Lavakusha

What is the movie about? :: Two jobless youngsters who would later be addressed as Lavan (Neeraj Madhav) and Kushan (Aju Varghese), meets in Chennai city, and becomes very good friends. The problems that both of them face, are almost the same, and after being kicked out of their place for not paying the rent, the two decide to return to Kerala, hoping to find something better in their home state. As the lazy people that they are, they can’t stop thinking about earning maximum money with the least effort. It is during their journey back to Kerala that they come across a number of strangers on the train. There is a girl named Sheethal (Deepti Sati), and a man who identifies himself as Venkat (Biju Menon). In an attempt to get the attention of the girl, they cross the way of a group of people smuggling gold in the train who threatens to kill them.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: After being captured by the smugglers, the three escapes, and Venkat reveals himself as Joy Kappan, a senior police inspector. A series of confusions follow, and it ends with Joy being able to seize all the gold, and the smugglers escaping. Inspired by the turn of events, Lavan and Kushan decides to become private detectives. But living in a rented house, they are once again very close to being kicked out – it is then that they come across Joy again, who gives them a task to perform. They are to find and take out a huge amount of gold which is stored inside a reputed institution in the middle of the city. As they feel the need for an adventure, the two men agree and goes on the mission. But there are more twists to their mission than they think that there is, and there is more to the truth than what meets the eye.

The defence of Lavakusha :: There are enjoyable moments here and there in this one, and after the comic side gets awakened early, there is also the presence of twists later. It is in the final moments that everything comes together, and we get to see the movie rising above the possibility of just ending up as a foolish thing. The movie is clearly dependent on the trio of Neeraj Madhav, Aju Varghese and Biju Menon, and the three remains the pillars of this flick which leaves less for the rest. The former two get to begin and go on with the humour without restrictions. Even then, it is the second half which manages to use its resources better, improving as it moves towards the finish. You will see the signs of the same by the interval itself. When you are looking for some fun of the simpler kind, Lavakusha might be exactly the movie to turn to.

The claws of flaw :: Lavakusha never really uses its cast to the best possible advantage. When we have a leading cast like this, one has to wonder why there is inability to use it to the full advantage with fun. The jokes often struggle to identify as what they are actually supposed to be – even without logic and with foolishness allowed in there, we see struggle. We see that none of the characters are never really well established for the audience – that applies even to the leading characters. It is for the same reason that there are too many ups and downs in this movie, and the momentum that is often gains is not maintained and carried on to the next moments. The first sequence of the movie itself is rather not needed, and the same thing is repeated again in this movie, without bringing any chance for laughter. The music in this movie is rather forgettable – there is nothing to keep us there with that too. You will also find that the female characters also have less screen presence.

Performers of the soul :: It is Aju Varghese and Neeraj Madhav whose combination works really well to make things better. Even the comedy which might have gone over our head otherwise, works well, thanks to how well the two manages everything together. Aju Varghese has been present throughout the year’s movies from Aby and Alamara earlier to right now, while Neeraj Madhav comes out of that impressive performance in Oru Mexican Aparatha – we have seen them together at their best in Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Kunjiramayanam; this movie is not of such level, but together, they are not behind, at any point. You will notice that the former has a more responsible character in comparison, but then too, you will know that it is only by a small distance. You will feel that this particular combination also meant that the expectations were a little too high with this one – well, it is no surprise, right?

Further performers of the soul :: The movie focuses mostly on the characters played by Aju Varghese and Neeraj Madhav, but the only one with heroic quality in this movie is played by Biju Menon – he gets to be the hero in the movie lead by the two youngsters. As concerning the titles, Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu, Lakshyam and Sherlock Toms, he had caught our attention with three different roles in the year, and here he gets another one to perform – there is no difficulty for him here, and he has all under control. Sadly, Aditi Ravi is restricted to a smaller role which could have been developed instead of a few other things in a movie which is rather so long for its content, and even Deepti Sati’s presence seems to be strange when she disappears and appears; there even seems to be a certain lack of efficiency in dubbing for her. Vijay Babu and Major Ravi are good with their work at the same time.

How it finishes :: Lavakusha could have been a nice action comedy in Hollywood style – our heroes could have gone through this in Get Smart model, becoming the unlikely saviours when the others in the investigation turn hopeless. Two police officers in undercover mode, finishing their missions in a funny and interesting way was the need here, but that much work isn’t done, and there seems to be not that much focus on attention either. Even with such a longer run-time, this one couldn’t build up enough. Still, this makes mostly an entertaining watch for the weekend. It could be an interesting time-pass movie without doubt. You can also feel a little bit of Tharangam in this one. As of now, Parava seems to have the lead as the most interesting one in the last thirty days. Just like the other Biju Menon starrer in the theatres, Sherlock Toms, this one attempts to combine comedy with the twists, and by the end, you will feel that it is the latter that has caught your attention, unlike what you were expecting.

Release date: 13th October 2017
Running time: 151 minutes
Directed by: Gireesh Mano
Starring: Aju Varghese, Neeraj Madhav, Biju Menon, Deepti Sati, Aditi Ravi, Vijay Babu, Major Ravi, Sinoj Varghese, Anjali Aneesh, Ashwin Kumar, Janardhanan, Neena Kurup

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Dangal

Vampire Owl: I am not that much into wrestling these days. Even though I do wrestle my own demons every day.

Vampire Bat: It is not that much of a wrestling if you look at it from another person’s perspective.

Vampire Owl: But they are good. They even breathe fire once in a week.

Vampire Bat: Why do they breathe fire inside your mind? Can’t they do it at better places?

Vampire Owl: They are my personal demons. They should wrestle at my place only.

Vampire Bat: You should ask Doctor Frankenstein to get a mind projector so that we all can know how the wrestling competition goes.

Vampire Owl: It should be banned in the castle due to the violence involved, so no Frankenstein.

Vampire Bat: You surely got a violent mind there.

Vampire Owl: What can I do? It is in my blood because I drank the elixir of violence during our expedition to the Northern Kingdoms.

Vampire Bat: You should understand that the right thing to drink is the elixir of life. This is a banned drink.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan) is a former wrestler and a national champion who lives in Balali, a village in Haryana. Despite being a very good wrestler who was better than most of the others around, he had to choose a fruitful job and leave the sport because his father asked him to do the same. But he still remembers the sport, and can beat almost every local champion – his love for wrestling is something that stays, and seems to be something which is forever. Now he does have a good job, but he is not satisfied with his achievements which doesn’t involve what he was so good at. When his wife Daya Shobha Kaur (Sakshi Tanwar) gets pregnant, he declares that his unborn son is going to win the medal for the nation. The superstitious villagers come up with many ideas which would make sure that the child born will be male and not female, and Mahavir awaits the birth of the son who will make him proud.

So, what happens next? :: But things don’t go as planned, as despite trying different strange ideas brought by the village’s residents, Mahavir ends up having one girl after the other, making the total number as four. This leads to him having no more hope about the same, and goes on concentrating on his job as well as household activities. Geeta Phogat (Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Babita Kumari (Sanya Malhotra) are his eldest daughters, who get to live into his dreams, after they beat up the boys who make fun of them. As he realises that a medal is a medal and gold is gold, no matter whoever brings that, he begins training them hard. The girls have to start working hard early in the morning, and even has to cut their hair short, which bothers them in the beginning – they begs him to let them live their life like the other children, but ends up doing what he wants them to do, as he leaves them with no other choice.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: It is the beginning of an adventure which will go and on, getting Mahavir closer and closer to his dreams through his two girls. The time when the girls were wrestling and defeating boys is over, as Geeta goes on to win the junior championships at the state and then the national level, finally getting to capture the national senior championship. It meant that she had to go to the National Sports Academy in Patiala to train with other girls from all around India for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. This changes things, as the coach at the academy, Pramod Kadam (Girish Kulkarni) doesn’t want Mahavir to influence Geeta anymore, and works hard to make sure that only his own methods are correct, and in no way will Geeta do according her father’s methods. Geeta gives in and follows her coach, as well as the other girls, spending their time eating fast food, watching silly romantic movies and having all kinds of fun. Deviating from the ways of her father, can Geeta make it big without her father, or will she find a way to balance everything on her way to gold?

The defence of Dangal :: Dangal is one of those sports drama movies which will save all the other sports from the evil onslaught of cricket which threatens to destroy each and every other sport in India. The Malayalam movie Godha also tries to do the same, as wrestling gets more than one movie to try and do the same. This is also relevant in the times when gender inequality, female foeticide and child marriage don’t intend to stop completely; it becomes even more relevant considering the part of India where this occurs. This is certainly bigger than Lagaan, not just because this is supporting an attention-seeking sport, but also because that inherent foolishness in that flick doesn’t show its head here; the superiority in comparison to M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is rather clear. For Aamir Khan, this should be one of his best performances too – he earlier had PK, and now he has this one, and not another Dhoom, which is indeed nice. When so many actors are playing safe, we have to appreciate the experimenting the man has been doing with not just his acting, but also the physique. Then there is the patriotic feeling, and we are left with the need for more gold of the nation.

The claws of flaw :: You will find that this movie is so much about the trainer rather than the wrestlers, despite the fact that the girls do some nice job. It is rather strange to see the progress of things here, as the tale here is also rather predictable. The idea of a father making his daughters do only what he wants them to do, doesn’t seem to be that good an idea in every case, and one has to wonder what would have happened if the training had failed – all things are nice when they are successful. Then there is Bollywood, bringing some melodrama with father’s love, as it has a history of bringing parents’ love to the next level of tears – with such a nice beginning, the emotions running around just misses the grip. The movie is also too lengthy, and has its slow moments which pull the flick right back. The climax is predictable, with the last minute win, with a memory of something from the father – it is where the realistic take will have only second place to the emotional addition of low level thrills.

How it finishes :: We already know how good Bollywood is with biographical drama, and there are so many examples of the same, from Neerja to the more fictionalised Rustom and Airlift which was even more acclaimed. It is more like the genre that saves Bollywood from the usual, repetitive stuff that it usually comes up with, adding some superstar to it. Dangal is no different, as it gets its strong emotional side to work in favour of the idea, and tells the tale of two sisters, Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari who go on to win medals at the Commonwealth Games, and their father Mahavir Singh Phogat who trains them. Dangal is very much successful in making the drama work, making it the highest grossing Indian movie of all-time, and also boasts of a great record overseas, especially in China. Well, most of the Bollywood movies go one way, and Dangal chooses another path, and among those movies which go the right way, this one is the flick that made the most impact. For more twisted of such divergent paths, there are Phobia and Raman Raghav 2.0.

Release date: 23rd December 2016
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Nitesh Tiwari
Starring: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Aparshakti Khurana, Ritwik Sahore, Vivan Bhatena, Kaustubh Pile, Girish Kulkarni, Shishir Sharma, Meenu Prajapati, Badrul Islam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Swarna Kaduva

swarnakaduvaa-2

Vampire Owl :: There are too many creatures roaming around in the world of the Malayalam movie industry.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, Pulimurugan’s leopard is also there.

Vampire Owl :: And other creatures with the support of Biju Menon.

Vampire Bat :: Vellimoonga’s owl and Marubhoomiyile Aana’s elephant, they were interesting creatures too.

Vampire Owl :: You know that Marubhoomiyile Aana already had a tiger in it.

Vampire Bat :: But that was not golden. And with the owl being silver, how can the tiger not be made of gold?

Vampire Owl :: With leopard and tiger there, will there be a lion?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, Sinham 3 will have Suriya, Anushka Shetty and Shruti Haasan in the lead roles.

Vampire Owl :: It is more like a zoo.

Vampire Bat :: But the general trend is that Malayalam movies with creatures in the titles do some pretty good job.

[Gets the tickets with cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Rini Iype Maatummel (Biju Menon) is assisting the rich jewellery owner Lonappan (Innocent) in almost everything. Even though he is just assisting the man, the ultimate aim is to make it huge in one way or the other. One day, when Lonappan’s car hits an unknown man, things take a twist of events which end up in the murder of another person, Divakaran (Suresh Krishna). Now Rini’s job is to make sure that the dead man’s wife Lovely (Iniya) doesn’t say anything about her husband being missing. Meanwhile, a nurse, Deepthi (Poojitha Menon) is witness to him being involved in the crime, and he marries her to make sure that she doesn’t talk about it to anyone. During all these events, Rini manages to take a few lakhs of money from Lonappan, which he hopes to use in starting another jewellery shop. With no problem in lying and cheating people, can Rini get what he wants?

The defence of Swarna Kaduva :: Here is another simple, fun-filled comedy movie with Biju Menon as the lead. There are some nice comedy sequences which are handled the most by Biju Menon, and followed up by Innocent and Hareesh. The movie also has its message, which means that the man gets to have a better character in the end. The jokes are mostly working, with exceptions – it was not really that easy with things getting a little bit dark for a movie of this kind, but the humour holds on. Another point is that there is no real drag in this movie, and things go on smoothly, without making us bored. The graph of this movie goes straight ahead, with no struggle anywhere. The main character is also a fine representation of many people of this era, who wishes to become rich easily, without going the honest way – those people who are looking for short-cuts and dishonest ways to success are reflected on our protagonist.

Claws of flaw :: The big comparison is going to be made with Vellimoonga here, and surely that much is fun is not around here. The feel-good factor is also not there, as this not that light-hearted as Vellimoonga with its twist of events. The climax is not that interesting, and things go through predictable lines on too many occasions. This movie could have been better with some more effort at the climax, and keeping closer to the light moments all the time, and having the messages in a more visible manner. There are moments which could have been avoided to make this movie shorter – the romance with Iniya’s character is one of them, and one does feel that there are more “pennu kaanal” and related stuff in this movie than intended – the last one is surely too much of an extension even though there is some fun there. This flick is just a fifteen or twenty minutes too long despite having no drag.

Performers of the soul :: The movie is all about Biju Menon as expected, and others only come in to give him the needed support – as some people would refer to, as the “key” or the “special ingredient”. Just like the other movies with him as the solo lead, like the big surprise hit which was the comedy entertainer Vellimoonga, and the strictly average flick which was Salt Mango Tree, Biju Menon never ceases to give his best. Even the other movies with him in the cast, including Marubhoomiyile Aana and Anuraga Karikkin Vellam had him scoring heavily with the comic scenes. We remember how it started off so well with the movie Ordinary, with those earlier signs in Marykkundoru Kunjaadu and Seniors – we can really go for his movies as a safe bet these days as far as the comic side is concerned. His Rini here, is similar to the character he played in Vellimoonga, and so there is no doubt about how well it goes.

Further performers of the soul :: But there is one difference, as this one here has more negative shades, and there is no good quality about this character throughout the movie. But it is safe in his hands for sure. The point to be noted is that he is both the hero and the villain of this movie – there is nobody else giving him competition. You go for this movie seeing him on the poster, and you won’t be disappointed. Meanwhile, Innocent is back to doing what he does the best, and brings the laughter – we are always happy to see him there. Hareesh also has his moments, a good number of them. The role of the leading lady is shared between Poojitha Menon and Iniya, both of them doing a fine job, with the latter being the more intense of the two. Sudheer Karamana and Suresh Krishnado provide some nice support here when they are present on the screen.

How it finishes :: Earlier it was Aanandam, and now this little movie is also all set to leave a nice mark. This one will not bring anything huge or out of the usual way, but is sure to keep you interested throughout its run. One thing that we wonder about though, is about putting in the poster that this was directed by the one who directed Mayamohini and Sringaravelan; that is more like negative word-of-mouth. It is strange considering the fact that nicely done comedy movies like Mattupetti Machan and Udayapuram Sulthan are part of the director’s filmography. If this idea was based on box-office collections, one has to remember that times have changed, and those two movies, if released now would have got no collection of that kind – the world has changed, and we need Swarna Kaduva as itself rather than resembling those two terrible movies mentioned in the poster.

Release date: 4th November 2016
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: Jose Thomas
Starring: Biju Menon, Innocent, Poojitha Menon, Iniya, Sudheer Karamana, Suresh Krishna, Kottayam Nazeer, Hareesh Perumanna, Rosin Jolly, Baiju, Anju Aravind

swarnakaduva

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.