Unda

What is the movie about? :: A team of police officers from Kerala travels to certain Maoist affected area in Chhattisgarh for election duty. Mathews Anthony (Ranjith) leads the team through the journey in the train, and right through the village area. But accommodation is not provided for all of them at the same place, and they are separated into different teams. The team is lead by Manikandan CP (Mammootty) gets to stay in a polling booth which is isolated and situated near the forest which is known to be infested by Maoists. Leading the support is Jojo Samson (Shine Tom Chacko) who is angry about his wife sending him a divorce petition which he is not ready to sign. Among the other police men are Varghese Kuruvila (Jacob Gregory), Aji Peter (Rony David) and Gireesh TP (Arjun Ashokan) among others. Aji and Gireesh are not in good terms with each other either. The other members of the team also have their own differences.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The location has an ITBP commando Kapil Dev (Bhagwan Tiwary), and nothing else for their support. The arms and ammunition that they have with them might not be enough either, as the ITBP Commander Dakota Akanito (Chien Ho Liao) advices them to ask for something more from Kerala, as there are land mines everywhere, and Maoists attacks keep happening during random intervals at random places. But it seems that help from Kerala might not be coming anytime soon, and the ITBP wouldn’t helping those police men whom they called for support. So, as Maoists threaten to attack, the team is on their own, with their own little personal problems also coming into the scene. Now, the question remains if they can survive these days till the end of election, as the landlords and their goons will also have a say in this. I will be up to Manikandan to lead the way, but he is not the kind of person who is into violence.

The defence of Unda :: There is certain beauty and quality in how the police men are portrayed here, and even the leader is not shown as someone who could know most of the things and go on beating up people. Each member of the team is different, and we see how people from different parts of Kerala have to face the strange and hostile environment for the first time – we witness how they have to adapt and survive, but there is something from home that continues to go strong in them. The setting is used nicely to create the impact, and we feel that we are traveling through the same place with the same team. We want these people to survive like never before, and we hold them close. There are thrilling moments, and we also have a certain dose of humour, which is also something of interest. The final scene of action is highly entertaining, with action, thrills and humour added, all at the right quantity.

Positives and negatives :: The story-line might seem to be not much, as there is just the tale of a few police men facing the Maoists in the middle of nowhere. But it is more than that when we look close, and we see what the subaltern has to face; the poor, the low caste, the scheduled tribes, all of them – the word “poor” defines them well enough, as it is common to all of such deprived men and women. They are surrounded by all kinds of people, hunted, and maybe killed, only to find the blame still with them, even after death – the perpetual blame is the weight that they have to carry to the grave and beyond. We see a certain moral crisis, and there is always the question about where the newly landless people can go. The movie provides no answers, and finds no solution to the problems that the world face, but we know that we will need them – they are not to come from the movie, but from a real world beyond all limits of fiction.

The performers of the soul :: As expected, and with top quality and realistic performance, Mammootty leads from the front. He has had some characters which would beat up everyone and throw them all around, in the last few years, with the recently released Madhura Raja and the earlier movie Masterpiece which came across the biggest of such a problems. This movie goes the exact opposite way, and it is beautiful in doing the same – the way in which Mammootty plays this role will have us wishing for the character to have the final victory, and the same we wish without hope. In those other movies, things were direct, but in this case, it is beautifully complicated, and we love to watch him here. Right from the introduction of his character, we know that things are going to be different this time, and Mammootty thrives on this divergence which keeps us close to the common man’s police officer, someone who is not going to kick or punch people into the sky to make Superman proud.

Further performers of the soul :: Shine Tom Chacko has had a good run during the recent days, and the roles which he played has been very much memorable. This one is no exception, and the last moments have the whole of our attention. At the same tim, , Arjun Ashokan and Rony David also catches our attention, and so do almost everyone in the small police team in the voting booth. We do get only a few moments from Dileesh Pothan and Kalabhavan Shajohn as well as a little more from Ranjith as far as these names are concerned. Actors like Omkar Das Manikpuri and Bhagwan Tiwari comes up with some emotional side to remember too. Easwari Rao who plays Mammootty’s wife in a cameo-like performance is the only female character with a name, and the only one that we can remember. The cameo from Vinay Forrt and Asif Ali were rather unnecessary, and just the news of missing bullets could have been enough.

How it finishes :: With the name of the movie being Unda, there has been many speculations, but it is indeed about the bullets – it is certain that the name has left some people away from the movie, as this is a film which deserved a better opening. But the bookings are picking up now, as the opinions have all been positive. There will be higher booking in the coming days, and the movie is surely here to stay, as this is a flick which is to be taken seriously. Lets hope that the movies that deal with similar topics remain close to reality like this one, and don’t go on to finish off the laws of gravity by sending villains flying in the air. Unda nicely manages to bring everything together, and use its elements to gain advantage. The result is that there is the thrilling ride with humour and messages stored in there. This is the kind of movie that serves better, and does the same faithfully unlike those mindless mass entertainers which serve as darkness to the senses. Well, it has been a fine year in the first half itself with movies like Kumbalangi Nights, Virus and Uyare rising very high.

Release date: 14th June 2019
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Khalid Rahman
Starring: Mammootty, Shine Tom Chacko, Jacob Gregory, Ranjith, Arjun Ashokan, Bhagwan Tiwari, Dileesh Pothan, Omkar Das Manikpuri, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Chien Ho Liao, Easwari Rao, Sudhi Koppa, Rony David, Lukman, Abhiram Poduval, Noushad Bombay, Asif Ali (cameo), Vinay Forrt (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mayaanadhi

What is the movie about? :: A young man named John Mathews a.k.a. Mathan (Tovino Thomas), hailing from Perumbavoor, is in love with a girl from Kakkanad, Aparna Ravi a.k.a. Appu (Aishwarya Lekshmi) who studied as his junior at the engineering college outside the state, both not gaining much from the professional course. Mathan gets caught in a series of events that lead to the death of a police officer while he was trying to escape. While the Tamil Nadu police is looking for him, he gets back to Cochin in an attempt to find Aparna who is trying to make it big with the help of her friend Sameera (Leona Lishoy) who is a big name in the movie industry. Aparna couldn’t make much of a progress with her life, as she has been doing different jobs following dropping out of her Engineering course. Her relationship with Mathan is strained due to the fact that he didn’t return the money which she had borrowed from her friend, and she feels that he took advantage of her trust.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As policemen from Madurai chases him to Kerala for vengeance for the death of their colleague rather than anything else, Mathan is trying to get a visa to the Middle East, and hopes that he can also take Aparna with him. Irritated by the attitude of her mother towards her, and failing in auditions, Aparna is in no mood to forgive Mathan, and seems to have no time to get back into a relationship. With revenge-seeking policemen on his trail who would be happy with nothing less than his encounter, can Mathan, with his simple ways, escape to the Middle East with the love of his life without whom he doesn’t want to run? Can Aparna make something out of her never-ending adventures related to cinema and modeling? Does fate get to play the final twisted role in this tale as it does in most of the love stories?

The defence of Mayaanadhi :: As this one brings a new love story of this age, the melodrama never finds a seat. There is a realistic approach in this movie, and we never really gets tired of the same, even when the movie seems to get slow in between. We see how much people need each other, when things get better, or when they get terrible. The protagonists are two people who have struggled with their lives, and their world is something which is not difficult to relate as we understand their circumstances. The music is really good, and there is “Uyirin Nadhiye” which will grab your attention and stay in your mind for long. There are some jokes in there too, but there is the overall sadness in this movie, which seems to reflect on the depressing human condition which remains the same, no matter how the world changes. There are also some harsh realities reflected too, with either fate being so cruel, or the society being against the individual. There is very less for one to be happy in the grim world of Mayaanadhi, and even in between the beautiful shots of the city, there is melancholy.

The claws of flaw :: Mayaanadhi might not be the best option for the family audience, considering the intensity of love that is shown in there, even though the movie uses everything in an aesthetic way rather than in a sexual manner. There is a certain slowness with this movie, and you will also feel that there is not much of a story to tell here other than what we have seen and heard on so many occasions. Maybe, two hours could have done just enough for this movie, and the gangster and police angle could have been left out to bring something just random into the scene as the factors causing problems for the protagonists. The Tamil dialogues without subtitles caused problems for the audience who had tough time figuring it out. The fact that this is the least hyped movie among all the releases of Christmas, Aadu oru Bheekara Jeeviyanu 2, Vimaanam, Aana Alaralodalaral, Masterpiece and also Tiger Zinda Hai from Bollywood, we know that this one could use some attention if it is to do any better at the theatres.

The performers of the soul :: You might have felt that Tovino Thomas hasn’t got the best of divergence out of his movies, and this one surely has that element. Tharangam, Godha, Oru Mexican Aparatha, Ezra and Guppy, which were his last movies had good performances from him, but nothing as divergent as this one. His character has no heroism associated, and he lets his pair, the leading actress who is two movies old, handle the job so well. Aishwarya Lekshmi coming right out of Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela is too good in this movie – she was certainly good in that one, but with this adventure, she makes it many levels here; she gets the bigger opportunity to perform here, and never does she fail to deliver. Her best moment might be during her final audition, but her first which has getting down to reality from the plastic side is not far behind, and you will also find her scenes with Tovino charged with fine chemistry.

Further performers of the soul :: We last saw Leona Lishoy in Annmariya Kalippilannu, and even though we have seen her in other flicks including the lead role in Jawan of Vellimala, she gets enough moments in this one to make sure that Mayaanadhi is something to remember her for. This is also my second favourite movie of Aashiq Abu, after Rani Padmini. You will note that the directors Basil Joseph and Lijo Jose Pellissery also make smaller appearances in the flick. Unnimaya Prasad who played Sara in Maheshinte Prathikaram and Maya teacher in Parava also catches our attention. Soubin Shahir and Aparna Balamurali got very small cameos in the film – it is the kind of job that could have been done by anybody. There are some faces which we are not familiar with, but you see that nobody has to be behind in this realistic tale which has good work from the whole cast. Aashiq Abu has no worries with the acting department.

How it finishes :: It has been a difficult job for those who have been looking for sensible love stories on the big screen. What most of the critics seem to have appreciated seems to be the slow motion walk into absurdity called Annayum Rasoolum and an exaggeration of reality called Ennu Ninte Moideen. Thankfully, we have Mayaanadhi here, which is the one river which shows the right kind of divergence, as it chooses to flow like a river of beautiful illusions, as its name suggests, and in the sadness and phantasm, finds a real world which we can relate. There might be many other movies which would get the attention of the youth, as well as that of the family audience – but this is one movie which shows how the movies are to be made in the right manner, without showing the tendency to follow that path which has been traveled so much that there are rather too many pot-holes on the way. Mayaanadhi is different, and enjoyable in the right way for a movie-loving group of people, looking out for better stuff all the time, as well as the variety. If you liked Thondimuthalum Drisksakshiyum, I don’t see why you can’t like this one with its realism.

Release date: 22nd December 2017
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Leona Lishoy, Basil Joseph, Lijo Jose Pellissery, Darshana, Unnimaya Prasad, Maya Rajesh, Harish Uthaman, Khalid Rahman, Nizhalgal Ravi, Shine Tom Chacko, Aparna Balamurali (cameo), Soubin Shahir (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Anuraga Karikkin Vellam

anuragakarikkinvellam (1)

What is it about? :: Raghu (Biju Menon) is a police officer who gets angry easily and takes things into his own hands instead of going on to register a case. Despite a lot of advice from his colleague James (Sudheer Karamana) and repeated warnings from his superior officer Irfaan (Irshad), he doesn’t back off and beats up goons. He has to face disciplinary measures, but he just doesn’t care. He keeps a rough and tough image at home too, with his wife Suma (Asha Sarath) and his children. His son, Abhilash (Asif Ali) isn’t too happy about that either, and spends his time with his friends Kichu (Sreenath Bhasi) and Fakruddin (Soubin Shahir) and even though he is an engineering graduate, is not really interested in going for a job related to what he studied. This is more of a Cold War situation, to be honest.

So what happens next? :: Abhilash’s former classmate Elizabeth a.k.a. Eli (Rajisha Vijayan) is madly in love with him, but he is more interested in ending that relationship which he had at college – she doesn’t let go though. As she keeps calling him all the time and even comes to his house, he tells her that he has had enough of her. He decides to get a job at a call centre nearby much to the dismay of his parents who wishes that he made better use of what he had studied. Meanwhile, an old friend and former lover gets into the life of Raghu in the form of Anuradha (Nandhini), and a few phone calls change his life as well as those close to him. There will be a lot of twists in the lives of the main characters, as they will find different meanings of life, and see people more clearly without prejudices.

The defence of Anuraga Karikkin Vellam :: The best thing about Anuraga Karikkin Vellam is that there is almost no dull moment in this movie which doesn’t go on to tell anything out of the ordinary – that is something for which the people behind this movie deserves a lot of applause. The type of simple, happy and funny moments we have here are like those that we had in Maheshinte Prathikaram, even though not that big in fun content. This is another feel-good entertainer of the same kind, dealing with love, family relationships and friendship in such a way that there is not much of sadness, and the assurance is about a smile on your face. There will be characters whom you can relate to, and there will be those whom you are going to meet at some point of your life – they are all simple, and part of this world. There is nothing to pretend here, as people here are just people. And Cochin looks great as usual.

The claws of flaw :: There is nothing special being tried here, and going through things in a steady manner, Anuraga Karikkin Vellam is not for people who are expecting a great story; this is something that moves on to its finish in an entertaining manner instead of making something big with its plot. The one character that wasn’t utilized in the right way was that of Sony, as he plays a genuinely good character in this movie who deserved a better finish. There is a little bit of a struggle in the climax as there is a little too silliness that crawls in there, but things do end in a good way, as you get the message and you have the feel-good factor right where you want it. I was also looking for some better songs in this one considering how things took a turn in the second half.

Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon and his comic timing keeps this movie at a top level as far as the coming timing is concerned. As the hero’s father, he is more like the one who handles things the best as his character does in the household. Asif Ali is very good in this role of the usual youth that he has to play. As Sreenath Bhasi and Soubin Shahir support him nicely, there is some definite laughter in store there too. Asha Sarath keeps it simple and believable throughout the movie. Meanwhile, the newcomer Rajisha Vijayan surprises us with her work. In the beginning, you feel that she is going to be that usual annoying girlfriend, and then she takes her character to another level – even as the other characters might get all the claps, she will be the one face that is certain to stay in your mind. She doesn’t just begin well as an actress, she scores huge, for her Eli is a delight to watch.

Soul exploration :: There is a lot of optimism in this movie. There are broken relationships, problems in the family, confusion between friends and all, but everything around this one happens for the good, and something positive comes out of all these incidents. Every loss in life is a valuable lesson here, and it depends on how we see them – there might be a better chance waiting for us, or a better person who is going to make our lives more colourful. We are defined by our past, and each incident helps to make us better people – we learn from our mistakes and move on, as we try to make things better again with the experience that we have earned; like in a computer game. There is also no presence of those usual cliches that we expect to see in the end, that is fine relief.

How it finishes :: Anuraga Karikkin Vellam is the kind of movie that one needs to watch with family – even with the possible deviation there, it never really goes the other way which was to be not family-friendly; it keeps itself in control at all times, and at the same time, uses all those possible elements which would make this one a full fun ride. It is the kind of movie that a debutante director can be proud of, and Khalid Rahman has a great beginning here. It is as sweet as the name suggests, and successfully maintains that mood, to get to that end with no problem. Even the little kitten scores with its cute expressions – there is no missing there, as we look less for the perfection in its story, and instead leave satisfied with the cuteness. The movie still bringing a big crowd into the theatres almost a month after its release is not fluke, but the result of the realistic and sweet depiction of life which is reflected here.

Release date: 7th July 2016
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Khalid Rahman
Starring: Biju Menon, Asif Ali, Asha Sarath, Rajisha Vijayan, Sreenath Bhasi, Soubin Shahir, Naaji, Aas Mohammad Abbasi, Chinnu Nair, Nandhini, Sudheer Karamana, Irshad, Maniyanpilla Raju

anuragakarikkinvellam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.