The Priest

What is the movie about? :: Fr Carmen Benedict (Mammootty) is a priest who is known to have helped the police in multiple cases. Diya Alex Alatt (Saniya Iyappan) approaches him with a certain amount of concern regarding a series of deaths which had occured earlier in the rich and influential family, and were dismissed as suicides. Diya feels that the present controller of the assets of the family, Elizabeth Alatt (Meera Nair) might know something about it. He calls DYSP Shekhar (Sivadas Kannur), who begins to share some of his doubts. When a little girl named Ameya Gabriel (Baby Monica) is also found in the house, and the connected incidents related to her lead to the discovery of more clues related to the murder, Fr Carmen also understands that there is more to her than what meets the eye. Ameya is an orphan, and nobody has any idea what she is upto, because she often goes missing from her orphanage, and comes back by herself. Her actions are also nothing less than what others consider to be strange.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jessy Cherian (Nikhila Vimal), a new teacher takes charge in the school where Ameya is studying. Even though Ameya has been hostile to each and every person in the school including teachers and students, she immediately becomes friendly to Jessy who is also happy about the same. As the school is closed for summer vacation, Ameya begs for her to be taken with Jessy. With the permission of the orphanage authorities, she manages to take the child to her home in the highlands, which had been abandoned for a long time. But it turns out that this child is not really the kid which she had expected. When anyone else comes in between Jessy and Ameya, the latter reacts violently, especially when Jessy’s fiance Siddharth (Venkitesh VP) comes to meet her, and proposes her. Soon, things take a further violent turn, and Fr Carmen makes his way to the place, as he understands the seriousness of the situation. But this might not be the kind of spirit which Carmen thought it is. He takes the help of Dr Mathews (TG Ravi), but he understands the need to learn about the spirit.

The defence of The Priest :: The movie scores heavily with its visuals, as we do have a perfect setting for horror, and along with the environment, there are the usual scares effectively used with the help of sound effects. The music is also very interesting. The scares are added here and there, and at times they work depending on the audience. There are some twists to be added here, but we do expect a few among with ease, seemingly because of trying to stick to the Hollywood style. The performance are also of a higher level, even though we do feel that the first investigation was even more interesting than what came later. It does have the most interesting part in the beginning, like Mammootty’s Abrahaminte Santhathikal had that crime at the start, and even with the presence of clowns, doesn’t make them nonsensical like it was done in the strange Mammootty movie The Great Father. Instead, most of the time, The Priest plays to its strength, and makes sure that there is no risk taken, even though it was there to be taken.

The claws of flaw :: The Priest has many elements which we would feel borrowed, and the reminder of Hollywood movies is sure to come back here. The climax doesn’t deliver the needed punch either, as it goes through the safe way, and adds one scene after the finish, seemingly as a justification. Looking at films like The Conjuring, The Nun, Insidious, Sinister and Annabelle, we have had an overdose of horror movies with spirits, and as there was enough for reference, this could have certainly done better – we all remember what Ezra did with the Jewish demon. Well, when the demon really doesn’t want to be terrifying, and with the first motive being close to a Mathematics teachers, the scary side weakens – when the motive and actions of the supernatural doesn’t scare us enough, the genre itself struggles. After all, a spirit should do what it always does the best, and it should go further when listing itself as a horror film at all places. There can be more to an act of exorcism and the process of haunting. We also see something missing with the sequence of events, but can’t talk about that without revealing the suspense and twists.

The performers of the soul :: The movie was marketed as the first movie in which Mammootty and Manju Warrier acted together – the last word does have some complications though, because the latter’s character was dead some time ago, and so the characters won’t be living together in the film, and we would have to wait to see them in the leading roles. Manju Warrier’s role is also quite short here, and it can be considered only as long as the work of Saniya Iyappan who also has some work to do related to the first adventure of the protagonist. Mammootty’s avatar here is a lot better than what we have seen in most of his action and thriller films, and this is a character that he does with ease. We can now remember him like Father Brown, the Roman Catholic priest and detective who was the main character in the fifty three short stories written by British novelist GK Chesterton in the years after Victorian era. There we were not into horror though.

Further performers of the soul :: Even though often known as the first Mammootty-Manju Warrier movie, the latter gets only limited presence, and in the first half we don’t even have a clue that she exists. But when she is there, she works through this very well. Nikhila Vimal is once again seen as a talented actress, extending her good work from Njan Prakashan and Aravindante Athithikal. Saniya Iyappan has the early shorter presence, and as we had seen her effectiveness in horror with Krishnankutty Pani Thudangi where she was the only saving grace, we were expected more of her presence there. Ramesh Pisharody and Jagadish are also given some early moments in here. Venkitesh VP whom we have known from the television show Nayika Nayakan also has done some good work. Baby Monica also contributes nicely once the horror side begins. She excels in displaying that scary side which is brought to light in the second half of the movie.

How it finishes :: The Priest was among the much awaited movies with Mammootty in the lead, and it has come late due to COVID-19 pandemic – according to the reports, it has still managed to be a profit-making venture, even with the theatre occupancy being controlled. The Priest is the one Malayalam movie which brought the viewers to the theatres and made sure that the business was running smoothly. As it has released on the OTT platform of Amazon Prime, one can now watch the film without those fears which we had earlier. The Priest is not only on a path towards being a stylish horror movie, as it is also an innovation in having a release on an OTT platform a month after its theatre release – it is a path which many more movies can follow, as there are other films which need to be released, and we are still facing the worst case of that one grand pandemic. With the clouds bringing darkness early in the afternoon, The Priest makes an interesting thriller for the time, even though it could have been bigger and smarter.

I also wish everyone a Very Happy Vishu! Stay safe and enjoy the day 🙂

Release date: 11th March 2021 (Theatre), 14th April 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Jofin T Chacko
Starring: Mammootty, Manju Warrier, Nikhila Vimal, Baby Monica, Venkitesh VP, Saniya Iyappan, Sivadas Kannur, Jagadish, Lishoy, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Ramesh Pisharody, Kochu Preman, Ameya Mathew, TG Ravi, Dinesh Panicker, Kalabhavan Haneef, Naseer Sankranthi, Sminu Sijo, Jeeva Joseph, Shiny T Rajan, VK Prakash, Meera Nair, Thomas Kuriakose, Jayadevan, Manoj Chennai, Sohan Seenulal, Madhupal

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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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Unda

What is the movie about? :: A team of police officers from Kerala travels to certain Maoist affected area in Chhattisgarh for election duty. Mathews Anthony (Ranjith) leads the team through the journey in the train, and right through the village area. But accommodation is not provided for all of them at the same place, and they are separated into different teams. The team is lead by Manikandan CP (Mammootty) gets to stay in a polling booth which is isolated and situated near the forest which is known to be infested by Maoists. Leading the support is Jojo Samson (Shine Tom Chacko) who is angry about his wife sending him a divorce petition which he is not ready to sign. Among the other police men are Varghese Kuruvila (Jacob Gregory), Aji Peter (Rony David) and Gireesh TP (Arjun Ashokan) among others. Aji and Gireesh are not in good terms with each other either. The other members of the team also have their own differences.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The location has an ITBP commando Kapil Dev (Bhagwan Tiwary), and nothing else for their support. The arms and ammunition that they have with them might not be enough either, as the ITBP Commander Dakota Akanito (Chien Ho Liao) advices them to ask for something more from Kerala, as there are land mines everywhere, and Maoists attacks keep happening during random intervals at random places. But it seems that help from Kerala might not be coming anytime soon, and the ITBP wouldn’t helping those police men whom they called for support. So, as Maoists threaten to attack, the team is on their own, with their own little personal problems also coming into the scene. Now, the question remains if they can survive these days till the end of election, as the landlords and their goons will also have a say in this. I will be up to Manikandan to lead the way, but he is not the kind of person who is into violence.

The defence of Unda :: There is certain beauty and quality in how the police men are portrayed here, and even the leader is not shown as someone who could know most of the things and go on beating up people. Each member of the team is different, and we see how people from different parts of Kerala have to face the strange and hostile environment for the first time – we witness how they have to adapt and survive, but there is something from home that continues to go strong in them. The setting is used nicely to create the impact, and we feel that we are traveling through the same place with the same team. We want these people to survive like never before, and we hold them close. There are thrilling moments, and we also have a certain dose of humour, which is also something of interest. The final scene of action is highly entertaining, with action, thrills and humour added, all at the right quantity.

Positives and negatives :: The story-line might seem to be not much, as there is just the tale of a few police men facing the Maoists in the middle of nowhere. But it is more than that when we look close, and we see what the subaltern has to face; the poor, the low caste, the scheduled tribes, all of them – the word “poor” defines them well enough, as it is common to all of such deprived men and women. They are surrounded by all kinds of people, hunted, and maybe killed, only to find the blame still with them, even after death – the perpetual blame is the weight that they have to carry to the grave and beyond. We see a certain moral crisis, and there is always the question about where the newly landless people can go. The movie provides no answers, and finds no solution to the problems that the world face, but we know that we will need them – they are not to come from the movie, but from a real world beyond all limits of fiction.

The performers of the soul :: As expected, and with top quality and realistic performance, Mammootty leads from the front. He has had some characters which would beat up everyone and throw them all around, in the last few years, with the recently released Madhura Raja and the earlier movie Masterpiece which came across the biggest of such a problems. This movie goes the exact opposite way, and it is beautiful in doing the same – the way in which Mammootty plays this role will have us wishing for the character to have the final victory, and the same we wish without hope. In those other movies, things were direct, but in this case, it is beautifully complicated, and we love to watch him here. Right from the introduction of his character, we know that things are going to be different this time, and Mammootty thrives on this divergence which keeps us close to the common man’s police officer, someone who is not going to kick or punch people into the sky to make Superman proud.

Further performers of the soul :: Shine Tom Chacko has had a good run during the recent days, and the roles which he played has been very much memorable. This one is no exception, and the last moments have the whole of our attention. At the same tim, , Arjun Ashokan and Rony David also catches our attention, and so do almost everyone in the small police team in the voting booth. We do get only a few moments from Dileesh Pothan and Kalabhavan Shajohn as well as a little more from Ranjith as far as these names are concerned. Actors like Omkar Das Manikpuri and Bhagwan Tiwari comes up with some emotional side to remember too. Easwari Rao who plays Mammootty’s wife in a cameo-like performance is the only female character with a name, and the only one that we can remember. The cameo from Vinay Forrt and Asif Ali were rather unnecessary, and just the news of missing bullets could have been enough.

How it finishes :: With the name of the movie being Unda, there has been many speculations, but it is indeed about the bullets – it is certain that the name has left some people away from the movie, as this is a film which deserved a better opening. But the bookings are picking up now, as the opinions have all been positive. There will be higher booking in the coming days, and the movie is surely here to stay, as this is a flick which is to be taken seriously. Lets hope that the movies that deal with similar topics remain close to reality like this one, and don’t go on to finish off the laws of gravity by sending villains flying in the air. Unda nicely manages to bring everything together, and use its elements to gain advantage. The result is that there is the thrilling ride with humour and messages stored in there. This is the kind of movie that serves better, and does the same faithfully unlike those mindless mass entertainers which serve as darkness to the senses. Well, it has been a fine year in the first half itself with movies like Kumbalangi Nights, Virus and Uyare rising very high.

Release date: 14th June 2019
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Khalid Rahman
Starring: Mammootty, Shine Tom Chacko, Jacob Gregory, Ranjith, Arjun Ashokan, Bhagwan Tiwari, Dileesh Pothan, Omkar Das Manikpuri, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Chien Ho Liao, Easwari Rao, Sudhi Koppa, Rony David, Lukman, Abhiram Poduval, Noushad Bombay, Asif Ali (cameo), Vinay Forrt (cameo)

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Abrahaminte Santhathikal

What is the movie about? :: Derick Abraham (Mammootty) is that kind of a police officer who projects a heroic image for the public, much to the dismay of other police officers like John Painadan (Suresh Krishna) who finds him as a clear threat. He has been keeping a clear image, and is known not to show mercy to the criminals, no matter who tries to persuade him. He has been putting himself in harm’s way on too many occasions, and has also earned many enemies among criminals as well as policemen. But that doesn’t drag him back, as he solves his cases, including the most recent one, which involves a serial killer who believes that he is working according to the will of God. Philip Abraham (Anson Paul) is Derick’s brother, and the only person whom he has as family. For him, Derick had even rejected the marriage proposal of his lover Diana Joseph (Kanika), who is now married to Joseph Esthappan (Sijoy Varghese), a rich businessman.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Philip is a sharp shooter who is in love with Aleena Maria Jacob (Tarushi Jha). Their love story continued to be something evoking jealousy, until Aleena is murdered one day. Philip is framed for her murder, as the evidence is against him. Derick tries to find any clue of his brother’s innocence, but everything seems to be against him. Even Philip’s friends and Aleena’s family seem to believe that Philip is responsible for her death, and Derick who is in charge of the investigation is left with not option, but to believe that his brother is a murderer. The court comes up with the judgement that he is guilty, and Philip gets life imprisonment along with a fine of one lakh rupees. An angry Philip disowns his brother, and Derick is left with regret over his inability to save his own blood,while his enemies celebrate this defeat of the invincible police officer. But is there more than what meets the eye with this case?

The defence of Abrahaminte Santhathikal :: The movie is certainly stylish from the first moments itself, and there are some of those positive shades of Memories, Villain and Grandmaster in there, which seems to have been used well enough. The serial killer begins the movie really well, and has our attention, as we await that cat and mouse game between the two, but that ends too easily, early and without much of an explanation. Then comes the emotional side, which also begins well enough with a love story, and claims some of the nice moments by the end. The visuals are really good as expected, but the terrible slow motion sequences and heroism do affect the same negatively. We do have the suspense factor and some twists out here, even though they are predictable for most people who have watched any of the similar movies. The cast is well suited for this movie, and even those who don’t have that much of screen time score nicely.

The claws of flaw :: Abrahaminte Santhathikal, just like Mammootty’s earlier movie with the same writer, has a certain problem – it seems to value style over substance, and there are elements which seem to remind us of many other movies. We can also see that the story doesn’t hold together, and it keeps going here and there, as if there is no idea what to do with the core. There is that serial killer idea which seems to bring a fine beginning here, but after that, the movie just struggles to continue as a thriller. There is also the absence of explanations in between, and the investigation thriller struggles to live up to its genre on many occasions. The material is only worth about one and half hours, because of which, the movie goes through a certain amount of drag. There are also too many predictable situations in this movie, reminding people of those flicks which shouldn’t be named, as it would spoil the possible suspense and twists.

The performers of the soul :: As one would expect, this movie has another Mammootty movie which seems to be custom made for him, as this one follows Uncle. Almost everything in this movie is solved by him rather than with the help of others – there seems to be only pretensions around here, as just like The Great Father, his character is just too superior even though he misses out one or two simple clues which could have been easily caught by a usual policeman. Mammootty certainly has no problems with playing this character, as the journey is not troublesome. He gets to solve the cases and also kill people – he doesn’t leave anything to the sidekicks, for this character is such a man, near invincible except when he cries for his brother. There are also some of those mass dialogues for the fans, and some of them in the theatre were actually confused when to clap and howl – this is that kind of a mix, but fans can go blind at it as usual, and they needn’t worry much about it.

Further performers of the soul :: Anson Paul who was one of the antagonists in Aadu 2 and played the protagonist in Kala Viplavam Pranayam, has the big supporting role to play here, and playing the hero’s brother, he stays strong. He seems to be rightly suited for both action as well as romance, as we can find out with this movie. We have to wait to see his upcoming works, as he deserves more. The newcomer in her second movie, Tarushi Jha leaves a mark here too, with a cute presence, and some romantic moments, even though the same is short lived. We do wish to see her in bigger roles, without doubt. Shyamaprasad has a nice role here too, and Siddique has some nice moments of villainy in the flick. Kanika’s role is short, and making not much of an impact towards the progress of the movie, and the flick could have done without this particular character. Kalabhavan Shajon scores in another police role along with Renji Panicker, while Suresh Krishna plays another solid and tough role here.

How it finishes :: There is more than one sides to this movie, and overall, it is an okay effort in making a thriller. But it had the strength to becomes something like Memories or Drishyam, and it just lost the way in between, with too much focus on heroism and favouring style over substance, and dialogues over story. The focus on emotional side let its thrilling side go weak, and let it be predictable with elements from other movies. Abrahaminte Santhathikal can be watched for being a pretty good emotional thriller, but it can’t rise much above. If you liked The Great Father a lot, you will surely like this one better. After all, the strength of a suspense thriller depends on its viewers too. If you need more, there are always Hollywood movies out there, with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom still going strong. Otherwise, this movie can take some of your time for the weekend.

Release date: 16th June 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Shaji Padoor
Starring: Mammootty, Anson Paul, Tarushi Jha, Kanika, Siddique, Sijoy Varghese, Renji Panicker, Kalabhavan Shajon, Yog Japee, Suresh Krishna, Mukundhan, Maqbool Salmaan, Master George, Shyamaprasad, Adhil Unais Hussain, Sudev Nair (cameo), Spadikam George (cameo), IM Vijayan (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Uncle

What is the movie about? :: Shruthi (Karthika Muraleedharan) is a young lady on her way back home, to Kozhikode from Ooty, where she has been studying, on a day which has strikes and protests written all over it. The violent protesters are everywhere in Ooty and Coonoor, destroying public property and attacking private vehicles according to their will. After getting into a fight with her best friend Sam (Ganapathi), she is looking for a way to get home, and gets on the path of Krishnakumar (Mammootty), a rich businessman who is an old friend and former classmate of her father, Vijayan (Joy Mathew). He offers her a lift to Kozhikode as he is also going that way, and as she knows him well enough, she accepts, even though not without some initial hesitation. This begins a journey that would last many hours, and they get along quite well throughout the trip.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Vijayan and his wife Lakshmi (Muthumani) are worried about her safety, especially the former who is not a fan of the character of his good old friend known for being with many women and being under the influence of alcohol for most of the time. But they think that their daughter would be back before it is night, but as darkness falls, it turns out that they have only reached some kilometres away from the checkpost will stay closed until next morning. A small accident with a truck and the frequent stops for taking photos only delay things further. Now, the two have to stay somewhere until next morning, and the concerns of Vijayan rises to a new level. Krishnakumar is known to have divorced his wife, and is suspected to have some relationships which wouldn’t be acceptable to the society – the car is also chased by two young men on a motorbike; is there danger awaiting Shruthi?

The defence of Uncle :: The issues that Uncle deals with are more or less relevant, not just in one area of the country, but everywhere, in varying levels. The cases of moral poicing and having never-ending doubts about a man and woman traveling at night or to deserted places – no questions are lost here. There are the reflections of prejudice, strange judgment, unnecessary fear and more, which are more or less present in almost all of us. The movie also has some good visuals and a fine song which is to stay on for long. It is also a movie of infinite opportunities, a case which Thanos himself would take for his infinity gauntlet – you know this idea, which is difficult to work on, but if done correctly, can give the results better than any other. Maybe, at another point of time, another movie will develop this for another age, in a better and smarter way. We can see the signs of such possibilities here itself at some points.

The claws of flaw :: The focus seems to be lacking in the tale which could have been an efficient thriller, but it never even comes close. There seems to be an attempt to make the audience believe that the girl is in distress, but never does the flick attain success with that. Our protagonist could be an enigma, but never a threat to an innocent girl despite us trying to see it from many perspectives. To bring a message, this one seems to have taken the energy out of everything else, which is rather disappointing – if it was all about coming to those last moments, why stretch the whole thing so much? The movie is so long, but there is not that much of content to stay and keep the viewers engaged. The female protagonist never becomes worthy enough to be of someone whom we could feel for, and the male protagonist never even tries for the same – this is something which drives us away from the characters, and at some point, their fate becomes something of no concern for us, especially when the willing suspension of belief losses the suspension too.

The performers of the soul :: When Mammootty makes a wonderful walk through this movie, you are not surprised – there are elements of his characters in his earlier movies from the golden age of Malayalam Cinema right here, but with the difference that has come through the ages. There is no superhero mode here though, and expect for one final punch which might have been necessary for most of the superstars out there, we see him going through a natural path – the Masterpiece model is dead at least for now, with no slow motion and beating up multiple people who fly around. The dark shades which some of the viewers had expected were missing though, as the breeze is rather light. He is a man with some surprises, as mystery is there regarding his world, but it is never in the dark world, as he keeps himself close to light, without allowing the darkness to creep in.

Further performers of the soul :: Joy Mathew is amazingly good as the father figure, and his worries keep us engaged. We see the emotions of a father very well reflected on his face, as he comes to know more. Muthumani keeps scoring with her dialogues, and the strength continues to be there till the end. Karthika Muralidharan has some cute moments here, and we had seen her doing almost nothing in CIA: Comrade in America – this might be an improvement in parts, but there are moments of overacting which can be considered difficult to bear. It is a saga of ups and downs, and in the same, the level is reluctant to go up after a certain point of time. She can do more, but that much is not there to be seen. She doesn’t look like a minor as mentioned in the movie either. KPAC Lalitha and Kailash story would seem a little strange, but brings some humour, and has the extra content to give the audience something else to focus in between, without the same journey in the car being repeated again and again.

How it finishes :: Uncle is good divergence for sure, but losses some of the territory it gained because of how big it happens to be – it is more or less like the Roman Empire which couldn’t control its territorial gains when the weaknesses were revealed with further expansion of the empire; but there is no questioning the idea behind both of them, and the strength when it was present. But we do have some talented cast members and the premise with a difference, bringing a mirror to the society – it is something that we just can’t avoid, and for the same reason, Uncle deserves a watch. We can always have more of the movies which leaves a message for the audience or reflects the society’s troubles in one way or the other. Uncle is a good sign of better movies to come, and we can hope for greatness in them, or rather the infinity of quality with the industry’s further uprising.

Release date: 27th April 2018
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Girish Damodar
Starring: Mammootty, Joy Mathew, Karthika Muralidharan, Muthumani, Suresh Krishna, KPAC Lalitha, Kailash, Ganapathi, Meghanadhan

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Street Lights

What is the movie about? :: There is a burglary occuring in the city, and the two thieves are being chased by security guards, only to be saved by a third man who is part of the gang. The three men are revealed to be the confused Sachi (Hareesh Perummana), clueless Raju (Dharmajan Bolgatty) and the angry, violent Murugan (Stunt Silva) who is determined to get what he wants in any way possible. They have stolen a diamond necklace, which might be the key to making their life better, and maybe perfect enough to ensure an eternity of wonderful existence. Simon Mundackal (Joy Mathew) who is the owner of the diamond necklace, is afraid to go to the police as the necklace is made from unaccounted money, which makes him call his nephew who is a police officer, James (Mammootty) – a man known to have his special skills in solving difficult cases.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: James has no problem in taking over this case, as he is known to have a history with Murugan, a criminal from Tamil Nadu’s Theni who has escaped to Kerala. He keeps only his most trusted people from the force with him, keeping the investigation personal and far away from the force’s knowledge. This search for the five crore worth of necklace begins with the one mobile phone which the thieves left at the house, but the journey forward is not that smooth for them, with James’ trusted officer Issac (Rony David) getting injured while fighting Murugan. The three thieves got their own safe houses in and around Cochin, and even when they are not to be found in the city, they have their presence. But they do make one mistake while hiding the diamond necklace, and Raju has the credit for the same.

And what follows next in the adventure? :: Their complicated adventure collides with the normal life of the people of Vypin and other places close to the city, and things begin to undergo changes for all of them. Remya (Lijomol Jose), her cousin and childhood friend (Soubin Shahir) who is in love with her, a child in her neighbourhood, his father who is connected to the thieves, and others are forced into the world of policemen and thieves, which has only one diamond necklace as the means to solve everything. There is also a flashback or many of them related to how everything begins. But the question remains if Murugan and his friends can be caught, and whether the diamond necklace can ever get back to Simon who is waiting for the same – well, you will never know, as there are some twists ready to happen.

The defence of Street Lights :: There is certain suspense about how things are going to come together, and things get nicely uncovered, and we have them joining well enough to make a point as we march towards the end. There is also a balance regarding importance given to the characters, as a number of roles seems to have the same significance in how things keep happening. The characters are more or less like the street lights, making their presence felt by lighting up moments – some are surely brighter than the rest, but all are working unlike in some parts of our world. Even those characters who come only in one scene have enough in them to be memorable. There is the mixture of comedy, thrills and twists that go on well, even though none of them gets to a level which makes the whole thing truly remarkable. The comic side brings the balance, you have almost all genres except horror looking right into this movie which is kept short for our interests.

The claws of flaw :: The final moments of the movie seem to be forced. One has to wonder why there had to be the need to bring the hero and the villain face to face, to get the protagonist to beat up his opponent with ease, when everything has been going in a rather realistic manner. The heroism with sunshades, slow motion and the stylish vehicles just seem to be added for the sake of having them there. A tale of the common man gets lost in this need to go unreal at times. A few predictable moments could have been avoided, and the focus should have been more with the child and the romantic tale, with the police-criminal moments being restricted. The final moments showing the greatness of the protagonist is rather dull, and a near perfect police officer is mis-fit for this kind of a realistic tale of the common people we see around.

The performers of the soul :: Mammootty plays the hero in this tale of other people, and he has no problem in playing this character which brings no challenge – it is just the usual stereotype of a police officer surrounded by characters full of life. Here, he brings the needed the charm, and surely strengthens the movie as the star. Lijomol Jose and Soubin Shahir have their own moments in this one, and there is fun around when they are around, with a certain amount of cuteness to go with the same. Hareesh Perumanna and Dharmajan Bolgatty are the two to provide the best of comedy though, as they bring something or the other all the time without hesitation. Stunt Silva does make a perfect villain in between, and we can see the evil side coming out of the veil, as we see the villainy which gets darker, revealing the strength of that darkness. Adhish Praveen is wonderful throughout the movie, and Gayathri Krishna’s shorter presence has our attention.

How it finishes :: Street Lights is not what many people might have expected, but its core tale of common people that we have been in need. If the so called action side was removed, it could have been a thriller with Maheshinte Prathikaaram or Thondimuthalum Drikshakshiyum model comic side. It never really matches them in totality, but Street Lights does manage to bring its own identity around here. Among the movies which go on doing the same thing again and again, this one does try to go a different path, particularly with one side of its story, and we can appreciate the same. It is with the same thing that Street Lights differs from Masterpiece – there is an idea here which is divergent in its core, and there is the attempt to experiment at certain points. Well, we can safely say that the street lights bring enough to get rid of the darkness here.

Release date: 26th January 2018
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Shamdat Sainudeen
Starring: Mammootty, Gayathri Krishna, Lijomol Jose, Soubin Shahir, Joy Mathew, Hareesh Perumanna, Stunt Silva, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Rony David, Jude Anthany Joseph, Sudhi Koppa, Motta Rajendran, Neena Kurup, Adhish Praveen, Sohan Seenulal, Rajasekharan

<— Click here to go to the previous review, and the opinion before that.

@ 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.

The Great Father

What is the movie about? :: David Nainan (Mammootty) is a successful builder, going through a happy and peaceful life with his wife Michelle (Sneha) and the only daughter Sarah (Baby Anikha). As David is a busy man with the construction work of his firm which has been growing fast and because Michelle is a reputed doctor in a big hospital, they rarely have enough time to spend with family though. Sarah is so proud of her father that she never misses the opportunity to boast about his status, not only as the successful person that he is, but even as a feared man even in the Mumbai underworld. He has told her some of those stories himself, most of which common people will feel exaggerated at the first time itself. Most of her friends don’t believe her as expected, and she even brings her grandfather’s gun to make them believe, and lands in trouble for the same.

So, what happens next? :: There is also the story of a pedophile serial killer, who ends up killing also the police officer, Samuel (Shaam) who investigates the case, and is believed to have some so close to catching the culprit. It is then that the new officer in charge of the investigation, Andrews Eapen (Arya) gets into the act. He is the new generation police officer who keeps his own style, and tries to get to the bottom of everything in one way or the other. As this series of parallel incidents threaten to destroy the happiness of his family, David tries to restore the same, as well as seek vengeance on the faceless evil which is so much becoming a part of his world. But for the same, he will have to go through Andrews Eapen who has decided to solve this by himself, and will accept no intervention in the case which he is investigating. So, where does that leave these two?

The defence of The Great Father :: The movie definitely looks nice, and there is the stylish treatment to go with. There is the suspense maintained, even though this investigation never really progresses on the clues gathered, as the focus is more on how awesome the superhero dad is so that he will know everything and anything is possible for him. Coulrophobia is something that you can successfully gain with this movie, and if that happens, it is also a case of success for this flick; still, a psychopath clown has never really been part of our culture, which could lead to partial alienation here. With the recent news, the theme that the movie chooses is also something which is relevant. For someone who is coming up with his first movie, the director has managed things well, without letting things go through the path of movies like Gangster. Mammootty fans are surely going to love this, as this one has proven to be a nice entertainer.

The claws of flaw :: This movie needed to get rid of its slow motion – it is not part of the style, not anymore. There is also too much of sunshades being used, and using the same for style is rather shameless when repeated so many times. A character in the movie asks about the need for jacket in this hot climate, and it is the correct question, and it is another shameless addition. There is also too much of superhero stuff here, and everything is just too easy for the hero here, which is often irritating – the movie’s social relevance gets degraded by this, as style, mass and heroism are not those elements which could best support a cause. One often wonders why what should have been the main focus becomes something of secondary interest with the two heroes right there in front? Along with the same, there is the certainty of the lack of ideas with the villain, his name being used and also with his mask and imagery – joker and the clown! From early Batman to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight to Stephen King’s It? Even about the guns being too quick? Seriously? And who would blur the image of a gun?

Performers of the soul :: Most of the movie is more like custom made for Mammootty, and he undoubtedly shines in this avatar – all the style gets brought to him here. It is what makes this a celebration for his fans, and this might be the grand return to form that the great veteran actor wanted for quite some time after that break that succeeded Pathemari and Puthiya Niyamam. Arya gets the secondary chance to shine, and he doesn’t go that far beyond despite being given too strange a police officer role to perform. Anikha is a child actor who could have had better than what she had in this movie considering the potential; sadly, the same is not there, even after she gets to perform more after those first thirty minutes of considerable irritation with boasting and boring talks. The movie, from the beginning itself, doesn’t allow kids to be kids, which is rather strange in what has been called more of a movie that was to appeal to the families.

Further performers of the soul :: Sneha gets limited to being the wife of a superhero, and that is all for her – this never really seems to come close to changing. Malavika Mohanan with all the looks and intensity, also gets side-lined here. With Pattam Pole, the one big bad movie, and Nirnaayakam which became the torrent hit, she surely needs more movies to bring the potential. Miya George is just quick to come, make a visit again, and then just go again not to be seen again – her last big role was in Paavada in 2016 opposite Prithviraj Sukumaran, and wonders why she is not seen on the big screens here that much she should have been. Kalabhavan Shajohn also gets less of a screen presence here. When you look at this as a whole, it is a solar system with Mammootty as the sun, and the rest are planets who just rotate and revolve around him; at least Arya get to be Jupiter; sometimes he even gets to be Saturn – he even gathers his own satellites in the process starting with one lady police officer character.

How it finishes :: The Great Father is known to have broken many collection records already, starting from the first day itself. I couldn’t find a ticket on the first day of its release. This one follows the path set by C/O Saira Banu and Take Off while dealing with incidents having social relevance. The Great Father does stick to what the earlier promotional material was promising to deliver, and the movie is surely better than the teaser. What you will really need to avoid are those terrible dialogues by the kids in the beginning, and those slow motion fight scenes that go towards the end. What you need to look forward to, along with Mammootty, is the looks of the whole thing here, and the theme that it deals with. Well, the thrills and the suspense factor will play along in between, even though this is no Memories with one serial killer ready to bring the big twist, and having no overdose of super-heroism! With Georgettan’s Pooram also there, this one tries and edges ahead in style.

Release date: 30th March 2017
Running time: 151 minutes
Directed by: Haneef Adeni
Starring: Mammootty, Arya, Sneha, Baby Anikha, Malavika Mohanan, Miya George, Shaam, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Santhosh Keezhatoor, IM Vijayan, Balaji Sharma, Sunil Sukhada, Rony Davis, Prajod Kalabhavan, Mukundan, Sohan Seenulal, Shaji Nadesan, Anup Pazhayakada, Deepak Parambol, Aaryan Krishna Menon, Anu Joseph

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Puthiya Niyamam

puthiyaniyamam (2)

Vampire Owl :: I have been waiting for this movie.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, it should have released last year.

Vampire Owl :: As the trailer has come out, my desire to watch this movie has only increased.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, the trailer has been an interesting one too.

Vampire Owl :: Mammootty’s next movie after Pathemari here, and that too a thriller. I don’t think that things can get any better.

Vampire Bat :: And his next movie should be White with Huma Qureshi; that should be something of variety.

Vampire Owl :: It is because you have less time these days that I was afraid that we might miss this movie.

Vampire Bat :: Well, we should never keep away from watching a movie like this.

Vampire Owl :: It is like our duty to Malayalam Cinema, right?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, something like that.

[Gets the tickets with cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Louis Pothen Narimadan (Mammootty), also known as LP among friends, is a film critic, television presenter and sculptor, and above all that an advocate who deals with cases of divorce, even though he tries his best to make sure that separation of a family is avoided whenever possible – at times, he is also interested in being a social activist. A person who is secular in nature, he is married to Vasuki Iyer (Nayanthara), a Kathakali artist who is a strong believer in God. Their families are not in connection with them after this inter-caste marriage even though Louis and their daughter are often invited to his ancestral place. But Louis’ family does reconcile with the new bride; yet things do take a terrible turn to make a negative impact.

So, where does life go from there? :: Things don’t go that well within the family in the later stages though. Vasuki has her systematized delusions about people, as she doubts the fish-seller, vegetable vendor and others who are part of their daily lives. She is overly concerned about the safety of her daughter and she keeps forcing Louis to keep making sure that they are safe, forcing him to buy a car and drop the child right inside the school compound every day. Louis is worried about the change in character of Vasuki, and even the child notices the same. One day, after a Kathakali performance, Vasuki meets Jeena Bhai (Sheelu Abraham), the city police commissioner who offers her help if there is any need. She decides to talk about her problems to the cop.

The defence of Puthiya Niyamam :: The climax is the highest point of the movie, as the final moments become a lot more interesting. There is one twist in the end for which you can wait, and it is the kind of waiting which you can wait with expectation to find something interesting. The messages are there, and there is also the presence of some moments for family watch. The visuals are pretty much interesting, even though the same could have been used better to display the city. The music is just okay around here. You will find interesting moments for the fans in the end, and there will also be some dialogues which will keep them interested – well, they will clap anyway, but some are worth it. The fact that there is no overdose of emotions here, is also a positive here. The fact that this doesn’t become the usual revenge story is also good.

Claws of flaw :: The first half is pretty much not good. It drags and nothing much really happens; even the comedy itself is forced. More focus could have surely made things better with the things before the interval. The movie takes too much time to get to its main points, and it has to wait till the end to bring that big moment. The movie also takes the chance to deviate from any idea that people had from the trailer; it is not really a positive thing because there was scope for more from that trailer. A lot of extra characters including Aju Varghese is wasted, and the comic side never really gets going, which affects the flow in the first half. More could have been done with the central idea of the movie too. The thrills are also too less even though this one was called a thriller – there is a shift in focus which makes the genre move away. We also needed more of Mammootty.

Performers of the soul :: Most of the screen presence is with Nayanthara who is there for most of the run-time of the movie, and she has given a very interesting performance in her character here. The mystery of the character’s change is well-portrayed here. Mammootty is there from the beginning itself, but takes over the movie’s universe only by the end; at some point you feel that he is there for the sake of being present only, but he will make amends in the end, and you need to wait for that. You still won’t get Mammootty as the protagonist or a full movie presence though, but as I said already, waiting will make things happen in the end – good things happen to people who wait; I have that kind of an experience myself. Bhaskar the Rascal had them working together nicely, and now this one has them doing the same very well. The rest of the cast does not much.

How it finishes :: The fans have been the curse of this movie; a lot of dialogues were not clear because they were making noise inside the theatre. If the focus of the fan clubs is to disrupt the dialogues of their own superstar and throw waste inside the theatre, it is time that they cease calling themselves fans. Yes, this is not the first time, but while watching a thriller, such lack of quality among people who call themselves fans will only cause problems to the flow of the movie. I think that it is time that celebrities have a say about this; do they want fans who keep saying the same thing all the time or people who appreciate their performances? Well, blind support to an actor isn’t going to make his name better – people will say his name and add the word “fans” to the end, and call things pathetic – it is the duty of a responsible fan to make sure that it doesn’t happen!

Release date: 12th February 2016
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: A. K. Sajan
Starring: Mammootty, Nayanthara, Aju Varghese, Baby Ananya, Sheelu Abraham, Rachana Narayanankutty, S. N. Swamy, Sreelatha Namboothiri, Pradeep Kottayam, Ponnamma Babu, Sadiq, Jayaraj Warrier, Sohan Seenulal

puthiyaniyamam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pathemari

pathemarii (3)

What is it about? :: Pathemari is a movie of struggle and survival through an unfair world. Pallikkal Narayanan (Mammootty) is a man who left for the Middle East with his friend Moideen (Sreenivasan) and many others on a boat defeating the waves of sea to swim and reach UAE at a time when the border laws were not as strict as it is now. Becoming part of that exodus from Kerala to the Gulf area at that time when unemployment was at its peak, Naranan becomes the symbol of the journey that one has to undertake to make sure that the whole family survives. He is someone who struggles for not just one’s own family, but the extended relatives as he keep working to see life getting better for them while his youth as well as the existence beyond that disappears. But he continues to do the same without complaints.

The defence of Pathemari :: There is a lot of truth and sincerity on display in Pathemari. It is certain that a lot of NRIs, not just of the Middle East, but also belonging to the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and may be even other nations can relate to the story here. It doesn’t change according to circumstances, but instead stick to the common man. The movie’s second half and the ending are the more powerful ones; the finish might be the most touching one – simple, but easy to be connected and with significant power to touch one’s emotions. It is sad, and with its sadness, the movie becomes lovable; with the depressing truth which it shows on the screen, it becomes more beautiful – it is a poetry of lost hope and desire which brings tears to the eyes of the audience; this is what the ending of the movie is truly about. There are also some nice visuals for support.

Claws of flaw :: Pathemari doesn’t bring anything new to the most part of its story-line. There is the usual problems of a man who has left home reflected here. It follows the sacrifice model of movies like Vatsalyam and the problems of the man who returns from the Middle East with the relatives as in Varavelpu, even though this one follows a more realistic path and passes through the ages. There is also some drag here and there, even though the emotional side hides it for most of the time. The movie could have shown some more of the life in the Middle East too, how the protagonist had struggled there throughout the ages with how the others have lived and faded around there; it would have been a fine boost; after all the movie is also shot there – but we have to appreciate the fact that they have kept the movie not too long. The songs are not interesting, but other music is catchy.

Performers of the soul :: Even though Mammootty takes some time to appear in this flick, he becomes the heart and soul of Pathemari as soon as that happens. Most of us have been complaining about his choice of movies with Acha Din and Utopiayile Rajavu, but he gives no chance for us to complain this time. As the director had earlier said, what we see is the just the character through ages, and not Mammootty as he lives as this character who becomes not just Pallikkal Narayanan, but many other people who really exist. It is his grand return to the class role that we see here, and it is something worth the applause that even the multiplex never hesitated to provide. What has to be admired more about this movie as the commercial thing is that it didn’t overdo its promotions, and the fans have also been self-controlled in their actions in favour of this movie.

Further Performers of the soul :: This is also the debut movie of Jewel Mary who was first seen in Utopiayile Rajavu which released first because of the delay on Pathemari. She is good on her debut, and her performance is clearly above what was seen in the movie which first released. Sreenivasan has a memorable role in this one, and so does Siddique who has a smaller but interesting character to play. Salim Kumar just has a small presence while Joy Mathew brings another good performance on screen. The actresses Anju Aravind and Anu Joseph gets to play the sisters of Mammootty, and it good to see them back on the big screen out of those serials. Siddique’s son Shaheen Siddique also makes a good debut in this movie. All of them make sure that Pathemari is indeed driven by performances.

Soul exploration :: There is something about the life of the NRIs that people here won’t know about. Even though the people who leave for the foreign nations these days have better status, it was not the case during the early days. As the situation here was so bad, they just wanted to get there so that things could only get better if they survived. But people here would think that they live a happy life there and are sending only a small amount of money after spending like they wish to. It might be so in the case of some people these days, especially the youth, but in most cases, when we consider people who have left to save their families, it has always been about survival and saving the family. There are lots of people who haven’t gained much for themselves or their children, but have managed to make sure that their brothers, sisters and cousins have managed to do better – aren’t they winners too?

How it finishes :: As far as NRIs who have left not for glory, but due to the problems at home are concerned, this one will be a big reflection. It will also be effective for the rest, and it won’t be easy for anyone to leave the theatre without being touched by the emotions, and this abiding sadness is an achievement for the movie. In the end, we know that there are good men and bad men, and with both types among the achievers, we further feel that most of the people who have failed are actually very good men who have sacrificed a lot for others – but it is actually an achievement in itself to have suffered and gained victories for others in a world where only the rich are officially considered the achievers even by the relatives and friends of the poor. It is an achievement often forgotten, as the rich write their own names into the history; but God knows, and so does nature.

Release date: 9th October 2015
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Vinay Govind
Starring: Mammootty, Sreenivasan, Joy Mathew, Jewel Mary, Siddique, Anu Joseph, Anju Aravind, Salim Kumar, Shaheen Siddique, Saju Navodaya, Yavanika Gopalakrishnan, Hashik TK, Kalabhavan Haneef, Viji Chandrasekhar, Santosh Keezhattoor, Safin, Nyla Usha (cameo)

pathemari

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Fireman

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Vampire Owl :: I believe that you are talking about Kane.

Vampire Bat :: No, Kane sets people on fire. This is about saving people.

Vampire Owl :: So he saves those people who are set on fire by Kane. I know that the fire still burns.

Vampire Bat :: No, this is only about saving people from fire.

Vampire Owl :: He should save a few cricketers then. During the last India Pakistan match, I heard from many people that Virat Kohli was on fire.

Vampire Bat :: What? I think that this is too early for you. Go back to sleep, it is only ten thirty in the morning.

Vampire Owl :: What about the English movies this weekend?

Vampire Bat :: There are only Oscar nominated movies in the theatres this weekend. Nothing has been released. By the time they finish cutting Fifty Shades of Grey, even our immortality would have expired.

Vampire Owl :: I am hoping for a job at the censor board. Then I can display my cruelty by cutting parts of a movie. I hope to become Mr. Cruelty for the next Global Vampire Cruelty contest.

Vampire Bat :: First, you can try to come to your senses at least at 10:30 AM.

[Goes to the theatre].

What is it about? :: Vijay (Mammootty) is a firefighter who is highly dedicated to his work and considers helping the public as his main motive. Lakshmanan Pillai (P Sreekumar) is his senior who is almost ready to retire from service, and Shahjahan (Unni Mukundan) is a young man who works under him. One day, he faces a problem that he never had before. A tanker losses its control, and the tank which it carries is tossed around. As a number of his comrades including his senior are killed, Vijay has to take control and make sure that there is no explosion of the tank, and with the help of the City Commissioner Sherin Thomas (Nyla Usha) and her reluctant police force, he has to get things under control. The local political worker Iqbal (Siddique) also offers to help. But it is not an easy situation here with the need to evacuate the surroundings, one of the nearby buildings being the central prison.

The defence of Fireman :: There is the certainty of thrills with this movie and the tribute to the Fire-force of Kerala is present as well as acknowledged. There is also the presence of twists, and the audience is kept glued to the screen. The background score is good and nicely keeps the level of the movie high. The dialogues are smart and powerful, mostly left for Mammootty. The way in which the movie transforms from a possible disaster movie to a possible investigative thriller adds to the power of that twist. Yes, once again, there is more than what meets the eye. The climax has some nice moments. There are a few more things that I could add here, but that might destroy the suspense at least up-to an extent and I choose not to. Then there is absolutely no romance here, and for that, I am more than just glad. Yet, the heroine has her moments too.

The Claws of Flaw :: The special effects are quite depressing to watch. Some of the moments should have been just talked about and declared happened, rather than showing them on the big screen. Just those fire effects were needed for this movie, and the rest could have been left for the imaginations – our viewers are very much used to creating something by themselves. The name itself is a repetition with its tagline, as you might have noticed – the publicity was also not enough. The movie also takes some time to get into the thrilling side. The movie is not without some loopholes with certain exaggeration, and the final action scene was rather unnecessary. The focus on the hero as always being the smartest of them all is also a little too much to digest. The other characters do have a certain tendency not to be that good.

Performers of the soul :: I haven’t watched a movie having Mammootty since Gangster, because it was the lowest that the great veteran actor could reach, may be with the exception of Parunthu, Love in Singapore and Pattanathil Bhootham. With some better movies being there in between as read here and there, I went to watch this movie, not without doubts – only to be happy that I made the right choice this time. This one is strengthened by that power packed performance from Mammootty that each and everyone of his fans deserve to see on the big screen. As the whole thing is centred around him, he continues keeping things under control. Unni Mukundan is good, and Siddique manages things with his usual ease. Nyla Usha comes up with her best performance ever, and I would consider this one the best supporting role from an actress in a police role. Salim Kumar’s character doesn’t really work.

Soul exploration :: We used to see the police officers acting at the right time to save the day, and even collectors – this time it is all about the fireman. The movie pays tribute to the fire workers who come to the aid of the common man as soon as there is the need with the number 101. The movie’s soul strikes the right place with its tribute, as we see the hero as fireman and not those usual roles which have been tried again and again. There is a question being asked about how many people want to be a fireman as much as having a desire to be a police officer or an army man? Well, hope this movie inspires more people to see the fireman as a hero and hope to save the lives. I am glad that this movie turns out to be a fine product on the screen, and it celebrates the efforts of those people who strives hard, but are often not in the spotlight.

How it finishes :: Fireman has a big chance this weekend with no Hollywood release and this one being the more awaited among the Malayalam movies with its change of release dates. The opinions have been positive too, as you can know from the audience. I did doubt our director here with his movies Tejabhai and Family and Crazy Gopalan, but his Winter had its thrills – I could also feel the confidence when he was there in the program Onnum Onnum Moonu with Unni Mukundan and Nyla Usha. This should be the first movie in India to have Fire-force and their activities at the centre – I still can’t say that with confidence because I don’t watch every movie in every language, but it seems to be so. Fireman is a movie that deserves to be watched, and it is not just a good start to Mammootty, but also the best thriller of the year so far.

Release date: 19th February 2015
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Deepu Karunakaran
Starring: Mammootty, Nyla Usha, Unni Mukundan, Siddique, Sreerag Nambiar, Salim Kumar, Hareesh Peradi, P Sreekumar

fireman

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Silence

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Questions of the day :: The first question of the day is less relevant, and it is about the day of release. Why would this movie be released on a Saturday? That gives the impression that the movie is less confident about fighting face to face with movies that release on the Friday as usual, and this was more of a “weak week” except for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire striking the multiplexes; that won’t help – it gives more of a feeling that by releasing on a Saturday or a Sunday, more family audiences can be lured to the theatres without reading a review. That is rather pure lack of confidence, something which we audience have more on all those who are behind this movie than they might have had on us. The next question is about the lack of publicity – this might be the least publicized movie of Mammootty as well as V.K. Prakash in a long time. Nobody really knew that this movie was going to release last Saturday. It was updated on multiplex lists much later, and there was no talks about it. Seriously, why release a superstar movie in secret? There are some posters, but in a week such as this, the movie could have done incredibly well with better marketing.

What is Silence? :: From the director who gave us Beautiful (my favourite movie from him), comes this flick which is more of a thriller. No it is not just Silence if you look closer into the poster, as it is The Power of Silence, with Silence written in big letters. I didn’t like his last few movies, but I was sure that there will be something good coming up from him soon. Only if they had marketed this well as they did for the inferior movies like Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla and Poppins. This has to be the least popularized Mammootty movie too, breaking the record of Kunjananthante Kada which also came sneaking into the theatres. But Silence is still moving silently, and there needs to be voices if it has to take it to the next level. Just because the name of a movie is The Power of Silence, would that mean its better to sneak into the theatres and run for a week with not many people knowing that it has released? Except for jobless people like me, of course. The fans will know, but for a neutral, this one had to be told about. What is the motive behind making this movie if nobody knows it has released? Who knows? Well, lets move on to what might point to our movie concerning corpus delicti!

What is it about? :: Aravind Chandrasekhar (Mammootty) is the newly appointed Chief Judge of the Karnataka High Court after a great run as a lawyer with absolutely no blemish. He is praised as the youngest person to achieve that honour and everything goes smoothly as he goes to his ancestral home with his wife Sangeetha (Pallavi Purohit) and two children. He is harassed by a phone call from an unknown person who seems to know almost everything about him, and tells him that he is not fit to be a judge. There are cars chasing him, people around his house, his daughter is given gifts by strangers and his son is found missing only to be found later. With the help of Neil George (Anoop Menon), an IPS officer and a good friend, he attempts to solve the mystery behind the people who are shadowing him. He finds that there is something about his past there, and goes back to look at the cases which he dealt with, and with the advice of his former rival Markose (Joy Matthew) and his juniors, he would find out the same just after the first half and gets to make things right.

The defence of Silence :: The movie does have the power of silence as it moves on silently, but with some hidden fire throughout the first half. It is a good attempt by the crew to make a thriller after the same director and scriptwriter did join earlier to make comedy movies. The movie is serious and is successful in making people think that there is something big coming up and there are surprises in store. The questions have been brought to light and the train of answers have been set up in such a way as to make sure that there will be no derailing except for some shaking in the second half. There is that feeling which has been missing in the thriller movies in Malayalam, which audience might have been waiting for. There is that point where the interval is set and it is where the movie is at its peak, and at the top it sends people to buy popcorn, kappa varuthathu, kadala and tea, waiting to pounce on them again after the interval, and people are left with high hopes.

Claws of flaw :: The second half takes an unnecessary leap and takes away the hopes. The beginning of the second half is okay, but as it progresses and reaches the second part of the second half, the curse takes over and by the climax, it is almost completely gone with the ship barely holding on at the top of the sea level with only the mast remaining on the top. The way they end this movie is rather despicable, and there is an underwater fight scene as they attack each other as if they were born to live underwater, but that place looks rather like an aquarium. Why all the stupidity and dialogues of nonsense in the end is a question which can spring up. The loopholes catches on, and the background music which comes out of nowhere and becomes disturbing for the ears with noise pollution is another despicable thing. The movie becomes rather amateurish as a thriller as it reaches the finishing line. The points that the movie scores is for the first half, and the for the second, it gets some points just because it doesn’t fall into the bottom of the abyss.

Performers of the soul :: Mammootty is the one who saves the movie again and again as the flick keeps losing steam on regular occasions. He makes sure that he does all that he can to keep this ship from sinking from the holes created by itself during a moonwalk with a glacier, and there is a lot of them which can make a regular Titanic sink. Anoop Menon has given him great support right from the beginning and his performance is as good as it can get, while Pallavi’s debut in Malayalam is just decent with nothing special added to the menu, and one often wonders if that character is there just because our protagonist needed a family and someone was to be kidnapped and left for dead by the villain. Aparna Nair has nothing but a presence, like the dead twin sister in Geethanjali. Joy Mathew has a very small role, but when he is there, he makes that impact that he always makes, and his character could have been further explored rather than left behind with a few dialogues. He would have been a better villain than anyone else in the movie. The child artists are also good.

How it finishes :: Silence is a silent scene for most of the viewers as the movie which doesn’t have even a wikipedia page (even small budget movies without superstars often manage one). Its power as a thriller might be disputed and its strength as a superstar movie might be questioned. V.K. Prakash and Y.V. Rajesh surely make a great combination (yes, I liked Gulumal: The Escape and Three Kings, no matter what). Not among the more interesting thrillers in any manner, and don’t compare this to Memories though, as it remains the best Malayalam thriller movie not only of this year, but also of a long time. Silence doesn’t rise even as a mediocre contender to that. But this one does have its moments of thrills which doesn’t go beyond a certain point. The thrillers with psychological as well as the investigative sides always make it interesting to watch, as proved by Memories, Nadia Kollappetta Rathri and Sahasram. Silence has a certain doubt if it should go with these three or last year’s Grandmaster, and there it confuses itself as well as the viewers, and gets drained of energy, yet holds its ground. There is information that it is inspired from multiple Hollywood flicks, but none I have watched. We need more thrillers in Malayalam, and so I suggest we should make this one a success!

Release date: 7th December 2013
Running time: 120 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: V.K. Prakash
Starring: Mammootty, Anoop Menon, Joy Mathew, Pallavi Purohit, Aparna Nair, Kavitha Nair, Ravi Vallathole, Basil, Prakash Bare

silence copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

God’s Own Cleetus

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I have taken the liberty to anglicize Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus into God’s Own Cleetus just like how Daivathinte Swantham Naadu becomes God’s Own Country. No, this is not that much of a lovable character to be baptised twice, but it is the effort of the actor behind the character and the way in which he has done justice to that character which makes Cleetus our own. Yes, you might find the world of this movie asking for a better treatment, but for a debutant director and the background which has been used, this is a very good recovery for a movie which didn’t impress the audience by its trailer nor with the brief storyline which was shared. Let me be clear about one thing; this movie could have gone either way, to the depths of abyss or to the heights of the lost paradise regained. If there is a question about where it stands at the moment, it is a long way from that abyss. Yes, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus has survived, and did use its survival instincts well enough to add on to that survival guide new stories of goodness and faith. If you don’t like this movie, that is still understandable, but it can never stoop low enough to deserve hatred, that is where this movie plays safe, and it is how this movie shall hold on to its audience during this Onam vacation.

It will be facing a tough competition from the most awaited movie of the Onam, Dileep’s Sringaravelan, a possible surprise in the form of Indrajith Sukumaran’s Ezhamathe Varavu, and an interest-seeking Fahadh flick North 24 Kaatham, as we leave D Company out of that list. The Hollywood’s challenge in the form of Grown Ups 2 has self-destructed, and Bollywood’s John Day along with Horror Story are too much limited in shows with an adult-rated Grand Masti not to be an Onam favourite for sure. With pretty much a good competition in store, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus might not be expected to do that good, but the verdict for the other Malayalam movies are not really out yet. Why would we still need movies like this to survive? Because it has tried its luck in an unfamiliar territory even if the fuel is a familiar one. It has a little bit of Chamayam, Pranchiyettan and The Saint and Amen in it, hidden well, but not from the eyes of experienced movie watchers. But, has the movie relentlessly tried to dig these movies out? The answer is no. There is nothing in common as a whole, and our movie has successfully brought out a legacy of its own, not from the ashes, but out of the most valuable sparks which could give rise to a phoenix.

The story tells the story of Cleetus (Mammootty), a feared criminal who causes problems wherever he goes. He is an alcoholic and always ready to do anything for money. As a parish priest Sunny Vadakkumthala (Siddique) chooses him to act as Jesus Christ in a drama as part of a church programme without knowing his true identity, something he does after rejecting a lot of people, chaos breaks loose among the theatre artists. The priest decides to persist with him and his sidekick (Aju Varghese) despite knowing his true identity, in the belief that the experience of being a character such as Jesus Christ might reform him, thus taking a huge risk considering the massive show which is going to happen and the audience expected. If Cleetus changes or makes the people around him change, whether the drama happens or Cleetus makes a clear mess out of it is left to be seen. Will Jesus Christ’s life change Cleetus or will his life change the fate of the drama in a horrible way? The movie answers the question very late, as every time, he would seem to get a little better, the world around him changes needing him to make those adjustments he is not used to make.

The whole movie undoubtedly rests on Mammootty, and as once again he rises to occasion, it is a treat to all the fans and neutral audience alike. No, Cleetus is not Immanuel, Kunjananthan, Bavutty or Mathukkutty, for he is a gunda, and he is surely nowhere near Pranchiyettan. A long list of characters of goodness is teared apart here, as our protagonist starts as the sinner who is not even set on the path to redemption. Unlike the others, Cleetus is a man who rises and takes the chalice of goodness, finishing it with relative ease. There is no denying that the image gets some self-imposed backlashes, but nothing that will not contribute to Cleetus being more and more human, with the shades of grey rather than pitch black – after all who can deny some mood-swings? Do we love Cleetus? The answer would be no. But he gets as close to being lovable as possible for a man seeking redemption, and he seemed to have attained some of it by the end. He comes that far by keeping himself far away from a superhuman image which could come across this time, even as there is no denying the fact that our protagonist beats up a lot of people, something which was expected right from the beginning.

Even as the movie belongs to Mammootty in an undisputed manner, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Thesni Khan handles the humour department quite effectively. Suraj remains the strong link of humour in this flick. Rejith Menon has made his presence felt, as the one and only Romeo character in the movie. Honey Rose is very good in her role, and it a matured character that we see this time. Sanam Shetty has that beautiful presence, something which she carries over from what we saw in Cinema Company, that grace and beauty which was talked about as that of a Greek goddess in that movie; for there is no denying who is the Aphrodite as well as the Juliet in this movie. Vijayaraghavan leaves a mark as one of the villain characters, and so does Kailash. Siddique was at his best, doing a character which he seemed to perfect. It is impossible to keep him out of this world where he once again does a fantastic job. There is a tremendous energy in his character, and also that much needed serenity, the two things which seemed to suit each other very well. One of our favourite comedy stars on television, Ullas Pandalam also makes good mark in the movie.

So, can the worst of people change and go back to God? Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus shows us that all hope is not lost. As the character goes through playing the life of Jesus Christ, his attitude towards life changes too, as a lot of the events in the life of Christ seems to be reflecting in his own world in a small and slightly similar manner. We have a man who has no previous acting experience, like Manoj K. Jayan in Chamayam. No, I am not really comparing, for that one would make it to my all-time favourite list, or may be more than one list. As that monologue in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts” – here Cleetus plays one, and plays it fine and it replaces his real life as his new role, and it didn’t just go away as one of the parts which he played, as it stayed on with him. It is “Quod fere totus mundus exerceat histrionem” (Because almost the whole world are actors) as Petronius is supposed to have given us. Some of us live our part and others play our roles, and in both cases, the path is similar and leading to the same destination.

Well, we know that it is never late to turn to God. It is the faith, belief and hope that is supposed to guide us rather than materialism. Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus comes up with a great spectacle of divinity by the end, something which is comparable to Amen’s final battle of music, even as this one is less about music and more about the scenes. Is there a hidden magic realism in it? Does it have the magic touch of Pranchiyettan and The Saint helping the movie on moving forward? These are questions which can have more than one answers. But for now, this movie has done its part, but not living upto its potential. The life of Cleetus and his transformation could have been a lot more interesting. It was so close to achieving that balance that a little Icarus-sun battle might have brought it closer to its current rating. It is still your choice if you are to choose one man, who is both the saint and the sinner, saviour and the punisher, redeemer and the destroyer, moving from the path of evil to the way of goodness paved by angels and showered by blessings. This is another Pilgrim’s Progress from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The destiny of Cleetus now stands in the hands of the viewers, and its final fate is yet to be decided.

Release date: 12th September 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Marthandan
Starring: Mammootty, Honey Rose, Aju Varghese, Sanam Shetty, Rejith Menon, Kailash, Siddique, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Thesni Khan, Vinayakan, Vijayaraghavan, Anoop Chandran, P. Balachandran, Ullas Pandalam

cleetu copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Immanuel

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There has been a certain absence of goodness in most of the movies of the last few years of new generation stuff; this absence which has been reclaimed more by another experimental movie which was Amen, and it is once again regained by this world full of goodness in the middle of evil in this movie Immanuel. The word “Immanuel” or “Emmanuel” has been a common Biblical name meaning “God is with us”. This presence of God and His Word happens to have an influence on this movie, which is more powerful than what is seen at first sight, as the strength lies in what is less noticed, and this strength powers the natural world that is conveyed to the audience; for even without them knowing, there is the power of divinity behind the seemingly ordinary goodness. The belief in essential goodness of man has been clearly broken with those movies which glorified pure evil. But this is not something which needs a theory to support the fact, as it has been proven by mankind by centuries of wars, brutal murders and destruction. The global presence of this evil is unquestionable. William Golding had made us believe the same with his Lord of the Flies which powers the belief in inherent evil in man. That tendency to sin innate in all human beings, held to be inherited from Adam and Eve.

As the “Fall of Man” has become more of an excuse for sins rather than something which acts as an influence, this movie comes up with one man who keeps his alignment towards the good. The mankind might be still inherently evil and this evil resides within everyone and could be unleashed at any moment as long as the situation is suitable, with no need for a Hannibal Lector. The dark side of human nature could be as vicious and as terrifying as the evil that exist unknown to man, and even the most innocent of mankind are vulnerable to it – but not our hero, as we welcome the man of goodness, Immanuel. He is no fairy king, halfling, hobbit or anything, but as human as one can be, in a world of lost humanity. He is the biggest surprise in the movie named after himself, and he is no lesser wonder in a world of utter chaos & misery, as the humane nature of humanity survives through him and runs his sacred endurance to the limits. Immanuel is not just a character of Lal Jose’s imagination, but a much needed reason for the salvation of human race – for the saved are less and the damned are many; for the greatest of the fallen ones has multiplied, not by breeding, but by intellect of the wrong kind calling it science and technology; profit and success.

The movie starts with the character of Immanuel working in a small book publishing firm. When the small company is forced to shut down due to the owner having heavy debts and going on a vanishing act, Immanuel and his family find it difficult to go through their regular lives. There are the usual requirements of a home as well as the needs of his son which makes life uneasy for the family. The difficulties he faces forces him to get a job which is not really suitable for someone like him. For a honest, good hearted person like Immanuel, the corporate world is nothing less than the inferno of the deepest level. He is forced completely out of his comfort zone, but he is also not able to quit the job as his family desperately needs the money. Thus he decides to go on as long as he can, and one day he might be able to find enough money to buy a home and get himself and the family out of the rented house. Most of his co-workers are of not much help to him, as they are all competitors in the same field and would use treachery if necessary to keep their levels high. His boss, Jeevan proves to be the biggest problem, as the cruel corporate master and oppressor, nothing less than a feudal lord or a colonizer. The boss’s aim is only to gain maximum profit, even as he talks about the customer being the king.

Remembering The Pursuit of Happyness, it was a movie which glorified this type of life, and the ultimate aim was to meet the deadline and get the target, but this one takes it upside down. Maximizing the client contacts and thus the profits doesn’t really get the job done for Immanuel. He is the kind of person who is ready to give up all of them as a sacrifice for leading a life of truth and sincerity. May be “happyness” was not what Immanuel was looking for, as it was “happiness” in its most stable form. Immanuel always had the needs, but he never over-valued money over the human relations, a total opposite to Jeevan, the latter who is more suitable to be included in the pursuit of “happyness” than “happiness”, more of a pseudo-happiness which takes a physical appearance rather than mental – for it is of this world in all its limited environment. Such a position wouldn’t create anything more than a void within a void, a point which is made clear through the lives of the two main characters in this movie. But the question would be about the point where humanity ends and divinity starts for Immanuel; and that other point where humanity ends and damnation starts for Jeevan, even if it is not a complete process. Such a question creates more doubts than solutions.

Mammootty’s Immanuel is more of a flawless creature of divinity. Even with contradicting philosophical problems created by the man of goodness, there is so much simplicity in his depiction of the character. There is so much ease around this performance, as the character undergoes heavy transformation from his early troubles to corporate frauds and to the final realization that not all dreams come true and most of them really needn’t. Dreams are also meant to stay as they are, and ambition is just another name for greed triggered by vanity and jealousy. There are two sides to everything, and as long as the black and the white are considered, there are Jeevan and Immanuel respectively, but the white always have the option to walk away from the black, not without loss though. Immanuel still doesn’t loss his qualities that makes him what he is, as he helps two characters played by Sukumari and Mukhta, the first one getting the much needed money for her daughter’s marriage after her husband’s death, and the second one for the treatment of cancer. His help extend beyond the office though, with the poor workers from outside the state, all of these creating more rift with Jeevan and making his staying on the job even more risky. But he continues to stay as himself.

Fahadh Faasil’s Jeevan is never outside the game. He is the boss of the game of sales, as well as the brain in a smaller ship of the corporate world. He is never in good terms with Immanuel, who seems to him as his nemesis from the moment he gets his job under him. Caught between profit-making in his job, loving his family and reading the Holy Bible, he is neither here nor there, but manages to keep his dark side going with his attitude towards those who works under him. It is a fantastic performance, even as the character has less screentime compared to Immanuel. Jeevan is also the exact opposite of those characters we saw in Red Wine and Amen, and a comparison to Solomon takes this further down to the abyss reserved for extreme opposites. Reenu Mathews who plays Immanuel’s wife has come up with another performance which is above the line, and really good for a beginner. Devan plays a role like he played in Gulumaal, and it is easy to connect with the role in this one; Mukesh’s role is also a cameo and the same can be said about that of Balachandran Chullikkadu. It can be said that Muktha Elsa George plays an extended cameo with a few appearances.

Bijukuttan, Salim Kumar and Guinness Pakru provides the lighter moments in the movie, and its comedy is all sensible. There is no stupidity or vulgarity associated with it. All these funny elements are not of lower standards either. Thus it moves on as a movie suitable for all, not just for the fans or the family. But it never runs out of its slowness, and never tries to have a look outside the ordinary. If it had done so, this might have reached a new level. But it may still be more comfortable in its own territory which is in this case, the normal side. There is nothing here like what kept the audience glued to Diamond Necklace – instead, this is just the story of one good human who managed to keep his goodness even as there were so many opportunities for him to lose it along with his soul. This movie is also a story of morality – it preaches and it does so with perfection; not as perfect as one would expect in theory, but as perfect as a human with all its imperfections could manage to do. The goodness needs to be generated in a society which is plagued by lies, and may Immanuel be a good model for the people who fails to deliver truth when it is most needed. The movie’s alignment towards pure goodness is to be appreciated. God is with this movie for sure.

Release date: 5th April 2013
Running time: 150 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Mammootty, Fahadh Faasil, Reenu Mathews, Sukumari, Salim Kumar, Guinness Pakru, Sunil Sukhada, Ramesh Pisharody, Bijukuttan, Balachandran Chullikkadu, Muktha Elsa George, Mukesh, Devan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.