Konda Polam

Vampire Owl: So, we continue to go through films of different languages.

Vampire Bat: The second Telugu film to be at this website.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but Drushyam 2 was basically something we knew so well already.

Vampire Bat: The reflection of Drishyam 2, as we see them.

Vampire Owl: This is a fine thing brought about by the Corona virus.

Vampire Bat: Yes, the release of films in Amazon Prime Video is more certain now.

Vampire Owl: The rise of OTT was only a matter of time.

Vampire Bat: The world has changed with entertainment too.

Vampire Owl: Yet, humans remains the same, as evil as they can.

Vampire Bat: They were able to find more evil from the OTT platforms, as they were not ready for it.

[Gets a vegetable cutlet and three glasses of chocolate shake].

What is the movie about? :: Kataru Ravindranath (Panja Vaisshnav Tej) is someone from a remote village who has passed the civil service exams with top marks, and the same comes as a surprise to those who conducted the interview. He is also able to answer their questions with a lot of clarity, which leads to the interviewers to ask about him and why he had chosen Indian Forest Service when he could have taken the higher options of Indian Administrative Service or Indian Police Service. He is ready to tell his story, and it is about him and his father who are from a family of shepherds. Everyone around him are much bothered as he hasn’t got any job even after studying so much, unlike everyone else in the village. But after staying in the city for such a long time, he remains jobless. The village has been facing a drought for a long time, and he is forced to take the sheep far away in search of green pastures to feed the sheep and find drinking water. He feels that saving the sheep can prove as a blessing and remove the troubles which he has been facing in his life.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Obulamma (Rakul Preet Singh) who is an expert shepherd is another person to join the team, also provides some guidance to him, as they go through the journey, but remains afraid of tigers, especially one which is supposed to have hunted the sheep all the time. They might also have to come up against possible thieves and wolves on the way. He remains afraid of the situation, but hesitates to go back despite his father asking him to return, as he should continue to search for job, while others mock him. They come across the sheep thieves quick enough, and they also find that there are bigger thieves who are there to cut the valuable trees illegally. At the same time, they also face the problems of having only limited food and other other supplies. It wouldn’t take them much time to come across a tiger, and their abilities for survival are to be questioned soon enough. He feels that he was afraid of interviews as much as he was afraid of the tiger and the wilderness. But during the journey, he would have to start facing his fears, but it wouldn’t be that easy.

The defence of Konda Polam :: We do feel that there is something about this particular film, from the beginning itself, as the starting moments have some certain focus. The visuals are really good, with focus in the village and the forests, and also has a good number of actors and actresses playing the villagers doing a fine job. With an inspirational theme at the core, one can be glad that Amazon Prime Video did buy the film and brought it to us, as there is no other way for us to watch Telugu films around here. After watching Drushyam 2, I definitely wanted to add more to the list, and this one makes the time worth it. The movie inspires to face one’s fears, and there are many genuine people who fail to get a job in comparison with others who fake themselves during an interview. The rest gets their job due to reservation. So, what would the common righteous man in general category do? Well, one has to fight and fight harder every time. For the same, the film serves as an inspiration, and it also has a message in support of nature, as well as some action and thrills to go with it in this particular adventure.

The claws of flaw :: The usual kind of songs do come in between to bring the unnecessary break which is often considered natural, but they are not, during this time period. There are some moments which take the film a little bit forward than needed, and some of the repeated romance do have some negative effect around here. The romantic side surely could have been there all the time, but in the background instead of showing up all the time. The movie is also a little bit too long with this particular content. The movie would have served better if the intent was more visible earlier. There was not the need to go to the top, as an inspired person getting some other job which the common people go for, was fine enough, as we always need the dreams that we can pursue, like Mili did – not all of us can dream that big. The top scorer at the top of the world idea seems to be more or less of an idea to give those who are looking for mass moments something to cheer for but, this could have gone for a more realistic idea with that. Well, too much inspiration can be often disappointing, and it also means an unreal thought process.

Performers of the soul :: Panja Vaisshnav Tej plays someone who goes through the struggle that most of the youngsters face in the city, and also another struggle in the forest. The movie is more or less the bildungsroman, the coming of age story of his character, which he manages well. The problem is only with this being too steep a climb, making a few things rather unrealistic, and forcing people to dream too big at a time when the world is not kind to people who take the risks. The world is actually worse than a few people in a village asking a young man why he is not having any job yet. Rakul Preet Singh is lovely in this role, and she goes through the movie as a natural, happy girl who is close to the sheep. The only other person in the movie whom I know about is Nassar, who interviews the protagonist for the civil service. But it is to be noted that most of the actors and actresses who play the villagers do some fine job, especially the one who plays the protagonist’s father. The comic side still serves as the weakness for the characters, but as a whole, it can be left aside.

How it finishes :: We have seen the tiger fight with Pulimurugan, and that episode of this tale is not something we are not familiar with. There is the difference here though, as the focus goes divergent, but there are some effective elements related to that, reminding one also of the eco-friendly Malayalam movie, Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi. Even though this movie also has a similar message about nature and conservation of environment, it is also about facing one’s fears and takes it to the next level, a little too much, maybe. We can note that with the resources, they have surely managed this one well enough. With moments of glory also in store, the film gains advantage quick enough, even though not all motivation is realistic. In one way or the other, it is an inspirational movie which races towards that one goal, which completely focuses on facing one’s fears by the end. You can see that by avoiding a few elements which deviate, with some elements being the common ones, and here is a movie which doesn’t hold back in the end.

Release date: 7th December 2021 (Amazon); 8th October 2021 (Theatre)
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Krish Jagarlamudi
Starring: Panja Vaisshnav Tej, Rakul Preet Singh, Sai Chand, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Nassar, Annapurna, Hema, Anthony. Ravi Prakash, Syamala, Pranitha, Mahesh Vitta, Racha Ravi, Ashok Vardhan, Anand Vihari

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Swarm

Vampire Owl: I can feel the presence of some vampirism in here.

Vampire Bat: You are not talking about vampire locusts, are you?

Vampire Owl: Well, all kinds of vampiric creatures are welcome to our realm.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that locusts need any special welcome.

Vampire Owl: Everybody needs to be welcomed to the realm.

Vampire Bat: Except for the Corona virus.

Vampire Owl: Who is going to welcome a virus at this point?

Vampire Bat: We cannot be sure about that. Humans are crazy enough.

Vampire Owl: Humans can always be crazier.

Vampire Bat: You can trust them to do that every time.

[Gets a chicken cutlet and three glasses of orange shake].

What is the movie about? :: Virginie Hebrard (Suliane Brahim) is a widowed mother who has been unsuccessfully raising locusts for proteins, and it is not something which brings her favourable returns. Their family used to have goats around earlier, and her children, Laura Hebrard (Marie Narbonne) and Gaston Hebrard (Raphael Romand) are pretty much embarrassed by the business of locusts, with people ridiculing the same, including people at their school. As the locusts are not active enough, and with a lower level of health and reproduction among the insects, the family struggles to go on. Soon, she becomes more and ore frustrated, as people wouldn’t buy the locusts at even lower rates. As she trashes the locust enclosure and passes out there, she finds out that locusts are eating from the wounds on her arm. Soon enough, she finds out that the locusts are now more active, and lets the locusts feed from her wounded arm.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Laura is not happy about how things have turned out though, as with everything going well out there and locusts doing better, they will have to continue to stay there. Her hope that they can finally sell the farm and get away from the place is no longer there. She tears open one of the greenhouses, leading for a swarm of locusts to escape. This escaped swarm would make sure that there would be enough supply of blood for them. That wouldn’t stop her from being more and more obsessed about the locusts. The need to feed them more blood comes to the picture, and she is ready to take further risks for the same. At the same time, all these affect her relationships with people around her, including her children. But is it too late for all of these to change now? How much more the locusts will take out of relationships and in the form of blood and flesh?

The defence of The Swarm :: The drama side of the movie is okay, even though they haven’t really tried too much with the characters. There is the feeling of melancholy that runs through the movie, and most of the characters do have a certain amount of the same. There is just enough CGI and gore to keep the interest going. The setting is very much suitable for such a story, and we know that this is even more possible these during the time of Corona virus pandemic, where there is always mutation and people also get to live more alone than ever, facing even more financial crisis than ever. This is not a full insect attack movie, and people will have to remember that while choosing the same – for those who are looking for such full attack films, there are others from the second half of the twentieth century which was never short of such horror attacks from different creatures. Otherwise, you do watch this one as a drama with some insect horror added.

The claws of flaw :: A problem with this particular movie is that it losses its power as a thriller and horror flick, and gives in to the drama all the time – whenever there is a chance to make this one a horror thriller, it goes down to the state of a common drama about a widowed mother looking forward to make a living by farming. Well, a single mother with two children and financial struggles always make drama rise over any other elements of any genre. There could have been more interesting moments related to locust horror, or at least have some connection to science fiction. The characters and their relationships are also not that much explored, especially that of the daughter who could have had some life at the campus, even if not a positive one. It is certainly not what you expect when you go to watch the film, and the ending is also not that strong by any means. You can see some horror ready to go through the rails, but there is never the green flag, as we see a hesitation to let it go, while the movie slows down and drags at times.

Performers of the soul :: Suliane Brahim handles the role of the widowed mother in grief, trying to make her business do better, quite well. The attraction and the later obsession to the locusts which are shown by her, has something unique about it, even though it should have had more terrifying images than she presenting her body to feed for the insects in between – imagine the amount of horror which just that idea could have brought, but has been missed. Marie Narbonne is a lovely addition to the movie, and she plays the confused younger sister who hopes that things can get better if they leave the locust farm and home attached to it. The melancholy that she goes through is reflected on her face at almost all times, and the way she looks at people even with smiles, reflects a certain amount of sadness. Raphael Romand’s character remains a memorable one too. The one character who stands apart is Sofian Khammesas’s, as he plays the man who is always willing to help, a rare one during this age without faith.

How it finishes :: It is still a thing of wonder that this movie doesn’t redeem itself with thrills and horror when there was so much of an opportunity. While the drama goes on, the other elements lag, even though we feel that it scores a family adventure throughout most of its stages. It is the kind of movie which has the elements to confuse us about the genre in which it stays. One would feel that it could have worked even without focusing on the locusts, and maybe even after replacing them. It would have done fine enough by growing some of the more common things in the farm, as we look at them. On another day, this could be a full-horror movie with insect attacks, a thriller which has a family hunted, or a science fiction flick with mutated insects bringing something further terrifying. But it chooses to focus on the drama, and it suits one kind of audience much more than the others. As we are now in fear of the next mutation of the virus and wonders if everything has to go back to lockdown again, enjoy this one outside the theatres.

Release date: 1st August 2020
Running time: 101 minutes
Directed by: Just Philippot
Starring: Suliane Brahim, Sofian Khammes, Marie Narbonne, Raphael Romand, Nathalie Boyer

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

<— Click here to go to the previous foreign film review.

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mooniloraal

Vampire Owl: But there are only two of us.

Vampire Bat: When we are there, the presence of four can be seen.

Vampire Owl: I don’t understand. How can there be four when we are only two people?

Vampire Bat: You need to count the guardian angel too.

Vampire Owl: Doesn’t that make the total as three?

Vampire Bat: No, my guardian angel and yours. It makes a total of four.

Vampire Owl: Are you sure that vampires also have guardian angels? It is never mentioned in the books at the great vampire libraries?

Vampire Bat: Yes, guardian angels are provided without discrimination.

Vampire Owl: Is it a new guardian angel or is it the same as we had before we died and became undead?

Vampire Bat: You are surely angelophobic. The fear for angels is quite common in the case of owlish vampires.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: The three are best friends – Sam (Don James), Jithu (Steve Antony) and the more philosophical of them, Vishnu (Johns Mathew) who is living with the realization that change is necessary, and will happen, as they ponder about their life at Winnipeg in Canada, far away from home. It is a friendship which has been going on for a long time, and is what they consider is forever. Sam and Vishnu meet a restaurant over a cup of coffee, after which they go on a ride in former’s car who tells his friend that their destination is a place where he hasn’t gone, but needs to go at some point. The road through which the car goes is something of scenic beauty, and they enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way, and Vishnu is interested in the surprise which is in store for him in between the busy and rather too modern life they are living.

So, what happens next? :: Their families need them to come back home leaving their life away from home and settle down at their hometown, but they have settled down rather too much to make their return. On their way, their car meets with an accident, but there seems to be no big problem after the collision. At the same time, Vishnu gets a call from Jithu talking about the death of Sam which had just happened in a car accident. This leaves Vishnu confused about the person who is with him in the car and their destination. A rather weird and frightening feeling comes up right from within him. He then shouts to get the car stopped and runs away only to reach a cemetery which has only fallen leaves and tombstones to give company. So, is it true that Sam had died in a car crash? If it is so, who is the one with him? Which kind of demons or spirits are Vishnu hiding from? What is the thing with being at a cemetery far away from the city?

Soul exploration 1: A case of reality and illusion :: Coming up with the tagline “The Strangest Imagination is Reality”, the movie exactly about the same, bringing a mystery in which one is doubtful about what is reality and what an illusion would be. Along with the illusions spread by media and fake news, we also have our own personal illusions which come back to us depending on the situations – on some cases, it is even bigger. The line between reality and imagination is so thin in so many cases that illusions tend to take over. We ourselves have had such feelings more than once, but we are hesitant to talk further about it in fear of the world. We live in that kind of a world where logic gets a better spot compared to imagination and creativity; money gets more value than values – it is a world which is closer to chaos than order, even if it pretends to hold on to the latter.

Soul exploration 2: Friendship and alienation in a land far away :: It feels strange being away from your roots, and even if it is to another city just a few hundred kilometres away, there is that feeling to get back home – the nostalgia and homesickness are things that humans usually can’t live without. It makes people do stranger things, and despite denying the same, there is that feeling about our own lands that come back – unless you are orcs forced to leave your world like in Warcraft, or humans looking for hope in new planets like in the case of Pandorum and Passengers. You have seen similar complications in the underrated Ivide too. In a land a long way away from home, it is friendship that matters the most, and here we have three of them, and their friendship which has something strangely working within – it is what becomes nicely solved by the end. Alienation in an alien land is another level, when you look at it.

How it finishes :: Not to be confused with the 2006 movie Moonnamathoral, Mooniloraal is a short-film which keeps you wondering about what is to happen next. It is the perfect example of another short-film which is smarter than a good number of those full-length movies which have been arriving in the theatres with the labels of being thrillers. Malayalam short-films are coming up with more ideas these days, and Mooniloraal is the reflection of something that has even enough to be made into a full-length movie, as we notice the friendship, thrills and twists maintained in the right balance bringing the clarity between the two, but certainly not radically ending the cycle – it is fittingly established that there are a few things that will never end. Mooniloraal from Triune Productions is the kind of movie that brings the twists nicely, but not without leaving clues – the final twist brings things together, and we once again understand that there is more than what meets the eye.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: This is why I told you that I am not going to the lands of the dark elves even if it is on a diplomatic mission.

Vampire Bat: Dark Elves play no role in such cases.

Vampire Owl: Dark Elves use dark magic to cause disruptions in the bridge connecting life and death, leaving some souls trapped in between. It is a crime.

Vampire Bat: But how is it related to this short-film?

Vampire Owl: Didn’t you see the supernatural forces affecting even technology? It is something which only the Dark Elves can do, joining magic with science.

Vampire Bat: You don’t have any proof for that. The other world always finds a way.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but when they are aided by Dark Elves, it is easier. As the Wood Elves, or the High Elves – they will tell you the stories.

Vampire Bat: There is caste-related violence going on between the three groups of elves – do you think that any of them will tell you the truth about the other?

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that they are no more united against the joint forces of orcs and goblins?

Vampire Bat: Well, you need to read The Great Vampire Imperial Times at some point. These days, they even have a special offer for free coffins.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 25th January 2017
Running time: 19 minutes
Directed by (DOP): Jessay Gopuran
Starring: Don James, Steve Antony, Johns Mathew, Rosamma Nelson (voice)

Watch the movie Mooniloraal here:

Other recommended short-films from India: Red Jacket, Mangalyam Thanthunanena, Moonnamathe Vazhi, Invisible Actor, Grace Villa, Culprit, Ima, Mrithyumjayam.

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lakshyam

Vampire Owl :: When did this one release? I never knew.

Vampire Bat :: This one is more like a silent assassin. Not many people are aware of its release.

Vampire Owl :: I pity the humans; even we who live in another dimension are aware of this release.

Vampire Bat :: The humans are all after one movie only; they bring the hype for one movie, call it the greatest of all-time, and then bring it down.

Vampire Owl :: That seems to be quite the thing that humans do everytime. They even have that subspecies called fans for the same purpose.

Vampire Bat :: It also has a further subspecies, abusers, also known as the haters.

Vampire Owl :: Like they abused everyone who didn’t like the movie that much, and also those who didn’t watch the movie.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, for them, everyone needed to appreciate its greatness.

Vampire Owl :: That makes no sense, because everyone makes the effort; some people just have so much budget, and being rich, they have to struggle less.

Vampire Bat :: A fan is a fan. Read like, an idiot is an idiot.

[Gets the tickets with tea and cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: There is an accident near Peermade involving a police jeep, and it is revealed that the vehicle was carrying two convicts who seems to have escaped after the crash. Vimal (Indrajith Sukumaran) and Mushtafa (Biju Menon) are the two former prisoners, now out in the forest. The former is accused of murdering his own girlfriend Shalini (Sshivada), a crime to which he has confessed. The latter is a small-time thief who has been trying to make it big, and was caught accused of having stolen a Rolex wrist-watch, of which there is no proof except for the fact that he was there when it was stolen. Handcuffed to each other, the two will require mutual help to survive, but one happens to be a rich orphan with only one relative in the name of a brother who is in the United States and doesn’t care; the other had a mother who killed his father, and now he is alone.

So, what happens next? :: So, both have to make it through the forest, and goes on with the journey after being chased by a bear and almost being bitten by a snake. Due to the tough circumstances, Mushtafa thinks about going back, as there is no clear evidence of him being the thief and he could get away at some point. But Vimal is adamant, and offers Mushtafa, a total amount of five lakhs if he stays with him through the tough journey, let him escape the police, and find the one who had actually murdered his girlfriend. Mushtafa finds the offer interesting because it was five lakhs that he wanted to make, to begin a new life with a mobile shop and leave his troublesome past behind. With the police after them, and a forest which seems to be never-ending, will they finally be able to find the real murderer and bring him to justice, as time runs out?

The defence of Lakshyam :: There is the certainty of thrills about Lakshyam, when it is present, along with a certain suspense factor, and nobody can deny the same here, even with those troubles which make way. We also have some humour, especially with Biju Menon around. The visuals of the forest are nicely captured here, and we get to see the world from the top, as if in a game such as Age of Empires: Age of Kings with those trees, rivers and small people all around; birds flying in different directions too. The song in this movie is also good, and well taken, even though not anything that would make the big difference. The movie is also successful in making us believe that something huge is on the way right at the beginning. The movie also becomes a distant morality tale in the end, with all things being solved, even though not without some trouble as expected. The message is more about the second chance, which is provided as a reward for goodness.

The claws of flaw :: You are certain to ask if the movie has used all its possibilities as a thriller of this kind – it is far behind in making the best use of the same. Even a certain amount of humour is done in a bad taste, something which is disappointing considering the potential of the two actors here, and the possibility with this situation and environment. The comic side was also something that managed to begin so well, but doesn’t really manage the same throughout the run. The main suspense is also revealed too early, and the potential places to insert the thrilling elements were not looked at. Coming from the pen of the man behind Drishyam, the remake Papanasam and Memories, we surely have expected a lot more with this one, even though this surely has the advantage over his last effort, Oozham. With Mummy and Me, Detective and My Boss, it was a faultless resume for Jeethu Joseph, and even Life of Josutty had held on – one wonders what is happening with the same.

Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon once again leads the way, and his comic timing is exceptional as usual – even otherwise, he never goes back, and there is not even a sign of the same. There is cent percent safety concerning him handling this particular role. We are also glad to see Indrajith back here, as he is one actor who has so many good movies in his pocket, and remains very much underrated – there is no hype surrounding him, and he delivers each and every time. Sshivada’s role is once again limited, as in the ridiculous movie Inspector Davood Ibrahim, and becomes nothing like Su Sudhi Vathmeekam – but she surely has a few charming moments, not something that is expected to stay for long. The supporting cast is also so small, and the most famous name in that list, Shammi Thilakan also has so much less to do. In a movie that has almost every scene with one of these characters, and three quarter of the movie with these two together, the rest just had to keep going on.

How it finishes :: Biju Menon is coming right out of three family movies which were not less than entertaining with the humour; Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu, Kavi Uddheshichathu? and Swarna Kaduva. Indrajith’s last three movies were Vettah, Amar Akbar Anthony and Kohinoor, all being multi-starrers, his big surprise as the sole hero coming in the form of Angels. Both seems to have been choosing very well with their last few movies, which have kept us interested in their flicks that go on to be good enough for minimum guarantee. With the name Jeethu Joseph is added, Lakshyam also stays somewhere there, even though not as much as expected. The thrills are here and it should keep you interested at moments. As a movie with not much of a hype, Lakshyam making a pretty much okay run will surprise not just one or two people, but all who were looking forward to other movies. The big challenge to this movie’s existence, CIA, will still be there as the one with the hype.

Release date: 6th May 2017
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Anzar Khan
Starring: Indrajith Sukumaran, Biju Menon, Sshivada, Kishor Satya, Shammi Thilakan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.