to make sure that Gautham wouldn’t be friends with the boys whom he found worthless and making nuisance. The two old friends are not that fond of their former enemy calling them, but decides to have the free alcohol and chooses to help their old friend with whom they had their best moments in life. They are joined by the third person, Shoubahn Khader (Vinay Forrt) who was the fourth member of their gang which used to be called Role Models during their time at the college. The group, along with the mischief making girl Christy (Srinda Ashab) used to create head ache for everyone in the college especially Gautam’s parents who taught there.

And what is to follow with the adventure? :: The three old friends are shocked to see the attitude of their former best friend towards life, as he had changed so much. He seemed to be exactly the opposite of all that he used to be. They try many things to get him back to be the happy and loving person that he used to be, including alcohol, friendship, and even misunderstanding Christy as his lost love from college. But then, they come to know that the real love of Gautham was Shreya Menon (Namitha Pramod), a girl who was more of an all-rounder, present everywhere, but stayed away from becoming a big name. Their search for her lands them in Goa, where she is a changed person. She is happy to see her old friends, but how will they make sure that Gautham can win his love back? Is there any chance for them to have their old friend back in the way that he used to be?

The defence of Role Models :: There are some nice jokes with which the movie begins – it has that kind of a cast with great comic timing, which improves the level, and keep striving for something better in that department. We have them coming quick and steady in the first half, and the trio handling the same never backs down from doing it. “Thechille Penne” song is nice, but you do feel that should have had more relevance in the movie. The movie also has some messages, even though we are not clear which of them needs to get our attention the most. We would figure out that it is more about parenting than any other. It is good to focus on the significance of parents supporting the children in studying what they really want to – almost every time, the father is the culprit, and due to this attitude of the parents and relatives, the youth are transformed into creatures that should just study for scoring high marks, get a good job with big salary and get married to someone rich and of high family value. Well, the movie does end on a good note despite the confusion. A cameo also arrives in the end nicely, but one has to wonder if it was there because there was no other idea available.

The claws of flaw :: Never does Role Models tries to overcome the limitations which it had put on itself, with not thinking much about the story and how it is told with the entertaining elements. The movie just goes on as if it is walking through sleep, as some characters and some incidents are there just for the sake of being there. Fahad’s action scenes were rather useless, and bringing that certain disorder and making it chaos was certainly a real bad idea. If the same was necessary for the makers to do, they could have at least made things more interesting, and presented in a smart manner. The audience often wonders where the movie is actually heading with so many things added as if they are taken from different movies. You feel that with Fahadh Faasil playing a character reminding you of the same in North 24 Kaatham will make things that good, but this one which has its own confusion running through, never becomes something close to that awesome flick which was critically acclaimed. A divergent movie is fair when it uses the divergence to the best effect, the movie makers should have remembered that.

Performers of the soul :: Once again, Fahadh Faasil makes this seem so easy, as he does his character’s both stages with such an ease that we wonder how he is there to make things better for even the least interesting movie. Keeping on rising with Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Take Off, this one will not be another big movie, but his performance is as usual, to be noted; signs were there in that song which became instantly popular. Sharafudheen-Vinayakan-Vinay Forrt combo is also nothing short of a nice call for laughter, and we have them executing the same really well. The friends just makes things so much better. It is also good to see Namitha Pramod back after Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Amar Akbar Anthony – she gets two times of the character’s life here. Srinda has an interesting and funny role too, after Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol and Adventures of Omanakuttan this year. Meanwhile, Renji Panicker is left with not much interesting to do and Suraj is rather wasted in this role.

How it finishes :: It is surprising how close to each other are the three Malayalam movie releases for the Eid holidays, starting from Avarude Raavukal, going through Oru Cinemakkaran and now standing at Role Models. All three of them released on consecutive dates, and are in quality, quite close to each other. They do provide a mixture of genres, and has the comic side as the one fueling everything right from the beginning, and there are twists in store in each of them. Is it a co-incidence that we have all these movies so similar to each other, and those watching it can only give them ratings so close to each other? Well, when Godha, Adventures of Omanakuttan and Achayans had released, all three of them were so different from each other, and we couldn’t consider them to be on the same level. Well, we have regular entertainment in store here for the festival season as Role Models becomes the third movie to release on the third day.

Release date: 25th June 2017
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Rafi
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Namitha Pramod, Vinayakan, Srinda Ashab, Sharafudheen, Rohini, Seetha, Vinay Forrt, Renji Panicker, Suraj Venjarammood, Aswathi Menon, Dileesh Pothan, Siddique, Bibin George, Harisree Ashokan (cameo)

@ 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.

Maheshinte Prathikaram

maheshinteprathikaram ()

What is the movie about? :: Mahesh Bhavana (Fahadh Faasil) owns a small studio named Bhavana, living his life in and around Kattappana in Idukki. He is a simple man who finds happiness in the usual happenings of daily life, and is a popular person in the neighbourhood. His best friends include the older man who runs a shop near his studio, Baby (Alancier Lay) and his employee who is a cheerful young man named Crispin (Soubin Shahir). He has been in love with his childhood friend Soumya Kunjumon (Anusree Nair) for a long time, but it turns out that she decides to marry someone who works abroad instead. At the same time, he also gets into a fight with a group of strangers, and he makes a promise not to wear footwears until he has revenge on Jimson Augustine (Sujith Shankar) who beat him up.

So, how and where will the things be going from there? :: Mahesh is determined to have his revenge as he trains in Kung-fu hoping that he can win a fight against his newly found opponent. As Jimson has moved to the Middle East for a job, he keeps waiting for his moment of return. Meanwhile, Mahesh meets Jimsy Augustine (Aparna Balamurali) who needs him to take a photo for the cover page of a magazine. As they fall for each other, he comes to know that she is the sister of the man whom he wants to beat up. But he decides to go on with the relationship, even though he is determined that he will beat up the man when he returns to India. So, will Mahesh have his revenge? Will he manage to do that and finally wear the chappals? Is the decision not to have revenge as Jimsy wouldn’t want? Or will he just fail in the quest?

The defence of Maheshinte Prathikaram :: This one is more than just a movie; as it is more of life – there is nothing exaggerated in this movie as it uses the simple events of life, which could happen anywhere, and brings everything out of them. The movie’s biggest asset is its ability to make one laugh, and that too without using those silly jokes – even above that, it can bring a certain smile on the face of the viewers. There is a lot of skill in how the comedy is handled in this movie; there is nothing dumb, and there is no words used with hidden meanings. The revenge here is not something of hate, but simple, and out of a simple promise which has been made – nobody gets to suffer for the same; and the movie is that light-hearted. The songs are good and the visuals of the high-ranges are very well captured. Life is rarely reflected on screen this simple and lovable; especially look out for the anthem and the theatre scenes – that’s just two of the long list.

Claws of flaw :: There is nothing huge in the story of this movie; it is just the simple life of the common man in the high-ranges. Well, as Life of Josutty had said in the posters, this one is also just life without twists and suspense. There will be no big melodrama or romance as those exaggerated movies – dealing with a simple man’s life, this movie won’t satisfy the blind fans looking for all which is not there in life. As the movie brings real and natural humour instead of the silliness which is needed for the fans, there will be the group which won’t like it. But the final fight scene could have been shortened, and Aparna Balamurali could have had her entrance much earlier, especially considering the fact that they don’t see each other during their first meeting. But that is no flaw for you to decide not to watch a feel-good movie which is a lot sensible than the rest.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil returns to be the crowd-favourite after Monsoon Mangoes which never really got close to connecting with the audience. As always, he is too good – he has taken control of this character and has done a really fantastic job. You have to love how well he manages each of his characters, and this one is simply awesome. Here is the man whose movies have viewers and admirers of movies rather than fans – it means that we can watch his movies without being troubled by the blind fans who are howlers, abusers and haters; how many celebrities can manage to offer a movie without trouble from terrible people? I had even read that he said that fans associations are not needed, and people need to watch his movies only if they are good. It is the kind of policy which every sensible actor needs to follow.

Further performers of the soul :: Anusree manages her role here with ease, as she plays Fahadh’s love interest in the first half. The second half has Aparna Balamurali whom we remember from Oru Second Class Yathra in which she played the character Amritha Unnikrishnan; it is related to the song “Ambazham Thanalitta” with Vineeth Sreenivasan rather than the movie. Here, she is the one to look out for, after our protagonist. She has a simple and charming way of playing her character here, and it is a lovable performance in store here. I am sure that she will go a long way after this performance. 2015 had some interesting new female faces in Malayalam movies, and 2016 has one more promising star, even though not that much of a new face – she has her first big role and she has done a really good job; this work feels so real and energetic.

And the rest of the movie :: The combination of Alancier Lay and Soubin Shahir is really good in this movie, and they handle the funny side here amazingly well. In a movie which has a lot of new faces, another newcomer Lijomol also has some nice funny moments here. The debut from the director Dileesh Pothan is a wonderful one, and he has also played one role. The supporting cast is really strong here, even with so many new faces. This different kind of revenge story is the kind of movie which you should really watch. It is something like a simple and humorous page taken right out of the book of life. Maheshinte Prathikaram is the kind of movie which could have been made more, but only people who have the ability to notice the simple things in life with skill, can come up with such a creation, and for the same, this movie needs the appreciation as it becomes the best of the year so far! These are good times for movie-watchers, with options of Action Hero Biju and Puthiya Niyamam also there!

Release date: 5th February 2016
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Aparna Balamurali, Anusree Nair, Soubin Shahir, Alancier Lay, Lijomol, KL Antony, Jaffer Idukki, Dileesh Pothan, Sujith Shankar, Saiju Agustine

maheshinteprathikaram

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ayal Njanalla

ayaalnjanalla (1)

Vampire Owl :: Then who is he?

Vampire Bat :: We have to watch to find out who he is and also about who the others are.

Vampire Owl :: With a title saying “he is not me”, I have to think that he is worried of his own existence. May be he has taken the place of someone else, or another person has taken his place. Otherwise why would he need to say that?

Vampire Bat :: May be he has an evil twin, like Lady Death having an evil twin sister.

Vampire Owl :: Why are we not watching Drishyam this time? We have already watched it in two languages. There is seems to be not much rush for that too.

Vampire Bat :: Well, everyone in the South has watched at least one version of the movie, and most of the Indians have also given one of them a watch. There are not many people left to watch a Drishyam.

Vampire Owl :: Still, we will watch it?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, may be later, depending upon how long that movie stays here.

Vampire Owl :: Well, it has been some time since we saw Fahadh Faasil.

Vampire Bat :: Well, his movies this year have been Mariyam Mukku and Haram. It is not fair for a person of his calibre.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Prakashan (Fahadh Faasil) is a young Malayali who migrated to a village near the Rann of Kutch when he failed in the tenth standard, and is living with his uncle (TG Ravi), as they work with tyre repair in a small shop on the side of the road. After the death of his uncle, he is left with a big amount to pay to a moneylender who lock down the shop and gives him just one week to pay the money before he unleashes hell with the help of the police who are in his pocket. Prakashan decides to pay by selling his ancestral property in Kerala which he hasn’t seen for years, and return to Gujarat to go back to Esha (Mrudula Murali) whom he loves. He goes to Bangalore to find his old friend who has offered to help him, and there he will know that he looks a lot like a Malayalam actor.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil’s performance once again become the highlight, and he scores the most in the Kutch sequences. His comic side gets the better score in the middle part of the movie though, as he gets misunderstood as someone else. His performance is actually far above the level of this movie, as you have seen with many other flicks. Yes, he is back after Haram and Mariyam Mukku, the two flicks of the year with him in the lead and had failed to leave a mark. Unlike what people think, there is no two of him on the screen, as him acting as the actor who is himself, never really comes to the picture. There are two phases of his life for sure, and he has done both of them very well with the versatility that he has always displayed. Even when put in the worst movie, he does his part so well – you have seen that in Olipporu.

More performers of the soul :: There seems to be a lot of less seen faces in this movie, but the most significant one is Mrudula Murali who plays the role of the Gujarati damsel and the love interest of the protagonist. She looks stunning in that traditional clothing, and she does seem to be suited for comedy as well as romantic roles, from the time for which she is there – could have been there for more. Actually, none of the actresses have much time on the screen. The next heroine Divya Pillai might have a little more screen time, and just looks very good but with no scope in there to make any impact and she doesn’t. Aileena Catherin Amon, who was crowned Miss South India 2015 also comes in a noticeable role which she manages well. There are a lot of good new faces in this movie as the fans of the actor and friends of the leading lady.

Further performers of the soul :: Tini Tom and Noby Marcose provides some interesting funny moments, and it is good to see that the latter is getting a significant role which he plays throughout the Kerala side of the story in this movie. I have always loved his performances more than the others in Vodafone Comedy Stars. Sreekumar is a big bonus to the comic side here, and he has his moments which gets the cheer. We need to see him on the big screen more often. Akshat Singh who is known with his performance in India’s Got Talent makes his film debut here, and also does a small dance performance in the movie – he will be better known to the Malayali audience now, and they will love him if they watch the movie. Ranji Panicker does the predictable here, with the role like Pratap K. Pothen has done in a number of movies.

The defence of Ayaal Njanalla :: The movie has comedy which works well, and all the actors have contributed directly or indirectly to the same. There are moments which are nicely used to get good effect on the audience, and the repetitive story is made interesting by adding the fun and also with the performances. The shots of Kutch are very beautiful, and there is no shortage of good looking people in this movie. This the debut movie of the actor Vineeth Kumar turning director, and he has a nice beginning here – may be he could have asked for a bigger story to work on; still he manages to make this work with the feel-good factor which has been utilized to give the viewers the needed feeling; still more jokes could have been added and the romantic side should have been gone better.

Claws of flaw :: The movie often struggles to keep its level throughout. The situations are those which we have seen before in some way or the other. There is not much of a story here, as everything seems to be just a small work stretched beyond its capabilities, and still it finishes off too fast in the end, without adding an interesting climax – a happy ending is just brought and forced out of nowhere. They were surely in a hurry to finish this one after making too long for the content – wonder why! The visuals outside Gujarat is ordinary, and so are the songs and the background music. At times, it does make the audience where it is actually heading for. The movie never really had much hype even though it has Fahadh Faasil returning in a different avatar, and that could really affect the collections – even Jilebi had better promotions around.

Release date: 31st July 2015
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: Vineeth Kumar
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Mrudula Murali, Diya Pillai, Aileena Catherin Amon, Tini Tom, Noby Marcose, Sreekumar, Ranji Panicker, Akshat Singh, TG Ravi, Dileesh Nair, Jins Baskar, Sreekanth Menon, JK Nair

ayalnjaanalla

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Iyobinte Pusthakam

Iyobinte Pustakam ()

What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of Iyob (Lal) and his three sons, Dimitri (Chemban Vinod Jose), Ivan (Jinu Joseph) and Aloshy (Fahadh Faasil). Iyob was a young local boy who became the right-hand of Harrison (Sal Yusuf), one of the British people who established homes in Munnar, but he managed to rise after his death and had become the most powerful and the influential man in the area. Due to the commanding nature of his father and the atrocities of his brothers which are covered up with money, Aloshy leaves home and joins the Royal Navy from where he is dismissed as a result of a mutiny, which leads him back home. There, his troubles with his brothers begin, and Iyob is infuriated by his lack of obedience and also lack of display of admiration for his father, for which he disinherits him, and his brothers attack him and leaves him for dead. But Iyob doesn’t really know his other sons yet, and an enemy called Angoor Rawther (Jayasurya) shall soon come up.

The defence of Iyobinte Pusthakam :: Iyobinte Pusthakam is brilliant, and amazing beyond words in its visual splendour – it is something that we might have never seen before in Indian cinema, and one can get a peek at the same by just looking at the trailer – the complete stuff is a lot bigger and highly extravagant in its visuals. What you see in the posters are made a lot better in this movie, and not the other way around. The movie’s use of history and the variety in settings are also something to cheer about. We rarely have such good period thrillers in Malayalam, and even in Bollywood. The only things related to history that we have these days are related to killing white people – are we so much out of ideas that we have to talk about one thing again and again? No, not all, says Amal Neerad who has come up with his magnum opus here, which tells the story of the people of the land during the British rule and after, combining history and fiction. You can appreciate this one as long as you have the ability for the same.

Positives and negatives :: The movie might still be slow for a few, but I will say that there is absolutely no drag, and it is achieved by the beauty of the visuals – it is no bloody useless drag like Annayum Rasoolum, I can assure you that; this is more of a Left Right Left of this year. As you enter the world of unparalleled visual beauty, what you want might not be the story. The plot might look ordinary, but it is never about the story. Do watch and get taken into this amazing world, and the first movie from Amal Neerad that I liked – and this is one big like for him! Yes, I have never liked Big B, Sagar Alias Jacky, Anwar and Bachelor’s Party, and you fan-boys and girls can dislike me for the same. Interstellar was just a story that could never happen, but this one is a story of humanity in real, and it is up-to you to choose the one that you wish for this weekend, as both are for entirely different set of minds! Our Malayalam critics will never rate a movie from Kerala high, so just the “very good” rating for this movie would mean “out of this world”.

Performances of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is nothing less than brilliant here, as he has another feather in the cap here. It is amazing how he has managed to thrive under almost every circumstance that has been put before him. How good can he be? We can never know the limits of his abilities as it seems. Lal is also nothing less than the powerful and later the helpless figure that he is supposed to be – there is nobody other who can be this character. Chemban Vinod Jose and Jinu Joseph are also good and the former is extremely efficient at times Isha Sharvani is extremely beautiful and suited for the role with her looks alone, otherwise she has much less to do; but that has still worked well for the character. Jayasurya is one impressive villain too, as he becomes the smiling assassin here. Padmapriya as Rahel also scores, coming out nowhere. Vinayakn is also nice. The characterization is so powerful and they nicely blend into the strength of visual beauty and that nice background score. I shall leave with some more thoughts below.

Soul exploration 1 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as King Lear :: Iyobinte Pusthakam is a lot like King Lear or a loose adaptation from the same – it is as much of Shakespeare as Haider is Hamlet, and it has nicely used the setting to support the same. Iyob is King Lear who divides his kingdom among two sons, disinheriting the third, and in the end, it turns out that he was always the righteous and the loving one who comes out to help the father. Goneril, Regan and Cordelia are all here, and there is the Earl of Kent who is joins with the villains this time as Lazar. Rahel does the job of Edmund here, standing between the two sons and making one kill the other. Meanwhile, going outside the play, Martha becomes the lady love that every movie needs, and Angoor Rawther is just the villain that every story should have. There are also those moments when Iyob seems to be descending into madness, and Oswald is also there, as the man who tries to kill our hero and gets himself killed. Also check for the The Brothers Karamazov kind of characters with the same names.

Soul exploration 2 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as the Parable of the Prodigal Son :: Iyob himself mentions Aloshy as prodigal son when he returns from the navy, and the church priest mentions that he is to be given a warm welcome if it is so, just like in the Holy Bible. But here, Aloshy is not the prodigal son, but rather the lost son, who returns after gaining wisdom rather than losing money, and this illusion of the gone son being the prodigal son is directly reversed in this movie without any complication. But considering a few other cases, he is indeed unemployed and without money compared to what he has at his own home which was left behind. The money that he extravagantly spent are the years of his life, and the time which he should have spent with his family. The father does accept his son, but once again, the elder brothers don’t. The movie’s use of the dialogues about the parable gives us this idea.

Soul exploration 3 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as the Biblical story of Job :: The main character of the movie is Iyob or Job even as the hero is Aloshy. Even as our character here doesn’t have the qualities of a righteous man, he is also someone who losses almost everything that he holds dear, and it includes his own children, his property, and up-to an extent, his health. But the answer to his problems is achieved sooner here, in the form of his earlier lost son Aloshy. During his last moments, he holds onto the cross and gives it to his son, something which he already had, but rarely mentions as his baptism was nothing that he or his people wanted. It is his faith in God that is replenished in his final moments, and even as there is no redemption like that of the Biblical Job here, he does manage to die a good person rather than the evil feudal lord that he had been.

*This is the finest movie of the year from India, among all those which I have watched. Don’t miss this one! It is out of the usual league. It also leaves us with thoughts about the oppressed becoming the oppressor when opportunity arises, and also with a message on equality among the masses.

Release date: 7th November 2014
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Isha Sharvani, Lal, Jayasurya, Padmapriya, Chemban Vinod Jose, Reenu Mathews, Jinu Joseph, Vinayakan, Lena Abhilash, T. G. Ravi, Sreejith Ravi, Shebin Benson, Saritha Kuku, Nebish Benson, Sal Yusuf, Aashiq Abu (cameo), Amala Paul (cameo)

iyobintepustakam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bangalore Days

bangaloredays (1)

Vampire Owl :: So we won’t watch Bangalore Days, right?

Vampire Bat :: We will watch it. There will be force from Nivin Pauly fans, Dulquer Salmaan fans, Nazriya fans and Fahad Faasil fans and even Anjali Menon fans who will force us to go for the movie no matter what is shown in the movie.

Vampire Owl :: You mean there is no escape. Won’t the monsoon calm them down?

Vampire Bat :: No, they constitute ninety five percent of the Keralite young population. Unless we hide ourselves in a bunker, there is no escape from the fan bombs.

Vampire Owl :: Let’s not listen to them who rate the movie high just because of the people involved, and hiding that fact, just say that movie is awesome.

Vampire Bat :: Let’s watch this soon enough but not falling to those extremely high fan ratings.

Vampire Owl :: So, can we order an extra plate of fried rice with more gravy?

Vampire Bat :: I guess I will need two cups of tea too.

Vampire Owl :: Why two? One for Count Dracula?

Vampire Bat :: One before finishing the food and the other after the grand finish.

[The food happens again].

What is it about? :: There are three cousins, Krishnan (Nivin Pauly), Arjun (Dulquer Salmaan) and Divya (Nazriya Nazim) who have been great friends since childhood and shared almost everything with each other. Divya is married to the busy executive Das (Fahadh Faasil) and that lands her in Bangalore. Krishnan who gets a new job in the IT sector also gets posted in Bangalore, and that comes as no surprise. Arjun, who has the habit of leaving his home and keeping his relatives worried, also comes to the same city and does a little mechanic job bringing the three cousins together again. Arjun falls in love with a physically disabled Radio Jokey, Sarah (Parvathy). Krishnan meets an airhostess who is half-Malayali, Meenakshi (Isha Talwar) and is instantly attracted to her even as the lady of his dreams is simple and having a Malayali character. Meanwhile, the relationship between Divya and Das becomes strained due to multiple reasons, and Krishnan’s mother comes to Bangalore after his father goes on a spiritual trip. Sarah has to go to Australia while her mother despises Arjun for his background and lifestyle, and Meenakshi is not serious in the relationship with Krishnan, making things further complicated.

The defence of Bangalore Days :: This one is a joy to watch in the beginning stages. There are three cousins, with lot of love for each other and enjoying life. There are many funny moments in the movie, mostly including Nivin Pauly, as he falls for the one true love he meets who is surely not a lady of his dreams. The jokes work throughout the movie, even as the second half takes them down. There is a lot of intelligence in bringing fun in the first half, and they have smartly used the Thattathin Marayathu stuff in this one which is a nice addition. The cast is as close to perfection as it can be, especially with three male leads, Nivin Pauly, Fahadh Faasil, and Dulquer Salmaan. Among the female leads, Parvathi shines the most, and this is a different avatar for her considering the roles we usually see her in. There might still be no better happiness than seeing all these stars together, seven in total, three male and four female, and all of them young and bringing their energy all the way to the screen. This leaves a lot of the young generation fans, and the fanboys as well as fangirls will love this stuff. This is the movie that they can celebrate by bunking classes and wasting time.

The claws of flaw :: The movie has no interesting story to tell the viewers. It has just three people who are the centre of attraction, seemingly made even before the plot ever existed, and into their lives, the whole story is packed and sent. The twist that they bring for Fahadh’s character was possibly the worst thing they could do to the story as an ineffective turn-around. The bike racing stuff was quite unnecessary, as Dulquer was cool without it. But here, he will jump bike just because they can make him. He was nicely turning into a likable character from one of the worst young man in this story. May be because even non-racing fans liked Rush and Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikhander had such an awesome climax, they should have thought this was the way to go. The scene after the final marriage is equally worse, and Nivin Pauly character’s “happily ever after” is ended in such a poor manner. There is a lot of drag in this movie which was supposed to be a lot of fun. The major point of this flick was to be entertainment, but this movie forgets that in the second half, making this more of a soap opera, and tries hard to make audience cry, but without substance. The ending leaves us needing more and emptiness in this movie is mostly filled by unnecessary songs. Well, this is a fire-breathing dragon which decided to breath cliches for a change, and each character seems to contribute to it when they go through the story.

Performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly and Nazriya Nazim has been the hit pair, but here the latter is paired with her real life future husband, Fahadh Faasil, and Nivin repeats the hit pair of his first big lead movie Thattathin Marayathu with Isha Talwar. Nazriya is fine, but still not that awesome as we saw in Om Shanti Oshaana. Meanwhile, Fahadh Faasil is brilliant in a role which makes him only the fourth significant person in the movie, but an admired one for sure. He remains strong, and it is something we expect from him no matter what happens around him. Nivin Pauly is awesome, and is the best of them all, especially in the funny scenes. He should have had a little more presence in the whole thing rather than being restricted. Dulquer Salmaan hasn’t impressed me since Ustadh Hostel, and everything that came after that had me uninterested, and felt that he was choosing the wrong movies for whatever reason. But he certainly scores in this one, even as his character deserves a lot of hatred for the first half – he comes up with a memorable performance especially in the second half. Nithya Menon and Parvathi haven’t been around for some time, and it was good to see them. While Nithya has only a small role, Parvathi is very nice as the love interest of Dulquer’s character.

Soul exploration :: Everyone loves the city of Bangalore, and it is one of the cities of the South which I visited at an early age, and also that city which has most of my relatives and friends. I might just go there and find at least one person I know every day just by walking around, almost all of them engineers. Well, none of my friends who are staying there or have worked there has rated this movie high, and that is a negative for this one. I have actually found that most of the people whose opinions I care about have given this movie around average rating. But does this movie has more of a soul? Yes, it has the cousin friendship love stuff mixed and boiled in a bowl full of water, but how good is it? They are all there, but not presented in such a way that we can feel or connect. Even the most touching moments are rather dull because not enough care has been put in how the story progresses. It might be meant to make the viewers feel good, but that should require staying with the audience, but this one moves on and on, and in the presence degrading itself from being an awesome movie. Sooner or later, the question will be more about us deserving better than just expecting better.

How it finishes :: Bangalore Days has been one of the most anticipated movies by the fans of different actors. There are Nazriya Nazim fans who know that their favourite actress is going to get married and coming back to acting is not a sure thing. There are Nivin Pauly fans who have been standing tall since his two huge hits in the form of Om Shanti Oshaana, and those Dulquer Salmaan fans who are hoping for at least one good movie from him for a very long time. Then there the more intellectual ones, the fans of Fahadh Faasil who will be a calm force here. People also want to watch Nithya Menon and Isha Talwar so much, and Parvathy is also a bonus. Then there are people who keep praising Anjali Menon – all these people are going to force so many Keralites into the theatre that more records are going to be broken – there have been quite a few already. The movie is showing what the advantage of having young and good-looking actors, actresses and director is. There are too many fans who just look for that, and the days are bright for Bangalore Days, no matter how much the monsoon stays strong with the hope for thunderstorms with Koothara.

Release date: 30th May 2014
Running time: 172 minutes
Directed by: Anjali Menon
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Nazriya Nazim, Parvathy Kottuvata, Isha Talwar, Fahadh Faasil, Nithya Menon, Dulquer Salmaan, Prathap Pothen, Vijayaraghavan, Maniyanpilla Raju, Kalpana, Praveena, Vinaya Prasad, Rekha

bangaloredays copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Oru Indian Pranaya Katha

oruindianpranayakatha (1)

An Indian Love Story :: Now, that is the direct Malayalam to English translation of the title of this movie, but let it not make you think about this as a romantic love story full of melodious songs and a hero and heroine looking at each other, the sky, the beach, or the river. This is partially a political satire and otherwise a drama concerning family relations. Coming from the director who never disappoints us (except for may be No. 1 Snehatheeram Banglore North), as the man with such a fine record, this movie was always going to be watchable whatever be the content, and even as it turned out to be kind of usual, this movie also doesn’t disappoint (yes, I do think well of his last venture Puthiya Theerangal too). His best of this century was Manassinakkare, and before that we know it has always been NadodikkattuOru Indian Pranaya Katha fits among the good movies, not at the higher level though. But be assured that the love between the lead pair happens just because the movie ends, and that is where the romance should begin.

What is it about? :: Ayamanam Sidharthan (Fahad Fazil) is the leader of the local youth wing of a party who hopes to become an M.L.A. soon by being the candidate in the upcoming by-election. He is supported by Uthup Vallikkadan (Innocent) who is the district head of the party always making an attempt to show his face on television. But his hopes are crashed when the national leaders choose another person who has no political background to contest in the elections instead of him, just because she is the daughter of a big shot politician. As Sidharthan is fed up and decides to take a break, he comes across Irene Gardner (Amala Paul) from Canada who is attempting to shoot a documentary and needs someone to help her, for which she can provide rupees two thousand per day. He feels that this could be a nice opportunity for him to keep away from politics as well as gain some much needed money, and he takes that offer. But he realizes that there is something about her that is much more than what meets the eye. So why is Irene in India and what is she looking for, and how can our hero help her? There remain the questions.

The defence of Oru Indian Pranaya Katha :: The movie has a wonderful first half, and it is a gem that shines and takes all the claps with grace. There are lots of moments of fun, and in each of them, Fahadh Faasil scores, and Innocent provides good support. There is the humble and yet beautiful beginning to the story which is carried on towards the interval. The moment when the hero takes up the job for the heroine is hilarious, and most of the moments involving politics are times of laughter. It remains clean throughout the movie, and there are no unnecessary vulgar jokes which has been plaguing Malayalam movie industry and keeping the audience away. There is basically nothing which is bad for kids, and there is no stupid romance getting in the way of the movie flow. There was obviously the chance for bad jokes on many occasions, and at a time when even movies like Sringaravelan become family entertainers, this effort to keep the dirty things away has to be appreciated. To add to it, the goodness and social message that the movie delivers is worth some applause.

Claws of flaw :: The movie fails to keep the momentum going in the second half, and right after the first half, the world starts twisting and breaking apart. Even as the latter half also has some good jokes, it seems to suffer from a big curse which hinders its movement, and it drags and gets converted into a family drama from the political satire which it was in the first half. There is lot of emotional undercurrents going on, and none of them romantic in character. The leading lady’s search for her roots lacks in both strength and innovation and the flashback story is too much off the dusty old books. The songs stay below average, and there is nothing that can pounce in our hearts. There is a void left in our desire to follow the satirical side, and our need for things which are left behind can be felt by the end of the movie. It has a happy and a righteous ending for sure, but surely not an effective one. The people who are looking for the romantic side will be disappointed, as the love between the leading characters blossoms only in the last few moments of the movie, or rather the last few seconds before the movie ends.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, Sathyan Anthikkad’s style rescues another movie yet again. But Fahadh Faasil is the man who leads the show yet again, just like he did in North 24 Kaatham without even speaking much, and in Amen with simplicity. He has portrayed a different character yet again, and his comic side in this movie is something that takes over. He once again transforms to a character who rules the first half of the movie and stays good in the second half. Innocent’s support is as good as usual, and there is no boring moment when he is around. Amala Paul looks even better than ever in this movie, and it is good to see that her presence is there right from the moment she is introduced. Her character seems to have been rightly portrayed, right from the moment she appears with a video camera in an orphanage. Her characteristics of a lady searching roots as well as a fun loving girl are rightly captured and reflected to the audience. Shafna and Lakshmi Gopalaswamy are also there with significant roles which catches attention, but the latter could have had more screen time.

Soul exploration :: The movie does leave us with many messages, one of them being the core of them all, not to take politics as a job, but as a means to serve people along with working. The real ambition is to be serving people rather than to be at the top, but that will rather be a need. Well, ambition is the root of all evil, and as Doctor Faustus did prove long ago as in the lives of Lucifer and Mephistopheles, there is nothing like ambition that makes a man evil. The leading characters do undergo significant changes in their journey, but not something as huge as North 24 Kaatham, as they were both this good right from the beginning to the end. Even as a movie which is considered as a romantic comedy, there is no glorification of romance or similar stuff, and that is another bonus. The useless nature of exaggerated love is made known to us throughout the movie, and the stress is more on family values, along with helping others at the same time. The movie also stresses on the importance of roots and the need to know them thoroughly. Whatever be the situation, or however the world changes, there is nothing like our parents, as the movie shows.

How it finishes :: When the hero says “There is beef in the scene” – that was a hilarious moment, and so was the dialogues in the library – the movie drops such laughter bombs regularly to keep the movie in the hunt in a weekend powered by two other big releases, Jeethu Joseph’s Mohanlal starrer Dryshyam and Lal Jose’s Dileep starrer Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal along with the Bollywood’s own Dhoom 3 and Hollywood’s only release Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. There is also the Tamil movie Biriyani, which means that there is a lot going on in the theatres this weekend – I have already booked tickets for Dryshyam, and I am looking forward to watching Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal on the same day. There is a lot to be done for me this Christmas, that is for sure, and as far as Oru Indian Pranaya Katha is concerned, it is a good choice for a family outing, and there is not much rush for it due to the less hype – you can go for it soon enough. Forgive the movie for its weaknesses in the second half, and do give it a chance to be that love story that scores without that much of romance. This is a small movie of goodness, that can do with a lot of support from the audience.

Release date: 20th December 2013
Running time: 150 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Sathyan Anthikad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Amala Paul, Innocent, Shafna, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Krishna Prabha, Muthumani

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

North 24 Kaatham

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This is one of the gifts from Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) as I am concerned. No, they didn’t produce this ticket, but a powercut had me going to the theatres. If you wonder if it was the first time, the answer should be no.  And yes, I liked the movie, and there was no reason not to. If any of you don’t like it, I have to say that I don’t write for you. Yes, I write what I find and what I feel; now that wasn’t really a surprise. Well, unlike the fanboys’ stuff like Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, North 24 Kaatham has more soul than most of those movies out there, yes this blog itself is about the movies of the soul, and if you do not possess a soul or intellect enough to respect others’ opinions, why bother reading reviews when you know that you shall come up with a different opinion than the reviewer? Except for the fans whose opinions are fixed, I would like to believe that there is hope for Malayalam movies. Well, there is no bigger evil than people who do not respect the opinions of others, and I have to say that some of them don’t even know what an opinion means, and it is disappointing in this world.

You evil ones are lesser in number this time, as the critics as well as each and every one in the theatre liked this movie and clapped. So, I am going to be very clear about this one. I have more reasons to like this one than a leading actor and a leading actress who can act. Before that, let me tell the good people among you and the others motivated by self-interest with willing distrust of human (or bat) sincerity, on what goes on in this movie. It is the story of Hari (Fahadh Faasil), a genius computer programmer who is hated by his colleagues due to his lack of social interaction, over-cleanliness and the seemingly hostile attitude to most of the things. He is that kind of a person who hasn’t even gone outside his city, living with a fear of travel. But he is forced to go on a journey as part of his job, and on a day of harthal, he is caught in the middle of a world which he is not familiar with. He is caught up with two other people (Nedumudi Venu and Swati Reddy) and he joins them on their journey, and on the way, he changes his attitude towards life and by the end of the journey, he is a changed man.

I know what kind of questions the evil world can come up with. It might be about the change in the protagonist, but I would say it is clearly a believable change, if not incredibly perfect to the core, but even that wouldn’t be acceptable to the new generation fans. Our protagonist was never a bad man, and nothing has changed in his soul if we look at him. He surely might have had his share of psychological problems, but as a good person, through a few incidents, he realizes his mistakes. Remember how one major psychological problem was solved by one major incident in Manichitrathazhu? This is actually not that much of a problem, for Hari had the right to live in his world as much as anybody else, which is why I say that change is a change only on the surface, and therefore it is nothing for which you have to push a huge stone to the top of a mountain and jump into water with the same stone tied around your neck. Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi was based on selfishness, just like Annayum Rasoolum. But this movie has a lot of goodness in it, and therefore try to enjoy the little things which give the good people happiness rather than be evil and go on a meaningless trip leaving your family behind, for life is reclaimed by goodness and the joy of art and literature alone, and not by having fun, sorry hedonists.

Fahadh Faasil gives a brilliant performance yet again, and yes I was so disappointed with his Olipporu that I couldn’t watch his critically well-received movie Artist, and D Company again let me down. But even with so much less dialogues, he scores and raises the level of this movie with his co-star from one of the movies of the year Amen. Yes, I am talking about the wonderfully talented, charming lady lead that we have got here, Swati Reddy. She plays a modern social worker, wearing a hood and shortening her name Narayani as Nani. She continues her good run in the Malayalam movie industry even as this is an entirely different role from her earlier debut in Malayalam this year. Even as Fahadh is the centre of attraction in this movie, she is charm, and the way in which both of them contradict each other brightens each other, as much as the black and white compliments each other, like no grey character could have ever did, and please note that this black and white doesn’t stand for evil and good, for that age has disappeared. Like Solomon and Sosanna, here is Hari and Narayani, but I would wonder myself if such a romantic side was forced, still a better love story than Annayum Rasoolum and a better travel story than Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi.

The performance by our own veteran actor Nedumudi Venu is another highlight, for he plays the third person in their gang of lost people on the day of harthal. How can I praise someone who is beyond the same? That leaves us with the factor that lies under what seems to be an ordinary plot. It is the social message which worked just the opposite in Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi. Here, it is perfectly done. It is a powerful message against harthal and labelling people as not belonging to the group. There is the trouble of harthal and the condition of the roads that are alluded in the movie. Well, the question remains if Hari needed to change, for he was always good, hardworking and doing what he felt was right. Who would know the minds of the others who surrounded them? Well, it shows how important it is to display your inner goodness or pretend to be caring like some of those devils with human masks do, or the society shall keep you at a pterosaur’s wings apart. It shows how society doesn’t like people who are different, but Hari’s difference in the end is the kind of change that society likes – there lies the biggest paradox of man as a social animal.

As Fahadh plays a much misunderstood man with no heroic quality in him other than goodness, there is that deconstruction of the hero image which the fans would love to identify with. Swati’s character take over some traits of that heroism, and I would guess that a few wouldn’t like this reversal of roles. As Swati’s character makes it her responsiblity to get the old man home safe, Fahadh’s character take the smaller role of accompanying them. The heroism is attributed to the lady here, and in that case, Swati Reddy plays another Sosanna of Amen who fights for her aim, instead of Solomon. She helps the old man out of the train and Hari into the bus, a moment of visible shock in the faces of both. She leads the journey even when Hari keeps moving on the front. The people they meet on the way are presented with their own shades of grey, some of them closer to white and the others close enough to black. They are all down to earth just like the plot of the movie. This feel good movie doesn’t have that new generation add-ons and neither does it has any action sequence; therefore it is a good movie which reflects the goodness of Onam and the right movie for the season.

In a life which is consistently plagued by death, our celebration of life should come from doing the right thing from within our limitations, and not by the unruly “Carpe diem” behaviour. We have such a short life, that is for sure; but living that with a selfish motive of maximum pleasure being the only intrinsic good is not something to be recommended. North 24 Kaatham nullifies the “travel for pleasure philosophy” of Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi and uses the “goodness of a travel philosophy” which is much needed in our age. Why do I talk like this?  Because I have travelled with someone, a stranger who didn’t know the local language and made sure that he got home, not this much of a long and interesting story, but I have done what I could on multiple occasions even as I am becoming more skeptic every day – this is our own story, with its own add-ons.  Well, the movie is funny, innovative and thought provoking all at the same time. What more do you need? What more should a debutant director provide you with? If it still, doesn’t touch our heart enough, we are not human enough, and we have no soul within us. It is not old, but it still glitters like gold, and entertains us with its righteousness and the realization like in the 2007 Hollywood movie Evan Almighty, that “the way to change the world is by doing one Act of Random Kindness”. By the end of the day, we are all heroes, not just someone who is born heroic or rises to heroism due to his nobility; thank you dear director.

Release date: 15th September 2013
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Anil Radhakrishnan Menon
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Swati Reddy, Nedumudi Venu, Sreenath Bhasi, Premgi Amaren, Srinda Ashab, Chemban Vinod Jose, Salaam Bukhari

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.