Varane Avashyamundu

What is the movie about? :: Neena (Shobhana) is a divorced mother who is living with her daughter Nikitha (Kalyani Priyadarshan) in the busy city of Chennai. As Neena had eloped from home and married, the only relative who comes to see them is her uncle Manuel (Lalu Alex) while her husband lived far away from them. While Neena works as a teacher of French language, Nikitha also supports herself with a job, and is looking for a groom in a matrimonial website all by herself. Those whom she finds as match include Alphonse (Siju Wilson) and Aby (Rahul Rajasekharan), a Motor Vehicle Inspector and an NRI respectively. In the same block of apartments where they are living, Major Unnikrishnan (Suresh Gopi), a retired army officer also lives alone. He is known for his anger management issues due to which he often gets into trouble, and is disliked by the people living near him.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Bipeesh (Dulquer Salmaan) is the new resident at the apartments, beginning his stay with an argument with Nikitha over their two-wheelers. Nikitha is not fond of him as well as Unnikrishnan who also buys a dog which is almost as huge as him. Major Athmaram (Major Ravi) who was also in the army tries to solve Unnikrishnan’s anger management issues by sending him to his friend who is also a doctor – Doctor Bose (Johny Antony). Unnikrishnan is someone who had managed to climb Mount Everest during his youth, and is also someone who participated in the skirmishes at the Indo-Pakistan border. But he finds it difficult to mingle with people, especially with ladies. The kids of the apartments particularly hate him for his rough attitude. As he tries to change his behaviour, he ends up getting closer to Neena, which changes the lives of Nikitha and Bipeesh as well. But what does it mean for his anger?

The defence of Varane Avashyamundu :: The movie runs on its cast which is an enviable one. It has one generation of veteran performers in the form of Suresh Gopi and Shobhana, and another generation with Dulquer Salmaan and Kalyani Priyadarshan, making it something which everyone from more than one generation feeling the need to watch it. The focus being on the elder stars is the best thing about this movie, as it works really well with the tale to connect with everyone. The funny moments work really well, and the credit for the same rests mostly with Suresh Gopi, supported by Johny Antony. The setting of the apartments in the middle of a city, and people going through their flawed, but interesting lives is nicely shown here. There are some messages given, and most of the time, it is about life and relationships. But, it should have had more depth, in more than one way.

The claws of flaw :: One trouble that Varane Avashyamundu seems to face is that it doesn’t have a script to match the cast that it possesses. It had to be better focused on what it was doing, and the same would have allowed us to go beyond that initial drag with ease, and that ending which seemed to be rushed, even though it cannot be termed terrible. The predictability is always there, as we know which direction this is heading – there is no need for any special skill for the same. The need to put the feel-good factor into place would always be a priority, considering the fact that this movie’s competitors were all focused on other genres including the year’s first big hit Anjaam Pathira which is clearly on the other side with the shades. The movie doesn’t have memorable songs or music, and it could have also been shorter, removing some scenes. Even some characters seemed to be rather unnecessary here.

The performers of the soul :: If there is a question about the leading performer in the movie, that is not the leading young pair – it is Suresh Gopi who makes the retired army officer a joy to watch. We had last seen him in My God, and here we have him doing the comedy and emotions exceptionally well, and his character and the changes undergone are too good. Shobana adds to the charm here, and her combination scenes with Suresh Gopi as well as Kalyani. Urvashi also has a memorable role to add here. But at the same time, Dulquer Salmaan doesn’t have much of a screen time – his character is also one which doesn’t suit the overall mood of the movie, and the romance here is also half-baked, seemingly built on fake emotions and therefore lacking in strength. Johny Antony is the next person to bring the comic side alive, while Siju Wilson and Major Ravi also have a few similar moments. Meanwhile, Lalu Alex is there with another usual, but memorable kind of role.

Further performers of the soul :: Kalyani Priyadarshan has her first Malayalam movie, and Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham will be the next. As the daughter of the renowned film director Priyadarshan and the popular actress of her time Lissy Priyadarshan, her debut was long overdue. The other star children had already arrived, and we know what nepotism can do to you, as it was proven with the star kids, even though not that much as it has done with Bollywood. At least in the case of Malayalam movie industry, the sons and daughters can act, and often even excel in what they do, a case which have made the industry rise above the usual brainless acts of Bollywood. Kalyani is no exception either, as she nails her emotional and funny moments. Often reminding one of Bhagyalakshmi Prabhu who plays Meenakshi in Thatteem Mutteem especially with KPAC Lalitha around, she gets to be perfectly fit in this family feel-good stuff.

How it finishes :: Anoop Sathyan, son of the veteran film director Sathyan Anthikad is at the helm of this movie. He is known to have served as assistant director at Malayalam film industry and have also directed independent documentaries. There is a certain Sathyan Anthikad touch that can be seen in this movie, and the same can’t be denied, especially in a feel-good movie directed by his son. It is just with the setting that the difference can be seen – otherwise the model is more or less the same. A shift from the village to the city can be felt more, as it is a change from a very rural setting to a very urban metro setting. But the characters are shown in a simple and lovable manner as we have seen in those rural settings, which make this movie a fine watch for the family audience. There is no question about what the one clean family movie can be, with a modern setting.

Release date: 7th February 2020
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: Anoop Sathyan
Starring: Suresh Gopi, Shobana, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Dulquer Salmaan, Urvashi, Lalu Alex, KPAC Lalitha, Johny Antony, Siju Wilson, Major Ravi, Sarvajith Santosh, Meera Krishnan, Sreeja Ravi, Rahul Rajasekharan, Wafa Khatheeja Rahman, Krishna Chandran A Nair, Vidya Menon, Aravind Venugopal, Theni Murugan, K Gopal, Nalsen K Gafoor, Lal Jose (cameo)

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Thattumpurath Achuthan

What is the movie about? :: Achuthan (Kunchacko Boban) is a favourite of the villagers, and as a Krishna devotee, is close to the village temple and its committee. He has only good opinions about him in the village, and is considered to be someone who is more than just helpful to others. But one day, while trying to help his friend, he lands in trouble, and is branded a thief. The Sub Inspector of Police Justin John (Kalabhavan Shajohn) does let him go, but as he is branded in one way, things don’t go that much positive with him – his wedding ceremony is cancelled, and he also losses his job. With his best friend, he tries to have his revenge, but that also becomes another problem for him. His honesty remains under the shadow of doubt, but while reading a letter intended for Lord Krishna, everything changes for him, and becomes the first big twist in favour of him.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The letter is about a girl known by the name Jayalakshmi (Sravana), written by her mother Girija (Bindu Panicker). It is a request to Lord Krishna about saving her daughter from her former lover who keeps threatening her about a few photos and videos which they took together when they were in love. A few twists lead Achuthan to their house, and while hiding on the top of the house, decides to help them. But it is not that easy, as the person who is tormenting them is not the usual lover seeking her to be back with him – there is more to that person than what is known. With Jayalakshmi seeking to end her life, Achuthan has not more than a few days to work something out, or things will go beyond his control. Can the simple village man be good enough to outsmart this engineering graduate from a reputed college outside Kerala and bring hope to this family which has been hoping for a miracle for a long time?

The defence of Thattumpurath Achuthan :: There is strong feel-good factor in this movie, and there is also some magic realism to give it a little bit more as a special ingredient even though not at the best possible dose. Kunchacko Boban seems to be nicely suited to this role in more than one way, on many occasions. He has things working out in his favour all the time, and has the grand support that he need. It has a certain amount of magic realism in store too, as we see the presence of magic in the otherwise usual world. The movie has divinity in parts, and the dreams coming true forms the major part of it – the same also adds to the visuals in a beautiful way. There is also the reflection of certain foolish love which can be seen with the immaturity of the female lead’s character, coming right out of the college days. The movie also has a very nice ending to come, after a little struggle by the latter part.

The claws of flaw :: The music in the movie is a big let down, and it is irritating to see that it keeps coming again and again, even when we don’t need it at all – it is as if there is an attempt to prove something, or as if it is nice to have more songs in a flick like this. But having songs for the sake of having them, and not having them as good enough, won’t do a movie any good as you can see here too. Magic realism could have also been better used in this movie, and we know what the same can do, like we saw in the magical movie, Amen a long time ago. Even the Nandanam fun mode couldn’t be repeated in this movie, and neither could it have the Pranchiyettan and the Saint mode. There is the presence of exaggeration too, and a few things are rather too convenient. A lot more is often expected when there is a Lal Jose movie, and the Kunchacko Boban combination leaves more desired.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban leads the way here, as he has a role similar to that of his previous flick, Johny Johny Yes Appa. He has a family to save in this movie too, and goes under the name of a thief once again. He did the same role in Shikkari Shambhu, his best flick of the year. So, this role comes as no challenge to him, and the romantic side is here to serve him once again. A good-hearted man from village was perfectly shown by him in the movies like Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho and Jamna Pyari, and when we have him in such a role, there is the assurance that things will keep a minimum level. After Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum, Lal Jose – Kunchacko Boban combination is being brought back, and everyone was sure that it couldn’t be that bad. It is the trust in that combination that has been tested here, and has managed to work pretty well.

Further performers of the soul :: Sravana, a new face plays the role of heroine, but has very less to do here – she has less number of dialogues, but seems to be a talent for the future, as Lal Jose does find a new heroine each and every time. There is a long list of actors and actresses who are from the reality show Naayika Naayakan, among which I could identify Venkitesh, Meenakshi and Malavika. It is surprising that none of the so called websites specializing in Malayalam cinema or professional reviewers have given clear details about the cast, and it is something which we common movie viewers cannot find out without outside help. Johny Antony brings some fun while Nedumudi Venu is underused. Kalabhavan Shajohn also has his moments in this one, especially related to the comic side. Adish Praveen does a nice and cute job as the child with his dreams becoming reality.

How it finishes :: For the Christmas season, it seems that a certain amount of divinity is becoming part of the movies of the times, with no barriers among religions. As the Onam season never really had any celebration or release of new flicks, this is the season that could bring the best for Malayalam movie industry – note that the Pooja season also had to have an early harthal. So, even though the last movie of Lal Jose, Velipadinte Pusthakam couldn’t blend into the mood of 2017 Onam, this one, even though not during Onam has a part of Christmas in it. As a nicely suited movie for the family audience, Thattumpurath Achuthan has enough fuel to stay in the race until the end of the holidays this year and right into the next year. It only needs the family audience to have the power and keep it running. No matter how it turns out to be, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Release date: 22nd December 2018
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Sravana, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Hareesh Perumanna, Vijayaraghavan, Johny Antony, Nedumudi Venu, Seema G Nair, Meenakshi, Malavika Krishnadas, Veena Nair, Sethu Lakshmi, Irshad, Adish Praveen, Bindu Panicker, Biju Sopanam, Santhosh Keezhathoor, Thara Kalyan, Amina, R Vishva, Thejus Jyothi, Venkitesh VP, Roshan Ullas, Siddhi Vinayak, Kochupreman, Anil Murali

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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

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Sunday Holiday

What is the movie about? :: Unni Mukundan (Sreenivasan) is a lecturer teaching in the commerce department of a reputed college in Aluva, who is more interested in giving lessons about life to his students on Sundays, and also to convert his script into a movie. He has been wandering around with his movie dreams for quite a long time, but nobody has accepted, or even considered reading his script. Nobody even believes that he has a good enough story, and most of the popular directors refuse to see him, consider him as just one of those people bothering them with something which will waste their time. It is during those times that Unni comes to know that a popular and highly successful director, David Paul (Lal Jose) has been admitted in the nearby hospital. He decides to make use of that opportunity, and visit him to tell the story. Even though David is initially reluctant, he decides that it will not hurt anyone to just listen during free time.

So, what happens in the story within the story? :: It is the tale of Amal (Asif Ali), a youngster who has been in love with Sithara (Shruti Ramachandran) ever since they had known each other during childhood. It is a relationship which their families which are related to each other, approves of, but only until Sithara gets a proposal from a doctor, something which neither her parents or the opportunist lady herself wishes to let go. As she immediately chooses the newly found love who earns in big numbers, the jobless young man leaves his town of Thalassery to the city of Cochin, as there is a small job set for him at the place. He reaches there and finds himself selling CDs and DVDs of devotional songs, and at the same time, meets a girl named Anu (Aparna Balamurali) who is also doing some selling door to door. The incidents which are to follow affects his life, and the heart-broken one gets something to cheer him up for the rest of his life.

The defence of Sunday Holiday :: You are sure to find happiness in the little things of joy that the movie brings, and even though its humour is not leviathan or anything, it is on those little things that the same also concentrates. We have some nice visuals of the places, and the city from high up, is always a joy to watch. The combination of Asif Ali and Aparna Balamurali also proves to be a very nice one. There are also messages to take home in this movie, as it tells the audience to forgive and move on, and to be concerned and kind to others. A moment featuring Sudheer Karamana and Siddique explains that the best. The movie also asserts goodness in those people who act more angry and frustrated than loving. The final twist is good, but the fact that this had to be a movie within a movie is more tiring than helping the cause. Well, feel-good surely feels better to have rather than mixing meaningless twists to a tale which can’t take it, and therefore Sunday Holiday will stand tall over the director’s earlier flick.

The claws of flaw :: It is certain that you will find not much which will give you the feeling of freshness here – there is the kind of story with feel-good factor that has been flourishing for years, and it is the thing that Malayalam movie industry has found easy to follow. It is up-to us to wonder why there is no experimentation with the kind of genre which has worked so well even without that much of a budget. Is it because the same is considered the safe bet, and therefore doesn’t require any more attention? The movie also has sequences which contribute so less to the movie, and there are also those characters without whom movie could have gone foward, along with those tales of some which don’t get to be close to where we had wanted them to. The songs also seem to be added more than needed, as with a certain drag in the middle, we feel this movie to be longer than it really is.

Performers of the soul :: We were waiting for Thrissivaperoor Kliptham starring both Asif Ali and Aparna Balamurali, and here we have this one starring both of them. The former is coming out of two underrated movies, Adventures of Omanakkuttan and Avarude Raavukal, both being divergent in their own terms, and had potential for even more – both were not short of fun if you look at them.The latter is coming right out feel-good success stories, Maheshinte Prathaikaram and Oru Muthassi Gadha, playing three roles in two flicks, and awaiting the next, Sarvopari Palakkaran. She played a girl from Idukki, from Cochin (Ernakulam), Kannur (Iritty) in this one and is now set to play characters from Kottayam (Palai), and Thrissur – well, all seems to work so well as far as Aparna is concerned. With shades of her character in the realistic Dileesh Pothan movie, she is the pick here. Asif Ali’s character though, is closer to his work in Avarude Raavukal, and he is natural in doing the same.

Further performers of the soul :: As Asif Ali plays the young man in need for confidence and change, Aparna is the muse that he was in need to write the rest of his tale on the book of life. Shruti Ramachandran of the Pretham fame is also here doing not much, restricted to the beginning and the end of the flick – see does give that ghostly look in the end for sure. Sreenivasan, Lal Jose and Asha Sharath’s characters work outside the tale, which means that they have much less to do except for the beginning, before the interval, and just after the tale finishes. The two actors whom we are sure to notice, and will ask for them to be present more are Sudheer Karamana and Siddique – no surprises there when you remember how it has been working with the previous movies. Bhagath Manuel also gets to do a good role, even though it doesn’t become the sidekick role as much as expected. Dharmajan is in hold of the comic side, and the rest only has to follow.

How it finishes :: Sunday Holiday is surely an improvement for the director who had earlier directed the movie Bicycle Thieves which is more or less a shame for the Italian classic with the same name, something to which almost everyone at the theatres agreed, watching that movie with so much high expectations after positive reviews. With no other Malayalam release, this is a weekend which only has Tiyaan and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum from last two weeks giving it some challenge, and therefore, its place should be safe, even without trying that hard. Along with the other two movies having Asif Ali which released last, this becomes another feel-good flick than anything else – I wouldn’t rate this one above those two though, with its problems in the middle part. Still, we all need feel-good movies which leave something for life all the time, and so Sunday Holiday becomes a good movie to watch this weekend, whether it is really Sunday or not.

Release date: 14th July 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Asif Ali, Aparna Balamurali, Shruti Ramachandran, Lal Jose, Bhagath Manuel, Sudheer Karamana, KPAC Lalitha, Asha Sharath, Sreenivasan, Siddique, Sunish Kumar, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Vinaya Prasad, Nirmal Palazhi, Sethulakshmi

@ Cemetery Watch
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Oru Muthassi Gadha

orumuthassigadha-2

Vampire Owl: So, the title is not about the story from grandma.

Vampire Bat: No, it is more about the blunt mace.

Vampire Owl: I guess I misunderstood this one then. I see variety.

Vampire Bat: This one battled with Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho, Oppam and Oozham which were running at the theatres during that time.

Vampire Owl: And it was there in those multiplexes for quite a long time.

Vampire Bat: Which is why this one deserves more respect.

Vampire Owl: We remember how good Om Shanti Oshana was, from the same director.

Vampire Bat: Yes, just his second movie. Doesn’t that feel like reason enough to watch this one?

Vampire Owl: Yes, a lot more than the other reasons.

Vampire Bat: Lets make it happen then.

[Gets three cups of tea with banana chips].

What is the movie about? :: Siby (Suraj Venjaramoodu) lives in the city with his wife Jean (Lena), daughter Alice (Aparna Balamurali), son Alan (Nohad Shajahan) and his mother, Leelamma (Rajini Chandy). Due to his mothers ill-tempered nature, Siby finds it difficult to find domestic help when he and his wife goes for help, and even his friends are afraid to come to his house. She is always angry towards her daugher-in-law, continuously finding fault with her, and her attitude towards her grandchildren makes sure that Alice wishes to stay in the hostel and Alan wishes to spend more time at the school. Their last hope comes in the form of a Bengali worker who somehow manages to get along with his mother. Even though this is a certain amount of relief, her nature remains the same, and even his boss Anil (Vijayaraghavan) has to face her wrath.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: It is Anil himself who advices Siby to take the whole family to a trip which can make things better. But with his mother not willing to go, they are forced to go on the journey all by themselves. Leelama stays back at home, and she is joined by Soosama (Bhagyalakshmi), Jean’s mother who intends to keep her company. Even though they don’t get along well in the beginning, things change later, and Leelama’s flashbacks are revealed. This leads to her coming with a wishlist, and they going on a trip to find more from Leelama’s flashbacks. After this journey, which will include Alice and her boyfriend Milind (Rajeev Pillai) along with Leelama’s classmate’s grandson Brilly (Jude Anthany Joseph), there are changes coming, not just to her family, but also to those around her.

The defence of Oru Muthassi Gadha :: This movie comes up to provide a message nicely, that too with all its simplicity. It is a similar feeling which was in Om Shanti Oshana, that we have here, and we even see some of the characters from that movie again. That smooth feeling is also maintained in this movie, with no scope for melodrama, and we take this movie in a light-hearted manner too with the needed feel-good. There is energy here, and there are moments which go directly into one’s heart. It is a reminder to us that there are things that can be changed, and we have to try hard enough for the same. It is by looking through another person’s eyes, can we know them better, and it is different for each person from different situations – the movie asks us to try to go through the same instead of judging them all. It also talks about going on with our busy lives along with giving enough care to our parents and grandparents. The movie does look really good with its visuals and there are also some nice songs to go with the same – it also does end well.

Claws of flaw :: This is surely not that good as Om Shanti Oshana, one can be sure about that considering the fun side. Oru Muthassi Gadha does preach, and that might not go well with everyone. There are moments when this movie could have been funnier, and there are points where this one could have been more serious about its message – but this one maintains one path right from the beginning to the end, that is of a light-hearted movie with a message, without moving out of its simplicity to bring something that strikes the heart in a deeper way. There are also jokes that go wrong, and the moments which are overdone, which affects this movie, but only up-to an extent. There could have been more ideas about presenting a grandmother like this, but Oru Muthassi Gadha believes that it had enough of experimentation a little too early, and hesitates to bring more. Well, you do wish for more here considering the main idea.

Performers of the soul :: Rajini Chandy leads the way here as the protagonist, and even as a new face, she has made things work so well, rising above everyone else. Keeping her company is Bhagyalakshmi, without doubt, as she goes on to bring the change here in this movie. There is no real leading actor in this movie, and it is with Rajeev Pillai who is paired with Aparna Balamurali who is back from Maheshinte Prathikaram that some part of it lies, and he also has his funny moments. Aparna is once again good in another role here, or rather two of them. Jude Anthany Joseph also surprises us with some nice funny lines including the “M for Marry” and “Inception” dialogues which are really well-timed – there is something special about those funny dialogues which directors themselves use as actors as long as they do it well enough. To add to that, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Lena along with the whole family really work well together in this flick – its one nice family here.

How it finishes :: Unlike what many people had thought, Sreenivasan and Vineeth Sreenivasan got only smaller roles to do here, but we do remember them. The movie does live up to its trailer, and it is sure to make a very nice choice to watch with family. There are enough messages for the families and the new generation to take home, and Oru Muthassi Gadha is the kind of movie that is sure to be interesting for all types of audience, even without trying to go beyond its limitations – this one has still managed to bring its message in a different way. This movie also makes one wait for more movies from Jude Anthany Joseph, who seems to be the one director whose movies can be watched without second thoughts. Well, this one has a shared universe with Om Shanti Oshana – now that is something which you don’t usually see around here!

Release date: 14th September 2016
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Jude Anthany Joseph
Starring: Rajini Chandy, Bhagyalakshmi, Aparna Balamurali, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Lena, Jude Anthany Joseph, Sreenivasan, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Vijayaraghavan, Renji Panicker, Rajeev Pillai, Ramesh Pisharody, Sathi Premji, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Musthafa, Nohad Shajahan, Bijukuttan, Baby Meenakshi (cameo), Lal Jose (cameo)

orumuthassigadha

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

Om Shanti Oshana

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The type of movies: There have been so many “types” of movies in 2014 with just one month of the year over. Even as love has been the repetitive theme in most of them, there have been lot of difference in the type of love which were portrayed in them, and one has to admit that London Bridge had the best love story among them; but the year has only started and the other significant release was just the badly received Salala Mobiles. There was also a movie 1983 which clearly said that no kind of love, including the love towards one’s lover, siblings, parents or wife is important or significant at any moment, as all of them can be abandoned and each can be disrespected just for pure selfishness and enjoyment based on a random sport called cricket. Now, here comes Om Shanti Oshana which actually has another cute and funny love story in store for you. Yes, we watched it First Day First Show, and we were actually planning to do this when we watched 1983 last week – but this time, we could actually watch it and finally be happy about watching a Malayalam movie FDFS after a long time, for the last Malayalam flick I last watched early morning on the first day was Olipporu.

What is Om Shanti Oshana about? :: Exactly a week after our First Day First Show hopes were derailed by that strange flick which was 1983, we made the attempt again, this time with Om Shanthi Oshana. The movie tells the story Pooja Mathew (from her perspective), as she lives her life riding motorbikes and hating anything about cooking. As her cousin sister Julie Francis gets married to man whom she think is not good-looking enough, she feels that she should find the right man before her parents get her married to a rich man giving a lot of dowry. Even as she feels that she should be interested in a good-looking boy Yardley Avaran whose father and her father belongs to the same profession and are of the same financial status, she falls for another man, Giri Madhavan who is a kung-fu master, a farmer, a social worker and a former communist after seeing him on a few occasions. Even as she is aware of the difference in social status and religion, she decides to go after him. She makes more and more opportunities for them to get closer, but he doesn’t seem to be in a mood. But she doesn’t give up, can she?

The defence of Om Shanti Oshana :: The attempt of this movie to tell the story of love completely from a girl’s perspective is kind of new in Malayalam movie, and the way in which they have done it here has to be applauded (even the cupid in the movie poster is female). The movie has a lot of funny scenes, especially involving Nazriya and her dreams and affection for his dream man. Her love for motorbikes and movies add to it. The movie is more funny throughout, and there is nothing really sad happening – even a heart attack is told in such a way that it ends up funny. The youth should like it, that is for sure. The movie actually moves in its path with relative ease, as it is a road which has been traveled and repaired regularly in a different way. Well, this is actually that simple story which has been powered by some good direction by Jude Anthany Joseph. The movie’s use of old songs, old movies and old incidents is another nice addition. There is absolutely no dull moment in this movie. The song “Kaattu Mooliyo” is sweet or rather cute, and “Mandaarame” is also fine, but might not stand well enough without the funny visuals.

The claws of flaw :: The movie takes the usual path, even as the roles are reversed. You might have heard such a story in reverse so many times. It also comes with nothing like big surprise in the climax, except for, may be small, but beautiful add-ons. This is actually the inverse of Thattathin Marayathu when the boy was looking for a way to gain the girl’s love, but here, it is the girl who is after the boy. If the boy was dreaming about the girl and looking for ways to get to him in that movie, here the girl has a lot of plans going on about gaining the boy’s attention and love. It is a cliche which has been put in reverse gear an allowed to roll down a hill. It is an innovate stereotype in Malayalam movies, but is still the same. For this kind of a story, there is the need for exaggerated events which lack logic, even this necessity is still kept within the limits here. You can also feel that some of the scenes are repetitive, and a few incidents should be dealt with more seriousness. But this is how it should work, because this is how it has turned out to be, if there is any doubt about the same, ask the crowd!

Performers of the soul :: The whole movie is Nazriya-centered, as if she becomes the sun and the rest are planets. Nazriya Nazim has her best ever performance in this movie, even as there is doubt created at times. The whole universe of the movie has her at the centre, right from the moment her character is born. Her Pooja Mathew is not just another girl, as her best friends always tend to be different from her. She rides a motorbike, detests cooking and has her way in doing things which makes her parents feel that she should have been a boy. As she appears almost every minute in the camera due to the narrator being herself, there was a lot dependent on her performance, and she has delivered indeed. Even as her earlier release of the year, Salala Mobiles failed to impress, she has made a fine comeback here. She has come a long way since her debut as the leading actress in Maad Dad. Lets hope that it will only get better for her as the date of her marriage to the most versatile young star in Malayalam movie industry gets near. This is one of those rare movies in which the leading lady gets so much attention, and I am sure everyone loves that it is Nazriya who is the centre of attraction.

Other performers :: Nivin Pauly as Giri Madhavan gives a powerful performance standing on the other side, as he becomes the one to be wooed unlike what usually happens, and what had been shown in Thattathin Marayathu. He is a socialist, master of martial arts and a humble farmer, the three faces of one man which he performs to perfection. He received claps almost throughout the movie for his portrayal. Renji Panicker did a nice job, in a role which would have been usually done by Lalu Alex (remember Chocolate, Niram and many others). Aju Varghese as David Kanjani does his third best funny role after Malarvadi Arts Club and Thattathin Marayathu. He has a strong comic existence which keeps coming again and again as he plays a kind of fraud character. You have to love how they used the sequence of war just to show what kind of thing he did to his trusted friend. Vineeth Srinivasan has a minor role as Dr. Prasad Varkey, but still one which received claps and affected the story in a special way – almost the same can be said about the role of Lal Jose up-to an extent.

How it finishes :: The movie finishes strong enough, but not as powerful as how it began. The first half is surely superior to the second. It never has any troubled waters to travel, as the path is set through a controlled body of water; therefore it goes on and on with no challenges. It’s success is not a mystery though, as we know how much people have been waiting for this one. Even as we had gone for the early show, it was almost full and we just managed to get the tickets. Nivin Pauly’s movies always had something to cheer about and he is becoming more and more the crowd favourite, same being the case of Nazriya. There is going to be the rush of youth in the weekend, and as this is rather a clean movie with no bad language or anything, this should enjoy the same success of Thattathin Marayathu if not better, unless some big movie comes up, gets rave reviews and capture the screens.

Release date: 7th February 2014
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Jude Anthany Joseph
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Nazriya Nazim, Aju Varghese, Vineeth Srinivasan, Renji Panicker, Vinaya Prasad, Akshaya Premnath, Oshein Mertil, Harikrishnan, Lal Jose

Om Shanti Oshana copy

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✠The Vampire Bat.

Ezhu Sundara Raathrikal

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The seven beautiful nights :: The name of the movie means “seven beautiful nights” and I would like wish everyone a very happy seven nights from Christmas to New Year, and then for eternity. You all deserve a great Christmas and an awesome New year, not only this year, but also for the years to come. The movie doesn’t do the same though, as it tells the story of a man’s life seven days away from his marriage and its title more inspired from an older song rather than anything else, and it is undoubtedly nothing like the twelve days of Christmas. It is the sixth movie of Dileep this year, and the fourth one in which he is playing the single leading role. This is also the third one directed by Lal Jose this year, and as both are undisputed super-hit providers, there was going to be no doubt about this one having good initial collections and having an extended run, even with Drishyam getting terrific reports and Oru Indian Pranaya Katha working fine enough. There has also been a certain amount of hype surrounding this movie, and it was always expected to do good.

What is it about? :: Aby (Dileep) has been enjoying his bachelor life for a very long time, and had been fighting hard to stay unmarried despite his parents trying their best to make him marry any girl. The situation changes when he decides to marry a model named Ann (Parvathy Nambiar) who was also evading marriage for quite some time. As both of them seemed to be going in a path without marriage, their parents are more than happy that they have chosen each other. But as Aby’s former lover Sini (Rima Kallingal) returns to Cochin and he decides to give her his wedding card along with boasting about his fiancee, the situation changes. As he losses his cigarette packet at her house, he is forced to help her when it is found out. At the same time, they seem to be indirectly related to the attack on a man who threatens them. He has to find the mystery behind that attack which sends the man into a comma, along with making sure that his fiancee as well as her husband Alex (Murali Gopy) doesn’t come to know more about it, and that the police doesn’t find anything about their presence during the attack.

The defence of Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal :: There is lot of fun involved in the first half, and there is good scope for a thriller from the moment a twist is introduced in the movie. Dileep scores with what he does the best and the movie goes on the lines of a thriller with a comic touch and successfully catches the attention of viewers, and stays fine till the interval. Unlike what seemed to be implied by the trailer, there is no adultery involved in it, and there is a clean environment maintained throughout the movie without the vulgar jokes. There is confusion created by certain things, but none of them are intentional, and there is no real villain in the world of this movie – nobody really does anything unforgivable, and by the end of the movie, all of them are able to live happily ever after, understanding all the mistakes counting from zero to infinity. The movie might have been trying to look into the stupidity and meaninglessness of most of the relations of the world, and how the most simple things lead to disasters which is actually the result of some random act of buffoonery. We can hope that this will bring hope that one can keep the vulgar comedy flicks of extreme buffoonery like Sringaravelan away.

Claws of flaw :: The movie keeps losing its power in the second half until it looks like a sad Superman sitting in front of kryptonite and singing the praise of Lex Luthor. It trails Lal Jose’s other 2013 flicks, Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum in humour and Immanuel in goodness, the two factors which should have saved this movie if added in abundance. The movie’s power as a thriller fades as the suspense is revealed, and all the things become just minor factors of no relevance, and the movie itself becomes too insignificant as if it was made to justify Sekhar Menon singing “ezhu sundara raathrikal”. There are also unnecessary characters and strange subplots which feeds on the movie rather than add to it, being parasites in its journey towards being worthy. There are also too many things which could have kept all these troubles away, and one specific thing could have nullified all the confusion. The last few minutes drag and makes the audience feel like there has been a time-shift which has caused a slowing down of their lives. Some people are married, some are not, a few are divorced, some wishes to marry someone, others are going to get married and the rest needn’t marry – marriage all around, that is what the movie is mostly about!

Performers of the soul :: Dileep is the one who is able to hold this movie together and keep the people interested. Unlike his other movies like Sringaravelan which was horribly dependent on bad jokes and vulgar humour, this one is a decent world which keeps Dileep inside the family zone, and he shines like nobody else, as Harishree Ashokan gives him great support. The newcomer Parvathy Nambiar is just somewhat good, as she just survives her stay there on most of the occasions, unlike some other debutante heroines who have been introduced in his earlier movies. May be the character itself wasn’t her kind or vice versa, as there is a constant struggle to keep up with the other performers. Murali Gopy is good with his role even as the character turns strange by the end. Rima Kallingal holds the ground, and keeps the wounds of the movie from getting any deeper. This is not a performance that will get her anything, but she is there to make sure that nothing gets any worse. Tini Tom has done a role which is not that funny, and has made it work. While Vijayaraghavan and Sreejith Ravi have gone towards the comic side in their smaller presence, Suraj Venjaramoodu has an even smaller existence which he makes significant.

Soul exploration :: The movie lacks in soul or appears to be so. Even as it should go in the list of those feel-good movies, one can’t be sure about it yet. If anyone embodies the spirit of the movie, it is Dileep, and if anything is close enough to feeling good, that should be when he is around. The movie’s abundance of good characters or those being just naughty and not that evil seems to direct towards the goodness of the movie and its attempt to take over that feel-good tag. The movie is indeed good in what it depicts, and it distancing itself from using bad words and vulgar jokes is indeed a good sign for the soul. Even our heroine comes up with a cute angelic smile for the soul on regular occasions, and that seems to be her highlight (it reminds me of my favourite Alice in Wonderland character, you know who – and I love it). There is also that song which features her that jumps out of nowhere. That smile is one boost to the soul that the Vampire Bat might want to collect personally. This is my last movie of the year, and therefore there is not much more to explore in the soul, as there is that complete break from movies until the 31st of this year – my total movies list for those watched in theatres is 103 with 52 in the first half and 51 in the second.

How it finishes :: This is a movie which could have worked with a better second half – not by a big margin, but just enough to attract more people. It still has a good amount of viewers there, as long as there is no comparison made against a few others movies in the theatre during this same season. There are not many challenges made by movies this weekend either. Sound Thoma and Sringaravelan might have scored big for Dileep at the box-office, but this one is still the best movie of him this year and the worst for Lal Jose since Mulla five years ago. The best and the worst have been made with this combination and that is indeed strange considering the expectations that shoot up. Ezhu Sundara Raathrikal will surely keep itself running into 2014, and that is something which is ensured more by the vacations causing lot of incoming audience in the form of kids and youth rather than the movie getting better opinions. Well, let this winter season of happiness disappoint no movie maker – let them all run, as even Dhoom 3 is having a magic run of the evil type.

Release date: 19th December 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Dileep, Rima Kallingal, Murali Gopy, Tini Tom, Parvathy Nambiar, Harishree Ashokan, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Vijayaraghavan, Sreejith Ravi, Sekhar Menon, Praveena, Suja Menon, Krishna Prabha, Ambika Mohan

ezhusundararathrikal copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Thira

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What is Thira? :: On a vague translation, it is what the fifth century Greek dramatist heard on the Aegean Sea, and what Matthew Arnold felt on the English coast and wrote down in his Dover Beach. What do we have here though? Thira is the latest addition which joins Vineeth Sreenivasan’s success as a director, as this is another add-on to Malarvadi Arts Club and Thattathin Marayathu, two of his earlier success stories. Lal Jose brings us no bad movies, so there is the guarantee yet again. Instead of the terrible loss of faith in Dover Beach, we have the loss of humanity, its righteousness which has been quickly disappearing with its belief in God. The situation is yet again that of the darkling plain, for the situation of the Victorian Age was more of faith, belief and humanity than it is now. This flick from Vineeth Sreenivasan is not light as his other two crowd-pulling ventures, as this is dark and on the other side of humanity, where there is no happiness of friendship or the beauty of love, rather the bad or the evil side of society which leaves us with nothing but disgust about a lot of things that is happening in this world, but not without a ray of hope – remember the movie Passenger.  When Shobana says “have faith” in the movie, remember…

What is it about? :: Thira tells the story of Dr. Rohini Pranab (Shobana) who is a cardiac surgeon trying to find the mystery behind the death of her husband. But as she tries to unravel one mystery, another one comes forward, as girls from her welfare home are kidnapped, and she herself is brought under suspicion by the media. Meanwhile, Naveen (Dhyan Sreenivasan) comes to meet his younger sister after a long time, as he had run away from his house a few years ago. But just before he get a chance to get to her, she is kidnapped by a group of people in a car, vanishing before he could do anything. As police refuses to help him, he picks up clues and reaches a place where he finds two girls held captive and releases them until he is captured by the goons along with Rohini who comes searching at the same place. They escape and join forces to find the missing girls with the help of an honest cop and Rohini’s co-workers. Naveen is told that he has a maximum of twenty four hours to save his sister, as Rohini finds out that there were some clues left behind by her dead husband who was after the same group of human traffickers.

The success of Thira :: There are not many other actor or actresses that we have noticed before in another movies except for Shobana (releasing at a time when the half-a-sequel to her classic Manichitrathazhu also came to the theatres in the same weekend and struggled). But still, this one has managed to get the best out of the rest, supported by its wonderful narrative and background score, supported by the right use of its partially adapted story-line. Its theme might be too much used, but the treatment here is different, as in the movie Passenger, this one also takes the path of the common man who fights against the system and those people who tries to take advantage of the corrupt system with their illegal works. To add to it, the movie never bores, as it is fast – may be too fast that it often forgets to create suspense and create the thrilling moments; but that still works. It takes on a social message very well, and successfully creates the much needed objective correlative with its connection rightfully established. For that, it is three out of three for Vineeth Sreenivasan, and the ratings from me would be 59 out of 100 for Malarvadi Arts Club, 80 out of 100 for Thattathin Marayathu and 81 out of 100 for this one, that is how I personally see the improvement.

Flaws of victory :: The camera shakes – that is the first thing I didn’t like. That doesn’t really make the scenes more realistic or interesting, and it is a major flaw whatever the movie is. The beauty on the screen can’t be loved that easily with so much shaking around. Meanwhile, this is going to be trilogy, and with the expectations high, and the second part of movie never really becoming as good as the first, we have to bite our nails a lot. Yes, there are too many movies to which this movie seems related, mostly with the theme and the outline plot. The movie also delivers less as a thriller, as a good number of moments becomes predictable and defy common logic, even as that doesn’t affect the flow or the totality of the story. Fighting against such a huge racket supported by politicians and police seemed to be too easy, and once they get together, almost all their ideas go in the right direction. It makes us sad about the state of the kidnapped, but it doesn’t add enough suspense or enough twists to make this the thriller which rules its genre. But how many people can claim about a flawless victory? Not even Liu Kang or Kitana can achieve the same with ease, in a Mortal Kombat game.

Performers of the soul :: This is Shobana’s movie as one would expect. She plans and takes steps as a lighter female version of Taken‘s Liam Neeson, who doesn’t care who she has to fight to get her girls back (Remember “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you” from Taken). It is a fantastic return to our favourite leading actress of 1980s and 90s. She plays the strong protagonist, while Dhyan Sreenivasan plays the weaker one who still has to take on the goons physically due to the love for his sister – like Suresh Gopi’s character in Rudraksham. One has to say that he is very good as a newcomer too. With Vineeth Sreenivasan directing, I did wonder if this was one of those roles which could have perfectly suited the only leading actor he had in his movies, Nivin Pauly. May be we can have him in the sequel, as Dhyan’s character is done with this one, and that should be great, and very interesting indeed. There are so many other characters, but none of them really getting the needed screen time to be talked about much. The only exception might be the girl who played the sister role, and she’s good indeed. Thira rests on two performers, and as they scores, the movie takes off.

Details with spoilers :: I don’t know about its alleged borrowing from Amazing Grace and The Whistleblower, and it being the unofficial remake of the 2007 film Trade. But it will remind people about the 2012 action thriller Karmayodha which was rather a weak attempt on the same subject of human trafficking, especially of women. This movie is rather a very good reminder about how good Karmayodha could have been and how badly it missed out. Well, there are two other movies which I would like to mention – they are the 1994 Malayalam movie Rudraksham and 2009 English movie Taken. The former deals with a man (Suresh Gopi) looking for his younger sister in a strange city and ends up in the abode of a gangster who runs a brothel. The latter is the story of one man (Liam Neeson) who uses all his skills to save his daughter and her friend. The former could be Dhyan who tries to save his sister as a one-man army and the latter could be Shobana who tries to save more than one girl with her skills. The hopelessness of the former and the determination of the latter combines here. The dark tone of these movies seems to make them blood-brothers.

How it goes :: Vineeth Sreenivasan has surely come a long way from Malarvadi Arts Club, but even as the first thriller from him, this won’t be a Thattathin Marayathu in the box office, despite the comparative richness in content. Geethanjali‘s failure to live up-to the expectations will help this one a lot though. It is a clear winner at the box office, and may even exceed our expectations if the next releases doesn’t work that well. To add to it, we have the ability to accept the different, unless it doesn’t become Olipporu – our audience accepted Traffic, Chaappa Kurishu, Amen and North 24 Kaatham (about Annayum Rasoolum and Kili Poyi, God knows why they were praised). Just like they say in Neram, there is good time and bad time, and this is indeed the good or even the best time for Thira. What it makes out of it is up-to the viewers, but so far it has been good. Now waiting for Salaam Kashmir – if it has stopped its procrastination, a procedure it has followed for such a long time and made the movie lovers wonder if it is a “mission impossible” or going to release on a future possible “6th day”.

Release date: 14th November 2013
Running time: 120 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Vineeth Sreenivasan
Starring: Shobana, Dhyan Sreenivasan, Deepak Parambol, Gaurav Vasudev, Sijoy Varghese, Amritha Anil

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✠The Vampire Bat.

Diamond Necklace

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As they say in the movie Neram, there are two types of time, the good time and the bad time, and the good time of Fahadh Faasil had started from Chaappa Kurishu, with no disasters at the box office moving on to Immanuel. I didn’t really like what came later though, but as we know already, another thing about our versatile actor is that we can often identify his career with the quote from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities too; “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and I would identify the same with his other movies, Annayum Rasoolum and Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla. Yes, Diamond Necklace was part of the good time, or the best of times, and it was the best from Lal Jose, no real doubt about that unless you bring Achanurangatha Veedu, Classmates or Arabikkatha into the picture with a handful of logic. Does any of these movies have this simple a plot set in too simple a world, and still come up with such an intriguing situation on screen? No, they were movies of incidents, revolving around one major incident or decision which set the events running while Diamond Necklace belongs to everyday life, and a collection of life; its celebration as the worlds of ups and downs which flows through our life, supported by beautiful songs, “Nilamalare”, “Thottu Thottu” and “Nenjinullil”.

Arun Kumar (Fahadh Faasil) is a docor who lives in Dubai and leads a life of luxury, supported by his wallet full of credit cards. He has no regret about the past or worries about the future, as he lives in the present, spending money lavishly with nobody to stop him from doing the same. His friends belong to higher league, and he shares apartment with his friend in the tallest buildig in the middle east and the world, Burj Khalifa. Savithri (Rohini), his boss in the hospital also seems to spoil him with her sisterly affection, but she is also unaware of how much of a debt Arun is putting himself into. He has acquaintances with labourers from Kerala, especially Venu (Sreenivasan) whom he tries to avoid in his stylish, high quality life which has no place for the lesser people of lower social status, even as he is still friendly with all on the outside. Driving the latest cars and enjoying life to the maximum, he meets Lakshmi(Gauthami Nair), a newly recruited Tamil nurse in his department. She is the first girl to whom he is seriously attracted. She had come to the middle east with a dream of making enough money for building a hospital in their village, so that no more people have to die there for having no facilities or money. Arun is impressed by her wits, attitude and dedication towards work.

Even as their relation blossoms, his chances of going through with it receives a serious blow, as he runs out of money and his car is towed away by the creditors. He is left with no way to go home and see his sick mother as the credits keep him in the country. He is helped by an influential man, Narayana Menon (Maniyanpilla Raju) who makes it possible for him to go back to Kerala, but at the same time, he is tricked into marriage with Narayanan’s niece, Rajasree (Anusree) who is a simple village girl who has absolutely no clue about city life nor life outside Kerala. Even as they are thought to be a rich family, Rajasree’s world is later known to be a small and simple one, not enough to pay back even a percent of Arun’s credits. When he comes back to Dubai, he is left with no place to stay, and as he doesn’t have enough advance to pay for any place, he stays in the labor camp with Venu. Lakshmi who comes to know about his marriage, ends their relationship and refuses to talk to him. Maya (Samvrutha Sunil), a relative of Savithri, is a fashion designer who was diagnosed with cancer, with a wish to start a boutique in Dubai. Her fiancee had left her due to her illness which had left her highly depressed. Arun ends up sharing her apartment and becomes very close to her.

Later, when she sees Rajasree with him, she is shocked as she didn’t know that he was married, and is admitted in the hospital. It leaves Savithri with lesser affection towards him. As he gathers her possessions, he notices a diamond necklace that she keeps with her, something which can save him from his problems. He decides to replace it with a fake one and does the same successfully. This is where the whole situation revolving around a necklace arises, as his wife finds the original necklace and wears it thinking that it is a birthday gift from him. Meanwhile, Maya almost dies due to an overdose of medicine. He is unable to get the necklace back from his wife who has shown the same to almost everyone including her foul-mouthed relatives of vanity. He often feels that he should return it to Maya and he can’t, and neither can he sell it. Caught between the worlds of greed, remorse and helpless, the only people who are with him consists of the simple labourers whom he once avoided. So, the plot still revolves around the ladies in his life, and how Arun comes out of this problem, not with any deus ex machina or a huge twist of fate, but rather with the simple things being the result of everyday happenings and common feelings makes the whole of the story. The artificial stuff has been kept out for good.

So, here is Fahadh Faasil showing his abilities as a versatile actor, moving away from the new generation trends of Chaappa Kurishu and 22 Female Kottayam, but coming up strong as an energetic youth who symbolizes the common young man of the century, with the usual attitude of “I will drink Life to the lees” which was said by the protagonist, the Ithacan king and the Greek hero, in the poem titled with his own name, Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. That suspected hedonism in the face of our inescapable mortality found in The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the Edward FitzGerald translation, going back to the eleventh and the twelfth centuries has found ever increasing rhythm in this generation, but without the octopus hand of death and the ultimate end. “Carpe diem” as they can still say, from our own most mentioned ancient poet, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known to most of us as Horace – “Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the next day”, an idea which has developed into a liefstyle with loose morals leading to a life of unimaginable pleasure among the new generation. Epicureanism has made a more powerful entry to the new world, and as a kind of hedonism finding pleasure as the only intrinsic good, there is a new environment which is powerful and fast spreading. These, as I have already mentioned in my review of Spring Breakers, symbolizes the character Fahadh is playing in this movie.

But what does this hedonism, the power of “Carpe diem” bring to him? Does this help him to seize the day? Yes it does, but those days become long gone. I agree to the fact that we are all kind of hedonists in one way or the other, varying only in the degree. But considering the current world and the environment to which we are exposed, something which stays within the limits can rarely be interpreted as hedonism. But our protagonist belongs to the higher degree of “Carpe diem” as he puts as little trust as possible in the next day, as a man who is exposed to all the luxuries of the magical world of the city of Dubai, powered by oil, and highly influenced by modernity and science rather than antiquity, history or literature. For a man who comes the humble backgrounds of a small village, this might have been a big moment for him, being in Dubai and earning so much. It is evident in his relations with the labourers whom he consider as lesser people. But soon he realizes that they are the ones who are there to help him without asking anything in return, and it is his time to live like a common man rather than a hedonist, and live his life of responsibilities. Such a realization is supported by a beautiful ending which makes sure that his world remains one of beauty and goodness rather than crookedness and money. The movie itself is a message against irresponsible hedonism, and a support for unconditional love, responsibility and equality.

Once again, Fahadh Faasil is the man to watch out for, and I guess there is not much need to talk about the same, as it nothing unexpected. Samvrutha Sunil has a powerful role and she has done it with lots of life. Gauthami Nair makes a strong impact as the determined, powerful character. Anusree’s role is worth a lot of acclaim, and the funny moments come from her character’s stupidity, and still the goodness and love that the character exhibits makes this one quite a beautiful portrayal. Rohini and Sreenivasan have to play the roles of two seniors in the life of the protagonist who lends him advice and helping hand, and they form the world of light and goodness in his life. Diamond Necklace relates to its viewer with its tenderness and its high dose of objective correlative; with a reigning simplicity and reflections of the common incidents and random life events. It is the Malayalam movie of the year 2012, no matter how much anybody tries to prove that it isn’t. Also look out for the cinematography by Sameer Thahir; about our director Lal Jose, there is nothing more to say other than making a call to watch the movie. This was a movie which came into the theatres, disappeared, and came back again; such is awesomeness of this movie, even as only a few people recognized it during its first run, and myself came across the same during its comeback run in the local theatre.

Release date: 4th May 2012
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Samvrutha Sunil, Gauthami Nair, Anusree, Rohini, Sreenivasan, Maniyanpilla Raju, Kailash, Sukumari, Thesni Khan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Pullipulikal and Aattinkutti

pullipulikalum aattinkuttiyum )

This is the season of the Malayalam movies, and what these movies have done with the help of Chennai Express, to keep the English movies away from the theatre is quite dissappointing, to be honest. The typhoon of Malayalam movies started off with Kadal Kadannu Oru Mathukutty, followed by Neelaakasam Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, Memories and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum. I am not in favour of such a week boasting the absence of the new English movie releases, at a time when they do get released in other countries. But as I know that there can be a great next week, and all the Malayalam movie titles are interesting enough, that should solve the problem up-to an extent. There is no surprise about so many movies releasing during the Eid after a long season of drought, as the people have already rushed to the multiplexes as well as the local theatres for these movies, and the malls, or at least some of them are so crowded that the Vampire Bat had doubts if there were free Blood Biriyani being supplied there. There is also the signs of the local theatres taking the effect of these new multiplexes, as the difference in the rates of tickets has become considerably small. We had such an option, and we had to choose the multiplex – there is the shift of the balance of power.

Literally translated as “Leopards and the Little Goat” had the first signs of vulnerability and a display of what kind of audience they were targeting, with their first promo in the theatres, which had a cartoon involving three leopards, one goat and a bull. Who are the people representing these characters, is something which should be revealed with ease as one watches the movie. Its target of the family audiences has surely been achieved with this one, but the question remains if it has achieved exactly what the movie lovers wished for, and another doubt would be about its power to match the other movies from Lal Jose – in that case, this should be closer in significance to Immanuel. Otherwise, this is a little bit of what should be termed as Elsamma Enna Aankutty meets Marykkundoru Kunjaadu at Kuttand setting, with a weaker second half and a forced ending. But it is not to be denied that the movie is fun, and the first half is close enough to a laugh riot. With the beautiful settings at Kuttanadu second only to Amen, and the melodious songs score to make all the absences transform into some kind of presence, and keep the viewers attached to the world of backwaters.

The movie set in the rural area of Kuttanad centers around one hardworking youth who tries in vain to pay off his loan to the bank by running a houseboat which he might lose in case of a failure to pay the same. Chakkattutharayil Gopan (Kunchako Boban), in short – Chakka Gopan a.k.a Aadu Gopan, is the goat-man as he is widely considered to be for his beard resembling a goat. There was that character in the movie Nee Ko Njaa Cha, and an allusion to that one with a background sound of the goat might help to figure out this appearance of our hero. This is the protagonist who gets beaten up almost every day due to the bad deeds of his three big brothers, as well as his own little problems. There comes the similarities with Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, and its just that this time, the protagonist is not lazy, and can beat a few people up rather than getting beaten up all the time. He has to feed three of his brothers and mother, as well as make sure that he earns enough to keep his houseboat floating. The three brothers are the type of people who takes money even from him to keep him safe, and they never miss an opportunity to take money from others or even lie, cheat and steal. The feeling of Elsamma Enna Aankutty also runs through, but more as an invisible force. But the fact remains that all the three movies were those which I liked, and therefore, there is nothing negative out there other than a little absence of innovation.

Along with dealing with his own lazy bully brothers and attempting to pay off his loans, Gopan faces the problem of not being able to attract enough tourists to his comparatively inferior houseboat, and asks the help of Mamachan (Suraj Venjaramoodu) for some attraction which could bring in more foreign tourists. The result comes in the form of Kainakari Jayasree (Namitha Pramod), a Mohiniyattam artist. With her assistance and also with the help of Suseelan (Harisree Asokan), his problems seem to get solved until his path crosses with that of Kavalykal Kuriyachan (Shammi Thilakan). While attempting to deal with his brothers’ unruly life and his love with Jayasree, he also has to deal with the rich businessman who seeks revenge on Gopan. At the same time, he comes up with some plans to deal with his brothers as well as to keep his love with Jayasree. Even as his and Kuriyachan’s path rarely crosses each other directly, there is always the unexpected harm that he would seem to give the man who would go on to become the villain whom he himself has to deal with, not as the goat which runs away, but as the super-goat-man if such a thing exists.

Kunchako Boban has come up with the comedy avatar again, and that should satisfy most of the fans. With his new looks and style, he has done complete justice to his role, and carries the whole world on screen with his shoulders. Namitha Pramod is also that good as Kainakari Jayasree, and never manages to move away from the character. It was nice to see her character, the other dynamic lovable one along with the character of the protagonist. Suraj Venjaramoodu and Harisree Asokan handles their own familiar territory with so much ease. We have been missing this Suraj for sometime, and the latter uses his home base of comedy to the efficiency of the movie. The three brothers might have carried on the legacy of Marykkundoru Kunjaadu‘s brother, but one might still miss Biju Menon. Shammi Thilakan’s Kavalykal Kuriyachan is a fine villain indeed, but not the scary, evil Satan or the one who sold his soul to the Devil, for he is the villain of circumstances, and the result of the people knowing about his own villainy. But the fact remains that he rises to this discovered throne of bad guy, and continues to do what he did with a mask, without any visage of artificially created vanity.

The movie’s success as a comedy movie is beyond doubt, and even with its lack of flow in the script, and an ending which was rather thrown into the middle of things, there is the beauty in simplicity, and the eventual victory of goodness portrayed without being preachy or pretending to be highly virtuous. There is the beautiful portrayal of nature which joins with the melodious songs to keep it working towards the end. The messages about the importance of goodness, hardwork and belief in oneself is asserted throughout the film in one way or the other. Marykkundoru Kunjaadu had the same, but some people just noticed the fear element in it. This movie is more logical in that case, making an attempt to touch the soul with a central character who is more useful to the family as well as the society, caring less about himself. He is another Elsamma in that case, and even his love interest is not of less significance in many ways. There has been an overflow of similar themes in the past, and this movie also reflects the same in such a way as to make an impact in a path more travelled. Whether it has made a difference or not is a question yet to be answered, and until now, the future looks bright enough for this goat-man and his own leopard people of the family.

This is recommended for those who loved Elsamma Enna Aankutty and even more recommended for those who loved Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, and even those viewers who loved both of these movies a little, might find this one impossible to run away from. Nature has been a great redeemer, and for some, there is music; for the missing laughter, the others need comedy. This movie has got them all, but while looking for the logically awesome movie with a great bowl of completeness delivered as a result of the horn of plenty, there is that awkward movie of detest. But, it is highly advised that such a cornucopia is not expected in the case of this movie – Amalthea, goat and nature; something should relate, but the release of Plenty might have served as nothing less than a Pandora’s box in the case of such a movie. Therefore, lets forget the little strange things which might give the indigestion of logic fed to your brain, and enjoy this movie for the little beautiful things it got, and flies directly to the heart. The movie shall win its battle with the titles which got bigger names associated with the cast, not by much, but by what is enough to make the lamb-sheep-goat-characters live on with their goodness, lack of violence and a certain amount of love which takes its own toll on the characters.  Meanwhile, the title of this review has been adjusted to make it short – kindly don’t feel strange, for it is Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum indeed.

Release date: 9th August 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Kunchako Boban, Namitha Pramod, Shammi Thilakan, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Harisree Asokan, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Anusree, Irshad, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Bindu Panicker, Reena Bhasheer, Thesni Khan, Seema G. Nair, Ponnamma Babu

PullipulikalumAattinkuttiyum copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Immanuel

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There has been a certain absence of goodness in most of the movies of the last few years of new generation stuff; this absence which has been reclaimed more by another experimental movie which was Amen, and it is once again regained by this world full of goodness in the middle of evil in this movie Immanuel. The word “Immanuel” or “Emmanuel” has been a common Biblical name meaning “God is with us”. This presence of God and His Word happens to have an influence on this movie, which is more powerful than what is seen at first sight, as the strength lies in what is less noticed, and this strength powers the natural world that is conveyed to the audience; for even without them knowing, there is the power of divinity behind the seemingly ordinary goodness. The belief in essential goodness of man has been clearly broken with those movies which glorified pure evil. But this is not something which needs a theory to support the fact, as it has been proven by mankind by centuries of wars, brutal murders and destruction. The global presence of this evil is unquestionable. William Golding had made us believe the same with his Lord of the Flies which powers the belief in inherent evil in man. That tendency to sin innate in all human beings, held to be inherited from Adam and Eve.

As the “Fall of Man” has become more of an excuse for sins rather than something which acts as an influence, this movie comes up with one man who keeps his alignment towards the good. The mankind might be still inherently evil and this evil resides within everyone and could be unleashed at any moment as long as the situation is suitable, with no need for a Hannibal Lector. The dark side of human nature could be as vicious and as terrifying as the evil that exist unknown to man, and even the most innocent of mankind are vulnerable to it – but not our hero, as we welcome the man of goodness, Immanuel. He is no fairy king, halfling, hobbit or anything, but as human as one can be, in a world of lost humanity. He is the biggest surprise in the movie named after himself, and he is no lesser wonder in a world of utter chaos & misery, as the humane nature of humanity survives through him and runs his sacred endurance to the limits. Immanuel is not just a character of Lal Jose’s imagination, but a much needed reason for the salvation of human race – for the saved are less and the damned are many; for the greatest of the fallen ones has multiplied, not by breeding, but by intellect of the wrong kind calling it science and technology; profit and success.

The movie starts with the character of Immanuel working in a small book publishing firm. When the small company is forced to shut down due to the owner having heavy debts and going on a vanishing act, Immanuel and his family find it difficult to go through their regular lives. There are the usual requirements of a home as well as the needs of his son which makes life uneasy for the family. The difficulties he faces forces him to get a job which is not really suitable for someone like him. For a honest, good hearted person like Immanuel, the corporate world is nothing less than the inferno of the deepest level. He is forced completely out of his comfort zone, but he is also not able to quit the job as his family desperately needs the money. Thus he decides to go on as long as he can, and one day he might be able to find enough money to buy a home and get himself and the family out of the rented house. Most of his co-workers are of not much help to him, as they are all competitors in the same field and would use treachery if necessary to keep their levels high. His boss, Jeevan proves to be the biggest problem, as the cruel corporate master and oppressor, nothing less than a feudal lord or a colonizer. The boss’s aim is only to gain maximum profit, even as he talks about the customer being the king.

Remembering The Pursuit of Happyness, it was a movie which glorified this type of life, and the ultimate aim was to meet the deadline and get the target, but this one takes it upside down. Maximizing the client contacts and thus the profits doesn’t really get the job done for Immanuel. He is the kind of person who is ready to give up all of them as a sacrifice for leading a life of truth and sincerity. May be “happyness” was not what Immanuel was looking for, as it was “happiness” in its most stable form. Immanuel always had the needs, but he never over-valued money over the human relations, a total opposite to Jeevan, the latter who is more suitable to be included in the pursuit of “happyness” than “happiness”, more of a pseudo-happiness which takes a physical appearance rather than mental – for it is of this world in all its limited environment. Such a position wouldn’t create anything more than a void within a void, a point which is made clear through the lives of the two main characters in this movie. But the question would be about the point where humanity ends and divinity starts for Immanuel; and that other point where humanity ends and damnation starts for Jeevan, even if it is not a complete process. Such a question creates more doubts than solutions.

Mammootty’s Immanuel is more of a flawless creature of divinity. Even with contradicting philosophical problems created by the man of goodness, there is so much simplicity in his depiction of the character. There is so much ease around this performance, as the character undergoes heavy transformation from his early troubles to corporate frauds and to the final realization that not all dreams come true and most of them really needn’t. Dreams are also meant to stay as they are, and ambition is just another name for greed triggered by vanity and jealousy. There are two sides to everything, and as long as the black and the white are considered, there are Jeevan and Immanuel respectively, but the white always have the option to walk away from the black, not without loss though. Immanuel still doesn’t loss his qualities that makes him what he is, as he helps two characters played by Sukumari and Mukhta, the first one getting the much needed money for her daughter’s marriage after her husband’s death, and the second one for the treatment of cancer. His help extend beyond the office though, with the poor workers from outside the state, all of these creating more rift with Jeevan and making his staying on the job even more risky. But he continues to stay as himself.

Fahadh Faasil’s Jeevan is never outside the game. He is the boss of the game of sales, as well as the brain in a smaller ship of the corporate world. He is never in good terms with Immanuel, who seems to him as his nemesis from the moment he gets his job under him. Caught between profit-making in his job, loving his family and reading the Holy Bible, he is neither here nor there, but manages to keep his dark side going with his attitude towards those who works under him. It is a fantastic performance, even as the character has less screentime compared to Immanuel. Jeevan is also the exact opposite of those characters we saw in Red Wine and Amen, and a comparison to Solomon takes this further down to the abyss reserved for extreme opposites. Reenu Mathews who plays Immanuel’s wife has come up with another performance which is above the line, and really good for a beginner. Devan plays a role like he played in Gulumaal, and it is easy to connect with the role in this one; Mukesh’s role is also a cameo and the same can be said about that of Balachandran Chullikkadu. It can be said that Muktha Elsa George plays an extended cameo with a few appearances.

Bijukuttan, Salim Kumar and Guinness Pakru provides the lighter moments in the movie, and its comedy is all sensible. There is no stupidity or vulgarity associated with it. All these funny elements are not of lower standards either. Thus it moves on as a movie suitable for all, not just for the fans or the family. But it never runs out of its slowness, and never tries to have a look outside the ordinary. If it had done so, this might have reached a new level. But it may still be more comfortable in its own territory which is in this case, the normal side. There is nothing here like what kept the audience glued to Diamond Necklace – instead, this is just the story of one good human who managed to keep his goodness even as there were so many opportunities for him to lose it along with his soul. This movie is also a story of morality – it preaches and it does so with perfection; not as perfect as one would expect in theory, but as perfect as a human with all its imperfections could manage to do. The goodness needs to be generated in a society which is plagued by lies, and may Immanuel be a good model for the people who fails to deliver truth when it is most needed. The movie’s alignment towards pure goodness is to be appreciated. God is with this movie for sure.

Release date: 5th April 2013
Running time: 150 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Mammootty, Fahadh Faasil, Reenu Mathews, Sukumari, Salim Kumar, Guinness Pakru, Sunil Sukhada, Ramesh Pisharody, Bijukuttan, Balachandran Chullikkadu, Muktha Elsa George, Mukesh, Devan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.