Basheerinte Premalekhanam

What is the movie about? :: Somewhere around the city of Calicut, at some point during the 1980s, there is a village which uses its only radio, that is owned by Hussain Haji (Joy Mathew) who is also the Panchayath President, for entertainment. Everyone from the village , without any discrimination according to their social status, religion or caste, usually goes to his house to listen to the drama performance which is a usual thing in the radio during the later evening. They all sit on the verandah with the radio in the centre, listening to the performances. One day, Usman (Manikandan Achari), Hamid’s sister’s son who is in Dubai, sends them a black and white television. He is also supposed to marry Suhra (Sana Althaf), Hamid’s only daughter who is studying in the second year of BA English Language and Literature at the nearby college. The arrival for the television changes things at their home as well as the whole village which has its first television.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Now, everyone is at Hussain’s house again, but this time to watch television. But nobody knows how to make it work, and for the same, they call for Basheer (Farhaan Faasil) to connect and begin the show for the whole village. There are still people who oppose the same, as it makes everyone sit in front of it for such a long time – but there is a change in the situation of the village, something which nobody can deny. Hussain is proud of being only house in the village to have a radio and a television. Meanwhile, Basheer falls in love with Suhra, but it is clear that Hussain will only marry her off to Usman when he returns from Dubai. Basheer who is from a simple family, seems to have no scope in getting the girl. With only her grandmother (Sheela) in support of the relationship, Suhra will have trouble in making her relationship with Basheer go on. Who will support them and who will support the most influential man in the village? What effect will Basheer’s love letter to Suhra bring?

The defence of Basheerinte Premalekhanam :: There is something about the romantic movies set in the eighties and before – it has a lot of nostalgia with simple humour related to the life style of the people of the time; kids up to those till the nineties would relate the best to it. There would also be those emotional moments concerning people who are more of common men than anything else. It is on the emotions and the humour that this movie seems to rely on, and it keeps working nicely, here and there. There is the simple romance of those times getting the strength here, unlike movies like Ennu Ninte Moideen which made things complicated, Anarkali which made it the visual stunner and Annayum Rasoolum which made it a terrible drag that never ended. The simple people and everything simple about them, remains the strength of this movie. There are also some nice songs to go with it, and the romantic saga is established between the two youngsters – thus, the love letter is ready with some good visuals of the village, but has nothing new.

The claws of flaw :: The strength of the romance depicted in this movie is something which is disputed, because the scope for more is missed out. The secondary tale of romance is actually more striking, and that is a surprise because it is there only in the end for a few minutes only. For a romantic movie which tries to use the name of Vaikom Mohammed Basheer’s Premalekhanam not just in the title but also inside the movie could have done more during this age. It is the title itself which leads to the higher expectations, which would clearly work against this movie in more than one way – not enough for the older generation inside the movie, and not much for the younger audience even in the title itself, except for the Malayalam literature lovers who are a group which are decreasing in number. The theatre didn’t seem to have called that many people either. A better tale of romance, with more depth in the story would have helped this one for sure. Some characters are also less developed.

Performers of the soul :: Farhan Faasil and Sana Althaf are two people who haven’t really got enough with the Malayalam movie industry – they never really had enough of those movies to show their calibre. Rajeev Ravi’s Njan Steve Lopez, the debut movie and the only other movie of him had the former as a famous name, and this happens to be only his second film – here he is in a look that resembles Kunchako Boban; got confused myself when I saw him in the first song which was released long ago, he does okay here, and the role is still not that interesting as his earlier movie. Sana Althaf’s Mariyam Mukku was quite the disaster that nobody would want with the first leading role, and she was seen only in a small role in Rani Padmini after that. She is the cute presence here, and manages to do her role with the necessary elements for the character, not more or not less. She is someone capable of repeating the cute Nazriya act of Om Shanthi Oshana and Bangalore Days in her absence. They look good together, no doubt about that.

Further performers of the soul :: The one person who leaves the biggest effect on us, is Manikandan Achari, known for the power-packed performance in Kammattipaadam and the strong comic side displayed in Alamaara. Here, he once again shows how good he is, with the emotional sequences as well as the funny side – when the protagonists’ love story gets less from the emotional side, his tale of love gets all, and elevates this movie. Sheela also comes up with a performance which will remind us of her Kochu Tresia in Manasinakkare, but it is not that much when you look at both movies. Madhu’s presence good, but could have been in some other way as real part of the tale – same is the case of Indrans. Joy Mathew scores big time in the movie too as the father. Hareesh Perumanna and Noby Marcose gets some nice humoruous lines, along with the others including Shivaji Guruvayoor and Sreejith Ravi who make it a combined effort. The other two actresses, Renjini Jose and Asha Aravind also make their presence felt. Aju Varghese also makes a cameo which feels rather unnecessary.

How it finishes :: Basheerinte Premalekhanam is a movie which had a lot more possible with its content, but is a fair thing as it is. It is to be noted that the three other Malayalam movies, Tiyaan, Sunday Holiday and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum haven’t really stopped the hunt, and are still in the game. There are also the other new releases, including Minnaminungu – The Firefly which won Surabhi Lakshmi the National Award for Best Actress, Team 5 starring Sreesanth who gets into another area other than cricket and music, Pulimurugan getting its much awaited 3D release, Theeram which already has its name among the superhit songs and a lesser known horror movie known as Mythily Veendum Varunnu. The point to be noted is that none of these movies got any superstar from the Malayalam movie industry – maybe with the recent incidents related to actors’ real life, they are all waiting. Until then, this one brings the feel-good factor.

Release date: 21st July 2017
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Aneesh Anwar
Starring: Farhaan Faasil, Sana Althaf, Renjini Jose, Sheela, Madhu, Manikandan Achari, Noby Marcose, Joy Mathew, Sooraj Harris, Shanavas, Sunil Sugatha, Sasi Kalinga, Hareesh Perumanna, Sreejith Ravi, Sivaji Guruvayoor, Indrans, Asha Aravind, Ponnamma Babu, Aju Varghese (cameo)

PS: You might also want to check out a cute Chinese romantic short-film, The Story of 90 Coins.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Geethanjali

geethanjali (1)

What is Geethanjali? :: Even as all of us literature students have to answer this with Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali, the collection which made him the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the only Indian to win the same so far. But as the Vampire Bat is not alive enough to talk about such great works of Indian literature, he is talking about a movie of the same name, not about the National Film Award-winning Telugu movie of the same name, but the recently released indirect sequel to the masterpiece which was Manichitrathazhu. It once again has Mohanlal as Dr. Sunny Joseph, one of the most loved characters in the Malayalam movie industry. Its been a long time since there was a Mohanlal movie too. Thanks to the hype and the well-made trailer, this became one of the most anticipated releases of the time, even when colliding with the other movies which released during the same weekend – Thira, Insidious: Chapter 2 and Ram-leela.

What is it about? :: There were two twins, Geetha and Anjali (both Keerthy Suresh) (together making the movie Geethanjali – if one of them was Chitra, the movie would have been Chitranjali, like the name of the studio which was used by the film?) and only Anjali is alive now, as the other is supposed to have committed suicide by jumping into the sea – and body not found. Anjali comes back to her home where she lived till her youth after her mother falls down from the terrace and goes into a comma. Her fiancee is also with him, and at the house, she has visions of her dead sister who also loved the same person. The vision of the ghost who seem to try to end her life to keep the lover away from her, makes life uncomfortable for the young lady. The fiancee Anoop (KP Nishan) calls Nakulan (Suresh Gopi) who recommends Dr. Sunny Joseph (Mohan Lal) for the case, but the question remains if the future bride can remain alive or at least in his senses before the man arrives, and if he can solve this mystery before anything horrible happens.

The defence of Geethanjali :: It is hard to defend a movie which has been so much critically panned in a nation where even Krrish 3 gets positive reviews in another corner. Yes, this corner is famous for movies which usually get two or two point five out of five, and this miserly area doesn’t give away much. But let me tell you that Geethanjali scores with its environment, the almost effective scary scenes and the added twist, with the funny elements supporting it quite well. The cinematography helps the movie a lot, and this should be the first visually superior horror movies in Malayalam movie industry. The last good horror movie was Sahasram, released in 2010, starring Suresh Gopi. This doesn’t live up to that either, but the attempt is there, even if not original or with the right flow. Check out for Keerthy Suresh too, as she scores in her first movie – there is something called legacy, and she might be some of the few who might be proving it. There should be no comparisons to Manichitrathazhu though – who compares Dracula or Interview with the Vampire to Twilight? And as Alexander Pope says in Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot: “Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?”

The claws of flaw :: The worst thing that could happen to this movie is that it released with Thira, which is already a hit as it comes from a man who has cent percent success rate. I can remember that Vineeth Sreenivasan’s Thattathin Marayathu was a hit months before it released. I am also sure about watching it myself. The problem is that the more we praise that one, the more we tend to downgrade this movie. To add to it, there are the copied things, along with the ghost who looks like the daughter of the Avatar guy and The Ring girl. The mirror and the ceiling fan leaks instead of the television and there is a lot of hair like The Grudge. More details about similarities can be found in the details with spoilers section. One can say that the movie tried too much to be like Manichitrathazhu, and there is a big problem, for it can’t be the same as the world has changed and so did a lot of things. People are also looking for something of variety just like the original classic, and more flawless stuff including no small mistakes (like Armenian Orthodox Church cross having Latin inscriptions and there might be quite some concerning the twins).

Performers of the soul :: Mohanlal is the star psychatrist yet again, but this time he has less screen presence, and this surely won’t be the Dr Sunny that we remembers. He makes his entrance just before the second half of the movie, and once he enters, there is a lot of hope being built up – even as he lives up to it with his performance, there is not that much in the story. His combination with Innocent is very good and Swapna Menon is a pleasant surprise and a fine addition to the funny side of the movie. Harisree Ashokan also contributes in a lesser manner to the comic side. Nishan has a weak role, but does the romantic part very well, but not that much in he climax scene where the debutant Keerthy Suresh takes over with a wonderful performance to support the beautiful screen presence. She doesn’t go on to become another beautiful young actress who can’t act – she does incredibly well as the two sisters, too good for a debutant. Well, the beauty gets more than just the pass marks. Its her movie, as she is both the protagonist and the antagonist. Siddique and Nassar provides nice support, and Seema’s role is too limited – Madhu’s character was almost not needed.

Details with spoilers :: The story has so much in common with Nadiya kollappetta Rathri and Chaarulatha, the former was one of my favourites, and this impersonation for love was well performed by Kavya Madhavan and rightly investigated by the character of Suresh Gopi. The latter which was a remake of a 2007 movie Alone, had a lot of things which this movie now has in common. The twins who impersonate and kill for love was told as an investigative thriller in the first case, and as a pure ghost story in the second. The good thing is that they are not conjoined twins like the latter. Our movie has a psychological twist to the same, seemingly attempting to make it just like Manichitrathazhu, and also adding some comedy in between. If you haven’t watched the two movies, this shall be a new experience for you, or if you want to repeat the experience in another way, this movie can help. Those who don’t like the two movies much and don’t want any more of it, might want to skip it though. I felt so from some of the reactions from a few.  This is not going to be remembered in the later days like the well-crafted Devadoothan either.

How it could have been :: This could have been a lot better, there is no doubt about that. The ghost and the supernatural would have been better not shown and not observed by the family other than the girl. The blue ghost could have done better if shown just in the shadows without the support of water and the fallen hair. The sea on one side is a clear negative on a house which formerly made us feel that it is at a remote location on some hill or mountain. The darkness itself could have been an ally to a possible psychological thriller in this one. The songs might have done better if not coming up when not needed. The suspense could have been made more shocking even without the support of deaths. Mohanlal could have made an entry earlier. Overall, there should be no following the policy of the early classic, instead having some life of its own, keeping further distance from the movies which were used as inspirations. I would be surprised if even the C.I.D Moosa sequel can be any good considering the limited imagination involved with making sequels. Meanwhile, a horrible drop for this movie might discourage horror movies in Malayalam, and I am not going to stand that!

Release date: 14th November 2013
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Priyadarshan
Starring: Mohanlal, Keerthy Suresh, KP Nishan, Swapna Menon, Siddique, Innocent, Ganesh Kumar, Nassar, Madhu, Seema, Harisree Ashokan, Chris Gayle Kuttappan, Suresh Gopi (cameo)

geethanjali copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.