Bro Daddy

Vampire Owl: Do you know that Uncle Dracula used to be called by the same name?

Vampire Bat: As far as I can remember, that was Uncle Bro.

Vampire Owl: Well, I guess it varies by vampire and the century of existence.

Vampire Bat: The existence is the crime. You are not to speak about it.

Vampire Owl: I am talking about the undead existence without the human soul.

Vampire Bat: Well, that should be acceptable, as the absence of the evil human soul is much appreciated in our realm.

Vampire Owl: What do you think about our decision to watch this movie?

Vampire Bat: Well, with the Corona virus at its peak, the fact that they didn’t release this movie in theatres is to be appreciated.

Vampire Owl: Yes, a superstar movie in the theatre means a super spreader.

Vampire Bat: It seems that the producer and director of this movie are sensible people. Let other movies take the credit for being super spreaders.

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of black tea].

What is the movie about? :: Eesho (Prithviraj Sukumaran) and Anna (Kalyani Priyadarshan) have been good friends since childhood, and have carried over the same as a romantic relationship in such a manner that they even started living together in Bangalore without anyone having any clue about it. Their motherly figures Annamma John (Meena) and Elsy Kurian (Kaniha) wish to have the two youngsters married to each other, as they belong to a similar social status, being part of rich and influential families of the area. Even their friends and relatives find the possible marriage alliance to be an interesting one. The fathers John Chacko Kattadi (Mohanlal) and Kurian Maliekkal (Lalu Alex) are not that interested in the same because latter used to be in love with the former’s wife during pre-degree days. But the two remains good friends, and Kurian handles the advertising matters of Kattadi’s business. Kattadi’s fame is rather unmatched, as they have lot of business ventures, mostly focusing on Kattadi TMT steel bars. Kurian is into the advertising business, while Eesho is working at an advertising company in Bangalore.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Everything seems to go smoothly around here. But there are secrets which needs some cover up, as both Anna and Annamma are pregnant, and John and Eesho don’t want anyone to know about it as of now. It seems that now there is the need for a plan, so that the two can get married, and the function can happen smoothly, and later, they can talk about the pregnancies and related stuff. For the same, the two need to get married as soon as possible, with the blessings of Kurian and Elsy. But Kurian is not really fond of Eesho as latter finds the former’s advertising company to a cheap one in comparison to the multi-national company where he has been working. Yet, it seems that Kurian won’t disagree to the words of John, but there is the need for much more of plans to come. Eesho would still need to get into the good books of Kurian, and for the same, he would also need to use more than one of his skills. As Elsy also comes to know about the pregnancy, all of them will have to come together, and make sure that Kurian will be happy about this alliance – will he be the happy one too?

The defence of Bro Daddy :: The movie depends on humour and feel-good, as well as a certain amount of drama to keep itself going. Whenever it seems to go down, the cast nicely lifts it up. There is some nice humour that comes in between, and this one is kept close to family even though there was the opportunity to go for ridiculous jokes like Ittymaani: Made in China. The messages that the movie provide are pretty good too. It shows that family is indeed important, and a small adjustment made in career won’t matter – as long as you have a job at what you are the best at. It is a fine message for a new generation which keeps on changing jobs for better salary, leaving families behind. The movie also keeps the whole thing light-hearted, never choosing to explore the dark side of all of these, and the emotions, even though present are kept in such a way that there is no exaggeration of the emotional side – it just provides what is required with a simple feel-good family movie that keeps one entertained without making one think too much. Well, it was always moving towards the happy ending, we know.

The claws of flaw :: There is a certain amount of predictability in here, as expected from this kind of a movie. There are so many sequences which seem to progress the way we can guess. We also come up against a certain amount of lagging in between. A certain amount of lag can also been seen related to the revelation of things. The length is a little bit more than what was required. If the event management idea was removed, that would have helped the movie further. The beginning hadn’t impressed that much with the common jokes added, and more of life in Bangalore could have only done the movie favours. There is also too much focus on the luxury home visuals, seemingly trying to help an architect or the seller of a house. It does feel like the idea is to go and come up with life of the richest, giving the feeling that almost everyone else do not exist. The world itself is different around here, like being part of an alien planet. Some of the characters whom we see around also feel wasted, as the focus is indeed on the members of two families only.

The performers of the soul :: The movie does have a long list of memorable cast, something which is not often seen related to a family comedy drama. Mohanlal leads, and he does the same with the kind of role which audience has loved him doing. Prithviraj and Kalyani plays the usual youngsters in love, without anything new added around here, except for maybe the cuteness quotient. Lalu Alex is once again the father of the leading lady, and it is something he has done a lot in the past, even though most of similar roles have gone to Renji Panicker following Om Santhi Oshana. He shows that he still maintains the expertise in this kid of roles. Meena is once again looking good with Mohanlal, like it was in Drishyam, Drishyam 2 and Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol. Kaniha is also as notable as the rest as the mother of the leading lady. Jagadish does have a notable role here, while Soubin Shahir’s role to add some quick humour is only partially affective. Mallika Sukumaran once again drops in as the typical old mother figure, a role which would go to her with ease every time. Unni Mukundan, Nikhila Vimal and Kavya Shetty have cameos.

How it finishes :: This is the second directorial venture from Prithviraj Sukumaran after one of the biggest films in Malayalam cinema, Lucifer, which still remains strong in our minds, with the next one coming in 2023 in the form of a sequel. With Mohanlal and Prithviraj joining forces again, this was a movie which was much awaited. It has the skill to deliver as the humorous feel-good movie with effectiveness. There will not be grandeur associated with it, as things are kept simple, keeping it within the predictable lines throughout its run. The cast has elevated the same by adding humour in their own ways, and keeping it close to life. In one way or the other, the movie seems to stand on the exact opposite path of Sara’s which would have dealt the whole episode in a different manner, but Bro Daddy takes the path which the families would to see, and the one which might feel rather selfless in nature. But one can only wonder what it means to be selfless in a chaotic, brutal world? When was the last time we had a society with humans who were not selfish?

Release date: 26th January 2022 (Hotstar)
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Prithviraj Sukumaran
Starring: Mohanlal, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Lalu Alex, Meena, Nikhila Vimal, Kaniha, Soubin Shahir, Jagadish, Kavya Shetty, Unni Mukundan, Mallika Sukumaran, Sijoy Varghese, Antony Perumbavoor, Jaffar Idukki, Joji Mundakayam, Charle

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Driving Licence

What is the movie about? :: Hareendran (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a superstar who is in no shortage of fans, gaining all success with continuous superhit movies breaking one box-office record after the other. He is a typical, arrogant, billionaire star who doesn’t care about people in general. His love for cars is well-known, but as nobody had asked him for a driving licence for a long time, he had lost it somewhere, and the shooting of the climax required the licence. For the same, he attempts to get a new one issued by Motor Vehicle Inspector Kuruvilla (Suraj Venjaramoodu) who is a die hard fan of the star. Even though Kuruvilla is a lot interested in meeting the star, things don’t turn out so well with media coming to know about the superstar driving all these years without a driving licence. Hareendran is particularly angry about this being flashed on the news.

So, what happens with the events here? :: At the same time, the other big superstar on the big screen, Bhadran (Suresh Krishna) is trying to get some success with his movies, as it is Hareendran’s movies which get all the attention and the best of theatres. He tries to exaggerate this problem between the two, and is successful up to an extent, as the news is everywhere on all television channels. At the same time, there is the attack on Kuruvilla’s family, and further problems between Hareendran and the producer of the movie, as he wants to leave to the United States with his wife for her treatment before completing the film. But he would really need that driving licence, but because of the confusion and humiliation which he had faced due to the superstar, Kuruvilla is reluctant, but with his contacts, the arrogant Hareendran would try to force him out of his options.

The defence of Driving Licence :: The movie has two people in different fields set against each other, with certain background humour working well all the time. Some of the scenes seem to stand apart, and the interval punch is very good. Some of the situations are nicely created, and well acted too. The visuals are pretty good to add to the same. There are some elements of the evil of blind celebrity worship and the celebrity attitude being shown here, even though the focus is not that much to be seen. The common man’s plight is shown, even though heroism is once again left to the superstar. The focus is partially on different aspects of the society, and there are some messages to be taken home. The whole thing is kept simple, and there are no pretensions here, as many things are shown as they should be, even though the deviations can’t be denied.

The claws of flaw :: It is sad to see that the movie deviates from what should have been its most important message, against the fanatic fans – here, the movie takes the most extreme level, as the so called superstar talks in support of his loyal fans who almost murdered a police officer in an extreme case of crowd frenzy. The superstar’s rich and filthy arrogance is allowed to win over the common man with ease, which is a shame, because the movie without a second thought chooses to go against everyman with its support for violent fans and arrogant superheroes. Some characters are of no use too. Even though the movie focuses on the mood of Christmas, there is nothing much in there to reflect the same. Some parts of the film just looks not needed. There is also a problem with the movie’s flow, and it bothers everyone that it is only the good everyman character who gets beaten up, and all the evil people around him are shown in better light, and spared the rod.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran after his highly underrated thrillers as the lead, Brother’s Day and 9, has the superstar to play, and it doesn’t become difficult for him at any moment. It is the kind of star who is shown as the bigger superstar of the industry, and that gets done rather easily. Playing the roles of actors in movies, the extra performance which is to be put in seems to be rather less in almost every case. Suraj Venjaramoodu continues to impress in the emotional sequences, and the comedy as usual, comes natural to him in this movie too. We have been witnessing much of such skills in the last few years rather than sticking to the humorous side. The roles of simple common men have been coming very fine to him. The child actor Adhish Praveen also comes with a nice performance as the child who wants his father to win against the giant superstar at least once.

Further performers of the soul :: Mia George is the heroine who gets more dialogues, and has some funny moments of her, as she shines in a role which brings the laughter in a simple manner. Deepti Sati, the other heroine does look beautiful, and has less to do – but the purpose is served well in her case too. Salim Kumar plays a kind of cameo which becomes relevant in the end, but is irritating during most of its existence. It was good to see Lalu Alex there doing a fine job, and we need to see him more in the industry. Idavela Babu and Vijayaraghavan play two irritating characters from the movie industry. Major Ravi and Shivaji Guruvayoor have some smaller roles to play too. At the same time, Suresh Krishna is really funny in his avatar, and the same can be said about Saiju Kurup too. Nandhu has a memorable tole to play here too.

How it finishes :: Driving Licence could have been a better movie if it had shown the courage to show evil as it is. But the movie hesitates in doing the same, and finds the rich celebrity and his fans abusing and almost murdering a common man to be okay – maybe they did the same to satisfy their large number of fans, but it cannot be considered as a fair thing. The good start of the movie should have been better maintained, especially in the second half – the ending should have been better too. Still, as these are holidays, it is easier to have these kinds of movies running in the theatres, as we have that kind of family audience who have come out to enjoy the Christmas vacations. So, this works for some simple fun, but could have been more with its premise. After all, getting a driving licence never ceases to be a thing of interest.

Release date: 20th December 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Jean Paul Lal
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Mia George, Deepti Sati, Lalu Alex, Suresh Krishna, Arun, Idavela Babu, Vijayaraghavan, Salim Kumar, Saiju Kurup, Adhish Praveen, Major Ravi, Kalabhavan Navas, Sohan Seenulal, Nandhu

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jo and the Boy

joandtheboy (2)

What is the movie about? :: Joan Mary John (Manju Warrier) used to be a kid who loved Mickey Mouse a lot and later took it as her ambition to create a cartoon character like that. When asked at school about whom she wanted to be, she had the answer as Walt Disney. Later, she grows up to be an animator who hopes to make a big series or movie with a character created by her, and for the same, she makes different approaches, but with not much of a result. As she goes above the age of thirty with no job and no interest in marriage, her parents Johnny (Lalu Alex) and Mary (Kalaranjini) become more and more worried. But she continues in her own small world trying to make that big difference to it with one right moment. Then the life changing moment appears, and the story has another direction to proceed.

So what is this sudden change of direction in life about? :: Joan needed something special with her life. Things take a turn with the arrival of a boy called Chris (Sanoop Santhosh) who was adopted by Catherine (Rekha), one of Joan’s relatives. The visit happens at a time when Joan is struggling to make a mark as things continue to work against her. After the initial dislike due to the boy’s attitude, Joan becomes good friends with him, and they become good friends. Later, he becomes the inspiration for the cartoon character whom Joan is planning to create, and she ends up designing her creation just like him. Calling the character Criz, she keeps making the attempt to impress the firm, with the man at its head not interested in her ideas. With the help of her friends and the boy, Joan will try again, as it is her only dream in life.

The defence of Jo and the Boy :: There is a very nice beginning to this movie, with the child and Mickey Mouse; it keeps that level or somewhere around there until the cartoon character gets its own problems. There was the possiblity of this one becoming the right movie embedded in the spirit of Christmas in the beginning stages. The ending is also pretty good, even though the climax has a little bit too much melodrama. This is inspirational and feel-good, that is for sure – there is no shortage of such stuff here and there even though not in totality with the story. The Philips and the Monkey Pen feeling exists right through this one, even though that much strength is not there to be a worthy successor to that amazing movie – don’t keep the expectations that high about this one. There is also the strength of some amazing visuals in this flick. You are going to fall in love with locations used here, and there is no question about that. The performances will be another plus point.

Claws of flaw :: The movie will have problems in connecting to a good number of viewers who might not have expected this from the trailers. The humour here is rather too less. The songs are not that good either, and visuals are the ones which give the feel to the music. There are problems in the middle part and the first part of the second half does have some lagging portions along with cliches. A lot of scenes which were shown in the trailer in a nice way have almost no significance in the movie in its totality. The Philips and the Monkey Pen magic is not really recreated here, with some magical moments here and there, but that connectivity, clarity and emotional strength isn’t that much present here. It should be also why this movie try to be the great overreacher with its story, when it could have stayed on the ground with the common man; instead it does try to fly too high, and becomes the Icarus with burnt wings – unlike the son of Daedalus, this one survives though. A better or even simpler story would have made this a fairy-tale beauty.

Performers of the soul :: As you might have already expected, Manju Warrier is the big performer here, as she once again manages an inspiration role to take it to a fine level, after How Old Are You? and Rani Padmini. All those “different” characteristics of this role comes to life with her, even though common man question the action here – that is explained with the “difference” factor; “divergence” isn’t really a crime, right? Sanoop Santhosh also does an interesting job here as the boy who brings the diversion in life. Even though the character is not that likable as in Philips and the Monkey Pen, he does his character well. It is nice to see Lalu Alex doing the “cool father act” once again. Sudheer Karamana is too underused here as his character disappears after making a nice impact. Sunil Sukhada also has a short appearance in the beginning stages of the movie. Pearle Maaney provides some good support. A point to be noted is that there is no pair for the heroine here, and as you expected, the romance is null.

Soul exploration :: Jo and the Boy is another movie which talks about dreams. The whole story is about the lady protagonist who has a dream in her childhood and keeps going towards it even as she reaches the age of thirty – unmarried and without a job. It is the story of many good men and women who couldn’t achieve a particular thing just because they don’t have enough contacts or blood-relationships with people at good positions – we know how it works in this world, as people with reservations and powerful relatives will get things done easily and earlier while others have to work hard to achieve it. But our protagonist keeps trying, and despite the worries, her parents also supports her. In a world in which sons and daughters of actors/directors/producers become actors without any skill, and children of ministers become leaders and then ministers, Joan is a symbol of everyone who keeps trying without accepting defeat and changing the path.

How it finishes :: As you might know already, there is no shortage of inspirational movies in Malayalam Cinema; even this year, it is a process which started with Mili, and continued to go on through Rani Padmini, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam and My God. Among these five big inspirational movies including this one, three of them are heroine-oriented, one has a person who rises above his disability, and another movie has a kid at the centre of everything. Malayalam movie industry does know how to inspire its audience, that is for sure. With Jo and the Boy, I am glad that there has been a lot of inspiration gained from movies this year, and there are also those feel-good entertainers which have provided us with some more happiness, and some movies are both! I am extremely glad to have watched more Malayalam movies than the flicks in any other language this year, in the theatres.

Release date: 24th December 2015
Running time: 156 minutes
Directed by: Rojin Thomas
Starring: Manju Warrier, Sanoop Santhosh, Pearle Maaney, Kiran, Lalu Alex, Kalaranjini, Rekha, Sudheer Karamana, Sunil Sukhada

joandtheboy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.