Anveshanam

What is the movie about? :: Aravind (Jayasurya) and Kavitha (Sruthy Ramachandran) are living a happy life in one of those skyscrapers of the city with their two children. Their family seems to be the one perfect world, as their neighbour and close family friend Dr. Gowtham (Vijay Babu) says. There is the smell of a fairy-tale happily ever after, all around there. But one day, their son, Ashwin is hospitalized, and he is supposed to have fallen off the stairs of the apartment. It is Gowtham and Kavitha who brings him to the hospital, while Aravind was spending his time alone after a fight in the television channel where he was working. Dr. Ashok (Srikanth Murali) makes no delay in admitting the boy and trying to save his life, but the head nurse, Sony (Lena) has a doubt regarding the marks found on the boy’s body, and she couldn’t stop herself from informing the police.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Sony suspects that the boy was brutally beaten, and it was a case of child abuse. As she herself was a victim of abuse as a child, she wastes no time in labeling this one in the same way. Latha (Leona Lishoy) and Alphonse (Nandhu) are the police officers on the case, with the former into a few months of pregnancy. They have a list of suspects starting with Aravind who had left office early without telling anyone, and had also visited his apartment. The descriptions provided by Kavitha and Gowtham also do not match one another. The hospital also seems to neglecting some facts, as the boy finally dies, things get even more complicated. The Dr. Faris (Lal) enters the scene from the side of the police to examine things further, and this complex sequence of events need an explanation before next morning – can it be done?

The defence of Anveshanam :: The movie, as expected, begins well, and brings the idea into focus very soon. There are many chances of interesting guesses to be made, as we know the main characters who are put into a situation in a hospital. We are beginning to suspect too many people, from the father and mother, to the neighbour, from the nurse to the doctor, who are all acting strange, and something fishy is going on there, as the police also begins to suspect. As the unsettling atmosphere is built early, and things begin quickly, there is an interesting journey here towards the interval, from where everything slows down and drags. It is only then that we realize that the movie could have risen further with its theme, but stays with a safe zone to which not many people can connect in the right way. But the performances eclipse the same at most parts.

The claws of flaw :: The movie losses its strength in the second half, as it moves from the investigative suspense thriller to a melodramatic and preachy family piece. It struggles to focus on what could have been its strengths, and ends with confusion, as its final moments did show signs of weariness. The movie had the premise and the idea, while the trailer could nicely create interest in the mind of audience. It is when the idea came on the screen, that it never really got its characters going well enough, even though there are many interesting ones. It couldn’t prove its point either, despite trying to go preachy – it could have at least justified its title and went on with the investigation to find what exactly they were searching for. But the movie by the end, decides to go to the middle of nowhere, and declares it fit to sit in no man’s land with some verbal gun shots all around.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya once again leads the way, and here we have his presence in a thriller, and as a father figure, this calls for a different approach with a mystery needed to be brought to light. He is not The Great Father kind of father who spends time in wearing fancy jackets and beating up people, and we don’t have that kind of an irritating gun loving strange character of a girl here, and that is the first case of relief which we have here. We have loved his ways of solving mysteries in Pretham and Pretham 2, but this one has his character in a crisis rather than the one solving it. The man who is still best remembered for Aadu has one more serious flick for which he will be remembered as the sole lead – other than Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam and a few others. Anjaam Pathiraa had Kunchacko Boban bringing one thing, and Jayasurya here continues that journey through the drama, but at the receiving end.

Further performers of the soul :: Shruti Ramachandran was seen in Sunday Holiday as the earlier love interest of the main character, and also in Pretham where she played ghost who was haunting a beach side resort and looking for revenge. Here, she has a bigger and stronger role to perform and one would remember this even more. Lena also remains strong, but her character stays underdeveloped despite supposed to be having such a trouble past and childhood. Vijay Babu is very good in the emotional sequences, and Leona Lishoy goes through a pretty good run. Lal is there only for what can be termed as an extended cameo. Nandhu also adds well in a pretty good police role. Srikanth Murali plays the doctor well, as he is the one who becomes the centre of attraction as he treats the boy who is supposed to have fallen from the stairs, a case which leads to all the drama.

How it finishes :: After Anjaam Pathiraa, the audience was expecting another top level investigation thriller, but what we see here is an investigation drama, which seems to have some nice ideas, but is not displayed that well on the screen – this could have become better as a short story, like Roald Dahl’s Lamb to the Slaughter, something which had a crime and what followed with the weapon used for murder. But instead, Anveshanam tries to be many things at ones, and also tries to be too preachy in the end – it is what makes this interesting premise struggle as it moves towards the end. Still, the movie is to be watched for how it builds the tension and suspense within limited space, and while being set in a few hours of time, almost sticking to the Aristotlean Unities except for those multiple flashbacks which keep coming.

Release date: 31st January 2020
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Prasobh Vijayan
Starring: Jayasurya, Leona Lishoy, Shruti Ramachandran, Vijay Babu, Lal, Lena, Nandhu, Jai Vishnu, Shaju K S, Srikanth Murali

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Athiran

What is the movie about? :: The year is 1967, and a worried Lakshmi (Shanthi Krishna) finds their family murdered while Nithya (Sai Pallavi) is seen playing with a thread. The situation seems to points to her as dangerously abnormal and a murderer. Five years later in 1972, Dr. MK Nair (Fahadh Faasil), a psychiatrist from Trivandrum Medical College is sent to check out the activities in a mental asylum situated far away from civilization, between the trees in the wilderness. This grand mansion which was built by the British has limited access to other places. Dr Benjamin Diaz (Atul Kulkarni) who served in the 1972 India-China War and a master hypnotist is the resident doctor as well as the owner of the asylum. He is very strict in his methods and doesn’t like anyone from outside making a visit. Renuka (Lena) is in control of things there, and Avarachan (Nandhu) provides further help from outside.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: There are strange incidents happening in the asylum. The inmates include Anna Maria (Leona Lishoy), a religious person, P Subrahmanya Iyer (Vijay Menon), an English professor, Vadakkedath Kamala Lakshmi (Surabhi Lakshmi), a person of too much concern for everyone around her, Jeevan Thomas (Sudev Nair), and a happy and strange romantic person. But it turns out that there is one more patient, and she is hidden and locked away in a cell, considered to be extremely dangerous and uncontrollable – the person is none other than Nithya who lives a restrained life, hostile to those who very rarely come to visit her. The newly arrived doctor realizes that there is something strange about her as well as the working of the hospital – he even has some dream visions and hallucinations when he is there, but some of them might be close to reality.

The defence of Athiran :: We have had a good number of psychological thriller, but after the 1990s, not many movies could rise above a certain level, and Athiran comes as a breath of fresh air – we always needed our own Shutter Island, and this one becomes the same, but with its own different twists. A Cure for Wellness is another movie we are reminded of. There is a similar beautiful setting here just like that island in Shutter Island and the mountain ranges in A Cure for Wellness, as the camera nicely brings all of the same to perfection. There is a Gothic building out there, and has a similar setting as one would have seen in movies like Crimson Peak, even though in the absence of the ghostly presence, is not used to the maximum – we had already seen 9 using a similar setting. The songs and the picturization also prove to be really attractive, and the suspense is maintained until the end as we remain thrilled.

The claws of flaw :: The similarities to A Cure for Wellness and Shutter Island can’t be ignored. There is another movie called The Ward which deals with a similar situation. All these are set in places dealing with “wellness” of the patients, and has similar moments of horror related to treatment procedure, along with secrets there that should be revealed. There is clear influence in bringing a certain Hollywood style, also resembling the Victorian Gothic Model, but the success of the movie is that it has done the same really well, and local elements have been mixed with some skill behind the same. We still have the feeling that something missing in there, and the other patients’ characters could have been better developed. With a setting like this, there was hope for bringing some intensely terrifying moments, but it is not there. Nights in a mental asylum far away from civilization can always bring more, and so can a mentally unstable murderer of family members.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is one actor who has come up with minimum guarantee in the last few months, and we look at his previous movie to make sure about that. His last three ventures in Malayalam movie industry were Kumbalangi Nights, Njan Prakashan and Varathan, all three gaining both critical and commercial success. These movies also had less hype in comparison to the others, and Athiran actually came up with no real boost in marketing – I came to know about this movie very late, and even then I didn’t know that this was a Malayalam movie; the film survived with people’s opinions. It is to be noted that there is a certain change that comes across the character he plays in each of the four movies including this one. One can also note that Fahadh has done a fantastic job here as the main character in a psychological thriller – playing a character in a mental asylum wouldn’t come easy, whether the role is of a mental patient or not.

Further performers of the soul :: Sai Pallavi has returned to Malayalam movie industry once again, and it called for a change, a welcome one, as there is no dance performance around here. She is the kind of actress who can do this role so well, as she showed such signs in Kali itself, even though it was not needed then. Well, here she excels in portraying the character with autism and more. This one is her best performance in the industry so far, clearly better than Premam, and surely better than that which didn’t really matter in the miserable Kali. Atul Kulkarni who has come up with some memorable performances in Malayalam movies before, brings a strong antagonist. Leona Lishoy, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon and Sudev Nair who have their moments as the patients never really get going though, with no real mention about their tales of the past. Lena and Nandhu gets limited in their roles, Shanthi Krishna is there for a few minutes. Renji Panicker is impressive when he is there.

How it finishes :: Athiran is one movie which has been running for so long despite releasing without making much of a noise. One month later, it can be seen that the movie is still going strong, despite Avengers: Endgame taking the most number of viewers, creating the collection record like never before, overtaking Titanic and closing in on Avatar, the effect being seen here too. Athiran, one month later, is challenging the bigger movies like the crowd puller Oru Yamandan Prema Katha and the critics favourite Uyare. It is nice to see a psychological thriller doing such a job, as it has been the genre, with a fee exceptions not bringing the major part of audience to the theatres, especially the family audience. But things have changed now, and Athiran has stood tall when the opportunity came, and it does so in Hollywood style, in a grand environment.

Release date: 12th April 2019
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Vivek
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Sai Pallavi, Lena, Sudev Nair, Leon Lishoy, Prakash Raj, Renji Panicker, Atul Kulkarni, Shanthi Krishna, Nandhu, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon

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Balan Vakeel

What is the movie about? :: S Balakrishnan (Dileep) is a lawyer who works under the reputed advocate Pramod Sujanapalan (Arjun Nandakumar). But he hasn’t been able to achieve much in his professional career due to his stammer, even though he was known to be a smart & intelligent person during his college days. His father and mother (Siddique and Bindu Panicker) are concerned about him, but are sure that he can only be a failure in life, with former also being a chain smoker who tries different drugs. His first successful case is that of Ansaar Ali Khan (Aju Varghese), a local goon who is involved in a robbery case. Ansaar doesn’t have the cash to pay as his fees, and therefore provides him with a place to stay at low rent. But this new place has Irumbu Babu’s (Bheeman Raghu) presence, and he considers it to be his own room and wants him to leave. But it will be the smallest of his problems.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is then that his brother-in-law P Mohanan Pillai (Suraj Venjaramoodu) comes up with a plan to make some easy money. He asks Balakrishnan to be a part of it, and she accepts the same reluctantly. He sends a notice to a given address asking for compensation in the name of a woman (Priya Anand) who claims to have been abused by the person at the address. But it turns out that it is the address of the DGP of Kerala Police, KE Eapen (Renji Panicker) who is suprised to get the same. The charge of investigation goes to Indhulekha Marar (Lena) who gets only a limited amount of time to solve the case. Meanwhile it turns out that the person whose name is in the letter is Anuradha Sudharshan (Mamta Mohandas), a woman who is completely unaware of this. There seems to be some conspiracy behind all these. But there is no clue regarding where to begin.

The defence of Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel :: There are the twists in store in Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel for sure, and there is mystery awaiting to be revealed, related to a conspiracy. We also have incidents which seems to reflect reality, but there is the certainty of exaggeration regarding the same. The emotional flashback in the movie becomes effective with the last twist, but otherwise it feels strange, and makes you wait the whole time trying to find something out of it. There is also the presence of a fine cast to support everything out there, making sure that they manage all that this movie can provide. There is some good humour out there, even though not throughout the flick. It is seen more in the initial stages, starting from the introduction of the main character itself. The interval punch is strong enough to make one interested in the second half, even though the first half wasn’t that much there.

The claws of flaw :: It can be seen that there is no attempt to make this movie go through a fully entertaining path, and there is no plan to make this a perfect journey as an investigation thriller either, as this is caught somewhere in between. The jokes are also just partially effective, and we see that the funny side in the name of children hitting older men, people falling on electricity lines and surviving, a drug addict father instead of the usual alcoholic one etc – they are just there for the sake of adding some strange funny side. There is also the presence of some unnecessary mass scenes, and the hero sending people flying around comes in, and the struggling protagonist that we wanted to watch from the trailer is lost. Having such a protagonist beating up people all of a sudden works against the overall mood of the movie, and what we know about the protagonist. The songs are not that good either.

The performers of the soul :: This seems to be a movie nicely made for Dileep, as he has this in control, just like many other movies of the same kind. There is no problem here, as he had played advocate trying to serve justice before in Passenger, and there was Mamta Mohandas there too, with the same name for her character, Anuradha. Well, Passenger is a movie long way ahead of this one, without doubt. Mamta Mohandas is here for a full role unlike what she had in 9. There is not much for her to do regarding the investigation here though, as she is the victim and there is the protagonist to save the day. A little romantic side added there seems to be rather forced though, as this movie could have done without it. The focus on its main idea would have been enough, and trying to play cupid between the main character didn’t do both of them any good.

Further performers of the soul :: Siddique’s father character is kind of strange, but brings the funniest moments of the movie with ease. There is his comic timing that lightens up the movie really well. Aju Varghese is the next person in the comedy department, and it works well for him most of the time too – he does get some memorable funny ones. Suraj Venjaramoodu also has the comedy working in his favour, even though at parts it seems out of order. Priya Anand gets another smart role after Ezra and Kayamkulam Kochunni, but with lesser time spent on the screen. Veterans like Ganesh Kumar and Renji Panicker right there, doing what they do the best in police roles. Another person who shines so well inside the uniform is Lena, who is also there Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam, and mystery-solving journey of puzzles which is also running in the theatres.

How it finishes :: For B Unnikrishnan, this movie comes after Villain, which was a smart one for sure. Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel does take the path of Vikadakumaran and Jolly LLB, a trend related to a struggling lawyer whenever the same is the protagonist. This one has its moments of thrills and twists are brought into the scene, but there is not doubt about the fact that this could have done better. There is the fine premise already set, and the idea that has scope for a lot, but it is not utilized in the best way. Maybe we have to wait to get something better out of a story related to courtroom, and we can do that. Until then, lets watch Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel and enjoy the interesting side. For those who wants the more realistic side, there is always Kumbalangi Nights & June running, and seemingly good enough to keep doing the same for a long time.

Release date: 21st February 2019
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: B Unnikrishnan
Starring: Dileep, Mamta Mohandas, Priya Anand, Aju Varghese, Siddique, Ganesh Kumar, Renji Panicker, Bindu Panicker, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Saiju Kurup, Vamsi Krishna, Harish Uthaman, Lena, Arjun Nandakumar, Pramod Sujanapalan, Bheeman Raghu, Veena Nair, Pradeep Kottayam, Thesni Khan, Sajid Yahiya

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Johny Johny Yes Appa

What is the movie about? :: The movie tells the story of three brothers, Peter (Tini Tom), Johny (Kunchacko Boban) and Philippose (Sharafudheen). Having a strict award-winning teacher of the nearby school as their father (Vijayaraghavan), there is a struggle in living upto the expectations. Johny ends up being the father’s favourite son by choosing a twisted path to success, and the result is that Peter suffers. In the end, Peter is thrown out of home, and Johny maintains the image of a nice guy even though he is actually a skilled thief. Johny becomes active in social activities and the good image is maintained, especially in the church where he is a very popular person. But during the nights, he continues to steal, and gives no clue to the police regarding his presence in those robbed houses.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: At the same time, Johny is in love with his childhood friend Jaisa (Anu Sithara) who has decided that she would marry him only. Even though her education is only until the ninth standard, her father Chavaranprackal Jose (Kalabhavan Shajon) is so rich that he could buy most of the educated men in the town as possible grooms for his daughter. But she is desperately in love with Johny, much to the dismay of Jose who doesn’t consider the man to be worthy. Everything goes according to the plan until he comes across Adam (Sanoop Santhosh), Nandana (Anikha Surendran), Amala (Mamta Mohandas) and Sujatha (Lena). It is then that things begin to change, and there is the twist of fate that would mean problems for the image he has kept for so long. It would mean that he has to come up with something special, but can he?

The defence of Johny Johny Yes Appa :: The movie has a high amount of dramatic irony in store, as nobody knows about the secrets of this particular person. As a family-friendly movie, it has that kind of jokes, and there is the deviation towards bringing a message or two too. The jokes are working, and we have the same in a regular dose especially in the first half. The emotions also run strong, and the family audience will be able to connect to that too. The songs are pretty much okay with this one. We also see the small twists here and there, and some good visuals support the flick well enough. There is no problem here that would prevent the family audience from taking over this movie, even though Kayamkulam Kochunni is still running extremely strong, all set to go over the big movies like Premam, Oppam and Drishyam, even though Pulimurugan has set that seemingly unattainable score with the box-office collections of Malayalam movies.

The claws of flaw :: The movie seems to deviate a little too much in the second half, seemingly changing the whole things a little too much than one would expect. There are times when one ends up thinking if this was one complete story or combined from different things, creating a Frankenstein monster with technology added to the whole thing in the end. It is the director of Paavada and the script writer of Vellimoonga who have joined forces here, and the expectations were high with this one too. But we can see that so much is not there, even though the improvement from Kunchacko Boban’s earlier movie of this month, Mangalyam Thanthunanena is clearly visible. We could have used better story with a better protagonist whose actions made better sense. The thief whom we cheer for could have better defined qualities, and we wonder why his world doesn’t fly high as it should have.

The performers of the soul :: This movie depends on Kunchacko Boban to keep things going smoothly, and to provide it with that effect that can bring all those family viewers in. His best of the year was Shikkari Shambhu which was a fun-filled entertainer with all needed elements. But other than that, it was quite a dull year for him even though Panchavarnathatha did come close. Kuttanadan Marpappa struggled to fly high enough, and rest of the movies were not even close to being memorable. It is to the same list that this movie brings some more of light as the attempt is to keep the darkness away. Kunchacko Boban has no problem at all, as far as this particular movie is concerned. He goes through this one with ease, as not much is asked. He also has that kind of a character which gets the right amount of claps in the end, no matter what path he travels earlier.

Further performers of the soul :: The one who scores big in this movie is indeed Tini Tom who has the funny as well as the emotional sides going strong for him. It has to be noted that he was there in three movies with Kunchacko Boban this year itself. He does the work naturally here, and so does Veena Nair who plays his wife. Mamta Mohandas has only very less time to be there. Anu Sithara has the role done really well, and she seems to suit this kind of characters so well. Sharafudheen makes the funny side seem so easy, coming right out of the villain role in Varathan. Kalabhavan Shajon and Abu Salim add even more fun to the whole thing. Anikha is back again after The Great Father, but doesn’t contribute much. Lena is solid again after Aadhi and Ira. Nedumudi Venu seems to be there just for the sake of being present, giving us only a few minutes of him. Sanoop Santhosh of Philips and the Monkey Pen fame does leave a mark again.

How it finishes :: This is the season of the thieves, and Johny Johny Yes Appa joins Kayamkulam Kochunni and Aanakkallan to make more than one theatre full of thieves and nobody else, unless there is Halloween and one serial killer joins the team. There has always been one thing about Kunchacko Boban, and it is certainly what brought us to watch this flick. His movie would be something to watch for the family audience every time, and even this time, the focus is on that group only. The fight is still more this time, and the flick would struggle to keep going. But it is still a safe bet, and the weekend should have more for this movie with the family audience being a stronger presence during this week with the Sunday as a bank holiday. There could have been more with this one, but there is just enough, as you would notice easily.

Release date: 26th October 2018
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: G Marthandan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Anu Sithara, Tini Tom, Kalabhavan Shajon, Sharafudheen, Mamta Mohandas, Vijayaraghavan, Veena Nair, Geetha, Sanoop Santhosh, Lena, Abu Salim, Nedumudi Venu, Jaise Jose, Anikha Surendran

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Ira

What is the movie about? :: Dr. Aryan (Gokul Suresh) arrived at Cochin from Kolkata, trying to leave a mark in his own home state, but is accused of murdering the Minister of Forests and Wildlife Protection, KP Chandy (Alencier Ley Lopez) who seemingly dies due to cardiac arrest. The much discussed case becomes a favourite for the media, as the minister was already in the news for corruption allegations, and his son, the next big name in politics, Jacob Chandy (Shanker Ramakrishnan) is looking forward to punish the man who is supposed to have murdered his father. Aryan is accused of being a naxalite and part of a group which is known to target politicians, and police is very much interested in making him confess to this crime. It is during these times that Inspector Rajeev (Unni Mukundan) arrives to take over the investigation from Delhi.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Rajeev doesn’t have a smooth run with the investigation, as the Commissioner of Police, Satheesh Varma (Kailash) is not interested in helping him. Even the people at the hospital seems to be not that much interested in helping him. But beginning with the taxi driver who dropped Aryan at the nearby church, Rameshan (Saju Navodaya), Rajeev begins to solve the mystery. There is more than what meets the eye with this tale, and he soon finds one love story which becomes the core of the whole thing, with Jennifer Jacob (Niranjana Anoop), the neighbour of Aryan, and his own tale of love with a girl whom he met in a forest near Kothamangalam, a long time ago – Karthika (Miya George). Now, the question remains about who is so much interested in framing Aryan as the murderer of a minister, and it is a difficult question to solve.

The defence of Ira :: We can see that the suspense stays strong throughout the movie, and there is the nice use of opportunities for twists towards the end. The first half as well as the second, has its thrilling moments as well as an effective emotional side. The entertainment side is strong throughout its run, and it has the audience interested in the investigation, and the predicament of the main characters. It is something offering a full run of entertaining moments, even adding some jokes here and there, with some of them working well. We can see how much the politicians manipulate people, and how so many incidents are twisted to be of advantage to them – we see where the common man’s place is, and what they are made to believe by putting them into a coma of indirect oppression. The visuals are very good, especially those of the forest, as we see that it is close enough to the locations where Pulimurugan and Shikkari Shambhu were shot – the beautiful world on the other side of Kothamangalam.

The claws of flaw :: There seems to be reflection of real life moments in the movie, but they really have no point here, and we see that they are unable to affect the movie well enough to make an impact worth remembering – these are more or less like the ingredients added to catch the attention of the viewers with the manifestation of a strange visage. We can also guess a number of things about this movie, as there is not that much focus on making sure that all minor twists hold ground. The movie could have also focused more on its title, as its oppressed including the tribals and the common people facing powerful politicians, never really get enough of justice, even though the poetic justice is delivered by vengeance. This could have been a better thriller, no doubt about that – it could have had a smarter investigation, and a stronger backstory which would be able to connect better with the right kind of bridges between the past and the present.

The performers of the soul :: Unni Mukundan doesn’t have any problem with this police role, the kind which he has already done before. From the nice entry in the beginning, he has things under control, with no real challenge being present in there to play this particular police officer for him. Gokul Suresh seems to be getting better with every movie, and we see how things have managed to rise in quality from Mudhugauv to Masterpiece, and now here. Even though Unni Mukundan’s police officer is established as the hero very early, we come to know in the end that all that Gokul’s character did was of high purpose, from the very first moment itself, with or without him knowing about it. There are also signs of a younger Suresh Gopi with his work, and the viewers are sure to wait for more from him. The significance of him being in an action-thriller is displayed so.

Further performers of the soul :: As you will notice here, the movie does have quite an interesting list of actors. The main female lead would be Miya George, even though she has lesser time on the screen, arriving late, and leaving rather early – she is very good in her work here. It is rather surprising that we don’t see that much of her work these days, Niranjana Anoop has more presence, and has done a pretty good job. There is a long way to go for her, in the industry for sure. Alencier Ley Lopez plays the corrupt politician in a nice way, Shanker Ramakrishnan plays a pretty good negative character for most of the time. Lena plays a strong character, that of a lawyer with ease, and Saju Navodaya only has a few moments to bring the laughter, which he manages; so does Nelson during the flashback moments.

How it finishes :: Ira has enough to make sure that the viewers are engaged at all moments. It might not be the best investigative thriller of our times, but it possesses enough in there to make sure that the audience is entertained. One might think that it could have been made better, as the premise was set very well. But it has been difficult to make good stories of investigation for some time in Malayalam industry, and Ira makes sure that something more is added to that genre. Well, thrillers don’t usually have enough support from the audience, unless it has those family elements like Drishyam, and also has a big superstar at the helm. Let us hope that this one has that support, as experimentation in the genre seems to have stopped rather too early. If the early opinions about the movie is going to continue, Ira might be followed by more of similar flicks.

Release date: 16th March 2018
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Saiju SS
Starring: Unni Mukundan, Gokul Suresh, Miya George, Lena, Alencier Ley Lopez, Niranjana Anoop, Shanker Ramakrishnan, Neeraja, Saju Navodaya, Kailash, Nelson, Mareena Michael Kurisingal

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Aadhi

What is the movie about? :: Aadhitya Mohan a.k.a. Aadhi (Pranav Mohanlal) is the only son of Mohan Varma (Siddique) and Rosakutty Mohan (Lena) who eloped from home, going for that intercaste marriage which nobody supported. As their only son, he manages to gain all the support that he can get from the parents, as he has taken two years break from studies and work to pursue his dream of becoming a music director. A case of infatuation for the girl next door Aneetta (Krittika Pradeep) and trained in the obstacle course training of parkour, there are so many other options for him in life, and yet he wishes for just one thing in life. But it doesn’t go on well, as his efforts in music go unnoticed. Because of the same reason, he decides to go to Bangalore as adviced by his best friend Nadhir (Krishna Shankar). There, he is supposed to perform in Fox Club, where will get the attention of prominent personalities from cinema industry.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Even though almost everything seems to work according to the plans, things get complicated when he meets his old friend from school, Anjana (Aditi Ravi), and ends up having a confrontation with Jayashankar (Siju Wilson) who is the bodyguard of the city’s most respected and feared businessman Narayana Reddy (Jagapati Babu). In between all of this which occurs at the top of the multi-storeyed building, the son of Narayana Reddy ends up being thrown all the way down, thanks to one heated approach by Jayashankar – Anjana is the only witness out there. Now, it turns out that Jayashankar has to hide all of these, and for the same, there is only one option left for him – finish off Aadhi, and for the same, there is full force of an angry Narayana Reddy as well as the police and politicians who are on the corporate payroll.

And what follows next in the adventure? :: With Narayana Reddy stopping at nothing to finish off the young man who killed his only son, and along with Jayakrishnan, Reddy’s right hand Siddharthan (Tony Luke) also joins the party – Aadhi can do nothing, but keep running. The goons sent by Reddy also reaches Aadhi’s home, and every route out of Bangalore is blocked by the police and his teams of goons. With five lakhs on his head, there is the need to run until he meets Sarath (Sharafudheen), Mani (Meghanathan) and Jaya (Anusree). The three also got their own problems with Narayana Reddy and his people, which makes them think about giving him a chance to escape. With the help of the technical expert Ebin (Tony Luke), they think about changing the equation, but is there really a chance to at least get close to escaping? Is there a weakness which they can exploit?

The defence of Aadhi :: There is the use of parkour, the activity in which you move around quickly in an area, getting through obstacles by running fast, jumping, climbing, rolling, swinging, sliding, and all ways possible – most of us have seen it in Paul Walker’s penultimate movie, Brick Mansions as well as the 2004 French film District 13 on which it was based. These scenes are very nicely executed by Pranav, and the same is never exaggerated. There is certain smartness related to how the action sequences are executed in this one, a quality which was missing in a good number of superstar movies in the last few months, most notable one being last Decemeber’s Masterpiece. There are many thrilling moments in this one, and the emotional side makes an excellent impact too. We also have some twists to come up in the final few moments, as there is more to Aadhi by the end. There are also some funny moments which come in between, which work, even though lesser in number.

The claws of flaw :: There is nothing special in the premise and the tale here though, as we can see that there is the protagonist who accidentally kills the son or brother of an influential person who will not stop until he finds the person responsible dead – this would seem familiar, from decades ago. The same actor played the father who had his son killed in Pulimurugan, and here he losses his son yet again. One can be sure that Jeethu Joseph is capable of more, as the director who brought three different thriller experiences in the form of Detective, Memories and Drishyam. The movie also takes some time to get going, and the family sequences are just ordinary. The cameo scenes seemed to be rather unwanted, with purpose only to get those claps from hardcore fans. The length of the movie could have been lessened to make the whole thing closer to the point. Some of those longer action sequences could have been shortened to make way for separate moments.

The performers of the soul :: Pranav Mohanlal, without doubt, steals the show in this movie, from the first moments of appearance itself, beginning with those expressions and a certain simplicity that runs through. In the second half, with those action sequences to go with it, he takes the whole thing to another level, trumpeting his arrival in a grand fashion. The wait hasn’t been for no reason, as we get the culmination wonderfully. Aditi Ravi and Anusree plays the female leads, but the former has lesser time on screen, and latter has more of the comic side which also has nothing that much to do for her. It is actually surprising that we don’t see that much of the Alamara actress in movies as we would want to have. Lena and Siddique makes good parents, and are in full control of their work with strong emotional side. Sharafudheen has a funny side here too, even though things are more serious this time. Siju Wilson, Sijoy Varghese and Jagapati Babu make the villainous side here, and they remain strong throughout. Siju’s divergence is a smart move. Meghanathan and Tony Luke provide good support.

How it finishes :: The one thing about the Jeethu Joseph movies after Memories, is something which has been common in Drishyam, Oozham and Aadhi – the battle of the middle class against the rich and the influential who are after the blood of the common man. Even Life of Josutty had the middle class struggle in the core. The three could show the middle class struggling and winning against all odds in the form of thrillers. Well, everyone knows Drishyam, and Aadhi actually shows what Oozham could have been, with better execution. With no shortage of thrills, and bringing the needed variety in action sequences in Malayalam, the twists also drop-in to make this better. Well, fans have been waiting for a day this day for a long time, and one can say that their beloeved Lalettan’s son has scored high on his debut, and this is certainly another flick from Jeethu Joseph that you can admire without second thoughts.

Release date: 26th January 2018
Running time: 158 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Pranav Mohanlal, Lena, Siddique, Siju Wilson, Sharafudheen, Aditi Ravi, Anusree, Tony Luke, Sijoy Varghese, Krittika Pradeep, Meghanathan, Jagapati Babu, Krishna Shankar, Mohanlal (cameo), Antony Perumbavoor (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Masterpiece

What is the movie about? :: An arrogant Roshan Cherian (John Kaipallil) and an adamant Mahesh Raj (Maqbool Salmaan) leads two rival gangs at the Travancore Maharaja College in the centre of the city. These two gangs, Royal Warriors and Real Fighters fight for domination, with hockey sticks, cricket bats, cycle chains, table legs or whatever they can find, sometimes in the remote corners of the huge college campus, and at other right times, right in front of the students and faculty, much to the dismay of the Roshan’s father, Vice Principal Cherian Philip (Mukesha) and Principal Narayana Kaimal (Sunil Sukhada). There is no shortage of chaos already, but the love story of a Real Fighters member Unnikrishnan (Gokul Suresh) with a girl named Vedhika (Mahima Nambiar) from the nearby college makes things even worse. They soon find the dead body of Vedhika in the college premises, and first suspect for the crime is Unnikrishnan who is arrested.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Soon, Unnikrishnan is found hanging inside his cell in the police station, and things get worse. A.C.P. John Thekkan I.P.S. (Unni Mukundan) who was leading the investigation lands up in the hospital after college students attack the police, and S.I. Ramakrishnan (Kalabhavan Shajohn) is suspended after being held responsible for the death of the student. There are wide protests in the city by student organisations which take over the whole thing, and as Vedhika comes from a reputed and rich family, and is the daughter of an influential politician, pressure mounts on the officials, and a new team lead by A.C.P Bhavani Durga I.P.S. is brought to action. With John Thekkan expected to return and join the team soon, the group decides to take quick and firm action against the possible culprits before new orders come from the top again.

And what comes next with this murder mystery? :: After questioning the peon of the college, Sankarankutty (Santhosh Pandit), canteen in charge Maniyan (Saju Navodaya) and helper Reji (Bijukuttan), the police comes to know that Roshan had alcohol mixed in Unnikrishnan’s drink making sure that he wouldn’t get to meet Vedhika who was waiting for them at the beach, where she was last spotted. Roshan becomes the suspect, and the police tries to enter the campus to arrest him, only to be stopped by protesting students, with the exception of Real Fighters who welcome the move to arrest the leader of Royal Warriors. As police and students fight inside the campus, the new English professor arrives to take charge – Edward Livingstone (Mammootty) who has a record of police cases for himself. He decides to change the whole setup in the college, and re-unite its students, as police looks for the murderer.

The defence of Masterpiece :: It is after Mammootty arrives that this movie gets better, as the latter part of the movie is surely better. There will also be a lot for the fans, and that is for sure – as I skipped the early fan shows and watched the movie with normal hardworking people, there was no focus on those mass scenes in the theatre. The suspense is maintained till the end, and the revelation awaits at the final moments. Just like Aadu 2, this one is for more the fans, and the other categories of viewers will find only limited impact. The festival mood of this holiday season is also maintained in this movie. This leaves no surprise about how well the movie began at the theatres, as the first of the many flicks of Christmas including Mayaanadhi, Vimaanam, Aadu 2 and Aana Alaralodalaral. Well, it is always good to go back to the campus isn’t it? And nothing better than a murder mystery in a college campus to provide a grand entry for the hero who is all prepared to go invincible and immortal in a world of cheap mortal humans.

The claws of flaw :: You will find Masterpiece to be too similar to Mohanlal starrer Velipadinte Pusthakam, but the mass elements are rather too much in this one. A college professor with a complicated past coming into a college where students battle each other as part of two separate gangs with a murder behind – just the same idea that you had seen on the big screen earlier. The shots of hero throwing the goons to the Mahindra Scorpios parked there, destroying the vehicles too easily will have the makers of the vehicles wonder what would happen if a Scooty is to hit them in the middle – will the SUV be split into two then? Then there is a modified vehicle which goes through walls – are they promoting this vehicle against Mahindra? Is that a foreign-made SUV that is declared to be better than Mahindra SUVs? The hero also throws a heavily built villain around with one hand a little too many times, and the movie could have done without these scenes. In this too long a movie, the jokes are less effective and there is confusion about where it is going. Slow motion is used badly as expected.

The performers of the soul :: It takes just above an hour for Mammootty to come in, and it might be because of the presence of too many characters that it takes so long. It is after he arrives that things begin to get interesting, as he immediately makes the impact as the college professor. The two female characters who are there till the end, Poonam Bajwa and Varalaxmi Sarathkumar got not much to contribute, playing stereotypes. Mahima Nambiar gets better but the character goes dead. Unni Mukundan has to go a little too much towards the stylish side, but has our attention. Kalabhavan Shajohn is someone who never struggles in this one, as a cop suits him so well just like in Oppam and Drishyam. Gokul Suresh did believable work here. John Kaipallil and Maqbool Salmaan were good playing what Arun Kurian and Sarath Kumar played in Velipadinte Pusthakam. Saju Navodaya brings some comedy here and here with Bijukuttan, but not that much as we would expect. Captain Raju brings some laughs, even though we see more going over the head.

How it finishes :: The movie is something which seems to be exactly opposite what the title says. Masterpiece is exactly what this movie isn’t, but if we separate the word into two, and say “Master in pieces”, that would be more appropriate. But as Velipadinte Pusthakam itself was, this is not really a terrible movie. There is something here and there for the fans, and we know that the core idea had more potential. The hero worship in this movie is exactly what brings this movie down – it is always the superstar’s fans and their needs that brings a wonderful actor down, as it is proven on so many occasions. We need to forget a few moments defying gravitational force along with slow motion, and some unnecessary dialogues about respecting women without meaning the same when there is no need, and we have one twist awaiting us in the end, and a villain whom we least expected. As a thriller, the idea at the base is surely good, but we have to often wonder at the final product.

Release date: 21st December 2017
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Ajai Vasudev
Starring: Mammootty, Unni Mukundan, Poonam Bajwa, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Mahima Nambiar, Megha Mathew, Lena, John Kaipallil, Mukesh, Gokul Suresh, Maqbool Salmaan, David John, Santhosh Pandit, Kailash, Nandu, Divya Pillai, Sunil Sukhada, Arjun Nandhakumar, Saju Navodaya, Thesni Khan, Divyadarshan, Ameer Niyaz, Bijukuttan, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Udaykrishna, Renji Panicker, Manikkuttan, Anjali Nair, Captain Raju

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vimaanam

What is the movie about? :: Venkateswaran a.k.a. Venkidi (Prithviraj Sukumaran), a man with hearing problems, is the latest recipient of Padma Bhushan for his grand achievements in the field of Aeronautics. But it turns out that he has a past which is deeply set in emotions. As he travels back to his hometown in Kerala from Delhi despite the warnings of his good friend Elias (Major Ravi), his flashback is revealed. It goes back to that time when he was going through his school days. From then, there was only one thing which interested him, and it was all about flying. His desire to fly got him to a bigger need, to build an airplane, inspired by Roger’s (Alencier Ley Lopez) tales about how the first flying airplane was invented. He grew up dreaming about the same, and not being interested in studies much, despite being an excellent student. There is someone who had supported him all the time, and continued to do so; that would be Janaki (Durga Krishna), his childhood friend who plans to join MBBS – they have been in love for longer than they can remember.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As Venkidi is half-Christian and half-Hindu, the possibility of their love story becoming something that would be approved at Janaki’s home, is very less, despite him following the same Hindu traditions. But their love continues to grow, and causing trouble for the romance is Anand (Saiju Kurup) to whom Janaki’s father hopes to marry her off, as his family is rich and settled in Singapore. Meanwhile, with the help of Janaki, Roger and his favourite uncle (Sudheer Karamana), Venkidi keeps trying to fly his new machines, none of which manage to rise from the floor. The whole village makes fun of his attempts, but he is not the kind of person who would back down. During difficult times, Venkidi and Roger, with the help of Janaki, steals an engine, which does help them to fly, but flying won’t be enough to get the lovers together in a society which looks for more than just that.

The defence of Vimaanam :: The movie tries to be another inspirational movie in Malayalam, and adds to that long list of similar movies which have tried to do the same, a few being Mili, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam, Rani Padmini, Udaharanam Sujatha, My God and Aby. Yes, the inspiration to achieve the dreams which have been there for long, is right there. It achieves the same, and makes one feel the power of dreams, not just with the dream of the protagonist, but with that of a shared dream, which gets its significance by the end – as some people would say, that one’s dream is not his or her alone, as it is shared by all those who are beloved. The love story scores more due to the songs, as this flick undoubtedly has some delightful songs, as do its romantic competitor, Mayaanadhi. Well, this one uses subtitles whether it is English or Hindi, and it is something which people related to Mayaanadhi couldn’t do for Tamil. The visuals are also good, and the setting of this movie is something which is capable of achieving a lot more than what we can see on the big screen.

The claws of flaw :: We can see that a simple tale based on real-life people has been exaggerated a lot rather than keeping the simplicity in place. Vineeth Sreenivasan starrer Aby, which released in February this year also dealt with the same thing, about its protagonist trying to make an airplane and fly, fighting against all odds. A number of people might have felt that this is more of a repetition, with bigger budget, and more familiar cast. But the fact remains that Aby was a much simpler story, and it had some light moments of fun to go with it; this one lacks the same. You remember the Jomonte Suvisheshangal becoming the repetition of Jacobinte Swargarajyam, and the same is the case here, causing Vimaanam not to go that high as it could have. The romantic side of this movie, and the incidents surrounding the same, are also the same old wine in that bottle which was available in the market from February itself. There is absolutely no attempt to make this one special, even there were so many chances in there, and the result is a certain predictability with drag in between.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran comes up with more here, as we see him in another avatar, unlike his recent adventures of the year, Ezra, Tiyaan and Adam Joan. Among the young stars, he has been the one with the most variety in his roles, and with Vimaanam, there is nothing there to compared with his previous roles of 2017. Vimaanam‘s role is rather easy for him, compared to the other three characters which he had played in the year, which included a troubled man tackling a Jewish creature of pure darkness, a former gangster turning into a mystic and a father hoping to find his kidnapped daughter who might be in the hands of Satan worshipers – even the movie before that, Oozham had him seeking vengeance; in comparison, this one brings no challenge to him. As he has played character from real life with charm, significant examples being Celluloid and Ennu Ninte Moideen, you know what to expect when he is out there.

Further performers of the soul :: When we look at Aby and this movie, we keep looking for something new, and that new element is Durga Krishna, the debutante actress who brings cuteness and energy to the flick, in a performance which is certain to bring her more roles in the future. The character might feel single-dimensional, and cent percent predictable in a world itself having no surprises, but her work makes the same work for the audience. Alencier Ley Lopez is certainly the man to look out for in the movie, as this character seems to be so well suited for him. Sudheer Karamana is not far behind in that case either, for he was against flight in Aby, but is with all support for his favourite boy’s flight in this one. Eric Zachariah who plays Prithviraj’s childhood has one delightful performance for us, which would prepare us for what is to follow, a wonderful child actor there. Anarkali Marikar has a smaller role, but it is nice to have her there after Aanandam. Lena and Saiju Kurup are good as usual.

How it finishes :: Vimaanam is a movie which was much talked about for a long time. Even as Aby had overtaken the movie with its own protagonist trying to make an airplane and fly like Jacobinte Swargarajyam did before Jomonte Suvisheshangal, this one was something which kept the audience’s interest alive due to the presence of Prithviraj Sukumaran in a different look. But you will find that even with its cliched characters and melodrama, Vimaanam has managed to fly, and battle Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeevi Aanu 2 which has been the youth favourite even before it had released, and even with Mayaanadhi, Masterpiece and Aana Alaralodalaral there with Tiger Zinda Hai, this flight is also catching our attention. It is more or less a reflection of the noble intentions of a movie which is hoping to inspire more and more dreams in a world of chaos. Vimaanam might be the one right family movie for Christmas, catering to the needs of the full family outing, unlike the rest of the movies which are focusing on selections.

Release date: 22nd December 2017
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Pradeep M Nair
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Durga Krishna, Alencier Ley Lopez, Lena, Sudheer Karamana, Saiju Kurup, P. Balachandran, Anarkali Marikar, Major Ravi, Nandhu, Master Eric Zachariah, Ashokan, Tesni Khan, Liya Anu Varghese, Baby Durga Premjith

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Adam Joan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Avarude Raavukal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kavi Uddheshichathu?

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What is the movie about? :: The action takes place at a village called Allimoola which is known for the game of volleyball, and its crazy fans, as well as the players who have dedicated their lives towards the game – but it is all in the past now, with the new generation of youngsters looking only for the easy ways to make money, without doing anything really valuable to the society. The women of the village considers the game to be a big wastage, and the men are no longer interested in it as part of their lives. There are only those players of the past who keep talking about their lost glory. Still, there is a section of people who believes that the game is in the blood of the villagers and they don’t believe that they game can ever disappear suddenly – they are hoping for the emergence of better players from the place who can rise above the best.

So how are things moving forward in this movie? :: It is the richest guy in the village, Vattathil Bosco (Narain) who conducts the tournaments now, in memory of his father who used to do the same years ago. But unlike his father, he has no real interest in the game, and only wishes to show the power of his money and wants to be more and more famous, but gets not much of respect from the villagers. He is in love with Lillykutty (Sija Rose), the sister of Kavalam Jimmy (Asif Ali), who is his major opponent in life, a story of dislike which has been going on for many years. Meanwhile, Jimmy is in love with Jasmine (Anju Kurian), who is the sister of Bosco. Jimmy and his friends, including Karala (Balu Varghese), Dineshan (Sudhi Koppa), Aneesh (Benson), Charles (Abhishek) and Sukoor (Ganapathy) form the better known faces of youth in the village who do simple work to make their living.

So, what happens next? :: With the love story of Jimmy and Jasmine being known to people, things get further complicated. At the meeting where the decision on the tournament was to be made, the two opponents end up betting against each other – what they ask for is the hand of the other person’s sister in marriage. The whole village consider takes this in the sportsman spirit, and decides that time has come to celebrate the tournament this time. Looking for a sponsor, Jimmy and his friends find one in Gladys (Lena) who doesn’t like Bosco’s family. Bosco finds a new ally and the team’s coach in Noble Jacob (Saiju Kurup) who had problems with Jimmy and his friends earlier. Joshy (Bijukuttan) arranges a special coach for Jimmy’s team, Minnal Simon (Biju Menon) who is a drunkard and is ready to lose the game for money. So, where does things go from here?

The defence of Kavi Uddheshichathu? :: You know that there will fun around with this movie as you look at the title itself. There is that nostalgia of those old village movies that runs right through this movie, and there is also that feel-good effect that gets to the highest level in the end – it might be what the movie has been aiming for all the time. The locations are nicely captured, with the movie being shot at Iritty in Kannur district, located on the banks of Valapattanam River. The entertainment is guaranteed here, even though it is not provided without the breaks in between. It is the middle part as well as those moments with Biju Menon that stays the strongest here. There is simplicity all around this movie, and even the bad guys in this movie are not that easy to be hated – this is that kind of a comedy movie which leave one without much to think about, and focuses more on what is there to bring some laughter.

The claws of flaw :: There could have been a more interesting story-line, without doubt – instead, this one goes into the territory which Karinkunnam 6s had explored just a few months earlier. The climax is rather predictable, even with an extra dose of feel-good added in the end – everything gets sorted out in the end, and there are no more enemies. There is a certain amount of emptiness in the movie at times due to the same reason – the effort here seems to be to make the feel-good comedy thing work all the time rather than focusing on anything else. We are also left too far away from the characters – there is no real feeling for the character even in a funny way as they do the predictable on the screen. There is also the lack of a strong enough climax that could have finished this the way it should have done – instead this one floats all the way there.

Performers of the soul :: Even though he arrives late, Biju Menon is the soul and heart of this movie – coming after one and half hours in a movie which has only about forty to forty five more to get to the finish, he raises the level of the comedy in this movie. Asif Ali does his job naturally, and there was nothing huge there for him to perform. Narain looks perfect for this role, but it is not really so when he goes on as the character; there is a consistent struggle with comedy going on here, and it never ends until the movie finishes. Lena plays a strong and admirable character with ease. Anju Kurian makes a beautiful addition to this movie, and even in a movie that focuses more on its male stars, leaves a mark; and also leaves the big smiles behind. Sija Rose is also notable in the small role. Among the supporting cast, Balu Varghese stands out, even though the viewers might have expected more from him. Dinesh Prabhakar and Veena Nair forms a nice combination too.

How it finishes :: Thomas Liju Thomas, the director of this movie had already come up with a short-movie, Ramaniyechiyude Namathil before this. It was a critically acclaimed short-film which had managed to grab a number of awards and honours. It is known for winning the first prize in the “Shoot an Idea” competition which was organised by Kappa TV. In his first full-length movie, he has made sure that it remains a complete entertainer, and finishes with a feel-good effect. It did appeal to the audience with its simple jokes, which is undoubtedly the reason why it ran for quite some time in the local theatres as well as multiplexes. Without too much application of brain, this one can work very well with the comic side, even though not that much as a sports movie – the sporting event is just a reason for things to come together; you know what you are going for in this movie instead. Well, simplicity works and so does feel-good, as already proved this year in Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho and Oru Muthassi Gadha.

Release date: 8th October 2016
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Thomas Liju Thomas
Starring: Asif Ali, Anju Kurian, Biju Menon, Narain, Lena, Bijukuttan, Balu Varghese, Sija Rose, Sudhi Koppa, Benson, Abhishek, Ganapathy, Bindu Panicker, Sneha, Saiju Kurup, Manoj Guinness, Akku Melparamb, Chithra Shenoy, Dinesh Prabhakar, Veena Nair, Pradeep Kottayam, Sasi Kalinga, Balaji Sharma, Prasanth, Arul Mash, Alleppey Ashraf, Tom Joseph

kavidudhesichathu

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Oru Muthassi Gadha

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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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vellimoonga

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Vampire Owl :: I condemn the name of this movie. They are not supposed to name a comedy movie as “the silver owl”.

Vampire Bat :: It says silver owl, not vampire owl or not even night owl. There is no way it can affect you.

Vampire Owl :: But I am still deeply offended.

Vampire Bat :: You were just looking to find a reason to be offended.

Vampire Owl :: Everyone is offended by something or anything all the time, and I choose to follow that path which is the new fashion. I shall still forgive them if the movie is a good one, because I am a generous Vampire Owl.

Vampire Bat :: It has good reviews so far. You could actually not blame a few people this time.

Vampire Owl :: Who are they to judge and review an owl? What do they even know about owls? Are they married to owls?

Vampire Bat :: It is not really the story of an owl. It has humans. What is wrong with you these days?

Vampire Owl :: I stare at the mirror and see only the owlish truth. The absolute truth that only the owls can recognize as true.

Vampire Bat :: This is exactly why zombies eat brains.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Vellimoonga tells the story of a politician Mamachan (Biju Menon) who attempts to reach big heights by being part of political party in the north of India rather than joining a local party and using his local image to become a leader in the locality. He roams around his village, attempting to make a name using his political affliation to the big party of which he is just one of the very few members in the whole state. His best friend and the only other member of the party in that locality is Pachan (Aju Varghese) who helps him in his initiatives, hoping to go to Delhi with him some day. Jose (Tini Tom) is his big political enemy from the left wing. Mamachan who is not married even after his younger brother getting married and having two kids, finally falls of a girl who attends the same church, Lisa (Nikki Galrani), but would face big resistance from her father Vareeth (Siddique) who used to be his rival. How our hero handles the situation becomes the rest of the story.

The defence of Vellimoonga :: The movie’s ability to be a laugh riot cannot be questioned in the most doubtful situations. We come to know that right in the beginning itself. They could ornate this simple plot with nice comic numbers and some interesting twists with serene strength. The script does have enough to extract the performances from the actors and actresses. The visuals are good as the beauty of the rural area is captured nicely and the shots are beautifully adorned. There is no questioning the movie’s propensity for competence even without the presence of any so called superstar or heavy publicity, and for the same, the movie deserves some more applause. The movie could skillfully use its cast to its strength, and could thrive on the abilities of its actors to evoke laughter embedding the right situations here and there and there is also the ultimate realization that it gives to its viewers on how cute and pretty Nikki Galrani actually looks.

The claws of flaw :: Vellimoonga could have surely had a little more logic with some of its proceedings, but that should be a purely subjective opinion as far as a funny movie purely made for fun is concerned, and it does keep some of the same. The songs are just ordinary, nothing really making an impact. There is a little bit of missing in the middle, with the flow getting lost at times, but that can often go unnoticed. A little more care to the plot could have been nice, instead of deviating each situation to bring comedy here and there. A little bit more of the reflections of the major political incidents would have also done this movie more favours. A full swing political satire like Sandhesam could have been here, may be developing what Oru Indian Pranayakadha had also partially shown, sadly that much is not there to be seen. There are also a number of comedy numbers which should have been rather avoided, but may be it caters to a certain group of viewers.

Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon returns to the big screen as the solo leading character of a movie after a very long time, and it is not just the silver in the name of the movie that he strikes, but it is the gold itself. It was splendid to see how well he captures the mannerisms of his character and gets into the role of a political player with such an ease. Yes, it is Aju Varghese who skillfully supports him and does what he has been doing the best, but there is nothing like Biju Menon leading the comedy train, something he has been doing for such a long time along with his other variety roles. He doesn’t combine with or play second fiddle to Kunchako Boban or Dileep this time as takes things forwards with the support of Aju. This also turns out to be Nikki Galrani’s best ever outing in Malayalam as she is stunningly beautiful and cute like no other actress of these days. Tini Tom also essays an impressive role with ease, and Asif Ali’s extended cameo is likable. It is good to see Anu Joseph in the movies too. Sunil Sukhada and Sasi Kalinga scores with their comic numbers too.

Soul exploration :: Vellimoonga does work as a satire, there is no doubt about it. The movie doesn’t hesitate in making fun of the political situation that is prevalent in the country concerned with unholy alliances between the parties and seat sharing, along with the influence of regional parties. The situations related to politics remain funny throughout the movie, and the personal life of the protagonist and his infatuation towards the girl comes only as a part of the same. The significant thing is that the whole thing is concerned with what happens in one village, something which provides a certain feel-good factor to this movie, as the audience also seems to need such locations. The movie doesn’t give the feeling of drinking some bourgeoisie coffee which is provided by some random machinery, but that of a certain kind of tea which has the flavour of the villages and its hardworking common people.

How it finishes :: Vellimoonga is the winner of the weekend before Gandhi Jayanthi and will carry over its success to the Pooja season – who would have thought that this Biju Menon starrer will be the winner facing bigger movies which released at the same time, or were already in the theatres when it came to the audience? Yes, Biju Menon wins this round with ease, and for giving us this one with all its power, we can thank his versatility as a wonderful actor. Let’s hope that this movie is not lost in mindless remakes coming from Bollywood with the dumb stuff like Bang Bang! We are in need of comedy movies which don’t stoop into buffoonery of any kind, and Vellimoonga guarantees that such movies can exist without superstars with its own existence. May be it will inspire more movies which can come up with some more genuine comedy which won’t make the brains of the audience feel like vegetable noodles.

Release date: 26th September 2014
Running time: 130 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Jibu Jacob
Starring: Biju Menon, Aju Varghese, Nikki Galrani, Tini Tom, Lena, Asif Ali, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Siddique, Sunil Sukhada, Sasi Kalinga, Kalabhavan Shajon, Anu Joseph, Chembil Ashokan, Shivaji Guruvayoor

vellimoonga!

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.