Shikkari Shambhu

What is the movie about? :: Philippose (Kunchacko Boban) is a thief who works close to two other thieves, Achu (Vishnu Unnikrishnan) and Shaji (Hareesh Perumana). The three had made an attempt to steal a golden cross from a church in Kunnamkulam area, only to fail in the attempt and escape to the highranges. They decide to stay hidden in a remote place, and the news that there is a tiger attack in Kuruthimalakkavu, makes them travel all the way there disguised as hunters. They also have their eyes set on the statue in the village temple which is said to date back long, and is valued at crores. They are welcomed by the group of villagers lead by the Panchayat President Sudhakaran (Maniyanpilla Raju) and the local priest Father Luko (Johny Antony), and are offered five lakhs to catch the tiger. The three feels that this is a big opportunity for them to make some quick money.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The three lives in the fear of being attacked by the tiger, and along with their adventure, Achu falls in love with the daughter of the Panchayat President, Revathy (Alphy Panjikaran) who is a college student. At the same time, Philippose has his interest set on Anitha (Shivada Nair), who is one of the more active and stronger women in the area. They do end up capturing the tiger, but it turns out that this doesn’t stop the killings. It won’t put an end to their problems either. So, is there one more tiger that they need to handle? Can another Shikkari Shambu incident of pure luck save them? But even luck has its limits, as the three friends attempt to make one last stand to save the village as well as get the money that they wanted. This is the time for them to find all their courage, but are they up to it? How many people will have to die before they can?

The defence of Shikkari Shambhu :: The movie has the formula that works, right out the movies like Ordinary, which was acceptable to so many types of audience. There is a lot of entertainment in store, beginning with the comic side that runs through, and also the mystery to come to light along with the big twist to arrive by the finish. The visuals are stunning, and it is not limited to the beautiful “mazha” song which has already become the best song of the year without doubt. When you look closely, you see that Shikkari Shambhu is surely better than Pulimurugan, even though that much of a box-office collection is not there to be taken – this one is still more fun, has a better story, and there are cent percent better female characters, along with coming up with better songs and visuals. Well, you begin laughing from the very beginning itself, and when you see that happening in a multiplex in a mall with the family audience, the movie has won the hearts.

The claws of flaw :: The tale could have been better in the middle parts, and there was scope for more with this trio trying to make something out of their stay in a village haunted by wild animals. There is the feeling of the movies like Ordinary, and a little bit of Romans in this one, and you will also think that this flick is a little too long. A bit shortened, this one could have done without some moments. The tiger doesn’t come up well enough to create an impression either. The fact that this movie didn’t have its shows in a number of theatres including Carnival Cinemas Angamaly and Carnival Cinemas Muvattupuzha, was surely a terrible thing, as we can be sure that so many people wanted to watch this movie after being addicted to the “mazha” song which is undoubtedly a pleasure to look out for, on the big screen. A little more care, and this one could have done even better – it could have had the special ingredient and could have attempted a deviation from the usual path.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban handle this role with ease, and we remember that he played a thief in his last movie of 2017 too, in Varnyathil Aashanka. This character does work for him very well, and never does he need to try more. The song “mazha” itself seems to be custom made for him, something which makes the viewers immediately interested in the flick itself. Shivada has a fine role here, paired opposite Kunchacko Boban, making this her one more notable role after Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam. Her character is strong, determined, and with those qualities that surely make this one a different role for her – there is more than what meets the eye to the strength of this particular female character. Vishnu Unnikrishnan, after Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, continues to be the boy next door, carrying most of charm into this one too.

Further performers of the soul :: Alphy brings good work in her first full role, paired opposite Vishnu as the movie progresses. She is sure to stay there in the industry with some good roles to come. Hareesh Perumana scores the best in this movie, and you don’t need to think twice before asserting the same. We know that he has always been good, no matter what people will say about a movie as a whole. He has been having a good time in the Malayalam movie industry, and this one has him controlling the funny side, rising above everyone else. The movie’s advantage is that he is there throughout the flick. Two directors Johny Antony and Aji John plays interesting roles in the movie too, and the former provides some fun moments which scores big. Salim Kumar has only a smaller presence as a police officer, but when he is there, the whole theatre has no problem in getting into a laugh riot.

How it finishes :: Sugeeth has had a good run with Kunchacko Boban in the lead, beginning with Ordinary and the last one being Madhura Naranga. With a title that reminds us of the comics character who used to be very special for us, Shikkari Shambhu once again brings us one of the better family entertainers of our times, with the content that is suitable for almost all kinds of audience. After the depressing Daivame Kaithozhaam K Kumaraakanam which claimed to be a family entertainer, but ended up being a miserable copy of ideas from other movies creating a mess, the viewers will find Shikkari Shambhu to be a relief among the flicks which are never really what they claim to be. But Shikkari Shambhu is surely the one movie which you would love to go through more than once for its comedy, which will be a big asset to our comedy channels in the future, unlike Aadu 2 which was surely overrated. I hereby leave you with a lovely song from the movie:

Release date: 20th January 2018
Running time: 140 minutes
Directed by: Sugeeth
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Vishnu Unnikrishnan, Shivada Nair, Alphy Panjikaran, Hareesh Perumana, Johny Antony, Aji John, Salim Kumar, Sphadikam George, Maniyanpilla Raju, Krishna Kumar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Velipadinte Pusthakam

What is the movie about? :: Pheonix College of Arts and Science was established ten years ago as a result of the efforts of Vishwanathan (Anoop Menon), a local man who was killed on a terrible night after he made this possible. The location of this college is at a coastal village, where most children stop education at the school level itself, and a few don’t even bother to get to the verandah of nursery. There have been the presence of rich people like Mathan Tharakan (Siddique) and his right hand man, a criminal Kakka Ramesh (Chemban Vinod Jose) who don’t want the local youth to attend college, as it would deprive them of the workers for their fishing business. The college did develop into a popular institution ten years after its inception though, and people from city also joined in to make the campus a mixture of different kings of students, as the number of students from the village doesn’t get any higher, with fishing being a traditional job for the locals.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Into this college where the memories of Vishwanathan is more treasured that anything else, there has been the entry of violence – there is nothing political or religious in nature with the quarrels being rather social. With more students filling in the vacant seats left by the locals, there are two groups which can’t afford to see each other. The first one is led by Franklin (Sarath Kumar), as the son of the best friend of Vishwanathan, coming from the local fishing community – proud and not backing away from a fight. They ridicule those coming from outside as rich beggars who have been trying to take away their opportunities and buy seats with cash. The second one has their leader in Sameer (Arun Kurian) who is an angry young man coming from a rich family in the city, and wastes no time in getting into fights and ridicule his rivals for being poor and doing fishing.

And what else is to follow with the book of revelation? :: The two gangs find one reason or the other to fight it out at open spaces or inside the college auditorium when there is the need for some privacy. Supporting the city gang against the village team is the vice principal of the college, Prem Raj (Salim Kumar) who has become an irritation to the female students as well as the teachers, earning him the nick name Kamaraj. Franklin and his team gets rid of him with a nicely executed plan which exposes him in front of the principal. He manages to continue as a professor, while the post of vice principal goes to Michael Idicula (Mohanlal), a happy and easy-going professor who teaches Malayalam. With a grand entry, he manages to be a favourite of all students, and even manages to win the trust both Franklin and Sameer at the same time. But there is one more thing that he will need to do, and by doing the same, he will make sure that there will be some revelations, not just about himself, but also about Vishwanathan and his death.

The defence of Velipadinte Pusthakam :: The movie is entertaining for sure, and the first half has a lot of funny moments to add to the cause – whenever there is something related to the college and its people, there is the comic side that comes up; it is Salim Kumar who handles that all the time. The visuals of the coastal village is very good, and there are some dialogues to remembered, some as serious ones, and a few from the comic side – this is never the complete with its funny side though. With its ups and downs, the movie depends on Mohanlal to save it, and it is his presence that makes the audience miss some of the troubles that this movie has. There are some twists in this movie, some are on the funny side, and the rest are on the more serious angle – some of the thrills come not that strong, but they are surely present there. The most interesting song remains the one you have already listened, and had become the big hit.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s trouble is with its second story, which makes one wish to return to the college, and keep things there. The thrilling side is not used as one would have wanted it to be, and the revelation of the suspense could have been done in a much better manner. There is also the lack of focus on a number of characters that could have done wonders. The second half becomes inferior to the first, and the curse of the second half tightens its grip on rather too many occasions. We also think that there would be some relevant social theme being taken about the rich and the poor, which is not there – with those early clashes, that could have been on the list of things to show for sure. Also, Mohanlal as a lecturer could have become the perfect lecturer to transform this college through a series of interesting events, rather than skipping through all that. This one is also too long a movie, which is why there is the feeling of dragging in between.

Performers of the soul :: Mohanlal, in his usual style, manages to cover the limitations of the script here. Due to the same, this movie also becomes a treat for the fans, who will get to clap here and there, especially with his entry and more in the second half. Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol from this year, and Oppam and Pulimurugan from last year have all been doing wonders for him. Anoop Menon has much to with flashbacks, and he remains pretty much suitable, but has not many dialogues. You will find out that Sarath Kumar as well Arun Kurian finds themselves limited as their characters’ rivalry is lost rather too easily. The work here is no challenge for them. Even Anna Reshma Rajan fades away in the process, and so does almost every female character including Priyanka Nair and Sneha Sreekumar. Salim Kumar here has one a full swing comedy attack as he launches one funny dialogue after the other, and with ups and downs, some of them misses by a long distance, but there are a few others which are close to target. The two negative characters played by Chemban Vinod Jose and Siddique are solid, without doubt.

How it finishes :: How much Velipadinte Pusthakam would work for you, certainly depends on your expectations. The expectations were also so high for this one – this was also the movie I was looking for, with Lal Jose and Mohanlal coming together, and the cast from Angamaly Diaries, Sarath Kumar and Anna Reshma Rajan doing some memorable roles. Yes, even more expectations than what was there for Njandukalude Nattil Oru Idavela and Adam Joan. If that much is your expectation, there will be some trouble. The movie is actually quite far away from what you might have expected from the trailer. I was surely surprised by how much the movie has deviated from what I had thought about it, and it is due to the same, that I have crafted the story in such a way that none of the twists, whether serious or funny, are revealed. If you are watching Veilpadinte Pusthakam, be prepared for the deviation. You can’t deny the presence of fun though, especially if you are watching it with family.

Release date: 31st August 2017
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Mohanlal, Anoop Menon, Anna Reshma Rajan, Arun Kurian, Sarath Kumar, Chemban Vinod Jose, Alencier Ley Lopez, Priyanka Nair, Siddique, Salim Kumar, Jude Anthany Joseph, Sneha Sreekumar, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Krishna Kumar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

1971: Beyond Borders

Vampire Owl: It has been some time since the last war movie had released.

Vampire Bat: You remember that Kandahar with the same character in the leading role was released in 2010.

Vampire Owl: And the last movie with soldiers at border in Picket 43 of 2015.

Vampire Bat: The director did act in Anarkali and Action Hero Biju after that though.

Vampire Owl: I have been looking forward to our own war here though.

Vampire Bat: You mean to talk about expanding the vampire territory beyond the current borders.

Vampire Owl: Yes, you know that it has always been my patriotic intention. The zombie minions are trained for the same.

Vampire Bat: They are trained, but that doesn’t supply the brains.

Vampire Owl: We are buying them at the Goblin Market at fifty five percent discount.

Vampire Bat: That explains the never-ending preparation for war.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn and vegetable puffs].

What is the movie about? :: Colonel Mahadevan (Mohanlal) is fighting with the United Nations troops in Georgia. There, his team saves the lives of a group of Pakistani soldiers who have also been fighting for the United Nations. After some friendly chat, Mahadevan invites the Pakistani troops to their battle honours day, an invitation which they seem to accept. While the programme is going on, it is revealed that Mahadevan’s father, Major Sahadevan (Mohanlal) had fought a battle against the Pakistani commander’s father, Mohammed Akram Raja (Arunoday Singh), in the 1971 Indo-Pak War for Bangladesh, and it had resulted in the death of the commander on the losing side. There is also more than that happened during those days of war, and we see Sahadevan narrating the same story to his grandchildren accompanied by his wife, Parvathy Sahadevan (Asha Sarath).

So, what happens next? :: Sahadevan is going through a holiday and some fun time with his friends at his hometown, when the news about the war reaches him. He decides to leave early before the telegram arrives, much to the dismay of his wife, son and all others who hoped for his presence there for a longer period of time. The same is the case of many other soldiers, especially Sudharshan (Krishna Kumar) whose father is extremely ill. The path ahead seems to be difficult for his team, as this is not the usual war for territorial gains, and the presence of a strong enemy force at their area makes things tougher – but there are some brave, tough and patriotic soldiers who are there with him for support; Lieutenant Chinmay (Allu Sirish) and Captain Aadhiselvam (Sudheer Karamana) are two of such men whom he meets and has his attention very soon. But Mohammed Akram Raja is determined to win this war and go home – well, so is Sahadevan.

The defence of 1971: Beyond Borders :: The movie’s best action sequences involve one with the battle tanks, and another one which has the two commanders going at each other in the end, even with the extra punch of heroism making both sequences strange at times – heroism without intelligence is not a quality that a hero should go for, and that makes one less a hero and more of a daredevil. The visuals are really good here, and there are some touching moments, which successfully make one feel for the troops as well as bring a certain amount of patriotism to keep the flame strong enough. The scenes of war deserves the appreciation, as it only gets better these days; yet there is the feeling that each of them could have been better. As it is said in Sir Walter Scott’s Lochinvar, “So daring in love, and so dauntless in war” – these are the qualities that determine the two main characters here, and after the deep consideration that war is meaningless, they will fight to death for their respective nations, obeying orders. The intention here seems to be good, as well as true – just not enough of the best application of ideas.

The claws of flaw :: There is that feeling of having seen all these before, especially with three movies already with Mohanlal playing the main character – Keerthi Chakra, Kurukshetra and Kandahar, along with the Prithviraj Starrer Picket 43. Except for having Mohanlal instead of Prithviraj, this one is surely closer to the last one, giving the idea that you can’t blame it on the enemy country, and it is all because of war. So, in one way or the other, it is patriotism which is responsible for the deaths of many people in more than one nation. Even in the opening credits, there is that long narration which won’t seem to make much of a difference as we go through the movie that touches not much of the same. The movie also doesn’t maintain the pace all the time, and there is too much repetition in store. The heroism displayed in this movie is also overdone, especially considering the fact that it tries to prove that this is all for the nation rather than being personal. The stereotypes also keep rushing, and we see an emotional side dependent on the same with less battle plans and too much lost between the meaninglessness of war and patriotism.

Performers of the soul :: Playing two characters, the son and the father, Colonel Mahadevan and Major Sahadevan, this one has been made for Mohanlal yet again. Major Mahadevan is not a character that Keralites as well as other Malayalam movie lovers will forget for a long time, and this one goes back to bring the prequel tale. This is no tough job for Mohanlal who controls this one, even though the father character is certainly inferior to the son – there are too many sequences which just seem to contradict the situations here for him. Allu Arjun’s younger brother, Allu Sirish also makes his Malayalam debut in this flick – there has been no shortage of dubbed movies of his brother getting success here, and lets hope that this will follow up with more from him; here he surely has our attention. But it is Arunoday Singh who leaves the best mark here – he shines as the Pakistani commander, and could use more of such roles with material to perform. All the female characters are left with not much to do in this movie.

How it finishes :: There has been some great success for Malayalam movies recently, most prominent ones among them being Mohanlal starrers themselves, Pulimurugan, Oppam and Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, all three belonging to three different categories of action, thriller and drama respectively. Prithviraj’s Ezra had also went on to become the highest grossing horror movie of all time in the industry. Then, here is the war genre being explored yet again by Mohanlal – Major Ravi combination again. With The Great Father doing great job at the box-office, and the movies like Take Off staying there due to the excellence in making, 1971: Beyond Borders was to face some competition, but during this holiday season, it could stay there for some time easily – it is sure to do that for sure, and has the usual ingredients need for a movie in this genre, but there was always the scope to make this a better movie; this chance has been missed.

Release date: 7th April 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Major Ravi
Starring: Mohanlal, Arunoday Singh, Allu Sirish, Renji Panicker, Sudheer Karamana, Devan Asha Sarath, Priyanka Agrawal, Srushti Dange, Neha Khan, Saiju Kurup as Gunner Nathan, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Zoya Zayed Khan, Pradeep Chandran, Krishna Kumar, Manikuttan, Shafeeq Rahman, Sudhir Sukumaran, Kannan Pattambi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.