Lonappante Mamodeesa

What is the movie about? :: Lonappan (Jayaram) runs a watch repair shop in the small town of Manjapra near Angamaly, and Shameer (Hareesh Perumanna) is the one who does all the repairing jobs there. Lonappan doesn’t get much of an income from the shop, but he is not able to close it because it is family property. He is unmarried, and also has 3 unmarried sisters (Shanthi Krishna, Nisha Sarang & Eva Pavithran) – as they are not getting married, he is also not thinking about getting married. He is someone who used to be called “Tolstoy” for his story-telling abilities when he was a child. But the situation at home had forced him to stop his studies and take over watch repairing business. He is not satisfied with the same, and doesn’t even try to make things better. The watch repair shop remains exactly in the same shape as it used to be earlier.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: One day, Lonappan has a get-together with his former classmates from nearby school, and he realizes that he is the only one in their class who couldn’t get settled down. His old friends Kunjootan (Dileesh Pothan) and Neelima (Kaniha) are married, and they have settled down with good jobs in the Middle East, even though Lonappan was supposed to be the smartest of the students in their batch. The confidence given by the two makes him wonder what he can do differently to achieve success. There is frustration in his mind, but that doesn’t stop him from trying a few things differently much to the dismay of his sisters who find his actions to be strange and hopeless. Now the question remains if he can find success in his life. Whether his newly found plans will work or not, will be revealed only in the future.

The defence of Lonappante Mamodeesa :: The protagonist nicely becomes an example of people who couldn’t get to become what they wanted in life because of circumstances, and what was imposed on them by family and relatives. It is a case that is quite common, and it is a situation that too many people have faced in India, especially in Kerala – the rise of engineering was only one of such cases. With the feel-good elements, it is something that we can’t hate, and as a reflection of an everyman character, it is something that we don’t want to avoid. The emotional side is strong at times, and we can stay close to the life of the main character. It is up to the character to go through another baptism to bring the change to his character, and it is baptism by fire that can make sure about it.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is certainly confused about how it is going to bring about the change in the protagonist. The quick ending makes that clear, as we wait for something special to happen, but there is no such thing. The music is not memorable at all, and some of the characters in the film are not even needed. The subplots are not that much there, and some incidents don’t really have purpose. The transformation of the protagonist is not shown in the best way, and the movie is lacking in comedy, even though there were many chances for the same. Even the leading lady is wasted without being given much of a chance to keep staying on the screen. There are so many opportunities being wasted here, as we know that this was meant to be more. Lasting for just more than two hours, this feels longer because of missing the path on different occasions.

The performers of the soul :: Jayaram is the one family favourite actor whom we love to in roles like this. But it is a disappointing truth that except for last year’s Panchavarnathatha, there hasn’t been a movie which could rise above average status since Nadan and Lucky Star in 2013. Daivame Kaithozham K Kumar Akanam, the other movie of 2018 was a big pain, and we can be glad to see that this movie comes close to bringing the glory back up, even though it never really manages to do that in the end. Jayaram surely has returned to form, being at his comfort zone, playing a character which brings him no real challenge. Playing a commoner who has to go through many struggles, something related to family and at other times related to personal life wouldn’t bother him at any moment, and we can see the lovable Jayaram model on a number of occasions, and it brings us hope that things can get only better.

Further performers of the soul :: Anna Rajan with the Angamaly Diaries and Velipadinte Pusthakam fame plays the female lead, even though there is not much there for her to make an impression. Eva Pavithran who was last seen in Rockstar, Nisha Sarang of Uppum Mulakum fame, and Shanthi Krishna who had made a comeback with Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela are there as the three sisters of the protagonist, doing a fine job. Hareesh Kanaran is there to bring the comic side to good effect, but we can see that it is limited – the opportunity for comedy itself is not that much there to be taken, and it is wastage of his skills. Kaniha is there just for the sake of being present. Dileesh Pothen has some nice moments for us to remember, as he does that each and every time he comes on the screen. Alencier Ley Lopez’s priest role is also something that goes limited. Joju George, after the greatness of Joseph, gets a role to be forgotten.

How it finishes :: A return to family track can be seen for Jayaram with Lonappante Mamodeesa, and we know that there is hope for more. The main idea is about dreams and how people are often unable to reach where they wanted to be, or where they deserve to be – the power of the twist of fate is so. This one appeals more to the family audience that anyone else, and goes the predictable way to bring the feel-good factor. The focus on feel-good for success has let something else go missing though – we remember how Njan Prakashan, Ente Ummante Peru, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, all tried feel-good with fine effect within a gap of one month. Even though this one wouldn’t live up to that level, it also goes on to make it count in the list of movies belonging to the same category, and striving to get into the minds of the family audience.

Release date: 1st February 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Leo Thaddeus
Starring: Jayaram, Anna Rajan, Eva Pavithran, Joju George, Kaniha, Hareesh Perumana, Shanthi Krishna, Alencier Ley Lopez, Dileesh Pothen, Niyas Backer, Nisha Sarang, Innocent, Sneha Sreekumar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Panchavarnathatha

What is the movie about? :: A nameless man (Jayaram) is a mystery to many, as he owns pets ranging from cats, dogs and parrots to camels, horses, donkeys and elephants. He speaks and acts in strange ways, leading to most people of his neighbourhood belonging to upper middle class family not liking his presence in a plot right between their homes. Most of his collection of birds and animals are leftovers of a circus which had recently ceased to exist. He takes special care of his animals and birds, and sells them only to those people whom he finds fit to give them the best lives. Along with living with these creatures, he also has small real estate business and other small part-time jobs. Even though he might seem tough for people who never knew him, he is more than that, with no hesitation in helping others in need, having special love for children, as he is an orphan who never knew his father and mother.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, Kalesh (Kunchacko Boban) is the MLA of the place, who was elected earlier because his father, the former MLA had died, leaving a wave of sympathy among the common people. Despite his father being a man loved by many people, Kalesh couldn’t do much for those who elected him, and is living in a mansion of his friend, Nazir (Joju George) with his wife Chitra (Anusree) and a complaining mother (Mallika Sukumaran), who blames him being not anywhere close to his father as a politician or a social worker. With his father’s former aid Udayan (Ashokan), Kalesh hopes to claim all the glory in style with a win in the upcoming elections. His opponent for this election is Jimmy (Salim Kumar), who hopes to reclaim the consituency for his party after a long time, in one way or the other.

And what is follow with the events? :: The journeys of the two, the unnamed man and Kalesh meets when the people of the neighbourhood tries to have the animal and bird lover evicted. Kalesh is the person whom they see to accomplish that aim. But not everyone thinks about him in the same way, as the the local police officer KO Rangan (Prem Kumar) himself finds the animals and birds interesting. Things get further complicated when Kalesh is forced to give the man some space in his home because of certain twist of events. With all creatures following him, Kalesh and his family might have taken in more than what they could have. Now, questions remain about the future of the animals and birds, as well as the political career of Kalesh. Can things get better in their lives, or is this strange combination going to ruin everything?

The defence of Panchavarnathatha :: There is some good comedy followed by a fine emotional end in this flick, which is never short of being interesting for the family audience. Along with the same, there is a good message being provided here, about doing good for the others, not just to humans, but also to the animals and birds. With its everyman characters, we feel the need to attach ourselves to it, rather than some random fan movie which has fan-centered life which is not applicable to the common man who think about their families and society rather than any random superstar. The songs are just okay. Ramesh Pisharody’s first attempt at direction surely feels better and closer to heart than those movies celebrated in the name of common man like Amar Akbar Anthony and Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan. There is enough in Panchavarnathatha for most people, and the others are having problems which are surely not visible on the big screen. Some incidents in real life are also reflected here.

The claws of flaw :: There is one person whom we miss on the screen, and it is Ramesh Pisharody himself who has directed the movie, but never appears as an actor. Some of the comedy also misses out, and we feel that this kind of an idea could have had even better treatment, maybe closer to daily life’s incidents, or in a way that it goes beyond the self-inflicted restrictions – you feel the strength of the idea within this one, and the need to have more. It could have been a complete social satire, but that choice is not made even though there is politics with the ugly sides, and people within a society that has its own stranger sides. The movie is also a little too long as it deals with its content, which had to be dealt with better to go for such a long run. Also, these many animals were not needed, as it doesn’t help to take things seriously. There could have been a fine background story for the main character too.

The performers of the soul :: Jayaram is here with a different avatar, and after this year’s disaster of a movie Daivame Kaithozham K Kumar Akanam which competed with Queen to become the worst movie of 2018, he has redeemed up to an extent with this role. There is the absence of those big dialogues with this one, and the character serves with the divergence that was needed. Kunchacko Boban has this character under full control, and Anusree seems to be rightly suited for this role, as she goes natural with the performance. Mallika Sukumaran also contributes well on the usual lines. Dharmajan Bolgatty arrives later, but contributes well to the fun; before that there was Salim Kumar doing the same. Prem Kumar also brings some good contribution for the comic side, and Ashokan is there for the whole length of the movie. Joju George then brings a little more later.

How it finishes :: Panchavarnathatha is the one underrated movie of this Vishu – it seems to have managed less attention than Jayaram’s earlier lesser movies including Daivame Kaithozham K Kumar Akanam and Kunchacko Boban’s Kuttanadan Marpappa, which is rather strange. This one is surely better than Mohanlal which released with Panchavarnathatha gaining more attention, as the comedy is cent percent better working, and has characters that will appeal to us rather than some random fan girl who never really deserved to be taken seriously, as she went on to become a curse for everyone around here. We all need everyman characters, and Panchavarnathatha has something that touches the emotions along with the comic side, rather than becoming a pretender like many other movies; any kind of different uprising is always required among similar movies.

Release date: 14th April 2018
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Ramesh Pisharody
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Jayaram, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Anusree, Ashokan, Salim Kumar, Maniyanpilla Raju, Joju George, Prem Kumar, Mallika Sukumaran, Dini Daniel, Tini Tom, Seema G Nair, Kunchan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Nadan

nadan (2)

A Flashback :: Nadan comes from Kamal who had a great beginning to 2013 with the movie Celluloid which was the biopic of J.C Daniel, the father of Malayalam Cinema. It received seven Kerala State Film Awards including the award for Best Film and Best Actor (Prithviraj Sukumaran) and the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam. Before that, his works included a very interesting take or rather a satire on the pride of a rich common man (Swapna Sanchari), a critically acclaimed work focusing on the fate of poor Indians in the middle east through the life of an immigrant Indian housemaid in Saudi Arabia (Gaddama) and my personal favourite revenge story plus a success at the box-office (Aagathan). So the expectations were going to be high about this one making this the obvious first choice in the absence of a Hollywood release and a good Bollywood release, especially as the other movie at the box-office, Visudhan has got some mixed to mostly negative reviews (the audience was less in number when I watched though).

What is Nadan? :: We have already had a movie based on theatre this year, in the form of Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus (check my review of God’s Own Cleetus), directed by Marthandan and starring Mammootty – It had achieved mostly mixed reviews, but I liked that one for sure, more than most of those who watched it. Who can forget Yavanika? But nothing matches Bharathan’s Chamayam when it comes to the movies set against the backdrop of theatre. There was pure brilliance from Manoj K. Jayan, Murali and also Sithara. The 1989 movie Ramji Rao Speaking (remade in Hindi as Hera Pheri) and its sequel Mannar Mathai Speaking (partially remade in Hindi as Bhagam Bhag) also had some drama elements added to their popularity in a comical way, but nothing serious. Nadan, translated as “actor” gets into this world of theatre with a seriousness like never before. In the current situation where it not really about actor, but about hero and the fan clubs, this movie tries to make an impact in a way which might not be unfamiliar to you, but still remains fresh.

What is it about? :: After a long list of special thanks in the beginning, the movie comes up with the story of Devadas Sargavedi (Jayaram) after telling the story of his grandfather and father who were big names in the Malayalam drama industry. He tries to follow the foot steps, but in the end, losses out due to bad response for the drama compared to mimicry, serial and cinema. As the big screen and the silver screen takes over, the drama losses out – at the venues of temple festivals and church programs, the place is taken by music troops and other similar programs. We know how much it had lost in front of comedy skits, cinematic dance and music programs from the way each cultural programs has been conducted. He losses his muse Jyothi Krishna (Remya Nambeesan) with the rise of cinema as a powerful medium as well as his wife (Sajitha Madathil) as weaknesses take over the artist in him and he falls for his muse. He is left with only a few old artists, an old tempo and no booking for his shows.

The defence of Nadan :: I can remember that I have watched one drama, and yet I can’t remember anything from it, may be because I was a kid. The movie takes us to three timelines, of the 1930s, 1950s and the 1970s – the last one continuing on. The movie takes a non-linear path to tell the story, as it starts from Devadas’ daughter updating her facebook account with the photos of her family, and it ends in the same period. The rest of the movie mostly goes through Devadas’ bad situations with occasional flashbacks. Kamal has successfully made that work. The story is a good experience as it raises nostalgia, and so does it make one think about the loss of dramatic works to the powerful medium which is cinema and the disgusting bore that is mega serial. There might be a question about why and how we have been missing our culture – the answer is the loss of drama, and instead of works which makes us think, we are after pathetic emotional nonsense and new generation nothingness – there comes the part to think for us.

The claws of flaw :: The movie wouldn’t come anywhere near Kamal’s earlier venture which was Celluloid. I would still hope that this one would get some recognition in the next Kerala Film Awards. There is also some fear that most of the new generation won’t accept it with its simple world and the recreation of the life in a way which is not at all an exaggeration. The songs could have been slightly better though, and even visually this can’t compete with Celluloid. There is also a certain amount of drag, especially in the second half. The character of Remya Nambeesan could have some more presence, and there could have been more scenes involving variety drama works and also rehearsals. Still, with whatever it has, the movie manages to connect, even if not in such a way Chamayam could. The beauty of drama is often restricted to the dialogues and the continuous praise that has been bestowed upon it. The climax could have been better. Even as there is a certain amount of sad feeling created in the minds of the viewers, the depth of Celluloid is missing, but it should be mostly due to Prithviraj’s character being a perfect gentleman without ego or flaws.

Performers of the soul :: This is one of those movies which deals with the drama and still the dramatist would seem to get more attention than the work of art – this movie is centered around the life of one dramatist, and yes, Jayaram has done a fantastic job. It would all have depended on how his character is taken, and one has to say that there is nothing lost with Devadas as a dramatist. Still, the movie could have concentrated a little more on drama as a spectacle of the contemporary world (it was good to see that they could touch the nonsense that has been hailed as drama these days, something which we did see a bit in Olipporu). Along with his powerful performance, Sajitha Madathil, Joy Mathew and K. P. A. C. Lalitha strongly contributes. Remya Nambeesan has a smaller role and less screen presence, but when she is there, she scores. One has to appreciate her selection of movies, as she didn’t start off that well, but has come up with her performances in some of the best movies like this one, Philips and the Monkey Pen, Arikil Oraal and Left Right Left, along with some good ones in between. Hareesh Peradi makes another clean strike after Left Right Left. The girl who played the daughter was very good too.

How it finishes :: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hasn’t arrived here yet. Only God knows when Kick-Ass 2, Ender’s Game and Machete Kills releases here. With the much weaker other movies in the other languages around, Nadan should score good, even as its ability to connect with the newer generation and the entertainment lovers might be a little less. We can see that Nadan has impressed a good number of people, from their opinions. Now it is to be seen if it keeps that positive word of mouth which has been slightly going down, alive. The reviews haven’t been much positive. I would say that good nostalgic movies like Nadan has to be made more often. It is neither of the old generation not the new generation, as it creates its own group of viewers, a fine collection of people who loves movies as well as theatre. Despite its limited abilities and scope, Nadan rises, and that itself is a big positive compared to all those movies which destroy all the potential and go down the sewers or play the safe game and come up with quite an ordinary execution. The success of Nadan will only help the Malayalam movie industry to be innovative without going new generation – that should be great!

Release date: 22nd November 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Kamal
Starring: Jayaram, Remya Nambeesan, Sajitha Madathil, Joy Mathew, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, P. Balachandran, Hareesh Peradi, M.Mukundan, Jayaraj Warrier, Shankar Ramakrishnan

nadan copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Lucky Star

luck

The Vampire Bat had to fight off many bad omens before watching this movie. There were so many souls talking in his dreams that this is going to be a bad movie. To add to it, when the Vampire Bat was travelling on his medieval machine which ran at ten kilometres per hour, the fastest ever invented by a non-human, and there were traffic problems. In the end, the Vampire Bat reached the theatre thirty two seconds late – not too impressive for a creature well known for punctuality. I guess this reveals another thing about the Vampire Bat. He can’t fly – to be frank, it is more like he won’t fly. It is mainly because he is against it, not because he is like that bird in the movie Rio. He has decided not to fly, even if he is pushed off a cliff with non-vampire crocodiles underneath. He is so adamant, but he is no Meursault, for he is as much as a believer as any living soul in Noah’s Arc. Back to the omens, the vampire bat happened to see so much reckless driving and breaking of traffic rules; but if that is to be considered an omen, the Vampire Bat would have seen no other movie.

So the movie has Deepu Anthikkad in his directorial debut, starring Jayaram and Rachana Narayanankutty. It is the story of a small family of Ranjith, Janaki and their daughter Megha. Our hero is a man who always dreams of becoming rich, and the family as a whole has quite huge dreams, and there is a little boasting which results in no big evil. The hero is a tailor who stitches dresses mostly for movies – a random person who got stuck in the city of Chennai after coming there with big movie dreams which he still cherishes. As the couple had love marriage, they live far away from their relatives, both physically and mentally. Ranjith is looking forward to a big enterprise which he plans to start with a bank loan which seems too difficult to get. His desire to send his daughter to one of the best schools in the area, makes the financial situation even worse. He ends up facing an incredible shortage of cash for his liking, which has to be met one way or the other. This has no movement in the Swapna Sanchari direction, that is for sure, but a comparison at certain points might be worthwhile.

Continuing the sotry, the next important character, Doctor John comes up with an offer of ten lakhs for a surrogate mother for the child of an American based Indian couple who wants the mother to be good-looking. But he fails to find a woman of their liking. Janaki herself takes a decision to go for the money despite the initial refusal from her husband. The American couple pays them half the amount as advance and agrees to return to pay the remaining five lakhs after the birth of their child. But after the birth of the child, Ranjith and Janaki find that the parents of the new-born baby will not return as they have already divorced and started to live their own life. They could no longer be expected to have any interest in a child which belongs to both of them. The initial reaction was to abandon the child, but later the kid grows up as their son and their financial situation also improves – meanwhile, an incident causes the original mother of the boy to return and ask for her son – something which changes the situation completely.

The movie might bring back the memories of 1989 Malayalam movie Dasaratham and 2012 Hindi movie Vicky Donor, the former which was a classic and the latter the Vampire Bat knows not too much about other than what he heard from his noturnal allies. But the known facts tell the Vampire Bat to leave the second one further away. Well, this one is less emotional than the 1989 movie for sure, and they are surely not the same. This is more funny and without doubt, quite enjoyable, as they first half is not short of its funny moments. There might have not been many positive reviews about this one, but I would say that this is a highly under-rated movie. It has a debutant director and a debutant leading actress along with the supporting actress, but it never really losses its footing. The two leading actress and Jayaram has had a firm hold in the movie. There are moments where the story might have lost the soil under its feet, but it never really does – from what the Vampire Bat knows of the soil, he never really liked falling head first into the soil, something which happened only three or four times in his life time. In the end, the movie has strong pillars and is a job well done with its limited resources.

A good story presented in a nice package, which should be very attractive to the family audience, but still not so sure about the new generation lovers looking a continuous supply of that word which starts with the first letter of Fan, Freak, Frog prince, Fanny Browne, Faustus the doctor, Frozen dessert and Fool. For your need for everything evil and not-so-nice, find some other movie. There are enough of them with lip-locks, alchohol, drugs, cigarettes and sex; and leave this one alone, for this has goodness and it cherishes on it. The movie goes on and banks on its goodness and cast performances in a balanced manner. There is no overdose of anything, but simple dose of what would make a family-comedy-drama a success. The biggest advantage of this movie might be that it is light hearted and centred on family, the type of role in which we always wished to see Jayaram – like Veendum Chila Veetukaaryangal, Njangal Santhushtaraanu, Bhagyadevatha, Manasinakkare, Georgootty C/O Georgootty, Ayalathe Adheham, Meleparambil Aanveedu, Aadyathe Kanmani, Veruthe Oru Bharya and so many others.

T. G. Ravi and Mamukkoya have smaller, but noticeable roles to play in the movie. Even as there not that much power in any department to strengthen the movie, there is not much flaws around. To be frank, what might have affected the movie more might be the prejudices; the most significant of them might be based on the name – for a name like “Lucky Star” is a little unattractive for movie; a little closer to the first name of the Indian Premier League Cricket team from Cochin, IndiCommandos Kerala, and not that far away from the names like Chennai SuperKings and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Not that these names can be considered horrible, for they are all subjective – a name like “Lucky Star” would create less interest in Kerala than most of the other names. Its like when I say the name of the movie which I am going to watch, and people are like, what in this world is that? That is surely a cause of repulsion. If it also reminds you of the 2011 Malayalam movie, Lucky Jokers, does that help? Not for me to say.

The movie has the right cast and there is nothing wrong in the movie to have this much less reception, and the hope is for it to do better than how it is performing in the theatre right now. Family audience, this is your chance to bring goodness back to Malayalam movies. A must for anyone who wants to see a good world on the screen and the display of the power of family values compared to the world of separation and intolerance. Isn’t this more of humanity than random people wandering around having drugs, sex, alcohol and cigarettes? Isn’t humanity more of being good rather than gaining attention? Even the ambitions and desires which might have existed in the earlier parts of this movie makes way for the big sacrifice in the end. This is how righteousness should be running, not on a cart made of stone wheels created out of a heart of stone, but based on that delicacy which should be worth a whole human life.

Release date: 8th March 2013
Running time: 130 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Deepu Anthikkad
Starring: Jayaram, Rachana Narayanankutty, Pooja Ramachandran, Mukesh, T. G. Ravi, Mamukkoya

luckystar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.