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.

Hey Jude

What is the movie about? :: Dominique Rodriguez (Siddique) and Mariya Rodriguez (Neena Kurup), are living a pretty good life with their children Jude Rodriguez (Nivin Pauly) and Andrea Rodriguez (Apoorva Bose) at Fort Cochin. They trace their lineage a long way back, as one of the most respectable Anglo-Indian families at the place. Dominique runs an antique shop nearby, and his skills in doing business depends on his ability to lie so well that he makes a usual thing a symbol of Dravidian world or the last piece of a part of Indian heritage that is not found anywhere else in the country – he sells them at high prices to unsuspecting foreigners who have a strange fascination for the orient, the fine pearls of the East, especially of India. But his son Jude is just the opposite, never able to lie, but more intelligent than anyone else around; at the same time, he completely lacks in any kind of social skill.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jude has no friends in the city, and his co-workers make sure that he gets fired from his job at a hardware company. He spends his time collecting pictures of different aquatic animals – he has all the information about ocean’s creatures, and loves clown fish, jelly fish and gold fish and his dream is about owning a big aquarium one day. While his parents are worried about his future, his sister finds no hope in him, as he wishes to have food at the exact same time every day, and eats only the same food items all the time. He has a list for almost everything in his life, and talks to his video camera about each day about his thoughts. Twenty eight years old and being different from everyone around him, he has a tough time going through each and every day of his life. But he is not ready to accompany his father with the work.

And what follows next in the adventure? :: When Dominique has to travel to Goa to attend a funeral, things change. He has to take Jude and Mariya with him on the journey, leaving Andrea in charge of the antique shop. There, it turns out that Dominique and Jude have inherited everything which was owned by the dead person who had special love for the distant relatives. Now, the problem that Domique faces in selling the newly acquired property and traveling back to Cochin is Sebastian Chakraparambu (Vijay Menon) who lives with his daughter Crystal Ann Chakraparambu (Trisha Krishnan) in the outhouse which cannot be cleared as the building was rented for a period of five years. Dominique comes up with some plans to get rid of the new neighbours, but nothing works. At the same time, Jude and Crystal become good friends, but both have their own troubles in facing life.

The defence of Hey Jude :: From the first moments itself, you are sure that this is that kind of a light-hearted entertainer with messages for life, which will be developing slowly and steadily as the movie progresses. Hey Jude can be considered as the simplest and the most entertaining movie from the director who has known to provide us with strong philosophical side to ponder about. The humour is a clear winner in this movie, as it keeps dropping in all the time. All the characters in this movie are funny in one way or the other, and things never go out of control to bring a possible dark side. The funny side has us more and more interested in the proceedings, and with the grand visuals of Goa, all becomes good for this movie. The music is pretty good, and as it has been talked about, this is a lovely tale of love, self-discovery, healing and transformation. It gets into the list of inspirational movies which have made the big impact in the industry – we see the support for people to be who they want to be.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is kind of longer than one would have wanted it to be. Then, those who wanted Shyamaprasad to go into those deeper human emotions and situations are going to feel the need for more. One can feel that there has been the effort to make things a little too simple – it was surely not needed considering how far our audience could evolve from the time the first movie of the same director released. The movie could have also ended smarter and without a quick full stop. If you don’t like movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, and are unable to connect to the protagonists of those movie, you would have the same trouble here – well, some so called perfect people will always have problems with these kinds of characters, as they jump right out of the firmament with stored thunder in mouth; this one is not for that kind of people born with silver spoons and even golden forks in their mouths.

The performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly surely has the most divergent as well as different character that he has had to play in his whole career, and he could manage the same with great skill. Meanwhile, Trisha makes her Malayalam debut here, and she does that with ease – it is surely surprising that it took her such a long time to be here, but as she is here, it is all good. Well, she has played a Malayali girl in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, making this not the first instance of being part of such a character. Siddique plays the father figure again, as we see him at his best just after watching him in Aadhi in the role of a responsible father – this one is actually more challenging, and his work is light-hearted as well as interesting. Neena Kurup is there throughout as the mother figure, and it is nice to see Apoorva Bose back in action; she was being missed. Vijay Menon plays a funny as well as powerful character present throughout the flick. Aju Varghese has a nice, funny cameo to his credit.

How it finishes :: Shyamaprasad is the one director whom we know the most for adapting the American classic expressionist play, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams for the Malayalam audience, and doing that with such skill, that Mahatma Gandhi University has included it in the paper, Comparative Literature for the final semester BA English students. Arike, which signified the exact opposite meaning to Akale, was another beautiful flick with its quest for love. Ivide with its quest for identity and reflecting rootlessness, was also with philosophical undercurrents. But Hey Jude is rather direct in all that it reflects on the screen, and it can be considered as the most light-hearted as well as the funniest movie from the director with messages to go with it. If you liked movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, I don’t see why you won’t watch this one with family.

Release date: 2nd February 2018
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Shyamaprasad
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Trisha Krishnan, Siddique, Neena Kurup, Vijay Menon, Apoorva Bose, Aju Varghese (cameo), Shyamaprasad (cameo)

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Punyalan Pvt Ltd

What is the movie about? :: Joy Thakkolkkaran (Jayasurya) was going through a good run with his business of Punyalan Agarbathis, until a series of misfortunes strikes his life, beginning with the death of his wife Anu Joy (Nyla Usha) due to complications related to delivery. It is soon followed by the bank sequestrating his business due to his inability to repay the loan taken. This leaves his best friend and right hand Greenu sharma (Aju Varghese) on a journey to the Middle East in search of a job. Abhayakumar (Sreejith Ravi) is still left there as his driver, and Advocate Peerthanesh (Dharmajan Bolgatty) is his lawyer and the new best friend. They plan to create a new venture, and this would be Punyalan Water, a substitute for the usual mineral water in Kerala, made in an innovative style. But his problems are only beginning, against the system, including the road transport corporation and the city corporation itself.

And what is to follow in this particular adventure? :: As the system seems to stop himself from becoming the businessman that he has always wanted to be, a bankrupt state awaits him. But he decides to fight against it. This would bring him face to face against Shakthan Rajashekharan (Vijayaraghavan), the Chief Minister of the state whose fate is to be decided by the upcoming by-elections, as one seat at Thrissur is all that matters in a close call with the total number of MLAs. With Joy’s challenges going viral in Facebook, and his ideas becoming popular with the common man, the Chief Minister is forced to come live on Facebook, and make a declaration, that would lead to the sequence of events, which have the strength to change the path in the elections. But the question remains if Joy’s new adventure in the business field can be successful in one way or the other!

The defence of Punyalan Private Limited :: There is some motivation to be taken from this movie, regarding the need for the public to be aware of certain things in a democracy, including their own power. At these times when there is so much of debate on so many things both in the state and the centre, this movie becomes very much relevant. There is some humour which has been powered by sarcasm, even though some jokes just go around aimlessly reaching nowhere. At the same time, the movie keeps coming up with more and more ideas, and uses its cast to make things better. You see that the idea here is a much needed one for these times, even though not that strong with how it is executed, with the courtroom scenes also not being strong or funny not going on a path like Jolly LLB. If you liked Punyalan Agarbathis, I don’t see why you shouldn’t watch Punyalan Private Limited here. There is the feel-good factor, and some nice visuals of Thrissur too.

The claws of flaw :: One will notice that there is more dialogues and less action in this movie, and you will also notice that most of the things here might not happen at all, under any circumstance – the common man’s chance is rather too far away. There is also the lack of strength with many arguments around here, and a smart twist doesn’t happen with the protagonist – even when there was the chance to bring the big surprises, they are not there to be seen. The much needed depth is missing here with the tale, something which a political satire could claim to have, in order to reach better heights. The idea was rather limitless, but what comes on the screen is not. We also see the lack of any memorable female character in this movie, as only one who comes close to being the female lead is Arya herself during her short presence as a reporter. Nyla Usha’s character is dead, and Rachana Narayanankutty is replaced by Dharmajan as the lawyer.

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya is once again the one who leads the way, and he has this character played with ease. No matter how the movie fares at the box-office, this character is certain to remain with that strength which it has always had, for that much is clarified with this performance. Sreejith Ravi and Dharmajan are the ones we are supposed to look out for here, as far as the comedy is concerned, and they do deliver, but the same level is not managed until the end. Aju Varghese is sadly limited to a few video calls here, as he arrives and leaves through video chatting. Meanwhile, Vijayaraghavan shines on the other side, as the politician who is interested in nothing other than playing political games to stay glued to his Chief Minister seat – it is something which he has played before with success as we all know, but it suits him very well this time too. As I have already made it clear, there is no female character worth mentioning other than the one Arya plays.

Soul exploration :: There are so many things that the movie criticises, including the terrible condition of the roads, lack of safety for women, irritating situation brought by demonetisation, troubles in beginning a new business venture, pathetic attitude of politicians and the influential towards the common man, compulsory national anthems in cinemas, dumb social media trending, misuse of public funds, inability to eat or drink what one wishes to, hypocritical approach towards public cleanliness, exploitation in the name of taxes and tolls, laziness of the government authorities in doing their jobs and many more. The idea seems to be to criticise almost all parties, the politicians as villains who don’t care about the public at all, and it doesn’t begin or end with one person or one party, in one state, or at the national level. The movie takes on almost everyone, from one end of politics to the other.

How it finishes :: Punyalan Private Limited has been the movie that so many people have been waiting for, after the success of Punyalan Agarbathis, and while the sequel to Aadu Oru Bheekara Jeeviyanu has been a much awaited one for the new generation, this movie is something which everyone, especially the family audience have waited for. It is also surely a waiting long above an over-hyped, over-slow-motion, copied flick’s sequel which has all style and zero substance, recently being talked about rather too much that needed, in those troll pages. This has actually been a little too long a wait, and Punyalan Private Limited has surely delivered something even when the void stared at it, but not that much as one would have wanted to, after this long period of waiting. But, when we look at the two movies separately, this one surely is close enough to the first one, and it gets there without that much of a trouble.

Release date: 17th November 2017
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Aju Varghese, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Vijayaraghavan, Guinness Pakru, Sreejith Ravi, Prem Prakash, Ponnamma Babu, Sunil Sukhada, Vinod Kovoor, Guinness Pakru, Vishnu Govind, Jayaraj Warrier, Arya Rohit, Sathi Premji

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Adam Joan

What is the movie about? :: Adam Joan Pothen (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a rich planter living in the high-ranges of Kerala. His friends are all married, and the fact that his own brother Alan a.k.a. Unni (Rahul Madhav) fell in love and married Swathi (Bhavana), settling in Europe, got his mother worried about his ways. Adam is still content working with his plantations, which he is hoping to develop further, until he meets Amy Andrews (Mishti Chakraborty), the lead singer in a group performing in churches. They meet each other multiple times, and there is not much trouble in making her alcoholic father Andrews (Maniyan Pillai Raju) agree to their marriage. They travel to Scotland for their honeymoon, and rest of his family has also settled there. There, a tragedy occurs, and Adam has to be separated from his family. It is only years later, that they would meet again, and that would be on the occasion of another tragedy.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: One one of those usual days of Lent, right after the Holy Mass, Unni and Swathi has their child kidnapped by a group of masked men who kills Unni’s mother who resists. Adam who was about to come and visit them, arrives to attend his mother’s funeral, much to his dismay. Learning the news of the child’s abduction, he decides to stay, but his brother and wife wants him to go back home, which surprises him. The two decides to go on with their routine job leaving it to the cops on whom they put trust, but the police are also very less interested in the case – Adam is certainly not satisfied. From his best friend Syriac (Narain), Adam comes to know that the number of kidnapped children has been increasing in the last few years, and the police has had very limited success in tracking down those who were behind the same. While trying to do something about the missing child, he would stumble upon his own past, and there is something about a flashback which has events which have directly or indirectly lead to all these incidents.

The defence of Adam Joan :: You will witness quality on screen, and it doesn’t matter how you look at it. The technical side is indeed splendid, and the visuals of the Scottish countryside, whether it is the farmlands, the hills, the rivers, or the ruins, brings a mystical feeling – there are so many shots taken from a distance, and those taken from higher above will give you a wonderful feeling about the beautiful landscape of Scotland. There is no need for a better advertisement for the area as a tourist destination. The soundtrack is superb, and it nicely adds to the dark side of the movie, which only builds further as the movie progresses. How the makers have used the visuals, the music, as well as the cast to transform an average narrative to an interesting experience on the screen, is an achievement as well as a powerful statement about how much our industry has changed, and shifted the focus towards quality in even simplest aspects. You will see that even with a hero in protagonist, the focus is spread wide. There are also some twists to go with the same.

The claws of flaw :: You are sure to feel a certain lag in between for this movie, and most of it is during the earlier part of the second half, as the first half does end in an interesting manner, setting up things to go further with the latter part. When you see such quality with its shots on the big screen, you also expect the tale to get better and bigger by the end, but that doesn’t happen, with the investigation not getting its due completely. There is also the early destruction of romance, and the only lighter side of this movie is around that one super-hit song – the rest remains dark; you will also notice that even the incidents in the end happen in a darker setting. There are some elements of horror which the movie could have used, and we could have also had more terrifying sequences with the theme that the flick deals with. There was scope to add more thrilling sequences, but the movie chooses to lag on those occasions. This slow pace could have been avoided by decreasing the overall length of the movie.

Performers of the soul :: It is Prithviraj’s mass appeal as well as intensity that drives this movie right from the start – he begins well with emotional and romantic side, and goes on to portray that intensity around the dark side with a performance that will ascertain his place as the master of darker thrillers. You remember Memories and 7th Day which did the same, and this flick also makes it to that list. After two much talked about movies this year, Tiyaan and Ezra, he continues a good run – it is to be noted that there is also a Jewish touch in this movie as it was in the movie featuring the Jewish dybbuk. Even his protagonist never really overdo things as one would have feared – there is only one big action sequence in the end, which is rather stretched, but executed well. It seems that this genre will take him as a permanent player, and you will love some of the dialogue his character gets to deliver – like Liam Neeson of Taken. Still, there might be nothing as good as Memories.

Further performers of the soul :: Mishti Chakraborty is there only for only that super-hit song, and a few more scenes, and we sadly would have to wait more till we get to see more of her in Malayalam movies. She doesn’t get to come up with an impact like Wamiqa Gabbi did with Godha, with not much of a focus on her character other than being the love interest of the protagonist for a short interval of time – still, the song surely did some trick for her. Even though she is paired opposite Prithviraj, we see that the chance for performances go to Bhavana and Lena who get more to do with the twists in the tale. The former was last seen in Adventures of Omanakkuttan, and her character has more than what meets the eye, and so does Lena’s. It is also good to see Rahul Madhav getting more roles, as he supports well in this one. Narain does a good job, but it is rather a single dimensional role with one focus, and you will find just one reason for his character’s existence. He gets to bring the twists to the tale too.

How it finishes :: Jinu V Abraham, on his directorial debut, has brought a marvel on the technical side when you watch it on the big screen, and the same makes one forget its flaws. You might be reminded about some Hollywood movies, but when it is more related to the wonderful technical side than the rest, you will feel good. The competition that this movie has for Onam seems to be a lot, but one can safely say that this flick will be among the winners. There is no reason why you wouldn’t want to go on a virtual trip to Scotland, and at the same time, watch the dark side getting unleashed and being chased by our hopeful protagonist. The exact definition of what you would watch on the screen would be “quality”, and it is this quality that will separate this movie from the rest. I leave you with the beautiful song from the movie which went on to become a big hit. At the same time, I wish all of my readers a Happy Eid, as well as a Happy Onam in advance! 🙂

Release date: 1st September 2017
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Jinu V Abraham
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Mishti Chakraborty, Bhavana, Lena, Narain, Rahul Madhav, Jaya Menon, Madhusudhan Rao, Maniyan Pillai Raju, Sidhartha Siva, Benny Bereal, Mark Strange, Danny Darren

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Varnyathil Aashanka

What is the movie about? :: Pratheesh (Shine Tom Chacko) is a simple guy looking to start a business in or around the city of Thrissur. But usual way of making money doesn’t come naturally to him – he is always looking for the easy path, the shortcuts to his objective. His people doesn’t have a high opinion about him, especially his uncle (Jayaraj Warrier) from whom he takes small amounts of money which he can’t pay back. He also needs money for his new business and has nobody to aid him. At the same time, he has to pay to get back the gold ornaments of his friend Thanima (Gayathri Suresh), which he had used to get money for his needs – she threatens to commit suicide after letting everyone know that he is responsible for her death. Pratheesh even tries pickpocketing, but gets beaten up before escaping. His best friend is Wilson (Chemban Vinod Jose) who also goes through a similar phase, and is looking for some money for family matters.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, Shivan (Kunchacko Boban) is a rather experienced thief in the locality. He is known to be very good at his work, and whenever he brings something home, everyone thinks that he has stolen it. Pratheesh, Wilson and Shivan meets up over alcohol, and Gilbert (Manikandan R Achari) from the nearby town also joins them. As they all have their own problems, they decide to solve them all by doing a big heist at the nearby Aishwarya Jewellery owned by Ittoop (Sunil Sukhada). It is something that could change their lives forever, and they plan to do it the simple and effective way, on a twenty four hour harthal night which will have almost nobody on the road in front of the shop. With violence having broken out after the death of a party worker, people have been staying indoor throughout the district, and they decide to use it to their advantage. If things work out right, this would be their one big heist and the last one.

And what else is to happen here? :: Dayanandhan (Suraj Venjaramoodu) is just another guy living nearby, and has been sitting idle at home after the bar where he was working had shut down according to the new liquor policy of the government. His wife Keerthana (Rachana Narayanankutty) goes to work at a nearby textile shop, and he isn’t interested in searching for a new job. They have also taken loans, and as they had married after eloping, there is nobody from their place to help them. While returning home after meeting a friend at Aluva on the same harthal day, Dayanandan comes up against the same thieves, and they decide to shut him up in one way or the other. There are also two policemen, Gireesh (Tini Tom) and Murugan (Dinesh Prabhakar) who arrives at the same location at the same time. This leaves everyone confused, on what is to happen next. Everyone has their own problems to deal with, but this one only gets more twisted.

The defence of Varnyathil Aashanka :: The movie goes through a satirical mode with its content, as it takes on what has been happening in the state during some time. There is a lot of humour happening here with simple incidents, as you would notice – the simple things in life gets packed into more and more humour, and there seems to be no difficulty in doing the same at any point. There are also those reflections and messages to take home, as uses its humour to show the people around us as they are – you see that the thieves are the same, and you doubt if this and that are the same. Never does the movie losses its pace, and you will see that it is always interesting. You also see the power of team work in this one, as this is not limited to one person overshadowing the rest – everyone gets to do their part, and contribute to the tale as well as the overall humour. You are going to be interested in being part of the simple man’s heist without complications, in one way or the other.

The claws of flaw :: Despite providing a reflection of the state of our surroundings and leaving the message, the movie’s final funny and interesting speech will feel a little too lengthy, and the final moments will also seem not matching the whole movie, as it goes without the wonder which was rather expected. There also those moments which seem to defy logic, but in the name of bringing the funny side in a neat way, you will find things to be fair – with the same, it eclipses the other two movies which released on the same day. Still, the movie has a few moments in the first half which will hold it down, but it is just by a little bit. There shouldn’t be the expectations about seeing a big heist movie with this one too, as that can ruin things. On the first day of its release, this one seemed to be rather not hyped, and made way for the rest of the releases, but we see this one getting stronger now.

Performers of the soul :: The movie begins with Shine Tom Chacko’s character, and he gets a fine role here following Tiyaan, which he has done without stumbling anywhere. Kunchacko Boban has brought his character to a fine level, and it is very unlike what he has been doing in the recent past. Suraj Venjaramoodu has another interesting role, which immediately catches our attention right from the beginning – he arrives late and he conquers. There is one final speech that he gets to make further difference nicely and effectively. Chemban Vinod Jose is at his usual best, as he has played the thief in so many other movies, having no trouble with this one. Manikandan R Achari extends the fun which is present like he did with Alamara and Basheerinte Premalekhanam, and has his own moments with the flick. Gayathri Suresh makes one nice cameo at the end, which you will remember. Rachana Narayanankutty is a fine addition too, as you would see here.

How it finishes :: Varnyathil Aashanka battles against Sarvopari Palakkaran and Chunkzz for this weeekend, while the others including Sunday Holiday, Kadam Katha and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum are also there from the previous weeks. Its comparisons are going to be to Sapthamashree Thaskaraha and Kohinoor, both having quite a big group of thieves looking forward to the big heist. In comparison, one can place this movie in between the other two movies, as it is better than Sapthamashree Thaskaraha, but not as better as Kohinoor. Certainly a lot better than the other movie of thieves like Bicycle Thieves and Urumbukal Urangaarilla, Varnyathil Aashanka has something that the rest of the flicks of the same kind never had – its ability to use some satire to reflect and make fun of the happenings in the state, and the movie can consider the same as its special quality which makes its stand apart.

Release date: 4th August 2017
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Sidharth Bharathan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Chemban Vinod Jose, Shine Tom Chacko, Rachana Narayanankutty, Manikandan R Achari, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Jayaraj Warrier, Sunil Sukhada, Tini Tom, Dinesh Prabhakar, Gayathri Suresh (cameo), KPAC Lalitha (cameo)

<— Click here for the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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.

Moonnamathe Vazhi

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that there are three paths rather than two. It is indeed a strange world.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is more than just the opposites – more than just life and death, good and evil, heaven and hell, black and white and so on.

Vampire Owl: Yes, there is time just before death, there is the neutral side, there is the purgatory and you also have grey in between.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is more to it than what we usually have.

Vampire Owl: So, where does the third path lead this time?

Vampire Bat: Well, we are going to find that out soon. Lets watch it very carefully.

Vampire Owl: Is there the smell of romance?

Vampire Bat: It is just the biriyani. Remember that you had asked for it earlier.

Vampire Owl: Oh! Never mind then.

Vampire Bat: Biriyani is also love though. A lot of people have fallen due to this desire for the food item that couldn’t be resisted.

[Gets some vegetable biriyani and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Lenin (Rahul KP) is a taxi driver in Cochin who is in quick need of money as his mother is in the hospital and requires urgent surgery – there are also pending bills which are to be paid. He asks for loan from a lot of people, but none of them, including his good friends provide him with the amount – some don’t have the money and the others are just reluctant to provide with the same. He already has some loans which are to be repaid, and with this situation, he has been wandering around everywhere to find whatever money he can arrange. He decides to keep going, and tells the staff at the hospital that he will be returning with enough money, and it is going to happen soon. But he is still aware of the truth that there is no real hope and falls asleep in the car. It is then that a girl calls his taxi for a journey to Kakkanad and around.

So, what happens next? :: This girl Nadiya (Veena Nandakumar) is living at Palarivattam who is facing financial problems, and the house of her parents where she had spent her childhood is going to be taken over by the bank. She asks her brother as well as her grandfather for help, but even as they are rich, has no plan is saving the old house. It would also mean that Nadiya would have no place to stay. She has no more hope, and wishes to end her life. It is during his search for help that she enters the taxi and life of Lenin. While they go through the journey together, certain truths about life is revealed, as we witness how it flies without direction, like kites on the sky. The hopelessness of common man gets to find hope by random acts of kindness, and togetherness, which becomes the reason to live at a time when fate plays a sadistic game.

The defence of Moonnamathe Vazhi :: With some of the beautiful music and some great visuals of Cochin and its surroundings, there is more about this movie than you feel in the beginning – it has quite a slow start when you look at it; but there is no denying that we remain interested all the time with what is one the screen and what we listen to. The movie’s progress is so smooth, and very much real that we keep going with the flow, like mermaids in an ocean. There are so many good moments, and dialogues in this short flick that we do feel the need for a longer movie, not ending this with the run-time just over half an hour – we want this to go on and on, as we have already loved its protagonists. The feeling that the final moments provide is also too good, and we are left with the same feeling for quite a long time even after the movie finishes. A simple, realistic tale with love is often so hard to find.

Soul exploration 1: Life and its collection of sadistic twists :: There is this thing about life coming under the effect of fate – the jokes that it plays on us are rather too many. If personified, it is nothing less than Grimm Reaper with his scythe. But being the one who likes to play, fate only chooses to make it slow, as Joker would say, guns are just too quick. We look for hope to escape from this play, but it is difficult to find, and it is just to faith that we hold on. It is when we hold on that there is something worth living for in the end, as it is depicted in the movie, and if we give up, it is the game of fate which is for us to lose. As the protagonists in this movie finally get the directions in the last moment, we realize what it means to stay in the struggle, and follow the righteous path. Poetic justice should follow, no or at another point.

Soul exploration 2: A new path that opens when least expected :: There is always more than one, or two paths ahead of us, but we don’t see that many. Death is always the easy option, and it has been the harbinger of relief and peace for so many people who decided to embrace it instead of life, which has been the tougher choice to make during turbulent times. It takes courage to move on, and only when we go on through the road that we see more of the diverging paths – it is only then we can take that road that we really need to travel through. Here, the path also has that side of love, even though it is not that visible – what we see more is the kindness and empathy which runs right in the middle of this flick. It is the same feeling that we had seen in London Bridge, a less appreciated realistic love story. So, it happens here.

How it finishes :: The short-film undoubtedly has a wonderful cast, starting with Veena Nandakumar who is going to make her big industry debut with Kadam Katha which stars Joju George, Vinay Forrt, Roshan Mathew and Renji Panicker. In the debutant director Senthil Rajan’s flick, she is supposed to be playing an MBBS student. It was great to have her here, as she looks amazingly good in this role. At the same time, Rahul who plays Lenin brings a serene and wonderful performance. The movie rests on the shoulders of these two, and combined with all those elements which makes the right short-film, Moonnamathe Vazhi is the one thing which you shouldn’t miss on Youtube. It was released by Media One television channel earlier last month.

Release date: 8th June 2017
Running time: 32 minutes
Directed by: Gopakumar GK
Starring: Veena Nandakumar, Rahul KP, Pala Aravindan, Girija Venugopal, Saina Kakkattil, Simi Sethy, Akhilesh KT, Shaji Nalpadi, Vineeth Thoyakkavu, Akhil Vishnu VS, Rajith Anirudh, Soorya Panicker, Afsal, Baby Carolin, Master Benchamin, Master Nihaal Saade

Watch Moonnamathe Vazhi here with all its beauty:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sakhavu

What is the movie about? :: Krishna Kumar (Nivin Pauly) is a leftist student leader who wishes to make it big at every level. For the same, he has been studying different courses in the college – his aim is to get to the top of party’s student wing, and from there, get to a big position in party’s trade union, and then become MLA or MP. For the same, he is ready to do anything, including getting rid of his best friends who are threat to him. It is his friend in the party Mahesh (Althaf Salim) who provides him support in all his plans without asking for anything in return. One day, he gets a call from the party office to go to the hospital and donate blood for a party member who is in critical condition. He isn’t really interested in the same, and tries to act rude so that he could get out of there as fast as possible. There, he meets Aishwarya (Gayathri Suresh), his old friend from school, working as a nurse at the same hospital, who talks to him about the person who is in the ICU.

So, what happens next? :: There he meets more people including the man’s friends, and also his wife Janaki (Aishwarya Rajesh) and his daughter Nidhi (Aparna Gopinath), and the tale of a much loved comrade is revealed. There is a long past that goes to those days when this comrade, named Krishnan (again Nivin Pauly) had come to Peermade to strengthen the left trade union activities at the place. There were many things that followed, including those incidents which made the man a favourite among the masses, and nothing less than trouble for the exploiters. Krishna Kumar listens to the tale and also to that incident that landed Krishnan at the hospital – there is more to things here than what meets the eye, as he hears about what the comrade has been working on in the last few days. So, how does this tale influence Krishna Kumar, and how does life change for the man who was always after high positions and fame in the party?

The defence of Sakhavu :: There is the strength of ideology behind this movie, and it goes towards taking a righteous stand, especially when a political leader is concerned – on what the left ideals really mean, if they are implemented in the right way. The message is strong, and there is the presence of feel-good elements. The flashback scenes look really nice, and you need to watch this one on the big screen for the same. There is the presence of a lot of humour in the first forty five minutes of the movie, and then things get serious – the strength of the whole thing is tested, but the movie then stands the test, and comes back victorious. It is also the final sequence after the credits start rolling that score big at a time when we feel that the movie ended too soon. The movie can be considered as a nice mixture of things, and without showing no overdose of action sequences, the intensity of the sequences are very well delivered.

The claws of flaw :: There is a rather predictable story in this flick – even though the hero from the past has his heroics to be talked about by others, there is nothing new or special in that tale which follows a pattern which so many tales from the past has followed, with a big estate and firm, along with the workers who suffer because the rich and the affluent just don’t care. The movie could have also been shorter, or could have added some special ingredients to justify its length – maybe a return to the present in the end, and some more sequences to follow with the protagonist’s life could have made things even better, rather than stretching the flashback a little too much with the predictable things. The scope was so much more for this movie, and the divergence that it has taken here is not much, as the attempt is there to balance the class and the mass, never to overdo any of them. The movie could have also used its heroines more, especially in the present.

Performers of the soul :: When you look at Nivin Pauly’s last few movies, Jacobinte Swargarajyam, Action Hero Biju and Premam, they were not just very good movies, but also did great at the box-office; now he is back for more. This is also the best movie with him as a solo hero, and also the best performance from him till date. Here he comes in two roles, and among the two, it is the new-age role that suits the best for him – the other role also demands him to play the elder version of the character, which also leaves a mark. There is the new generation social worker portrayed nicely with all the shortcuts of life which are taken, and there is the maturity of the old generation comrade, who has struggled so hard with everything in life for the party as well as the society. It works at both sides for Nivin Pauly, and this is the kind of performance which will mean a big change and the right kind of deviation in his career. Here, it is Althaf who provides him great support with a nice funny side, making things so much alive.

Further performers of the soul :: Along with Nivin Pauly continuing his run as the one actor whose movies keep the standard, there is also a supporting cast which has rather less to do in helping. There are three heroines in this movie, but they get to do rather less in this flick which is highly dependent on Nivin Pauly to perform in two separate roles. Aishwarya Rajesh gets the most to do in the flashback, as the comrade’s wife, and a little bit in the present, and she manages the same fine, even though there seemed to a little bit of urgency about everything; rather more than required. It is good to see her again after Jomonte Suvisheshangal. Gayathri Suresh gets rather too little in this one, even less than what he had to do in Oru Mexican Aparatha and Puthiya Mugham, playing a character that the protagonist knows from school. Then there is Aparna Gopinath who plays the strongest of female leads, and also the most charming one – a good continuation after the magic of Charlie and the message supply in School Bus.

How it finishes :: Sidhartha Siva, the director is known for some of those critically appreciated movies including 101 Chodyangal and Ain, both winning him national awards, along with that inspirational flick which was very much feel-good, Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. Sakhavu undoubtedly keeps that high level, and once again, there is no trouble with the quality. Sakhavu is a movie that has almost everything, and it is the movie that you wouldn’t want to miss – it will win this Easter-Vishu season, considering the fact that most people have already watched The Great Father, 1971: Beyond Borders under-performing, and Puthan Panam ended up as one of the worst movies to have released in some time. This should be the season of Sakhavu which succeeds in rising above the expectations; it not just superior to Oru Mexican Aparatha, it is also more responsible, getting to the point in the right way, and leaving the right messages. This is one of the best movies of the year so far. Well, what seems to be a simple family flick, Rakshadhikari Baiju is the next one up at the theatres.

Release date: 15th April 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Sidhartha Siva
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Gayathri Suresh, Sreenivasan, Aishwarya Rajesh, Aparna Gopinath, Althaf Salim, Tony Luke, Musthafa, Sudheesh, Kalabhavan Rahman, Renji Panicker, Prem Kumar, Manianpillai Raju, Aliyar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Take Off

What is the movie about? :: Sameera (Parvathy) is a divorced nurse who is trying to work hard in the local hospital and pay the debts of her family, as well as ensure that the studies of her younger sisters are also dealt with. She was formerly married to Faisal (Asif Ali), and has a child, but they were separated due to problems in both families related to her work as well as the differences in way of seeing things. Shaheed (Kunchacko Boban) who works as a male nurse in the same hospital, is in love with her, and is hoping to marry her if she agrees some day. Both of them are expected to go to Iraq for work soon, and in that way, earn a better salary. Sameera finally decides that it is better for her to marry Shaheed and move on, as he is also moving to Iraq, and her relatives would make her get married to someone else anyway; at least she finds Shaheed as a good person and he is in love with her.

So, what happens next? :: After marriage, Sameera gets pregnant, but they soon have to move to Iraq and join the new job. They have heard that the place is not that safe, but there are other nurses who work there and earn a good salary. It is the year 2014, and ISIS has launched itself into the major cities of the nation. It is at the same time that Sameera’s son Ibrahim a.k.a Ibru (Master Eric) comes to live with her. Their location, Tikrit, as well as Mosul where Shaheed had traveled to with the military, all are under attack despite the repeated assurances that the army of the country will keep them safe. Sameera is shocked when she realises that Mosul is captured by the extremists and has become impossible to reach on phone. She approaches the Indian ambassador to Iraq, Manoj Abraham (Fahad Faasil) who assures her that he will do his best to find her husband.

And what is to follow between the chaos and destruction? :: It doesn’t take the ISIS long to take full control of all significant landmarks in the city of Tikrit with the military falling and later becoming a non-existent force there. The militants also make it inside the hospital and keeps the nurses as hostage. Shaheed is still in Mosul, captured by the militants there. But Manoj is determined to rescue and bring all these people back to India in one way or the other. For the same, he works with Ranjan (Prakash Belawadi), his superior officer as well as Jayamohan (Prem Prakash) who is a rich Malayali businessman with many connections in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. With the External Affairs Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Kerala in contact with him, he will try a plan which is claimed to be risky by more than one person, but is considered to be the best option to bring the nurses home by Manoj himself.

The defence of Take Off :: The movie is based on the captivity of forty six Indian nurses by ISIS, and their evacuation by the Indian government, which was one of those celebrated events and a major achievement for the nation – it takes a lot of effort to recreate and add something extra for the creative and cinematic side, and still keep it simple and real. The director has succeeded in doing the same here. The movie has nicely handled the situations of war, and also related to the hostage crisis – with terrorism to be worked with here, things could have gone different ways, but all goes well in this movie; we see balance and maturity in everything here. The emotional side is also strong, and things are kept realistic as well as interesting at the same time, a quality which has been only fakely attributed to certain movies these days.

Positives and negatives :: The first half of the movie is more about the family drama, with the final few minutes getting the protagonists to reach Iraq, with the terrible disaster of a war waiting to happen. From there, it is a thrilling adventure, and the movie works as two here. This movie is visually geat, and also has some nice music as well as background score to go with the same. The movie, despite not trying to bring anything out of the box, got all of us interested, with how this tale is told, and how the characters feel simple and real as the common man who wishes to make money for their families while protecting the same. Even with its smaller budget compared to the Bollywood movies like Airlift which deals with the evacuation of Indians too, Take Off can easily give a fine competition – in simple words, it is surely better than the Bollywood movie dealing with this. There is a better re-imagination here for you to watch.

Performers of the soul :: There is no shortage of interesting performances here, and Parvathy manages to keep her character at the right place, even living through the war on most of the occasions. The different stages of life of her character are nicely portrayed, and this is sure to bring more and more applause as the movie runs in the theatres and will be watched by more followed the highly positive opinions – following Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. Kunchacko Boban has a controlled performance here as he once again plays a character who will appeal really well for the family audience, after Kochauvva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. Then there is Fahadh Faasil who arrives in the second half, and steals the show – there are so many moments for him as he goes strong after Maheshinte Prathikaaram once again, and the last few moments are undoubtedly his. The child actor Eric is also too good. Prakash Belawadi, Prem Prakash, Asif Ali and Alencier Ley Lopez also catch our attention with their smaller roles.

How it finishes :: We had the Akashay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur starrer Airlift directed by another Malayali, Raja Krishna Menon, which had dealt with a similar crisis and somewhat same kind of situation which released in 2016 and had received many positive opinions. While Airlift was based on the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, this one is based on the 2004 ISIS invasion of Iraq. Both are about evacuating the Indians left in the nation torn by war, and both has the patriotism as well as the final success that goes with the same – both have also received a lot of critical acclaim, and has been in the news even before the release. The comparisons maybe many, and it is certain that what we need are movies like Take Off and Airlift which deals with the situations related to common people who struggle anywhere in the world, and it is also significant how realistically their tales are told. This is the best movie of the year so far, as it joins C/O Saira Banu, Alamara and Honey Bee 2 which are running in the theatres stronger than the rest.

Release date: 24th March 2017
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Mahesh Narayan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Parvathy, Fahadh Faasil, Prakash Belawadi, Asif Ali, Prem Prakash, Alencier Ley Lopez, Parvathi T, Anjali Aneesh Upasana, Master Eric, Joju George, Sidhartha Siva, Devi Ajith, Divya Prabha, Prashant Nair, Rukhsar Rehman

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fireman

fireman ()

Vampire Owl :: I believe that you are talking about Kane.

Vampire Bat :: No, Kane sets people on fire. This is about saving people.

Vampire Owl :: So he saves those people who are set on fire by Kane. I know that the fire still burns.

Vampire Bat :: No, this is only about saving people from fire.

Vampire Owl :: He should save a few cricketers then. During the last India Pakistan match, I heard from many people that Virat Kohli was on fire.

Vampire Bat :: What? I think that this is too early for you. Go back to sleep, it is only ten thirty in the morning.

Vampire Owl :: What about the English movies this weekend?

Vampire Bat :: There are only Oscar nominated movies in the theatres this weekend. Nothing has been released. By the time they finish cutting Fifty Shades of Grey, even our immortality would have expired.

Vampire Owl :: I am hoping for a job at the censor board. Then I can display my cruelty by cutting parts of a movie. I hope to become Mr. Cruelty for the next Global Vampire Cruelty contest.

Vampire Bat :: First, you can try to come to your senses at least at 10:30 AM.

[Goes to the theatre].

What is it about? :: Vijay (Mammootty) is a firefighter who is highly dedicated to his work and considers helping the public as his main motive. Lakshmanan Pillai (P Sreekumar) is his senior who is almost ready to retire from service, and Shahjahan (Unni Mukundan) is a young man who works under him. One day, he faces a problem that he never had before. A tanker losses its control, and the tank which it carries is tossed around. As a number of his comrades including his senior are killed, Vijay has to take control and make sure that there is no explosion of the tank, and with the help of the City Commissioner Sherin Thomas (Nyla Usha) and her reluctant police force, he has to get things under control. The local political worker Iqbal (Siddique) also offers to help. But it is not an easy situation here with the need to evacuate the surroundings, one of the nearby buildings being the central prison.

The defence of Fireman :: There is the certainty of thrills with this movie and the tribute to the Fire-force of Kerala is present as well as acknowledged. There is also the presence of twists, and the audience is kept glued to the screen. The background score is good and nicely keeps the level of the movie high. The dialogues are smart and powerful, mostly left for Mammootty. The way in which the movie transforms from a possible disaster movie to a possible investigative thriller adds to the power of that twist. Yes, once again, there is more than what meets the eye. The climax has some nice moments. There are a few more things that I could add here, but that might destroy the suspense at least up-to an extent and I choose not to. Then there is absolutely no romance here, and for that, I am more than just glad. Yet, the heroine has her moments too.

The Claws of Flaw :: The special effects are quite depressing to watch. Some of the moments should have been just talked about and declared happened, rather than showing them on the big screen. Just those fire effects were needed for this movie, and the rest could have been left for the imaginations – our viewers are very much used to creating something by themselves. The name itself is a repetition with its tagline, as you might have noticed – the publicity was also not enough. The movie also takes some time to get into the thrilling side. The movie is not without some loopholes with certain exaggeration, and the final action scene was rather unnecessary. The focus on the hero as always being the smartest of them all is also a little too much to digest. The other characters do have a certain tendency not to be that good.

Performers of the soul :: I haven’t watched a movie having Mammootty since Gangster, because it was the lowest that the great veteran actor could reach, may be with the exception of Parunthu, Love in Singapore and Pattanathil Bhootham. With some better movies being there in between as read here and there, I went to watch this movie, not without doubts – only to be happy that I made the right choice this time. This one is strengthened by that power packed performance from Mammootty that each and everyone of his fans deserve to see on the big screen. As the whole thing is centred around him, he continues keeping things under control. Unni Mukundan is good, and Siddique manages things with his usual ease. Nyla Usha comes up with her best performance ever, and I would consider this one the best supporting role from an actress in a police role. Salim Kumar’s character doesn’t really work.

Soul exploration :: We used to see the police officers acting at the right time to save the day, and even collectors – this time it is all about the fireman. The movie pays tribute to the fire workers who come to the aid of the common man as soon as there is the need with the number 101. The movie’s soul strikes the right place with its tribute, as we see the hero as fireman and not those usual roles which have been tried again and again. There is a question being asked about how many people want to be a fireman as much as having a desire to be a police officer or an army man? Well, hope this movie inspires more people to see the fireman as a hero and hope to save the lives. I am glad that this movie turns out to be a fine product on the screen, and it celebrates the efforts of those people who strives hard, but are often not in the spotlight.

How it finishes :: Fireman has a big chance this weekend with no Hollywood release and this one being the more awaited among the Malayalam movies with its change of release dates. The opinions have been positive too, as you can know from the audience. I did doubt our director here with his movies Tejabhai and Family and Crazy Gopalan, but his Winter had its thrills – I could also feel the confidence when he was there in the program Onnum Onnum Moonu with Unni Mukundan and Nyla Usha. This should be the first movie in India to have Fire-force and their activities at the centre – I still can’t say that with confidence because I don’t watch every movie in every language, but it seems to be so. Fireman is a movie that deserves to be watched, and it is not just a good start to Mammootty, but also the best thriller of the year so far.

Release date: 19th February 2015
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Deepu Karunakaran
Starring: Mammootty, Nyla Usha, Unni Mukundan, Siddique, Sreerag Nambiar, Salim Kumar, Hareesh Peradi, P Sreekumar

fireman

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Monkey Pen

monkeypen (2)

I can still remember looking at one of those advertisement boards set up for this movie on the side of the road. It was quite big and it made me wonder what it is actually about and what can it do with such a title which is strange but not weird for the new generation Malayalam movies. It was the time when I had just watched Captain Phillips, and I wondered what this title Philips and the Monkey Pen was about. Yes, it was strange indeed for a Malayalam movie – it did have the picture of a kid and Jayasurya who plays his father. Another poster had Remya Nambeesan and also Vijay Babu, there was one more which had Joy Mathew in it with them. Yet the question would remain what was it all about? There have been many pathetic children’s movies in this part of the world, none of which was close to being interesting, and now they have come up with a strange title too. But how did it turn out? Now thats a surprise, not just the regular one, but a cute, sweet and more interesting than any fake films which are projected as family movies. I now give you with something from the movie – “I thought the truth would pain you”; reply: “The truth isn’t bitter; its just that the lies are excessively sweet”.

So here you welcome the first real family movie of the year, and it is indeed what they have projected; the all generation movie of the age, and it is a shame that it had to be postponed for movies of other languages; Arrambam, and more tragically Krrish 3. If any movie is to be shifted for such a fake hero movie like Krrish 3, it shows how messed up our audience is. Let me tell you that I am glad to see the number of audience even for the morning show during a working day, and I am happy to see the response of the viewers. I would be surprised if it didn’t them in one way or the other, and the claps in the end signified the same. I can only hope that it won’t lose the battle and give up early to the bigger movies which are to come this weekend, Geethanjali, Thira and may be Salaam Kashmir, plus the movies from other languages about which we can’t be sure now. Well, it is the duty of all the good movie watchers to make movies like this success, instead of going for movies like Krrish 3, Besharam and Boss. Please do support this movie! Show it to your kids for sure.

I begin talking about this movie by introducing you to the antagonist, the evil villain who is the manifestation of the wretched demon from hell, Mephisto-maths, or rather Mathematics which lived in the capital of hell, Pandemonium before its arrival to Earth. Pardon my use of language, as I have been as much troubled by this third rate piece of junk known as Mathematics as much as our protagonist Ryan Philip (Master Sanoop). Without that subject, world would have been awesome, I know it and so does Ryan. He has started his battle in the fifth standard as he tries to find a way to find a way past his class teacher Pappan (Vijay Babu) who teaches the most loathed subject of the school. He is not alone in this battle against Satan Maths and his helpers, the Maths teacher and the Maths expert of the class. There are four of them in total, as they are the freaks of the class who come late in dirty clothes and fails to do the home work. They are always thinking about how to send this demon back to hell.

The first idea is to find a girlfriend who can help him in Maths, but as Ryan is not that much of a popular kid in the class and neither is he studious or good at sports, that doesn’t really work out. Ryan is the son of a Christian father Roy Philip (Jayasurya) and a Muslim mother Sameera Roy(Remya Nambeesan), and none of the families are in touch which the couple after they married against the wishes of their parents. The only contact they later come across is Richard Philip (Joy Mathew), Roy’s father and a former captain of a ship. It is from him that Ryan gets a pen called monkeypen which is said to have helped in achieving impossible things. For Ryan, there are not many impossible things which should be possible – as it is just about the bloodsucking monster from the other dimension, which has surrounded his life in a python form – the evil Mathematics. The story deals with how Ryan overcomes all the problems of his life which starts and ends with Anaconda Maths with the help of a pen. Well, there is no real supernatural or magic involved in this one, and don’t let such thoughts stop you. Meanwhile, did I feel shades of existentialism? I doubt that.

There are lots of lessons to be learnt from this movie, and it is more of a morality tale wearing the visage of a children’s story, and with its veneer of simple childhood talks and experiences, the movie explores themes like love, truth, faith and duty. But the movie rarely preaches, as it shows rather than try to teach; it inspires rather than try to put something on the viewers heads. On one side, it tells the story of a kid who is hoping to do well, but is a mannerless boy who doesn’t respect elders, comes late to the class in terrible uniform and obviously doesn’t want to study. With the disrespect to authority and the elders, he is a sample of the bad next generation which is to come with no respect for values and traditions. On the other side, it is the story of the change that faith, love and care from parents can bring upon children. Ryan’s transformation is the major theme of the story, and most of the questions of this age comes up within the same. As a whole, this is not just the story of Ryan, or it shouldn’t be so, as its goodness prevails. The other characters of the movie are not avoided too, and in that case, it is further interesting.

Master Sanoop plays the protagonist of the movie, the man with the monkeypen. His performance is something which has to be judged just by viewing and not by talking about it. The same can be said about the other kids too, from his partners in crime to his arch nemesis in studies as well as the one of unattainable love. Jayasurya makes an awesome father in this movie, and this is another one of different, yet fantastic performances. Almost the same can be said about Remya Nambeesan who plays the mother who herself is immatured to an extent, but stands for his son when in need. Joy Mathew doesn’t lag in his role but rather scores when needed, and Vijay Babu is very good as the teacher, one of the most dynamic characters in a children’s film. Innocent has a small role as the boy’s imaginary friend whom he calls God, and joins him in his pains and agonies, removing his doubts and making him confidence, and the wisdom from this divine one adds, but is underused and pales in comparison to the pen. It might remind us of the character of Saint Francis of Assisi in Pranchiyettan and the Saint, in a lesser manner. Mukesh’s Principal is funny, and well done. To add, there is the beauty of cinematography!

I was highly impressed by how the story-line progresses. I thought this was a children’s story and I might get disappointed, but wow! They even managed to put a background story to the legend of monkeypen with the records of the construction of Willingdon Island, the first man-made island in India. The scenes involving the pen and Sir Robert Bristow is brilliantly taken, with no scope for any questioning. There is some brilliant writing behind this one, there is indeed magic of some sort involved with this one rather than inside it. When nostalgia calls, I have wondered about the Maths side of this story, and thought if I could have loved Maths if I had better teachers? By the time I got to the end of eighth standard, I had almost completely hated the subject even as I scored well enough for the board exams, and finally lost touch with it intentionally due to my lack of interest. Then, how did my love for English Literature come up? That was due to two of the English teachers whom I admired – such is the story of most of us, as good teachers make students love their subjects and score better in most of the cases except for some who are beyond hope. Meanwhile, the name of the grandfather Richard Philip, captain of the ship – ring any bells? 😀

Release date: 7th November 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Rojin Philip, Shanil Muhammed
Starring: Master Sanoop, Jayasurya, Remya Nambeesan, Innocent, Joy Mathew, Mukesh, Vijay Babu

monkeypen copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

North 24 Kaatham

north24kaatham (1)

This is one of the gifts from Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) as I am concerned. No, they didn’t produce this ticket, but a powercut had me going to the theatres. If you wonder if it was the first time, the answer should be no.  And yes, I liked the movie, and there was no reason not to. If any of you don’t like it, I have to say that I don’t write for you. Yes, I write what I find and what I feel; now that wasn’t really a surprise. Well, unlike the fanboys’ stuff like Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, North 24 Kaatham has more soul than most of those movies out there, yes this blog itself is about the movies of the soul, and if you do not possess a soul or intellect enough to respect others’ opinions, why bother reading reviews when you know that you shall come up with a different opinion than the reviewer? Except for the fans whose opinions are fixed, I would like to believe that there is hope for Malayalam movies. Well, there is no bigger evil than people who do not respect the opinions of others, and I have to say that some of them don’t even know what an opinion means, and it is disappointing in this world.

You evil ones are lesser in number this time, as the critics as well as each and every one in the theatre liked this movie and clapped. So, I am going to be very clear about this one. I have more reasons to like this one than a leading actor and a leading actress who can act. Before that, let me tell the good people among you and the others motivated by self-interest with willing distrust of human (or bat) sincerity, on what goes on in this movie. It is the story of Hari (Fahadh Faasil), a genius computer programmer who is hated by his colleagues due to his lack of social interaction, over-cleanliness and the seemingly hostile attitude to most of the things. He is that kind of a person who hasn’t even gone outside his city, living with a fear of travel. But he is forced to go on a journey as part of his job, and on a day of harthal, he is caught in the middle of a world which he is not familiar with. He is caught up with two other people (Nedumudi Venu and Swati Reddy) and he joins them on their journey, and on the way, he changes his attitude towards life and by the end of the journey, he is a changed man.

I know what kind of questions the evil world can come up with. It might be about the change in the protagonist, but I would say it is clearly a believable change, if not incredibly perfect to the core, but even that wouldn’t be acceptable to the new generation fans. Our protagonist was never a bad man, and nothing has changed in his soul if we look at him. He surely might have had his share of psychological problems, but as a good person, through a few incidents, he realizes his mistakes. Remember how one major psychological problem was solved by one major incident in Manichitrathazhu? This is actually not that much of a problem, for Hari had the right to live in his world as much as anybody else, which is why I say that change is a change only on the surface, and therefore it is nothing for which you have to push a huge stone to the top of a mountain and jump into water with the same stone tied around your neck. Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi was based on selfishness, just like Annayum Rasoolum. But this movie has a lot of goodness in it, and therefore try to enjoy the little things which give the good people happiness rather than be evil and go on a meaningless trip leaving your family behind, for life is reclaimed by goodness and the joy of art and literature alone, and not by having fun, sorry hedonists.

Fahadh Faasil gives a brilliant performance yet again, and yes I was so disappointed with his Olipporu that I couldn’t watch his critically well-received movie Artist, and D Company again let me down. But even with so much less dialogues, he scores and raises the level of this movie with his co-star from one of the movies of the year Amen. Yes, I am talking about the wonderfully talented, charming lady lead that we have got here, Swati Reddy. She plays a modern social worker, wearing a hood and shortening her name Narayani as Nani. She continues her good run in the Malayalam movie industry even as this is an entirely different role from her earlier debut in Malayalam this year. Even as Fahadh is the centre of attraction in this movie, she is charm, and the way in which both of them contradict each other brightens each other, as much as the black and white compliments each other, like no grey character could have ever did, and please note that this black and white doesn’t stand for evil and good, for that age has disappeared. Like Solomon and Sosanna, here is Hari and Narayani, but I would wonder myself if such a romantic side was forced, still a better love story than Annayum Rasoolum and a better travel story than Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi.

The performance by our own veteran actor Nedumudi Venu is another highlight, for he plays the third person in their gang of lost people on the day of harthal. How can I praise someone who is beyond the same? That leaves us with the factor that lies under what seems to be an ordinary plot. It is the social message which worked just the opposite in Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi. Here, it is perfectly done. It is a powerful message against harthal and labelling people as not belonging to the group. There is the trouble of harthal and the condition of the roads that are alluded in the movie. Well, the question remains if Hari needed to change, for he was always good, hardworking and doing what he felt was right. Who would know the minds of the others who surrounded them? Well, it shows how important it is to display your inner goodness or pretend to be caring like some of those devils with human masks do, or the society shall keep you at a pterosaur’s wings apart. It shows how society doesn’t like people who are different, but Hari’s difference in the end is the kind of change that society likes – there lies the biggest paradox of man as a social animal.

As Fahadh plays a much misunderstood man with no heroic quality in him other than goodness, there is that deconstruction of the hero image which the fans would love to identify with. Swati’s character take over some traits of that heroism, and I would guess that a few wouldn’t like this reversal of roles. As Swati’s character makes it her responsiblity to get the old man home safe, Fahadh’s character take the smaller role of accompanying them. The heroism is attributed to the lady here, and in that case, Swati Reddy plays another Sosanna of Amen who fights for her aim, instead of Solomon. She helps the old man out of the train and Hari into the bus, a moment of visible shock in the faces of both. She leads the journey even when Hari keeps moving on the front. The people they meet on the way are presented with their own shades of grey, some of them closer to white and the others close enough to black. They are all down to earth just like the plot of the movie. This feel good movie doesn’t have that new generation add-ons and neither does it has any action sequence; therefore it is a good movie which reflects the goodness of Onam and the right movie for the season.

In a life which is consistently plagued by death, our celebration of life should come from doing the right thing from within our limitations, and not by the unruly “Carpe diem” behaviour. We have such a short life, that is for sure; but living that with a selfish motive of maximum pleasure being the only intrinsic good is not something to be recommended. North 24 Kaatham nullifies the “travel for pleasure philosophy” of Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi and uses the “goodness of a travel philosophy” which is much needed in our age. Why do I talk like this?  Because I have travelled with someone, a stranger who didn’t know the local language and made sure that he got home, not this much of a long and interesting story, but I have done what I could on multiple occasions even as I am becoming more skeptic every day – this is our own story, with its own add-ons.  Well, the movie is funny, innovative and thought provoking all at the same time. What more do you need? What more should a debutant director provide you with? If it still, doesn’t touch our heart enough, we are not human enough, and we have no soul within us. It is not old, but it still glitters like gold, and entertains us with its righteousness and the realization like in the 2007 Hollywood movie Evan Almighty, that “the way to change the world is by doing one Act of Random Kindness”. By the end of the day, we are all heroes, not just someone who is born heroic or rises to heroism due to his nobility; thank you dear director.

Release date: 15th September 2013
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Anil Radhakrishnan Menon
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Swati Reddy, Nedumudi Venu, Sreenath Bhasi, Premgi Amaren, Srinda Ashab, Chemban Vinod Jose, Salaam Bukhari

north24kaatham copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.