Anjaam Pathiraa

What is the movie about? :: A policeman is murdered, with no clue being left behind for the cops to follow. The dead body is soon found, and it was supposed to be a case of revenge from one of the criminals whom he had locked up earlier, but it doesn’t end there. A second policeman is found dead, with the killer following the same pattern of murder, including the corpses of the men being left without their eyes and heart. This leads to a crisis in the police department, and a team being formed to investigate the case lead by Catherine Maria (Unnimaya Prasad) and Anil Madhavan (Jinu Joseph). The latter also includes in the team, Anwar Hussain (Kunchacko Boban), a psychologist who is serving as a consulting criminologist for the police department. He has been studying the psychology of criminals on the way to a doctorate. As the CCTV cameras are also hacked, a hacker and Anwar’s patient, Andew (Sreenath Bhasi) is also forced into the team.

So, what happens with the events here? :: The series of murders doesn’t seem to stop though, even though all the policemen of the city works twenty four hours, and are put on high alert. Anwar, with his wife Fathima (Ramya Nambeeshan) and children are also under the eyes of the serial killer who also seems to have a helper. The killers seem to be masters of disguise, and has everything planned from zero, with each step leaving nothing behind for the police. The clues that seem to lead to them only ends up being misleading. As death lurks around the corner, it is up to law and enforcement to take back control and make the civilians feel safe. But that would need taking more than the usual path, and this divergence might be a red herring left by the killers – can they rise above this at some point and stop the killing spree?

The defence of Anjaam Pathiraa :: The movie nicely brings the tale of serial killing together, and the elements of shock and twists are nicely brought into the tale, especially in the first half. There is a certain amount of suspense at work here right from the beginning. To bring the terror to the screen, the movie nicely uses the darkness, even the quick return of lighting is used to bring a startling effect. The creepy masks and their quick appearance out of nowhere could provide something new. By the interval, we have enough to know that this is a game in which the serial killers will be tough to beat, and it is here that movie has its full strength – nobody would want to leave during the interval as the need to know further is always there. It also has to be noted that the movie does have some funny moments in store in between the serious moments, and all the tension which has been ruling the big screen from the beginning to the end.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s strength in the first half is not maintained in the second half, as the latter part of the second half is rather predictable, and by bringing the element of a planned revenge, it losses out in the psychotic side. Such a predictability which seems to be like finding unnecessary meaning for the lotos eaters is rather unnecessary. Having a smart psychopath without a clear motive for the rational human was always the better choice, as that would bring chaos to darkness, and keeps the lights away all the time. After all, Anjaam Pathiraa is no Memories either, as such a brutal strength is not there, not with the protagonist or with the antagonist. The movie could have also had a better background score, even though at some points, it is good – at that point, it could have been there for longer. The sequence involving the ripper could have also been there for more time.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban leads the way well here. There is no heroic style entrance with heavy background music for him here, and it is the beauty of his work here – there is no pretending to be the superhero star anymore unlike what was shown in another movie’s trailer which was showed in the beginning in an absurd state. It is certainly not the usual kind of role for him, but there is no staying behind here. He doesn’t play the police role, but this role of the psychologist assisting police is no less investigator. There are some interesting dialogues in store for him too. His previous work, Virus was a different kind of a thriller in which he was only playing a part. Ramya Nambeeshan is someone whom we don’t see in Malayalam movies much these days, and it is nice to see her in the movie, playing the wife of the protagonist. She was one actress who could have been in more movies, and it is something I felt long ago.

Further performers of the soul :: Unnimaya Prasad who is best known for two short time high impact characters in Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Parava also comes up with some of the best of moments leading the investigation team. Jinu Joseph plays a rather calm police officer with a twist in store, and this avatar definitely feels different. Sreenath Bhasi has a good run here as the hacker always looking for something more. There is also a funny side to his character, which comes out at times. Indrans’ screen time felt rather less, as his ripper character steals the moments in the beginning with ease. Mathew Thomas, even though there only for a short period of time, leaves a mark, after Thannermathan Dinangal and Kumbalangi Nights. We also have a good number of supporting actors who has contributed to this movie, which needed a lot of it.

How it finishes :: The director Midhun Manuel Thomas has been known for light-hearted movies like Ann Maria Kalippilaanu, Aadu and Alamara, but it can be clearly seen that the feeling has changed now. Anjaam Pathiraa could find no difficulty in going on to become the first interesting Malayalam movie of the year, and it was clear from the dark shades of the trailer too. This is not just the first movie of the year 2020, but also the write-up about the first movie around here that deserves your attention. May the best of films be there in the theatres this year, and let us have some of the best of the decade as it comes to an end with 2020. As far as this movie is concerned, I would say that those movies which deal with horror and thriller elements have a lot of work to do, and it is to be noted that these have worked very well, and is worth the appreciation for the effort.

Release date: 10th January 2020
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Midhun Manuel Thomas
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Ramya Nambeeshan, Unnimaya Prasad, Jinu Joseph, Mathew Thomas, Harikrishnan, Indrans, Sreenath Bhasi, Sharafudheen, Divya Gopinath, Sharafudheen, Jaffer Idukki, Abhiram Pothuval, Sudheesh

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Virus

What is the movie about? :: Kozhikode District collector Paul V Abraham (Tovino Thomas) gets an urgent call when he is about to leave home. There are a series of events that lead to the same, and most of it happens in the Kozhikode Medical Centre. A nurse named Akhila (Rima Kallingal), was taking care of a young man named Zachariah (Zakariya Mohammed), who was admitted to her hospital for fever, but is now suffering from the same symptoms. Dr. Abid Rahman (Sreenath Bhasi) is having his normal shift in the hospital as his lover and medical student Sara Yakub (Madonna Sebastian) shows signs of ending their relationship – at the same time, more and more patients are being admitted in the hospital. But the signs that some of these patients show are not natural, as the doctors figure out that something strange and unusual is coming up. It is also not limited to one or two people anymore, and there is panic.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The samples are sent to Manipal to be tested by the experts led by Dr Suresh Rajan (Kunchacko Boban), and it is confirmed that it is Nipah virus which has affected the patients. With no vaccination or specific treatment available for the epidemic, the only hope for the goverment is quarantine, and hope to find the source, as well as make sure that it didn’t spread to many people. The team lead by Health Minister CK Prameela (Revathi) includes the collector Paul V Abraham with Dr Smrithy (Poornima Indrajith) and Dr Annu (Parvathy) in an attempt to stop the infection from spreading. First identified in 1998 in Malaysia, the disease, in most cases has taken the lives of those who were infected. With people not related to the first patient, like Unnikrishnan (Soubin Shahir) getting infected, there are questions raised how the source could be found. Are the authorities good enough to find it?

The defence of Virus :: The movie nicely deals with a situation that Keralites, especially those from Kozhikode and Malappuram districts in the north of the state had to go through. With the virus showing its signs of return in the central area now, the case has gained further significance. One won’t fail to notice how the movie has kept itself close to reality, and how each character has been given significance, with each actor having a job to do. The movie is never dependent on one person, as there is no main character – there are only people who tries to help others, and a few others who try to survive in a world which is threatened by something new, and something deadly. The movie was a need, as the world needed to know the story, and making it a memorable one was Aashiq Abu’s duty, which he did with ease, as we have three good memories in a row, with Rani Padmini, Mayaanadhi and this one.

Positives and negatives :: The movie might feel slow at some points, but it quickly goes past the same. We are able to place ourselves in the place of the characters, and we go through their emotions with ease. The emotional strength of the movie is high, and it can even be more with different people, and their perspectives. The thrills are also there, and we keep close to the whole thing, each moment. Parts of the movie might be fictionalized, but our director surely knows where to stop that. The location is as nicely captured as the people themselves. The view from the top more or less makes us feel the city. You know what is going to happen in the end, and you want to know how we reach there, and to go through that journey, we are with the characters like never before – in creating that closeness to the characters, the director has succeeded.

The performers of the soul :: The movie has a fantastic cast, and the talent can be seen in each part of it. Parvathy comes up with another great job after Uyare, and this one has one more natural performance from her. Two of the three best movies of the year belongs to her, with the other one without her presence is Kumbalangi Nights. Tovino who was Parvathy’s co-star in Uyare had only memorable performances, with Lucifer, Ente Ummante Peru, Oru Kuprasidha Payyan, Theevandi and Maradona giving him a continuous impressive run in Malayalam movie industry. Here, once again, he owns his role. Kunchacko Boban didn’t have that much of a great run with his previous movies, but he is right there, solid with this role of a doctor. Asif Ali continues his choice of some good movies with another emotional role. Vijay Superum Pournamiyum had provided a great beginning to the year for him. Joju George, after Joseph, continues to strike our emotions in a beautiful way.

Further performers of the soul :: Indrajith Sukumaran and Rahman has smaller, but memorable roles, especially with the former who manages to come up with some nice moments in between. It is also great to see Poornima Indrajith after such a long time, and this is a role to remember for sure – nice to see Remya Nambeeshan there too. Revathi manages to do the job of Health Minister in a believable manner. The similarity in appearance has also been achieved up to an extent. Madonna Sebastian doesn’t have much to do here, and neither does Sharafudheen. Rima Kallingal is quick to come and go, and stays in memories because of the emotional connect with the real-life character being attained. Meanwhile, Sreenath Bhasi gets a different role this time, and he manages to provide complete justice to the same. He had provided some signs of the same in the last movie, but that was a mute character – this time, he raises the bar. The roles of Jinu Joseph and Dileesh Pothan are small, but to be noted. Unnimaya Prasad and Soubin Shahir also catches our attention.

How it finishes :: Virus is already the biggest movie of the weekend, with so almost all shows being booked early. The success here lies in the fact that it shows everything in a realistic manner, never do we see those unreal heroes – we feel that almost every character in there are people like us, and therefore part of us. We can feel the pain and troubles of the characters, as well as reflect the same. As Nipah virus once again becomes a cause of concern, this becomes a thing of focus yet again. Virus is a movie that needs to be watched for how it shows the people showing their fighting spirit and their concern for others, in a battle for survival. It is also a memory of the people who lost their lives in the process, especially the nurse, Lini Puthussery who died while doing her duty. It is the same reason why this movie needs to be watched more than any other.

Release date: 7th June 2019
Running time: 152 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Joju George, Jinu Joseph, Rahman, Soubin Shahir, Indrajith Sukumaran, Parvathy, Poornima Indrajith, Remya Nambeeshan, Revathi, Madonna Sebastian, Sreenath Bhasi, Indrans, Rima Kallingal, Dileesh Pothan, Senthil Krishna, Sharafudheen, Shebin Benson, Zakariya Mohammed, Sudheesh, Savithri Sreedharan, Darshana Rajendran, Basil Joseph, Lukman Lukku, Ann Saleem, Haris Saleem, Sajitha Madathil, Leona Lishoy, Nikhil Raveendran, Sreekanth Murali, Vettukili Prakash, Sreedevi Unni, Ambika Rao, Divya Gopinath, Unnimaya Prasad, Sundara Pandyan, Binu Pappu,Vimal Muraleedharan, Nilambur Ayisha

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Varathan

What is the movie about? :: After spending a long time in love, two IT professionals working in Dubai, Aby (Fahadh Faasil) and Priya (Aishwarya Lekshmi) gets married, and has been expecting their first child. But as the child dies and Aby is forced to give up his job due to his boss feeling that they can’t afford him anymore, the two decides that their time at the big city is over. Priya wishes to go back to her ancestral home, and they settle down in her father’s estate at Pathinettaam Mile, an area that goes a long way into the highranges. They travel to the new place, and stays at her father’s cottage which has a long history going back to the time of the British. There they come up against the locals who are not happy about their existence there in a modern and foreign style, something which they consider to be against local culture and traditions of the small village area.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is Joice (Sharafudheen) and his friends and relatives including his childhood friend Jithin (Vijilesh Karayad) who had studied with Priya in a school in Pathinettaam Mile that creates most of the problems for them. This gang that has a history of being infatuated with Priya from the school days, decides to take things further by spying on the couple. Priya finds people near the house at regular intervals, and suspects that they are up to no good. The only person who seems to be interested in helping them is the Benny (Dileesh Pothan) who had been taking care of the place in their absence. Aby and Priya find out that there is more problems for them to solve than what were seen, but the question remains if it is that easy for them to survive in a strange world which provides not much for the outsiders.

The defence of Varathan :: There is no shortage of style in this movie, and the music is really good, whether it is in the background or being there as part of some wonderful songs. There is a visual treat for store in here too, a quality which has always been there in Amal Neerad movies, and being at the best in his previous movies, Iyobinte Pustakam and CIA: Comrade in America. The thrills are also strong in this one, and the terror here is real. The movie also asks some relevant questions about the attitude of a lazy, booze-loving, jobless new generation, and also the perspective of a judgmental society which categorizes people by the way they live and how they dress. There is a stylish beginning and a thrilling, extra-stylish ending that is seen in this movie. The movie’s transformation into a home invasion flick in the end has a strange beauty which makes it travel right between the genres.

The claws of flaw :: If you have watched the movies like Don’t Breathe, you know how well the home invasion flicks can turn out to be – Varathan is only partially that, and often you wonder if it does have that genre confusion. Between the beginning and the end, there is the middle part which lags, and got its own problems with keeping the movie going without repetition. The struggle is there, and it is as real as the terror itself. The final transformation is also a little too quick for everyone to follow with a willing suspension of disbelief. The movie trailer had also seemed to suggest more – there was scope for having strange mysteries and terrible secrets being revealed, with the psychological side being stronger than ever. But such a diversion never arrives. The tale could have also been more believable if the setting was different, maybe in some of those areas of NH10.

The performers of the soul :: The movie is Fahadh Faasil’s second one in this year, coming after Carbon which released in January. It has been a long time considering the fact that the works of other actors have been releasing quite frequently. You will find this one as a wait which matters a lot, because it is a wonderful performance that he comes up with. There is more than one phase to his work, as there is stoicism that runs through him in the beginning, and as patience keeps running out, the beast is to be unleashed in the end. The transformation that comes across him is brilliantly shown on the screen, and he has those moments in the end which changes the mood of the film all of a sudden. Well, when he is around, he rises above the movie itself, not with his fans as the superstars do, but with the performance – this one has no surprises there, and we know that the expectations are to be met in that particular department every time.

Further performers of the soul :: There is no doubt about what Aishwarya Lekshmi can do either, as she began with Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela and went on to act in Mayaanadhi, a movie which brought her all the appreciation that a new actress in the field could gather. The intensity that she displays in this movie is something that we haven’t seen for a long time. The emotions are strong with her, and we feel the depth all the time. We have had many actresses who came into the industry and disappeared rather soon, but Aishwarya in one actress who is certain to be here – a movie with Fahadh and her around was always going to a work with some fantastic performances, and that was absolutely true. Sharafudheen comes in an avatar which is different, and that kind which is not usually associated with him, and same is the case of Vijilesh who was last seen in Theevandi. Dileesh Pothan has a nice small role, and Unnimaya Prasad of Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Parava fame as well as Chethan who is best known for Guppy leaves some impact.

How it finishes :: The movie becomes special more because of the treatment rather than anything else. The story might seem like something which you know, and wandering through different genres, the transformation is certainly too quick for some of the viewers to like. But just like his other movies, Amal Neerad has surely brought something for us to remember – it could be one element, and something which is coated in so much style, but we have it each and every time. Mangalyam Thanthunanena which has released on the same day with Kunchacko Boban and Nimisha Sajayan has a very deep struggle in there, and therefore, the success of Varathan should come as no surprise. It becomes an example of a stylish thriller with great visuals, music and a wonderful cast. Ranam had the style, but this one thrives on the thrills, especially at the end.

Release date: 20th September 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Dileesh Pothan, Arjun Asokan, Sharafudheen, Vijilesh Karayad, Nisthar Sait, Chethan Jayalal, Jinu Joseph, Kochu Preman, Unnimaya Prasad, Maala Parvathi, Shobhi Thilakan


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Vikadakumaran

What is the movie about? :: Binu Sebastian (Vishnu Unnikrishnan) is a lawyer who gets only those smaller cases which don’t get him any appreciation in life. Even though his dreams are huge, he never really gets close to achieving them. He goes through a mundane existence in and out of court, and this has lead to a certain lack of interest which makes him careless in dealing with those lesser cases which gets too. His best friend and support is Manikandan Pillai (Dharmajan Pillai) who helps him to get some new cases. Binu is in love with Sindhu (Manasa Radhakrishnan) who runs a canteen near the court. The fact that he only has his mother and a sister with hearing problems, and that his father had left nothing much for the family makes his consider all options to get to fame and money.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is then that Roshi Balakrishnan (Jinu Joseph) and Aishwarya Nair (Rosin Jolly) enters the scene. There is an incident involving the death of a home guard, a hit and run case in which both of these are involved. The former is a rich and young businessman who is known for many illegal activies, and the latter is a popular film actress who is looking to leave cinema field after getting engaged. Soon, the actress is also found dead, and Binu finds himself fighting against Roshi in the beginning, and later defending his case. His friends as well as the media remains divided on this, but it is to be seen how Binu would end up in his career with this kind of a big case. Will there be justice served for anyone in the end?

The defence of Vikadakumaran :: There are enough funny moments in this flick to keep it going. The credit for the same goes to Vishnu and Dharmajan attempting to repeat what was done in Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan. There are some nice moments in the court, both funny and effective, even though there is nothing that raises the bar, in a world where there have been movies like Yes Your Honour, Melvilasom, Jolly LLB, Jolly LLB 2, and Pink – it is still better than that over-hyped disaster of a movie throwing a court-scene out of nowhere, called Queen; the Malayalam one. The movie also nicely ends up with poetic justice being served at the final moments. A common person’s story is depicted well enough, and in doing the same, the main performers do good job. The songs are just okay, not providing too much. There will be fun in store for sure, with some twist to come in the end which will be satisfactory.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt that this movie could have done more with each and every aspect, whether it is the comedy, thrills, twists or the court-room drama. There is the presence of a little too many co-incidences, and we could have had better explanations and even better situations both inside and outside the court. There is also the problem of the villain’s overall smartness going with the wind, and the hero getting the smartest of them all, without nothing much happening in between. We could have also had some social issues being dealt with, considering the premise, and those who thought that something was going to be done by the lawyer regarding the first scene in the movie, one is certainly going to be disappointed. Considering its similarities with other movies with a lawyer as the protagonist, it had to do better, but it never really even try to bring a special ingredient – it could have, but that might not have been the priority.

The performers of the soul :: Vishnu Unnikrishnan is back this year after the memorable fun ride which was Shikkari Shambhu. He rightly suits this role, and has no problems in blending in here. If he was co-staring with Kunchacko Boban in that movie, this Easter weekend, he is in competition with the same actor who has Kuttanadan Marpappa at the theatres, both flicks focusing on the comic side. The combination of Vishnu and Dharmajan gets all the attention from us with the funny side which never ends. Baiju also contributes to the fun without second thoughts, and Rafi has his funny moments too. Jinu Joseph plays a powerful negative character in this movie, and he does that in style as he did in Iyobinte Pusthakam. He is the kind of villain that we always need, with a level of antagonism that stays afloat at all times. Indrans’ small role is very much memorable.

Further performers of the soul :: Manasa Radhakrishnan, the lady lead might be remembered more for playing Jaseela, the protagonist’s sister in Tiyaan. She does a fine job here, even though there is not that much of an opportunity provided for her – being just the love interest of the hero seems to be the priority. Lets have more of her in the industry. Rosin Jolly has an interesting role to play in this one, which she manages well, even though it is surprising that so many of the popular reviewers have mistaken her to be Leona Lishoy. It is understandable to make mistakes for the common man and the bloggers, but when the big names who are claimed as professionals do it, one has to doubt one’s purpose of writing a review. Megha Mathew’s role is restricted in such a way that there is almost nothing for her to make even the least impact. The female characters never really get the boost they need with this one.

How it finishes :: The movie is more or less a fight for justice, for two dead people, one a common man and the other a celebrity, and the responsible person being the same. We expect a lot of sparks as well as emotional sequences, but they are never really things of concern here. We also notice that it never really reaches the level of the movies like Yes Your Honour, Jolly LLB, Jolly LLB 2 and Pink. But if you are looking for some simple fun with a purpose, you can surely choose Vikadakumaran – just don’t expect too much, and enjoy the entertainment, for this one is never really boring at any moment. The same mood seems to be carried on towards the end, as we get to that end. It is more or less the harmless family movie, the kind of flick that Sreenivasan would do again.

Release date: 30th March 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Boban Samuel
Starring: Vishnu Unnikrishnan, Manasa Radhakrishnan, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Baiju, Rosin Jolly, Jinu Joseph, Jayan Cherthala, Megha Mathew, Nelson, Arun Ghosh, Indrans, Mahesh, Rafi, EA Rajendran, Nizhalgal Ravi, Sunil Sukhada, Seema G Nair

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CIA

What is the movie about? :: Aji Mathews (Dulquer Salmaan) spends most of his time working for the leftist party and keeping his communist ideology active to that extent that he keeps seeing his all-time favourite historical figures, Lenin, Karl Marx, Stalin and Che Guevara whenever there is some crisis or when something special needs to be done. He does visit his old college whenever there is time, even though he had passed the degree exams some time ago – he remains a respected figure among the students there. It is there that he meets Sarah Mary Kurian (Karthika Muralidharan), the daughter of a rich businessman settled in the United States, and is living with her maternal uncle Baby’s (Maniyan Pillai Raju) family. She has a completely different ideology, and wishes to return to the United States as soon as her studies are over, but falls in love with Aji who is a popular figure in the local wing of the leftist party and its activities.

So, what happens next? :: But things won’t go that smoothly as planned for the two lovers, as Sarah is called back to the United States as her mother is not well, and it turns out that they are making her marry someone against her will by the end of the month. Now without even having a passport for which there never seemed to be a need, Aji has to get himself to the United States with less than a month left. All travel agencies tell him that it is impossible, and his best friends Hari (Dileesh Pothan) and Jomon (Soubin Shahir) also asks him to drop the idea. It is then that Aji’s cousin brother, Cyril (Jinu Joseph) tells him about an idea which he shouldn’t try – it turns out to be the one that he was going to try, with hopes of being at her lover’s place before her wedding ceremony. His family bids him adieu hoping that he will find a job in the United States and settle there with the help of his cousin brother, but Aji’s plan is rather divergent.

And what is there to follow? :: Aji has the whole plan thought about clearly. The first item on the list is to travel to Nicaragua, after getting the passport on time. With it being the closest nation to the United States which doesn’t require a visa for a holder of Indian passport, that seemed to be the one right option at that time. It is something which he does with ease, and also makes it to the office of the Communist Party there. The next part of the journey remains the more complicated side, with the need to travel to Mexico on road through Honduras and Guatemala, and then crossing over the border to the United States, with his cousin brother waiting for him on the other side. During his journey, he will meet a Sri Lankan Tamil cab driver who has been eternally trying to get to the United States, a Mexican family of four that needs to cross the border for survival, a Pakistani man attempting to get to his wife and daughter who have left him, a Chinese man looking forward to the freedom in the United States and also a Malayali girl, Pallavi (Chandini Sreedharan).

The defence of Comrade in America :: Just like Amal Neerad’s previous effort sometime ago, Iyobinte Pustakam, this one also remains visually excellent, focusing in Kerala through Palai and Ramapuram, going towards the Latin American nations. It is the beauty and the style on the screen that brings the best here, even though we keep asking ourselves at times if this could have been a better experience. The funny side has strength in the first half. There is also a thrilling journey in the second half, even though it isn’t taken control of, completely. Love, politics and journey – these were the factors in focus for Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, and maybe it is from this particular flick that we have Comrade in America, which is certainly a better movie if you look at it without prejudice. There are also emotional moments here and there which work, but the same is not the case for all of them. To add to it, the background music is perfectly suited for this movie, and will have you asking for more situations with it.

The claws of flaw :: The focus on the story seems to be rather so much less, with the movie going on predictable lines in the first half, and there is not much of an effort put in the second half too. Its comrade side is clearly half-baked, and the romance between the lead pair just doesn’t seem to be there – one often feels that there was no love, but the protagonist was just trying to keep his promise. The movie has style and mass more when it is rather not that much required – a protagonist seems to be someone who can even load and use a gun – when it is asked about why he doesn’t need a final anointment, he misses a trick, and doesn’t focus on his need to be with his love; even by the end, there is a struggle with the character which seems to be feeling a need to become “mass” for his fans, and for the same justifies hooliganism. There is no battle between the ideologies of capitalism and communism as the title seemed to suggest.

Performers of the soul :: It is Dulquer Salmaan’s star value and the effort that he seems to have put into this role that will catch your attention right from his stylish introduction to the credit scenes. The first half seems to be not of that much challenge, but the second half is surely something that brings the effort out of him, and he delivers here as expected from him. Still, it has to be noted that this is the nth movie that has him leaving his home, and he does the same thing that he did in Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi in a better way, and unlike Charlie, there is nobody searching for his character instead. The next one to catch our attention is not any of the heroines though, as it is Dileesh Pothan, the director of Maheshinte Prathikaaram in his role of the leader of the local party committee and combines with Soubin Shahir to bring the funniest moments of the movie; you remember the same in Rani Padmini. Then there is Siddique, once again flawless with his comic side.

How it finishes :: The movie, despite having two heroines, doesn’t use them much though, and among the two, it is Chandini Sreedharan who lights up the screen when she is there – as she returns after Darwinte Parinamam. Karthika Muralidharan gets less and does less, as far as this flick is concerned. Well, the focus had to be on Dulquer Salmaan; his fans are certain to find this a very nice treat for these holidays. Red has been a dominant colour and the movies have been going left with the likes of Oru Mexican Aparatha and Sakhavu, starring Tovino Thomas and Nivin Pauly respectively – Comrade in America comes with the addition of some romance and a journey abroad to add to the same, at the cost showing less of the leftist ideas. Instead, the focus is more on the protagonist’s attempt to get to his destination, with the support of some wonderful visuals – with all the crowd support, this movie is certain to give any other superstar’s flick a competition for sure.

Release date: 5th May 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Chandini Sreedharan, Dileesh Pothan, Surabhi Lakshmi, Jinu Joseph, John Vijay, Siddique, Karthika Muralidharan, Priyanka P Nair, Soubin Shahir, Vishnu Gopal Nair, Nandamuri Balakrishna, Sujith Sankar, Maniyan Pillai Raju, Alencier Ley Lopez, Len Prasad, Julio Antonio Alonzo, Murillo Alves, Nathan Amir

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Rani Padmini

ranipadmini (1)

What is it about? :: Rani Padmini tells the story of the journey of two women. Padmini (Manju Warrier) is the wife of Giri (Jinu Joseph) who had settled in North India many years ago. Even though her mother-in-law (Sajitha Madathil) is adamant that she shouldn’t work, her husband tells her to follow her heart, just like he races in mountain rallies against the wishes of his mother. She starts working as a physiotherapist much to the dismay of her mother-in-law who brings up a divorce notice to teach her a lesson when Giri goes for racing. Padmini decides to run away from home and find her husband. Meanwhile, Rani (Rima Kalingal) is facing a financial problem and a gang of criminals is also after her after she revealed their hiding location to the police. She runs away from home with enough problems on her trail.

How it goes on :: Soon, Rani and Padmini will get their roads to converge, as they meet up in a bus, and decide to continue their journey together. Even though they have their differences, they manage to get along well. As her mother-in-law arranges for the police to bring her back, Giri gets into tough competition with a veteran racer who is determined to win it this time. The two ladies get through the problems on the road by using the best of their abilities and also by luck; sometimes being helped by people on the road including journalists, trekkers and even local men and women. With this one interesting journey, there will be the realization of some truths, not only for the two protagonists, but also for the people who are connected to them in one way or the other. A lot of things are sure to change in their lives.

The defence of Rani Padmini :: There is a wonderful working combination in Rani Padmini. It is not just related to the two leading ladies who take this experience to another level, but also about how this movie combines its feel-good factor, messages, funny side and beautiful sceneries together to bring some awesomeness on the screen. The advantage here is that it is applicable to not just a category of people, but for everyone. The humour in this movie is really good, and it makes the presence felt regularly. Unlike what the trailer seemed to suggest, the movie is light-hearted, and there is not much of a dark side to it. The visuals are nothing less than amazing, and it provides the viewer with the desire to travel to those locations far away. The background music adds to the positives, and the songs also have something for the heart and the soul. You will also love the way in which the message takes a path which asserts freedom rather than labels.

Claws of flaw :: Rani Padmini doesn’t bring a lot to the story as the focus is on the idea and what is brought to the viewers on the screen. There could have been many other ways through which this movie had the ability to progress better. Some people might feel slight drag, but it is more dependent on how you see and how you think, that much freedom is provided by Rani Padmini to the viewers. It is also not the usual entertainer, even though it entertains with its moments. The idea could have also been better brought to the audience. It seems that due to the negative opinions from critics and the audience alike for his previous movie that Aashiq Abu decided not to publicize this one like Gangster which almost everyone considers as his worst movie ever. The initial rush might be less for this movie due to the same reason, but it will pick up and is here to stay in the theatres.

Performers of the soul :: The movie is completely dependent on the lady characters who lead the way. The two leading ladies have done an amazing job here, absorbing the soul of the characters into themselves. They are very good together, and makes a perfect team. We have seen Rima Kallingal only once since 2013, with the spoof movie, Chirakodinja Kinavukal this year. This flick is a perfect example of why she needs to be there on screen more. She provides a highly memorable performance as the rebellious young lady who wishes to prove herself to her mother. She excels in the comic side like never before, and got some of the funniest moments in the movie. People can talk about having other actresses in the same role, but not like this, and not in the way Rima has done; for this is special.

Further performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier’s second run is only two movies old, with How Old Are You in 2014 and Ennum Eppozhum in 2015. But here, she has her best performance in her second innings, and this is also the best movie in her second entry. The family audience will love her a lot in this avatar, and others will also love this performance as she has a balanced character providing different levels of experience. She handles both the emotional and comic scenes with fine skill. You should look out for the story which she tells her friend and her interest in a flower and a soap. While Rima excels in showing her anger and frustration in a funny way, she scores with the humour in nostalgia, concerns and affection. Jinu Joseph does a good job even with smaller screen presence, and Sajitha Madathil remains solid as usual.

How it finishes :: Here is a movie which keeps saying that Aashiq Abu is back. He has taken the risk once again, and remembering how the audience reacted to Gangster, this one surely needed the confidence – he scores due to the same, big time. Rani Padmini‘s advantage over other movies is that it doesn’t preach, and what the two leading women characters in the movie manage is to finally become the individuals whom they are and those personalities whom they wish to be. It is a case of embracing the truth and one’s abilities, as they make the others around understand the same. You can ask if Rani Padmini is How Old Are You or Queen, and I will reply that it is better than them both. I actually consider this one Aashiq Abu’s best work ever, the first one which goes directly into the soul rather than towards the brain or the heart.

Release date: 23rd October 2015
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Manju Warrier, Rima Kallingal, Jinu Joseph, Praveen Jain, Sajitha Madathil, Sreenath Bhasi, Sana Althaf, Srinda Ashab, Soubin Shahir, Kunchan, Ambika Mohan, Dileesh Pothan, Binu Pappu, Rajitha Madhu, Hareesh Khanna

rainpadmini

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Iyobinte Pusthakam

Iyobinte Pustakam ()

What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of Iyob (Lal) and his three sons, Dimitri (Chemban Vinod Jose), Ivan (Jinu Joseph) and Aloshy (Fahadh Faasil). Iyob was a young local boy who became the right-hand of Harrison (Sal Yusuf), one of the British people who established homes in Munnar, but he managed to rise after his death and had become the most powerful and the influential man in the area. Due to the commanding nature of his father and the atrocities of his brothers which are covered up with money, Aloshy leaves home and joins the Royal Navy from where he is dismissed as a result of a mutiny, which leads him back home. There, his troubles with his brothers begin, and Iyob is infuriated by his lack of obedience and also lack of display of admiration for his father, for which he disinherits him, and his brothers attack him and leaves him for dead. But Iyob doesn’t really know his other sons yet, and an enemy called Angoor Rawther (Jayasurya) shall soon come up.

The defence of Iyobinte Pusthakam :: Iyobinte Pusthakam is brilliant, and amazing beyond words in its visual splendour – it is something that we might have never seen before in Indian cinema, and one can get a peek at the same by just looking at the trailer – the complete stuff is a lot bigger and highly extravagant in its visuals. What you see in the posters are made a lot better in this movie, and not the other way around. The movie’s use of history and the variety in settings are also something to cheer about. We rarely have such good period thrillers in Malayalam, and even in Bollywood. The only things related to history that we have these days are related to killing white people – are we so much out of ideas that we have to talk about one thing again and again? No, not all, says Amal Neerad who has come up with his magnum opus here, which tells the story of the people of the land during the British rule and after, combining history and fiction. You can appreciate this one as long as you have the ability for the same.

Positives and negatives :: The movie might still be slow for a few, but I will say that there is absolutely no drag, and it is achieved by the beauty of the visuals – it is no bloody useless drag like Annayum Rasoolum, I can assure you that; this is more of a Left Right Left of this year. As you enter the world of unparalleled visual beauty, what you want might not be the story. The plot might look ordinary, but it is never about the story. Do watch and get taken into this amazing world, and the first movie from Amal Neerad that I liked – and this is one big like for him! Yes, I have never liked Big B, Sagar Alias Jacky, Anwar and Bachelor’s Party, and you fan-boys and girls can dislike me for the same. Interstellar was just a story that could never happen, but this one is a story of humanity in real, and it is up-to you to choose the one that you wish for this weekend, as both are for entirely different set of minds! Our Malayalam critics will never rate a movie from Kerala high, so just the “very good” rating for this movie would mean “out of this world”.

Performances of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is nothing less than brilliant here, as he has another feather in the cap here. It is amazing how he has managed to thrive under almost every circumstance that has been put before him. How good can he be? We can never know the limits of his abilities as it seems. Lal is also nothing less than the powerful and later the helpless figure that he is supposed to be – there is nobody other who can be this character. Chemban Vinod Jose and Jinu Joseph are also good and the former is extremely efficient at times Isha Sharvani is extremely beautiful and suited for the role with her looks alone, otherwise she has much less to do; but that has still worked well for the character. Jayasurya is one impressive villain too, as he becomes the smiling assassin here. Padmapriya as Rahel also scores, coming out nowhere. Vinayakn is also nice. The characterization is so powerful and they nicely blend into the strength of visual beauty and that nice background score. I shall leave with some more thoughts below.

Soul exploration 1 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as King Lear :: Iyobinte Pusthakam is a lot like King Lear or a loose adaptation from the same – it is as much of Shakespeare as Haider is Hamlet, and it has nicely used the setting to support the same. Iyob is King Lear who divides his kingdom among two sons, disinheriting the third, and in the end, it turns out that he was always the righteous and the loving one who comes out to help the father. Goneril, Regan and Cordelia are all here, and there is the Earl of Kent who is joins with the villains this time as Lazar. Rahel does the job of Edmund here, standing between the two sons and making one kill the other. Meanwhile, going outside the play, Martha becomes the lady love that every movie needs, and Angoor Rawther is just the villain that every story should have. There are also those moments when Iyob seems to be descending into madness, and Oswald is also there, as the man who tries to kill our hero and gets himself killed. Also check for the The Brothers Karamazov kind of characters with the same names.

Soul exploration 2 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as the Parable of the Prodigal Son :: Iyob himself mentions Aloshy as prodigal son when he returns from the navy, and the church priest mentions that he is to be given a warm welcome if it is so, just like in the Holy Bible. But here, Aloshy is not the prodigal son, but rather the lost son, who returns after gaining wisdom rather than losing money, and this illusion of the gone son being the prodigal son is directly reversed in this movie without any complication. But considering a few other cases, he is indeed unemployed and without money compared to what he has at his own home which was left behind. The money that he extravagantly spent are the years of his life, and the time which he should have spent with his family. The father does accept his son, but once again, the elder brothers don’t. The movie’s use of the dialogues about the parable gives us this idea.

Soul exploration 3 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as the Biblical story of Job :: The main character of the movie is Iyob or Job even as the hero is Aloshy. Even as our character here doesn’t have the qualities of a righteous man, he is also someone who losses almost everything that he holds dear, and it includes his own children, his property, and up-to an extent, his health. But the answer to his problems is achieved sooner here, in the form of his earlier lost son Aloshy. During his last moments, he holds onto the cross and gives it to his son, something which he already had, but rarely mentions as his baptism was nothing that he or his people wanted. It is his faith in God that is replenished in his final moments, and even as there is no redemption like that of the Biblical Job here, he does manage to die a good person rather than the evil feudal lord that he had been.

*This is the finest movie of the year from India, among all those which I have watched. Don’t miss this one! It is out of the usual league. It also leaves us with thoughts about the oppressed becoming the oppressor when opportunity arises, and also with a message on equality among the masses.

Release date: 7th November 2014
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Isha Sharvani, Lal, Jayasurya, Padmapriya, Chemban Vinod Jose, Reenu Mathews, Jinu Joseph, Vinayakan, Lena Abhilash, T. G. Ravi, Sreejith Ravi, Shebin Benson, Saritha Kuku, Nebish Benson, Sal Yusuf, Aashiq Abu (cameo), Amala Paul (cameo)

iyobintepustakam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.