Drishyam 2

What is the movie about? :: Georgekutty (Mohanlal) and Rani (Meena), along with their daughters Anju (Ansiba Hassan) and Anu (Esther Anil) have become richer after those earlier incidents, as the former has now bought some land, and started a film theatre by the name Rani. Their neighbour Saritha (Anjali Nair) is a victim of domestic violence, and her husband is one of the notorious drunkards of the area, Sabu (Sumesh Chandran) – there are some fights happening in the area due to the same. The people in the town don’t really like them anymore, with the exception of Sulaiman (Kozhikode Narayanan Nair). The local people who are not happy with Georgekutty becoming rich, come up with gossips regarding the earlier incident leading to the death of the boy, and police continues to investigate the Varun missing case as it was something which proved to be humiliating for the entire police department. Georgekutty has the dream of making a movie, which he wishes to be perfect, and has left a certain amount of money for the same.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jose George (Ajith Koothattukulam) returns home after finishing his time in the prison, and he had seen something during the night when the boy was murdered. Philip Mathew (Ganesh Kumar) is in charge of the police station along with Antony Joseph (Antony Perumbavoor), and the investigation seems to be gaining some ground. Thomas Bastin IPS (Murali Gopy) is in charge of the case, and he won’t stop pursuing Georgekutty without anybody realizing the same. Advocate Janardhanan (Joy Mathew) and Advocate Renuka (Santhi Mayadevi) are fighting the case with the latter appearing for Georgekutty to dismiss the appeals for taking the case again. Geetha Prabhakar (Asha Sarath) and Prabhakar (Siddique) are having their ways for finding the means to get through Georgekutty. But Georgekutty remains strong, even as there are many twisted ways being followed here, yet it remains to be seen about how long he can stand.

The defence of Drishyam 2 :: In Malayalam movie industry, sequels haven’t been of that much strength, especially with superstars in the lead, as the chance to relegate into a mass movie is always there, and this film does threaten to do so, but never really does that, as it goes back to the original movie’s feeling. Just like this predecessor, this movie also starts with the usual family moments, even with the presence of certain danger always lurking the corner. There is the mention of the same, but the procedure is usual until we get into the last one hour or so, as things begin to provide a feeling of real danger for the protagonist and his family, and the same is at the extreme in the last forty five minutes or so. One has to appreciate the fact that the movie also has a twist in store in the end reminding the viewers of the first film, but still manages to maintain its novelty with multiple elements in store here. The new additions to the cast are highly effective, without doubt.

Positives and negatives of the movie :: The fact that it has released in Amazon Prime surely has its own advantages and disadvantages too, but I have been rarely the person who enjoyed watching superstar films in the local theatres because there has always been too much of noise – for such films I would have preferred multiplexes, and so this release wouldn’t bother me much. I would have still liked this movie to get into action earlier, as the real tension begins rather too late – for the first film, it was okay as the beginner of a franchise, but it is not acceptable in a second entry in a franchise. The pressure that the first film maintained in the audience is lesser too, as things get over rather too quickly. Final few minutes should have surely been extended at the cost of cutting a little bit of those family moments in the beginning, as well as those moments involving talks from the local people. A long thriller needs to work on its lesser elements better.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal continues to be the lifeline of the franchise which can have even more movies in the group. The character has undergone some changes from the first movie, but in essence, there is not much of a change, and we understand the same further as the movie nears the finishing point. The veteran actor, the legend as we know him, has no problem with this particular role which seems to work better than any other roles he has done in the last two decades. The next person to stand tall in his performance is Murali Gopy, the police officer who doesn’t make any compromise while trying to bring justice to his co-worker who was forced to retire from the police force. He plays a mastermind here, who seems to be waiting for that one opportunity to make his move, as the case which had a negative impact on his department needs to be brought back to the spotlight and solved, with the best finish being the long presence of the protagonist, his wife and their elder daughter in prison.

Further performers of the soul :: It is still to be said that Kalabhavan Shajohn is being missed – in another adaptation, it would be Kalabhavan Mani who is to be missed, because we know that there will be adaptations in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi, and maybe even in Sinhalese once again. The rest of the characters also do bring some of the red herrings for the audience here and there. Ajith Koothattukulam, the new addition, the surprise character does a fine job along with Sumesh Chandran, while the two children who have changed, played by Ansiba Hassan and Esther Anil are good once again. Meena does almost the same thing as she did in the first movie, and it is to be noted that she, Asha Sharath and Siddique haven’t undergone any changes as far as their characters are concerned. In the franchise, if there is one great righteous character, it is the one played by Siddique. Among all of these characters, Anjali Nair has some of those striking moments too. Santhi Mayadevi, a real life advocate playing a lawyer is also noted for some solid moments.

How it finishes :: Drishyam was once the highest grossing movie of all-time as far as Malayalam film industry is concerned, and it had held that spot valiantly until Pulimurugan and later Lucifer qualified well enough to overtake that status. The one movie which was supposed to be break those box-office records was this one, but we see the release in OTT platform of Amazon Prime getting the release against the wishes of most of the fans and theatre owners. Considering this sequel, it is certainly not that great as the first one, but it is surely better than the two other high grossers of Mohanlal which had overtaken the movie’s predecessor. There was always going to be something about a sequel like this, and that feeling is reflected in the responses to this movie so far. Drishyam 2 is an entertainer of quality, exactly the opposite of what that never ending Annayum Rasoolum-estic borefest which was the first Malayalam movie to be released on Amazon Prime, Sufiyum Sujatayum. Cheers to a sequel done really well, as we await sequels for the other thrillers, Forensic and Anjaam Pathira.

Release date: 19th February 2020
Running time: 153 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Mohanlal, Meena, Esther Anil, Ansiba Hassan, Asha Sarath, Siddique, Murali Gopy, Sai Kumar, Ganesh Kumar, Anjali Nair, Antony Perumbavoor, Kozhikode Narayanan Nair, Sumesh Chandran, Santhi Mayadevi, Ajith Koothattukulam, Dinesh Prabhakar, Joy Mathew, Rajesh Paravoor, Krishna, Murali Kannur, Boban Samuel, Pauly Valsan, Krishna Prabha, Adam Ayub, Shobha Mohan, Aneesh G Menon, Jayashankar, Mela Reghu

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Balan Vakeel

What is the movie about? :: S Balakrishnan (Dileep) is a lawyer who works under the reputed advocate Pramod Sujanapalan (Arjun Nandakumar). But he hasn’t been able to achieve much in his professional career due to his stammer, even though he was known to be a smart & intelligent person during his college days. His father and mother (Siddique and Bindu Panicker) are concerned about him, but are sure that he can only be a failure in life, with former also being a chain smoker who tries different drugs. His first successful case is that of Ansaar Ali Khan (Aju Varghese), a local goon who is involved in a robbery case. Ansaar doesn’t have the cash to pay as his fees, and therefore provides him with a place to stay at low rent. But this new place has Irumbu Babu’s (Bheeman Raghu) presence, and he considers it to be his own room and wants him to leave. But it will be the smallest of his problems.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is then that his brother-in-law P Mohanan Pillai (Suraj Venjaramoodu) comes up with a plan to make some easy money. He asks Balakrishnan to be a part of it, and she accepts the same reluctantly. He sends a notice to a given address asking for compensation in the name of a woman (Priya Anand) who claims to have been abused by the person at the address. But it turns out that it is the address of the DGP of Kerala Police, KE Eapen (Renji Panicker) who is suprised to get the same. The charge of investigation goes to Indhulekha Marar (Lena) who gets only a limited amount of time to solve the case. Meanwhile it turns out that the person whose name is in the letter is Anuradha Sudharshan (Mamta Mohandas), a woman who is completely unaware of this. There seems to be some conspiracy behind all these. But there is no clue regarding where to begin.

The defence of Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel :: There are the twists in store in Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel for sure, and there is mystery awaiting to be revealed, related to a conspiracy. We also have incidents which seems to reflect reality, but there is the certainty of exaggeration regarding the same. The emotional flashback in the movie becomes effective with the last twist, but otherwise it feels strange, and makes you wait the whole time trying to find something out of it. There is also the presence of a fine cast to support everything out there, making sure that they manage all that this movie can provide. There is some good humour out there, even though not throughout the flick. It is seen more in the initial stages, starting from the introduction of the main character itself. The interval punch is strong enough to make one interested in the second half, even though the first half wasn’t that much there.

The claws of flaw :: It can be seen that there is no attempt to make this movie go through a fully entertaining path, and there is no plan to make this a perfect journey as an investigation thriller either, as this is caught somewhere in between. The jokes are also just partially effective, and we see that the funny side in the name of children hitting older men, people falling on electricity lines and surviving, a drug addict father instead of the usual alcoholic one etc – they are just there for the sake of adding some strange funny side. There is also the presence of some unnecessary mass scenes, and the hero sending people flying around comes in, and the struggling protagonist that we wanted to watch from the trailer is lost. Having such a protagonist beating up people all of a sudden works against the overall mood of the movie, and what we know about the protagonist. The songs are not that good either.

The performers of the soul :: This seems to be a movie nicely made for Dileep, as he has this in control, just like many other movies of the same kind. There is no problem here, as he had played advocate trying to serve justice before in Passenger, and there was Mamta Mohandas there too, with the same name for her character, Anuradha. Well, Passenger is a movie long way ahead of this one, without doubt. Mamta Mohandas is here for a full role unlike what she had in 9. There is not much for her to do regarding the investigation here though, as she is the victim and there is the protagonist to save the day. A little romantic side added there seems to be rather forced though, as this movie could have done without it. The focus on its main idea would have been enough, and trying to play cupid between the main character didn’t do both of them any good.

Further performers of the soul :: Siddique’s father character is kind of strange, but brings the funniest moments of the movie with ease. There is his comic timing that lightens up the movie really well. Aju Varghese is the next person in the comedy department, and it works well for him most of the time too – he does get some memorable funny ones. Suraj Venjaramoodu also has the comedy working in his favour, even though at parts it seems out of order. Priya Anand gets another smart role after Ezra and Kayamkulam Kochunni, but with lesser time spent on the screen. Veterans like Ganesh Kumar and Renji Panicker right there, doing what they do the best in police roles. Another person who shines so well inside the uniform is Lena, who is also there Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam, and mystery-solving journey of puzzles which is also running in the theatres.

How it finishes :: For B Unnikrishnan, this movie comes after Villain, which was a smart one for sure. Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel does take the path of Vikadakumaran and Jolly LLB, a trend related to a struggling lawyer whenever the same is the protagonist. This one has its moments of thrills and twists are brought into the scene, but there is not doubt about the fact that this could have done better. There is the fine premise already set, and the idea that has scope for a lot, but it is not utilized in the best way. Maybe we have to wait to get something better out of a story related to courtroom, and we can do that. Until then, lets watch Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel and enjoy the interesting side. For those who wants the more realistic side, there is always Kumbalangi Nights & June running, and seemingly good enough to keep doing the same for a long time.

Release date: 21st February 2019
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: B Unnikrishnan
Starring: Dileep, Mamta Mohandas, Priya Anand, Aju Varghese, Siddique, Ganesh Kumar, Renji Panicker, Bindu Panicker, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Saiju Kurup, Vamsi Krishna, Harish Uthaman, Lena, Arjun Nandakumar, Pramod Sujanapalan, Bheeman Raghu, Veena Nair, Pradeep Kottayam, Thesni Khan, Sajid Yahiya

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C/O Saira Banu

What is the movie about? :: Saira Banu (Manju Warrier) is a post woman who lives for her adopted son, Joshua Peter (Shane Nigam). Joshua is the son of a photographer who went missing in the forest and was declared dead long time ago, and this particular award winning photographer, Peter George (Mohanlal – voice only) had adopted Saira a long time ago, after her whole family had committed suicide. Joshua is in love with Arundhati (Niranjana Anoop) who studies in the law college just like him, but it goes on only with interest from his side. His other love is for photography like his father, and he tries hard to make something out of this passion with the support of his young mother. He is finally rewarded one day for his hard work as he wins a contest and is selected to go to Paris. But on the same day, some twist of events happen.

So, what happens next? :: There is a case registered against Joshua, which happens to be not as simple as Saira had thought, as this one is a hit and run case, and the victim had died, with witnesses there to testify. As it threatens to destroy his life and career even though he claims that he is innocent, Saira decides to prove that her adopted son is telling the truth. But fighting the case against Joshua is Annie John Tharavady (Amala Akkineni), one of the most successful lawyers, and is determined to win this case too. Joshua and Saira has no option with all lawyers backing out due to one reason or the other. But she will not surrender – still the question remains if she stands a chance against Annie who is determined to get his side to win every time? Where does Joshua’s future go from this situation from where there seems no chance of redemption?

The defence of C/O Saira Banu :: The movie goes through some interesting incidents in the society, including the case of migrant workers, noodles ban, kiss of love protest, and one other thing which was in the news, but can’t be revealed due to its effect on the suspense factor. There is some comedy that is working in the first half, and there is a second half which has a good amount of thrills to go with that unexpected twist to go with the climax – it succeeds in making people guess and come up with an ending which will be acceptable to most of the viewers along with being a nice surprise for everyone. There is also the message about the reality of this world, on what has been happening with a society which has been divided on the basis of class more than anyone can imagine. Along with the same, C/O Saira Banu is a good-looking movie too.

The claws of flaw :: The first half of the movie will feel a bit longer for one’s liking, as the time taken in establishing the mother-son relationship is a little too much, and some of jokes are not that effective either; same is the case of melodrama too. Better comic stuff in the first half would have helped to keep a momentum in the first half, maybe with some more sequences in the college or the post office – even the neighbourhood was a place which had some good scope. The end credits scene also ends without a warning, when you feel that there was going to be something to be added in the end. You will also feel that there is more than one side to a happy climax and ending; there will be questions if that good feeling is really that good, or is it just an illusion of the same.

Performers of the soul :: This one has Manju Warrier playing the titular character, and the most important role in this movie, and we are glad to see her in another role which provides her the prominence that she deserves and works on really well – Rani Padmini was the last one to get her to that level, even though Karinkunnam 6s and Vettah did show the signs. It is for those emotional moments that we need to look out for the most, and there is that bit of determination in her character against all odds which works so well for her. It is her return that has helped the Malayalam movie industry so much to bring the heroine-oriented roles to the front, something that has been struggling to be there. I don’t see anyone doing such roles like she did for quite some time, something that started so well for her with How Old Are You? and might continue in the same way, as we are seeing now.

Further performers of the soul :: Meanwhile, Amala Akkineni makes her return to Malayalam movies after a very long gap – her last two movies were Ente Sooryaputhrikku and Ulladakkam, with Suresh Gopi and Mohanlal respectively, both releasing in the year 1991 – those were also her only two Malayalam movies before this one. She remains solid in her lawyer character in this one, and the character’s determination has a clear reflection on her. Shane Nigam has his second big role after Kismath despite being there for longer – here he plays a character that has almost no happiness, and there are so many similarities to his role in his previous movie; but he manages the same well. Niranjana Anoop has less to do, which she does fine. It is Biju Sopanam who scores the most outside the main list. There are also those names which are underused, from Joy Mathew to Sujith Shankar.

How it finishes :: Unlike what some people had said, Mohanlal is not making a special cameo appearance in this movie, even though his voice is there. There is enough for everyone with C/O Saira Banu, and the family audience will be the one to benefit the most. Coming from a debutante director, this one is more than one can expect while dealing with a topic like this. It is surely the best movie in Malayalam to have released so far – forget those people who are claiming the same for movies which claim to be realistic when they are not, because C/O Saira Banu is the flick that follows the path of Drishyam, as a family movie as well as a thriller, becoming part of two different genres in two halves. This one is certain to weave its magic among the audience, even if a little bit late – watch it now, and try not to figure out why you didn’t watch this one earlier.

Release date: 17th March 2017
Running time: 156 minutes
Directed by: Antony Sony
Starring: Manju Warrier, Amala Akkineni, Shane Nigam, Niranjana Anoop, P. Balachandran, Joy Mathew, Indrans, John Paul, Ganesh Kumar, Jagadeesh, Sunil Sukhada, Biju Sopanam, Sujith Shankar, Mohanlal (voice only)

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

Geethanjali

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What is Geethanjali? :: Even as all of us literature students have to answer this with Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali, the collection which made him the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the only Indian to win the same so far. But as the Vampire Bat is not alive enough to talk about such great works of Indian literature, he is talking about a movie of the same name, not about the National Film Award-winning Telugu movie of the same name, but the recently released indirect sequel to the masterpiece which was Manichitrathazhu. It once again has Mohanlal as Dr. Sunny Joseph, one of the most loved characters in the Malayalam movie industry. Its been a long time since there was a Mohanlal movie too. Thanks to the hype and the well-made trailer, this became one of the most anticipated releases of the time, even when colliding with the other movies which released during the same weekend – Thira, Insidious: Chapter 2 and Ram-leela.

What is it about? :: There were two twins, Geetha and Anjali (both Keerthy Suresh) (together making the movie Geethanjali – if one of them was Chitra, the movie would have been Chitranjali, like the name of the studio which was used by the film?) and only Anjali is alive now, as the other is supposed to have committed suicide by jumping into the sea – and body not found. Anjali comes back to her home where she lived till her youth after her mother falls down from the terrace and goes into a comma. Her fiancee is also with him, and at the house, she has visions of her dead sister who also loved the same person. The vision of the ghost who seem to try to end her life to keep the lover away from her, makes life uncomfortable for the young lady. The fiancee Anoop (KP Nishan) calls Nakulan (Suresh Gopi) who recommends Dr. Sunny Joseph (Mohan Lal) for the case, but the question remains if the future bride can remain alive or at least in his senses before the man arrives, and if he can solve this mystery before anything horrible happens.

The defence of Geethanjali :: It is hard to defend a movie which has been so much critically panned in a nation where even Krrish 3 gets positive reviews in another corner. Yes, this corner is famous for movies which usually get two or two point five out of five, and this miserly area doesn’t give away much. But let me tell you that Geethanjali scores with its environment, the almost effective scary scenes and the added twist, with the funny elements supporting it quite well. The cinematography helps the movie a lot, and this should be the first visually superior horror movies in Malayalam movie industry. The last good horror movie was Sahasram, released in 2010, starring Suresh Gopi. This doesn’t live up to that either, but the attempt is there, even if not original or with the right flow. Check out for Keerthy Suresh too, as she scores in her first movie – there is something called legacy, and she might be some of the few who might be proving it. There should be no comparisons to Manichitrathazhu though – who compares Dracula or Interview with the Vampire to Twilight? And as Alexander Pope says in Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot: “Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?”

The claws of flaw :: The worst thing that could happen to this movie is that it released with Thira, which is already a hit as it comes from a man who has cent percent success rate. I can remember that Vineeth Sreenivasan’s Thattathin Marayathu was a hit months before it released. I am also sure about watching it myself. The problem is that the more we praise that one, the more we tend to downgrade this movie. To add to it, there are the copied things, along with the ghost who looks like the daughter of the Avatar guy and The Ring girl. The mirror and the ceiling fan leaks instead of the television and there is a lot of hair like The Grudge. More details about similarities can be found in the details with spoilers section. One can say that the movie tried too much to be like Manichitrathazhu, and there is a big problem, for it can’t be the same as the world has changed and so did a lot of things. People are also looking for something of variety just like the original classic, and more flawless stuff including no small mistakes (like Armenian Orthodox Church cross having Latin inscriptions and there might be quite some concerning the twins).

Performers of the soul :: Mohanlal is the star psychatrist yet again, but this time he has less screen presence, and this surely won’t be the Dr Sunny that we remembers. He makes his entrance just before the second half of the movie, and once he enters, there is a lot of hope being built up – even as he lives up to it with his performance, there is not that much in the story. His combination with Innocent is very good and Swapna Menon is a pleasant surprise and a fine addition to the funny side of the movie. Harisree Ashokan also contributes in a lesser manner to the comic side. Nishan has a weak role, but does the romantic part very well, but not that much in he climax scene where the debutant Keerthy Suresh takes over with a wonderful performance to support the beautiful screen presence. She doesn’t go on to become another beautiful young actress who can’t act – she does incredibly well as the two sisters, too good for a debutant. Well, the beauty gets more than just the pass marks. Its her movie, as she is both the protagonist and the antagonist. Siddique and Nassar provides nice support, and Seema’s role is too limited – Madhu’s character was almost not needed.

Details with spoilers :: The story has so much in common with Nadiya kollappetta Rathri and Chaarulatha, the former was one of my favourites, and this impersonation for love was well performed by Kavya Madhavan and rightly investigated by the character of Suresh Gopi. The latter which was a remake of a 2007 movie Alone, had a lot of things which this movie now has in common. The twins who impersonate and kill for love was told as an investigative thriller in the first case, and as a pure ghost story in the second. The good thing is that they are not conjoined twins like the latter. Our movie has a psychological twist to the same, seemingly attempting to make it just like Manichitrathazhu, and also adding some comedy in between. If you haven’t watched the two movies, this shall be a new experience for you, or if you want to repeat the experience in another way, this movie can help. Those who don’t like the two movies much and don’t want any more of it, might want to skip it though. I felt so from some of the reactions from a few.  This is not going to be remembered in the later days like the well-crafted Devadoothan either.

How it could have been :: This could have been a lot better, there is no doubt about that. The ghost and the supernatural would have been better not shown and not observed by the family other than the girl. The blue ghost could have done better if shown just in the shadows without the support of water and the fallen hair. The sea on one side is a clear negative on a house which formerly made us feel that it is at a remote location on some hill or mountain. The darkness itself could have been an ally to a possible psychological thriller in this one. The songs might have done better if not coming up when not needed. The suspense could have been made more shocking even without the support of deaths. Mohanlal could have made an entry earlier. Overall, there should be no following the policy of the early classic, instead having some life of its own, keeping further distance from the movies which were used as inspirations. I would be surprised if even the C.I.D Moosa sequel can be any good considering the limited imagination involved with making sequels. Meanwhile, a horrible drop for this movie might discourage horror movies in Malayalam, and I am not going to stand that!

Release date: 14th November 2013
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Priyadarshan
Starring: Mohanlal, Keerthy Suresh, KP Nishan, Swapna Menon, Siddique, Innocent, Ganesh Kumar, Nassar, Madhu, Seema, Harisree Ashokan, Chris Gayle Kuttappan, Suresh Gopi (cameo)

geethanjali copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.