The Priest

What is the movie about? :: Fr Carmen Benedict (Mammootty) is a priest who is known to have helped the police in multiple cases. Diya Alex Alatt (Saniya Iyappan) approaches him with a certain amount of concern regarding a series of deaths which had occured earlier in the rich and influential family, and were dismissed as suicides. Diya feels that the present controller of the assets of the family, Elizabeth Alatt (Meera Nair) might know something about it. He calls DYSP Shekhar (Sivadas Kannur), who begins to share some of his doubts. When a little girl named Ameya Gabriel (Baby Monica) is also found in the house, and the connected incidents related to her lead to the discovery of more clues related to the murder, Fr Carmen also understands that there is more to her than what meets the eye. Ameya is an orphan, and nobody has any idea what she is upto, because she often goes missing from her orphanage, and comes back by herself. Her actions are also nothing less than what others consider to be strange.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jessy Cherian (Nikhila Vimal), a new teacher takes charge in the school where Ameya is studying. Even though Ameya has been hostile to each and every person in the school including teachers and students, she immediately becomes friendly to Jessy who is also happy about the same. As the school is closed for summer vacation, Ameya begs for her to be taken with Jessy. With the permission of the orphanage authorities, she manages to take the child to her home in the highlands, which had been abandoned for a long time. But it turns out that this child is not really the kid which she had expected. When anyone else comes in between Jessy and Ameya, the latter reacts violently, especially when Jessy’s fiance Siddharth (Venkitesh VP) comes to meet her, and proposes her. Soon, things take a further violent turn, and Fr Carmen makes his way to the place, as he understands the seriousness of the situation. But this might not be the kind of spirit which Carmen thought it is. He takes the help of Dr Mathews (TG Ravi), but he understands the need to learn about the spirit.

The defence of The Priest :: The movie scores heavily with its visuals, as we do have a perfect setting for horror, and along with the environment, there are the usual scares effectively used with the help of sound effects. The music is also very interesting. The scares are added here and there, and at times they work depending on the audience. There are some twists to be added here, but we do expect a few among with ease, seemingly because of trying to stick to the Hollywood style. The performance are also of a higher level, even though we do feel that the first investigation was even more interesting than what came later. It does have the most interesting part in the beginning, like Mammootty’s Abrahaminte Santhathikal had that crime at the start, and even with the presence of clowns, doesn’t make them nonsensical like it was done in the strange Mammootty movie The Great Father. Instead, most of the time, The Priest plays to its strength, and makes sure that there is no risk taken, even though it was there to be taken.

The claws of flaw :: The Priest has many elements which we would feel borrowed, and the reminder of Hollywood movies is sure to come back here. The climax doesn’t deliver the needed punch either, as it goes through the safe way, and adds one scene after the finish, seemingly as a justification. Looking at films like The Conjuring, The Nun, Insidious, Sinister and Annabelle, we have had an overdose of horror movies with spirits, and as there was enough for reference, this could have certainly done better – we all remember what Ezra did with the Jewish demon. Well, when the demon really doesn’t want to be terrifying, and with the first motive being close to a Mathematics teachers, the scary side weakens – when the motive and actions of the supernatural doesn’t scare us enough, the genre itself struggles. After all, a spirit should do what it always does the best, and it should go further when listing itself as a horror film at all places. There can be more to an act of exorcism and the process of haunting. We also see something missing with the sequence of events, but can’t talk about that without revealing the suspense and twists.

The performers of the soul :: The movie was marketed as the first movie in which Mammootty and Manju Warrier acted together – the last word does have some complications though, because the latter’s character was dead some time ago, and so the characters won’t be living together in the film, and we would have to wait to see them in the leading roles. Manju Warrier’s role is also quite short here, and it can be considered only as long as the work of Saniya Iyappan who also has some work to do related to the first adventure of the protagonist. Mammootty’s avatar here is a lot better than what we have seen in most of his action and thriller films, and this is a character that he does with ease. We can now remember him like Father Brown, the Roman Catholic priest and detective who was the main character in the fifty three short stories written by British novelist GK Chesterton in the years after Victorian era. There we were not into horror though.

Further performers of the soul :: Even though often known as the first Mammootty-Manju Warrier movie, the latter gets only limited presence, and in the first half we don’t even have a clue that she exists. But when she is there, she works through this very well. Nikhila Vimal is once again seen as a talented actress, extending her good work from Njan Prakashan and Aravindante Athithikal. Saniya Iyappan has the early shorter presence, and as we had seen her effectiveness in horror with Krishnankutty Pani Thudangi where she was the only saving grace, we were expected more of her presence there. Ramesh Pisharody and Jagadish are also given some early moments in here. Venkitesh VP whom we have known from the television show Nayika Nayakan also has done some good work. Baby Monica also contributes nicely once the horror side begins. She excels in displaying that scary side which is brought to light in the second half of the movie.

How it finishes :: The Priest was among the much awaited movies with Mammootty in the lead, and it has come late due to COVID-19 pandemic – according to the reports, it has still managed to be a profit-making venture, even with the theatre occupancy being controlled. The Priest is the one Malayalam movie which brought the viewers to the theatres and made sure that the business was running smoothly. As it has released on the OTT platform of Amazon Prime, one can now watch the film without those fears which we had earlier. The Priest is not only on a path towards being a stylish horror movie, as it is also an innovation in having a release on an OTT platform a month after its theatre release – it is a path which many more movies can follow, as there are other films which need to be released, and we are still facing the worst case of that one grand pandemic. With the clouds bringing darkness early in the afternoon, The Priest makes an interesting thriller for the time, even though it could have been bigger and smarter.

I also wish everyone a Very Happy Vishu! Stay safe and enjoy the day 🙂

Release date: 11th March 2021 (Theatre), 14th April 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Jofin T Chacko
Starring: Mammootty, Manju Warrier, Nikhila Vimal, Baby Monica, Venkitesh VP, Saniya Iyappan, Sivadas Kannur, Jagadish, Lishoy, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Ramesh Pisharody, Kochu Preman, Ameya Mathew, TG Ravi, Dinesh Panicker, Kalabhavan Haneef, Naseer Sankranthi, Sminu Sijo, Jeeva Joseph, Shiny T Rajan, VK Prakash, Meera Nair, Thomas Kuriakose, Jayadevan, Manoj Chennai, Sohan Seenulal, Madhupal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Brother’s Day

What is the movie about? :: Ronnie (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is your average handsome guy next door, leading a catering service, taxi, hotel and restaurant run at Fort Cochin by Joy (Kottayam Nazir). His sister Ruby (Prayaga Martin) has been paralysed from waist down, and is undergoing treatment at an ayurvedic centre. He is helped by Munna (Dharmajan Bolgatty), a chronic bachelor spending his leisure time looking for a suitable match so that he can get married at least this year. During a wedding reception, he meets Jema (Madonna Sebastian), the daughter of George (Spadikam George) who is getting married at an old age after his wife left him. Even though their initial introduction is rather messed up, they become good friends later. Ronnie and Jema have their own saddening stories to tell, but both find happiness visiting the old age homes and spending a few moments together.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: He is also comes across Chandy (Vijayaraghavan), a businessman whom he meets by accident and lands in the police station as well as the hospital. He become good friends with Ronnie, Jema, Munna and Joy after a series of incidents. Ronnie is also introduced to Santa (Aishwarya Lekshmi), Chandy’s beautiful daughter who seems to be a cheerful and energetic young lady from outside, but seems to be holding a secret or two. They also come across Thaneesha (Miya George), a woman whose wedding ceremony was cancelled, and is searching for the reason behind her father’s suicide. Then there is Shiva (Prasanna), a mastermind behind many events involving the rich families and politicians of the city. The question remains about how these people are linked, but their paths are going to cross at some point.

The defence of Brother’s Day :: The movie which begins in a happy, funny mood, gets to the darker mood in the second half, even though there are traces of the same already seen in the beginning, right after the opening credits, and also in parts during its early run. The early comedy is nice, and unlike some of the other movies which pretend to be entertainers using cheap and vulgar jokes, there is none of such kind here. Then we have the twists happening, the suspense, and we also see how the characters and events come together nicely. The songs are good, and the background music is catchy. There are some fine visuals to go with the same too. Unlike the other movies which deal with the similar themes, there is no over-use of style here, and it also maintains a direct approach rather than trying to keep projecting the protagonist as the great hero all the time. The importance given to the antagonist is nice, and the use of red herring and foreshadowing are worth mentioning.

The claws of flaw :: It can be seen that some of the characters do disappear in the second half, and at least some them deserved to have a better role in the latter stages. There could have been some investigation going on here too, with the missing parts being found out rather than revealed. The second half of the movie goes in an entirely different path in comparison with the first half – even though movies like Drishyam also did the same, the core had remained the same in that case. The movie could have also been better if the small details were taken care of, and if there was not that much of predictability in the final stages. The movie also reminds one of the flicks like Mikhael and The Great Father with the dark mood and the kind of problems as well as the antagonists that the main characters have to deal with – but this one has the same one step better, and has a comic side which those movies completely lacked. There is also some violence to make some people uncomfortable.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj goes through the movie smoothly with his character – there is a certain special quality in his movies, as 9, Ranam and Koode had something more than what a usual Malayalam movie would have; not just with the settings, but with the feelings that it reflected on the audience. This one is no exception. Dharmajan handles the comedy with ease here. Vijayaraghavan’s character is a mixture of many things, and we see him doing what he has been doing the best once again. Vijayakumar plays another police officer role in his usual style. Kottayam Nazir and Shivaji Guruvayoor have lesser roles to play here. At the same time, Prasanna makes a fine, menacing villain, psychotic in nature and with no remorse even when he sees possible death in front of him. The presence of such a strong, and mysterious antagonist leaves the movie with further effects.

Further performers of the soul :: Madonna Sebastian was so close to becoming the main heroine of the movie, but then comes Aishwarya Lekshmi to take away the honours. This is still Madonna’s best after that fine introduction in Premam. Aishwarya has a similar character as she did in Varathan, as she is stalked by a different figure this time, something which she can’t ask to go away. In the second half, Madonna passes the heroine tag to Aishwarya, and towards the end, the latter handles it very well. Prayaga Martin and Miya George are just sidelined as their characters are rather minor. Both don’t have any sequences together even though each get about fifteen minutes each in different parts of the movie. Even with four heroine-like figures present in the movie, there is no real romantic angle for the protagonist, which is a good thing considering how the overall mood of the movie changes at the interval, and through the second half.

How it finishes :: As Brother’s Day finishes as a fine entertainer touching all aspects, it can be said that Kalabhavan Shajon books his seat as a director for many more to come – an interesting debut can be seen here, and he also makes a cameo appearance as the police officer in the end. Even though there can be opinions that it could have been a better thriller, this one is strong enough as it is, and maintains the comic side so clean and elevated that, it brings the lower level but self-proclaimed big entertainers like Amar Akbar Anthony and Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan to shame with those little moments of fun. Brother’s Day has a full entertainer packed in there, and even though the family audience won’t be that happy with the violence, the rest can easily go through the same and celebrate Onam. As long as you are expect the Malayalam movie industry to have its necessary turns, you will like this one enough. Happy Onam and continue enjoying the vacations! 🙂

Release date: 6th September 2019
Running time: 164 minutes
Directed by: Kalabhavan Shajohn
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Madonna Sebastian, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Prayaga Martin, Miya George, Prasanna, Aima Rosmy Sebastian, Vijayakumar, Vijayaraghavan, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Maala Parvathi, Kottayam Nazir, Spadikam George, Ponnamma Babu, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Kochu Preman, Anil Murali, Jayasankar Karimuttam, Vinod Kedamangalam, Kalabhavan Shajohn (cameo)

Also check the reviews of other Onam releases, Ittymaani and Love Action Drama.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Varathan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Grace Villa

Vampire Owl: Do you know that writing about short-films is not that rewarding?

Vampire Bat: Yes, especially short-films which are older.

Vampire Owl: So, you understand the same, and is not writing about those bigger movies which will get you more visits?

Vampire Bat: Movies of the Soul’s opinions will not be lost among those many fake paid reviews brought by blind fans and those who sell fake opinions.

Vampire Owl: What about the hope that someone will notice?

Vampire Bat: That exists no more. It disappeared quite some time ago.

Vampire Owl: It is a shame. The fake and paid reviews are still shared more on the movie and celebrity pages.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if we honestly write a movie review, it doesn’t mean much.

Vampire Owl: I wonder how humans managed to be such liars even when it is about art.

Vampire Bat: Lie, hate and lie more; it is their motto. They sacrifice their values for money each and every time.

[Gets some tapioca chips and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: A real estate broker (Kochu Preman) is having some bad business going, with most of the properties he is selling, not having many buyers for the same. It is a rather dull time for real estate business, and his efforts are not becoming fruitful. His biggest pain is a property called Grace Villa owned by Saly Grace (Parvathy T) whose son Michael (Vineeth Vishwam) had died a few years ago, and is living with the pain, sadness and depression regarding the same. This particular property has been there for sale ever since Michael had died, and Saly is not ready to sell this property which costs around three lakhs to a maximum of three and half lakhs to anyone at a rate below twenty five lakhs. Many people have come and looked at the property – they have liked it, but nobody is willing to pay about eight to nine times the calculated price.

So, what happens next? :: It is when nobody seems to be interested, that a man named Mathews (Rajesh Hebbar) comes from far away, to the misty town. This man who seems to be there for the first time is very curious about the house, and likes it at first sight. He is determined to buy that property in any way possible, but still the amount of twenty five lakhs seem to be too much for him. Despite the real estate broker and his assistant (Saritha Sreejith) being hopeless about this sale happening, Mathews decides to talk to the lady and come up with some arrangement which will leave him with an opportunity to buy the property at a lesser rate. As he goes to the place and is welcome by Saly, he realizes that there is something about her than what meets the eye, and there is a particular secret that haunts the house. What would that be? Can the mystery be solved and the house be solved?

The defence of Grace Villa :: From the beginning itself, we know that there is something about Grace Villa, something which will bring the nice twist in the end. It was launched by Tovino Thomas, and has some faces which are well-known for us. Rajesh Hebbar is most known to us for the satirical family serial on television known as Oridathoridathu, and has been in the televison programmes for quite a long time – pardon me for not watching television that much. Parvathi T has been there for long too, and we last saw her in three big movies playing the mother of Tovino Thomas, Kunchako Boban and Dulquer Salmaan in Godha, Take Off and CIA: Comrade in America respectively. Kochu Preman also joins them, and there are also the others who play less significant roles. The performances make sure that this one becomes more, as it does more with its material, as we await the mystery to be unveiled.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s theme, as many other short-films is revenge – yes, a lot of short-films deal with revenge or love, or even both these days. This one tells the tale of a revenge that has the strength of waiting, and it only takes a few minutes to execute the same. There is no doubt that people love how this simple and short thing is able to bring so much of effect – people will guess this one half way into the flashback though, and maybe with a little additions here and there, that could have been avoided, and left to be guessed only at the final moment. But once again you will realize that revenge is sweet, and there is nothing as strong as a mother’s need to get justice for her son – well, the thing about revenge is there coming in full cycle in the Tamil and Kannada short-film Red Jacket which I had reviewed earlier. Grace Villa is all about mystery getting to that revenge.

How it finishes :: Grace Villa is based on The Right Kind of House by Henry Slezar, which dates back to the year 1957. If you have read that novel, you will find that the essence of the work is taken right into this short-film which has changed only the elements which are to make it happen at a small town in South India. You will see that the name of the son of the house owner is also the same in this version. The feeling that people have about each other and the house also seems to be the same, along with the order of incidents and location – this is pretty much a faithful adaptation if you just read the work quickly and watch Grace Villa. But the short-film version does seem to explain a little bit more, something which our audience have always wanted. Well, you know what all movie lovers want, as it is to get the story to appeal to them whether it is with mystery or with a message like Mangalyam Thanthunanena, and Grace Villa is undoubtedly a success.

[Walks into the verandah with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: I am going to rename my area of the castle as Grace Villa.

Vampire Bat: You have a small room. Why would you name that small a room? Who will notice?

Vampire Owl: There is a mystery behind my room, which nobody will ever find out.

Vampire Bat: What is that mystery? What are you hiding?

Vampire Owl: If I talk to you about that mystery, it will be mystery no more. It is why nobody should know.

Vampire Bat: You are lying that there is a mystery because that can make the other vampires impressed.

Vampire Owl: What are you talking about? I am someone unable to lie. Truth is my other name.

Vampire Bat: You once said that Death is your other name.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I am known by multiple names. There are so many of them, that I forget ninety eight percent of them.

Vampire Bat: You are the kind of vampire who should be a zombie. There is a folk-song among witches regarding that.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 28th October 2016
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Binoy Raveendran
Starring: Parvathi T, Babu Annur , Rajesh Hebbar , Kochu Preman , Vineeth Vishwam, Saritha Sreejith, Vaudev, Suryadev, Saami Vaas, Ranjith, Vinod, Abhilash Abi, Athul S Dev

Watch the movie Grace Villa here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Avarude Raavukal

What is the movie about? :: Ashik (Asif Ali) is the popular stage performer in a village on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border who comes to Cochin hoping to work in a movie, after the villagers collect money from their own people to make sure that he gets a chance. Siddharth (Unni Mukundan) is an engineering graduate who is spending his time doing nothing other than to stay at home up-to that extent that his father has to throw him out of the house. Vijay (Vinay Forrt) is an angry young man who was suspended for getting into a fight with another employee in the same company he was working for. Scobo Johnson (Nedumudi Venu) is an old man who is staying alone, and looking for company. Bored and with no plans for future, he comes up with an advertisement calling for bachelors to stay at his place, free of cost – it gets to the three young men who are ready to come right away.

So, what happens next? :: Ashik finds Cochin and the movie world a lot different than what he had thought, and finds problems in even doing the simplest works. He goes to various auditions, but none of them work – he does find a new friend though, in the form of Vinod (Aju Varghese) who is also looking forward to acting in movies, one way or the other. They decide to attend the acting workshop held by Manoj Kuruvila (Mukesh), who is a famous movie director. But even that doesn’t seem to help the two who are more clueless than anything else. Siddharth who does nothing other than staring at girls, even consults Doctor Jayamurugan (Kochu Preman), but his life goes on in the same way until his brother recommends him for a job under Shivani (Honey Rose), which he gets despite performing terribly during the interview. What follows is a terrible mess at the office.

And what follows the events? :: Ashik and Siddharth are not just the ones reaching a higher level of their problems, as Vijay has a bigger issue at hand. His anger issue is more or less the result of something which happened in the past, and his girlfriend Meghna (Milana Pournami) tries to get him out of the same, but with no positive result. Scobo Johnson is the silent witness to all these, and tells them that there are two ways out of it, one the difficult path, and the other, the shortcut. Are the three good enough to get out of the mess that they are in, or is at least Johnson skilled enough to take them through their journeys? Can things finally take a positive twist of events in their lives which haven’t really had much to talk about otherwise? Will their upcoming experiences leave them as better people than who they already are? Only time will tell.

The defence of Avarude Raavukal :: Vinay Forrt successfully leads the group of young men here towards their objectives, as motivation runs right through this one with inspirational dialogues, and featuring the rise of unexpected tales of success; emotional side is strong here. The movie asks its viewers to keep trying, as the fish does; it provides this message without missing its plot, and the direction that it shows is the right one for the new generation. The presence of movies like Mili, Aby, My God and Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam has proved the same, but Avarude Raavukal is more the common person’s story than the rest. There is also the presence of some nice humour in between. There is also some beautiful music in this flick, beginning from “Ethetho Swapnamo” and through “Vaadaathe Veezhathe”, both bringing different but nice feeling. The feel-good effect stays, and despite the certain delay in the movie’s arrival and the morning shows canceled, we are glad to have this movie working and going well enough to provide enough motivation.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t go that close to perfection as the director’s earlier combined venture, Philips and the Monkey Pen, and what we expected was surely more. There are certain ups and downs in between for sure, even as everything seems to have kept at a certain level as much as possible. There are some occasions when we wonder if these things, which do look more and more possible, can ever be solved by the protagonists. The inspirational story is also not something new, and the old man is also a rather strange character, whose twist in the end is even stranger; this one could have just gone simpler and close to life towards the end. Even in the beginning, the movie had taken some time to get going. The cameo roles in the end by Shine Tom Chacko, Sunny Wayne and Sanju Sivram were rather unnecessary too, and the same can be said about a cricket match when it could have been just the engineering classes. You will find the weird and missing sides of the plot, but you can avoid them as they are not that significant.

Performers of the soul :: Asif Ali who is coming out of the late, but sure success of Adventures of Omanakkuttan has done a fine job with a character which had quite something to perform out there. Unni Mukundan comes out of the dismal movie which was Achayans, and makes good use of what was a rather easy job for him. Vinay Forrt had a little less to work with in Georgettan’s Pooram brings the best of them all – his story remains the most interesting one in the whole movie, and he is the backbone of the flick. Aju Varghese should be powered by the grand success of Godha, and does a pretty good job when he is there. Honey Rose who was last seen in My God which was an under-appreciated movie, makes a comeback after two years – not much to do, but good to see her back. Milana works through limited expressions in this one. Nedumudi Venu has some nice dialogues which prove inspirational, and forms the pillars of the movie’s progress.

How it finishes :: It has been a long time since a Malayalam movie with an interesting and long list of star cast released, and being the first movie to release for the Eid holidays, Avarude Raavukal surely has an early advantage among the others which are to follow. Shanil Mohammed, who had earlier directed Philips and the Monkey Pen with Rojin Thomas has his first solo outing here. The flick had won Kerala State Film Award for Best Children’s Movie and Kerala State Film Award for Best Child Artist for Sanoop Santhosh. This one might not create that much of an impact, and has a lot of heavyweights to follow. Getting itself to the list of feel-good movies with messages, Avarude Raavukal will leave with a positive effect more than anything else. There are not many other things that we need for this special season.

Release date: 23rd June 2017
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Shanil Muhammed
Starring: Asif Ali, Unni Mukundan, Honey Rose, Vinay Forrt, Aju Varghese, Mukesh, Milana Pournami, Nedumudi Venu, Sudhi Koppa, Lena, Ambika Mohan, Kiran Aravindakshan, Nisha Sarangh, Aishwarya chandran, Kochu Preman, Shine Tom Chacko (cameo), Sunny Wayne (cameo), Sanju Sivram (cameo)

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

Action Hero Biju

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Vampire Owl :: I have read and heard mixed reviews about this one.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, and I have even heard that the other flick at the theatres is a better movie than this.

Vampire Owl :: Do you know what that means?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, it means that we should watch this movie before going for any other.

Vampire Owl :: If someone says that the other movie is better and keeps telling us that we should watch that particular movie, we should watch this movie only.

Vampire Bat :: Exactly; we know that our tastes are different as individuals, unless we blindly follow a trend.

Vampire Owl :: I remember us liking Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi more than Amar Akbar Anthony.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, they told us that the former was not a movie at all. Strange people.

Vampire Owl :: And they declared a repetitive comedy movie as one of the best entertainers of all-time.

Vampire Bat :: Which is why we should watch them all, and what they don’t like, we should surely try.

[Gets the tickets with cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Sub Inspector Biju Paulose (Nivin Pauly) is a teacher turned police officer who is determined to serve the people and has dedicated his life to his duty. He intends to keep the law and order in the city of Cochin, and for the same, he intends to keep himself close to work all the time. The movie goes through his daily life as a police officer, and deals with the cases that he comes up against everyday, as he gets ready for his marriage with Benitta Dominic (Anu Emmanuvel). There will be enough trouble to keep him busy. And yes, you get all of these without slow-motion sequences, beating up twenty five people at a time, and not catching dangerous serial killers, international criminals or extreme terrorists. Do you know about realistic movies with messages, but having no real dull moment in between? Yes, this works in that way!

The defence of Action Hero Biju :: The one thing which you can be sure about this movie is that it is realistic to the core. The protagonist doesn’t go on fighting the big villains beating them up on the roads or defeating his minions by fighting them all over the city. There is no villain here, but the crimes. There are no heavy dialogues around there either. You shall find no Bharathchandran, Balram, Mohammed Sarkar, Madhavan, Easo Panicker, Baba Kalyani, Chandrasekharan, Sharafuddin Tharamasi and the rest who are part of that long list of heroes from the past, or even those divergent ones of the later times like Sam Alex, Solomon Joseph, Hameem Hyder and Anthony Moses. The movie has no complications, and things are simple, as one would expect to happen as part of the usual life. The comedy as well as the emotional side are very much working; the visuals are really good and the songs are just okay. This one also works as a tribute to the police force.

Claws of flaw :: The movie’s realistic approach won’t appeal to all. It is not that kind of a realistic approach which is forced upon us like in the case of Annayum Rasoolum which declared the same to be just drag and more drag. It was a case of exaggerated realistic world which seemed to work with a section of people, but Action Hero Biju chooses not to use that, but go for what can be believed by the common man. That should still disappoint the fans as they might have been looking for something else, with action, thrills, twists and turns, punch dialogues and everything else; even otherwise, they might look for the exaggerated heroism or a heavy dose of cheap comedy – none of these happens to be here. It is the substantial problem with expectations, as that becomes a flaw in the eyes of the fans. The movie might also be a little bit too long for the kind of subject it deals with and the way of treatment. There could have been a better focused ending too.

Performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly returns with one of his most anticipated titles in a long time as he joins forces with Abrid Shine yet again, after the much appreciated 1983 as the director comes up with his second movie. He has managed the role of the rather human police officer without that much trouble. There are moments which are not that good, but there are some in which he looks very well in form. Anu Emmanuel looks good, but this is the debut in which she has not much to do, and it is only the smile and the name of the character that stays with this one – she needs a movie with more screen presence. The comic side is at its best with Joju George, and Suraj Venjaramoodu comes up with a huge performance in one of the best, emotional moments in the movie – there is another one with Meghanathan and Rohini, and the girl who plays her daughter has some nice moments. Major Ravi and Saiju Kurup plays protagonist’s superior officers well. There are a few lesser known faces who provides some interesting performances too.

Soul exploration :: As we go further into this, we feel that what we have seen on the screen has no part in being unrealistic. It is a ride through the life of a police officer as expected under the normal circumstances, and there are multiple incidents and cases which the protagonist has to deal with, among which none of them is related to solving a mystery which only the hero can bring out to light. Instead, the police officer deals with the usual cases that comes up in life – yes, no serial killers, no big gangster lord, no catching international criminals, no standing face to face with powerful politicians, no reaching at scenes of crime at the exact time, no chance of becoming the only man in the whole world who can catch a fiery terrorist, no beating up twenty people just because he can in a movie and surely no unlimited dose of dialogues. Last year, there was the realistic Pathemari, and in Hindi, there was the realistic Airlift; this one also follows the more realistic model, but with fun.

How it finishes :: The one problem which has undoubtedly worked against this movie is its title itself. The movie is not what the title suggests, as it seems to make us feel that this will either be masala action entertainer or a full comedy movie, but as it ended up becoming a realistic movie, it is sure to make one wonder what kind of audience the makers were looking to target. If people feel that the pathetic eternal drag like Annayum Rasoolum was good and Action Hero Biju is not, I will ask for a change of the meaning of the word. Another fact about Action Hero Biju is that it is cent percent better than the overrated flick which was 1983. But these days, people rarely look for a realistic movie which is closer to life, except for those pseudo-realistic movies like Annayum Rasoolum, the bloody movie in which nothing happens and we have more and more tea to the end. And is it just Premam that we always need? It was clear that people in the theatre enjoyed in this case too.

Release date: 4th February 2016
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: Abrid Shine
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Anu Emmanuel, Jude Anthany Joseph, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Major Ravi, Rony Davis, Joju George, Prajod Kalabhavan, Saiju Kurup, Kochu Preman, Valsala Menon, Azeez, Rohini, Meghanathan, Sajan Palluruthy, Balachandran Chullikad, Abhija Sivakala, Madhu Mohan, Bobby Mohan, Devi Ajith, Manju Vani

actionherobiju

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

Polytechnic

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Vishu’s last comrade :: In the beginning, there were four Malayalam movies for the festival of Vishu, and this is the last one that list, as the least hyped, but I have found this one the second most interesting after 7th Day. But before I get into it, I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Suraj Venjaramoodu on winning the National Award for the Best Actor for his performance in Perariyathavar along with everyone behind the same movie. As everyone considered him to be someone inside a particular genre, there might not be many people from Kerala who expected the same. What makes me most happy is the selection of North 24 Kaatham as the best Malayalam movie, as unlike what some people said about it, I have always thought it was a wonderful movie and needed to gain a lot more attention, even as it did do quite well. Now with the award won, not many can reject the claim of awesomeness about that movie. So there is something from a long time Malayalam movie fan, and back to what I have been doing, and the road diverge into that fourth Vishu Malayalam movie which I watched, Polytechnic.

What is it about? :: Poly (Kunchako Boban) is the son of a soldier and a homemaker. He is a member of the local leftist party and is filled with socialist ideas and a desire to eliminate corruption from his village, thus not doing any job and not contributing to the income of the household in any way other than eating quite a lot. He is usually locked in fights against the Panchayat president and the local leader of the opposite party, Sukumaran Nair (Vijayaraghavan), but is in love with the daughter of the same man, Aswathy (Bhavana) whom he has liked since childhood. As Poly gets more and more involved with the events in the village, he has to face more problems. But the big problem comes when his father dies in a terrorist attack, and is left with the duty to take care of the household. With the money that they get after the death of his father, Poly starts a new business with the help of his friend Backer (Aju Varghese) and the blessings of their local leader. But soon he realizes that it is difficult to run an industry like it is easy to close one. He finds out that one can’t run a business in the right way, but decides to go against all odds and make sure that his venture turns successful.

The defence of Polytechnic :: Sometimes spelled as Pauly Technic at many places, Polytechnic is all about the technic the protagonist Poly uses to get his thing done. May be it is more about the protagonist being Poly or Pauly rather than anything else. The first half is more political and surely the funnier one, as it reminds one more of Oru Indian Pranayakatha‘s first half as it moves on to being somewhat the Punyalan Agarbathis as the first half gets closer to the interval and the whole second half. But the movie does maintain its own identity, thanks to all the funny dialogues and incidents as well as the total village set up. The message to fight corruption runs throughout the movie. There is a heavy dose of corruption incidents in the movie, and it keeps telling the viewers about the need to fight the same, and it is in the hands of the youth to do so. The movie has a lot of funny moments, and never does it cross the border of decency, something which has been difficult for Malayalam movies with the new generation movies all around. It makes sure that the movie is suitable for the families.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t have a wikipedia page. There are not many movies which doesn’t have one, and that is disappointing as such a page is necessary for any average movie which hits the theatre, and often the worst Malayalam movies have one. I would consider such a situation a serious threat to the movie’s promotions, just like not having a facebook page. The movie’s take on politics and corruption is half-baked. The whole thing becomes a fight only in the end, and the climax is rather too ineffective and forced. As this movie is more or less like last year’s Jayasuriya starrer Punyalan Agarbathis, the same trend seems to continue – the protagonist tries to start a business which has almost everything going against it, including the laws, officials, fate and those people who don’t like him. There is also the heroine giving full support as well as a friend who is always with him (both times played by Aju Varghese). The protagonist’s techniques are rather weak and none of them should actually impress the audience as the “great poly technic”. There it goes slow and pretty much predictable.

Performers of the Soul :: Kunchako Boban once again excels in a character with all the qualities necessary for the same. Remember Elsamma Enna Aankutty and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum, but here he has a character with more heroism, and he performs here with the same ease. He has fit into the role of the simple and ordinary man well. Bhavana seems to have got slimmer, and shines in a role in which most of the other Malayalam actresses haven’t really played to a good effect – a police officer and a lover who struggles to keep both roles afloat, caught between her lover and her father. She successfully portrays and remains true to that character. Vijayaraghavan and Aju Varghese heavily contributes to the funny side, and the latter has a role which is similar to what he did in Punyalan Agarbathis, and has made it better. These two are also seen in the other Vishu movie, Ring Master, the same is the case of Suraj Venjaramood who contributes in his usual manner. Kochu Preman is there to add a little more to the same. Hareesh Peradi remains strong and has yet another powerful role to essay. Innocent has a guest role in the end.

Soul exploration :: The feel-good movies are mostly for the soul, but this is actually less for the same. The message for the youth to fight against corruption is the one thing that stands alone, and the light shades make sure that the situation is enjoyable rather than frowned upon; but there are the moments which make one feel that its not that light a movie, especially when the protagonist’s struggles get too much and lands him in jail as well as ruins his reputation. There was the need for a stronger script and a better twist in the end to make sure that it works better rather than sticking to that feel-good thingy like a glue. It seems to have clinched on the simplicity, but there is still the twist, and the with its occasional drags and predictability, the movie is kind of confused at its soul, and the fact that they have somewhat managed to pull it off is a nice thing. Its attempt is on a message against what may be the biggest social evil in the nation, and that is well done as an attempt. There is also the reminder of Dakshayani Biscuits, the factory from Mohanlal’s old classic movie, Midhunam.

How it finishes :: The two things that would attract the audience should be that Bhavana is back, that too with Kunchako Boban a long time after Doctor Love, for the first time in a police role; and that Kunchako Boban is back in his second most comfortable territory, the family comedy entertainer (the first one being the usual romantic stuff). Polytechnic doesn’t seem to be ready to finish strong during this festival-vacation season. I wonder how much better it would have been if it had released before Punyalan Agarbathis. But this is still a season of big holidays, and as nothing other than 7th Day has successfully attracted enough audience, this might still hold on like Count Dracula to his coffin. To prepare for the same, lets keep the expectations low and take the opportunity, and be prepared for another addition of a feel-good movie to the long list of such movies which never cease coming as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned.. I might be back only after Maundy Thursday and Good Friday or possibly only after Easter, and I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter Sunday, and may there be blessings in abundance on the day, plus belated Vishu greetings.

Release date: 11th April 2014
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: M. Padmakumar
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Bhavana, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramood , Tesni Khan, Devi Chandana, Vishnu Prabha, Hareesh Peradi, Kochu Preman, Ambika, Innocent

polytechnic copy

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

Up and Down

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We all get stuck in the lift. Those who haven’t are the ones who are waiting to get stuck there. Two years after the release of his Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty, this director has returned with what is listed as a psychological thriller – Up & Down: Mukalil Oralundu, which deals with the same issue. But I would not say that it is psychological, as it is more of a murder investigation; a suspense thriller of the recent Mumbai Police model, but the style resembles Banking Hours 10 to 4. But this surely has a good advantage over that; the advantage of the powerful base plot which forms the undercurrents. But the question would be about how it surfaces and faces those ships and boats, the critics and the common man who watches them after watching Neram, English and Mumbai Police in the other theatres. The more famous movie review sites doesn’t seem to have taken this one well, but as long as I am concerned, this is surely above average, and this successfully entertains more than any other Malayalam movie after the age of Amen. Even with its flaws, and the times when sharks become little crocodiles, this wide sea of thrills manages to make an impact on the viewers.

The whole thing happens in the tallest building in the city, a flat where a major event is taking place at the top, that is the twenty fourth floor. There is a lot of preparation going on, and there are many important guests arriving on the day. But it is not in a room, in a hall or at the premises of the flat that the story takes place, as the film is a story of eight people and a kid who gets stuck in the lift on a day when there is a major program there. The trapped people include the lift operator of the flat (Indrajith), the city police commissioner (Ganesh Kumar), the flat’s builder and a major businessman (Baiju), his wife who is a dancer and is dressed for an item in the program (Remya Nambeesan), an alcoholic writer and a stoic personality with a “Carpe diem” attitude to life (Prathap Pothen), an IT professional who plays the role of Godse in a drama for the program and also the secretary of the residents association of the apartment (Rejith Menon), his girl friend and the one in charge of the program (Sruti Menon), a former NRI from the United States who play the role of Mahatma Gandhi for the program’s drama item (Nandhu) and a little kid (Master Devaraman).

The writer keeps telling everyone that he reached there early morning; the kid keeps enquiring about his mother (Meghana Raj) and the lift operator himself tells the police commissioner about his doubts on the missing person. They are on their way to the top of the flat for the program when the lift gets stuck. The man who comes to repair the lift is an alcoholic (Koch Preman) and this delays the process further. The lift has a lot of problems, and this time, it causes bigger trouble as the function has to begin, and soon the writer has chest pain. They also find that there is a dead body on the top of the lift, and the police commisioner guesses that one of the people in the lift is responsible for the murder. He pledges to find the real victim before the lift is opened. But the question remains if it is possible in such a small space with so many people being related to the murdered person in one way or the other. The talks and actions of the people in the lift keeps on raising more and more suspicions. Even the investigator and the most respected people in the lift doesn’t seem to the kind of righteous people who can’t commit a brutal murder. Slowly, a good number of secrets are revealed, which would change their lives once they get out of the trapped area.

This one is more of Meghana Raj’s movie than anybody else. She is present in most of the flashbacks where the core of the movie is revealed. It might also be Ganesh Kumar’s best police role ever. Indrajith has very little to do as the serious lift operator who never has a moment of happiness in life. Prathap Pothen has the most interesting role in the movie, as an alcoholic who enjoys his life without worrying about the past, present or future. He provides the best comic relief with Nandhu. In many ways, this might be one of the most interesting intellectual alcoholics, a reminder of the wise fools of William Shakespeare (that was a little far-fetched) who provides those funny lines as well as the words of wisdom. It is the strangeness of his character that works the best in a situation of being trapped in such an environment. His character is most well-drawn, and the rest are just a little less developed. Some of them really don’t have any interesting character traits at all. The presence of flat characters subtract some points from the situation, and the scenes outside the lift losses in comparison to what happens inside the lift.

So where does the 2010 American supernatural thriller film come into the picture? No, The Night Chronicles: Devil doesn’t really come into the scene here. It had the supernatural within modern city life while this one has the usual crime within the modern urban life. There is no people getting killed one at a time, and there is surely no devil. The only common thing is the lift and the only similar event is the people getting trapped in the lift. So there is no place for Lucifer, Beelzebub, Satan or whoever he is. But in a world where the humans can do his job better than him, who needs that personality from the depths of the pain’s own abyss called inferno? There are satan’s little helpers who are both intellectually and spiritually better people of evil than the prince of darkness and eternal pain. Well, this one is successful in building that tension which remains there for most of the time. It is close to being brain dead in the end due to its attempt to come up with something strange and the requirement of another twist, but still, considering the fact that we have seen much worse Malayalam movies, and the greatest disasters of the Malayalam movie industry, this is not at all a bad thing in its glory.

The movie would have been better if the creators had simply forgotten about everything outside the lift and there were more incidents inside rather than the outside. That would have been more of the psychological piece as expected. May be the makers thought that the common movie watcher of this world who hasn’t watched movies like Buried might not stand a chance if they had to face with a monotonous environment such as a plain lift. The need for some colourful factors always comes to the scene when entertaining crowd-puller movies are considered. The movie’s subtitle “Mukalil Oralundu” would signify God, but there is no such direct involvement. The operation of the lift can be related to that divinity, but it is not something that can be directly connected. If the title means the dead body on the top, that would make more sense, but that would turn the usage into a rather funny thing. The more interesting thing might be about considering the lift as a character, which works as it wants itself to. Such a thing can’t be avoided even if that factor is also not explored. The supernatural clearly takes the backseat when the not-so-natural human beings takes control and leads the way.

To be frank, I have been waiting for this one for quite a long time, as the release date was changed from 17th May to 24th May; something unusual for me to long for a movie which had no special cast or nothing to boast about – I was impressed by the trailer and this being a thriller added to the longing. But the movie doesn’t seem to give what the trailer conveys to the viewer. The mystery should have been a little more bifurcating for my mind if it was so. But here, the mystery is straight, but still strange. This suspense works very powerfully throughout the first half and the movie soars high despite of some small troubles, and goes through with half of the second half without too much trouble, but it is the end that fails to justify the means. It was as if everything was made just to make the end happen, or the finish was just made for the movie to end. It is somewhat uninspiring, but everything else throughout the movie is worth all the attention. It might not be what one expect after watching the best of the world, but with the limited resources, it has been turned into something which can be watched for the fun and thrills, especially that first half which keeps one guessing about what happens next, or what can’t happen next.

Release date: 24th May 2013
Running time: 115 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: T. K. Rajeev Kumar
Starring: Indrajith Sukumaran, Meghana Raj, Prathap Pothen, Remya Nambeesan, K. B. Ganesh Kumar, Baiju, Nandhu, Sruti Menon, Rejith Menon, Master Devaraman, Kochu Preman, Vijayakumar

up&down copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.