Keedam

Vampire Owl: The name of this movie is interesting.

Vampire Bat: I also support people to use similar names for their movies.

Vampire Owl: We should also grow some vampire pests at home.

Vampire Bat: Uncle Dracula managed to get rid of the pests after a long struggle.

Vampire Owl: We should use the pests to our advantage.

Vampire Bat: You can’t control these pests at all. Only the witches can do it.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that they might use the pests against us?

Vampire Bat: They are good with such small creatures.

Vampire Owl: Well, I would expect an attack at any moment.

Vampire Bat: You should have faith in at least some witches. We are not so different from each other.

[Gets a masala dosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Radhika Balan (Rajisha Vijayan) lives with her father, Retired Advocate Balan (Sreenivasan) while working as a cyber-security expert at her own start-up company with her partner Vijay (Rahul Riji Nair). She is good friends with CI Charles (Vijay Babu), whom she helps as part of an investigation. Radhika is adamant that one’s privacy should always be respected and that their firm should only help people who have compromised their privacy due to hacking or carlessness. It is then that she accidentally calls a wrong number and Kili Biju (Mahesh Nair) who is on the other side continues to bother her on phone. He gets her name through True Caller App and finds more information about her by searching her name on Facebook. She is frustrated and decides to complain to the police, and things go out of control at the police station. Biju’s friend Thurumbu Aji (Renjit Shekar Nair) is a man who has been on the criminal records for a long time, and was also involved in a murder case – he decides to lead his friends (Anand Manmadhan and Arjun Ranjan) in an attempt to make Radhika’s life a living hell, and doesn’t leave her father out of it either.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: They follow her at her home and office, and also goes on to destroy the reputation of her father – it feels like wherever she goes, they are present at the location. When they decide that they are finally done with Radhika and her father, she decides that this is not the end. She decides to get into their privacy by hacking their mobile phones, so that they won’t think about doing this to anybody else again. Vijay is worried about her actions, and the same is the case of her father, but she is not ready to go back on it. She manages to get into the phone of Biju, and even though it is only revenge that was looking for, she comes across the information that could mean more than that. It turns out that even though they live as scrap-dealers, there is more to them than what meets the eye. They are involved in gold smuggling and other illegal activities, and they work as carriers for different people in different areas. Radhika might be dealing with a little bit too much, and it will be of the best interest for everyone if she backs down, but will she? What will Aji and his group do when they find out that she is spying on their crimes?

The defence of Keedam :: We can see that Keedam chooses a realistic character who doesn’t create any magic within a thriller unlike what is often expected. The female protagonist here does what she has always done the best, and she does the same in style. The messages about cyber security is more or less of a reminder of the world that we are living in, and leaves the idea that we need to be more careful when we are using any electronic device. There are some defining moments here which makes things more interesting. The final moments are indeed thrilling, even though the much needed final closure was not there to be taken. The divergence that the movie possesses is to be appreciated, and unlike some other industries, Malayalam seems to have all those movies, with the makers moving from one category to the other with relative ease, and even coming up classic stuff in between. The father-daughter relationship is shown well, reminding one of the same in Helen and Uyare with Lal-Anna and Siddique-Parvathy, even though the father figure here is more worried and weakened, and still doesn’t trouble her with his lectures much.

The claws of flaw :: Keedam doesn’t use its resources to the best advantage – the premise was so good, and there were so many paths which it could have travelled; there is no limitation in the cyber world. Cyber security is no longer the topic of a selected few, and the rise of Jio and the spread of COVID-19 did change the situation for internet and its unlimited resources which came upon unsuspecting people all of a sudden – most of them were easy prey to cyber problems as they were not ready, and the youth just fell into the mobile gaming trap. The film could have dealt with such problems more effectively like Operation Java. Often, there is the feeling that something is missing in between. As it follows this particular pattern, there is the unconvincing feeling coming up at times. The ending could have also been better, and it didn’t need the forced extra scene there. The movie had also started with Hindi lines with the beginning credits, and that provides the feeling that someone speaking Hindi was involved in crimes or that this happens outside Kerala and Tamil Nadu, a rather strange to do, whatever be the reason.

The performers of the soul :: Rajisha Vijayan who could be a part of the much acclaimed Jai Bhim after the sports drama Kho Kho, once again does an excellent job in another role of interest. There are not many roles which she can’t do in the industry, as she rises above the other actresses with movies having her as main protagonist. She gets into this character which is very much different from her much appreciated roles in June and Finals, and always looks comfortable with the same. Rahul Riji Nair who directs another film with the same lady lead has things in control as the actor too. Sreenivasan is present in the father role, and has done the character of a concerned father well. Vijay Babu plays a sensible police officer with all the qualities which are needed with it. Manikandan Pattambi of Marimayam fame manages the negative character well, and it is his dialogue which seems to give the title to this movie. The rest of the antagonists of the group have managed their roles well, and in a realistic manner, led by Renjit Shekar Nair. For this movie, the choice of antagonists did work in its favour, even though in the end, there should have been more in store for them.
How it finishes :: Keedam is a movie which could have achieved so much more – there was so much potential considering the topic which it was dealing with. But with its idea and the protagonist to be noted, there is another step in the right direction, and it remains very much interesting at the same time too. It is another reminder of Malayalam movie industry’s courage to venture into unfamiliar territories, as it had already done with the superhero stuff in Minnal Murali stuff, while also having one of the most human films in the form of Madhuram releasing in different OTT platforms within the gap of a few days. Rajisha Vijayan might be the best actress we have in Malayalam film industry now, and we know that people don’t get Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress on debut movies just like that as she did in Anuraga Karikkin Vellam. She has dealt with sadness, depression, anger, fear, love and friendship with so much effectiveness in her movies. The movie could have had more for her, but as it seems now, is an entertaining thriller which also has a realistic side in parts.

Release date: 1st July 2022 (ZEE5); 20th May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Riji Nair
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Vijay Babu, Sreenivasan, Manikandan Pattambi, Renjit Shekar Nair, Anand Manmadhan, Mahesh Nair, Rahul Riji Nair, Arjun Ranjan

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

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

<<< Click here to go to the review of the most anticipated film of the year.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nerve

nervee-2

Vampire Owl: I was playing this online game. You should also try it.

Vampire Bat: Don’t you know that I no longer try these things?

Vampire Owl: But this is very much interesting.

Vampire Bat: I have gone through many more interesting things in the past.

Vampire Owl: You know, there is this game. You get missions, and you need to finish them.

Vampire Bat: It sounds familiar.

Vampire Owl: Yes, it should. There are so many people playing this game. Look, there is even Mr. Werewolf Anger playing it.

Vampire Bat: This reminds me of a movie.

Vampire Owl: This game is more than that.

Vampire Bat: Just watch this movie, and you will know.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with tapioca chips].

What is the movie about? :: Venus Delmonico (Emma Roberts), known to her friends as just “Vee”, spends her time with a small group of friends in an island outside the limits of the city. She wishes to leave her home for studying further in the city but doesn’t want to leave her mother alone after the death of her brother. Venus’ best friend is Sydney (Emily Meade) who is a popular girl around, thanks to an online reality game which goes by the name Nerve. In this popular game which has its gamers enlisted as players or watchers, the latter assigns tasks to the former, and accomplishing the same will bring money and fame to those involved. There is always the chance to become more and more famous in the online world, and this opportunity to become popular is used by most of the youth who has nothing better to do with their life. It is a network which keeps getting bigger and bigger.

So, what happens next? :: This game collects one’s personal data and comes up with three rules: all objectives are to be recorded on the player’s mobile phone, all of the earned money are to be revoked if a player fails or declines a dare in the middle of it, and a player is also not to report anything related to the game to the law enforcement. But the real names of the players are never revealed to the public. It remains anonymous, but the game knows everything. Venus who is rejected by her crush J.P. (Brian Marc) as Sydney proposes in her name, decides to become popular like her and the lover who never happened to be one. The one option that seemed to be easy for her, is to get to play Nerve as a player, and be watched by millions of players all around the world, and the two top players with the most points also get to battle each other to win the game.

So, how do things go from here? :: Her first mission, what they call in the game as dare, is to kiss a random stranger at a diner for five seconds. Venus chooses to kiss Ian (Dave Franco), who spends his time reading her favorite book, Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. He sings to her revealing that he is also playing Nerve. Interested in the two, the watchers add the dare to go together into the city. But things only get complicated after that, with newer dares added – there are more difficult ones coming, and with the total number of viewers, Venus and Ian gets to the top two places, much to the dismay of Sydney who was the star in their circle. Jealous of Venus being popular than her, Sydney attempts to take more risks, and almost falls to her death. But the watchers are not finished, and they have more plans for the players – will Venus go on or quit? What is the past that Ian is hiding? How will Sydney react to this?

The defence of Nerve :: There is a fast-paced thriller in store in the form of Nerve – there is no dull moment, and from the moment this movie begins, to the end, we are cent percent interested in what is to happen next. The movie also nicely presents the terrible beauty which is present in the form of another reality online, which has caused more trouble in the last few years than during any other period of time – the message is surely to unplug from that different mirage of a reality which is not really anything close to even a distant reality. The thrills are working without doubt, and that too continuously here. What works more than the rest is certainly the pair of Emma Roberts and Dave Franco – the former manages to work the role of the teenager who wishes to bring the attention really well, and the latter with more or less the same motive – not only does the watchers of the game find them a good pair, as the audience of this movie must feel the same too. The movie also looks great on screen.

The claws of flaw :: Nerve could have surely been darker and more threatening with its world, for we all know that the reality about the virtual world can only get much more worse as time progresses – after all, we are having a generation that is interested only in pleasing others, and getting more and more attention, no matter what happens to their own people. Even as it is based on a 2012 novel of the same name by Jeanne Ryan, there could have been more dares added into this one, along with more freaky incidents happening – as a movie, it could have used all that, even though nothing can be said about the book without having read it. The movie could have also used a few faces for Nerve, and justice could have been better served to those unknown names using the game. The scope was further for this movie, and we could have always had a bigger and darker thriller with this one going a safer path.

How it finishes :: Nerve is clearly a reflection of what happens in the current world which is dominated by all kinds of social media which begins from Facebook and Twitter. The strength of online games is another thing which is visible. In a world which has been so much affected by an online world which affects the reality in a way which makes it too difficult to come back, Nerve has a message for each one of the viewers. Nerve is the kind of movie that is certain to make one think, and it is a clear reflection on how bad a simple game can get, and how much lawlessness can be present online – it doesn’t really matter how good or educated a person is, as it is eternally easy to be evil without a face; the movie shows exactly that! As we see all those online abuses happening all around, you know that the nature of the internet is bringing the worst out of people on most occasions. Nerve is just its next stage. Lets be prepared for the worst to happen.

Release date: 27th July 2016
Running time: 96 minutes
Directed by: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Starring: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Juliette Lewis, Machine Gun Kelly, Miles Heizer, Kimiko Glenn, Samira Wiley, Ed Squires, Brian Marc, Eric D’Alessandro, Marc John Jefferies, Casey Neistat

nerve

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Asha Black

ashablack (1)

Vampire Owl :: Is she the sister of Jacob Black?

Vampire Bat :: Absolutely not.

Vampire Owl :: Then, is she related to Sirius Black?

Vampire Bat :: I ponder over why you ponder over the name of a movie without making any sense at all. Note the double pondering – you know it is injurious to our vampire brains when not fed enough.

Vampire Owl :: It is because I have become very smart after successfully resisting the urge to watch Bang Bang! – they tried, but I was mentally “owl strong”.

Vampire Bat :: “Owl strong”? What does that even mean? I think that it is racist. I even think that you mentioning black is racist. See, vampire bats are black and you vampire owl is white.

Vampire Owl :: But you are not even brown enough. You should stand under the sun and do the “sun fall on my head” incantation to be even close to be black.

Vampire Bat :: Dude, Fair & Lovely usage among bats is increasing. Soon, they will have white vampire bats. It is all due to seeing the face of Yami Gautam on television during that fairness cream ad and getting addicted.

Vampire Owl :: Holy vampire dragon! White vampire bats? You will look like that cute little white bat from Honduras! Yuck! These fairness creams truly are the greatest brand ambassadors of racism.

Vampire Bat :: Well, can we just call the movie by its Tamil name, Nee Naan Nizhal?

[Goes to the ticket counter].

What is it about? :: We see that there is a series of murders of unrelated men happening in Kuala Lumpur, and the Malaysian police are hoping to find a solution to the same as soon as possible, as the dead are all Indians, and people might soon end up calling it a racist hate crime and would affect the tourism a lot. The man in charge of the investigation is the Assistant Superintendent of Police Anwar Ali (Sarath Kumar), a Tamil Malaysian with a fine track record, and he finds out that these dead people had one common friend with whom they chatted – Asha Black. The other story is about Rohit (Arjun Lal) who is working with a music troupe consisting of his best friends, and is highly attracted to one girl with the nickname Asha Black (Ishita) who sends him a friend request and chats with him so often. As he seems to have almost no interest in his life in India any more, his friends ask him to go to Malaysia and meet the girl of his dreams rather than ruining his life in dreams. But as he reaches Malaysia, he understands more about the girl, and also what all happens around here, and it changes his life.

The defence of Asha Black :: The movie takes charge of a social message here, and it is a bold step by a director doing his first movie. There is complete and absolutely clear success in the way the social message is given to the audience here. The movie’s change from a romantic drama to a dark thriller is also easier, as the somewhat parallel narratives are used a lot in this movie, and this darkness is something that we are perfectly aware of right from the beginning. The way in which certain cartoon-like style is adapted for telling flashback of the mysterious girl is nicely done, and unlike a few other movies which used the same, it works here a lot better as the detail of the illustrations is nice and realistic to the characters. The cinematography is nice, and the theme of the movie has been given a lot of care as it never forgets what it is planning to do with its message, and even as there are things lost, this message is not among them. The characterization also doesn’t falter, and even as some people will question a few characters, I would say that they are the best like that. It even deals with the sensitive stuff like porn and paedophilia without going to the extremes.

The claws of flaw :: The message takes over the movie and becomes better than the movie itself – even as that would mean that the message is better conveyed, it degrades the movie as the work that it is, and sometimes message demands even more from the movie, and thus some scenes are created for further support to the message which gets better in the expense of the visual medium. Yes, that makes the movie slower and having more sequences than it should have, and those which involve our hero’s chat love story is rather too stretched, and the addition of songs doesn’t help much there. The thriller effect goes for a walk there and rarely comes back, as this becomes that drama with a small romantic side. There is a certain slowness rising now and then, even as I wouldn’t go on to call that a drag, as might be necessary to make the end much more effective with an extra emotional touch. The search for Asha Black should have been more detailed and so should have been the investigation, and the mystery around her should have been revealed in a more beautiful and yet emotional way. This could have been more interesting as a movie, no doubt.

Performers of the soul :: The movie has Arjun Lal of Thanmathra fame as the hero, or rather the romantic star of this movie, and he has done a good job, especially in the second half as he challenges more than one thing. There is a long path ahead of him, and this is just a start; a good one. Manoj K. Jayan is good as usual in yet another supporting role here as the man who helps our hero in his quest. Isthita has limited things to do as Asha other than being the symbol which is Asha Black, and she also has done enough. I did wish that Bhagath Manuel had a bigger role, and also had better lines. Sarath Kumar is nicely in control of his role, even as the investigation sequences had more power rather than just moving along. Kottayam Nazeer doesn’t really have his usual funny elements working in this one, and it is a disappointment. Overall, I would say that the performances are neat, but not much to cheer for there. There could have been more, but this is still quite satisfactory.

Soul exploration :: Some people might think that this movie is more of a seminar, but never in any moment that this movie directly goes to that level. What it has is its titular character Asha Black whose profile name completely reflects the darker side of the life that she is forced into, with incidents during her childhood and the lack of care from her parents. At the same time, we see a few others who choose that path because of being part of that generation which doesn’t care for their parents. Belonging to the former group and without hope, Asha Black is the symbol of the youth who are on a darker path due to circumstances, and as online world becomes more of a relief for them, what had followed them in real life comes to them there too, and just like lightning striking with all its speed and might, destroys the whole thing. It is the “black” areas of the internet that the movie focuses on along with the evils paedophilia and porn, and the tale is that of the innocent who is caught in a dilemma with asha or hope to be loved. Its message is powerful, emotional and worthy of being watched by families who don’t care for their kids or fails to watch their actions and instruct them. They are preyed upon by the shades of technology – take care of them!

How it finishes :: Asha Black is not everyone’s cup of tea. It doesn’t have the flavour that everyone would want to put in their tea, and the result is a possibility of liking or not liking this movie, but nobody can challenge the power of its message which is strong as well as relevant. Coming from a debutante director, it is indeed a wonderful effort, as the movie seems to have tried with all its heart to send the right message to its audience which should hopefully consist of the family, especially the parents and the teenage children. This movie, just like Mummy & Me is a need of the age, and even as this can’t considered that good as that Jeethu Jospeph movie, the message is even stronger in this one. It does have mostly positive and mixed opinions from the audience, but not that much from critics for whom this is just negative or almost mixed, and lets hope that this movie does good enough – it has disappeared from some theatres, and I had to travel far to catch it; hope it stays where it is now, for at least one more week, because it deserves it, and it is out duty appreciate such works for the effort itself its Tamil version is also there, as Nee Naan Nizhal.

Release date: 10th October 2014
Running time: 120 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: John Robinson
Starring: Arjun Lal, Bhagath Manuel, Sarath Kumar, Manoj K Jayan, Ishita, Devan, Lakshmipriya, Kottayam Nazeer, Riza Bawa

ashablack

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.