Tharangam

What is the movie about? :: Padmanabhan Pillai a.k.a. Pappan (Tovino Thomas) used to be the Sub Inspector of Police working in the traffic department until getting suspended on an unfortunate night during a special operation not approved by the department, along with his good friend and subordinate officer Joy C (Balu Varghese). This incident which lead to the death of their senior officer Antony (Manoj K Jayan) has them wandering around the city in need of money, as they need to pay Ittimani (Alencier Ley Lopez) a sum of five lakhs. Their senior officer Sivadasa Menon (Vijayaraghavan) assures them that he will do all that he can to get them back in the uniform. It is him who come up with a special duty for them, which could bring them some money as part of an unofficial investigation. With things not being that great with his girlfriend Malini a.k.a Malu, Pappan decides to take the job, as some easy money with less risk is not that much of a bad idea.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This unofficial investigation is provided to them by Tharian Mathew (Shammi Thilakan), who offers them a lot of money to find what is going on with his wife, Omana Varghese (Neha Iyer) who owns a restaurant chain in the city and its surroundings. He suspects that she is having an affair, and wishes to divorce her after finding proof of her adultery. As the two friends go on their newly discovered adventure, they only find out that something is strange with the people that she meets, but there is no proof of her having an affair. But when they are watching her, someone else is watching them – Christopher Luke (Sijoy Varghese) is the man after them, and then there is their earlier enemy from the failed operation, Siju (Saiju Kurup) who comes in their way. There is so much going on with their lives that the whole thing seems to be messed up. Can they make the necessary changes to make things better?

The defence of Tharangam :: There is something different in the way this movie begins and ends, and even though the same is not something seen before, it has never been this fresh. It is a fine experiment as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned – with the hero and a lot of characters surrounding him, and add all the fun, you will find something like Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyaanu here, as our heroes as well as more than one teams of villains are looking for one thing that goes missing. The movie also has a strong side of fantasy to go with the real incidents, even though they are only related in a few occasions. There are messages about people being responsible for their own fate, as God provides them with a number of choices in their life, as one little act of kindness or cruelty, can change everything. There is a lot of dark humour present in this one too, as it nicely deviates from the usual foolish comedy which could have been served here with the subject on another day.

The claws of flaw :: Tharangam doesn’t go through the path which the common audience would expect – the trailer had given less idea about what it was going to be in totality, but even then, this seems to have deviated a lot, and will not leave the viewers with the usual and expected kind of experience for them to cherish. Maybe, they could have shortened the fantasy side, and maybe even limited the same to a few dialogues. The romance also disappears earlier than one would expect. There are opportunities of humour being lost, and there are moments when the audience can feel lost. The two cops could have handled the whole thing with lots of funny moments, but such an attempt is not made, as this one tries to bring one thing after the other, creating a mixture which not everyone can take home. The divergence is a fine thing, but the doubt about where to go with the same, is rather strange when we look deep. It is the story that needed to rise more when needed.

Performers of the soul :: It is nice to see Tovino Thomas coming up with different types of roles, as he could do with the two big movies Godha and Oru Mexican Aparatha, as well as that much respected movie on the internet, Guppy. But we know that his best is still to come, and that can even go bilingual. We see him go through the comic side rather easily. Balu Varghese supports him well, even though one wonders why there is no big memorable comedy sequences in this movie even there was more than one chance. The “Luketta” call from the two is just one of them. The one person whom we miss early is Manoj K Jayan, who has only a few minutes of presence there. Dileesh Pothan surprises us in his avatar and is very good with the same, even when the movie could have gone on without extending that sequence a little too much in the beginning.

Further performers of the soul :: Santhy Balachandran makes a much memorable debut here, and she has some very nice moments as well as dialogues in the movie – one can be sure that there are miles ahead for her in Malayalam movie industry. We keep feeling that she is capable of more if provided the bigger roles. One is going to find it hard to believe that this is her first movie. The other new face, Neha Iyer is also strong with her character into which she seems to have dived deep – there is more than face to this character, which she reflects with skill. Saiju Kurup has another character who catches our attention with ease, as he had in Pokkiri Simon, Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, Adventures of Omanakuttan and Alamara earlier. Sijoy Varghese is strong with the negative side of the character throughout his existence in this movie. Alencier Ley Lopez, Vijayaraghavan and Shammi Thilakan get rather shorter, but important roles in this movie.

How it finishes :: Tharangam is that kind of a movie which you can either love or hate, and there is also the option to stand in between – it is more of a movie of the audience, as each viewer can have a separate opinion regarding the same. The level of enjoyment regarding this movie is different, as you notice those simple things which affect your opinion. We know that crime comedy thrillers are not that easy to bring to the common audience, and this one has surely tried hard to do the same, even with those flaws. Dhanush has also made his Malayalam debut as a producer with Tharangam. It has been on the list of much awaited movies for quite some time, and one song with Tovino Thomas and Santhy Balachandran had brought further need to watch this movie as soon as possible. Now, we have this one for Pooja holidays, and if you like movies like Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyaanu, there is a good chance that you will like this one too, and the overall quality of Tharangam feels more – be ready for some experimentation on screen. I will leave you with the wonderful song from the movie.

Release date: 29th September 2017
Running time: 153 minutes
Directed by: Dominic Arun
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Balu Varghese, Santhy Balachandran, Neha Iyer, Dileesh Pothan, Sijoy Varghese, Alencier Ley Lopez, Vijayaraghavan, Manoj K Jayan, Shammi Thilakan, Saiju Kurup, Sanju Shivram, Unni Mukundan (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Exodus

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Vampire Owl :: No, I have suffered too much with that earlier movie called Noah. No more!

Vampire Bat :: But, I would say that Noah has set such a terrible standard that it will be almost impossible for any other Biblical movie to come under it.

Vampire Owl :: I doubt that. The worst movie in any category is yet to come. There is always disaster in waiting. It is like a werewolf waiting for a full-moon when getting the release date.

Vampire Bat :: I see that your negativity about movies is increasing like your zombie minions’ doubts about your inability to owlify the world.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t understand why you doubt about categorizing Noah as the worst movie of the year. Along with bringing an aversion to Darren Aronofsky, I don’t see any other movie which put Christians, Athiests, Hindus and Muslims in the theatre to sleep with no discrimination. It has done India some favour with reflecting the unity in diversity, but in the end, it is just boredom for everyone, even for the categories with reservation.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, I did see the reaction in the theatre, but as you said, the worst movie list is still open.

Vampire Owl :: I think that you should close the yearly list right now. Now we know what movies to watch each weekend, and I don’t see any other movie coming close to as ridiculous as Noah.

Vampire Bat :: But we are not sure about it yet. There are some differing opinions…

Vampire Owl :: I shall hear nothing of Exodus anymore. I am going to some place peaceful; like a cemetery, I guess.

Vampire Bat :: I think that it is a pretty good idea.

[Starts the car].

What is it about? :: Ancient Egypt had grown vast and wide beyond the banks of the river Nile, and was going through its best times, but mostly based on the blood and sweat of its Hebrew slaves. As much as the great Egyptian Empire spreads and developed, so much more pressure came on its slaves who continue to suffer more. Under the rule of the Pharaoh Seti I, the empire continues to thrive. There seems to be glorious days which goes on and on. Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) grow up like brothers in the palace even as it is certain the latter shall go on to become the Pharaoh. It is like they do have each other’s back until that realization come upon them one day. The truth that was hidden for long will come to light, and being considered a Hebrew spy won’t do Moses much good. He would soon be banished from his world, but that wouldn’t be the end of him, as God has plans for him and his people as he will liberate them from the yoke of slavery and lead them to the promised land. But what does the Pharaoh say about this?

The defence of Exodus: Gods and Kings :: It is our duty to support the big epic stories on the screen, and in that case, we have an automatic self-defence here. We need our faith, the beliefs of the past to keep us going, and I am sure that Exodus: Gods and Kings will only be a positive factor in the same unlike Noah which came up with so much negativity about the same. This is also a visually stunning movie, unlike any Biblical movie that has come so far, and the splendour and awesomeness of the Ancient Egypt is shown with full strength like never before. The cities, the statues and monuments, the troops, the Pyramids and the location near the Nile – they are all breath-taking. There is a good amount of detail put into all of that. The plagues are also nicely shown on the screen with the visual effectiveness, especially the river of blood and the thunderstorms. The cast also works nicely. There is an effort taken to add some imagination and more realism too, even as not all of it have worked. Still a spectacle is guaranteed on the screen, and God is clearly shown to be on the side of the poor and the powerless.

Claws of flaw :: The inaccuracies are there; yes, there are too many liberties being taken, especially with the portrayal of God (somehow reminding me of Waiting for Godot) and the way in which the plagues appear, rather like intending to connect them in one way or the other to various other factors. There are many moments which got the differences seeming easy to detect here, and the certainty is there about criticizing the same – but nothing really in a bad way (Noah had brought new “bad” or the “terrible”). I won’t list them here as I would continue this one as more secular than religious in nature. I am not an Old Testament expert anyway. The biggest problem after the God depiction is the Red Sea scene which had a lot more scope as a direct miracle with the special effects. The characterization is also incomplete; there is no real effort put into concentrating on Moses as a person, and that affects most of the other characters too – but they are not strangers to the audience, are they? The ending is also not where it should have stopped. The ending was to be after the sea-scene, and this one goes on to stop in the middle of nowhere. There was no point in rushing through things here either.

Performers of the soul :: You know that this is supposed to be depending heavily on Christian Bale who has to keep it going, and it does. He doesn’t fail to deliver yet again, and even when the characterization seems to bring things down, he continues to strengthen things. A special mention is needed for María Valverde who looked lovely and too good for her character, even though having a comparatively minor role which she did to perfection and remains memorable. Joel Edgerton does a commendable job the pharaoh, and he has his moments as much as the protagonist has, plus when they are together, there is even more power on the screen. Sigourney Weaver is limited here in another small role. The rest of the actors playing Hebrew characters pale in comparison to the power of Christian Bale’s Moses, even as Ben Kingsley does seem to have the opportunity to be the next most noticed person there, and Aaron Paul comes after that. But this movie is more Moses’ movie than Noah belongs to its titular character, and so we can understand the limitations of the rest of the cast, except for the antagonist.

How it finishes :: Coming from the disappointment of watching Noah, I wondered about the possibility of this being a good one, but I had more expectations about this movie. Noah had hit the bottom of the movie ocean with its terrible attempts to make something ridiculous out of the void of nonsense created by itself. Despite this movie being better, I do wonder why this couldn’t have been even better, coming from a director like Ridley Scott whose Prometheus had me incredibly interested like Alien and there is no need to talk about Gladiator which is there in almost every poster of this movie with the lines “from the director of Gladiator” becoming its biggest promotion. There was going to be believers and non-believers coming to watch this movie, and it had to use its epic elements to better use to make sure that both were nicely satisfied, and this one just makes the touch instead of grabbing and using its available elements. One has to admit that it is still with enough strength to survive though, and when it gets weak, we remember the pathetic and boring experience which was Noah, and we get happier. This time, the one whom I ask to accompany me won’t feel the need to shoot me on the head.

A look into the status :: Exodus: Gods and Kings releases in India a week before it does in the United States – well, you know that it is usually the other way around; with rare exceptions like The Amazing Spider-Man 2. You know about the recent ones The Equalizer and John Wick coming late here too. Now that is a twist of events, and it is a good thing as it won’t collide with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies next week, followed by Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and then Into the Woods on the Christmas weekend, even as I am doubtful about the last movie’s fate here. Now you know the schedule for every weekend of December – these are the four movies which we have this month, and with one gone, there are three more to go, among which I hope that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will go on to become the second highest grosser of the year if not the first, as far as it doesn’t go The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 way and doesn’t make that much of an impact. For now, Exodus: Gods and Kings has fertile grounds in the theatre, with not much of a challenge, and hope it makes good use of this advantage.

Release date: 5th December 2014 (India); 12th December 2014 (USA)
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, María Valverde, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, Indira Varma, John Turturro, Hiam Abbass, Kevork Malikyan, Anton Alexander, Golshifteh Farahani, Tara Fitzgerald, Ben Mendelsohn, Dar Salim

exodus

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

God’s Own Cleetus

cleetus (3)

I have taken the liberty to anglicize Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus into God’s Own Cleetus just like how Daivathinte Swantham Naadu becomes God’s Own Country. No, this is not that much of a lovable character to be baptised twice, but it is the effort of the actor behind the character and the way in which he has done justice to that character which makes Cleetus our own. Yes, you might find the world of this movie asking for a better treatment, but for a debutant director and the background which has been used, this is a very good recovery for a movie which didn’t impress the audience by its trailer nor with the brief storyline which was shared. Let me be clear about one thing; this movie could have gone either way, to the depths of abyss or to the heights of the lost paradise regained. If there is a question about where it stands at the moment, it is a long way from that abyss. Yes, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus has survived, and did use its survival instincts well enough to add on to that survival guide new stories of goodness and faith. If you don’t like this movie, that is still understandable, but it can never stoop low enough to deserve hatred, that is where this movie plays safe, and it is how this movie shall hold on to its audience during this Onam vacation.

It will be facing a tough competition from the most awaited movie of the Onam, Dileep’s Sringaravelan, a possible surprise in the form of Indrajith Sukumaran’s Ezhamathe Varavu, and an interest-seeking Fahadh flick North 24 Kaatham, as we leave D Company out of that list. The Hollywood’s challenge in the form of Grown Ups 2 has self-destructed, and Bollywood’s John Day along with Horror Story are too much limited in shows with an adult-rated Grand Masti not to be an Onam favourite for sure. With pretty much a good competition in store, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus might not be expected to do that good, but the verdict for the other Malayalam movies are not really out yet. Why would we still need movies like this to survive? Because it has tried its luck in an unfamiliar territory even if the fuel is a familiar one. It has a little bit of Chamayam, Pranchiyettan and The Saint and Amen in it, hidden well, but not from the eyes of experienced movie watchers. But, has the movie relentlessly tried to dig these movies out? The answer is no. There is nothing in common as a whole, and our movie has successfully brought out a legacy of its own, not from the ashes, but out of the most valuable sparks which could give rise to a phoenix.

The story tells the story of Cleetus (Mammootty), a feared criminal who causes problems wherever he goes. He is an alcoholic and always ready to do anything for money. As a parish priest Sunny Vadakkumthala (Siddique) chooses him to act as Jesus Christ in a drama as part of a church programme without knowing his true identity, something he does after rejecting a lot of people, chaos breaks loose among the theatre artists. The priest decides to persist with him and his sidekick (Aju Varghese) despite knowing his true identity, in the belief that the experience of being a character such as Jesus Christ might reform him, thus taking a huge risk considering the massive show which is going to happen and the audience expected. If Cleetus changes or makes the people around him change, whether the drama happens or Cleetus makes a clear mess out of it is left to be seen. Will Jesus Christ’s life change Cleetus or will his life change the fate of the drama in a horrible way? The movie answers the question very late, as every time, he would seem to get a little better, the world around him changes needing him to make those adjustments he is not used to make.

The whole movie undoubtedly rests on Mammootty, and as once again he rises to occasion, it is a treat to all the fans and neutral audience alike. No, Cleetus is not Immanuel, Kunjananthan, Bavutty or Mathukkutty, for he is a gunda, and he is surely nowhere near Pranchiyettan. A long list of characters of goodness is teared apart here, as our protagonist starts as the sinner who is not even set on the path to redemption. Unlike the others, Cleetus is a man who rises and takes the chalice of goodness, finishing it with relative ease. There is no denying that the image gets some self-imposed backlashes, but nothing that will not contribute to Cleetus being more and more human, with the shades of grey rather than pitch black – after all who can deny some mood-swings? Do we love Cleetus? The answer would be no. But he gets as close to being lovable as possible for a man seeking redemption, and he seemed to have attained some of it by the end. He comes that far by keeping himself far away from a superhuman image which could come across this time, even as there is no denying the fact that our protagonist beats up a lot of people, something which was expected right from the beginning.

Even as the movie belongs to Mammootty in an undisputed manner, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Thesni Khan handles the humour department quite effectively. Suraj remains the strong link of humour in this flick. Rejith Menon has made his presence felt, as the one and only Romeo character in the movie. Honey Rose is very good in her role, and it a matured character that we see this time. Sanam Shetty has that beautiful presence, something which she carries over from what we saw in Cinema Company, that grace and beauty which was talked about as that of a Greek goddess in that movie; for there is no denying who is the Aphrodite as well as the Juliet in this movie. Vijayaraghavan leaves a mark as one of the villain characters, and so does Kailash. Siddique was at his best, doing a character which he seemed to perfect. It is impossible to keep him out of this world where he once again does a fantastic job. There is a tremendous energy in his character, and also that much needed serenity, the two things which seemed to suit each other very well. One of our favourite comedy stars on television, Ullas Pandalam also makes good mark in the movie.

So, can the worst of people change and go back to God? Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus shows us that all hope is not lost. As the character goes through playing the life of Jesus Christ, his attitude towards life changes too, as a lot of the events in the life of Christ seems to be reflecting in his own world in a small and slightly similar manner. We have a man who has no previous acting experience, like Manoj K. Jayan in Chamayam. No, I am not really comparing, for that one would make it to my all-time favourite list, or may be more than one list. As that monologue in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts” – here Cleetus plays one, and plays it fine and it replaces his real life as his new role, and it didn’t just go away as one of the parts which he played, as it stayed on with him. It is “Quod fere totus mundus exerceat histrionem” (Because almost the whole world are actors) as Petronius is supposed to have given us. Some of us live our part and others play our roles, and in both cases, the path is similar and leading to the same destination.

Well, we know that it is never late to turn to God. It is the faith, belief and hope that is supposed to guide us rather than materialism. Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus comes up with a great spectacle of divinity by the end, something which is comparable to Amen’s final battle of music, even as this one is less about music and more about the scenes. Is there a hidden magic realism in it? Does it have the magic touch of Pranchiyettan and The Saint helping the movie on moving forward? These are questions which can have more than one answers. But for now, this movie has done its part, but not living upto its potential. The life of Cleetus and his transformation could have been a lot more interesting. It was so close to achieving that balance that a little Icarus-sun battle might have brought it closer to its current rating. It is still your choice if you are to choose one man, who is both the saint and the sinner, saviour and the punisher, redeemer and the destroyer, moving from the path of evil to the way of goodness paved by angels and showered by blessings. This is another Pilgrim’s Progress from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The destiny of Cleetus now stands in the hands of the viewers, and its final fate is yet to be decided.

Release date: 12th September 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Marthandan
Starring: Mammootty, Honey Rose, Aju Varghese, Sanam Shetty, Rejith Menon, Kailash, Siddique, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Thesni Khan, Vinayakan, Vijayaraghavan, Anoop Chandran, P. Balachandran, Ullas Pandalam

cleetu copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.