Mamangam

What is the movie about? :: Mamangam, a grand fair used to be held on the banks of Bharathappuzha in the north of Kerala has a history that is written in blood. It had great economic, social and political significance, along with being a religious festival associated with the temples. There, the Zamorin ruler of the Kingdom of Calicut challenged other regional kingdoms to oppose his supremacy. There were the suicidal warriors from Valluvanad region who dared to oppose him and make history. But they would mostly die fighting against the powerful army of Zamorin, and only left those messages of bravery and honour for their people to cherish. It becomes their right to die as a soldier in the battlefield, and inspire more to follow their path through martyrdom. The last Mamangam fair was held in 1755, and this movie comes up with a memorable one before that.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Chandroth Panicker (Unni Mukundan) is the latest addition to that list of the suicidal warriors known as Cheverukal, attempting to challenge Calicut’s Zamorin’s authority again. His mother, wife and sister are unhappy about the decision, but they can do nothing, as for him, it is a decision made by the gods. It is then that the son of his sister, the young Chandroth Chanthunni (Master Achuthan) also joins him to join Chaverukal, much to the dismay of the whole family. They have the tale of Chandroth Valiya Panicker (Mammootty) who betrayed their tradition ahead of them, so that they should go on with that they have been training for – to end Zamorin which is the best thing to do. On the way, they have to stop at the abode of Unnimaaya (Prachi Tehlan) and Unni Neeli (Iniya), after being attacked by Zamorin’s men. There is a long way ahead of them, but they will need some help to get anywhere close to success.

The defence of Mamangam :: There are not many movies which we have waited for so long like Mamangam, except for some which are still to be released. Malayalam movie industry always needed good historical movies other than those which keep talking about the British – The Colachel War has been long forgotten, despite it being a landmark. Considering the same, Mamangam has taken the pain to bring something with a difference. The visuals are all grand, even better than some of those overrated movies seemingly belonging to a similar genre. The beauty out there is not limited to the background, but to almost everything in particular. The action sequences are all very good, especially in the final moments, which are breath-taking, leaving one wishing for more. The message goes on against revenge, and that it is not something healthy to pass the same through the generations – forgiving and forgetting do have better meaning.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is a little bit too long, and its extra dose of dialogues make it feel even longer. It does seem to repeat the same thing multiple times, and deviates from the idea of action and adventure associated with the title. Even though the “Mookkuthi” song makes some impact, the rest of the songs are not up to the mark. The presence of a mentor character doesn’t add much to the otherwise direct and straightforward movie, and the feminine version of the character is a bad and unnecessary diversion. The lack of completeness is evident, as the movie struggles to live up to its theme and story on many occasions. The final scene after the mamangam fight also feels unnecessary, as there could be nothing bigger to be added. A movie like this should offer something better, and one is left to wonder why it is becoming more and more difficult to make movies based on Kerala History, even those which are set at a time period not even five hundred years into the past.

The performers of the soul :: Mammootty was part of one of the best movies of the year, Unda, and now he is back with the movie with we have all been waiting for. As we all know, he is no stranger to historical movies and epic stories which tell the tales of heroes of the past, and this was time that he had another one to add to that list. Still, one has to wonder why he went for that exaggerated dance and some ridiculous comedy with another side of that character – this kind of ridiculous moments are not suitable for this kind of a movie, not for a historical epic action movie. Unni Mukundan does a fine work here, and his controlled performance is worth the appreciation. Master Achuthan comes up with a wonderful performance at the same time. It is him who catches our attention the most, and he excels in the action sequences even more. The last scenes are nothing less than magnificent, and it belongs to him completely.

Further performers of the soul :: Prachi Tehlan comes up as the leading female presence in this one – the former netball and basketball player has no trouble in the less amount of role given to her. Iniya provides her support, even though not much is needed from her side. At the same time, Anu Sithara and Kaniha has even smaller roles here, most of the time sticking to some dialogue or tears. There are also other actresses here including Maala Parvathi and Kaviyoor Ponnamma, but the female characters here are rather insignificant in the movie plan at work. Siddique has a villainous role here, and even though done quite well, it is not the kind of antagonist that we are going to remember for doing the terrifying job. Sudev Nair, even though nice, is wasted in a role which makes no difference to story at all – the character doesn’t add anything significant to the whole thing, for even otherwise, things could progress in the same manner without any trouble at all.

How it finishes :: Last year, in another December, on almost the same date, we had another Malayalam movie set in the past trying to make history – Odiyan. It was not that much of a successful attempt, but that was certainly a sign. We have more signs here, even though we are still far away from having that right historical movie. There is the need to improve, as Mamangam goes on through its journey. There is a better understanding of history and the reflection of the same required, and one can only hope that things could reach further level with the genre. A fine depiction of Colachel War might be the solution, but we haven’t heard about anyone trying for such a case. Until then, we have these movies which have the potential for greatness, but fall short in the process. But we would need to watch these, with all the splendour which is displayed on the big screen.

Release date: 12th December 2019
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: M Padmakumar
Starring: Mammootty, Prachi Tehlan, Unni Mukundan, Master Achuthan, Siddique, Anu Sithara, Kaniha, Mohan Sharma, Tarun Arora, Iniya, Maala Parvathi, Neeraj Madhav, Idavela Babu, Manikuttan, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Suresh Krishna, Sunil Sukhada, Meghanathan, Manikandan Achari, Baiju Ezhupunna, Jayan Cherthala, Sudheer Sukumaran, Vishnu Marakkal, Abu Salim, Sudev Nair, Nandan Unni, Valsala Menon, Nilambur Ayisha

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Joseph

What is the movie about? :: Joseph George (Joju George) is a retired police officer spending his time with alcohol and cigarettes. He doesn’t have much time for the outside world except for some of his friends from police department, and lives alone in his house. He is a brilliant police officer who never really managed to use his skills to the best effect. He has suffered losses in his family life too, with his daughter Dayana Joseph (Malavika Menon) being lost to an accident a few years ago. He is separated from his wife Stella (Aathmiya) who is now married to Peter (Dileesh Pothan). When Stella meets an accident and dies, it sends him into further depression, as he had always loved her, despite not being able to express his feeling well enough. As an expert investigator who still helps the police department with finding clues to twisted cases, he feels something strange when standing near the place where Stella had the accident.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Joseph finds a few things to be out of place there. He tries to read all the reports together, but is able to feel that this is more or less a planned incident rather than an accident. He calls his friends in the police department who are also retired, and Sudhi (Sudhi Koppa) who was a senior of his daughter in the engineering college, and is now working in the cyber wing. The result is that Joseph finds something shocking behind all these. There is one link between everything, and the roots go deep, and long. To solve this mystery and bring those behind the crime to justice, he would have to travel through those paths less traveled, and take that kind of a risk which someone else wouldn’t even think about. So the question remains if he is ready to do that, and can his friends support him in the same?

The defence of Joseph :: There are many other movies, and then there is Joseph. The movie thrives on the strength of its emotions, and with its investigation, there is even more. There are some twists to follow, and the music nicely supports the mood as well as the elements of mystery that goes right through. The songs are pretty good, and we are sure to enjoy listening to them. There is also one thing that we can value the most, and it is staying close to reality. Joseph has no exaggeration, something which similar thrillers with superstars would have. As there are no superstars who want to beat up their villains, we have a story here which is very much believable. There is no action here, and the police officer here does nothing physical – he is just the smart one, and yet not the perfect one in any way. He is with his flaws, and he is an everyman police officer in whom we can find someone whom we know.

Positives and negatives :: Considering the mood of this movie, it is Memories that we remember before any other movie, with one protagonist, a police officer who has lost his wife and child looking forward to solve a murder mystery or two. The next movie that it reminds us of, is Angels, a movie which had its own twisted ending – something we were not expecting at all. The idea in that movie as well as that of Apothecary can find the reflections here. There might be certain doubts about the genre, as the movie goes on between more than one of them. People can feel that the flashbacks were somewhat longer, but they are all beautiful – almost every moment of this movie has beauty in one way or the other. The visuals are nice, and the feeling of terror that is shown is real, that too without showing anything disturbing with blood and gore.

The performers of the soul :: Joju George is indeed the biggest asset of this movie, as he comes up with a terrific performance as the protagonist, the man with the scar who has lost almost everything he held close to his heart. There is abiding sadness on his face which strikes the hearts of the audience very hard. There is a beautiful scar that he leaves in our souls, and it is due to a performance that stays with us for long. With his career best performance, he has our admiration, and the choice for the protagonist here is perfect, with no seeking perfection to become a hero – Joju’s police officer is the common man, and someone whom we can relate to, because he is not in the sky, but on Earth. From the beginning to the end, we are into his journey, from those simple moments in life to the complex times. Along with the same, we also carry the weight of his emotions, as the character gets so close to the depth of our souls. We, with our waxen winged hearts, like Icarus, burn in the fire of those emotions, and we are delighted about the same.

Further performers of the soul :: Dileesh Pothan, the master of Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is one the other side, showing the enduring sadness from another side, and he contributes with the same as does the rest of the supporting cast. Irshad and team bring nothing less than some wonderful support. Aathmiya also has a memorable performance in there as the wife, and it is also an emotionally touching role from her side. Malavika Menon has a rather small, but notable role here. Johny Antony is once again good in the role of a priest after doing the same in Shikkari Shambhu. You also notice how solid Sudhi Koppa is once again – we had seen the range of his performance in Paippin Chuvattile Pranayam, and here he plays a solid police officer in the cyber wing. His character can actually have a spin-off – I might be asking for a lot, but that is certainly a nice possibility.

How it finishes :: Joseph is that kind of an emotional investigative thriller which will stay with you for so long, and the melancholy that it provides will stay strong. The sadness that this movie possesses has the power to take over you too, as the feelings of the protagonist here are the same as any other common person would have. There is a certain amount of skill in the way in which the whole thing is presented, and we have the kind of protagonist who stays close to life rather than go for the exaggerated heroism. The way in which the whole story is built, will have you interested in each moment, and as the final scenes point to something that needs our attention, everything comes together and we have the best Malayalam movie of the year so far – Joju George can be proud of this one.
Release date: 18th November 2018

Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: M Padmakumar
Starring: Joju George, Dileesh Pothan, Madhuri Braganz, James Elia, Sudhi Koppa, Johny Antony, Idavela Babu, Irshad, Aathmiya, Malavika Menon, Jaffer Idukki

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Polytechnic

polytechnic (2)

Vishu’s last comrade :: In the beginning, there were four Malayalam movies for the festival of Vishu, and this is the last one that list, as the least hyped, but I have found this one the second most interesting after 7th Day. But before I get into it, I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Suraj Venjaramoodu on winning the National Award for the Best Actor for his performance in Perariyathavar along with everyone behind the same movie. As everyone considered him to be someone inside a particular genre, there might not be many people from Kerala who expected the same. What makes me most happy is the selection of North 24 Kaatham as the best Malayalam movie, as unlike what some people said about it, I have always thought it was a wonderful movie and needed to gain a lot more attention, even as it did do quite well. Now with the award won, not many can reject the claim of awesomeness about that movie. So there is something from a long time Malayalam movie fan, and back to what I have been doing, and the road diverge into that fourth Vishu Malayalam movie which I watched, Polytechnic.

What is it about? :: Poly (Kunchako Boban) is the son of a soldier and a homemaker. He is a member of the local leftist party and is filled with socialist ideas and a desire to eliminate corruption from his village, thus not doing any job and not contributing to the income of the household in any way other than eating quite a lot. He is usually locked in fights against the Panchayat president and the local leader of the opposite party, Sukumaran Nair (Vijayaraghavan), but is in love with the daughter of the same man, Aswathy (Bhavana) whom he has liked since childhood. As Poly gets more and more involved with the events in the village, he has to face more problems. But the big problem comes when his father dies in a terrorist attack, and is left with the duty to take care of the household. With the money that they get after the death of his father, Poly starts a new business with the help of his friend Backer (Aju Varghese) and the blessings of their local leader. But soon he realizes that it is difficult to run an industry like it is easy to close one. He finds out that one can’t run a business in the right way, but decides to go against all odds and make sure that his venture turns successful.

The defence of Polytechnic :: Sometimes spelled as Pauly Technic at many places, Polytechnic is all about the technic the protagonist Poly uses to get his thing done. May be it is more about the protagonist being Poly or Pauly rather than anything else. The first half is more political and surely the funnier one, as it reminds one more of Oru Indian Pranayakatha‘s first half as it moves on to being somewhat the Punyalan Agarbathis as the first half gets closer to the interval and the whole second half. But the movie does maintain its own identity, thanks to all the funny dialogues and incidents as well as the total village set up. The message to fight corruption runs throughout the movie. There is a heavy dose of corruption incidents in the movie, and it keeps telling the viewers about the need to fight the same, and it is in the hands of the youth to do so. The movie has a lot of funny moments, and never does it cross the border of decency, something which has been difficult for Malayalam movies with the new generation movies all around. It makes sure that the movie is suitable for the families.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t have a wikipedia page. There are not many movies which doesn’t have one, and that is disappointing as such a page is necessary for any average movie which hits the theatre, and often the worst Malayalam movies have one. I would consider such a situation a serious threat to the movie’s promotions, just like not having a facebook page. The movie’s take on politics and corruption is half-baked. The whole thing becomes a fight only in the end, and the climax is rather too ineffective and forced. As this movie is more or less like last year’s Jayasuriya starrer Punyalan Agarbathis, the same trend seems to continue – the protagonist tries to start a business which has almost everything going against it, including the laws, officials, fate and those people who don’t like him. There is also the heroine giving full support as well as a friend who is always with him (both times played by Aju Varghese). The protagonist’s techniques are rather weak and none of them should actually impress the audience as the “great poly technic”. There it goes slow and pretty much predictable.

Performers of the Soul :: Kunchako Boban once again excels in a character with all the qualities necessary for the same. Remember Elsamma Enna Aankutty and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum, but here he has a character with more heroism, and he performs here with the same ease. He has fit into the role of the simple and ordinary man well. Bhavana seems to have got slimmer, and shines in a role in which most of the other Malayalam actresses haven’t really played to a good effect – a police officer and a lover who struggles to keep both roles afloat, caught between her lover and her father. She successfully portrays and remains true to that character. Vijayaraghavan and Aju Varghese heavily contributes to the funny side, and the latter has a role which is similar to what he did in Punyalan Agarbathis, and has made it better. These two are also seen in the other Vishu movie, Ring Master, the same is the case of Suraj Venjaramood who contributes in his usual manner. Kochu Preman is there to add a little more to the same. Hareesh Peradi remains strong and has yet another powerful role to essay. Innocent has a guest role in the end.

Soul exploration :: The feel-good movies are mostly for the soul, but this is actually less for the same. The message for the youth to fight against corruption is the one thing that stands alone, and the light shades make sure that the situation is enjoyable rather than frowned upon; but there are the moments which make one feel that its not that light a movie, especially when the protagonist’s struggles get too much and lands him in jail as well as ruins his reputation. There was the need for a stronger script and a better twist in the end to make sure that it works better rather than sticking to that feel-good thingy like a glue. It seems to have clinched on the simplicity, but there is still the twist, and the with its occasional drags and predictability, the movie is kind of confused at its soul, and the fact that they have somewhat managed to pull it off is a nice thing. Its attempt is on a message against what may be the biggest social evil in the nation, and that is well done as an attempt. There is also the reminder of Dakshayani Biscuits, the factory from Mohanlal’s old classic movie, Midhunam.

How it finishes :: The two things that would attract the audience should be that Bhavana is back, that too with Kunchako Boban a long time after Doctor Love, for the first time in a police role; and that Kunchako Boban is back in his second most comfortable territory, the family comedy entertainer (the first one being the usual romantic stuff). Polytechnic doesn’t seem to be ready to finish strong during this festival-vacation season. I wonder how much better it would have been if it had released before Punyalan Agarbathis. But this is still a season of big holidays, and as nothing other than 7th Day has successfully attracted enough audience, this might still hold on like Count Dracula to his coffin. To prepare for the same, lets keep the expectations low and take the opportunity, and be prepared for another addition of a feel-good movie to the long list of such movies which never cease coming as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned.. I might be back only after Maundy Thursday and Good Friday or possibly only after Easter, and I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter Sunday, and may there be blessings in abundance on the day, plus belated Vishu greetings.

Release date: 11th April 2014
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: M. Padmakumar
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Bhavana, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramood , Tesni Khan, Devi Chandana, Vishnu Prabha, Hareesh Peradi, Kochu Preman, Ambika, Innocent

polytechnic copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.