Driving Licence

What is the movie about? :: Hareendran (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a superstar who is in no shortage of fans, gaining all success with continuous superhit movies breaking one box-office record after the other. He is a typical, arrogant, billionaire star who doesn’t care about people in general. His love for cars is well-known, but as nobody had asked him for a driving licence for a long time, he had lost it somewhere, and the shooting of the climax required the licence. For the same, he attempts to get a new one issued by Motor Vehicle Inspector Kuruvilla (Suraj Venjaramoodu) who is a die hard fan of the star. Even though Kuruvilla is a lot interested in meeting the star, things don’t turn out so well with media coming to know about the superstar driving all these years without a driving licence. Hareendran is particularly angry about this being flashed on the news.

So, what happens with the events here? :: At the same time, the other big superstar on the big screen, Bhadran (Suresh Krishna) is trying to get some success with his movies, as it is Hareendran’s movies which get all the attention and the best of theatres. He tries to exaggerate this problem between the two, and is successful up to an extent, as the news is everywhere on all television channels. At the same time, there is the attack on Kuruvilla’s family, and further problems between Hareendran and the producer of the movie, as he wants to leave to the United States with his wife for her treatment before completing the film. But he would really need that driving licence, but because of the confusion and humiliation which he had faced due to the superstar, Kuruvilla is reluctant, but with his contacts, the arrogant Hareendran would try to force him out of his options.

The defence of Driving Licence :: The movie has two people in different fields set against each other, with certain background humour working well all the time. Some of the scenes seem to stand apart, and the interval punch is very good. Some of the situations are nicely created, and well acted too. The visuals are pretty good to add to the same. There are some elements of the evil of blind celebrity worship and the celebrity attitude being shown here, even though the focus is not that much to be seen. The common man’s plight is shown, even though heroism is once again left to the superstar. The focus is partially on different aspects of the society, and there are some messages to be taken home. The whole thing is kept simple, and there are no pretensions here, as many things are shown as they should be, even though the deviations can’t be denied.

The claws of flaw :: It is sad to see that the movie deviates from what should have been its most important message, against the fanatic fans – here, the movie takes the most extreme level, as the so called superstar talks in support of his loyal fans who almost murdered a police officer in an extreme case of crowd frenzy. The superstar’s rich and filthy arrogance is allowed to win over the common man with ease, which is a shame, because the movie without a second thought chooses to go against everyman with its support for violent fans and arrogant superheroes. Some characters are of no use too. Even though the movie focuses on the mood of Christmas, there is nothing much in there to reflect the same. Some parts of the film just looks not needed. There is also a problem with the movie’s flow, and it bothers everyone that it is only the good everyman character who gets beaten up, and all the evil people around him are shown in better light, and spared the rod.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran after his highly underrated thrillers as the lead, Brother’s Day and 9, has the superstar to play, and it doesn’t become difficult for him at any moment. It is the kind of star who is shown as the bigger superstar of the industry, and that gets done rather easily. Playing the roles of actors in movies, the extra performance which is to be put in seems to be rather less in almost every case. Suraj Venjaramoodu continues to impress in the emotional sequences, and the comedy as usual, comes natural to him in this movie too. We have been witnessing much of such skills in the last few years rather than sticking to the humorous side. The roles of simple common men have been coming very fine to him. The child actor Adhish Praveen also comes with a nice performance as the child who wants his father to win against the giant superstar at least once.

Further performers of the soul :: Mia George is the heroine who gets more dialogues, and has some funny moments of her, as she shines in a role which brings the laughter in a simple manner. Deepti Sati, the other heroine does look beautiful, and has less to do – but the purpose is served well in her case too. Salim Kumar plays a kind of cameo which becomes relevant in the end, but is irritating during most of its existence. It was good to see Lalu Alex there doing a fine job, and we need to see him more in the industry. Idavela Babu and Vijayaraghavan play two irritating characters from the movie industry. Major Ravi and Shivaji Guruvayoor have some smaller roles to play too. At the same time, Suresh Krishna is really funny in his avatar, and the same can be said about Saiju Kurup too. Nandhu has a memorable tole to play here too.

How it finishes :: Driving Licence could have been a better movie if it had shown the courage to show evil as it is. But the movie hesitates in doing the same, and finds the rich celebrity and his fans abusing and almost murdering a common man to be okay – maybe they did the same to satisfy their large number of fans, but it cannot be considered as a fair thing. The good start of the movie should have been better maintained, especially in the second half – the ending should have been better too. Still, as these are holidays, it is easier to have these kinds of movies running in the theatres, as we have that kind of family audience who have come out to enjoy the Christmas vacations. So, this works for some simple fun, but could have been more with its premise. After all, getting a driving licence never ceases to be a thing of interest.

Release date: 20th December 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Jean Paul Lal
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Mia George, Deepti Sati, Lalu Alex, Suresh Krishna, Arun, Idavela Babu, Vijayaraghavan, Salim Kumar, Saiju Kurup, Adhish Praveen, Major Ravi, Kalabhavan Navas, Sohan Seenulal, Nandhu

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Invisible Actor

Vampire Owl: An invisible actor? Did the actor become invisible after a case was registered against him?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that it is not what they meant. There could be many meanings for the same.

Vampire Owl: Then, has the invisibility elixir been stolen from Doctor Frankenstein? This calls for code bloody red alert on level twenty eight!

Vampire Bat: When did he invent that? It is not even on the research list.

Vampire Owl: Well, I am sure that he would have invented that. He is just not telling us. People invent such things all the time in those science fiction books.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr. Frankenstein has any role to play in this short-film.

Vampire Owl: I am writing an article on the evil side of invisibility anyway.

Vampire Bat: Some people are just invisible even without the elixir.

Vampire Owl: Just like people being alive and immortal without the Elixir of Life.

Vampire Bat: It is another myth. What we have here is real.

[Gets some banana chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: The crew of a movie has gathered in an old style Kerala house to shoot for the biopic of a renowned Kathakali artist known as Govindan Master (Kalasala Babu). This particular person, whose name is only taken with so much respect, had such an undying love for the art form that he used to bunk his classes to see and learn it at the academy from a distance. It is said that his father, upon realizing his passion, and his lack of interest in regular studies, let him study Kathakali from an early age, and the art form had become his life, until his last breath. This Kathakali Master had given up his whole life for the same, not asking for anything in return. His performances had inspired many to follow his path, and had elevated Kerala’s own colourful contribution to the story play genre of art to another level. His Kathakali performances had made him a legend, with no parallels.

So, what happens next with this tale of making a biopic? :: It turns out that the superstar (Saiju Kurup) who is supposed to play the character is nowhere to be seen. The whole crew has been waiting for him for quite a long time, but there is no sign of him, and he doesn’t even attend the phone – everyone else is there, and they are worried when they will be able to begin the whole thing, and sends people searching for him at the hotel where he is staying and in the surrounding areas of the town. The breakfast time is over, the lunch is done, and finally the superstar arrives with that dialogue about him being a really punctual person. He listens to the story without much interest, while clicking on his mobile phone’s screen. He looks at the photo of the Kathakali artist as if it doesn’t matter – but little does he know that the character he is playing, is watching him.

Soul exploration 1: Of actors and superstars :: One can divide the movie world into two – one which has the actors, and the other which has the superstars. In our world, both often come together, but we often see some actors who deserve better than the superstars, but it is the superstar movie which go on to become the big hit each and every time. There are those one hundred crore movies in Bollywood, which have almost nothing in them other than its superstars – take a look at those top ten movies, and almost all of them have depended on their superstar rather than the actor. I would think otherwise – if Nawazuddin Siddiqui acts in a movie, I would watch that movie for sure, maybe even twice; whether it is Raman Raghav 2.0 or Te3n from last year. I have never really been interested in these superstars – the day they become more superstars and less actor, is the day they sacrifice their best part.

Soul exploration 2: Within and outside a character :: It is a usual thing to change the character to match that of the superstar – there are so many movies which make us feel the same, and naming a few of them would only bring the fan chaos on us. The superstars will say that they practiced cricket to play a cricketer, lived with gangsters to play a mafia don, slept at a cemetery for a horror movie, had classes at a music academy to play a musician and so on, but we know how fake that could be, just like they come on television and tell everyone that this is his or her best performance ever. But to become a character, the so called superstar needs to know the mind, thinking in the way the character think, and acting the way he would. Otherwise, it is the character that would become the superstar and not the other way around. Will some of our superheroes who need to know this realize the same one day?

Soul exploration 3: An eternity within a performance :: There should always be more in a flick with a performance than just being part of a big hundred crore movie. We have the need to see each character on the screen as a different person – it is the same which has been missing in some of those movies which degrade themselves into what is often termed as mass masala. There is the need to rise above the same, as what is often known to cater to this particular genre is nothing other than pure absurdity. It is the terrible and unfair strength of these mindless mass movies which have been devouring the actor and bringing the superstar out on too many occasions. Then there are those fan clubs which are only interested in turning the cinema halls which is for entertainment and thoughts, into something resembling nuisance. It has to be countered with not a mass performance, but with the beauty of an rternity within a work.

How it finishes :: The movie has two actors who have been rather underused by the industry if you look at their movies. Kalasala Babu amazes us in his presence for the short period of time, while we have Saiju Kurup who had some nice and funny roles in Adventures of Omanakuttan and Alamara doing a wonderful job as the superstar. They make the final few moments of this short-film rise to a higher level, and we have something which is worth more than a usual short movie. I have watched a good number of short-films in the last few days, with choosing to review only less than half of them which seem to be worthy, and among them, this one should have a top place. Invisible Actor wishes for the actor to become invisible and the character to take over when the shooting begins – it should be how we should differentiate actors from superstars; movies need actors, and they could let everyone keep the superstar side out, letting the acting flow, no matter how popular the actor is.

 

Release date: 6th July 2017
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Avinash Chandran
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Kalasala Babu, Jayasankar, Akhil Lekshman, Arun, Naresh

Watch Invisible Actor here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Great Father

What is the movie about? :: David Nainan (Mammootty) is a successful builder, going through a happy and peaceful life with his wife Michelle (Sneha) and the only daughter Sarah (Baby Anikha). As David is a busy man with the construction work of his firm which has been growing fast and because Michelle is a reputed doctor in a big hospital, they rarely have enough time to spend with family though. Sarah is so proud of her father that she never misses the opportunity to boast about his status, not only as the successful person that he is, but even as a feared man even in the Mumbai underworld. He has told her some of those stories himself, most of which common people will feel exaggerated at the first time itself. Most of her friends don’t believe her as expected, and she even brings her grandfather’s gun to make them believe, and lands in trouble for the same.

So, what happens next? :: There is also the story of a pedophile serial killer, who ends up killing also the police officer, Samuel (Shaam) who investigates the case, and is believed to have some so close to catching the culprit. It is then that the new officer in charge of the investigation, Andrews Eapen (Arya) gets into the act. He is the new generation police officer who keeps his own style, and tries to get to the bottom of everything in one way or the other. As this series of parallel incidents threaten to destroy the happiness of his family, David tries to restore the same, as well as seek vengeance on the faceless evil which is so much becoming a part of his world. But for the same, he will have to go through Andrews Eapen who has decided to solve this by himself, and will accept no intervention in the case which he is investigating. So, where does that leave these two?

The defence of The Great Father :: The movie definitely looks nice, and there is the stylish treatment to go with. There is the suspense maintained, even though this investigation never really progresses on the clues gathered, as the focus is more on how awesome the superhero dad is so that he will know everything and anything is possible for him. Coulrophobia is something that you can successfully gain with this movie, and if that happens, it is also a case of success for this flick; still, a psychopath clown has never really been part of our culture, which could lead to partial alienation here. With the recent news, the theme that the movie chooses is also something which is relevant. For someone who is coming up with his first movie, the director has managed things well, without letting things go through the path of movies like Gangster. Mammootty fans are surely going to love this, as this one has proven to be a nice entertainer.

The claws of flaw :: This movie needed to get rid of its slow motion – it is not part of the style, not anymore. There is also too much of sunshades being used, and using the same for style is rather shameless when repeated so many times. A character in the movie asks about the need for jacket in this hot climate, and it is the correct question, and it is another shameless addition. There is also too much of superhero stuff here, and everything is just too easy for the hero here, which is often irritating – the movie’s social relevance gets degraded by this, as style, mass and heroism are not those elements which could best support a cause. One often wonders why what should have been the main focus becomes something of secondary interest with the two heroes right there in front? Along with the same, there is the certainty of the lack of ideas with the villain, his name being used and also with his mask and imagery – joker and the clown! From early Batman to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight to Stephen King’s It? Even about the guns being too quick? Seriously? And who would blur the image of a gun?

Performers of the soul :: Most of the movie is more like custom made for Mammootty, and he undoubtedly shines in this avatar – all the style gets brought to him here. It is what makes this a celebration for his fans, and this might be the grand return to form that the great veteran actor wanted for quite some time after that break that succeeded Pathemari and Puthiya Niyamam. Arya gets the secondary chance to shine, and he doesn’t go that far beyond despite being given too strange a police officer role to perform. Anikha is a child actor who could have had better than what she had in this movie considering the potential; sadly, the same is not there, even after she gets to perform more after those first thirty minutes of considerable irritation with boasting and boring talks. The movie, from the beginning itself, doesn’t allow kids to be kids, which is rather strange in what has been called more of a movie that was to appeal to the families.

Further performers of the soul :: Sneha gets limited to being the wife of a superhero, and that is all for her – this never really seems to come close to changing. Malavika Mohanan with all the looks and intensity, also gets side-lined here. With Pattam Pole, the one big bad movie, and Nirnaayakam which became the torrent hit, she surely needs more movies to bring the potential. Miya George is just quick to come, make a visit again, and then just go again not to be seen again – her last big role was in Paavada in 2016 opposite Prithviraj Sukumaran, and wonders why she is not seen on the big screens here that much she should have been. Kalabhavan Shajohn also gets less of a screen presence here. When you look at this as a whole, it is a solar system with Mammootty as the sun, and the rest are planets who just rotate and revolve around him; at least Arya get to be Jupiter; sometimes he even gets to be Saturn – he even gathers his own satellites in the process starting with one lady police officer character.

How it finishes :: The Great Father is known to have broken many collection records already, starting from the first day itself. I couldn’t find a ticket on the first day of its release. This one follows the path set by C/O Saira Banu and Take Off while dealing with incidents having social relevance. The Great Father does stick to what the earlier promotional material was promising to deliver, and the movie is surely better than the teaser. What you will really need to avoid are those terrible dialogues by the kids in the beginning, and those slow motion fight scenes that go towards the end. What you need to look forward to, along with Mammootty, is the looks of the whole thing here, and the theme that it deals with. Well, the thrills and the suspense factor will play along in between, even though this is no Memories with one serial killer ready to bring the big twist, and having no overdose of super-heroism! With Georgettan’s Pooram also there, this one tries and edges ahead in style.

Release date: 30th March 2017
Running time: 151 minutes
Directed by: Haneef Adeni
Starring: Mammootty, Arya, Sneha, Baby Anikha, Malavika Mohanan, Miya George, Shaam, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Santhosh Keezhatoor, IM Vijayan, Balaji Sharma, Sunil Sukhada, Rony Davis, Prajod Kalabhavan, Mukundan, Sohan Seenulal, Shaji Nadesan, Anup Pazhayakada, Deepak Parambol, Aaryan Krishna Menon, Anu Joseph

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.