Night Drive

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time when the vampire team was on a night drive?

Vampire Bat: We only have night drives around here. We don’t go for morning drives.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but the night drives have been rare too.

Vampire Bat: That is because we don’t drive, but fly.

Vampire Owl: Not all vampires can fly, or even glide.

Vampire Bat: Yes, but we bats and owls do.

Vampire Owl: Yet, we can go for a drive in the vampire-mobile.

Vampire Bat: It is a bat-mobile, and it is my private property.

Vampire Owl: You don’t use it as you can fly.

Vampire Bat: It will not be used for night drives, and that is final.

[Gets a vegetable samosa and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Georgy Jacob (Roshan Mathew) works as an Uber driver and hopes to migrate to the Middle Easy for a better future. He is in love with Riya Roy (Anna Ben), a very popular news reporter, and they used to be childhood friends for a very long time. They do keep a certain amount of distance between them, as Riya’s father, Roy Mathew (Renju Panicker) who has retired from the military forces is not fond of Georgy. For Riya’s birthday which is also the Christmas evening, they decide to go on a night drive without her father knowing anything about it. At the same time, Rajan Kurup (Siddique) is caught in a gold smuggling scandal which was discovered by Riya and her channel, a case which has been transferred to NIA. He expects to be arrested by the squad on the very next day, and asks Chacko Cherian (Kalabhavan Shajohn) to find a way to get rid of the gold in his home before NIA comes for the raid. Rajan’s trusted aid Jaleel (Sudheer Karamana) assigns the minister’s personal assistant Balu (Kaliash) to get the gold to a safe house.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Meanwhile, Riya who was driving the car gets into a fight with Circle Inspector Benny Moopen (Indrajith Sukumaran) who was doing routine vehicle checking. Benny lets them go so that he can avoid any of the people there spreading the news about him bothering a lady in the middle of the night, but is clearly angry about the incident. Riya who keeps arguing with Georgy over the earlier incident suddenly spots someone in front of their car, and the vehicle seems to have hit that person, who is revealed to be Balu with a bag full of gold. The two manages to take him to the hospital, which brings Francis (Prasanth Alexander) who owns the car they were driving and Ammini (Sreevidya Mullachery) handles that particular Uber fleet operations to the hospital too. The police officer in charge of the case is Benny, who is only happy to torment Riya and Georgy over the incident. He decides to keep them in the hospital, but the arrival of Chacko at the hospital with other motives complicates things.

The defence of Night Drive :: The movie seems to move forward naturally in the beginning stages, with likable characters and the incidents which can be related by different people from various stage of their lives. The beginning stages go on with the usual, and feels like the natural order of things. It does have some fine twists, and a few red herrings are also there to make sure that one doesn’t guess it the right way. The different characters in the movie are not really what they seem to be, as the visages tend to show differently on diferent occasions. There are moments which keep you at the edge of the seat, as these are characters whom you like. The cast has been chosen well here, as you feel that there would have been tendency to go for a few others, but here we have characters getting equal importance instead of the focus shifting to one person. The visuals of Cochin are really good around here. This is the kind of movie which should have released directly on OTT, as there is a certain possibility of this going popular among the audience outside Kerala if it was first released online.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie had built up so well, the final scenes are not that much up to the mark. There is the plan to bring some mass action in the end, but it doesn’t suit the overall mood of the film – a darker version of the final moments would have done better for this particular movie. Let the outdated superstars do the mass action for their brainless fans, and the new generation of actors should go for class and perfection. These are not the times of such fan nonsense in the theatres, as we have the post-corona virus OTT loving audience as a strong force, and this is the flick which will be watch more on such platforms rather than anywhere else. It had a certain realistic side to the proceedings until the makers decided to go full action in the last few minutes with a specific background story added to the main characters. The first few minutes could have been shortened too, as there seems to be an extension of the less important happenings then. The conclusion could have also been kept at a higher level.

The performers of the soul :: Roshan Mathew has been continuously working hard to come up with some memorable performances, last seen in the Amazon Prime Video release, Kuruthi, a thriller with many messages. Coming out of the first big role in Aanandam and the earlier smaller ones in Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Puthiya Niyamam, he has evolved a lot to reach this higher level. His performance in this movie is realistic for most of the time, and something to be appreciated, until the mass moments come in the end. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen has already let Anna Ben set a bar which is difficult for her to overcome – even with a film like Sara’s having her as the life and soul. Indrajith Sukumaran is solid as the police officer who seems strict as well as menacing, and at the same time, likes to have a strong grip on his investigation. Siddique once again plays the corrupt politician with sinister motives well, and reminds one of Jagathy Sreekumar of Passenger. Kaliash once again has a good supporting role and so is Kalabhavan Shajohn, while it is nice to see Sreevidya Mullachery of Star Magic fame playing a memorable role here – she is indeed a lovely talent, and the fair reason for anyone to watch the popular show in Flowers television channel.

How it finishes :: Night Drive becomes a movie of interest without that much of a hype associated with it. It has some fine moments of interest, and successfully deviates from the tendency to go full nonsense like in that Shane Nigam – Shine Tom Chacko film of misery and shame, the pariah of a movie called Ishq. When two lovers are on a night drive, the situation can be tackled well to make a thriller of quality beyond the usual and the expected, as shown around here. This movie seemed to have Roshan instead of Shane, Indrajith instead of Shine and Anna instead of Ann, with the main characters going for a night ride as part of celebrating the lady love’s birthday, and in the process being stopped by the man claiming to be the police officer – seems so familiar for those who have watched that movie, but this one takes a completely different route, and also involves other characters in a journey of twists which are not about just two, three or four people. Night Drive is successful and delivers nicely when we take a fine look.

Release date: 11th March 2022 (Theatre); 10th April 2022 (Netflix/Manorama Max)
Running time: 118 minutes
Directed by: Vysakh
Starring: Roshan Mathew, Anna Ben, Indrajith Sukumaran, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Sreevidya Mullachery, Kailash, Muthumani, Prasanth Alexander, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Siddique

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ittymaani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<— Go back and read a little bit of Hollywood.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Odiyan

What is the movie about? :: Manikyan (Mohanlal) is the last among the odiyans, a group known to know sorcery and had shape-shifting abilities. The skill is passed to him by his grandfather after his father and mother were not ready to stand it, and left the village with their daughter, hoping for a better social and economic status elsewhere. Manikyan is one of the most well-known figures in the village of Thankurissi in Palakkad and also beyond the borders in the Tamil-speaking areas near the Western Ghats – some people consider him to be famous, and the others feel that he is a notorious figure. He is known to lurk in the shadows, with darkness as his ally. As it was the time when there was no electricity in the villages, it was easy for him to induce fear into the minds of the victims. He would take different forms, most commonly that of a bull or a buffalo, to torment those who are given as targets by people who pay a fair amount.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Manikyan’s biggest enemy in the village is Ravunni Menon (Prakash Raj) with whom he has had his problems since childhood. Ravunni’s interest and unrequited love for his cousins Prabha (Manju Warrier) and Meenakshi (Sana Althaf) only makes things worse as Manikyan has been working in their family household and taking care of them for generations. Ravunni decides to make things troublesome for his cousins as well as Manikyan, and with the death of Prabha’s husband Prakashan (Narain) and Meenakshi’s husband Ravi (Kailash), he succeeds in putting the blame on Manikyan. With electricity coming to the village, and almost everyone blaming him for the two deaths, Manikyan is forced to leave for Varanasi. As he is wandering around there, something changes, and he feels the need to return. What would that mean for everyone in the small village?

The defence of Odiyan :: The legend of the people from Kerala folklore with shape-shifting abilities deserved a movie, and it is always nice to have such an adaptation which has its roots in our own historical fantasy. The action scenes are nicely done, and the scenes involving the titular character in the darkness will make sure that we are interested in the whole thing. The setting nicely helps the progress of the movie, and all locations provide some nice visuals. Compared to the 150 crore grand movie Pulimurugan with Mohanlal fighting the tiger, Odiyan is surely a better flick which has a nice background as well as setting – there is also no bad jokes, and the acting itself is of a superior level when we compare the two. Odiyan has moments of class, and it is the quality which that highest grossing Malayalam movie missed in more than one way.

The claws of flaw :: The trailer as well as the hype created with the information provided regarding the movie, might be the one thing which works against the movie more than anything else. The expectations had gone so high that greatness was expected without excuses, and that was one thing which caused so many of early negative reviews. There is no denying the fact that this legend could have been used in an even better way, reducing the mass elements, and adding more mystery, sorcery, twists and horror. The movie is also too long, and the first forty-five minutes might be the least interesting part of the flick. A better beginning would have helped to keep the interest going, and the non-linear narrative disrupts the flow. Flashbacks are good, but not when they are used at inappropriate timings. The final fight could have been better edited. The background music might catch our attention, but the songs never really manage to do so.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal, in more than one avatar during two different ages, displays top form as usual. There are not just the action scenes that make an impact, as the emotional side is also strong with him – the strength as well as the helplessness of the main character is shown nicely here. We remember how he could be both in Villain having the same pair in the lead. Maybe, he could have had more with the shape-shifting idea, resembling that of a werewolf, but that much is not there for him to use his full potential. His last movies Drama and Neerali didn’t make that much of an impact, but I would say that they were better than the common opinions; the case here is also not so different, as Odiyan is certainly better than Pulimurugan, and the hard work that Mohanlal has put in to become this character from the folklore is worth the appreciation.

Further performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier’s previous movie Mohanlal was not really something to be appreciated, whether it was about the flick or regarding her own performance. But she is back once again with her work in this movie. The comments which were made about her one dialogue in this movie is rather strange, because it is a perfectly suited one for the moment – it once again shows that a lot of our viewers are struggling with understanding characters. The lack of empathy that our audience shows at times is rather strange and unacceptable. Prakash Raj is a strong villain indeed, but could have had better dubbing. Sana Althaf has a nice role after Basheerinte Premalekhanam, and she also has her moments. Kailash, Sreejaya Nair and Narain are there only for a few minutes, but they do leave us with something to remember. Siddique, Innocent and Nandhu do provide some good support too.

How it finishes :: Odiyan becomes the second high budget and the most awaited movie of the year after Kayamkulam Kochunni which had great success already. Despite negative opinions, Odiyan also had a strong weekend, with the only challenge coming from Hollywood, in the form of Aquaman, which has lesser number of shows. There is the need for movies like Odiyan, because only such flicks can assure that we will have better exploration of the myths and legends of the lands. We also need people who are ready to go through the less traveled path – we know, as Robert Frost has said, that would make all the difference. Your level of enjoyment would be different according to your expectations from cinema, but Odiyan is surely a movie which you can’t ignore, and is definitely a movie which is better than the highest grossing Malayalam movie of all-time, the Mohanlal starrer Pulimurugan.

Release date: 14th December 2018
Running time: minutes
Directed by: VA Shrikumar Menon
Starring: Mohanlal, Manju Warrier, Innocent, Prakash Raj, Siddique, Manoj Joshi, Nandhu, Narain, Kailash, Sana Althaf, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Sreejaya Nair

<— Click here to go to a previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aanakkallan

What is the movie about? :: The central character of the movie is Pavithran (Biju Menon) who is a man spending his time in prison for committing robbery in a palace and museum. But his life gets better when a skeleton is found in the palace while the place was undergoing renovation. It is found out that the skeleton is almost as old as the time when the person was committing the robbery at the place. The police figures out that he could be either the suspect or the witness, and Pavithran agrees to the fact that he witnessed the murder taking place, and the killer getting rid of the body. As he assures them that he can recognize the killer, the police officers in charge KV Esthappan (Siddique) and Rajendra Babu (Suresh Krishna) decides to get him a parol. With a special permission from their superior officer Alex T Kuruvilla (Shivaji Guruvayoor), they make a master plan.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This master plan involves taking Pavithran to Esthappan’s wife house, from where he eloped with his wife Nancy Palakkal (Sarayu) a long time ago. By returning there, they would get a chance to stay close to Anandapuram Palace where the body was found. Pavithran would be forced to stay in the house as Esthappan’s friend who is a rich businessman from Palai. Despite their doubts, the parents of Nancy, Thomachan Palakkal (Sai Kumar) and Kochu Tresia (Bindu Panicker) welcomes them home. From there, a series of confusing events occur related to their lives. There are secrets to be revealed and mysteries to be solved, about Pavithran’s past, and that particular night on which the murder is supposed to have taken place. But as someone who is in prison for robbery and cheating, can Pavithran be trusted to help the police well enough?

The defence of Aanakkallan :: Being a movie which has a certain amount of confusion in itself, Aanakkallan can use some defence in its favour. There is no doubt about the fact that the movie begins well, and even before Biju Menon makes his entry, the beginning is set. The idea is good here, with an attempt made to solve a mystery regarding a skeleton found in a palace – to solve the case, a thief is needed too, and that man has a strange past. Well, this could have surely developed into something bigger as there is no shortage of content, and the fun is always there to be added. We remember how well Biju Menon added to the same in Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu. The funny side gets some regular contributions even when there are those problems of repetitions as well as the confusions.

The claws of flaw :: There is much that one would expect from a movie like Aanakkallan with Biju Menon in the lead, as people will have their own idea about how it would turn out to be. But the movie struggles to do the same, to meet the expectations. There are moments when the movie keeps making us feel the drag, as it goes above two and half hours, without that much of a content to boast about. The songs are all bad, and unnecessary – all of them seem to drag this piece of work towards that eternity, and most of the viewers won’t appreciate the same. There is so much of repetition here, not just with the old jokes, but also with the same kind of jokes used within the movie. The first and the second parts seem to be confused in where the movie is heading, and the long flashback in the second half is the worst part. The predictability factor is also very high.

The performers of the soul :: Biju Menon was supposed to be the one person who could hold the parts together, and one surely can’t doubt his ability in doing that – the movie surely depends on him a lot. He seems to find things easy here, as no surprises are added here in any department. Hareesh Perumanna and Dharmajan nicely contributes to the comedy at the same time, and Sudheer Karamana also joins in. But it is to be noted that none of these performers are used in a way that evokes that kind of fun to be remembered for long – there were opportunities present. Dharmajan’s Baahubali moment stands out, and Hareesh with his counters keep the movie on a better path. Suraaj Venjarammoodu once again has a rather serious role to perform here, and he has no problems in getting into this character of a thief.

Further performers of the soul :: The main female characters in this movie, Shamna Kasim, Sarayu and Anusree fail to have much to do. While Shamna Kasim’s role is more or less about being the fairest of them all, the other two are given even lesser work to do. It strange that we can’t have more. Siddique plays the police officer with ease, as he has the second most important character related to this one. Suresh Krishna does leave an impact with his funny police role here, being divergent from the serious one he played in Abrahaminte Santhathikal. Indrans is also here with an interesting character, even though limited in scope. Bala and Kailash are also there, contributing nicely to the story. But the focus, as we all know is on one person, and it is no surprise at all.

How it finishes :: The movie doesn’t go on to become a Vellimoonga, and it doesn’t even go on to become a Swarna Kaduva. This one is rather closer to Sherlock Toms which was a half-baked movie unable to stay within any genre, or do justice to at least one of them well enough. The director’s previous movie was Ivan Maryadaraman, and in comparison to that, this flick is surely an improvement. But the question would remain if that much is enough. The fact that there is still the use of the same kind of strange stereotypes and cliches after so many years and movies of attempts, doesn’t leave a true movie lover a happy one. But Aanakkallan does serve to waste some time for a lazy weekend, and this particular weekend is indeed one. There is just Kayamkulam Kochunni to make you think otherwise.

Release date: 18th October 2018
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: Suresh Divakar
Starring: Biju Menon, Siddique, Suraaj Venjarammoodu , Shamna Kasim , Anusree, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sudheer Karamana, Suresh Krishna, Hareesh Perumanna, Bindu Panicker, Saikumar, Sarayu, Bala, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Indrans, Kailash

<— Click here to go to the previous review

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Uncle

What is the movie about? :: Shruthi (Karthika Muraleedharan) is a young lady on her way back home, to Kozhikode from Ooty, where she has been studying, on a day which has strikes and protests written all over it. The violent protesters are everywhere in Ooty and Coonoor, destroying public property and attacking private vehicles according to their will. After getting into a fight with her best friend Sam (Ganapathi), she is looking for a way to get home, and gets on the path of Krishnakumar (Mammootty), a rich businessman who is an old friend and former classmate of her father, Vijayan (Joy Mathew). He offers her a lift to Kozhikode as he is also going that way, and as she knows him well enough, she accepts, even though not without some initial hesitation. This begins a journey that would last many hours, and they get along quite well throughout the trip.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Vijayan and his wife Lakshmi (Muthumani) are worried about her safety, especially the former who is not a fan of the character of his good old friend known for being with many women and being under the influence of alcohol for most of the time. But they think that their daughter would be back before it is night, but as darkness falls, it turns out that they have only reached some kilometres away from the checkpost will stay closed until next morning. A small accident with a truck and the frequent stops for taking photos only delay things further. Now, the two have to stay somewhere until next morning, and the concerns of Vijayan rises to a new level. Krishnakumar is known to have divorced his wife, and is suspected to have some relationships which wouldn’t be acceptable to the society – the car is also chased by two young men on a motorbike; is there danger awaiting Shruthi?

The defence of Uncle :: The issues that Uncle deals with are more or less relevant, not just in one area of the country, but everywhere, in varying levels. The cases of moral poicing and having never-ending doubts about a man and woman traveling at night or to deserted places – no questions are lost here. There are the reflections of prejudice, strange judgment, unnecessary fear and more, which are more or less present in almost all of us. The movie also has some good visuals and a fine song which is to stay on for long. It is also a movie of infinite opportunities, a case which Thanos himself would take for his infinity gauntlet – you know this idea, which is difficult to work on, but if done correctly, can give the results better than any other. Maybe, at another point of time, another movie will develop this for another age, in a better and smarter way. We can see the signs of such possibilities here itself at some points.

The claws of flaw :: The focus seems to be lacking in the tale which could have been an efficient thriller, but it never even comes close. There seems to be an attempt to make the audience believe that the girl is in distress, but never does the flick attain success with that. Our protagonist could be an enigma, but never a threat to an innocent girl despite us trying to see it from many perspectives. To bring a message, this one seems to have taken the energy out of everything else, which is rather disappointing – if it was all about coming to those last moments, why stretch the whole thing so much? The movie is so long, but there is not that much of content to stay and keep the viewers engaged. The female protagonist never becomes worthy enough to be of someone whom we could feel for, and the male protagonist never even tries for the same – this is something which drives us away from the characters, and at some point, their fate becomes something of no concern for us, especially when the willing suspension of belief losses the suspension too.

The performers of the soul :: When Mammootty makes a wonderful walk through this movie, you are not surprised – there are elements of his characters in his earlier movies from the golden age of Malayalam Cinema right here, but with the difference that has come through the ages. There is no superhero mode here though, and expect for one final punch which might have been necessary for most of the superstars out there, we see him going through a natural path – the Masterpiece model is dead at least for now, with no slow motion and beating up multiple people who fly around. The dark shades which some of the viewers had expected were missing though, as the breeze is rather light. He is a man with some surprises, as mystery is there regarding his world, but it is never in the dark world, as he keeps himself close to light, without allowing the darkness to creep in.

Further performers of the soul :: Joy Mathew is amazingly good as the father figure, and his worries keep us engaged. We see the emotions of a father very well reflected on his face, as he comes to know more. Muthumani keeps scoring with her dialogues, and the strength continues to be there till the end. Karthika Muralidharan has some cute moments here, and we had seen her doing almost nothing in CIA: Comrade in America – this might be an improvement in parts, but there are moments of overacting which can be considered difficult to bear. It is a saga of ups and downs, and in the same, the level is reluctant to go up after a certain point of time. She can do more, but that much is not there to be seen. She doesn’t look like a minor as mentioned in the movie either. KPAC Lalitha and Kailash story would seem a little strange, but brings some humour, and has the extra content to give the audience something else to focus in between, without the same journey in the car being repeated again and again.

How it finishes :: Uncle is good divergence for sure, but losses some of the territory it gained because of how big it happens to be – it is more or less like the Roman Empire which couldn’t control its territorial gains when the weaknesses were revealed with further expansion of the empire; but there is no questioning the idea behind both of them, and the strength when it was present. But we do have some talented cast members and the premise with a difference, bringing a mirror to the society – it is something that we just can’t avoid, and for the same reason, Uncle deserves a watch. We can always have more of the movies which leaves a message for the audience or reflects the society’s troubles in one way or the other. Uncle is a good sign of better movies to come, and we can hope for greatness in them, or rather the infinity of quality with the industry’s further uprising.

Release date: 27th April 2018
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Girish Damodar
Starring: Mammootty, Joy Mathew, Karthika Muralidharan, Muthumani, Suresh Krishna, KPAC Lalitha, Kailash, Ganapathi, Meghanadhan

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ira

What is the movie about? :: Dr. Aryan (Gokul Suresh) arrived at Cochin from Kolkata, trying to leave a mark in his own home state, but is accused of murdering the Minister of Forests and Wildlife Protection, KP Chandy (Alencier Ley Lopez) who seemingly dies due to cardiac arrest. The much discussed case becomes a favourite for the media, as the minister was already in the news for corruption allegations, and his son, the next big name in politics, Jacob Chandy (Shanker Ramakrishnan) is looking forward to punish the man who is supposed to have murdered his father. Aryan is accused of being a naxalite and part of a group which is known to target politicians, and police is very much interested in making him confess to this crime. It is during these times that Inspector Rajeev (Unni Mukundan) arrives to take over the investigation from Delhi.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Rajeev doesn’t have a smooth run with the investigation, as the Commissioner of Police, Satheesh Varma (Kailash) is not interested in helping him. Even the people at the hospital seems to be not that much interested in helping him. But beginning with the taxi driver who dropped Aryan at the nearby church, Rameshan (Saju Navodaya), Rajeev begins to solve the mystery. There is more than what meets the eye with this tale, and he soon finds one love story which becomes the core of the whole thing, with Jennifer Jacob (Niranjana Anoop), the neighbour of Aryan, and his own tale of love with a girl whom he met in a forest near Kothamangalam, a long time ago – Karthika (Miya George). Now, the question remains about who is so much interested in framing Aryan as the murderer of a minister, and it is a difficult question to solve.

The defence of Ira :: We can see that the suspense stays strong throughout the movie, and there is the nice use of opportunities for twists towards the end. The first half as well as the second, has its thrilling moments as well as an effective emotional side. The entertainment side is strong throughout its run, and it has the audience interested in the investigation, and the predicament of the main characters. It is something offering a full run of entertaining moments, even adding some jokes here and there, with some of them working well. We can see how much the politicians manipulate people, and how so many incidents are twisted to be of advantage to them – we see where the common man’s place is, and what they are made to believe by putting them into a coma of indirect oppression. The visuals are very good, especially those of the forest, as we see that it is close enough to the locations where Pulimurugan and Shikkari Shambhu were shot – the beautiful world on the other side of Kothamangalam.

The claws of flaw :: There seems to be reflection of real life moments in the movie, but they really have no point here, and we see that they are unable to affect the movie well enough to make an impact worth remembering – these are more or less like the ingredients added to catch the attention of the viewers with the manifestation of a strange visage. We can also guess a number of things about this movie, as there is not that much focus on making sure that all minor twists hold ground. The movie could have also focused more on its title, as its oppressed including the tribals and the common people facing powerful politicians, never really get enough of justice, even though the poetic justice is delivered by vengeance. This could have been a better thriller, no doubt about that – it could have had a smarter investigation, and a stronger backstory which would be able to connect better with the right kind of bridges between the past and the present.

The performers of the soul :: Unni Mukundan doesn’t have any problem with this police role, the kind which he has already done before. From the nice entry in the beginning, he has things under control, with no real challenge being present in there to play this particular police officer for him. Gokul Suresh seems to be getting better with every movie, and we see how things have managed to rise in quality from Mudhugauv to Masterpiece, and now here. Even though Unni Mukundan’s police officer is established as the hero very early, we come to know in the end that all that Gokul’s character did was of high purpose, from the very first moment itself, with or without him knowing about it. There are also signs of a younger Suresh Gopi with his work, and the viewers are sure to wait for more from him. The significance of him being in an action-thriller is displayed so.

Further performers of the soul :: As you will notice here, the movie does have quite an interesting list of actors. The main female lead would be Miya George, even though she has lesser time on the screen, arriving late, and leaving rather early – she is very good in her work here. It is rather surprising that we don’t see that much of her work these days, Niranjana Anoop has more presence, and has done a pretty good job. There is a long way to go for her, in the industry for sure. Alencier Ley Lopez plays the corrupt politician in a nice way, Shanker Ramakrishnan plays a pretty good negative character for most of the time. Lena plays a strong character, that of a lawyer with ease, and Saju Navodaya only has a few moments to bring the laughter, which he manages; so does Nelson during the flashback moments.

How it finishes :: Ira has enough to make sure that the viewers are engaged at all moments. It might not be the best investigative thriller of our times, but it possesses enough in there to make sure that the audience is entertained. One might think that it could have been made better, as the premise was set very well. But it has been difficult to make good stories of investigation for some time in Malayalam industry, and Ira makes sure that something more is added to that genre. Well, thrillers don’t usually have enough support from the audience, unless it has those family elements like Drishyam, and also has a big superstar at the helm. Let us hope that this one has that support, as experimentation in the genre seems to have stopped rather too early. If the early opinions about the movie is going to continue, Ira might be followed by more of similar flicks.

Release date: 16th March 2018
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Saiju SS
Starring: Unni Mukundan, Gokul Suresh, Miya George, Lena, Alencier Ley Lopez, Niranjana Anoop, Shanker Ramakrishnan, Neeraja, Saju Navodaya, Kailash, Nelson, Mareena Michael Kurisingal

<— Click here to go to the previous review, and the recent Malayalam movies.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Masterpiece

What is the movie about? :: An arrogant Roshan Cherian (John Kaipallil) and an adamant Mahesh Raj (Maqbool Salmaan) leads two rival gangs at the Travancore Maharaja College in the centre of the city. These two gangs, Royal Warriors and Real Fighters fight for domination, with hockey sticks, cricket bats, cycle chains, table legs or whatever they can find, sometimes in the remote corners of the huge college campus, and at other right times, right in front of the students and faculty, much to the dismay of the Roshan’s father, Vice Principal Cherian Philip (Mukesha) and Principal Narayana Kaimal (Sunil Sukhada). There is no shortage of chaos already, but the love story of a Real Fighters member Unnikrishnan (Gokul Suresh) with a girl named Vedhika (Mahima Nambiar) from the nearby college makes things even worse. They soon find the dead body of Vedhika in the college premises, and first suspect for the crime is Unnikrishnan who is arrested.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Soon, Unnikrishnan is found hanging inside his cell in the police station, and things get worse. A.C.P. John Thekkan I.P.S. (Unni Mukundan) who was leading the investigation lands up in the hospital after college students attack the police, and S.I. Ramakrishnan (Kalabhavan Shajohn) is suspended after being held responsible for the death of the student. There are wide protests in the city by student organisations which take over the whole thing, and as Vedhika comes from a reputed and rich family, and is the daughter of an influential politician, pressure mounts on the officials, and a new team lead by A.C.P Bhavani Durga I.P.S. is brought to action. With John Thekkan expected to return and join the team soon, the group decides to take quick and firm action against the possible culprits before new orders come from the top again.

And what comes next with this murder mystery? :: After questioning the peon of the college, Sankarankutty (Santhosh Pandit), canteen in charge Maniyan (Saju Navodaya) and helper Reji (Bijukuttan), the police comes to know that Roshan had alcohol mixed in Unnikrishnan’s drink making sure that he wouldn’t get to meet Vedhika who was waiting for them at the beach, where she was last spotted. Roshan becomes the suspect, and the police tries to enter the campus to arrest him, only to be stopped by protesting students, with the exception of Real Fighters who welcome the move to arrest the leader of Royal Warriors. As police and students fight inside the campus, the new English professor arrives to take charge – Edward Livingstone (Mammootty) who has a record of police cases for himself. He decides to change the whole setup in the college, and re-unite its students, as police looks for the murderer.

The defence of Masterpiece :: It is after Mammootty arrives that this movie gets better, as the latter part of the movie is surely better. There will also be a lot for the fans, and that is for sure – as I skipped the early fan shows and watched the movie with normal hardworking people, there was no focus on those mass scenes in the theatre. The suspense is maintained till the end, and the revelation awaits at the final moments. Just like Aadu 2, this one is for more the fans, and the other categories of viewers will find only limited impact. The festival mood of this holiday season is also maintained in this movie. This leaves no surprise about how well the movie began at the theatres, as the first of the many flicks of Christmas including Mayaanadhi, Vimaanam, Aadu 2 and Aana Alaralodalaral. Well, it is always good to go back to the campus isn’t it? And nothing better than a murder mystery in a college campus to provide a grand entry for the hero who is all prepared to go invincible and immortal in a world of cheap mortal humans.

The claws of flaw :: You will find Masterpiece to be too similar to Mohanlal starrer Velipadinte Pusthakam, but the mass elements are rather too much in this one. A college professor with a complicated past coming into a college where students battle each other as part of two separate gangs with a murder behind – just the same idea that you had seen on the big screen earlier. The shots of hero throwing the goons to the Mahindra Scorpios parked there, destroying the vehicles too easily will have the makers of the vehicles wonder what would happen if a Scooty is to hit them in the middle – will the SUV be split into two then? Then there is a modified vehicle which goes through walls – are they promoting this vehicle against Mahindra? Is that a foreign-made SUV that is declared to be better than Mahindra SUVs? The hero also throws a heavily built villain around with one hand a little too many times, and the movie could have done without these scenes. In this too long a movie, the jokes are less effective and there is confusion about where it is going. Slow motion is used badly as expected.

The performers of the soul :: It takes just above an hour for Mammootty to come in, and it might be because of the presence of too many characters that it takes so long. It is after he arrives that things begin to get interesting, as he immediately makes the impact as the college professor. The two female characters who are there till the end, Poonam Bajwa and Varalaxmi Sarathkumar got not much to contribute, playing stereotypes. Mahima Nambiar gets better but the character goes dead. Unni Mukundan has to go a little too much towards the stylish side, but has our attention. Kalabhavan Shajohn is someone who never struggles in this one, as a cop suits him so well just like in Oppam and Drishyam. Gokul Suresh did believable work here. John Kaipallil and Maqbool Salmaan were good playing what Arun Kurian and Sarath Kumar played in Velipadinte Pusthakam. Saju Navodaya brings some comedy here and here with Bijukuttan, but not that much as we would expect. Captain Raju brings some laughs, even though we see more going over the head.

How it finishes :: The movie is something which seems to be exactly opposite what the title says. Masterpiece is exactly what this movie isn’t, but if we separate the word into two, and say “Master in pieces”, that would be more appropriate. But as Velipadinte Pusthakam itself was, this is not really a terrible movie. There is something here and there for the fans, and we know that the core idea had more potential. The hero worship in this movie is exactly what brings this movie down – it is always the superstar’s fans and their needs that brings a wonderful actor down, as it is proven on so many occasions. We need to forget a few moments defying gravitational force along with slow motion, and some unnecessary dialogues about respecting women without meaning the same when there is no need, and we have one twist awaiting us in the end, and a villain whom we least expected. As a thriller, the idea at the base is surely good, but we have to often wonder at the final product.

Release date: 21st December 2017
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Ajai Vasudev
Starring: Mammootty, Unni Mukundan, Poonam Bajwa, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Mahima Nambiar, Megha Mathew, Lena, John Kaipallil, Mukesh, Gokul Suresh, Maqbool Salmaan, David John, Santhosh Pandit, Kailash, Nandu, Divya Pillai, Sunil Sukhada, Arjun Nandhakumar, Saju Navodaya, Thesni Khan, Divyadarshan, Ameer Niyaz, Bijukuttan, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Udaykrishna, Renji Panicker, Manikkuttan, Anjali Nair, Captain Raju

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Chunkzz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<— Go back to the last review

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rajamma at Yahoo

RajammaatYahoo (2)

Vampire Owl :: Vampires don’t have e-mail addresses at Yahoo. We use only the official Immortal Vampire Mail which is approved by Uncle Dracula and the Great Vampire Elders.

Vampire Bat :: But the title of this movie has nothing to do with Yahoo, e-mail, ISP, internet and social media.

Vampire Owl :: There is a clear misunderstanding about this then. The title misleads.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, but the movie is now clear to be watched for the vampire community too. Everything is fine.

Vampire Owl :: But don’t you think that a better title would have done this movie more good?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, that is sure. There is no question about it, especially as there is no shortage of titles around here.

Vampire Owl :: I will try to suggest a better title after watching this movie.

Vampire Bat :: Well, I wouldn’t recommend that. The current title still bring some idea about what to expect in this movie, which is not directly related to the brain.

Vampire Owl :: In that case, I shall not attempt the renaming.

Vampire Bat :: Well, it is never really going to make a difference, is it?

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Michael Rajamma (Kunchacko Boban) and Vishnu Yohannan (Asif Ali) are brothers who were born to a couple who eloped from their home after an inter-religious love affair. After the death of their parents, they decide to live in their huge house which they can’t sell due to some problems with its records. Called Rajamma and Yahoo respectively by their friends, latter has a love affair with Nessy (Anusree Nair) and former is attracted to Sherin (Nikki Galrani) who is one of the many tenants to whom parts of the big house are given on rent. After becoming good friends with the village officer Pavthiran (Kalabhavan Shajon) and his family to whom another part of the place is rented, the two decide to solve a problem faced by Sherin, and that brings the antagonist Abraham Pothen (Renji Panicker) to the scene and a few things from the past.

The defence of Rajamma at Yahoo :: The moments of fun are surely there in this movie, and they start very early. You can clearly hear the laughter in the theatre and people do find this one enjoyable with its good comic side. The first half does provide the scope to let this one go on as the full comedy entertainer, and even though the completeness is never achieved, Rajamma at Yahoo has memorable jokes. The characters on good side are likable except for the role played by the main heroine. There is also some feel-good related to this movie, even though the portrayal of the same brings certain trouble, and couldn’t tally with the rest of the movie as the mixture struggles to be better. There main lead makes sure that there is always something throughout the movie.

Claws of flaw :: After wasting the opportunity to be a full comedy entertainer or at least a part feel-good movie, this one has struggles which go on to bring a climax will be in no way acceptable to most of the audience. It is as if it is just imposed on this movie without much thinking. One would also wonder if people haven’t had enough of making sculptures of their parents, and how it is considered a noble deed – ask Utopiyayile Raajavu. The movie could have at least known its strengths, which it shows at times and then losses them. This could have been a lot better if the story was more interesting; the dependence on the stereotyped situation of the heroine also works against the movie. Some of the jokes are also not working. Something better was needed in the script, but unfortunately, that is not there. The romance is also half-baked.

Performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban and Asif Ali manage their roles in this movie very nicely. They do make a good team, and everything is effectively handled together. There is nothing heavy here though. It does make one wonder what these two could have achieved with more funny situations and a better story brought to them. I would like to see them together in another story where there are more opportunities. The latter was also too unlucky earlier with Kohinoor and Nirnaayakam. With the comic side, Kalabhavan Shajon scores the highest as the village officer, and the others follow his lead. It was also good to see Sneha Sreekumar of the Marimayam fame in this movie, and she did well. Among the heroines, Anusree makes better impact. She has handled the comic side very well too.

Further performers of the soul :: Nikki Galrani arrives on screen as the movie reaches the one hour mark, and she is there with the looks and not that much with the performance. There is no doubt that she looks really good here. Then there is not much there for her, as she becomes the love interest as well as the one who causes the turn of events without talking much. It is still a lot better than what was seen from her in Rudrasimhasanam. Renji Panicker has a strange character here which makes the antagonist weaker and part-time. He is very good for most of the time, but the characterization gets into the way. Noby Markose of Vodafone Comedy Stars fame is also there after Life of Josutty, and in the smaller role, he brings some nice laughs. Kailash also provides good support in the flick.

How it finishes :: The chance to rule the weekend is not there for Rajamma at Yahoo as the opportunity is spoiled and the movie doesn’t rise up-to the expectations. As they tell a fun story, one has to wonder why it couldn’t have been the same throughout its run-time. Better songs, background music, editing and all could have provided this movie with more strength, but they didn’t. With lesser challenge this week as only Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam remains the one notable Malayalam release, our movie here will still do good enough. The fun moments will make sure that there are no boredom or lag, as Rajamma at Yahoo can attract those who are looking for some simple mindless fun for the weekend. You will enjoy the movie in parts as long as you don’t think too much about it.

Release date: 20th November 2015
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Reghurama Varma
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Nikki Galrani, Anusree Nair, Kalabhavan Shajon, Renji Panicker, Kailash, Noby Markose, Vijayakumar, Sneha Sreekumar, Sethulakshmi, Mamukkoya, Muthumani

rajamma@yahoo

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

God’s Own Cleetus

cleetus (3)

I have taken the liberty to anglicize Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus into God’s Own Cleetus just like how Daivathinte Swantham Naadu becomes God’s Own Country. No, this is not that much of a lovable character to be baptised twice, but it is the effort of the actor behind the character and the way in which he has done justice to that character which makes Cleetus our own. Yes, you might find the world of this movie asking for a better treatment, but for a debutant director and the background which has been used, this is a very good recovery for a movie which didn’t impress the audience by its trailer nor with the brief storyline which was shared. Let me be clear about one thing; this movie could have gone either way, to the depths of abyss or to the heights of the lost paradise regained. If there is a question about where it stands at the moment, it is a long way from that abyss. Yes, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus has survived, and did use its survival instincts well enough to add on to that survival guide new stories of goodness and faith. If you don’t like this movie, that is still understandable, but it can never stoop low enough to deserve hatred, that is where this movie plays safe, and it is how this movie shall hold on to its audience during this Onam vacation.

It will be facing a tough competition from the most awaited movie of the Onam, Dileep’s Sringaravelan, a possible surprise in the form of Indrajith Sukumaran’s Ezhamathe Varavu, and an interest-seeking Fahadh flick North 24 Kaatham, as we leave D Company out of that list. The Hollywood’s challenge in the form of Grown Ups 2 has self-destructed, and Bollywood’s John Day along with Horror Story are too much limited in shows with an adult-rated Grand Masti not to be an Onam favourite for sure. With pretty much a good competition in store, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus might not be expected to do that good, but the verdict for the other Malayalam movies are not really out yet. Why would we still need movies like this to survive? Because it has tried its luck in an unfamiliar territory even if the fuel is a familiar one. It has a little bit of Chamayam, Pranchiyettan and The Saint and Amen in it, hidden well, but not from the eyes of experienced movie watchers. But, has the movie relentlessly tried to dig these movies out? The answer is no. There is nothing in common as a whole, and our movie has successfully brought out a legacy of its own, not from the ashes, but out of the most valuable sparks which could give rise to a phoenix.

The story tells the story of Cleetus (Mammootty), a feared criminal who causes problems wherever he goes. He is an alcoholic and always ready to do anything for money. As a parish priest Sunny Vadakkumthala (Siddique) chooses him to act as Jesus Christ in a drama as part of a church programme without knowing his true identity, something he does after rejecting a lot of people, chaos breaks loose among the theatre artists. The priest decides to persist with him and his sidekick (Aju Varghese) despite knowing his true identity, in the belief that the experience of being a character such as Jesus Christ might reform him, thus taking a huge risk considering the massive show which is going to happen and the audience expected. If Cleetus changes or makes the people around him change, whether the drama happens or Cleetus makes a clear mess out of it is left to be seen. Will Jesus Christ’s life change Cleetus or will his life change the fate of the drama in a horrible way? The movie answers the question very late, as every time, he would seem to get a little better, the world around him changes needing him to make those adjustments he is not used to make.

The whole movie undoubtedly rests on Mammootty, and as once again he rises to occasion, it is a treat to all the fans and neutral audience alike. No, Cleetus is not Immanuel, Kunjananthan, Bavutty or Mathukkutty, for he is a gunda, and he is surely nowhere near Pranchiyettan. A long list of characters of goodness is teared apart here, as our protagonist starts as the sinner who is not even set on the path to redemption. Unlike the others, Cleetus is a man who rises and takes the chalice of goodness, finishing it with relative ease. There is no denying that the image gets some self-imposed backlashes, but nothing that will not contribute to Cleetus being more and more human, with the shades of grey rather than pitch black – after all who can deny some mood-swings? Do we love Cleetus? The answer would be no. But he gets as close to being lovable as possible for a man seeking redemption, and he seemed to have attained some of it by the end. He comes that far by keeping himself far away from a superhuman image which could come across this time, even as there is no denying the fact that our protagonist beats up a lot of people, something which was expected right from the beginning.

Even as the movie belongs to Mammootty in an undisputed manner, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Thesni Khan handles the humour department quite effectively. Suraj remains the strong link of humour in this flick. Rejith Menon has made his presence felt, as the one and only Romeo character in the movie. Honey Rose is very good in her role, and it a matured character that we see this time. Sanam Shetty has that beautiful presence, something which she carries over from what we saw in Cinema Company, that grace and beauty which was talked about as that of a Greek goddess in that movie; for there is no denying who is the Aphrodite as well as the Juliet in this movie. Vijayaraghavan leaves a mark as one of the villain characters, and so does Kailash. Siddique was at his best, doing a character which he seemed to perfect. It is impossible to keep him out of this world where he once again does a fantastic job. There is a tremendous energy in his character, and also that much needed serenity, the two things which seemed to suit each other very well. One of our favourite comedy stars on television, Ullas Pandalam also makes good mark in the movie.

So, can the worst of people change and go back to God? Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus shows us that all hope is not lost. As the character goes through playing the life of Jesus Christ, his attitude towards life changes too, as a lot of the events in the life of Christ seems to be reflecting in his own world in a small and slightly similar manner. We have a man who has no previous acting experience, like Manoj K. Jayan in Chamayam. No, I am not really comparing, for that one would make it to my all-time favourite list, or may be more than one list. As that monologue in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts” – here Cleetus plays one, and plays it fine and it replaces his real life as his new role, and it didn’t just go away as one of the parts which he played, as it stayed on with him. It is “Quod fere totus mundus exerceat histrionem” (Because almost the whole world are actors) as Petronius is supposed to have given us. Some of us live our part and others play our roles, and in both cases, the path is similar and leading to the same destination.

Well, we know that it is never late to turn to God. It is the faith, belief and hope that is supposed to guide us rather than materialism. Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus comes up with a great spectacle of divinity by the end, something which is comparable to Amen’s final battle of music, even as this one is less about music and more about the scenes. Is there a hidden magic realism in it? Does it have the magic touch of Pranchiyettan and The Saint helping the movie on moving forward? These are questions which can have more than one answers. But for now, this movie has done its part, but not living upto its potential. The life of Cleetus and his transformation could have been a lot more interesting. It was so close to achieving that balance that a little Icarus-sun battle might have brought it closer to its current rating. It is still your choice if you are to choose one man, who is both the saint and the sinner, saviour and the punisher, redeemer and the destroyer, moving from the path of evil to the way of goodness paved by angels and showered by blessings. This is another Pilgrim’s Progress from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The destiny of Cleetus now stands in the hands of the viewers, and its final fate is yet to be decided.

Release date: 12th September 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Marthandan
Starring: Mammootty, Honey Rose, Aju Varghese, Sanam Shetty, Rejith Menon, Kailash, Siddique, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Thesni Khan, Vinayakan, Vijayaraghavan, Anoop Chandran, P. Balachandran, Ullas Pandalam

cleetu copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Diamond Necklace

diamondnecklace (4)

As they say in the movie Neram, there are two types of time, the good time and the bad time, and the good time of Fahadh Faasil had started from Chaappa Kurishu, with no disasters at the box office moving on to Immanuel. I didn’t really like what came later though, but as we know already, another thing about our versatile actor is that we can often identify his career with the quote from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities too; “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and I would identify the same with his other movies, Annayum Rasoolum and Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla. Yes, Diamond Necklace was part of the good time, or the best of times, and it was the best from Lal Jose, no real doubt about that unless you bring Achanurangatha Veedu, Classmates or Arabikkatha into the picture with a handful of logic. Does any of these movies have this simple a plot set in too simple a world, and still come up with such an intriguing situation on screen? No, they were movies of incidents, revolving around one major incident or decision which set the events running while Diamond Necklace belongs to everyday life, and a collection of life; its celebration as the worlds of ups and downs which flows through our life, supported by beautiful songs, “Nilamalare”, “Thottu Thottu” and “Nenjinullil”.

Arun Kumar (Fahadh Faasil) is a docor who lives in Dubai and leads a life of luxury, supported by his wallet full of credit cards. He has no regret about the past or worries about the future, as he lives in the present, spending money lavishly with nobody to stop him from doing the same. His friends belong to higher league, and he shares apartment with his friend in the tallest buildig in the middle east and the world, Burj Khalifa. Savithri (Rohini), his boss in the hospital also seems to spoil him with her sisterly affection, but she is also unaware of how much of a debt Arun is putting himself into. He has acquaintances with labourers from Kerala, especially Venu (Sreenivasan) whom he tries to avoid in his stylish, high quality life which has no place for the lesser people of lower social status, even as he is still friendly with all on the outside. Driving the latest cars and enjoying life to the maximum, he meets Lakshmi(Gauthami Nair), a newly recruited Tamil nurse in his department. She is the first girl to whom he is seriously attracted. She had come to the middle east with a dream of making enough money for building a hospital in their village, so that no more people have to die there for having no facilities or money. Arun is impressed by her wits, attitude and dedication towards work.

Even as their relation blossoms, his chances of going through with it receives a serious blow, as he runs out of money and his car is towed away by the creditors. He is left with no way to go home and see his sick mother as the credits keep him in the country. He is helped by an influential man, Narayana Menon (Maniyanpilla Raju) who makes it possible for him to go back to Kerala, but at the same time, he is tricked into marriage with Narayanan’s niece, Rajasree (Anusree) who is a simple village girl who has absolutely no clue about city life nor life outside Kerala. Even as they are thought to be a rich family, Rajasree’s world is later known to be a small and simple one, not enough to pay back even a percent of Arun’s credits. When he comes back to Dubai, he is left with no place to stay, and as he doesn’t have enough advance to pay for any place, he stays in the labor camp with Venu. Lakshmi who comes to know about his marriage, ends their relationship and refuses to talk to him. Maya (Samvrutha Sunil), a relative of Savithri, is a fashion designer who was diagnosed with cancer, with a wish to start a boutique in Dubai. Her fiancee had left her due to her illness which had left her highly depressed. Arun ends up sharing her apartment and becomes very close to her.

Later, when she sees Rajasree with him, she is shocked as she didn’t know that he was married, and is admitted in the hospital. It leaves Savithri with lesser affection towards him. As he gathers her possessions, he notices a diamond necklace that she keeps with her, something which can save him from his problems. He decides to replace it with a fake one and does the same successfully. This is where the whole situation revolving around a necklace arises, as his wife finds the original necklace and wears it thinking that it is a birthday gift from him. Meanwhile, Maya almost dies due to an overdose of medicine. He is unable to get the necklace back from his wife who has shown the same to almost everyone including her foul-mouthed relatives of vanity. He often feels that he should return it to Maya and he can’t, and neither can he sell it. Caught between the worlds of greed, remorse and helpless, the only people who are with him consists of the simple labourers whom he once avoided. So, the plot still revolves around the ladies in his life, and how Arun comes out of this problem, not with any deus ex machina or a huge twist of fate, but rather with the simple things being the result of everyday happenings and common feelings makes the whole of the story. The artificial stuff has been kept out for good.

So, here is Fahadh Faasil showing his abilities as a versatile actor, moving away from the new generation trends of Chaappa Kurishu and 22 Female Kottayam, but coming up strong as an energetic youth who symbolizes the common young man of the century, with the usual attitude of “I will drink Life to the lees” which was said by the protagonist, the Ithacan king and the Greek hero, in the poem titled with his own name, Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. That suspected hedonism in the face of our inescapable mortality found in The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the Edward FitzGerald translation, going back to the eleventh and the twelfth centuries has found ever increasing rhythm in this generation, but without the octopus hand of death and the ultimate end. “Carpe diem” as they can still say, from our own most mentioned ancient poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known to most of us as Horace – “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the next day”, an idea which has developed into a liefstyle with loose morals leading to a life of unimaginable pleasure among the new generation. Epicureanism has made a more powerful entry to the new world, and as a kind of hedonism finding pleasure as the only intrinsic good, there is a new environment which is powerful and fast spreading. These, as I have already mentioned in my review of Spring Breakers, symbolizes the character Fahadh is playing in this movie.

But what does this hedonism, the power of “Carpe diem” bring to him? Does this help him to seize the day? Yes it does, but those days become long gone. I agree to the fact that we are all kind of hedonists in one way or the other, varying only in the degree. But considering the current world and the environment to which we are exposed, something which stays within the limits can rarely be interpreted as hedonism. But our protagonist belongs to the higher degree of “Carpe diem” as he puts as little trust as possible in the next day, as a man who is exposed to all the luxuries of the magical world of the city of Dubai, powered by oil, and highly influenced by modernity and science rather than antiquity, history or literature. For a man who comes the humble backgrounds of a small village, this might have been a big moment for him, being in Dubai and earning so much. It is evident in his relations with the labourers whom he consider as lesser people. But soon he realizes that they are the ones who are there to help him without asking anything in return, and it is his time to live like a common man rather than a hedonist, and live his life of responsibilities. Such a realization is supported by a beautiful ending which makes sure that his world remains one of beauty and goodness rather than crookedness and money. The movie itself is a message against irresponsible hedonism, and a support for unconditional love, responsibility and equality.

Once again, Fahadh Faasil is the man to watch out for, and I guess there is not much need to talk about the same, as it nothing unexpected. Samvrutha Sunil has a powerful role and she has done it with lots of life. Gauthami Nair makes a strong impact as the determined, powerful character. Anusree’s role is worth a lot of acclaim, and the funny moments come from her character’s stupidity, and still the goodness and love that the character exhibits makes this one quite a beautiful portrayal. Rohini and Sreenivasan have to play the roles of two seniors in the life of the protagonist who lends him advice and helping hand, and they form the world of light and goodness in his life. Diamond Necklace relates to its viewer with its tenderness and its high dose of objective correlative; with a reigning simplicity and reflections of the common incidents and random life events. It is the Malayalam movie of the year 2012, no matter how much anybody tries to prove that it isn’t. Also look out for the cinematography by Sameer Thahir; about our director Lal Jose, there is nothing more to say other than making a call to watch the movie. This was a movie which came into the theatres, disappeared, and came back again; such is awesomeness of this movie, even as only a few people recognized it during its first run, and myself came across the same during its comeback run in the local theatre.

Release date: 4th May 2012
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Samvrutha Sunil, Gauthami Nair, Anusree, Rohini, Sreenivasan, Maniyanpilla Raju, Kailash, Sukumari, Thesni Khan

diamondnecklce copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Red Wine

redw

This wine is not that powerful as a thriller even with its moments of suspense, as the killer is kind of known right from the beginning itself – there is still a possiblity of expecting more twists over twists, but there is none in the end. The movie progresses slowly, unlike the traditional thrill infected flicks. Still, it has a beautiful philosophical touch and an embedded social message. The movie is surely worth watching for the performance of the leading actors, especially Fahadh Fazil & Mohanlal. There seems to be no stopping the former from his awesomeness and the latter proves why he is still considered to be at his best. The support cast has also been significant. A routine investigation movie is told in a different way this time. It is supported by another experimentation with its narratives without losing its simplicity and the path towards goodness. This can be hailed not for the chills and thrills, but for those who can make a philosopher’s stone out of the darkest and the dirtiest of metals, this might be something else.

Mohanlal’s Assistant Commissioner of Police reminds more of the cop from Grandmaster than anything else. This time, the police officer is even more philosophical. He is not a person who look for action all the time, but a slow and steady officer who understands both the victim and the murderer, and knows with ease that both are the victims of circumstances, one of his own ideals of truth, justice and equality which is despised by the land mafia, while the other of his evil past and the need to pay off his loans. He understands the complicated human minds just as the Wayanad’s twists and turns on the way up. The movie is shot at Wayanad and Kozhikode, and the stories of the subaltern of the heights of Wayanad and that of the opposite side of the evil from civilized world also creeps in. This is where Mohanlal’s character has his magnificience – to balance the characters from both sides, pure good, righteous good, forced evil and pure evil, all of them making frequent appearances as significant parts of the movie at parts. He understands the two men he is searching for, as well as the ones he is not directly searching for, as he progresses through his investigation.

Fahadh Fazil carries the movie with such an ease which makes the whole movie a simple, poetic experience. This is very unlike his performances in his recent flicks – there is no strangeness like in Annayum Rasoolum, Chappa Kurisu and Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla; there is no shades of darkness or even greyness as in 22 Female Kottayam; or that confusion and uncertainty of life as in Diamond Necklace and Friday. Here, we have a good man, of only good intentions towards the fellow humans, and with the desire to do good to the society and his people. He is an Engineering graduate who passed out of college with good marks and was good enough to get a fine job with an attractive salary at home or abroad. But he chooses to work for his people as the Local committee secretary for the left. His portrayal of the victim Anoop has given the audience his most lovable character ever; that is one character on the side of pure, unadulterated political man who stands between the modern and the traditional world, having the elements of both, in such a way that he stands between the two, understanding and interpreting both with significant ease.

As the movie revolves around the life of three characters, one can’t avoid not fail to sympathize on the third important character, played by Asif Ali. Even as he is the least likable of the three and has less time on the screen, Ramesh is a character of circumstances. He is not someone who is a remorseless man of pure evil like Django. He is not for the depths of hell nor the upper most of firmament. His life is not to be seen separate from his wife Deepthi, played by Mia George. Both of them blends into their characters well enough, and more of the sad situation is conveyed more through their looks and expressions rather than the words. This is that part of the story which is more touching in terms of a common man. Ramesh is a man with an evil past, who has turned good after marrying his lover who is from a rich family, which has lead to their isolation from their relatives. Now, as Ramesh has taken loans over loans, this is his moment where he has to choose between the good which is poverty and the lack of provisions for his family which would soon include a newborn child, as well as the evil which is security of good life for his loved ones. There is choices for him to make and whatever choice he makes, there would be a payment in blood or cash.

Well, the human life itself is like that road to Wayanad, and all these characters fit into those twists and turns. For some of them, death might be the relief and for the others, life is all that matters. Where heaven and hell fits in between them is a matter of debate, in the life which is mixed with so much of good and evil. The strength of the movie is still its cast and their performances. Meera Nandan, Meghna Raj and Kailash comes in smaller roles, as a skilled drama actress, an RDO and a cyber cell officer respectively. Meanwhile, Saiju Kurup comes up with an inspiring performance as the protagonist’s friend Navas. The debutant Maria John and Anusree also fits in, as the lover and the best friend of the protagonist. Suraj Venjaramoodu has a more serious role to play in this one, as the one who benefit the most with the protagonist’s death, a person with hidden agendas, another suspect for the investigating officer. T. G. Ravi has another lovable character, a righteous socialist worker of the party who earns the respect of the viewers right from the beginning. Still, the one who steals the show is Fahadh Fazil, and he seems to do that with such an ease that surprises the audience.

The way in which the movie is narrated gives it more life in spite of it being slow and ordinary in the first look. There is regular breaking of narratives, not in space, but in time – from the death of the protagonist to the life of another man to the progress of the investigation and then back to the protagonist’s ideologies during his lifetime. The space changes, but is still confined to Wayanad and Kozhikode. The movement is like wine poured out of the bottle, some of it which goes into the bottle, some of it to the floor, a little of it in the table and the remaining in the bottle. This is the philosophy of life, for not all can be the same, physically, intellectually, or spiritually. To be frank, the choice to go for this one ahead of 3 Dots and Amen was a big move. It was more for the love of the title and the image of the red wine in the bottle. No, it won’t replace the everlasting image of tea as the elixir of life, nor does it make a substitute for blood. The question would be about what the red wine symbolize and why is it the title of the movie. I have always been interested in the colour, my third favourite after black and blue. It is the colour of blood; that of all the martyrs and saints who died for the mankind. It was also used in the Roman and the Byzantine Empires, such was its honour. What about St George’s Cross and the Red Cross?

The human life has always been full of the colour red, also associated with, revolution, love, socialism, communism, passion, beauty. Lets leave its negative associations for this instance, for this one is everything except pessimism. The red wine itself is a symbol of humanity and their blood in a glass. Does this also symbolize the sacramental wine, the blood of Jesus Christ, for the blood of a modern age revolutionary which was to be shed? They were shown drinking the red wine and they were also shown talking about Christ being the revolutionary, and therefore this chance is surely there. The Red Wine is no Spirit; for it doesn’t glorify drinking or anything in the first half and oppose it in the second half; it sticks to its points – of humanity, right from the beginning to the end, for the red wine symbolizes the blood of a young, educated revolutionary which was shed as he stood for the righteousness. That makes a valid allusion and a wonderful imagery. Red Wine is not your typical murder mystery, for it is a philosophy; not a psychological thriller; never a supernatural thriller, as this one is of another genre and I would like to call it a philosophical thriller. If this was more powerful as a regular thriller, and if it could have conveyed the philosophy better, the movie would have been awesome, for sure.

Release date: 21st March 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Salam Bappu
Starring: Mohanlal, Fahadh Fazil, Asif Ali, Saiju Kurup, Jayaprakash, Mia George, Meghana Raj, Anusree, Maria John, Meera Nandan, T. G. Ravi, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Kailash, Anoop Chandran

redwine copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.