Maalgudi Days

maalgudidays (1)

What is the movie about? :: A little girl, Athena Adarsh (Baby Janaki) is going through a state of depression after losing her father to the sea right in front of her eyes. As she spends her time at home staring at the possessions of her father and not talking to anyone, her mother Swathy Adarsh (Priyanka Nair) decides to send her away from home to keep the kid away from the memories. For the same reason, she gets admission for Athena in Maalgudi Residential School which is located in the highlands. But Athena doesn’t make many good friends until she comes up against Milan Joseph (Master Vishal) who is the mischief maker without friends, having a history of being brought up by a single parent and being quite unpopular. They form a gang of two, separate from the other kids around.

So, where and how does the twist of events occur? :: One day, while playing on the ground, the ball goes outside the school limits, and the kids come across an injured man called Zephan (Anoop Menon) who is wanted by the police. He has a mysterious past, and there is not much known about him except that he is an artist. The kids help him with water and food and develops a bond with him, as he leaves for another place, which is according to him towards his own child. The twist of fate happens when the kids gets caught in a situation from which there seems to be no escape. With nobody around to help them, how will they get back to their parents? Does anybody including their teachers actually even know that they are in such a situation?

The defence of Maalgudi Days :: One thing that you should have felt right from the trailer is that there is a certain amount of visual beauty to the locations, and if used well, can create a nice experience for the eyes – it happens right here. The surroundings used here happens to be perfect setting for the movie. Then there is the realistic ending to the movie, using the emotions to the right quantity rather than bringing what would go on to become melodrama. This is also a movie that touches the emotions at the base level, not within that elite level of romance to which reality is never that close. If you wish to support only superstar romance, go for it, but I would rather incline myself towards the sad realities and little goodness in life rather than the exaggerated infatuation. The goodness in this movie touches you on one side, and from the other side, the sad realities of life come in. It is from this ability to touch one’s emotion that this movie can be a favourite for the audience.

Claws of flaw :: Well, a near flawless movie was never expected in this case. The movie was never heavily promoted and never did it generate any hype. It just had an interesting song playing on television and came right into the theatres. It is nowhere close to being among the big movies with its content either, and that problem is solved by creating a fog of innocence which works. But the blind fans will neglect the same, because they can only get emotional when their superstar falls in love and losses his romance – the story of struggles of people never appeal to them. This bloody exaggerated romance seen in movies have made people feel only when the hero and heroine separate, and it will be a flaw, not with the movie, but with the brainwashed audience who are blind to the truth. This movie does have its own struggles in the middle, and a lot of scenes do seem half-baked. The material is not that well connected in between, and not made to appeal to people throughout its run. The first song with graphics was a terrible idea too.

Performers of the soul :: As you might have already noticed, Anoop Menon and Bhama forms the star power of this movie, and are the main actor and actress. Bhama does a fine job, but is present only in a few flashback sequences. Anoop Menon has his moments, and the best of them are in the second half. I am sure that a lot of blind fans would have appreciated their favourite actor in this role, and might spend most of their time praising this movie, if that particular person was acting in this, no matter how bad the performance was. But do not underestimate Anoop Menon who has done a commendable job, and at least once in a blue-moon, try to watch and appreciate movies without partiality. I had to add this to the review because of the conversation which I heard from some of the youngsters sitting behind me. Kids in trouble is a joke to some people, but their favourite hero getting beaten up or losing his romantic interesting is so sad – simply pathetic attitude.

Further performers of the soul :: Why don’t you people take some time to appreciate Anoop Menon choosing to act in this movie of debutantes, and coming up with a touching performance? Is it only with those overrated movies that your loyalty lie? Coming back to the movie, the child actors have done some very nice job here; there is a lot of skill in that age group, as the Malayalam movies which have given significant role of children in the last two or three years have revealed to us. This movie provides enough opportunities to the two child actors, and never hesitates to let them free. They have more to perform here than in a regular movie about children, and they come up strong. Priyanka Nair has a good role here; she was among my favourite actresses before she took that break. Saiju Kurup handles an important role, while Noby manages the lighter moments which are rather less and has least significance in this emotional flick.

How it finishes :: The situation looks rather bleak for the movie considering the number of viewers, but as there have been positive opinions, the number of people for the show will be more in the next few days. But the promotions have been rather less related to this one, and if you have noticed, this one is not present at Wikipedia, making this one more of a movie which is not out of the shadows yet. With the challenge posed by Charlie, Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Two Countries still there and with another possible challenge from the Bollywood movie Wazir, one has to be doubtful about how well it will do in the end, but coming from three debutante directors, this surely needs some attention considering how sincerely the attempt has been made. It surely has that single act of kindness which is supposed to shape the mindset of future generations, that too with one great self-sacrifice – are you ready for it?

Release date: 8th January 2016
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Visakh, Vivek, Vinod
Starring: Anoop Menon, Bhama, Priyanka Nair, Noby Markose, Saiju Kurup, T.P. Madhavan, Irshad, Sathyadev, Abhi Madhav, Anand, Binoy, Janaki, Vishal, Alji Francis

maalgudidays

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam

SuSuSudhiVathmeekam (4)

What is it about? :: Sudhi (Jayasurya) works as the manager at one of the branches of Karur Vysya Bank at Bangalore. One day, after helping a group of cinema artists to shoot inside his branch, he gets a ride to his hometown with Mukesh (Mukesh), thanks to his old friend Greygon Das (Aju Varghese) who is in the film field. Sudhi talks to him about his life and the interesting incidents related to it. He is a person who has always had a terrible stammering problem. It had alienated him and affected his confidence ever since he was a child. Even when he reaches his youth, he remains a troubled man due to the same. The same disability leads to his engagement being called off, and the people of the village make fun of him even more. But as time progresses, he will manage to rise above his problems and understand that he is better than his troubles.

The defence of Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam :: If you loved Punyalan Agarbathis, you will surely love this one too; I would consider this one above that flick because our movie here finishes very nicely in a much better way. The feel-good factor is much stronger here because this is more of the common man’s movie. There will be moments when you will feel that this is the story of you or someone you know in a different way. The message is also very clear here, and it will connect with the common man. The fact that the movie is short helps the cause; there is no drag here either. The second half is also better than the first, the movie only improving as it progresses. The emotional side is working all the time and gets stronger in the latter parts. The humour is good when it is present. The songs are okay. It is simple, cute and the right choice for the families.

Claws of flaw :: There is no special ingredient in Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam. Well, Kung Fu Panda knew that there was no secret ingredient, and this movie also works without the same. There is nothing special with the story as the flick thrives on simplicity and reflecting the common man’s life. More humour could have also been added here too, and more material in the first half. People can also complain about the troubles of the man and his setting to be better shown in another way, asking for more fun or more emotions, but this one takes the middle path. The Punyalan Agarbathis feeling is also there even as this one overtakes that movie in content and presentation. Like what a few people who said about Mili, if you consider the goodness and inspirational stuff as cliche, this won’t be the movie for you; but I believe that they can be infinitely disparate each and every time.

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya brings a stunning performance here proving his versatility once again. This movie is all about his character and he makes it all about him. The success of this movie will undoubtedly be his success as he thrives, and lives as the protagonist. Whichever be the movie, he has always been there with some exceptional performance – you can do a rewind into his previous movies and clarify the same. With three stages of the protagonist’s life being shown on screen, the man comes in three appearances, clean shaved, with a moustache and with the beard. Like in Premam, this also shows the man in different appearances as the character’s attitude towards others as well as life as a whole changes. This will be his second movie to run with positive opinions at the same time, along with Amar Akbar Anthony.

Further performers of the soul :: You can note that the director Ranjith Sankar has a cameo role in this one. The two heroines in this movie are not that familiar for the Malayalam audience even though only one is the new face. Swathi plays the protagonist’s fiancee whom he was supposed to marry, and the one person to whom he feels really close. If you watch Comedy Super Nite on Flowers channel, you might have noticed her as she was there in one of the episodes. She makes a nice debut as she entered the industry, and there is a certain amount of cuteness right there. The other heroine, Shivada has more to do, and she also has the more inspirational stuff as the speech therapist. She also comes up with a fine performance as the difference maker. Aju Varghese contributes well to the comic side, and Mukesh brings more laughs. Mukesh as Mukesh was actually a very nice move!

Soul exploration :: Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam inspires you, but it doesn’t ask you to become someone else. The soul of this movie asks you to listen to your own heart and soul rather than the others and society who bring a label for you. The protagonist himself says that everyone is not supposed to become Sachin Tendulkar or Aamir Khan. It is all about us being ourselves, not doing comparisons with others. The movie tells us to be just us, but always to be the best of us, as not to have tried is a terrible thing. If we are not ready to be us, with all the characteristics that belong to us, then what is our significance as individuals? As separate individuals facing different situations, having varying abilities, it is all about making the best use of the talents. This movie is also supposed to be inspired on the real life story of a person. You were inspired by Rani Padmini a few days earlier, and now here is more.

How it finishes :: Don’t expect something huge with a big dose of tings, but as the simple and powerful movie of the weekend, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam will provide you with the motivation that is not restricted in any way. It is a path for you to travel in discovering your individuality, and at the same time, realize that everyone is awesome, no matter what disability or trouble is present. Coming from the director who started with Passenger and gave us some really inspiring movies, this one also leaves a mark, and Ranjith Sankar has left the audience with some happiness while touching the emotional side. If you leave the theatre with some positive energy inside, it is the success of the team which brought you Punyalan Agarbathis once again. Once again, you are reminded of what you can do, and why you are also someone who can achieve. You look for goodness and inspiration; you find Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam.

Release date: 20th November 2015
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Swathi Narayanan, Shivada Nair, Aju Varghese, Mukesh, Sunil Sukhada, TG Ravi, KPAC Lalitha, Ranjith Sankar, Muthumani, Sarath Das, Irshad

SuSuSudhiVathmeekam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mathai Kuzhappakkaranalla

mathaikuzhappakkaranalla (2)

Vampire Owl :: This sounds like Lal Bhahadur Shatri’s continuation. I am not coming.

Vampire Bat :: There is just Jayasurya playing a very good guy, otherwise this should be different. Anyway, you didn’t watch even that movie yet. There is also a shot of Jayasurya and Bhama having tea together. Remember the word “tea”.

Vampire Owl :: So what? I don’t need to watch feel-good. I can sense them. They are all going to be the same.

Vampire Bat :: Do you know that you are prejudiced?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, and it has saved me from watching bad movies. But I see that it is not working for you, and the same is spreading for you and affecting me.

Vampire Bat :: Then what are you going to do now as you are free?

Vampire Owl :: I am going to visit the Thommankuthu Waterfalls and think about more ideas on owlifying the world. The tea there is good; it helps one to think.

Vampire Bat :: What about your zombie minions?

Vampire Owl :: They have been called for some work at the Dracula Castle. We can’t deny the services when Uncle Dracula asks, can we?

Vampire Bat :: He gets all the movies at the castle. He is one lucky guy, isn’t he?

[Starts the car].

What is it about? :: The story is that of an auto-driver in Thrissur called Mathai (Jayasurya) who is too good a man at heart and wants to solve all the problems in the world in whichever way possible. He spends his time trying his best and often gets into trouble for the same, never really giving him a positive effect, but he keeps trying again and again as if his life depends on him; he hopes that one day, everything will be awesome. His fiancee Anna (Bhama) is an assistant to a leading advocate in Kottayam, and as he comes to bring her back to Thrissur on a harthal day, it seems that he has lots of time in hand and wanders around in the area. At the same time, Nandakumar (Mukesh) is a heart surgeon who lives with his wife and child and is always having problems in his life due to his mother-in-law creating troubles. When Mathai comes to visit the doctor whom he had once helped when in trouble, the wife and child were no longer with him due to an issue concerning a wedding anniversary, and he decides that he should solve this problem for the doctor. But is a simple man like Mathai good enough to solve the rich woman’s ego?

The defence of Mathai Kuzhappakkaranalla :: The movie is both a preacher and a family counselor as it keeps trying to bring up all the problems in the family life and solve it from the beginning to the end. This is kind of a pre-marital course, and one has to say that it will be very of nice of the church to cancel the pre-marital course and use this movie instead, or it can directly give approval to anyone who has watched this movie – may be they can show the movie tickets to get approval. Yes, it is that kind of a movie, and not like Lal Bahadur Shastri as one might have expected. There is the good attempt to make things work and make it connected to the family audience. It starts off well, with our protagonist involving in the problems of one of his acquaintances and try to solve things only to make it worse. It is actually more funny in the first half. The cast has managed things well, and there is some humour lurking around all the time. Note that there is no romance in this one despite having the pair of Ivar VivahitharayalJanapriyan and Oru Black and White Kudumbam.

Claws of flaw :: The preachy nature of the movie often works against it, as people can get irritated at times, especially when the emotions fail to work and the humour almost disappears. Then it gets weaker, and makes so much of a lesser impact, and ends the movie in a predictable manner, with not much to cheer about – it is kind of a forced end, as if the classes are dispersed after all those lessons taught, and now it is time to go home and try the same. There is nothing that we haven’t seen before; remember the Mohanlal-Meera Jasmine starrer Innathe Chinthavishayam in which the hero and heroine attempted to save the marriages of three women? Yes, it is the same thing here, as our hero and heroine tries to unite a doctor and his wife. But this is not that good as the Mohanlal starrer, and is also restricted to two houses in action. Yes, there is the Aristotlean Unities at work here, of time, place (somewhat) and action. If you liked Innathe Chinthavishayam, there is a chance that you will like this one, otherwise, it is questionable – with no innovation and no good script.

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya is the character we are talking about in the title, and he once again shines as the simple character full of goodness – check Lal Bahadur Shastri and Apothecary models, and he once again uses the Thrissur slang like in Punyalan Agarbathis and it works like a dream for him. Mathai is another character in the comfort zone for him, and it is him who handles things here in the movie with the best quality. The feeling of the common man or the guy next door might be something that comes naturally to him. Bhama doesn’t lag behind in that, and even as she comes into the picture in a big way only in the second half, she joins the preaching and does fine. She also seems comfortable in this simple role. Mukesh is fine and has no challenge here at any moment; this is something that a versatile actor like him could do with ease. Lakshmi Gopalaswami is fine with her predictable character. Sreejith Ravi was very good in another avatar here, and he handles a lot of humour in this one and never falters – his character could have had a better handling though.

Soul exploration :: Mathai Kuzhappakkaranalla has its own value in the contemporary society. People can question the product, but not the intentions, and scope for giving a good lesson, and this is where Akku Akbar gets the applause. The Dolphins did do the same, but it came too late to make that movie better. But our movie here shows how the world is changing in favour of ego and selfishness in a relationship, which in turns destroys it as the unconditional love itself is taken out and the whole thing remains as nothing more than a contract for mutual satisfaction. The movie has a husband who is a very busy surgeon having no time for family and a wife who want her husband to prefer her lavish parties over saving a human life. The advice that the wife gets from her mother contributes in the worst possible manner. There is also the idea of having a high status in a society and developing hatred for the common man. In the name of status and money, people tend to become less human, not just towards the outsiders, but also to one’s own people. Well, what is this “maintaining status” than showing off?

How it finishes :: Akku Akbar has to be appreciated for taking this topic which never losses the charm and the value in a society which keeps going further down with its family values in an age of ego leading to divorce. It is something which should be saved from the attack of the new generation movies which often ends up working in the exact opposite manner. But one can only wish that this was told in a better way rather than being too preachy. Our audience don’t accept such things, because it is like being told what to do. There is too much of it. If it was told in another way, things would have worked so much better, there is no doubt about it. Coming from a director who has been doing movies with family themes so well, let’s hope that he will come up with something a lot better next time. Until then, Angels seems to be the winner, even as there will be the question about how much it can score at the box-office seeing the status at the theatres. Penguins of Madagascar will take some family audience away from this one too, that is for sure.

Release date: 28th November 2014
Running time: 110 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Akku Akbar
Starring: Jayasurya, Bhama, Mukesh, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Sreejith Ravi, Thesni Khan, Sasi Kallinga, Jayaraj Warrier

mathaikuzhappakkaranalla

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lal Bahadur Shastri

lalBS (2)

Vampire Owl :: You are going to watch another historical movie?

Vampire Bat :: No, this isn’t about India’s second Prime Minister.

Vampire Owl :: So, there is not even a Chief Minister in this one?

Vampire Bat :: No, not even an MLA. Its like Bal Gangadhar Tilak consists of Balan, Gangadharan and Thilakan; remember that old joke? So, this one should have Lal, Bahadhur and Shastri.

Vampire Owl :: Disrespectful indeed. I am not watching this.

Vampire Bat :: You have always been looking for an opportunity not to watch a Malayalam movie. So, that is a lame excuse.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, I need this excuse. You sit in there to study, and with the points noted down in the mind, you write them down as reviews. May be someone will valuate it someday and give you a job. Then, I can try not to be distracted and spend the rest of my life not watching movies and always planning to owlify the world.

Vampire Bat :: You don’t need more feel-good?

Vampire Owl :: No, such movies are too cute, plus I need feel-bad or feel-evil. I quit – may be until weekend.

Vampire Bat :: Take the route through the cemetery. Your zombie team is resting there counting the bones. You never really pay them for the work.

[Gets the ticket].

What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of three strangers, whose paths cross on an eventful day in the city of Cochin. All of them are from around Aleppey and meeting each other at Cochin. Lal (Jayasurya) is a simple man with a good heart, still looking for a job at the age around thirty, and travels to the city for the same reason. He is the one who acts as the narrator at times too. Bahadhur (Nedumudi Venu), a former panchayat president, is an alcohol addict with a weakness for women, but spends his time without bothering others. He goes to the city to visit his fellow alcoholic friend who is in the hospital. Shastri (Aju Varghese) is a young man in the farming field who has his own problems in life. He is in the city to get some of his papers passed from the agricultural office. The next significant character who arrives at the same city is Thaara (Sandra Simon) who works as a nurse at a hospital there. A lot of incidents happen following an accident, and by the interval, things get to revolve around a lottery ticket which becomes the major factor in solving all the problems.

The defence of Lal Bahadur Shastri :: Lal Bahadur Shastri makes its entrance into the feel-good genre and make it work. With its simple characters who are like those among the audience, the movie progresses in an interesting way, and keeps the audience interested. Never losing its flow, there is no boring moment here, even as this movie is more of a drama than anything else. The joints of the stories all also nicely done, and the characters fit in there quite nicely, with situations well managed. There are also some heart-touching moments, as the movie successfully manages its emotional side with the needed ingredients, and this achievement also has its cast to thank. The humour is also good, even as more could have been included. There is only hundred percent decent comedy in this one making it an even better choice for the family audience. There is also a light tone running throughout the movie, never letting things go out of control into the darker shades.

Claws of flaw :: Lal Bahadur Shastri follows a predictable path, even as there are little twists here and there. This idea of having different characters crossing their paths on one big day on a big city has been tried on a lot of occasions, including the critically acclaimed Traffic, its successor Friday, and even in Money Rathnam up-to an extent. The beginning is also kind of unnecessary showing Jayasurya’s character grow up – there was never a need, and is of no value to the story. The plot is not thick, as it depends too much on the creation of confusions, and the “just missed” moments which are recreated to bring the needed effects on the story-line. The scope for humour is not fully utilized, especially with Aju Varghese there (his character even talks about having twins nicely reflecting his real self to bring some nice humour). Those who don’t want to watch another feel-good movie with nice morality elements can skip this movie too.

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya comes up with a controlled show here, as a character which has worked so well for him, like in Janapriyan and Apothecary; the good and simple man from the village has never been a role which was supposed to challenge someone like him who has been proving his versatility for sometime. Nedumudi Venu has a role similar to what he did in North 24 Kaatham, but here it is a character with more flaws. Aju Varghese is once again doing his job, but this one has less comic scenes for him. Sandra Simon has a very good presence in this movie, even as there is not much here to test her – but does well and lets welcome her to the Malayalam movie industry, wishing her best of luck for the future in this field. One would wonder if there is a show stealer in this movie, and it is Master Minon, who won the National and State film awards for the best child artist with his performance in 101 Chodyangal – when we think that the movie is going to be about the three main characters, this kid comes up in the second half, taking his simple first half presence to a new level. Kavitha Nair’s small role is very much notable too. We can also see Noby, Mala and Lakshmipriya in shorter, but memorable comedy roles.

Soul exploration :: The movie focuses on good people and how they are rewarded, despite going through troubles. It has the message that goodness will rarely go unnoticed, and this movie has so many things which seem to work against the reward, but it finally finds the way. There is also an assertion on the need to do the right thing when the time comes, not thinking about the benefits. If the divine will is on your favour, or may be if destiny is awaitings, good things tend to happen. It is a reassuring message given into a world of chaos, in a society where people rarely care about the other, and there are doubts about any divine intervention and the value for karma. This is why Lal Bahadur Shastri is a good effort, and at at time it is cool to be evil, when being good is not considered the fashion, this movie tells the viewers that it is to be done because it is the right thing. Well, how many people think about the same? The only thing people and media care about are things like people who want to kiss, people who want to watch kiss and people who want to stop kiss – when focus should be on something good or productive.

How it finishes :: Lal Bahadur Shastri is strong in the theatres due to the presence of Jayasurya and Aju Varghese. It is actually present in more theatres than one might have expected it to. A major problem should be with its name though, as it is almost impossible to feel that a movie with such a name would be interesting – no creativity in there; otherwise why would someone choose the name of a former Prime Minister of India, and there is the joke which is years old, taking Lal, Bahadhur and Shastri as three names which seems to have influenced the title. Are we short of good titles, and does it seem that each and everyone of them are used? I wouldn’t think so. Nevertheless, Lal Bahadur Shastri has enough power to impress the family audience, and anybody who wishes to have some feel-good experience will surely try to give this one a chance. That should be where this movie should be targetting and winning its battle in the process.

Release date: 21st November 2014
Running time: 110 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Rejishh Midhila
Starring: Jayasurya, Nedumudi Venu, Aju Varghese, Sandra Simon, Kavitha Nair, Adwaith Jayasurya, Lakshmipriya, Aiswarya Nath, Nandhu, Mala Aravindan, Master Minon, Noby Marcose

lalBS!

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Fault in Our Stars

thefaultinourstars ()

Vampire Owl :: Why do you have a beard?

Vampire Bat :: Do I need a reason for that?

Vampire Owl :: I think you are having a beard because you don’t want anybody to recognize you getting tickets for bad movies.

Vampire Bat :: How bad? I can even stand a movie with a zombie falling in love with a corpse.

Vampire Owl :: They have already made that in Bollywood. I think they put it in the romantic comedy genre and people seemed to enjoy it a lot. A box-office hit. Something worse was made in Malayalam. It was called Annayum Rasoolum. Another hit there.

Vampire Bat :: But this will be good.

Vampire Owl :: If it is good, the show will be cancelled. Nobody will watch it. They only want to watch dumb romance and superstar movies. I heard you watched Pizza in 3D?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, you mean to say you actually read my Facebook status?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, I am making a list of the bad movies you watch. Now go and watch a movie. Meanwhile, I will create an evil plan to owlify and take over the universe.

Vampire Bat :: And that is the evil Vampire Owl prototype.

[Begins the journey].

What is it about? :: Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is a cancer patient who is loved and cared by her parents Michael (Sam Trammell) and Frannie (Laura Dern) who decides to send her to a support group at the local church, feeling that she is depressed and need friends. There she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) who also had cancer and had to lose one of his legs. They form an instant liking to each other, and soon their relationship develops. As it goes on, things get stuck at Hazel’s favourite novel which doesn’t seem to have a conclusion and she desires to know the ending of this story which is about a cancer-striken girl whose life parallels her. But the author of the book, Peter van Houten has moved to Amsterdam and not replying to fan mails. As Augustus tracks down Houten’s assistant, Lidewij and they finds out that the answer will be provided in Netherlands, they decide to travel to Europe together. Even as she is unhealthier, her parents and Augustus decides to make her dream come through. Through all these, a romance also develops.

The defence of The Fault in Our Stars :: There are many stupid romantic movies that are thrown at us thinking that we viewers have no brain, and this is one beautiful exception that we have here. It is not an exaggerated display of teenage romance that we have here, and it is not terribly realistic to the core, but it has kept away from exaggeration as much as possible consider the limitations of a movie which is to appeal to the viewers and more people are to know about the feelings that the patients have. The two major characters are beautifully portrayed, and Hazel is awesome. Almost every dialogue and every interaction concerning her catches our attention and we feel for her right from the beginning to the end, and when she replies “thank you” to the compliments that are given to her in a cute tone, it gives a lot of happiness to oneself considering the way she is going through her life. The beautiful young lady gives us silver lining to our life, finding hope with an extraordinary amount of faith while going through pain and being stalked by death, the certain visitor who is being delayed by prayers and medical treatment. The romance is also beautiful, and hundred percent of the soul rather than some retarded movies which only claim to be so.

Claws of flaw :: As the adaptation of the novel of the same name by John Green, the movie might have its points missing out, but I haven’t read the book yet, and so it is not up-to me to talk about that. The movie has certain coating to make sure that it doesn’t go uninteresting to the viewers, and the extra bit of sugar-coated romance added also adds to make sure that the teenagers flock to the theatres – yes, I could see a lot of them dying for more and more romance and left without the satisfaction of seeing what they needed in a stupid romantic movie, but this movie has given them more than enough in my opinion – this is not to be considered as just a romantic movie, and that much we owe to the real people who suffer from the disease. Well, how can we find fault with a wonderfully acted movie having two people trying to live their life in a beautiful manner despite having the knowledge that they are going nowhere other than the ultimate death, or “doom” or “oblivion” as the characters do call the end in a funny way? I guess there is no need to go deep down into it. Romance is actually an intruder into the seriousness, and I wonder how this would have turned out without it – got to have been better.

Performers of the soul :: Shailene Woodley as Hazel is the spirit and soul of this movie and she makes this movie even more than what is should have been. We did see her in Divergent where she matched Jennifer Lawrence – taking Beatrice Prior to the the level of Katniss Everdeen in a lesser movie, but this is an entirely different situation. We love the attitude of her character, and Hazel is not just Hazel, and as her lover calls her, she is Hazel Grace, proving herself to to be in the grace of God or the grace herself by being a wonderful person against all her thick walls of troubles. Ansel Elgort played Shailene’s brother in Divergent, and here she plays the next best character and one has to admire the way both of these characters are written, and these two have played them to perfection. They provide the viewers with some abiding sadness along with happiness and heart-break that comes. But they are within the limits of seeing the beauty of the world. There are two things that the characters do teach us, one is that “The world is not a wish-granting factory”, and the other is that “Funerals aren’t for the dead, they are for the living” – prayers are the ones for the dead, aren’t they?

Soul exploration :: The title alludes to “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Act I Scene II. It has human situation, either good or bad, as the result of one’s own actions rather than by the power of the divine, or that human condition itself such a flawed one that divinity can play no role in it. But it is not true on most occasions, right? There are things beyond our control, and a desire to control our own fate can only be successful up-to an extent or not close to having any success at all. No, it is not our fault that we don’t achieve something or ends up on the losing side. There is always the element of luck or fate, and the existence of God’s grace that changes things. There is indeed the fault in our stars, and there is the society and the world around us that shapes us and define our lives – just too many factors which control our lives on which we sometimes have no knowledge and at other times no control, and things to do fall apart. We are all subject to the fault in the stars, and it is just that for some people, it is less visible on the outside. In some other cases, we know. We have to live through the faults, our characters did.

How it finishes :: Even as there this released last month in the United States, it has the presence here at the right time at theatres with Planes 2: Fire and Rescue 3D not creating the usual animated impact out there – only wish remains that it had more shows. For Keralites, some memory of Akasadoothu inspired by Who Will Love My Children? will be there in this movie and there is the feeling that these movies carry far beyond its own realm of existence on a big screen. The Fault in Our Stars is nicely romantic along with being tragic and still, it creates that effect which none of the movie can really create. We can only hope that people will support beautiful movies like this instead of fake and dumb romantic movies like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya which attracts audience so much. Unfortunately, for some people, they think that love is all about physical attraction and exaggerated fake romance – Bollywood continues to teach that very long story which it uses again and again without any shame or regret, just with the addition of something on bed. Sadly, such are the movies which come good at this part of the world.

Release date: 18th July 2014 (India); 6th June 2014 (USA)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Josh Boone
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Lily Kenna, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe, Lotte Verbeek, Mike Birbiglia, John Green (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

London Bridge

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Malayalam movies in 2014 :: This year hasn’t started really well for me, as I don’t think that any movie from Kerala in 2014 has been even average, may be because of that extending the limits by Drishyam, but with London Bridge, there is a some comeback. I do have to warn you in advance that it is a love story, but not your usual romantic love story – the romance factor is not the point here, and what takes over is humanity or rather compassion and goodness in its most innocent form. So, if you are expecting too much of intimate scenes and the dialogues professing eternal love, you are going to be disappointed. But the love in this movie still manages to be more genuine than what was seen in most of the love stories, especially those repetitive romantic love tales of the same kind. This love might look kind of ordinary, but there is so much going through the background, a flurry of emotions which takes one’s heart by storm, and it is clear that even nature comes in just to help and leave after taking a bow. Why wouldn’t gaia wish to contribute when it can see the loss of mankind’s loss of inherent evil? If there is another movie to which this one can be connected, that should be Diamond Necklace – you will know!

What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of Vijay Das (Prithviraj Sukumaran), a promising young businessman in the city of London who after starting off in a student visa has made it big with the help of his mentor Francis (Mukesh). As he runs a number of shops and money lending business, and in his path, Vijay comes face to face with a huge business tycoon CS Nambiar (Prathap Pothen), one of the richest Keralites in the United Kingdom. Even as they start off against each other in the beginning, Nambiar is impressed by the ambitions and hardwork of his fellow Malayali, decides that he will be a nice choice for his daughter Pavithra Nambiar (Andrea Jeremiah) who is determined to be a social worker and is not interested in marriage. As Vijay works on Nambiar’s instructions and attempts to please Pavithra, he comes to know that she is interested only in art, literature and charity works, while he is always after money. He struggles to keep with her, but as Vijay’s car hits Merin Elsa John (Nanditha Raj), he finds a chance. Merin has just come to the country and is just about to start her job as a nurse when this ends up in he hospital – she is regularly visited by Vijay to show his compassion to Pavithra who starts falling for him, but Merin also starts developing feelings for him, which he also develops.

The defence of London Bridge :: I am sure that a lots of people will be asking me to this, after watching this or while reading the other reviews. Yes, I am going to start by admiring this movie for its assertion of compassion and goodness. One can’t avoid the emotional power of the movie either. There are simply good-looking people and breath-taking scenery – I have never seen the beauty of England and Scotland being captured in this manner. There is the countryside at its best and also London, especially the London Bridge, Big Ben, Tower of London and London Eye. There are also the support of some brilliant shots which help the movie. It creates an incredible amount of nostalgia in me, related to my last visit to the United Kingdom. I know my brethren will be having nostalgia about many things, but this is one completely belonging to me, and increasing my desire to visit the place again; may be there was something that I left unfinished. The movie should make the United Kingdom tourism proud, especially the countryside and London in the way in which they are portrayed. This will remain one of the most visually stunning movies as far as capturing nature is concerned. Now you know why William Wordsworth and company had to write poems; how could they not see such beauty while being such visionaries?

The claws of flaw :: London Bridge doesn’t try to be different with its script, as it goes on and on with what the audience has known for quite a long time. There are dialogues which doesn’t really like to pick up, and there moments which were to be awesome, but remains ordinary. The movie drags a bit, and it can make the audience looking for entertainment asking for more, especially as this movie lacks exaggeration of any kind with its good length. There is no creation of a romantic world for these three people and the romance might look kind of weak from the outside. There are simple human emotions, fear, compassion, love, pain and frustration; even if it is quite normal to have these in a normal way, most people are not going to like it, that is for sure. This might also be my favourite movie from this director who has touched a new area, but I know there are skeptics who will disagree. They might feel that this is not “cinematic” enough, but I would disagree as usual. I am a person who love to agree to disagree when it comes to movies, so you should know. It needed some polishing that is for sure, still there is a typical flow and the movie can do a Hobbit-dwarves-barrel-escape, as it is pushed into the river of love and emotions powered by humanity. May be they could do better with a few wood-elves with nice archery skills, especially as this is such a competitive world that hitting the bulls-eye is so important (unless you wish to be devoured by impatient entertainment-orcs).

Performers of the soul :: The performance department is led by Prithviraj Sukumaran who fits into his role with ease. The transformation that his character has, and the variation that happens to his attitude as well as his relationship with others are admirable; especially from a heartless businessman to the man with the golden heart. He has once again rightly chosen not to be a superhuman character, but a normal human. Nanditha Raj as Merin is one of the most lovable characters ever, and with a stunning cuteness, she has done her agonized character so much life that, her eyes and expressions tell the story better than the words. I would be surprised if anyone would be cuter in a role such as this. But she is still never a weak character as she holds on to life without giving up or asking for favours, and never does she cease to care or be good. One has to love that change in expression when she comes to know that he is the one who hit her, and that was a nice sweet moment. She’s most impressive in those moments of sadness, and incredibly cute in those moments of happiness. Merin Elsa John is a character in pain from the moment she is introduced to us, but there is always a certain amount of innocence associated with her which touches our heart, and the way she finds cute smiles between tears and agony is wonderful success to Nanditha’s debut in Malayalam. She makes us feel for Merin each and every moment like a needle piercing through out hearts, and you have to say that the teeth adds to that innocence!

Other performers :: I have to say that I was also touched by the performance of Andrea Jeremiah which is second only to Nanditha. There has always been something mysterious about her, and the way she deals with Pavithra is worth mentioning anywhere. Her character as the rich heiress to a huge business should have been the exact opposite of our other lady character, but she develops something more of her own, and actually surprises us in a pleasant manner, right in the beginning and particularly in the end. She comes up with something by the end which gives this movie an extra emotional boost. I didn’t like her in Annayum Rasoolum, but not this time. Prathap K. Pothan has a strong role to play, as his character is special, and different from what you usually see with such a character, a rich businessman looking to marry off his daughter. Sunil Sukhada catches the attention with his character and Lena Abhilash has a very good presence as Gracy which is boosted by her own performance. Mukesh contributes as he always does, and it is nice how he fits into such characters. Yes, they all did well and it made me feel very good in the end, I was happy when it finished, and the performance of each of them made sure that I was with them, that is for sure. The songs are nice performers too, especially “Kannadi Vaathil” and “Venmegham”; while “Ennum Ninne Orkkanayullil” is cute and “Chinni Chinni” is fine. They look the best with the visuals.

How it finishes :: I am recommending London Bridge for anyone who likes to watch a feel-good movie and not some random glorification of anything, whether it is cricket, violence or sex. The credit of the same goes to our three leading actors, the superstar who accepted the role of a normal guy in an ordinary movies, and the two leading actresses, one giving life to an innocent girl from Thiruvalla and the other to a true humanist and charity worker who is more alive than anyone else. The movie is strong at soul, even as it displays its strengths so less due to its execution problems. Its ends up telling us that we will know the importance of someone in our life only when we feel that we are going to loose them. Prithviraj and Nanditha makes us feel it, so much more and more as the movie progresses to the end. But I would like to add that this is not that much for mindless entertainment; this is for serenity, and this is a tribute to that love which is not based on lust and infatuation, as we see in most of the other love stories. Thank you Anil C. Menon, for this perfect cast, and it is the best thing, along with the incredibly beautiful visuals of the United Kingdom and the feeling that it leaves us with. It makes me wish to go to the British Isles again, and re-create my time there. The flaws might be many, but the pain is perfect and it strikes as it touches your good side as long as it exists! I would also ask the viewers to keep away from the usual conventions about a love story, as it is not how this works!

Release date: 1st February 2014
Running time: 150 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Anil C. Menon
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Andrea Jeremiah, Nanditha Raj, Prathap K. Pothan, Mukesh, Sunil Sukhada, Lena Abhilash, Amritha Anil

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Ezhu Sundara Raathrikal

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The seven beautiful nights :: The name of the movie means “seven beautiful nights” and I would like wish everyone a very happy seven nights from Christmas to New Year, and then for eternity. You all deserve a great Christmas and an awesome New year, not only this year, but also for the years to come. The movie doesn’t do the same though, as it tells the story of a man’s life seven days away from his marriage and its title more inspired from an older song rather than anything else, and it is undoubtedly nothing like the twelve days of Christmas. It is the sixth movie of Dileep this year, and the fourth one in which he is playing the single leading role. This is also the third one directed by Lal Jose this year, and as both are undisputed super-hit providers, there was going to be no doubt about this one having good initial collections and having an extended run, even with Drishyam getting terrific reports and Oru Indian Pranaya Katha working fine enough. There has also been a certain amount of hype surrounding this movie, and it was always expected to do good.

What is it about? :: Aby (Dileep) has been enjoying his bachelor life for a very long time, and had been fighting hard to stay unmarried despite his parents trying their best to make him marry any girl. The situation changes when he decides to marry a model named Ann (Parvathy Nambiar) who was also evading marriage for quite some time. As both of them seemed to be going in a path without marriage, their parents are more than happy that they have chosen each other. But as Aby’s former lover Sini (Rima Kallingal) returns to Cochin and he decides to give her his wedding card along with boasting about his fiancee, the situation changes. As he losses his cigarette packet at her house, he is forced to help her when it is found out. At the same time, they seem to be indirectly related to the attack on a man who threatens them. He has to find the mystery behind that attack which sends the man into a comma, along with making sure that his fiancee as well as her husband Alex (Murali Gopy) doesn’t come to know more about it, and that the police doesn’t find anything about their presence during the attack.

The defence of Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal :: There is lot of fun involved in the first half, and there is good scope for a thriller from the moment a twist is introduced in the movie. Dileep scores with what he does the best and the movie goes on the lines of a thriller with a comic touch and successfully catches the attention of viewers, and stays fine till the interval. Unlike what seemed to be implied by the trailer, there is no adultery involved in it, and there is a clean environment maintained throughout the movie without the vulgar jokes. There is confusion created by certain things, but none of them are intentional, and there is no real villain in the world of this movie – nobody really does anything unforgivable, and by the end of the movie, all of them are able to live happily ever after, understanding all the mistakes counting from zero to infinity. The movie might have been trying to look into the stupidity and meaninglessness of most of the relations of the world, and how the most simple things lead to disasters which is actually the result of some random act of buffoonery. We can hope that this will bring hope that one can keep the vulgar comedy flicks of extreme buffoonery like Sringaravelan away.

Claws of flaw :: The movie keeps losing its power in the second half until it looks like a sad Superman sitting in front of kryptonite and singing the praise of Lex Luthor. It trails Lal Jose’s other 2013 flicks, Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum in humour and Immanuel in goodness, the two factors which should have saved this movie if added in abundance. The movie’s power as a thriller fades as the suspense is revealed, and all the things become just minor factors of no relevance, and the movie itself becomes too insignificant as if it was made to justify Sekhar Menon singing “ezhu sundara raathrikal”. There are also unnecessary characters and strange subplots which feeds on the movie rather than add to it, being parasites in its journey towards being worthy. There are also too many things which could have kept all these troubles away, and one specific thing could have nullified all the confusion. The last few minutes drag and makes the audience feel like there has been a time-shift which has caused a slowing down of their lives. Some people are married, some are not, a few are divorced, some wishes to marry someone, others are going to get married and the rest needn’t marry – marriage all around, that is what the movie is mostly about!

Performers of the soul :: Dileep is the one who is able to hold this movie together and keep the people interested. Unlike his other movies like Sringaravelan which was horribly dependent on bad jokes and vulgar humour, this one is a decent world which keeps Dileep inside the family zone, and he shines like nobody else, as Harishree Ashokan gives him great support. The newcomer Parvathy Nambiar is just somewhat good, as she just survives her stay there on most of the occasions, unlike some other debutante heroines who have been introduced in his earlier movies. May be the character itself wasn’t her kind or vice versa, as there is a constant struggle to keep up with the other performers. Murali Gopy is good with his role even as the character turns strange by the end. Rima Kallingal holds the ground, and keeps the wounds of the movie from getting any deeper. This is not a performance that will get her anything, but she is there to make sure that nothing gets any worse. Tini Tom has done a role which is not that funny, and has made it work. While Vijayaraghavan and Sreejith Ravi have gone towards the comic side in their smaller presence, Suraj Venjaramoodu has an even smaller existence which he makes significant.

Soul exploration :: The movie lacks in soul or appears to be so. Even as it should go in the list of those feel-good movies, one can’t be sure about it yet. If anyone embodies the spirit of the movie, it is Dileep, and if anything is close enough to feeling good, that should be when he is around. The movie’s abundance of good characters or those being just naughty and not that evil seems to direct towards the goodness of the movie and its attempt to take over that feel-good tag. The movie is indeed good in what it depicts, and it distancing itself from using bad words and vulgar jokes is indeed a good sign for the soul. Even our heroine comes up with a cute angelic smile for the soul on regular occasions, and that seems to be her highlight (it reminds me of my favourite Alice in Wonderland character, you know who – and I love it). There is also that song which features her that jumps out of nowhere. That smile is one boost to the soul that the Vampire Bat might want to collect personally. This is my last movie of the year, and therefore there is not much more to explore in the soul, as there is that complete break from movies until the 31st of this year – my total movies list for those watched in theatres is 103 with 52 in the first half and 51 in the second.

How it finishes :: This is a movie which could have worked with a better second half – not by a big margin, but just enough to attract more people. It still has a good amount of viewers there, as long as there is no comparison made against a few others movies in the theatre during this same season. There are not many challenges made by movies this weekend either. Sound Thoma and Sringaravelan might have scored big for Dileep at the box-office, but this one is still the best movie of him this year and the worst for Lal Jose since Mulla five years ago. The best and the worst have been made with this combination and that is indeed strange considering the expectations that shoot up. Ezhu Sundara Raathrikal will surely keep itself running into 2014, and that is something which is ensured more by the vacations causing lot of incoming audience in the form of kids and youth rather than the movie getting better opinions. Well, let this winter season of happiness disappoint no movie maker – let them all run, as even Dhoom 3 is having a magic run of the evil type.

Release date: 19th December 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Dileep, Rima Kallingal, Murali Gopy, Tini Tom, Parvathy Nambiar, Harishree Ashokan, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Vijayaraghavan, Sreejith Ravi, Sekhar Menon, Praveena, Suja Menon, Krishna Prabha, Ambika Mohan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Drishyam

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The vision right here :: Translated as “The Sight” or may be as “The Visual”, and produced by Antony Perumbavoor under Aashirvad Cinemas, Drishyam is that movie which gave me big trouble in writing the title in English; whether it was Dryshyam, Dhryshyam or Dhrysyam with a lot of variations replacing one “y” or the other with “i” or both with “i”. But about the decision to watch the movie, there was absolutely no doubt. This movie released on a Thursday, a day before the flow of the weekend movies started, and had already come up with good reviews from both the critics and the audience. There was absolutely no reason why I wouldn’t watch this movie, as there were so many people asking about why I haven’t watched this movie, and I decided to book a the tickets, and there was never a better decision in the recent times, as the tickets for the movie was sold out everywhere in a flash, and much faster than Dhoom 3 – its trailer had said that the year would end with a “dhoom”, and now we know that they were talking about Drishyam, and not on some weird movie with strange characters doing stupid things on motor-bikes.

What is it about? :: Georgekutty (Mohanlal) is an orphan who has studied only till standard four, and Rani (Meena) is his wife, a simple woman who failed in standard ten. They have two daughters, Anju (Ansiba) and Anu (Esther Anil) and are leading a happy life in a village background. Georgekutty is a simple farmer who runs the business of a cable television business named after his wife along with being a farmer; he is loved by most of the people of the village has the image of a nice, innocent man. Still, he doesn’t back away from having opinions about most of the things of the world, which makes him the enemy of Sahadevan (Kalabhavan Shajon), a local cop. But as a simple incident changes their life, they are forced to prepare for the worst, and save their family together, as the common man who lags in education decides to take on the law which comes after them. Will they succeed in their mission or will the family break apart due to the power of external force lead by the Inspector General herself? Anything more said about the movie is rather giving away too much, and the rest is to be seen.

The defence of Drishyam :: Here is another thriller on the cards, after having Mumbai Police and Memories this year gaining critical acclaim as well good box-office collections. The thriller genre is indeed gaining the support of the audience, and even Up and Down: Mukalil Oralundu and Silence had enough of the average stuff inside them. Memories might still be the best investigative thriller this year for every one, as long as this one categorizes under a family thriller. The movie’s first half is a full family drama with light shades until the one major incident that happens just before the end of the half, taking the tension into the space after interval. There is the simple life of ordinary people close to nature portrayed throughout, something which is of goodness and dedication. The second half brings the thrilling twist to the world as the darker shade creeps in under the disguise of law. There is so much brilliance and beauty in the way the story is told, especially in the second half. There is the mixing of the right features that make this one a movie for more than one kind of person.

Positives and negatives :: We are indeed caught in that world of uncertainty which no real assurance of what is to happen next, as an illiterate village guy takes on the educated smart people, but still there might be a little dragging in the first half, and it is just after the interval that the movie actually takes off as it is. The songs are just ordinary, but the performances are top class. The first half does have some ineffective jokes, and there is too much coming from a man who learns how to beat the police with the help of movies. You can actually come up with the need for disbelief, but considering the world that we love in, nothing is impossible, and as the demonic Overlord would say, evil always finds a way. Power and influence always got the upper-hand, and when the common man fights for his family and his world, it is always something that inspires millions. As George Orwell will give us through his Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. That should be another reference to the 2009 movie Ividam Swargamanu, which itself is mentioned in this movie as our hero goes to work on his land. Let’s add that this one is more emotionally touching and less complicated than that one.

Performers of the soul :: There are many directors who might have the best records for many, but for Jeethu Joseph, it is a perfect record when I look at it, with the most interesting thriller of a decade Detective, the best family drama of its age Mummy & Me, the funniest movie of last year My Boss and the best investigative thriller of this year, Memories – there is his perfect record, none of the movies deserves below 80/100 in my opinion. Even with the lesser number of movies, he is already among the best, no doubt about that. Mohanlal is back with a role where he perfectly fits in, reminding us of his performance in Ividam Swargamanu, or rather a role which is even more worthy of being loved – once again the farmer who fights for his small world. There is no longer a hero who transforms into a superhero who beats up the opponents, and he excels as the common man. It is good to see Meena back opposite Mohanlal after Chandrolsavam (2007) and the performance of Kalabhavan Shajon in a negative role is worth mentioning. Asha Sharath also remains strong throughout her presence. Meanwhile, the kids are just brilliant, and they are strong pillars of this movie – I hope that they will stay for long.

Soul exploration :: In its soul, Drishyam is more or less Ividam Swargamanu, even if not so in the presentation as well as the genre. The two characters instantly likable, and we are on their side right from the beginning to the end. Here Mohanlal plays Georgekutty who fights the law for his family in the place of Mathews who fights the law for his land. Both are quite innocent characters who are looking to save their respective worlds. Both movies have the protagonists who are not that educated common men who are on the back-foot most of the time. But this movie has the whole thing more under the control of the protagonist, and the external help he receives is much less. There is no law being used in the favour of him, but there is surely the appropriate use of media. Georgekutty is better planned, all by himself throughout the movie, and even as he suffers more, right from the beginning to the end, everything has been under his control. There is no real corruption in this movie, but there is just power and influence which troubles the common man. The end is indeed a very good, and not without the twist that was needed.

How it finishes :: Drishyam is indeed the winner of the weekend and the movie of Christmas. The movie is in many ways the triumph of goodness when placed against all kinds of problems. There is always evil and sin which often takes many forms and can sometimes rise above the law, and all that decisions belong to the fine thread that fate has woven for each man and woman unless Grimm Reaper decides to cut that thread with his scythe. But the movie ends up as the victory of the common man in his ability to do the right thing. The movie also asserts that there is nothing like family. The real immediate world is family, and without love and mutual co-operation, there is no such world in reality. We do not live for the moment or anything, as we live for the world, which is family – and most of us might have troubles with our blood, but none of them can stand the power of time, and problems and our struggles bring us together. It is never too late to find our little world as well as our role in it. Drishyam is the visualization of the struggle of a common man for the family, and there is brilliance in store.

Release date: 19th December 2013
Running time: 164 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Mohanlal, Meena, Kalabhavan Shajon, Siddique, Asha Sharath, Ansiba, Esther Anil, Roshan Basheer, Koottickal Jayachandran, Neeraj Madhav, Irshad, Kunchan, Antony Perumbavoor

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Oru Indian Pranaya Katha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Journey 2

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What is Journey 2: The Mysterious Island? :: It is a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth which had Brendan Fraser in the lead with the comparatively less known Anita Briem along with Josh Hutcherson. It was based on the nineteenth-century novel of the same name by Jules Verne and had great special effects and CGI which could have been great in 3D or may be 4D. I couldn’t watch that one in 3D, but did manage to watch its sequel in its full power, and managed to watch it so many more times on television, thanks to Star Movies, or was it HBO? This sequel is based on another Jules Verne novel, this time The Mysterious Island. Well, who better than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to replace Brendan Fraser? Both are my favourite actors indeed, and that makes this a special series for me, and I have to say that I liked the sequel better than the original, just by a slight margin. Michael Caine and Vanessa Hudgens are two great additions to the franchise.

The Setting :: The movie is loosely based on the novel, which I had read in its abridged form long ago. This version of the original classic has a grown-up Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson), years after the incident which involved his journey to the centre of the Earth with his uncle Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser). Just like Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne is the guide in the first movie, Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island is the guide this time. The journey continues to be personal, and through the new world, they will find new relationships and also strengthens what all were weak and struggling. There is a lot of potential for using the best CGI and all the special effects, and with the movie being released in 3D, there is a lot in store for the viewers here, even as the chance to watch it on the big screen has disappeared. It should still look pretty nice with a good cable connection and an LED television.

What is it about? :: Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) is back in action, as he tries to find his lost grandfather Alexander Anderson (Michael Caine) this time. With the help of his stepfather Hank Parsons (Dwayne Johnson), he deciphers the code which is supposed to have been sent by the grandfather even as he doesn’t get along with Hank much to the dismay of his mother Elizabeth (Kristin Davis). The stepfather and the son travel together to Palau according to the codes. There they assigns a helicopter guide Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) who agrees to take them to the dangerous island for three thousand United States dollars. The helicopter is caught in a storm and they crash into the island. There they encounter strange animals until coming up against a giant lizard, from which the grandfather saves them. Now the question remains if they can get out of the island which is going to sink in two days. In the process, they will have to get the aid or avoid a good number of creatures.

The defence of Journey 2 :: The movie’s best advantage is its graphics, as it has created an outstanding 3D world which clearly makes a point that it is indeed a mysterious island, and not of this world, nor connected to any logical or scientific factors of modernity. It is indeed funnier, and has more beautiful world compared to the original. It is an adventure which is friendly enough for all ages, and therefore clearly suitable for family viewing. The movie’s theme of family is mostly worked out well too, with the father-son, father-daughter bonding often working quite well in the background. There are a few impressive dialogues which they drop in here and there. There is a very well created chase scene involving giant bees and huge birds, as well as nice sequences involving the sinking of an island and a submarine which all look beautiful in 3D. It can boast of a strong 3D adventure inside it, supported by a literary work which brings in nostalgia to the mind.

The claws of flaw :: The movies similarities to the original novel as well as its connection to its predecessor are limited. There is your typical lack of logic, but it is covered by the background book as well as the brilliant special effects in 3D which takes you to another world. There is no contribution from a horror side, but simple, non-threatening world, and that often adds to the better impression it creates for families. It might also have a little bit of emptiness in it considering such a marvelous world it created and how it has brought up so much less and ended in just one and half hours. We watched it on the same day as Agneepath, which meant that this felt much shorter, especially considering how much of a pathetic and long movie the Hritik Roshan starrer Bollywood movie was – it was the worst movie of 2012 indeed, and thanks to The Rock and his team that the day was saved and I didn’t watch many Hindi movies after that in the year.

Performers of the Soul :: Josh Hutcherson has his moments, especially with Vanessa Hudgens, but The Rock steals the show, just like he does in any wrestling ring. I would be surprised if there is a good number of people who won’t watch the movie just for the man. Yes, you have to love him – he sings “What a Wonderful World” and also teaches his stepson something on how to get the attention of the lady; the man scores with the funny moments really well, even as the muscles come to donate a lot to the score quite often. When Dwayne Johnson is not scoring, it is Michael Caine who takes the lead only to lose it to the magnificent screen presence of the former WWE champion, one of the most popular Wrestling superstars ever. Vanessa Hudgens is there for the looks, and her cute and charming presence catches your attention if not the beauty and the clothing. She never looked better – no not even in Springbreakers; that was too much of a gorgeous side. Kristin Davis has very little to do, that too in the real world, while Luis Guzman is quite funny throughout.

How it finishes :: The movie works mainly due to Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine, and no surprises there. The movie is a fine mix of everything good and nothing unworthy of the family audience. It is not a classic movie which can justify the book on which it is based, but an entity which is of visual splendor, unlimited fun and awesome actors. There is absolutely no human character in the movie that you won’t like, and there is no real villain even in the form a creature of the mysterious island. It has taken out everything bad or evil from its core, and has filled it with more and more good and sweet things. Jules Verne won’t complaint about this though, neither will the authors of Treasure Island and Gulliver’s Travels – this indeed saves the world from the less interesting adaptation of the latter which was released in 2010. You can catch this one very often in the English movie channels; its quite a frequent visitor to the television, and if you have missed this one, you haven’t really been checking the channels enough.

Release date: 10th February 2012
Running time: 94 minutes
Directed by: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Michael Caine, Luis Guzman, Kristin Davis

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Punyalan Agarbathis

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The time of the saints :: It is the time for the saints, and it was proved by one of the best satirical movies in Malayalam belonging to this century. There was indeed a saint in that movie, and it was Pranchiyettan and the Saint. Now, with the word “punyalan” translated as the saint, this movie also tries to take on the saint + trichur slang which shaped that wonderful satire. The saint is for sale this time, as our hero sells “Saint Incense Sticks” which is how “Punyalan Agarbathis” would get translated, and also if we consider it in another way, it is the sale of a useful saint imagery that happens here, now just as a Christian saint, but rather as the saintly figure in the centre which gets explored so many times, mostly remembered by this year’s movie Immanuel with its title character and Pranchiyettan was himself nothing less than a saint. There is still a lot of interest for the saintly figures among our usual audience, even as the hero who beats up people and says vulgar dialogues might come back any time now – I just hope they stay dead.

What is it about? :: Hailing from Trichur, Joy Thakkolkaran (Jayasurya) is a man who keeps trying his luck in many business ventures, but none of them really working. His latest attempt is on creating incense sticks from elephant dung, and it is named Punyalan Agarbathis hoping that Saint George will help him in his attempt to make it big. He wanders around looking for collecting what he calls “raw materials”. His wife, Anu (Nyla Usha) supports him with a regular job, but it is often insufficient for what he has to spend for his business. He is helped by his long time friend and assistant Greenu Sharma (Aju Varghese) and a driver Abhaya Kumar (Sreejith Ravi) as well as two workers who rarely works. But he has to fight a lot of narrow minded people, politicians and after all, fate which means that his troubles might never end. He is forced to spend most of his time in the court seeking justice, and his ideas keep getting struck down by destiny’s lightning, as he begins to feel that the whole world is against him. The story deals with how he finally survives in his battle.

The defence of Punyalan Agarbathis :: Well, the defence of Punyalan Agarbathis is easy up-to an extent. Other than its social relevance which is mostly about the tragic situation of the common man and the social evil which is harthal, the whole thing is about fun. The simplicity of the movie is worth appreciating. There are lots of funny dialogues stored in between. The beginning credits scene itself is well-crafted with scenes from Trichur. Most of the characters are interesting, and the movie has successfully built up a very good first half after its interesting beginnings. It has moments which makes one wonder how more awesome it can get, and keeps the audience asking for more. The movie’s biggest advantage might be its name, and its trailer which keeps the audience interested, and once the movie starts, there is also the ability to keep close to that standard till the end of first half. The songs are fine and the cinematography is admirable. The saint hasn’t avoided this movie, that is for sure.

Claws of flaw :: The movie seems to create the idea that there is a saint in most of the common man who suffers due to the rich, corrupt hands of the same society, but that kind of fades a few minutes after the first half. By that time, movie had deviated from its wonderful world to an abyss of incapacitated story with the undercurrents of that logic which decided that it is better to leave the flick and go to Mars and stay with Martians. There was always the chance to go astray right from the beginning, but it happened only in the second half, and the way they tried to finish it quickly almost as if a limited offer deus ex machina is used, is a real blemish on the movie. It was more like a cargo ship with great items on board going adrift and losing its good cargo by the time it reaches the destination. Why this sudden disorientation? Even if there was no happy ending to the story, may be if they had just let the leading character miss out and leave his business, it wouldn’t have been a lesser level second half or ending.

Performers of the soul :: If I have to tell who is the performer of the day, that would be a surprise, as Jayasurya is the man in form yet again. He transforms into another interesting character with ease, and Aju Varghese is a wonderful support to him. Sreejith Ravi also contributes to the fun in an avatar he is not usually seen in. Nyla Usha joins the party with charm, and Rachana Narayanankutty does a great job, both serious and funny sides handled with care. Innocent and Tesni Khan also contributes with their relatively small presence, even as we would have liked to see a lot more from the former. T.G. Ravi was there for the last Trichur based satirical comedy and he is there to impress us yet again. Idavela Babu is here as a villain for a change and doing a wonderful job, even as the evil face doesn’t just belong to him, but to so many forces of the society. You have to like Sunil Sukhada in his job. The acting department is so close to perfection, and the other areas of the movies are well supported, yes Mala Aravindan’s funny KAPA character included.

Social relevance :: We have had many movies of social relevance, with Sandesam, Varavelpu and Vellanakalude Naadu quite a long time ago, and Arabikkatha, Passenger and Pranchiyettan and the Saint not too far away from the present. Punyalan Agarbathis falls behind all these movies, but is the next movie which comes to the list. The movie takes on harthal as a social disturbance right from the beginning stages itself. The assertion on the harthal stands tall among others, and another focus is on the corrupt politics and the plight of the common man, and also about how difficult it is to begin an industry in Kerala. But the use of elephant dung there might be strange, but still okay enough as the movie is not to be taken that seriously, and the use of such an insignificant and free thing means that one can’t even try little things in a world of corruption and among influential people who are there to create trouble. If it was presented a little differently, with a better second half and a much better climax, the movie would have been remembered for a very long time.

How it finishes :: Ranjith Sankar has given us messages through his movies, and his best shall yet remain Passenger, a fine Molly Aunty Rocks and a below average Arjunan Saakshi. All of them had something other than the story to tell us, and this one is not different either. The elephant dung thing gets irritating after some time, and you know at which point the movie losses focus. Otherwise, this is the right Malayalam movie for the weekend, if we consider the reports. As the title Bicycle Thieves hurts my feelings about Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist drama and the name Escape from Uganda makes one feel worse, with the only thing further strange being the name Namboothiri Yuvavu @ 43 – this movie is a winner right from the title. The reports also seem to suggest that there is something in the title that is carried into the movie. Still, if you are not fixed on watching a Malayalam movie, I would suggest Frozen as the movie of the week. Meanwhile, our desire to watch another Pranchiyettan and the Saint remains unfulfilled.

PS: The leading character in Pranchiyettan and the Saint was Francis, and here we have the character as Joy. Something tells me that next satires based on Trichur might having the protagonists, as Jos and Paul, and you can make a guess why I predict so! 😀

Release date: 29h November 2013
Running time: 160 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Nyla Usha, Aju Varghese, Innocent, Rachana Narayanankutty, Sreejith Ravi, T.G. Ravi, Tesni Khan, Mala Aravindan, Idavela Babu, Sunil Sukhada, Shivaji Guruvayur

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

North 24 Kaatham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

God’s Own Cleetus

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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.

Diamond Necklace

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As they say in the movie Neram, there are two types of time, the good time and the bad time, and the good time of Fahadh Faasil had started from Chaappa Kurishu, with no disasters at the box office moving on to Immanuel. I didn’t really like what came later though, but as we know already, another thing about our versatile actor is that we can often identify his career with the quote from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities too; “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and I would identify the same with his other movies, Annayum Rasoolum and Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla. Yes, Diamond Necklace was part of the good time, or the best of times, and it was the best from Lal Jose, no real doubt about that unless you bring Achanurangatha Veedu, Classmates or Arabikkatha into the picture with a handful of logic. Does any of these movies have this simple a plot set in too simple a world, and still come up with such an intriguing situation on screen? No, they were movies of incidents, revolving around one major incident or decision which set the events running while Diamond Necklace belongs to everyday life, and a collection of life; its celebration as the worlds of ups and downs which flows through our life, supported by beautiful songs, “Nilamalare”, “Thottu Thottu” and “Nenjinullil”.

Arun Kumar (Fahadh Faasil) is a docor who lives in Dubai and leads a life of luxury, supported by his wallet full of credit cards. He has no regret about the past or worries about the future, as he lives in the present, spending money lavishly with nobody to stop him from doing the same. His friends belong to higher league, and he shares apartment with his friend in the tallest buildig in the middle east and the world, Burj Khalifa. Savithri (Rohini), his boss in the hospital also seems to spoil him with her sisterly affection, but she is also unaware of how much of a debt Arun is putting himself into. He has acquaintances with labourers from Kerala, especially Venu (Sreenivasan) whom he tries to avoid in his stylish, high quality life which has no place for the lesser people of lower social status, even as he is still friendly with all on the outside. Driving the latest cars and enjoying life to the maximum, he meets Lakshmi(Gauthami Nair), a newly recruited Tamil nurse in his department. She is the first girl to whom he is seriously attracted. She had come to the middle east with a dream of making enough money for building a hospital in their village, so that no more people have to die there for having no facilities or money. Arun is impressed by her wits, attitude and dedication towards work.

Even as their relation blossoms, his chances of going through with it receives a serious blow, as he runs out of money and his car is towed away by the creditors. He is left with no way to go home and see his sick mother as the credits keep him in the country. He is helped by an influential man, Narayana Menon (Maniyanpilla Raju) who makes it possible for him to go back to Kerala, but at the same time, he is tricked into marriage with Narayanan’s niece, Rajasree (Anusree) who is a simple village girl who has absolutely no clue about city life nor life outside Kerala. Even as they are thought to be a rich family, Rajasree’s world is later known to be a small and simple one, not enough to pay back even a percent of Arun’s credits. When he comes back to Dubai, he is left with no place to stay, and as he doesn’t have enough advance to pay for any place, he stays in the labor camp with Venu. Lakshmi who comes to know about his marriage, ends their relationship and refuses to talk to him. Maya (Samvrutha Sunil), a relative of Savithri, is a fashion designer who was diagnosed with cancer, with a wish to start a boutique in Dubai. Her fiancee had left her due to her illness which had left her highly depressed. Arun ends up sharing her apartment and becomes very close to her.

Later, when she sees Rajasree with him, she is shocked as she didn’t know that he was married, and is admitted in the hospital. It leaves Savithri with lesser affection towards him. As he gathers her possessions, he notices a diamond necklace that she keeps with her, something which can save him from his problems. He decides to replace it with a fake one and does the same successfully. This is where the whole situation revolving around a necklace arises, as his wife finds the original necklace and wears it thinking that it is a birthday gift from him. Meanwhile, Maya almost dies due to an overdose of medicine. He is unable to get the necklace back from his wife who has shown the same to almost everyone including her foul-mouthed relatives of vanity. He often feels that he should return it to Maya and he can’t, and neither can he sell it. Caught between the worlds of greed, remorse and helpless, the only people who are with him consists of the simple labourers whom he once avoided. So, the plot still revolves around the ladies in his life, and how Arun comes out of this problem, not with any deus ex machina or a huge twist of fate, but rather with the simple things being the result of everyday happenings and common feelings makes the whole of the story. The artificial stuff has been kept out for good.

So, here is Fahadh Faasil showing his abilities as a versatile actor, moving away from the new generation trends of Chaappa Kurishu and 22 Female Kottayam, but coming up strong as an energetic youth who symbolizes the common young man of the century, with the usual attitude of “I will drink Life to the lees” which was said by the protagonist, the Ithacan king and the Greek hero, in the poem titled with his own name, Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. That suspected hedonism in the face of our inescapable mortality found in The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the Edward FitzGerald translation, going back to the eleventh and the twelfth centuries has found ever increasing rhythm in this generation, but without the octopus hand of death and the ultimate end. “Carpe diem” as they can still say, from our own most mentioned ancient poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known to most of us as Horace – “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the next day”, an idea which has developed into a liefstyle with loose morals leading to a life of unimaginable pleasure among the new generation. Epicureanism has made a more powerful entry to the new world, and as a kind of hedonism finding pleasure as the only intrinsic good, there is a new environment which is powerful and fast spreading. These, as I have already mentioned in my review of Spring Breakers, symbolizes the character Fahadh is playing in this movie.

But what does this hedonism, the power of “Carpe diem” bring to him? Does this help him to seize the day? Yes it does, but those days become long gone. I agree to the fact that we are all kind of hedonists in one way or the other, varying only in the degree. But considering the current world and the environment to which we are exposed, something which stays within the limits can rarely be interpreted as hedonism. But our protagonist belongs to the higher degree of “Carpe diem” as he puts as little trust as possible in the next day, as a man who is exposed to all the luxuries of the magical world of the city of Dubai, powered by oil, and highly influenced by modernity and science rather than antiquity, history or literature. For a man who comes the humble backgrounds of a small village, this might have been a big moment for him, being in Dubai and earning so much. It is evident in his relations with the labourers whom he consider as lesser people. But soon he realizes that they are the ones who are there to help him without asking anything in return, and it is his time to live like a common man rather than a hedonist, and live his life of responsibilities. Such a realization is supported by a beautiful ending which makes sure that his world remains one of beauty and goodness rather than crookedness and money. The movie itself is a message against irresponsible hedonism, and a support for unconditional love, responsibility and equality.

Once again, Fahadh Faasil is the man to watch out for, and I guess there is not much need to talk about the same, as it nothing unexpected. Samvrutha Sunil has a powerful role and she has done it with lots of life. Gauthami Nair makes a strong impact as the determined, powerful character. Anusree’s role is worth a lot of acclaim, and the funny moments come from her character’s stupidity, and still the goodness and love that the character exhibits makes this one quite a beautiful portrayal. Rohini and Sreenivasan have to play the roles of two seniors in the life of the protagonist who lends him advice and helping hand, and they form the world of light and goodness in his life. Diamond Necklace relates to its viewer with its tenderness and its high dose of objective correlative; with a reigning simplicity and reflections of the common incidents and random life events. It is the Malayalam movie of the year 2012, no matter how much anybody tries to prove that it isn’t. Also look out for the cinematography by Sameer Thahir; about our director Lal Jose, there is nothing more to say other than making a call to watch the movie. This was a movie which came into the theatres, disappeared, and came back again; such is awesomeness of this movie, even as only a few people recognized it during its first run, and myself came across the same during its comeback run in the local theatre.

Release date: 4th May 2012
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Samvrutha Sunil, Gauthami Nair, Anusree, Rohini, Sreenivasan, Maniyanpilla Raju, Kailash, Sukumari, Thesni Khan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Pullipulikal and Aattinkutti

pullipulikalum aattinkuttiyum )

This is the season of the Malayalam movies, and what these movies have done with the help of Chennai Express, to keep the English movies away from the theatre is quite dissappointing, to be honest. The typhoon of Malayalam movies started off with Kadal Kadannu Oru Mathukutty, followed by Neelaakasam Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, Memories and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum. I am not in favour of such a week boasting the absence of the new English movie releases, at a time when they do get released in other countries. But as I know that there can be a great next week, and all the Malayalam movie titles are interesting enough, that should solve the problem up-to an extent. There is no surprise about so many movies releasing during the Eid after a long season of drought, as the people have already rushed to the multiplexes as well as the local theatres for these movies, and the malls, or at least some of them are so crowded that the Vampire Bat had doubts if there were free Blood Biriyani being supplied there. There is also the signs of the local theatres taking the effect of these new multiplexes, as the difference in the rates of tickets has become considerably small. We had such an option, and we had to choose the multiplex – there is the shift of the balance of power.

Literally translated as “Leopards and the Little Goat” had the first signs of vulnerability and a display of what kind of audience they were targeting, with their first promo in the theatres, which had a cartoon involving three leopards, one goat and a bull. Who are the people representing these characters, is something which should be revealed with ease as one watches the movie. Its target of the family audiences has surely been achieved with this one, but the question remains if it has achieved exactly what the movie lovers wished for, and another doubt would be about its power to match the other movies from Lal Jose – in that case, this should be closer in significance to Immanuel. Otherwise, this is a little bit of what should be termed as Elsamma Enna Aankutty meets Marykkundoru Kunjaadu at Kuttand setting, with a weaker second half and a forced ending. But it is not to be denied that the movie is fun, and the first half is close enough to a laugh riot. With the beautiful settings at Kuttanadu second only to Amen, and the melodious songs score to make all the absences transform into some kind of presence, and keep the viewers attached to the world of backwaters.

The movie set in the rural area of Kuttanad centers around one hardworking youth who tries in vain to pay off his loan to the bank by running a houseboat which he might lose in case of a failure to pay the same. Chakkattutharayil Gopan (Kunchako Boban), in short – Chakka Gopan a.k.a Aadu Gopan, is the goat-man as he is widely considered to be for his beard resembling a goat. There was that character in the movie Nee Ko Njaa Cha, and an allusion to that one with a background sound of the goat might help to figure out this appearance of our hero. This is the protagonist who gets beaten up almost every day due to the bad deeds of his three big brothers, as well as his own little problems. There comes the similarities with Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, and its just that this time, the protagonist is not lazy, and can beat a few people up rather than getting beaten up all the time. He has to feed three of his brothers and mother, as well as make sure that he earns enough to keep his houseboat floating. The three brothers are the type of people who takes money even from him to keep him safe, and they never miss an opportunity to take money from others or even lie, cheat and steal. The feeling of Elsamma Enna Aankutty also runs through, but more as an invisible force. But the fact remains that all the three movies were those which I liked, and therefore, there is nothing negative out there other than a little absence of innovation.

Along with dealing with his own lazy bully brothers and attempting to pay off his loans, Gopan faces the problem of not being able to attract enough tourists to his comparatively inferior houseboat, and asks the help of Mamachan (Suraj Venjaramoodu) for some attraction which could bring in more foreign tourists. The result comes in the form of Kainakari Jayasree (Namitha Pramod), a Mohiniyattam artist. With her assistance and also with the help of Suseelan (Harisree Asokan), his problems seem to get solved until his path crosses with that of Kavalykal Kuriyachan (Shammi Thilakan). While attempting to deal with his brothers’ unruly life and his love with Jayasree, he also has to deal with the rich businessman who seeks revenge on Gopan. At the same time, he comes up with some plans to deal with his brothers as well as to keep his love with Jayasree. Even as his and Kuriyachan’s path rarely crosses each other directly, there is always the unexpected harm that he would seem to give the man who would go on to become the villain whom he himself has to deal with, not as the goat which runs away, but as the super-goat-man if such a thing exists.

Kunchako Boban has come up with the comedy avatar again, and that should satisfy most of the fans. With his new looks and style, he has done complete justice to his role, and carries the whole world on screen with his shoulders. Namitha Pramod is also that good as Kainakari Jayasree, and never manages to move away from the character. It was nice to see her character, the other dynamic lovable one along with the character of the protagonist. Suraj Venjaramoodu and Harisree Asokan handles their own familiar territory with so much ease. We have been missing this Suraj for sometime, and the latter uses his home base of comedy to the efficiency of the movie. The three brothers might have carried on the legacy of Marykkundoru Kunjaadu‘s brother, but one might still miss Biju Menon. Shammi Thilakan’s Kavalykal Kuriyachan is a fine villain indeed, but not the scary, evil Satan or the one who sold his soul to the Devil, for he is the villain of circumstances, and the result of the people knowing about his own villainy. But the fact remains that he rises to this discovered throne of bad guy, and continues to do what he did with a mask, without any visage of artificially created vanity.

The movie’s success as a comedy movie is beyond doubt, and even with its lack of flow in the script, and an ending which was rather thrown into the middle of things, there is the beauty in simplicity, and the eventual victory of goodness portrayed without being preachy or pretending to be highly virtuous. There is the beautiful portrayal of nature which joins with the melodious songs to keep it working towards the end. The messages about the importance of goodness, hardwork and belief in oneself is asserted throughout the film in one way or the other. Marykkundoru Kunjaadu had the same, but some people just noticed the fear element in it. This movie is more logical in that case, making an attempt to touch the soul with a central character who is more useful to the family as well as the society, caring less about himself. He is another Elsamma in that case, and even his love interest is not of less significance in many ways. There has been an overflow of similar themes in the past, and this movie also reflects the same in such a way as to make an impact in a path more travelled. Whether it has made a difference or not is a question yet to be answered, and until now, the future looks bright enough for this goat-man and his own leopard people of the family.

This is recommended for those who loved Elsamma Enna Aankutty and even more recommended for those who loved Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, and even those viewers who loved both of these movies a little, might find this one impossible to run away from. Nature has been a great redeemer, and for some, there is music; for the missing laughter, the others need comedy. This movie has got them all, but while looking for the logically awesome movie with a great bowl of completeness delivered as a result of the horn of plenty, there is that awkward movie of detest. But, it is highly advised that such a cornucopia is not expected in the case of this movie – Amalthea, goat and nature; something should relate, but the release of Plenty might have served as nothing less than a Pandora’s box in the case of such a movie. Therefore, lets forget the little strange things which might give the indigestion of logic fed to your brain, and enjoy this movie for the little beautiful things it got, and flies directly to the heart. The movie shall win its battle with the titles which got bigger names associated with the cast, not by much, but by what is enough to make the lamb-sheep-goat-characters live on with their goodness, lack of violence and a certain amount of love which takes its own toll on the characters.  Meanwhile, the title of this review has been adjusted to make it short – kindly don’t feel strange, for it is Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum indeed.

Release date: 9th August 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Kunchako Boban, Namitha Pramod, Shammi Thilakan, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Harisree Asokan, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Anusree, Irshad, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Bindu Panicker, Reena Bhasheer, Thesni Khan, Seema G. Nair, Ponnamma Babu

PullipulikalumAattinkuttiyum copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.