Kuttanadan Marpappa

What is the movie about? :: John Paul (Kunchacko Boban) is a photographer, and his studio is the best in the area. Even though he is from the Kuttanadu area of Alappuzha which is surrounded by water, he doesn’t know how to swim, with a certain fear for water. His mother, Mary Paul (Shantikrishna) is in full support for him, and tries to keep a happy face despite the problems of her life, and her husband having committed suicide a few years ago. John has fallen in love with many girls in the past, right from his childhood days – his lover at school had only gotten married a few years ago, but his biggest tale of love was with Jessy Ummen (Aditi Ravi), a dentist for whom he arranged fake degree certificates. He had always thought that what we had with her was true love, the kind of love which would bring a sleeping beauty to life with a true love’s kiss.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But that idea had to change with the arrival of Peter (Ramesh Pisharody), an NRI who intends to return to London after marrying the girl of his dreams. It turns out that the girl of his dreams is none other than Jessy whom he wishes to marry and take back to England. Jessy’s father and Panchayath President Ummachan (Innocent) has no problem with choosing between John and Peter, as he hopes that by working at London, she would earn enough money to pay him back the cash which he had spent for making her a BDS doctor. Marrying off his daughter to a photographer would make no sense to him. Only Jessy’s love for John stands between Ummachan and his dreams of getting the money back. But can the love of John and Jessy stand the test at a time when the former will be without a place to live in a few days?

The defence of Kuttanadan Marpappa :: There are some funny moments in this movie, and there is that final revelation which will satisfy a good number of people in the audience – Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan had that kind of a twist, as we remember. Kunchacko Boban has a good combination with Dharmajan with the comic side, and the romantic side with Aditi Ravi is also charming in the setting that we have here. We often feel that this is more or less a classic tale of problems in love, told in a different way, with a different setting. The visuals of the area are nicely captured, and we feel the beauty of the place to be close to being part of a fairy-tale. There is something about this world that will satisfy our needs to watch some of the best of backwaters. You have the chance to see Kuttanadu with all its beauty here, with Venice of the East scoring.

The claws of flaw :: There are occasions when one has to wonder if Kuttanadan Marpappa is a confused movie, in the model of Oru Cinemakkaran and Role Models – it seems to try too many things, and by doing the same, it also has the audience wondering where it is heading. There is so much colour, and the costumes look rather strange for most situations. There is one song which has the leading actor and actress dancing with strange steps and costumes, and the lyrics itself seems weird – the need for such a song was surely not there, especially with the video. This song itself is a reflection of the movie’s confusion, and we also feel a certain amount of drag within its tale. There seems to be an eternal struggle within this one, and a lot of things are more or less not really suited for the mood of this movie. As a whole, it seems to have collected certain items from different places, and scattered them.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban being the lifeline of this movie is no surprise, as he plays another romantic character – nothing really changes with that one. He has another familiar role in control and has to do no wonders, coming out of his last flick, Shikkari Shambhu. Aditi Ravi, the star of Alamara had only smaller roles in the later big movies, Adventures of Omanakuttan, Udaharanam Sujatha, Lavakusha and Aadhi, which has been rather surprising. With acting talent, she is surely far ahead of many other actresses who have been performing in leading roles. She undoubtedly leaves her mark in this movie, and this would be compared to a few other roles; the kind of roles which would bring discussions about a certain kind of behaviour in love. The two does make a fine pair, and lets see if we can see more movies with the two together.

Further performers of the soul :: Shanthi Krishna had made a grand return with Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, and we see her doing amazingly well with the lighter side as well as the emotional moments – she reflects that kind of a mother whom a young son or daughter dreams to have. The girl who played the sister of Aditi’s character also requires special mention, as she handles things so naturally and with a certain charm. Dharmajan has his moments of fun in this one as usual, while Hareesh Perumanna, for some reason, is underused, and so are Innocent and Salim Kumar. Aju Varghese does bring some laughter in the role of a priest. Ramesh Pisharody has some fun to provide, and so does Dinesh Nair, but we see that their characters are overdone, going beyond what was needed on a number of occasions. Soubin Shahir is there for even lesser period of time.

How it finishes :: There is not that much to be loved in Kuttanadan Marpappa, but for the family audience, this would be a good way to spend the weekend, as it would be for the youth. Without much of focus on the story, and leaving romance behind after some time, this seems to be that movie which tries to make the best use of the Maundy Thursday – Good Friday – Easter season with its special and catchy title, as well as by adding the kind of actors and actresses whom families would prefer. With Vikadakumaran being another movie which seems to have a similar plan, it is to be seen how well the plan can work. As of now, all movies seem to have pretty good viewership, and it will be the Easter Sunday which will decide the winner in this battle of movies, as Pacific Rim: Uprising, Poomaram, Hey Jude, Black Panther, Aadhi and Ira still stays at the theatres.

Release date: 29th March 2018
Running time: 140 minutes
Directed by: Sreejith Vijayan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Aditi Ravi, Shanti Krishna, Innocent, Aju Varghese, Salim Kumar, Ramesh Pisharody, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Noby Marcose, Vinod Kedamangalam, Dinesh Nair, Hareesh Perumanna, Soubin Shahir, Tini Tom, Kochu Preman. Mallika Sukumaran

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Paippinchuvattile Pranayam

What is the movie about? :: Very close to the city, but still, very far away from the urban setting, there is the small island which is known by the name Pandarathuruthu, and the first half of that name itself is enough to know how that place is considered to be, by not just the people from outside, but also those who live there. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge has said in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the people of the island also faces the same situation – “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink”, surrounded by salt water, and having only a few boats – as all roads lead to Rome, all of those boats get them to the city, and nowhere else. This is the tale of the simple people in that particular place, where everyone spends more time waiting for water in a long queue in front of the common tap at the centre of the island, rather than doing anything else. The rest of the people do simple jobs, including fishing, painting and also a little bit of farming which doesn’t need much of fresh water.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is around that place of local gathering around the tap meant to collect water, that Govindankutty a.k.a Govutty (Neeraj Madhav) and Teena (Reba Monica John) falls in love. While there is the scarcity of water there, one can see no difficulty in getting some love, as far as these two are concerned. Govindankutty leads a happy life with his good friends Ayyappan (Sudhi Koppa) and Bashi (Rishi S Kumar) earning enough through painting work and a few dance performances when opportunities are available. There is not much of a complaint from them about their lives, despite the unavailiability of water bothering them all the time. They know that people have tried to bring better facilities to the island before, but nothing has happened with those politicians who keep making excuses, and life goes on. Any further attempt would be waste of time, according to them.

And what is to follow in this small adventure at the island? :: Babumon (Dharmajan Bolgatty) is the one to suffer the most, as no girl wishes to get married to someone without access to drinking water. Teena’s parents are also not ready to get her married to Govindankutty, and they are also looking for someone who got access to clean water, from anywhere outside the village. Despite his mother (Sethulakshmi) asking for the bride, Teena’s parents (Jaffer Idukki and Thesni Khan) are not ready to accept the proposal. It is more or less the reflection of their realization that nothing good can happen in Pandarathuruthu and the people of the island will never have access to clean water. But when one tragedy strikes, they have to think differently, and understand that it is the time to act. It is upon the youth to make the difference, but are they up to it? One journalist named Shyam Prakash (Aju Varghese) is ready to help them, but will that be enough?

The defence of Paippinchuvattile Pranayam :: There are moments in Paippinchuvattile Pranayam that keep rising like the certainty of tides – we see them coming and going. The humour is present here and there, and the lead has a good chemistry going on in movie’s favour. Some good visuals of the place will have our attention, and we see the huge buildings of the city on one side and this small world on the other. The music is good, even though they are used without care at some places. There are messages in store, and we have social issues being discussed, after the lack of availability of clean water in many areas. There were those islands around Cochin which had problems in getting drinking water, something we have been reading about since childhood. Even though a lot of problems have been solved now, it remains something that is present at one place or the other. Paippinchuvattile Pranayam adds something there.

The claws of flaw :: With a little more than two hours of length, some parts of the movie do make us feel a certain amount of drag. There is also the whole thing not used to its advantage, as this one could have been funnier, as well as having a thrilling end which could be a lot more of a difference maker with its ideas. The final moments could have been polished to bring an effect which would have made this one a social thriller with romance to go with it. The romantic side also makes way for the rest of the things too easily – there is not that much of strength with it if we consider the fact that the title Paippinchuvattile Pranayam as well as the expectations were all related to that only. There is also the need for the ability to relate to the problems of the common man, without which, this movie can go flying far away; this one would be more for the common audience, the everyman who can reflect these elements better as well as the invisible villains.

Performers of the soul :: Neeraj Madhav right out of Lavakusha and Oru Mexican Aparatha this year leads the way, and he is comfortable in being this kind of a hero, as all things are in control here. Reba Monica John seems naturally suited for this role, and is there throughout, winning points with big smiles and enchanting expressions, unlike that small presence which she had in Jacobinte Swargarajyam despite being the leading actress there too. As one might have figured out with the trailer and songs, she fits in, even without that many dialogues. Sudhi Koppa is the one actor who supports so well as he rises to the occasion, and he does a fantastic job with those emotional side, more than that comic side which was there earlier. We already saw him in Alamara, Lakshyam and Udaharanam Sujatha in notable roles this year among the others, and he gets his best here. Dharmajan strengthens the funny side, which would have struggled a lot without him. Aju Varghese has a smaller role which is managed easily. Sarath falls prey to a badly written negative character.

How it finishes :: Among those movies about common people made with what seems to rather lower budget, Paippinchuvattile Pranayam will surely have a good position. It is always nice to see tales being made about common men and not those money laundering bourgeoisie class attached to pubs and parties. It can’t claim to be perfect or close to being perfect in what it deals with, but it is as close to reality that we can get, and it is close to the heart of everyone who feels for those who are in need. But concerning others who have no heart for the sufferings of others, this wouldn’t be the movie. This is the age of superheroes with Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League running in the theatres, and one can go for them without thinking too much, for the big entertainment. But if you care, try giving a chance to the smaller movies about everyman, like Paippinchuvattile Pranayam. In simple words, call it “Love, water & other social issues”.

Release date: 24th November 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Domin D’Silva
Starring: Neeraj Madhav, Reba Monica John, Aju Varghese, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sarath Appani, Sudhi Koppa, Sruthy Jayan, Jaffer Idukki, Rishi S Kumar, Tesni Khan, Sethulakshmi, Indrans, Anoop Chandran

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Adam Joan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.