Ittymaani

What is the movie about? :: Ittymaani (Mohanlal) was born in China to Malayali parents who settled down in the Eastern nation because his father was a martial arts expert. After spending a childhood close to the Forbidden City, they return home, his father begins a Chinese restaurant and catering services at Kunnamkulam in Thrissur district of Kerala. Ittymaani himself adds more to this business including creating duplicates of almost everything he wants to, as it was a popular thing happening in the town itself. With Sainuddhin (Dharmajan Bolgatty) and Sugunan (Aju Varghese) for help, Ittymani continues his business as well as some commission programmes which become part of it. He is happy with his life, even though he never even came close to being married, much to the dismay of his mother Theyyamma (KPAC Lalitha). He does agree for marriage, but even after seeing more than thirty girls, there is nothing positive coming out of the procedure.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Ittymaani is also in charge of the church committee, but things are messed up when Joji Pothen (Hareesh Parumanna) takes revenge on him for rejecting his sister Lissie Pothen (Honey Rose). But with the help of his old friend who becomes the new vicar, Fr. John Paul (Siddique), he manages to get back some of his pride. But it is at the same time that the extremely wealthy Plaamoottil Annamma (Raadhika Sarathkumar), their neighbour and good friend has a heart attack. She has been a widow for a long time, and has lived alone for a long time with her sons and daughter having left her in the name of their jobs and childrens’ education. They tell her that they would come and see her soon, but nothing happens – even when Annamma lands in the Intensive Care Unit, they leave everything to Ittymaani and go for a pleasure trip, leading to the worsening of her condition. Ittymaani decides to help her, but how can he?

The defence of Ittymaani: Made in China :: There is a certain amount of humour in this movie which keeps it going, and even though there are actors working for it throughout the film’s run, there is also a certain amount of the same from other more serious characters. There is also the message about how parents are treated by the sons and daughters once they get old, and after the children get well-settled with their own kids in the city. It also becomes a tribute to the old parents abandoned in such a way, as the reference is there even when the movie is not referring to the same; we have to forget those jokes made in bad taste though – in the end, there is also a full strength preaching regarding the care that the elderly people deserves. The movie does stick to the Onam festival mood though, as this is also a kind of movie that the family audience wants to watch during vacations – it could be reflected in the number of people who came to watch the movie too.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does have that tendency to reveal the saint out of the protagonist in the end, as it is a heart attack which becomes deus ex machina too – Its a little bit like Madambi where the main character is misunderstood, even though the golden heart is revealed to the audience a little too early this time. A number of characters are also wasted in this movie, and some of them are played by some fine actors, which is disappointing. Some of the jokes are also disappointing, and one could have avoided them to make this one feel more appropriate in relation to the message that it wanted to convey. The movie had to live up to the cause, but it never tries that. The movie is also too long, and with not much of an interesting story in there, it has to depend on comedy all the time. The drag that the movie shows in the middle part makes the whole setting go less interesting. There are also no good songs in between to bring a better mood.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal once again has himself as the centre of everything, and all the other characters make way for him, as he finds something out of this lesser tale. With his character being highly popularized with much hype, the audience was also banking their hopes on him. But this is certainly not a challenging role, and also for KPAC Lalitha, this mother-son combination comes easy. Madhuri Braganza plays her younger version with no trouble, after that touch with Joseph. Raadhika Sarathkumar doesn’t get that much of a lead even though the movie soon gets centred around her. Aju Varghese and Dharmajan Bolgatty get to add some fun as usual, but some jokes seem to be rather cheap and missing the mark. Kailash and Swasika do have some little moments of humour to add here too. Hareesh Perumanna is the other actor to add to the comic side, but his role is also side-lined.

Further performers of the soul :: As far as Honey Rose is considered, there is nothing more decorative than she is, contributing nothing to the movie, other than being there for about ten minutes, half of the same being in video chat – even during the rest of her moments in the movie, she has very less to speak. If this is not a cameo, one would wonder what it is – another actress, a model could have done the job, serving the ornate purpose. It wouldn’t have been that difficult with Viviya Santh being there in the cast, with not much to do. We see the need for the actress to be on the screen and act disappearing, and that is disappointing. There are also many other actors and actresses whom we might miss if we miss a few seconds of action on the big screen. The actors like Saju Navodaya and Salim Kumar are restricted in the same fashion, and Sunil Sukhada gets even lesser moments. But thankfully, Siddique gets his due yet again, as he once again shines in the priest role, and has some fine scenes of comedy.

How it finishes :: The movie does struggle hard to get to its message, and goes through the journey with a certain amount of humour, and a part of it going the wrong way. But it is still an entertaining movie considering the fact that it has a good number of moments to cheer for, and a message for the society coming in the end. Even though Love Action Drama also focuses on the funny side, it never felt trying to be serious or logical, but Ittymaani is trying a little bit too much to be dealing with something serious, and it is a serious challenge to its quality of completeness, as the story itself never really becomes a whole. Still, as it is Onam, we get to see movies like this one, and enjoy them to the fullest, leaving with a mood of celebration – after all, the students get only eight or nine days for holidays during this Onam season. I wish you all a Happy Onam, do watch all these Onam releases in the theatres along with those which have carried on from earlier, like Porinju Mariyam Jose and Thanneermathan Days!

Release date: 6th September 2019
Running time: 158 minutes
Directed by: Jibi Joju
Starring: Mohanlal, Honey Rose, Madhuri Braganza, Swasika, Raadhika Sarathkumar, Aju Varghese, Johny Antony, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Salim Kumar, Sijoy Varghese, Saju Navodaya, Sunil Sukhada, Siddique, Hareesh Perumanna, Kailash, Vinu Mohan, Aristo Suresh, Sethulekshmi, Saju Kodiyan, Anjana Appukkuttan, Asokan, KPAC Lalitha, Rajesh Paravoor, Antony Perumbavoor (cameo)

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Chunkzz

What is the movie about? :: Romario (Balu Varghese), Riyas (Ganapathi), Yoodas (Vishak Nair), and Athmaram (Dharmajan Bolgatty) are best friends, also known as Chunkzz. They are all studying in Adi Shankara Institute of Engineering Technology at Kalady, near the town of Perumbavoor. Romario, Yoodas and Athmaram are studying in the Mechanical engineering department and hoping to find at least one girl in their class – none has entered their department yet except for teaching; some students have even declared the place “no entry for girls” as they are confident that there would be none. But Riyas who is in the Computer Science department has problem in the same, as he is seen wandering around with the girls of his class all the time. The four friends study almost nothing at the college, and struggles to pass the exams by copying in one way or the other.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is then that the twist occur, when Romario’s father Varkey (Lal) has his friend Pappichan’s (Siddique) daughter, Riya (Honey Rose) get admission in the same college for the final year, as she had to face some problems at the institution where she was studying in Bangalore. She has returned home with her best friend Sherine (Mareena Michael Kurisingal) who seems to be hiding something too. Riya’s arrival at the Mechanical engineering department changes things, with her being established as the new or rather the only Mech Queen in the college. The four are completely after her, and she spends her time enjoying her time as the newly established queen of the department. But things change after a trip to Goa, which has more twists happening around. So, what is the role of the new queen in the lives of the Chunkzz?

The defence of Chunkzz :: The best of comedy set in an engineering college is usually considered to be in Koothara, which lost its charm, and stooped very low after its focus shifted in the second half, and then there was Happy Wedding and Aanandam which was trip-based – Chunkzz attempts to make its entry there and is mostly successful in bringing the funny side to the front. There is the attempt to bring comedy all the time, and even with emotional sequences, the same is tried – one can say that there is no real sad moment even when the characters go through some bad phase, for the overall mood never really changes. There is also a twist in the end, which despite providing the feeling of villainy, does work, and something like that was required to end this movie well enough – Happy Wedding also has a twist in the end, even though it was a rather cute one then.

The claws of flaw :: The silliness factor might feel to rather too much in this movie, and there is exaggeration in the name of comedy for sure. Despite beginning everything in the engineering college, it deviates quite a lot, and as it moves towards the end of the first half, the idea of the mechanical engineering department itself has vanished. So, if that is your aim, and it is mechanical engineering tale that you are focusing on, the movie you are looking for might be Queen directed by debutante Dijo Jose Antony that is to be released later, with a lot of new faces coming up. There is a also that kind of comedy which is rather forgettable and outdated – there is nothing fresh added here, and by the end of the first half to most of the second half, we keep seeing those predictable moments coming up again and again. The repetition here is something which we will find hard to appreciate. There would have been no shortage of some good comedy with that college setting, but they say no. Yes, as expected logic goes for a long walk far away, and the jokes doesn’t rise to the best of standards.

Performers of the soul :: When we look at the cast, and see the progress, we understand that this movie would be dependent on Balu Varghese to do more than the rest – he is more of the protagonist, as it is based on his life that everything follows. He is surely in control of this one, even though his character goes too low on too many occasions. Vishak Nair of Aanandam fame gets his next big noticable role here, and he has no problems in joining the funs. Ganapathi adds to the crew in style, while Dharmajan has his next biggest role in recent times after Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan and Pretham, which he handles in his usual funny way – there are some nice dialogues given to him, which stay a level higher. The four are responsible and are leading the battle against the two other rather bigger releases this weekend, Sarvopari Palakkaran starring Anoop Menon, Aparna Balamurali and Anu Sithara, as well as Varnyathil Aashanka which has a long list of performers lead by Kunchacko Boban.

Further performers of the soul :: Hareesh Perumanna extends his own comic style, but here we see him having so less to do, just like the case of Kadam Katha which released last weekend – one just got to wonder why he is not there for more. Then there are the two veterans, Lal and Siddique who are in control of their moments – the former has more fun to provide with his role. Honey Rose does very well coming back from Avarude Raavukal; her work as the Mech Queen at the college is better than the rest. Mareena Michael Kurisingal returns after her most noticable role in Aby this year earlier after having her first heroine role earlier than that in Mumbai Taxi. Even though she plays the secondary role, surely gets her own moments without doubt. It would have been nice to have her in the college too. Kailash, Shammi Thilakan and Anjali Aneesh are also there in notable roles in the movie.

How it finishes :: Chunkzz is not different from the director’s earlier movie, Happy Wedding. Even in the absence of the big stars, it rested on the talent that could handle the comic side really well – Siju Wilson, Sharafudheen and Soubin Shahir. This time, it is up to Balu Varghese, Vishak Nair, Ganapathi and Dharmajan Bolgatty to do the same. When the previous movie had Anu Sithara and Drishya Raghunath, this one has Honey Rose and Mareena Michael Kurisingal, the latter having played a role in the previous movie too. Even the run-time is so similar at just above two hours. There is just not that much of a different fun in this one, as nothing more is there. If you are expecting the same only, you can go for this one without second thoughts. But just like it was the case of Happy Wedding, there is nothing much to take home, and not much that will stay. This would be more for the youth of this generation rather than families.

Release date: 4th August 2017
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Omar Lulu
Starring: Balu Varghese, Honey Rose, Mareena Michael Kurisingal, Lal, Siddique, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Vishak Nair, Ganapathi, Kailash, Harish Perumanna, Anjali Aneesh, Shammi Thilakan

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Avarude Raavukal

What is the movie about? :: Ashik (Asif Ali) is the popular stage performer in a village on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border who comes to Cochin hoping to work in a movie, after the villagers collect money from their own people to make sure that he gets a chance. Siddharth (Unni Mukundan) is an engineering graduate who is spending his time doing nothing other than to stay at home up-to that extent that his father has to throw him out of the house. Vijay (Vinay Forrt) is an angry young man who was suspended for getting into a fight with another employee in the same company he was working for. Scobo Johnson (Nedumudi Venu) is an old man who is staying alone, and looking for company. Bored and with no plans for future, he comes up with an advertisement calling for bachelors to stay at his place, free of cost – it gets to the three young men who are ready to come right away.

So, what happens next? :: Ashik finds Cochin and the movie world a lot different than what he had thought, and finds problems in even doing the simplest works. He goes to various auditions, but none of them work – he does find a new friend though, in the form of Vinod (Aju Varghese) who is also looking forward to acting in movies, one way or the other. They decide to attend the acting workshop held by Manoj Kuruvila (Mukesh), who is a famous movie director. But even that doesn’t seem to help the two who are more clueless than anything else. Siddharth who does nothing other than staring at girls, even consults Doctor Jayamurugan (Kochu Preman), but his life goes on in the same way until his brother recommends him for a job under Shivani (Honey Rose), which he gets despite performing terribly during the interview. What follows is a terrible mess at the office.

And what follows the events? :: Ashik and Siddharth are not just the ones reaching a higher level of their problems, as Vijay has a bigger issue at hand. His anger issue is more or less the result of something which happened in the past, and his girlfriend Meghna (Milana Pournami) tries to get him out of the same, but with no positive result. Scobo Johnson is the silent witness to all these, and tells them that there are two ways out of it, one the difficult path, and the other, the shortcut. Are the three good enough to get out of the mess that they are in, or is at least Johnson skilled enough to take them through their journeys? Can things finally take a positive twist of events in their lives which haven’t really had much to talk about otherwise? Will their upcoming experiences leave them as better people than who they already are? Only time will tell.

The defence of Avarude Raavukal :: Vinay Forrt successfully leads the group of young men here towards their objectives, as motivation runs right through this one with inspirational dialogues, and featuring the rise of unexpected tales of success; emotional side is strong here. The movie asks its viewers to keep trying, as the fish does; it provides this message without missing its plot, and the direction that it shows is the right one for the new generation. The presence of movies like Mili, Aby, My God and Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam has proved the same, but Avarude Raavukal is more the common person’s story than the rest. There is also the presence of some nice humour in between. There is also some beautiful music in this flick, beginning from “Ethetho Swapnamo” and through “Vaadaathe Veezhathe”, both bringing different but nice feeling. The feel-good effect stays, and despite the certain delay in the movie’s arrival and the morning shows canceled, we are glad to have this movie working and going well enough to provide enough motivation.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t go that close to perfection as the director’s earlier combined venture, Philips and the Monkey Pen, and what we expected was surely more. There are certain ups and downs in between for sure, even as everything seems to have kept at a certain level as much as possible. There are some occasions when we wonder if these things, which do look more and more possible, can ever be solved by the protagonists. The inspirational story is also not something new, and the old man is also a rather strange character, whose twist in the end is even stranger; this one could have just gone simpler and close to life towards the end. Even in the beginning, the movie had taken some time to get going. The cameo roles in the end by Shine Tom Chacko, Sunny Wayne and Sanju Sivram were rather unnecessary too, and the same can be said about a cricket match when it could have been just the engineering classes. You will find the weird and missing sides of the plot, but you can avoid them as they are not that significant.

Performers of the soul :: Asif Ali who is coming out of the late, but sure success of Adventures of Omanakkuttan has done a fine job with a character which had quite something to perform out there. Unni Mukundan comes out of the dismal movie which was Achayans, and makes good use of what was a rather easy job for him. Vinay Forrt had a little less to work with in Georgettan’s Pooram brings the best of them all – his story remains the most interesting one in the whole movie, and he is the backbone of the flick. Aju Varghese should be powered by the grand success of Godha, and does a pretty good job when he is there. Honey Rose who was last seen in My God which was an under-appreciated movie, makes a comeback after two years – not much to do, but good to see her back. Milana works through limited expressions in this one. Nedumudi Venu has some nice dialogues which prove inspirational, and forms the pillars of the movie’s progress.

How it finishes :: It has been a long time since a Malayalam movie with an interesting and long list of star cast released, and being the first movie to release for the Eid holidays, Avarude Raavukal surely has an early advantage among the others which are to follow. Shanil Mohammed, who had earlier directed Philips and the Monkey Pen with Rojin Thomas has his first solo outing here. The flick had won Kerala State Film Award for Best Children’s Movie and Kerala State Film Award for Best Child Artist for Sanoop Santhosh. This one might not create that much of an impact, and has a lot of heavyweights to follow. Getting itself to the list of feel-good movies with messages, Avarude Raavukal will leave with a positive effect more than anything else. There are not many other things that we need for this special season.

Release date: 23rd June 2017
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Shanil Muhammed
Starring: Asif Ali, Unni Mukundan, Honey Rose, Vinay Forrt, Aju Varghese, Mukesh, Milana Pournami, Nedumudi Venu, Sudhi Koppa, Lena, Ambika Mohan, Kiran Aravindakshan, Nisha Sarangh, Aishwarya chandran, Kochu Preman, Shine Tom Chacko (cameo), Sunny Wayne (cameo), Sanju Sivram (cameo)

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My God

mygod (4)

What is it about? :: Sam Thottumkal (Master Adarsh) is a kid with many problems in his life. When we are introduced to him in detail after a song, we understand that he is taken by the police into the juvenile home for murdering his own father Thomas Thottumkal (Joy Mathew). The parish priest Father Vadakkan (Sreenivasan) desperately tries to get him out of trouble, but his own family members don’t want him as they feel that he stabbed his own father. Meanwhile, Aarathy (Honey Rose), a social worker who spends time with children decides to take the boy’s case seriously. When her husband, a successful businessman from the United States, Aadhi (Suresh Gopi) arrives in Kerala after a long time, it turns out that he knows the boy very well. The husband and wife team decides to influence the boy’s life in a good way.

What is it actually about? :: The flashback is about Sam’s troubled childhood. He is a late arrival as the third child of his parents who wanted to have no more than two children, and he grows up listening to the stories that his own mother (Rekha) wanted to murder him before he was born. His father has absolutely no opinion about him as he scores less in examinations and does well in the other activities like painting, elocution, writing and some more creative work. His mother doesn’t really care about him as he is the unwanted child. His brother and sister are engineers working in reputed IT companies outside Kerala and are earning high salary; the former thinks that he is a good for nothing idiot who deserves no love and the latter is only sympathetic to him because he is of no good. His only hope is an aunty Alphonsa (Lena Abhilash) and Father Vadakkan.

The defence of My God :: Here is another movie to make you think, and you can keep the thoughts and the received messages for long. The emotional side of the movie is strong and it will undoubtedly touch your heart. There are dialogues which you can take home from here, and even if you leave them behind, at some point of life they will surely return to you. The movie is going to be effective for all kinds of audience too, not just the family, and not just the children, youth or parents – it has a much wider scope. It is a story of people and their dreams right from their childhood – no, not ambition, but dreams as something with wings and not that random thing which students answer when teachers ask about it. The movie inspires you to be better, for some people to be better humans with respect for the dreams of others and the rest to be better dreamers.

Claws of flaw :: The beginning of the movie seems to be a struggle, as a start like Philips and the Monkey Pen is not achieved here. In comparison, this one might be mostly behind, but with the emotional strength, My God is powerful. Too many brands shown in the movie rather than incorporating it to it, will make the audience feel strange. There are also some weak moments here and there, and the songs also don’t provide the desired effect; the film does overreach and often forgets its limitations and the area of strength – but what you gain in the end is a lot bigger, and the ending with Suresh Gopi and Sreenivasan is something that elevates this movie to a higher level. In the end, the movie’s strength is not its story and it is not the totality of things, but in the idea and how emotionally powerful the core happens to be, and how it is brought to the viewers. It also depends upon how you are able to take the inspirational movies and the flicks with messages because it is what this movie is about.

Performers of the soul :: Master Adarsh who plays the central character, the kid in trouble, does a good job, and the other children also support very well – it is a very nice thing to witness. The movie’s strength undoubtedly improves with the entry of Suresh Gopi, especially after the interval. The first half has only a smaller screen presence for him, but in the second half, he becomes the big man who brings the change. There are some striking dialogues from him which will stay in our minds for a very long time. There is no doubt that he raises the level of this movie after he arrives and makes sure that the second half outshines the first, and also finishes well. I can recommend nobody better for this type of a role, as Suresh Gopi has our attention and captures our emotions with this performance.

Further performers of the soul :: Sreenivasan in the priest role adds some extra feel-good factor to this movie, as he reflects a guardian angel here. We don’t usually see Sreenivasan in this kind of a role, but this one has suited him very well. He isn’t a person who comes to our mind when we think about the priest roles, but from now on, he might be. Joy Mathew is really good as the father character who doesn’t like his son’s choices; he leaves a very tough impression. Honey Rose does her job well. Lena Abhilash plays the one symbol of hope in this movie really well. The roles of the rest of the actors are limited, and only a few leaves any impact on the audience, as the focus is so much on three, Suresh Gopi, Sreenivasan and Master Adarsh, who manages their side really well.

Soul exploration :: There has been a good number of inspirational movies this year with Mili and Rani Padmini gaining positive reviews with the female-centric stories while the story of a man who rises above his disability, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam is still running successfully in the theatres. We have always accepted movies with messages and Philips and the Monkey Pen with a child as the central character had gone on to become a big success in the year 2013. My God follows the path of these movies and tries to bring a message and a lesson along with being inspirational in nature. The best thing about this type of movies is that they will make an impact one way or the other, and will bring some change in the minds of some people now or later when the viewers watch it again. So, are you going to watch this movie on the weekend? Do you accept the dreams of your child, and allow them to follow the same?

Release date: 4th December 2015
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: M Mohanan
Starring: Suresh Gopi, Honey Rose, Joy Mathew, Sreenivasan, Master Adarsh, Lena Abhilash, Rekha, Sreejith Ravi, Indrans, Devan, Praveen Prem

mygod

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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.

5 Sundarikal

5 sundarikal1

5 Sundarikal which can be translated as 5 Beauties, is that romantic anthology film which might have had its existence to thank the 2009 anthology movie Kerala Cafe. There were ten stories in that one and here it is cut to half with five, and only Anwar Rasheed doing a story in both the anthologies. The Vampire Bat would not agree to the title though, as it would be left to him to say which one is the beauty and which one is the beast. The only suitable title would have been 5 Females, and fighting with three other movies which has interested the crowds, even the name of a movie has to add to the total interest generated. Even in my case, this is the first time I get a Malayalam movie with a Malayalam name to review, and the “5” is to be read as Malayalam “anchu” and not “five” as far as I know. Watching stupidity like Raanjhanaa is clearly out of the equation and this movie having five stories instead of one increases the probability of getting at least two good ones; so there is no doubt which Indian movie one is supposed to go this week. There is the power of five compared to the power of six in ASK a.k.a Aaru Sundarimaarude Katha, and the obsession with beauties continue, this time with more success, and one beauty judged less is always the truth gained further. Whether it should be “sundarikal” or “sundarimaar” is a question to be asked to satisfy the quest to find grammatical errors, and I would go with the former.

Sethulakshmi: directed by Shyju Khalid :: [59/100] :: No, there isn’t going to be a total score based on the average of these stories, as that should annihilate the purpose of this movie as an anthology as well as this review as a subjective reality. There would be separate worlds for each story and for the movie, there would be another reality of totality, to which this simple story adds on first coming as an adaptation of M. Mukundan’s short story, Photo. The story of two school kids is shown in its own natural innocence until their world-changing event happens. The simplicity turns itself into the tough theme which the story has to deal with, and that is the place and may be where it scores. There is the depth of evil portrayed in a way that will haunt one with innocence. But the question remains if this belongs to this movie, as the presence of a beauty or even pseudo-beauty here itself negates the need for this story in the movie and all the purpose it would have served, and however one tries to look at this, a more deserving platform for this one would have been Kerala Cafe, and might have been the second best story in that movie after Anjali Menon’s Happy Journey. It is kind of misplaced here, and this might have been added here to arouse the curiosity of the viewers as well as to create that new generation element – otherwise this among the other stories is like Roger Federer guarding the goal post for the Spanish national football team.

Isha: directed by Sameer Thahir :: [79/100] :: Along with the former one, this story also has the scope of becoming a one and half to two hours of good cinema. It stars Nivin Pauly as the thief a.k.a the Santa, and Isha Sharvani who makes her debut as the beauty of this segment, and undoubtedly the smartest and the most charming of them all. They start off as two strangers and with many things in common, and the question would be what they end up to be, and that is the surprise, that twist of plot which raises the story from its existence just inches about the average level. Nivin Pauly has remained similar to what we saw in Thattathin Marayathu, as this time he has another Isha, Isha Sharvani instead of Isha Talwar, another lady from the North, and this female lead does a lot more than the other one did. This story and what is to follow are the only two segments which are actually centered on the beauties, and this is the only segment in which the beauty is in control and remains so throughout most of the story. One has to say that this one has the best of the lighter moments too, and the claps which came after this segment are well deserved. The whole story is centered on the two leading characters, and there we see the most beautiful lady and the one romantic hero; they make this work like nobody else could have.

Gouri: directed by Aashiq Abu :: [10/100] :: This is the weak link in the whole movie, and without this, the movie could have been declared the best anthology in Malayalam movie industry ever. This is Aashiq Abu’s worst so far, and from what we have seen of him already, it might remain his worst. Biju Menon is there as the husband with nothing to do that really matters to the story. Tini Tom and Rimi Tomy makes an unnecessary visit, as Kavya Madhavan who plays the wife expresses her need to have a kid. Kavya is there as if she is to be that strange character who is more unsure about herself and the world around her than Popeye without his spinach. Jayasurya also makes a small appearance thus making this one the most powerful segment in terms of celebrity power, but in performance, it is a dynamite of the next generation which failed to blow. This is a painfuel half an hour of torture, which could have been avoided or may be replaced. It is surprising that it came from the same director who gave us Da Thadiya in the same year. This might even make Estragon and Vladimir say that there is something to be done – sorry, Samuel Beckett. Kammath and Kammath and Lokpaal were not that bad now, as you go through this one. This story in the middle shows us the middle finger, but fortunately it was preceded and followed by brilliant segments.

Kullante Bharya: directed by Amal Neerad :: [84/100] :: This is the moment which strikes you hard. Amal Neerad has come up with a story which is narrated by Dulquer Salmaan who sees everything from the top floor of a group of apartments. The awesome presentation and the story’s ability to relate with the contemporary society of Kerala, and may be even India as a whole, has helped this one to get the most claps in the theatre, and remain the highlight of this five star experiment. Dulquer Salmaan has eased through this segment, and even as a person moving on wheelchair, there is so much of impact with every word he says. Reenu Mathews leaves an imprint without even a word said. The newcomer Jinu Ben brings tears to the audience with no direct revelation. The story also works as a satire on the self-proclaimed righteous, highly moral society which considers itself as the role-model, and has a lot of prejudice against the people whom they are not familiar with, and those who think or act different. If there has been so much interest in this story which has only one actor who has performed in a leading role in more than one movie, it shows how much impact this one has created, and how much it could relate with its audience.

Aami: by Anwar Rasheed :: [61/100] :: This might be the most awaited story of the movie, with a businessman, Ajmal (Fahadh Faasil), who travels from Malappuram to Kochi and vice versa. His too much affectionate wife who is known only by her nickname (Asmitha Sood) keeps asking tricky questions to him and leaves him puzzles to solve – a strange abnormal habit, to which anybody would agree. The night journey then transforms into something that changes his life. The presence of Honey Rose and Vinayakan just adds to powerful cast of this segment which is already the talking point due to Fahadh Faasil’s presence and his new looks. It is him who excells in this story, and everything else is a little let down. With meaningless puzzles and strange happenings, this is not something which the viewers can relate with, but thanks to the leading actor and some interesting dialogues, this one lets the movie with its head held high, not annihilating the world which was created by the second and the fourth segments. As Fahadh Faasil fights extreme anger, greed for money, violence and his own old relationships and gets back to his beloved, the whole thing ends happily. This is surely better than the highly predictable Bridge segment in Kerala Cafe by the same director.

The movie is that roller coaster ride of Final Destination 3, in which death tries to pull the movie down, as some of the stories lose charm, and suddenly a story comes up which changes the things around. It is the advantage of having five different stories directed by five different people, and this is well done, and it would live on as long as this theme doesn’t come up with a overdose, either with the stories or with the concept of pseudo-beauty. To be frank, there is nothing in this which binds this collection together, as same was the case with Kerala Cafe, and it doesn’t give that much of anything that Cloud Atlas gave its viewers. This movie uses the concept of enchanting viewers with its title and the trailer, and tries to undo the failure of Poppins which had its own wrecked set of anthologies in which only the story of Kunchako Boban and Nithya Menon made any impact, with Indrajith-Padmapriya and Jayasurya-Meghna stories staying there not without troubles. Still, the question remains, who is the beauty? If they were all eligible for the same title, won’t they be good enough for that word which comes as just the opposite? Why would we be forced to believe with that willing suspension of disbelief that they are all beautiful? Will Isha Sharvani and Kavya Madhavan look like beauties to two people who have different concepts of beauty? Even myself is clearly sceptical about the latter; but leave that for the intellectuals, and concentrate on the medium for now.

Release date: 20th June 2013
Running time: 145 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Amal Neerad, Anwar Rasheed, Sameer Thahir, Shyju Khaled, Aashiq Abu
Starring: Isha Sharvani, Asmitha Sood, Reenu Mathews, Honey Rose, Kavya Madhavan, Baby Anika, Nivin Pauly, Dulquer Salmaan, Biju Menon, Fahadh Faasil, Jayasurya, Master Chethan, Tini Tom, Rimi Tomy, Jinu Ben, Vinayakan

5sundarikal copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.