Invisible Actor

Vampire Owl: An invisible actor? Did the actor become invisible after a case was registered against him?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that it is not what they meant. There could be many meanings for the same.

Vampire Owl: Then, has the invisibility elixir been stolen from Doctor Frankenstein? This calls for code bloody red alert on level twenty eight!

Vampire Bat: When did he invent that? It is not even on the research list.

Vampire Owl: Well, I am sure that he would have invented that. He is just not telling us. People invent such things all the time in those science fiction books.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr. Frankenstein has any role to play in this short-film.

Vampire Owl: I am writing an article on the evil side of invisibility anyway.

Vampire Bat: Some people are just invisible even without the elixir.

Vampire Owl: Just like people being alive and immortal without the Elixir of Life.

Vampire Bat: It is another myth. What we have here is real.

[Gets some banana chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: The crew of a movie has gathered in an old style Kerala house to shoot for the biopic of a renowned Kathakali artist known as Govindan Master (Kalasala Babu). This particular person, whose name is only taken with so much respect, had such an undying love for the art form that he used to bunk his classes to see and learn it at the academy from a distance. It is said that his father, upon realizing his passion, and his lack of interest in regular studies, let him study Kathakali from an early age, and the art form had become his life, until his last breath. This Kathakali Master had given up his whole life for the same, not asking for anything in return. His performances had inspired many to follow his path, and had elevated Kerala’s own colourful contribution to the story play genre of art to another level. His Kathakali performances had made him a legend, with no parallels.

So, what happens next with this tale of making a biopic? :: It turns out that the superstar (Saiju Kurup) who is supposed to play the character is nowhere to be seen. The whole crew has been waiting for him for quite a long time, but there is no sign of him, and he doesn’t even attend the phone – everyone else is there, and they are worried when they will be able to begin the whole thing, and sends people searching for him at the hotel where he is staying and in the surrounding areas of the town. The breakfast time is over, the lunch is done, and finally the superstar arrives with that dialogue about him being a really punctual person. He listens to the story without much interest, while clicking on his mobile phone’s screen. He looks at the photo of the Kathakali artist as if it doesn’t matter – but little does he know that the character he is playing, is watching him.

Soul exploration 1: Of actors and superstars :: One can divide the movie world into two – one which has the actors, and the other which has the superstars. In our world, both often come together, but we often see some actors who deserve better than the superstars, but it is the superstar movie which go on to become the big hit each and every time. There are those one hundred crore movies in Bollywood, which have almost nothing in them other than its superstars – take a look at those top ten movies, and almost all of them have depended on their superstar rather than the actor. I would think otherwise – if Nawazuddin Siddiqui acts in a movie, I would watch that movie for sure, maybe even twice; whether it is Raman Raghav 2.0 or Te3n from last year. I have never really been interested in these superstars – the day they become more superstars and less actor, is the day they sacrifice their best part.

Soul exploration 2: Within and outside a character :: It is a usual thing to change the character to match that of the superstar – there are so many movies which make us feel the same, and naming a few of them would only bring the fan chaos on us. The superstars will say that they practiced cricket to play a cricketer, lived with gangsters to play a mafia don, slept at a cemetery for a horror movie, had classes at a music academy to play a musician and so on, but we know how fake that could be, just like they come on television and tell everyone that this is his or her best performance ever. But to become a character, the so called superstar needs to know the mind, thinking in the way the character think, and acting the way he would. Otherwise, it is the character that would become the superstar and not the other way around. Will some of our superheroes who need to know this realize the same one day?

Soul exploration 3: An eternity within a performance :: There should always be more in a flick with a performance than just being part of a big hundred crore movie. We have the need to see each character on the screen as a different person – it is the same which has been missing in some of those movies which degrade themselves into what is often termed as mass masala. There is the need to rise above the same, as what is often known to cater to this particular genre is nothing other than pure absurdity. It is the terrible and unfair strength of these mindless mass movies which have been devouring the actor and bringing the superstar out on too many occasions. Then there are those fan clubs which are only interested in turning the cinema halls which is for entertainment and thoughts, into something resembling nuisance. It has to be countered with not a mass performance, but with the beauty of an rternity within a work.

How it finishes :: The movie has two actors who have been rather underused by the industry if you look at their movies. Kalasala Babu amazes us in his presence for the short period of time, while we have Saiju Kurup who had some nice and funny roles in Adventures of Omanakuttan and Alamara doing a wonderful job as the superstar. They make the final few moments of this short-film rise to a higher level, and we have something which is worth more than a usual short movie. I have watched a good number of short-films in the last few days, with choosing to review only less than half of them which seem to be worthy, and among them, this one should have a top place. Invisible Actor wishes for the actor to become invisible and the character to take over when the shooting begins – it should be how we should differentiate actors from superstars; movies need actors, and they could let everyone keep the superstar side out, letting the acting flow, no matter how popular the actor is.

 

Release date: 6th July 2017
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Avinash Chandran
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Kalasala Babu, Jayasankar, Akhil Lekshman, Arun, Naresh

Watch Invisible Actor here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Oppam

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What is it about? :: Jayaraman (Mohanlal) is a blind man who works as a lift operator and attender at an eleven-storeyed apartment right in the middle of the city. He hails from a huge family, but is in debt right now as he has to pay twenty five lakhs for his friend Bappootty (Siddique) who was supposed to provide the amount to the money lender and is currently in the Middle East. He is struggling to make enough money for the wedding ceremony of his sister, which is to happen soon. Even though he is blind, he possesses a better sense of smell, hearing and touch which he uses to his advantage whenever there is the need. His good friends are Veeran (Harish K.R) and Kunju Mohammed (Mammookoya) as well as Devayani (Vimala Raman) who also work there. Whenever there is a need, Jayaraman is there, and he is that readily available helping hand for everyone.

So what happens next? :: A retired chief justice, Krishnamoorthy (Nedumudi Venu), also lives in the same apartment, and Jayaraman is his best friend and aid, as there are secrets concerning his past, and there are problems haunting him. Devayarani is in trouble with her former husband, a police officer named Madhu (Kalabhavan Shajohn) with whom Jayaraman also locks horns. One day, when Krishnamoorthy is killed, things go out of control. Jayaraman becomes the prime suspect, and the police officers in charge, Padmakumar (Renji Panicker) and Anandhan (Chemban Vinod Jose) refuses to believe in his claims of innocence, and Madhu makes things only worse. Only Ganga (Anusree), the police officer who knew him earlier, believes him. With the murderer right behind him like a shadow, will Jayaraman be able to prove his innocence? Can he face the man who seems to be a psychopath, all alone?

The defence of Oppam :: There are many moments of interest, and a lot of thrills in store with this movie which won against its competitor Oozham which released on the same day. The final moments, despite strangely set, are well executed, and the movie finishes with a certain amount cuteness and feel-good factor in store. The beginning was also well done without the unnecessary introductions, and we are taken into the whole thing in a simple and effective manner. The visuals are very good throughout the run, and Mohanlal and Samuthirakani when they are together, make a nice combination against each other. Mamukkoya has some of the nicer moments of fun in this movie which has a certain amount of comic side which is just there for some relief. Chemban Vinod Jose also has some moments of fun, and the emotional side of this movie can also be termed as strong.

The claws of flaw :: One has to say that the movie is too long, and that feeling is due to the present of too many unnecessary songs, and none of them really makes an impact either – the Punjabi wedding song might be the one that works the least. There are also too many missing points here and there in this story, and the opportunity to come up with a better movie goes missing here. There are too many things here that comes as repetitive elements; the twist concerning the child and the killer is too predictable, and the police is also made rather useless – or rather so stubborn that one is made to wonder that these people are the most remorseless and brainless officers ever to be in a Malayalam movie. The final moments are also strange, as they try to be safe where it was never meant to be safe, and with the same, risk more lives. There were surely better ways to handle the whole thing!

Performers of the soul :: As expected, and without doubt, Mohanlal is the one who lifts this movie to the next level, and hides its problems with ease, as he plays the role with no trouble at all. There are those moments involving him and Samuthirakani that stands apart. Along with him being the blind character, it is our villain that also brings things in order. Last seen in Karinkunnam 6s in this part of the world, Samuthirakani brings all the strength that is needed in a villain like this. He is only let down on a number of occasions due to the predictability that creeps in and threatens to make this villain another ordinary creature of random hate, as the opportunity to become one terrifying psycho killer is lost at too many occasions. But he rises above the problems related to his character in this tale, and brings the menace to the big screen, making things more interesting.

Further performers of the soul :: Anusree is very good at this police role. Vimala Raman is kind of misfit as the maid here, even though we are glad that we are seeing her here again after a long time and looking good. Nedumudi Venu’s role is the kind which we see often from him, and he does that with ease. Baby Meenakshi is really good here, and surely better than how it was with Amar Akbar Anthony. Renji Panicker in the police role is surprisingly not that much used here, and Kalabhavan Shajohn just gets another opportunity to beat another character played by Mohanlal after Drishyam. Mamukkoya creates some funny moments with Harish K.R and Chemban Vinod Jose has a few of them too. Aju Varghese has kind of a smaller role of the viewers’ liking though, and Innocent is also there for only a few shots. In the end, we do wish that this movie was just not like too many other movies of the same kind – there are too many characters with less to do, and a little too much of predictability at times too.

How it finishes :: It has been a long time since we saw the best of Priyadarshan, and also the combination of him and Mohanlal, even though I didn’t think that Geethanjali was that bad a movie as it was projected by the critics and the audience. Well, one can safely say that he is back in form with this one. With Pulimurugan already there and running with full strength in the theatres, Mohanlal makes a magnificent push forward, the biggest since the critically acclaimed and heavily remake-spawning flick which was Drishyam. With two of his flicks staying heavy in multiplexes and attracting the audience in the local theatres too, one can be sure that there won’t be many movies coming up with challenge, except for Aanandam, which seems to be the one other movie which is making it big. Even in the Pulimurugan rush, Oppam is another movie that needs your attention; so if you have missed it, get to where it is still playing!

Release date: 8th September 2016
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Priyadarshan
Starring: Mohanlal, Samuthirakani, Anusree, Vimala Raman, Nedumudi Venu, Baby Meenakshi, Renji Panicker, Chemban Vinod Jose, Mamukkoya, Harish K.R, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Kunchan, Idavela Babu, Aju Varghese, Manikuttan, Arjun Nandhakumar, Innocent, Kalasala Babu, Pradeep Chandran, Anjali Aneesh, Bineesh Kodiyeri, Devshi Khanduri, Sona Heiden, Arun Benny, Balaji Sharma, Poojappura Radhakrishnan, Sreelatha Namboothiri, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Bindu Murali, Suchitra Pillai-Malik, Siddique (cameo), Antony Perumbavoor (cameo)

oppam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mr. Fraud

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The Heist Stuff :: The heist movies have always managed to keep us interested (the Bollywood ones not included), and among them, I would rate The Italian Job as the best, followed by many others, including Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen, along with Tower Heist and The Art of the Steal, even Fast Five turning into a Rio Heist making one believe that heist was a kind of new successful genre to explore. Even Bollywood had The Italian Job remade as Players, and it was only a matter of time until Malayalam movie industry also came up with a heist movie, and it comes from B. Unikrishnan with Mohanlal in the lead, and it was called Mr. Fraud – quite a negative name for a heist movie (may be it is named from the point of view of the victims). There will be the genuine question about why these heist films are so popular. I would say that people are having more tendency to take risks, and it is basic human nature to desire for something that someone else has, and it is the envy that takes over – at that moment combined by the risk plus desire/envy, the robbery becoming the wonderful art of steal and there begins the world of heist movies. These movies usually have many twists, innovations and the robber is usually portrayed as the good or better person.

What is it about? :: The centre of attraction is Bhaiji or Mr. Fraud (Mohanlal), the man with many names and many faces, none of them real or revealed. He is a man who commits heists against impossible odds with the help of his assistants Abbas (Vijay Babu) and Priya (Manjari Phadnis) as well as special electronic gadgets. After stealing from the dowry of a billionaire’s daughter, they are ready for one final mission to end all heists, and it includes stealing the treasure from the basement of one of the old palaces which is kept there due to a dispute between two parties and a petition to make them public. The two rivals, the two sons and their sons and daughters are waiting for an opportunity to pounce on the treasure and claim the whole of it as Bhaiji comes in between disguised as the evaluator of the treasure. Inspector Sajan (Sai Kumar) also comes the scene hoping to make some profit out of it and takes over as the head of security. In the middle of hatred and discomfort that prevails in the palace, can the man of disguises steal what he has come there to steal or will he lose his way?

The defence of Mr. Fraud :: How many real heist movies do we see in Malayalam movie industry? The other one concerning robbery was Robinhood which was really dumb and that movie had absolutely nothing, and we surely can’t bring Lokpal to the equation when talking about movies which are above average, even as there was the movies like Gangster which won’t stand a chance in front of even Lokpal. This need has been answered by Mr. Fraud which has enough heist moments, along with that idea which is in the centre. Even as it is not anywhere near those awesome heist movies that we watch in Hollywood, this one has managed to do the stuff in the same style, but weaker in content and execution. The movie, even as it has limited thrills, is never boring – that is a new considering how difficult it has been not to bore the audience. They have also managed to come up with a superior first half and nice early second half. The cast is also superb and most of them have played their characters with beauty. The movie hasn’t tried anything too much, it seemed to attempt and be a decent one, with mediocre elements and that is what is has managed to achieve.

The claws of flaw :: Mr. Fraud has had mostly negative or average reviews from the audience, and it has created a clear doubt when the memories of Lokpal comes to the mind. The biggest problem of the movie is that it is not sure about its own genre, and it deviates from its purpose more than once, adding too much emotions. The protagonist also doesn’t become the true fraud that he is supposed to be, not justifying the title – he is not even the exact opposite here. Some of the characters are not fully developed with so many of them there just for the sake of existing there under the shadow of doubt, and the ending is forced. The movie might seem to lose its steam during the climax, and all the action scenes which don’t involve the heists are quite bad, with the superhero side and slow motion taking over, but that is only about a few scenes. The superhero should have remained under or may be on par with the actor when we consider this movie. The background score often gets irritating and so do the songs which jump out of nowhere and the audience has to ask who let them out when they were not really needed.

Performers of the soul :: This is one of the triumvirate movies of Mohanlal which are expected to score big and release soon enough – Koothara, Peruchaazhi and this one, all three expected to be special for one reason or the other, and Mr. Fraud is the first one to reach the theatre despite so many delays. If I had to choose one among them earlier, I would have chosen Koothara to be the better one. This had to be his movie as it is, and from the family man role to this one, he runs the show as usual, and the good thing is that this doesn’t go to that level of Sagar Alias Jacky and there is the limit under control. His looks are nice and keeps things cool. Manjari Phadnis is there for the looks, but surely has her short moments, and Mia also got so much less to do even as she does that without any significant problems. Vijay Babu never gets to do a lot, but Siddique and Sai Kumar excel in the supporting roles as both are there in the roles which they have perfected before. Suresh Krishna in a bigger role would have been nice though, as the situation seemed to suit him, but that was not to be. Characterization, come up with more power next time!

Soul exploration :: There is the need for heist, and even Inception was about heist, wasn’t it? They were the ones who stole ideas, and planting an idea is just the same as stealing one, as one idea is lost while another one takes its place. Mission: Impossible also had its heists going through. Fast Five was a better heist movie than many of the full-time heist movies. So when the bogeyman steals our dreams and convert them into nightmares, isn’t he also a man who is part of this art? Can he be considered one of the first and the most efficient heist artists of all time? Even as it is nowhere near any of the mentioned, Mr. Fraud steals, and performs that operation well. For most of the people though, heist is an adventure, and in the case of such a ride, it has to be entertaining and having a better motive than just to steal. Heist is usually considered different from the usual robbery, and that word is often used positively, thanks to the heist films. The ambiguity remains in this movie too, if it is right to steal under any circumstance or not to; who is evil and who has the fountain of goodness flowing through? Well, the characters in movies like Big B was not with any goodness, and considering that people supported the main characters, the ones in heist movies are much better. Only if this wasn’t that mediocre, we could have come to a conclusion.

How it finishes :: Mr. Fraud is not as bad as some people might suggest, and a comparison to Lokpal is kind of ridiculous and the question of it being better than Gangster is answered with only one sentence – Gangster was the worst movie of the year, challenged only by Salaala Mobiles. It is brought down only by the hype it created, and by being mediocre. Well, Mr. Fraud has its advantages in the theatre, the most important one being the postponement of Bangalore Days which has such a multi-starrer cast that can bring every other movie down – How Old are You will hold onto its place for quite a long time as the family audience have taken it into hearts, and this position that Mr. Fraud was about to lose will be there for at least one week as Bangalore Days has been on a postpone-spree which might or might not end on the upcoming Friday. Kochadiiyaan is not creating the impact that it should have, and Heropanti is running low, so the only challenge that Malayalam movies have is from the English movies, but none of them can replace these movies in content, and they are miles apart in what they come up with, all three Hollywood movies in the theatre dealing with superheroes and super-monsters not really attracting the families.

Release date: 17th May 2014
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: B. Unnikrishnan
Starring: Mohanlal, Mia George, Manjari Phadnis, Vijay Babu, Pallavi Purohit, Dev Gill, Siddique, Sai Kumar, Vijayakumar, Rahul Madhav, P. Balachandran, Devan, Suresh Krishna, Rajeev Parameshwar, V.K. Sreeraman, Kalasala Babu, Sathaar, Balachandran Chullikkadu, Biju Pappan, Ashvin Matthew, Balaji, Amritha Anil

mrfraud copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.