Pada

Vampire Owl: I had heard some good opinions about this movie from outside Kerala.

Vampire Bat: These days, good Malayalam movies get nice opinions from outside.

Vampire Owl: And the bad ones get the mass opinions from inside the state.

Vampire Bat: Yes, about the masses, it has been so for quite a long time.

Vampire Owl: I thought that humans have survived to go past the mass masala.

Vampire Bat: Well, not everyone has a fully grown brain to do that.

Vampire Owl: The existence of such a strange genre itself is a crime.

Vampire Bat: It is rather the useless genre.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that humans can have some intellect with movies?

Vampire Bat: Maybe with movies like this one around.

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: The Adivasi Land Act Amendment seems to have changed the life of the tribal people by a long way, as in the year 1996, in Palakkad, Rakesh Kanhangad (Kunchacko Boban) gives an interview and says that he is now a fugitive for strange reasons. He talks about the situation of the adivasis and the new laws passed without any protest from any Member of the Legislative Assembly, something which could actually drive them away from their lands within the forests. Aravindan Mannur (Joju George) is also someone who is frustrated with the system, and hopes that there will be a change through the actions of the people. Balu Kallaar (Vinayakan) is also a determined man who leaves his wife Sheeja PK (Kani Kusruti) and children behind citing some important work. Narayanan Kutty (Dileesh Pothan) is also someone who wants to see some change, and the same is the case of Mini KS (Unnimaya Prasad) who supports what these people seems to be planning.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Rakesh Kanhangad, Aravindan Mannur, Balu Kallaar and Narayanan Kutty are determined to get inside the collectorate with some sinister plan for the collector. But it seems that the collector won’t be there for the day, and they are forced to return on the very next day. The team feels that it is a good thing as they are not that prepared or organized – one more day for preparation can only help their cause better. They decide not to be seen together, and make their own preparations for the next day all by themselves. Mini remains anxious about Narayanan Kutty being a direct part of this, but is forced to return home as he insists on the same. Sheeja also remains worried about her husband, but can do nothing about it. Rakesh manages to nicely evade the police despite being caught in the name of a case in which he was acquitted. But the plan won’t go as straight forward as they had wanted it to happen.

The defence of Pada :: It can be seen that Pada nicely and slowly gets into action, and by the interval, it has the main thing being initiated. The movie keeps on going through the realistic treatment of the whole thing, never really trying to build up the tension in a twisted or forced manner. There is no unnecessary action, and there is no romance at all, which means that the movie is kept close to reality – the two would have only brought a deviation away from the real world. The movie does make a strong point towards the requirement of the subaltern, and there is the strong political statement related to the governments which have come and gone, but never cared about the people who really needed the attention of the people in power. Well, it can serve as more of a reminder that the government doesn’t care about most of the people, and the politics has rarely helped the common man, and never came to the service of those who were even further below in status. A reminder of how the government machinery works can only help us at all times.

Positives and negatives :: There is indeed grandeur related to the cast here – the leading four, Kunchacko Boban, Joju George, Dileesh Pothan and Vinayakan were always sure to bring quality around here. The two main women, Kani Kusruti who won the Best Actress at Kerala State Film Awards for her exceptional work at Biriyaani and Unnimaya Prasad who has come up with some of the most memorable performances out of even small roles. Then there is the classic Prakash Raj and Indrans who has come into serious roles with a lot of strength and class. Shine Tom Chacko and Sudheer Karamana are the kind of actors who work strongly in the background every time – could have been used better for sure. At the end of the movie, there are the clips to show that this was a real incident, and we also have the realization to understand that nothing much changed after that in real life too. The world belongs to a few, and the majority are fooled easily – a reminder of the same is always good, and serves a fine purpose. Well, after many movies like this one, you have the same world – some people won’t even like the film’s slow pace, and lack of surprises or innovations.

The performers of the soul :: Coming out of the less interesting and often struggling Bheemante Vazhi, Kunchacko Boban is back to form again within a thriller of quality. Related to the earlier Nizhal, Nayattu, Virus and Anjaam Pathiraa, there was the rise of thrillers in his bio-data – he has very soon become no stranger to this genre, unlike his early romantic journeys which continued for so many years then. He leads the way strong and sharp around here. Joju George has been choosing some of the right movies since Joseph, and the last classic choice was Madhuram – this one is no exception, and he does a fantastic jon as usual. Dileesh Pothan, the legendary director of our times, Maheshinte Prathikaaram, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum and Joji comes up with another realistic performance, and Vinayakan also does the same. Shine Tom Chacko and Sudheer Karamana are limited to small, but still notable roles. Prakash Raj has a solid presence in the second half, while Unnimaya Prasad and Indrans do their job in a rather usual manner. Biriyaani movie’s classic actress Kani Kusruti’s role is also limited, but there is charm in the actress’ small presence itself.

How it finishes :: This is another one of those realistic movies which has a hostage situation in the centre. If we imagine Bollywood doing a similar film, we can only feel threatened about the intellectual poverty that we would have to come up against, and end up being devastated in the process. But with Pada releasing here, we can only be thankful. Whether it is the case of the subaltern or the struggle for independence, they are best done in a realistic manner, showing the struggles that people go through, rather than making some mass masala entertainer out of them. We don’t need to make superheroes out of people who struggled for us – we should respect them for these struggles rather than portray them as metahumans who have had it easy because they were too powerful. I would never understand why people have the wish to demean the people who fought for us, and thus make an attempt to annihilate their dignity. I wouldn’t support such a cause, because for me those who struggle and win are the true triumphant ones, and not those who are shown to fly and fight hundreds of people at once in the process.

Release date: 10th March 2022 (Theatre); 30th March 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Kamal KM
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Joju George, Dileesh Pothan, Vinayakan, Unnimaya Prasad, Kani Kusruti, Prakash Raj, Indrans, Arjun Radhakrishnan, Jagadish, Salim Kumar, Savithri Sreedharan, TG Ravi, Shine Tom Chacko, VK Sreeraman, Gopalan Adat, Dasan Kongad, Siby Thomas, Bitto Davis, James Elia, Sajitha Madathil, Hari Kongad, Vivek Vijayakumaran, K Rajesh, Kottayam Ramesh, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Devendranath Shankarnarayanan, Unni Vijayan, Kannan Nayar, Sunil Annur, Rajeevan Vellur, Haris Saleem, Nithin George, Ishitha Sudheesh, Master Davinchi, Santhosh Keezhattur

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bro Daddy

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Uncle Dracula used to be called by the same name?

Vampire Bat: As far as I can remember, that was Uncle Bro.

Vampire Owl: Well, I guess it varies by vampire and the century of existence.

Vampire Bat: The existence is the crime. You are not to speak about it.

Vampire Owl: I am talking about the undead existence without the human soul.

Vampire Bat: Well, that should be acceptable, as the absence of the evil human soul is much appreciated in our realm.

Vampire Owl: What do you think about our decision to watch this movie?

Vampire Bat: Well, with the Corona virus at its peak, the fact that they didn’t release this movie in theatres is to be appreciated.

Vampire Owl: Yes, a superstar movie in the theatre means a super spreader.

Vampire Bat: It seems that the producer and director of this movie are sensible people. Let other movies take the credit for being super spreaders.

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Eesho (Prithviraj Sukumaran) and Anna (Kalyani Priyadarshan) have been good friends since childhood, and have carried over the same as a romantic relationship in such a manner that they even started living together in Bangalore without anyone having any clue about it. Their motherly figures Annamma John (Meena) and Elsy Kurian (Kaniha) wish to have the two youngsters married to each other, as they belong to a similar social status, being part of rich and influential families of the area. Even their friends and relatives find the possible marriage alliance to be an interesting one. The fathers John Chacko Kattadi (Mohanlal) and Kurian Maliekkal (Lalu Alex) are not that interested in the same because latter used to be in love with the former’s wife during pre-degree days. But the two remains good friends, and Kurian handles the advertising matters of Kattadi’s business. Kattadi’s fame is rather unmatched, as they have lot of business ventures, mostly focusing on Kattadi TMT steel bars. Kurian is into the advertising business, while Eesho is working at an advertising company in Bangalore.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Everything seems to go smoothly around here. But there are secrets which needs some cover up, as both Anna and Annamma are pregnant, and John and Eesho don’t want anyone to know about it as of now. It seems that now there is the need for a plan, so that the two can get married, and the function can happen smoothly, and later, they can talk about the pregnancies and related stuff. For the same, the two need to get married as soon as possible, with the blessings of Kurian and Elsy. But Kurian is not really fond of Eesho as latter finds the former’s advertising company to a cheap one in comparison to the multi-national company where he has been working. Yet, it seems that Kurian won’t disagree to the words of John, but there is the need for much more of plans to come. Eesho would still need to get into the good books of Kurian, and for the same, he would also need to use more than one of his skills. As Elsy also comes to know about the pregnancy, all of them will have to come together, and make sure that Kurian will be happy about this alliance – will he be the happy one too?

The defence of Bro Daddy :: The movie depends on humour and feel-good, as well as a certain amount of drama to keep itself going. Whenever it seems to go down, the cast nicely lifts it up. There is some nice humour that comes in between, and this one is kept close to family even though there was the opportunity to go for ridiculous jokes like Ittymaani: Made in China. The messages that the movie provide are pretty good too. It shows that family is indeed important, and a small adjustment made in career won’t matter – as long as you have a job at what you are the best at. It is a fine message for a new generation which keeps on changing jobs for better salary, leaving families behind. The movie also keeps the whole thing light-hearted, never choosing to explore the dark side of all of these, and the emotions, even though present are kept in such a way that there is no exaggeration of the emotional side – it just provides what is required with a simple feel-good family movie that keeps one entertained without making one think too much. Well, it was always moving towards the happy ending, we know.

The claws of flaw :: There is a certain amount of predictability in here, as expected from this kind of a movie. There are so many sequences which seem to progress the way we can guess. We also come up against a certain amount of lagging in between. A certain amount of lag can also been seen related to the revelation of things. The length is a little bit more than what was required. If the event management idea was removed, that would have helped the movie further. The beginning hadn’t impressed that much with the common jokes added, and more of life in Bangalore could have only done the movie favours. There is also too much focus on the luxury home visuals, seemingly trying to help an architect or the seller of a house. It does feel like the idea is to go and come up with life of the richest, giving the feeling that almost everyone else do not exist. The world itself is different around here, like being part of an alien planet. Some of the characters whom we see around also feel wasted, as the focus is indeed on the members of two families only.

The performers of the soul :: The movie does have a long list of memorable cast, something which is not often seen related to a family comedy drama. Mohanlal leads, and he does the same with the kind of role which audience has loved him doing. Prithviraj and Kalyani plays the usual youngsters in love, without anything new added around here, except for maybe the cuteness quotient. Lalu Alex is once again the father of the leading lady, and it is something he has done a lot in the past, even though most of similar roles have gone to Renji Panicker following Om Santhi Oshana. He shows that he still maintains the expertise in this kid of roles. Meena is once again looking good with Mohanlal, like it was in Drishyam, Drishyam 2 and Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol. Kaniha is also as notable as the rest as the mother of the leading lady. Jagadish does have a notable role here, while Soubin Shahir’s role to add some quick humour is only partially affective. Mallika Sukumaran once again drops in as the typical old mother figure, a role which would go to her with ease every time. Unni Mukundan, Nikhila Vimal and Kavya Shetty have cameos.

How it finishes :: This is the second directorial venture from Prithviraj Sukumaran after one of the biggest films in Malayalam cinema, Lucifer, which still remains strong in our minds, with the next one coming in 2023 in the form of a sequel. With Mohanlal and Prithviraj joining forces again, this was a movie which was much awaited. It has the skill to deliver as the humorous feel-good movie with effectiveness. There will not be grandeur associated with it, as things are kept simple, keeping it within the predictable lines throughout its run. The cast has elevated the same by adding humour in their own ways, and keeping it close to life. In one way or the other, the movie seems to stand on the exact opposite path of Sara’s which would have dealt the whole episode in a different manner, but Bro Daddy takes the path which the families would to see, and the one which might feel rather selfless in nature. But one can only wonder what it means to be selfless in a chaotic, brutal world? When was the last time we had a society with humans who were not selfish?

Release date: 26th January 2022 (Hotstar)
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Prithviraj Sukumaran
Starring: Mohanlal, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Lalu Alex, Meena, Nikhila Vimal, Kaniha, Soubin Shahir, Jagadish, Kavya Shetty, Unni Mukundan, Mallika Sukumaran, Sijoy Varghese, Antony Perumbavoor, Jaffar Idukki, Joji Mundakayam, Charle

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Madhuram

What is the movie about? :: Kevin (Arjun Ashokan) is the bystander for his mother, who is going to have a surgery at the government medical college hospital very soon. He is married to Cherry (Nikhila Vimal) who isn’t accepted by his mother yet. He is very much tensed about it, and spends most of the time wondering about what is to happen next. Sabu (Joju George) is there as a bystander for his wife Chitra (Shruti Ramachandran). There are also others who have become part of the hospital during their time spent out there. Ravi (Indrans) is a retired postman who is waiting for his wife to be discharged, while celebrating forty years of marriage. Thajudeen (Fahim Safar) is a bystander for his father who is forced to come there because the doctor in the hosptial is very famous, and a quick surgery is required. Despite how much how much Ravi talks about the importance of staying in long marriage and how much Sabu reasserts the same, Kevin and Cherry are on the verge of a divorce. Cherry wonders if it will happen as soon as his mother is healthy and asks him to leave her.

So, what happens happens around here? :: Thajudeen is to first one to leave the hospital from the group, as his father has a stroke and dies, causing moments of silence and depression everywhere around them. Kevin’s tension only further increases as the surgery is delayed, and after knowing about the death of Thajudeen’s father. The same also affects Ravi upto an extent, as he is also a little bit worried. Sabu talks to the others about his love story with Chitra which happened at Kunjikka’s (Jaffar Idukki) restaurant, where she used to come and have biriyani in secret. They married after causing a lot of problems in the neighbourhood. Ravi’s tale is about him falling in love with his wife while delivering letters at a locality, and it was another case of love story wrecking havoc around. When Kevin’s anxiety problems get better, they are surprised to find that Sabu is surprisingly angry at the hospital staff, which leads to the big revelation by Doctor Rajah (Lal) about Chitra. This makes them wonder how long he has been in the hospital.

The defence of Madhuram :: The movie has to be appreciated more for its optimistic viewpoint about relationships, and life that goes on with love and endurance against all odds. With Joju George who seems to go through the whole thing as if living through it rather than acting, and Shruti Ramachandran who blends in to this role in a realistic manner like no other, this one feels like a safe watch from the beginning itself. The movie’s messages about relationships is beautiful, as it celebrates being in marriage, and with love. The movie also knows where to place the emotions, without any overdose of melodrama coming into the picture to ruin things. The humour which the movie uses in the initial stages brings some early delight, and as it passes on to the sad and emotional side, it makes sure that the balance is not lost, and we are not put into a world of eternal depression, for there is faith, belief and hope at all times. The taste of love between husbands and wives never losses its charm, for love in marriage is shown as a thing with wings more than that of the other kinds of relationships.

Positives and negatives :: Some dialogues might feel like a little too much in the view of life, but the actors who deliver them make it even more effective – the emotions are so well portrayed through them, and we appreciate the choice of performers here again and again – you see how Joju and Indrans make us feel, and the rest are following them so well, effectively. The visuals of the hospital are also nice, and songs with all the picturization makes us feel the emotions which are present at all times. The food also stays with us, and the focus in the same also contributes to the overall mood, which is surprisingly a happy one for most of its run, even though it is set in a hospital and there is the long wait for some risky surgeries going on throughout the film. You also see that this one basically maintains the balance between optimism and realism, unlike Jis Joy movies like Sunday Holiday, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and Mohan Kumar Fans which have so much of optimistic attitude that one feels that there is too much of positivity in life which is not really there. Without the same, this one makes you feel the love, and you are into the emotions.

The performers of the soul :: The director here is blessed with a fantastic cast which anyone would wish to have in a work of drama. It is led by none other than Joju George, the man who touched our emotions the best, not with an emotional drama, but with an investigative thriller, Joseph – that was one turning point which still holds strong in our minds, and this drama holds strong with its emotional content, thanks to him more than anyone else. We have always known what he is capable of, and here is one more testimony to his skills. The combination of Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran is something to remember for long, as their relationship has a lot to take away in this tale of different relationships between many couples. Shruti Ramachandran was already there in the highly emotional drama, Kaanekkaane, which was another film which released in the same platform. This love story of the two over one biriyani and more food, is a thing of high quality and the flashback keeps us glued to the seats and in love. They also have some nicely visualized songs to support their cause – you also remember some simple, yet lovely dialogues.

Further performers of the soul :: After the Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran story, we have the other tale of husband and wife, with Arjun Ashokan and Nikhila Vimal playing the couple without that much of love, and with one mother standing in between them, leading to a possible divorce in future. Arjun Ashokan had the role of a lover in June which came from the same director and has no problems here, while Nikhila Vimal was last seen in the horror movie, The Priest. Her ability to deliver some natural performances were seen in two different roles in the movies Aravindante Athidhikal and Njan Prakashan, and she continues to establish herself as a leading actress with such roles. Even though this is the secondary love story, and is often rushed, raises itself with the performances of the two. Indrans has another touching performance to deliver here after Home, and this character also stays close to us. Jaffar Idukki, Jagadish and Lal also come up with some delightful performances, even though in smaller roles. Fahim Safar, Navas Vallikkunnu and Malavika Sreenath are also notable.

How it finishes :: The movie does have its surprises, but the intention here is to bring an emotional surprise rather than the usual one, and the director is successful in doing the same. There is emotional strength which is equal to, or at times even at a higher level than Kaanekkaane also of Sony LIV, for this movie is purely a relatable drama for many people, and it is about husband and wife relationship. The Tovino-Suraj starrer of the same platform had elements of a thriller, and therefore not relatable for all times, but when we look at Madhuram, its emotional intensity is of the common man’s soul. Well, the work that these OTT platforms have done to make our Christmas celebration better, is to be appreciated, for we have already had the greatest superhero film in India in Netflix, and this one is a collection of emotions, which we are to cherish. Well, with these movies being available everywhere in the online platform, you can give some credit to the Corona virus pandemic for bringing these national and international level of attention.

Release date: 24th December 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Ahammed Khabeer
Starring: Joju George, Shruti Ramachandran, Nikhila Vimal, Arjun Ashokan, Lal, Indrans, Jagadish, Malavika Sreenath, Jaffar Idukki, Babu Jose, Sminu Sijo, Thirumala Ramachandran, Navas Vallikkunnu, Fahim Safar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bhramam

What is the movie about? :: Ray Mathews (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a blind musician who hopes that he will be known among the great pianists of the world. It is when he crosses the road and gets hit by Anna’s (Raashi Khanna) scooter, that there is the beginning of a romantic relationship between the two – then, it is revealed to the audience that he is not really blind, but is only acting as if he cannot see. Uday Kumar (Shankar Panicker) who was one of the big superstars of an earlier time asks him to sing at his home for his wedding anniversary with his wife Simi (Mamta Mohandas). But when Ray reaches there, he finds out that Uday is lying there dead, and Dinesh (Unni Mukundan) is also there with Simi. He sees that the two are trying to get rid of the body and the clues, as they feel that he won’t know as he is blind. Soon, Uday’s body is found in the container terminal road, and a story is created about how he was murdered by his driver.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As Dinesh is the police officer investigating the case, Ray is not able to tell anything to the police, but his arrival at the police station creates suspicions for both Dinesh and Simi. Dinesh’s wife Swapna (Ananya Nair) feels that her husband can find the murderer with ease. Dinesh has further doubts about Ray’s eye sight after searching his place, but as him being a witness only helps them, they decide not to do anything. But it is then that Ray witness another murder that Simi commits, and she decides to visit him at his place. Then, she would realize that he is not really blind, and due to the same, she has to take better precautions. At the same time, Anna is worried that Ray hasn’t shown up for a long time. A worried Dinesh wants Ray dead, and a boy in the neighborhood has proof that Ray is not really blind. All these lead to a sequence of events which means that life won’t be the same again for the people involved.

The defence of Bhramam :: Bhramam, even though not an original story, is executed really well. The strength of the cast is one advantage that this film can be proud about. The recreation of the tale in this particular setting is very good – the choice of Cochin and its surroundings, especially Fort Cochin makes it a better visual treat than one would expect. There have been similar visual splendour before, but not in a way that it suits the whole thing so well. From reading about the original film, there seems to be some differences here, but nothing that someone who hasn’t watched the Hindi version can confirm. As it stands, the film does rise above the expectations which the trailer had created, especially with the black humour and the twists that it provides. There is always something different that we can expect with Bhramam, as it moves forward, as it never hesitates to move away from the usual and the predictable.

The claws of flaw :: There can be comparisons between Bhramam and the original version which was in Hindi, and we know that original can often have the advantage, but as I have not watch that one, it won’t be my job to do. There are surely some moments in this film which could have been better, and the beginning moments could have had an extension, as they were indeed cute. Some more changes could have also been added to make this not that exact an adaptation. It could have managed to get more out of the last moments too, as scope was always there. The social commentary could have also been stronger, even though the presence is felt on some occasions. Some occasions could have also had better clarity, and a few scenes could also take better strength. As a film on a musician and a pianist, this could have also had more songs to add to the quality.

Performers of the soul :: After Cold Case and Kuruthi, Prithviraj Sukumaran has another release on Amazon Prime Video, the only OTT platform, where he had fresh releases. In comparison with the other roles in these movies, this does take a fine deviation for him, and this is further away from what one would expect from the trailer. The black comedy factor does work well for him. Unni Mukundan has had a certain amount of break time after the release of Mamangam much earlier. In the role of a police officer, he makes a fine comeback, even though this role doesn’t demand that much. Shankar Panicker has a small role, as he plays a superstar of the past himself with ease. At the same time, Jagadish comes up with a role which we don’t usually see him doing, and supporting him are Sminu Sijo and Aneesh Gopal, who have some fine contributions to provide here – the three are basically the unexpected turning point providers in the film.

Further performers of the soul :: Mamta Mohandas had her voice in Sunny, after having her full works in Forensic, Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel, 9 and the quick appearance of Johny Johny Yes Appa. She is back here, playing the main role, and she has done the same in a believable manner, leaving not much to the doubts. It is always good to have her back, and it doesn’t matter how many times we miss her due to her health related reasons. Raashi Khanna has her second Malayalam film here after Villain. This is a more notable role as we look at it, and she holds on to the cuteness factor from the beginning stages, even though she has to make way for Mamta later, only to have something to add in the final stages of the film. Shine Tom Chacko also makes an appearance in a cameo, but it is a role which defines many things in the film. Nandhana Varma plays the role of the daughter of the superstar, and that also is a notable one. Valsala Menon plays a neighbour of importance too.

How it finishes :: Bhramam is the remake of the much appreciated Hindi movie, Andhadhun – basically one of the many remakes as the same film is remade in different languages. Those who have watched that critically acclaimed movie, can know the quality of this version better for sure. When we consider this film as a stand-alone work, it is also a very well done work. After all, keeping up the quality is often difficult with remakes, unless there is something like a Drishyam which can come in many languages, and can even come up with the right sequel. For now, we can be sure that Bhramam which is taken out of Andhadhun works really well in this form too, and if there was ever any doubt about that, the same was not needed. We cannot blame ourselves about the same though, as doubting is in our blood, and trusting people to make things better is never really that easy.

Release date: 7th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 152 minutes
Directed by: Ravi K Chandran
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Raashi Khanna, Unni Mukundan, Mamta Mohandas, Shankar Panicker, Ananya Nair, Sminu Sijo, Sudheer Karamana, Aneesh Gopal, Valsala Menon, Nandhana Varma, Jagadish, Rajesh Raj, Master Avyukth Menon, Shine Tom Chacko (cameo)

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Priest

What is the movie about? :: Fr Carmen Benedict (Mammootty) is a priest who is known to have helped the police in multiple cases. Diya Alex Alatt (Saniya Iyappan) approaches him with a certain amount of concern regarding a series of deaths which had occured earlier in the rich and influential family, and were dismissed as suicides. Diya feels that the present controller of the assets of the family, Elizabeth Alatt (Meera Nair) might know something about it. He calls DYSP Shekhar (Sivadas Kannur), who begins to share some of his doubts. When a little girl named Ameya Gabriel (Baby Monica) is also found in the house, and the connected incidents related to her lead to the discovery of more clues related to the murder, Fr Carmen also understands that there is more to her than what meets the eye. Ameya is an orphan, and nobody has any idea what she is upto, because she often goes missing from her orphanage, and comes back by herself. Her actions are also nothing less than what others consider to be strange.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jessy Cherian (Nikhila Vimal), a new teacher takes charge in the school where Ameya is studying. Even though Ameya has been hostile to each and every person in the school including teachers and students, she immediately becomes friendly to Jessy who is also happy about the same. As the school is closed for summer vacation, Ameya begs for her to be taken with Jessy. With the permission of the orphanage authorities, she manages to take the child to her home in the highlands, which had been abandoned for a long time. But it turns out that this child is not really the kid which she had expected. When anyone else comes in between Jessy and Ameya, the latter reacts violently, especially when Jessy’s fiance Siddharth (Venkitesh VP) comes to meet her, and proposes her. Soon, things take a further violent turn, and Fr Carmen makes his way to the place, as he understands the seriousness of the situation. But this might not be the kind of spirit which Carmen thought it is. He takes the help of Dr Mathews (TG Ravi), but he understands the need to learn about the spirit.

The defence of The Priest :: The movie scores heavily with its visuals, as we do have a perfect setting for horror, and along with the environment, there are the usual scares effectively used with the help of sound effects. The music is also very interesting. The scares are added here and there, and at times they work depending on the audience. There are some twists to be added here, but we do expect a few among with ease, seemingly because of trying to stick to the Hollywood style. The performance are also of a higher level, even though we do feel that the first investigation was even more interesting than what came later. It does have the most interesting part in the beginning, like Mammootty’s Abrahaminte Santhathikal had that crime at the start, and even with the presence of clowns, doesn’t make them nonsensical like it was done in the strange Mammootty movie The Great Father. Instead, most of the time, The Priest plays to its strength, and makes sure that there is no risk taken, even though it was there to be taken.

The claws of flaw :: The Priest has many elements which we would feel borrowed, and the reminder of Hollywood movies is sure to come back here. The climax doesn’t deliver the needed punch either, as it goes through the safe way, and adds one scene after the finish, seemingly as a justification. Looking at films like The Conjuring, The Nun, Insidious, Sinister and Annabelle, we have had an overdose of horror movies with spirits, and as there was enough for reference, this could have certainly done better – we all remember what Ezra did with the Jewish demon. Well, when the demon really doesn’t want to be terrifying, and with the first motive being close to a Mathematics teachers, the scary side weakens – when the motive and actions of the supernatural doesn’t scare us enough, the genre itself struggles. After all, a spirit should do what it always does the best, and it should go further when listing itself as a horror film at all places. There can be more to an act of exorcism and the process of haunting. We also see something missing with the sequence of events, but can’t talk about that without revealing the suspense and twists.

The performers of the soul :: The movie was marketed as the first movie in which Mammootty and Manju Warrier acted together – the last word does have some complications though, because the latter’s character was dead some time ago, and so the characters won’t be living together in the film, and we would have to wait to see them in the leading roles. Manju Warrier’s role is also quite short here, and it can be considered only as long as the work of Saniya Iyappan who also has some work to do related to the first adventure of the protagonist. Mammootty’s avatar here is a lot better than what we have seen in most of his action and thriller films, and this is a character that he does with ease. We can now remember him like Father Brown, the Roman Catholic priest and detective who was the main character in the fifty three short stories written by British novelist GK Chesterton in the years after Victorian era. There we were not into horror though.

Further performers of the soul :: Even though often known as the first Mammootty-Manju Warrier movie, the latter gets only limited presence, and in the first half we don’t even have a clue that she exists. But when she is there, she works through this very well. Nikhila Vimal is once again seen as a talented actress, extending her good work from Njan Prakashan and Aravindante Athithikal. Saniya Iyappan has the early shorter presence, and as we had seen her effectiveness in horror with Krishnankutty Pani Thudangi where she was the only saving grace, we were expected more of her presence there. Ramesh Pisharody and Jagadish are also given some early moments in here. Venkitesh VP whom we have known from the television show Nayika Nayakan also has done some good work. Baby Monica also contributes nicely once the horror side begins. She excels in displaying that scary side which is brought to light in the second half of the movie.

How it finishes :: The Priest was among the much awaited movies with Mammootty in the lead, and it has come late due to COVID-19 pandemic – according to the reports, it has still managed to be a profit-making venture, even with the theatre occupancy being controlled. The Priest is the one Malayalam movie which brought the viewers to the theatres and made sure that the business was running smoothly. As it has released on the OTT platform of Amazon Prime, one can now watch the film without those fears which we had earlier. The Priest is not only on a path towards being a stylish horror movie, as it is also an innovation in having a release on an OTT platform a month after its theatre release – it is a path which many more movies can follow, as there are other films which need to be released, and we are still facing the worst case of that one grand pandemic. With the clouds bringing darkness early in the afternoon, The Priest makes an interesting thriller for the time, even though it could have been bigger and smarter.

I also wish everyone a Very Happy Vishu! Stay safe and enjoy the day 🙂

Release date: 11th March 2021 (Theatre), 14th April 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Jofin T Chacko
Starring: Mammootty, Manju Warrier, Nikhila Vimal, Baby Monica, Venkitesh VP, Saniya Iyappan, Sivadas Kannur, Jagadish, Lishoy, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Ramesh Pisharody, Kochu Preman, Ameya Mathew, TG Ravi, Dinesh Panicker, Kalabhavan Haneef, Naseer Sankranthi, Sminu Sijo, Jeeva Joseph, Shiny T Rajan, VK Prakash, Meera Nair, Thomas Kuriakose, Jayadevan, Manoj Chennai, Sohan Seenulal, Madhupal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Karinkunnam 6s

karinkunnam6s (1)

Vampire Owl :: When was the last time we watched a Malayalam movie in the theatre?

Vampire Bat :: Last month, I guess?

Vampire Owl :: Is it? Still, that feels like an eternity.

Vampire Bat :: It is mostly because we are not used to not watching movies.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, I think someone has worked black magic against us, which is why we are missing so many movies.

Vampire Bat :: I see that hands of pure evil itself. But in this case, it is more because we don’t have time.

Vampire Owl :: Did you see the half-yearly list of the movies we have watched in the theatre? It is quite a small list compared to the last few years.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, we definitely need to work on that.

Vampire Owl :: Until then, one Malayalam movie for this weekend?

Vampire Bat :: So be it. A sports drama would be a welcome change!

[Gets the tickets with tea and cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Vandana (Manju Warrier) lives with her husband Aby (Anoop Menon) after successfully running away from home in favour of an inter-caste marriage. Both are from sports background, and the latter has one dream only, to make things better for volleyball in a world dominated by cricket. His love for the game is above everything else, and for the same, he supports his own team Karinkunnam 6s. With the same dream in his mind, he contacts Kesavan (Shyamaprasad), a man who is very much interested in the profits to be gained from the venture. Even though he agrees to the idea of having a Volleyball Premier League on the lines of Indian Premier League and Indian Super League, he decides that it has to be entertainment, and that should include fixed matches – it is something to which Aby can’t agree.

So what happens next? :: What follows next are all against Aby, as he is bed-ridden and Vandana has to take over the team to make sure that it plays in the league, and plays fair. For the same, she contacts many players, but the rich and the influential groups in the league works against her making sure that she gets no official players. But Vandana has help from Haritha (Lena Abhilash), the head of the police department, and decides to choose and train a number of inmates in the prison. The team starts from the powerhouse Douglas (Babu Antony), and is joined by many other inmates who look forward to making a mark. But with no professional training, can the prisoners do enough to make it to the next round of the tournament featuring some of the best? Can they leave their own personal rivalries behind and live for the moment?

The defence of Karinkunnam 6s :: One can easily say that this is one of the best sports drama movies made in Malayalam – there are not many interesting movies belonging to that genre around here. When it is not based on an overrated sport like cricket, things only get better. It takes some courage to take a movie based on something which is not cricket or football – and that risk is taken, and they make sure that it appeals to the audience in this part of the world. The movie is also dedicated to Jimmy George, who was considered as one of the greatest volleyball players – the deserving heroes of our land who are less known just because they didn’t play the hyped game of cricket. There are some very nice moments in this movie, which are a lot inspirational; there are more which are emotional, but it never manages to overdo the same. There is power and there is also a lot of energy here!

The claws of flaw :: This is a movie which could have made it to the list of the best among its kind. The tale here is still predictable for most of the time though. There could have been more focus on the sports rather than the drama and the incidents which occurred outside the court. It could have gone deeper with both too, with the sporting side as well as the dramatic events with direct relation to the characters. It also takes some time to get going in the beginning, and it is with the prisoners getting to the act that things get to be interesting. The climax could have also been bigger. People might be able to find problems with this movie related to the sports, but none of the sports movies in Malayalam can be considered close enough to that big reality, and this one can also be forgiven for those flaws that can be taken out of the grave when the DVD comes out.

Performers of the soul :: Having no huge star, this one relies on the long list of actors who play the characters in fine style – nobody lets us down around here. After Vettah, Manju Warrier is excellent here, and there is so much energy that she carries forward here – it is shared by the rest of the cast too, especially the team which is lead by Babu Antony with his usual style. The other person who catches our attention from the team is Sudheer Karamana who has some very nice moments; Baiju also gets some nice dialogues here. Suraj Venjaramoodu impresses us with a different avatar here too, and he deservingly gets some claps. Anoop Menon goes on smoothly with his role. Even those who does some cameo roles here leaves something for the audience.

How it finishes :: Without the big cast that the other movies of this season have come up with, this one has managed to come up with a special identity of its own. There is entertainment guaranteed, and it is worth a fine watch with the family. This is no perfect sports drama, but you find inspiration here and you will also get the thrills. Lets hope that this movie brings back to its viewers the memories of the volleyball legend, and also bring more interest into this game. Unlike the movies which are filled with ridiculous content for the fans, this is the kind of movie that needs to be watched – there are no superstars here, but everyone in this movie ends up being no less than a special star. All of them contribute here, and we are left applauding for those final dialogues and the tribute.

Release date: 7th July 2016
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Deepu Karunakaran
Starring: Manju Warrier, Babu Antony, Anoop Menon, Jacob Gregory, Baiju, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Sudev Nair, Sudheer Karamana, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Nandhu, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Manikuttan, Vivek Gopan, Kevin, Lena Abhilash (cameo), Shyamaprasad (cameo), Major Ravi (cameo), Hareesh Peradi (cameo), Maniyanpilla Raju (cameo), Jagadish (cameo), Gayathri Suresh (cameo), Samuthirakani (cameo)

karinkunnam6s ()

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Two Countries

twocountries (2)

Vampire Owl :: So, which are these two countries? Are they from the time of the World Wars, the Hundred Years’ War, the Thirty Years’ War or the Cold War?

Vampire Bat :: The two countries are India and Canada. But this movie has a more funny side to the title. It says “the story of two country fellas”.

Vampire Owl :: So, it redirects towards the characters and their special qualities. There are two ways of saying it then, I see.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, and do not think on the lines of 2 States.

Vampire Owl :: Well, Dileep has returned to the kind of roles which work for the real family audience, and so, this should be an interesting watch.

Vampire Bat :: I hope for something on the lines of Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, Thommanum Makkalum, Kalyanaraman, and Pulival Kalyanam which were from the same director.

Vampire Owl :: And Dileep and Mamta Mohandas unites for a movie once again years after My Boss.

Vampire Bat :: And it will be some Christmas fun.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, we couldn’t go for a movie yesterday and we will try to make sure that the celebrations get better with this one.

Vampire Bat :: It is all that we will do on this day!

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Ullas (Dileep) is one of the jobless people who wander around his hometown doing some business or indulging in some other activity. His best friend is Avinash (Aju Varghese) who is part of most his adventures and ends up in trouble because of Ullas. Most of the things which they work on, never really bring anything positive; it is not just about business. As they take huge loans from a man at Fort Cochin (Makarand Deshpande), Ullas decides to marry his daughter Simran (Isha Talwar) who is on a wheel chair; he finds this an easy path to getting rich. For the same, he sends his elder brother Ujvalan (Jagadish) to speak for his marriage against the wishes of his parents. But things change as another marriage proposal arrives on the scene.

So what is this suddden change of direction in life about? :: The situation changes with the arrival of the proposal of Laya (Mamta Mohandas) to whom Ullas speaks on phone pretending to be someone else. But as she as well as her parents become very much interested in the man on the other side of the phone and the stories which he tells them, she decides to come to Kerala. It turns out that they knew each other from childhood, and Ullas uses this opportunity to pretend that he has always loved her from the time they were kids so that he can fly to Canada as her husband. So, he chooses Laya over Simran, but after marriage, he understands that things are not like he had thought, and his new wife has a lot of problems, with her family being just one of them.

The defence of Two Countries :: There is no shortage of fun in Two Countries, as it is evident from the scene of introduction itself. The comedy shifts to Canada from India, and it only gets better; the story also reaches a better level then. The strength of the movie remains the humour, as most of us expected. There are also some emotional moments which work pretty well. The cast itself becomes a bonus to this movie as the list which begins with Dileep. The best scenes happen at the party, court and friends’ home. It is a nice flick to watch with family, and the youth will also love the fun provided. The visuals of Canada are good too, even though more could have been utilized. It was clear that people in the theatre enjoyed the comedy and the claps were there. This is also a lot better entertainer than the overrated comedy of the year, Amar Akbar Anthony.

Claws of flaw :: The music never really gets to be that good, and the climax seems to be rushed to an end which comes to a solution which the audience wanted rather than finishing it in the right way. A lot of fun is also directed towards the mindless side, even though it is kept enjoyable. There is not that much of a new story here with predictability running high. Some parts of the movie are also half-baked, and one will wonder if the movie used the whole of its premise to its advantage; for this isn’t that much complete as My Boss with its fun. A lot more of comedy would have been here, and the beginning situation is more like what was there in too many movies. With the names Rafi and Shafi involved with this movie, people would have expected even more; this is surely not as good as Marykkundoru Kunjaadu – but it delivers; no doubt about that.

Performers of the soul :: Dileep is once again at his full form here, as he follows the good run after Chandrettan Evideya, Love 24×7 and Life of Josutty. This is also the complete comedy movie which has full fun without overdoing the comic side, a quality which hasn’t been seen since his My Boss in 2012. This is the kind of role which he can go through with ease, and it is once again proven. His support at home is Aju Varghese and the same is provided by Suraj Venjaramoodu in Canada while Mukesh replaces Jagadish in the second half as the brotherly figure away from home; Aju and Suraj are the big comic support here. We missed Mamta Mohandas for too long with her last big role being in Celluloid. She does her character amazingly well; there are not many actresses who can do this type of comedy so well. Isha Talwar has a small role, and Srinda Ashab just supports in bringing the fun.

How it finishes :: With the support going on to Vijayaraghavan, Lena Abhilash, Asokan and Vinaya Prasad, this one brings Canada into the picture, a change from Life of Josutty which had the heroine based in New Zealand and My Boss which had the heroine as an Australian citizen; it is a welcome variation as there is no journey to United States and United Kingdom here either, which would have been the usual choices. Among the Christmas movies, Two Countries is sure to have a nice status, as it should appeal to different kinds of audience. As it seems, Christmas seems to be a blast with Jo and the Boy, Adi Kapyare Koottamani and Charlie also getting good opinions. Two Countries is surely going to entertain you, and the reviews about this have also been positive! The time period between Christmas and New Year will shine for the Keralite audience; no doubt.

Release date: 25th December 2015
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: Shafi
Starring: Dileep, Mamta Mohandas, Aju Varghese, Mukesh, Isha Talwar, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Srinda Ashab, Jagadish, Vijayaraghavan, Lena Abhilash, Makarand Deshpande, Asokan, Vinaya Prasad, Riyaz Khan, Ajmal Ameer, Rafi, Hareesh, Carrie Marston, Megan Weckwerth, Eldon Hunter

twocountries

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mythri

mythri!

Vampire Owl :: I thought that you were not going to watch this movie.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, all the masala was doing bad for my health. So I decided to go masala free, and I guess this movie achieves that status with ease.

Vampire Owl :: This is a new idea. I wonder how this one came up.

Vampire Bat :: Well, it is because more people have watched a lot of masala movies and let the movies with good themes die. It is up-to us to make amends.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, they have to learn from Lady Death. She uses no masala at all. She just takes those souls and sends the order to hell to cook them without masala.

Vampire Bat :: You still holds on to that one? Yes, but be aware than Mohanlal has only a smaller role in this one rather than being there on all posters around Kerala.

Vampire Owl :: I can relate to that. I have seen that so much among these vampires too. Everything got a poster of Uncle Dracula and there are even those programs about which he has no idea about.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, I remember a few of those.

Vampire Owl :: We will still give this a try because the Kannada version of the movie got great reviews.

Vampire Bat :: That might not define much in Kerala, but lets see.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Siddharth (Master Aditya) spends his time playing pranks, but is a bright student. His mother (Anu Joseph) is working at a factory while a criminal and politician called Kalaprathapan (Kalabhavan Mani) has his eyes on her after saving the boy from the police station. But situations land Siddharth in a juvenile home. He is a big fan of Puneeth Rajkumar (Himself) who is conducting a Kodipathi program on television and is looking for kids to participate in a junior version of the game. With the help of his fellow in-mates, he manages to somehow send the messages and get selected. As the strict warden is finally impressed by the boy whom he had considered the scum of the Earth, Siddharth gets permission to go to Chennai for the show accompanied by him. Meanwhile, his enemies at the juvenile home returns and a DRDO scientist called Mahadevan (Mohanlal) also comes to the scene.

The defence of Mythri :: You have to call this one a sincere effort without doubts. This surely will have a nice impact on the audience and one has to appreciate the intentions behind it. The movie tells the tale of the rise of an underdog from the middle of nowhere to the helm. The social message is powerful with relevance throughout the nation, and even though this is not a full entertainer, there is still a little bit of the same, and there is that intensity and the strength of emotions which drive a good number of those scenes. The way in which the story is told also makes a positive impact. It has the power to touch the soul, but the impact could have been heavy if it was completely remade for the Malayali audience. Yes, changes are there, with more Malayalam actors added, but a few more could have done better, and the title could have been just Mythri with no extra additions.

The claws of flaw :: The question is about the path used by this movie, for it is the Slumdog Millionaire model that has been used here, and the ending also reminds one of the Malayalam movie, One Man Show just a bit. There is also the Malayalam touch missing in this movie, and it might have hurt the chances to be more successful among the Malayali audience. This is more like something which is not ground-breaking for the Malayalam movie industry which has had so many movies with social messages. The feeling of dubbing doesn’t help the cause too. There is also a movie scene shooting which is done mostly in slow motion and with the heroism even though it is still a film within a film. The songs also come out of nowhere for no reason, and there are those dance steps which are also overused for the Keralite viewer preferences. And yes, you won’t see that much of Mohanlal in this one as in the posters.

Performers of the soul :: Puneeth Rajkumar is not really a name much known among the Keralite audience, but he surely has a left a mark here, enough to be remembered by the viewers. He is also the one who does the Kannada version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and so the right person to do this role. But no Malayali can watch this without thinking about Suresh Gopi in Ningalkum Aakaam Kodeeswaran because he has become that name related to this programme’s real Malayalam version as well as the philanthropy. What would have happened if Suresh Gopi was there with Mohanlal doing what he has been doing the best? One has to wonder – it would have surely brought the crowd in for this one. But be assured, for this wonderful actor whom we have here is very good in this. There are no clues given when questions are wrong in this case, but questions are easier for this competition!

More Performers of the soul :: We will remember Puneeth Rajkumar for quite a long time for sure. Mohanlal has an appearance which lasts not more than half an hour, and his extended cameo is something which makes an excellent impact. The kid, Aditya manages to do a fantastic job, and it is nice to see him go on to do even better as movie progresses, along with the actor who did his best friend and a brother-like figure called Johnson, the actor named Jagadish giving fine support to the boy. Kalabhavan Mani is pretty good as the villain. Atul Kulkarni leaves a mark as the warden too. It was also good to see Anu Joseph with Oridathoridathu fame who has done a memorable job here, and along with her, Archana also does a good job; one is present on in the beginning and the other just at the end. Bhavana makes an even shorter appearance, and so does Sajitha Betti.

How it finishes :: There wasn’t enough hype surrounding this movie and not much promotions took place, which has surely worked against it; if you consider the rush for Jurassic Park, Premam and then look at this one, there will be a clear picture. It had gone on to become a wonderful success in Kannada, but the same can’t be said about its status here. But it still remains the duty of the movie fans to give a chance to this movie with a social message along with those mass entertainers and full superstar flicks. The movie makes a point against judging people by where they stand as of now, and on the basis of which class they belong to. Mythri is a reason for you to watch a movie in the theatres with full family, and take a message home despite its inability to connect completely with the Keralite audience.

Release date: 12th June 2015
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: B.M Giriraj
Starring: Mohanlal, Puneeth Rajkumar, Master Aditya, Anu Joseph, Archana, Kalabhavan Mani, Atul Kulkarni, Bhavana, Sajitha Betti, Jagadish

mythri

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.