Pulimurugan

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Vampire Owl :: Do you know that the Vampire Crocodile and the Vampire Penguin failed to get tickets for this movie?

Vampire Bat :: It was never part of their skills. You have seen their CVs.

Vampire Owl :: But we had assigned them to cinema ticket duty.

Vampire Bat :: It is absurd. Nobody on Earth gets tickets for Pulimurugan in the first attempt.

Vampire Owl :: But this is our first attempt and we are getting them.

Vampire Bat :: We have been trying this indirectly in many forms though.

Vampire Owl :: Like transforming into mist and other strange things?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, among those large number of tricks which Count Dracula had taught us during those special classes.

Vampire Owl :: Very risky ones though.

Vampire Bat :: You need them to get a chance to watch movies like this one.

[Gets the tickets with tea and cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: The tale is set in the fictional village of Puliyoor, named as the lands of the tiger, as it is consistently haunted by predators which come out of the forest. When these creatures attack them, they turn to Murugan (Mohanlal), a.k.a. Pulimurugan to become their saviour. Murugan lives with his wife, Myna (Kamalinee Mukherjee), their one daughter and his younger brother Manikkuttan (Vinu Mohan). His best friend and help is Balaraman (Lal) who helps him in being the hunter that he is. One day, he comes across Benny (Nobi) and Shiva (Bala) who are Manikkuttan’s friends, and are looking for his help. By providing them help, he will get closer to a man called Daddy Girija (Jagapati Babu) who is not the person whom Murugan thinks he is. He also locks horns with Krishnakumar (Kishore), and his number of enemies only increase as the movie comes to an end.

The defence of Pulimurugan :: From a long time ago, nothing has changed – Pulimurugan has been the talk of the town months before its release, and that remains the same even now, as shows run full with fans, youth, families and the lone watchers. Mohanlal makes sure that this one stays afloat all the time. Here is something that has tried the best to keep the overall quality high, as Pulimurugan undoubtedly looks really nice on the big screen. There is no shortage of visually stunning moments here, and almost everything has been well-captured. It is indeed great to see the action sequences which are without doubt of high quality, especially in the final moments. When they say that this is not something which hasn’t been seen before, they are not really joking about the same. It might be what you can choose to agree with, sans second thoughts.

Claws of flaw :: The expectations are indeed running high, and with this one hundred crore tag added, people are sure to feel the need for something huge. The tag of the “mass movie” is an abomination, because that specific classification itself is a lie which is used to cater to brainless people – no, Pulimurugan is not brainless, for its smartness is evident. Still, Pulimurugan has some of the most ridiculous sequences, especially the ones involving Namitha, and one involving Mohanlal lifting Vinu Mohan – along with these, there are some terrible comedy scenes which become a curse on this movie. There are also a little bit too much of unnecessary additions in the fine action sequences in the end. The songs are not that interesting, and the theme music is terrible, not original, and also not suiting the movie as a whole. The movie is the best when in the forest, and it should have stuck to that and its creatures – beyond that, with human villains of cities and towns, its not that much there.

Performers of the soul :: It is a Mohanlal show all the way, as we see him stretching beyond the limits to breathe more and more life to this character. He has brought this character close to us, and he has done the same with no problems at all – you see hard work here too, and there is a lot of it. Pulimurugan‘s female stars disappoint though, whether it is Kamalini Mukherjee whose character is more irrititating than anything else, or Namitha who is wasted from the very first moment of her existence, we see nothing positive from the female cast, and that is depressing without doubt. The truth is that even if they were not here, there was not going to be any change happening to the tale – Pulimurugan could have existed as the same man, especially with his own people of the village to care about. But the ladies are there, and they contribute nothing much positive.

Further performers of the soul :: It is absurd that there is nothing much with movie’s female department. Lal plays Mohanlal’s second-in-command, and he does his role with no trouble at all. After Mohanlal, he is the next person we are happy to see in this movie. Jagapati Babu is okay here as the antagonist, as the tiger becomes the one true enemy. Vinu Mohan does not much, and Bala has a rather predictable character here. Nobi has some fun moments, and Suraj Venjaramoodu has more, but none of them working this time here. There are a few others who came in smaller roles, but caught our attention – they are Siddique, Sudheer Karamana and Kishore. Hareesh Peradi is added to play another unnecessary character – there are too many of them here, that is for sure. We could have had less such characters and the existing ones having better things to do.

How it finishes :: This is the time when Pulimurugan has gone on to become the first Malayalam movie to get the collections over a hundred crore, and at the same time, the other Mohanlal movie in the theatre, Oppam gets to overtake Premam and become the third highest grossing Malayalam movie of all-time, after our movie here, and Drishyam. It is certainly the best of times, and Malayalam movies have been climbing up the ladder by a very long way. It feels great to have another golden age for the industry back here at this time. Lets hope that Pulimurugan scores even more, and also that there are other movies to follow, and get to the special one hundred crore club which should be expanded soon enough! May the strength be with these movies, and those special ones which are to follow in the next few months. Still, Drishyam is better by some way, no doubt about it.

Release date: 7th October 2016
Running time: 161 minutes
Directed by: Vysakh
Starring: Mohanlal, Kamalini Mukherjee, Lal, Jagapati Babu, Vinu Mohan, Nobi, Bala, Siddique, Kishore, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Namitha, Nandhu, Sudheer Karamana, Makarand Deshpande, Hareesh Peradi, Sasi Kalinga, Sethulakshmi, M. R. Gopakumar, Baby Durga Premjith, Master Ajas, Santhosh Keezhattoor (cameo), Antony Perumbavoor (cameo), Anjali Aneesh Upasana (cameo)

pulimurugann

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Two Countries

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Vampire Owl :: So, which are these two countries? Are they from the time of the World Wars, the Hundred Years’ War, the Thirty Years’ War or the Cold War?

Vampire Bat :: The two countries are India and Canada. But this movie has a more funny side to the title. It says “the story of two country fellas”.

Vampire Owl :: So, it redirects towards the characters and their special qualities. There are two ways of saying it then, I see.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, and do not think on the lines of 2 States.

Vampire Owl :: Well, Dileep has returned to the kind of roles which work for the real family audience, and so, this should be an interesting watch.

Vampire Bat :: I hope for something on the lines of Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, Thommanum Makkalum, Kalyanaraman, and Pulival Kalyanam which were from the same director.

Vampire Owl :: And Dileep and Mamta Mohandas unites for a movie once again years after My Boss.

Vampire Bat :: And it will be some Christmas fun.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, we couldn’t go for a movie yesterday and we will try to make sure that the celebrations get better with this one.

Vampire Bat :: It is all that we will do on this day!

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Ullas (Dileep) is one of the jobless people who wander around his hometown doing some business or indulging in some other activity. His best friend is Avinash (Aju Varghese) who is part of most his adventures and ends up in trouble because of Ullas. Most of the things which they work on, never really bring anything positive; it is not just about business. As they take huge loans from a man at Fort Cochin (Makarand Deshpande), Ullas decides to marry his daughter Simran (Isha Talwar) who is on a wheel chair; he finds this an easy path to getting rich. For the same, he sends his elder brother Ujvalan (Jagadish) to speak for his marriage against the wishes of his parents. But things change as another marriage proposal arrives on the scene.

So what is this suddden change of direction in life about? :: The situation changes with the arrival of the proposal of Laya (Mamta Mohandas) to whom Ullas speaks on phone pretending to be someone else. But as she as well as her parents become very much interested in the man on the other side of the phone and the stories which he tells them, she decides to come to Kerala. It turns out that they knew each other from childhood, and Ullas uses this opportunity to pretend that he has always loved her from the time they were kids so that he can fly to Canada as her husband. So, he chooses Laya over Simran, but after marriage, he understands that things are not like he had thought, and his new wife has a lot of problems, with her family being just one of them.

The defence of Two Countries :: There is no shortage of fun in Two Countries, as it is evident from the scene of introduction itself. The comedy shifts to Canada from India, and it only gets better; the story also reaches a better level then. The strength of the movie remains the humour, as most of us expected. There are also some emotional moments which work pretty well. The cast itself becomes a bonus to this movie as the list which begins with Dileep. The best scenes happen at the party, court and friends’ home. It is a nice flick to watch with family, and the youth will also love the fun provided. The visuals of Canada are good too, even though more could have been utilized. It was clear that people in the theatre enjoyed the comedy and the claps were there. This is also a lot better entertainer than the overrated comedy of the year, Amar Akbar Anthony.

Claws of flaw :: The music never really gets to be that good, and the climax seems to be rushed to an end which comes to a solution which the audience wanted rather than finishing it in the right way. A lot of fun is also directed towards the mindless side, even though it is kept enjoyable. There is not that much of a new story here with predictability running high. Some parts of the movie are also half-baked, and one will wonder if the movie used the whole of its premise to its advantage; for this isn’t that much complete as My Boss with its fun. A lot more of comedy would have been here, and the beginning situation is more like what was there in too many movies. With the names Rafi and Shafi involved with this movie, people would have expected even more; this is surely not as good as Marykkundoru Kunjaadu – but it delivers; no doubt about that.

Performers of the soul :: Dileep is once again at his full form here, as he follows the good run after Chandrettan Evideya, Love 24×7 and Life of Josutty. This is also the complete comedy movie which has full fun without overdoing the comic side, a quality which hasn’t been seen since his My Boss in 2012. This is the kind of role which he can go through with ease, and it is once again proven. His support at home is Aju Varghese and the same is provided by Suraj Venjaramoodu in Canada while Mukesh replaces Jagadish in the second half as the brotherly figure away from home; Aju and Suraj are the big comic support here. We missed Mamta Mohandas for too long with her last big role being in Celluloid. She does her character amazingly well; there are not many actresses who can do this type of comedy so well. Isha Talwar has a small role, and Srinda Ashab just supports in bringing the fun.

How it finishes :: With the support going on to Vijayaraghavan, Lena Abhilash, Asokan and Vinaya Prasad, this one brings Canada into the picture, a change from Life of Josutty which had the heroine based in New Zealand and My Boss which had the heroine as an Australian citizen; it is a welcome variation as there is no journey to United States and United Kingdom here either, which would have been the usual choices. Among the Christmas movies, Two Countries is sure to have a nice status, as it should appeal to different kinds of audience. As it seems, Christmas seems to be a blast with Jo and the Boy, Adi Kapyare Koottamani and Charlie also getting good opinions. Two Countries is surely going to entertain you, and the reviews about this have also been positive! The time period between Christmas and New Year will shine for the Keralite audience; no doubt.

Release date: 25th December 2015
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: Shafi
Starring: Dileep, Mamta Mohandas, Aju Varghese, Mukesh, Isha Talwar, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Srinda Ashab, Jagadish, Vijayaraghavan, Lena Abhilash, Makarand Deshpande, Asokan, Vinaya Prasad, Riyaz Khan, Ajmal Ameer, Rafi, Hareesh, Carrie Marston, Megan Weckwerth, Eldon Hunter

twocountries

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Amen

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There are few movies which the Vampire Bat would watch a few thousand times other than the horror flicks and the Malayalam movies of the 1980s. The end of this movie was that moment when the Vampire Bat actually felt the same – that moment when he was light enough to fly. It was the moment this bat felt that he was that feather which felt the wind lifting one’s self towards the starry sky. It is not exactly the feeling he had after watching Celluloid, as it is more comparable to that status where he was, after watching Pranchiyettan and the Saint. This rarely happens to the Vampire Bat, for this one has the status of being the second. With its visual beauty of nature, it is comparable to Ordinary, as this one highlights the backwaters while the Kunchako starrer had concentrated on the hills, mountains and the related greenery with fog. There is thunder, dark clouds, water bodies in its maximum body – how can one person do justice to this movie with a subjective review is a question which might remain answered; but what would an objective review do other than being too scientific and technical? This soul would keep closer to the former as possible, and in that way find himself in the process. Here, we have the story of an ancient church parish and the people, a love story and a band’s struggle for survival. The whole story can be read better from the beautiful characterization rather than as a plot.

Swati Reddy as Sosanna – such a character and so much of wonder in that performance! I can’t remember seeing such a female character on screen in any Malayalam movie. One has to wonder who she really is! The first guess would be that of a Keralite Juliet who comes out to the balcony (here, as the house is more of a traditional style, looking through the window) listening to the divine music by the artist that is Solomon (Fahadh Fazil). Well, they don’t die and so lets leave the tragic side of Romeo and Juliet behind. They can still have the title in the name of divine love, but on second thoughts, Sosanna is more of Rapunzel, imprisoned in a tower by the evil ones; her use of frying pan even bring the memory of the newer Rapunzel of Tangled (please avoid the hair details). Her character is the centre, around which the whole movie is built, even if our heroes get more screentime. Each and every second of her presence indicates something which is to happen, and the whole divinity rests on herself and the music. She, the angel in white dress, the absence of black and greyness. She is complexity in simplicity – all in one; more than one simple village damsel – lovable and admirable with all her positives and negatives.

She is no different from the Rapunzel of Tangled on most of the occasions – she pushes the kapyar into water and asks her lover if he wants to be the Father in a church or her children’s father; she pours chicken curry over a gunda and hits him with a frying pan; she eats “naranga mittayi” with that happiness which William Wordsworth might have felt after seeing Daffodils; she uses paper rockets as love letters; she reads only from Solomon’s Song of Songs when asked to read the Bible; she talks about love in a cemetery (the Vampire Bat’s recommndation for this one) – the saga continues for Sosanna is not the weaker one to be subdued; for she is the frying pan fighter striking fear in the minds of the most powerful gundas. She is the passionate lover, the advisor, the fighter, the damsel in distress and still in lesser distress than her lover who is the man in distress. She is our blessed damozel; of this world and not the other, not the one Dante Gabriel Rossetti pictured in heaven, but the one person who continues to bless this movie with her presence. How can one not consider this one as a non-animated character at any stage? The words describe less and the scenes visualize more.

Fahadh Faasil as Solomon – he has done it again, and I might end up using this same sentence for the same actor for so many occasions that I would lose count of it. This is not brilliance unexpected, and I would always keep the expectations high on one actor. Fahadh in that Christ costume for the festival was something which made divinity come down from heaven. All the jokes related to his character and Sosanna are so genuine and wonderful – or even beautiful, if jokes could be termed “beautiful” with all its aspects. Here is a character of simplicity, lack of self-confidence and unparallel love. He is the new Romeo in many aspects, and he is the Jack of his ever-sinking Titanic that is a life of poverty which can only be made to be of any hope by getting himself into the music band sponsored by the local parish church. This character’s life surely is a divine comedy as it is subtitled, as the title character travels through his own inferno, purgatorio & finally the paradiso achieved by his merit. He is our own Dante Alighieri. Hell, purgatory, and heaven – they are all in this world for Solomon, the ultimate underdog. If Sosanna is more of an unpredictable character than her lover, Solomon steals the show by being predictable and still rising to the occasion. This might be Fahadh’s best performance ever, even as I am sure that I will be forced to say that again on another occasion.

Indrajith Sukumaran as Father Vincent Vattolli – always been in my list of favourite actors, and I am short of words for talking about this one – no do not bring me the dictionary, for I have word substitutes working for me. He is the exact opposite of the Vicar Father Abraham Ottaplakal (Joy Mathew). While the former tries to save the band, unite the two lovers and keep the church as the ancient structure, the latter tries to dismantle the band, separate the two lovers and rebuild the church. Both have brought the levels to new heights as one becomes so likable and the other detestable – the two characters are played with such perfection that one can’t resist believing them as what they are. There are times when one has to wonder how close to evil and away from the neutrality of the beginning, the Vicar happens to be as the second half progresses. The big paradox here is that the revolutionary new entrant is the stronger believer and the traditional, orthodox Vicar is the lesser believer who has his own agenda. Their church at Kumaramkari is not just a simple old structure, as they say that the legend is that Saint George had made Tipu Sultan’s attempt to raze the church a failure. This belief is what runs in the veins of the parishers and this is where Father Vattolli has reached – this is also where Father Ottaplakal makes his own decisions with no divine intervention; not a desired situation for sure. But there is more to Father Vattoli than it would seem to be, as the end twist would create that dream climax.

Saint George and the church are more like characters in the movie, but more shall not be talked about that divinity. Kalabhavan Mani’s Looyi pappan is a very powerful character throughout the movie; someone who fails to accept defeat – the man who wins the war even as he loses most of the battles. He seeks redemption after the death of his best friend who was the soul of the band – a music band which has been continuously on the losing side for a long time after the tragedy. Rachana Narayanankutty as Solomon’s sister and Natasha Sahgal was Father Vattoli’s admirer, joins the cast’s beautiful performance. Makarand Deshpande’s nemesis character is immensely powerful and Sunil Sukhada’s Kapyar works in more than one way. Lijo Jose Pellissery has given the viewers an early Easter gift, and it might be the best in the theatres right now. What else could be said about such a performance? But it is surely not free from the slightest of negatives – even among the best of jokes, lie the totally unnecessary, ridiculous jokes which tends to take away some of its beauty. But they could be avoided and the movie could be continued to be watched as the divine comedy as it is, for there is more to it than just the usual stuff. No, this is not the typical new generation either – for this is typical divinity, if one could call it so.

This exuberance is magic, and that is just to give the movie its due. But the truth is much better; for exuberance is just a word and so is magic. Amen is something which has dropped from the firmament, not like the fallen angel Lucifer, but as the medium of divinity which the world of the upper level has provided us with. Can you find faults within the story? If yes, isn’t there the flurry of intelligence and brilliance to cover them all? That would be a clear yes for an answer. No, the movie still doesn’t pretend, and it never needed to. It never needed to wear a mask like Annayum Rasoolum; a mask of goodness and reality which that one dragging movie has been wearing! But this one wears its own skin as a mask – no fake faces to cover its simplicity. Everyone has been incredibly good at what they were doing with this movie, both outside and inside – even the songs and the movie posters have contributed in such a way as to make this movie one of its kind – something which can lead and not follow; bring that thunder of wonderful change. I felt the magic realism and dream visions as well as its re-assertion of faith, belief and hope with divine intervention. Oh beauty of a movie, thy name is Amen – anything else would be so inappropriate right now. If I am to die after watching a movie, this might be one of them worth dying for!

Release date: 22nd March 2013
Running time: 160 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lijo Jose Pellissery
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Indrajith Sukumaran, Swati Reddy, Rachana Narayanankutty, Natasha Sahgal, Joy Mathew, Kalabhavan Mani, Makarand Deshpande, Sunil Sukhada

amen copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.