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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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Basheerinte Premalekhanam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Alamara

Vampire Owl: A movie named after the almirah. It is an interesting case.

Vampire Bat: What is it about you and an almirah?

Vampire Owl: An almirah is a nice option for executing our evil plans.

Vampire Bat: You are not planning on scaring a few people by jumping out of an almirah, are you?

Vampire Owl: Well, what I plan is world domination using the almirah.

Vampire Bat: That idea won’t work. It is just an almirah.

Vampire Owl: You will know the depth of my evil plans, and then you will realise how far it can go.

Vampire Bat: It hasn’t gone that much with any of the plans.

Vampire Owl: You see, this one is different. I will get some special plan from this movie.

Vampire Bat: Let you find the best evil plan from a feel-good comedy movie.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn and vegetable puffs].

What is the movie about? :: Arun (Sunny Wayne) is a bank employee who is working at Bangalore, and despite having seen forty seven girls so far, hasn’t been able to get married to one. The last one got messed up after the girl whom he was supposed to marry, eloped with someone else. He is a member of various matrimonial websites, and there are his relatives who are trying to get him to be married to some girl or the other, but things don’t go well as something bad happens every time. It is during these times that his good friend Suvin (Aju Varghese) gets rejected by a girl Swathi (Aditi Ravi) because he ends up being shorter than her. Swathi gets transferred to Bangalore, and asks for some help from Arun who is the brother of her old friend Divya (Sonu Anna Jacob), and knows the city well enough to find her a place to live for the time being.

So, what happens next? :: He soon proposes to Swathi, and working in nearby banks in the same city, she accepts, and so do the parents and relatives of both of them. The date of wedding is fixed on a day six months later, so that Divya can also be married on the same day, after she also passes a bank test and gets to work in a financial institution just like them. As the date gets nearer, everyone on the girl’s side gets restless, but it seems that Divya is in no mood to pass the bank test any time soon – she just keeps studying and nothing much happens. The two families almost decide not to go forward with this relationship, but Arun and Swathi are adamant, and finally both families have to agree to conduct the wedding. The wedding goes on well, and both of them move to Bangalore after a few days at Arun’s place. But things aren’t that smooth as they thought they were going to be.

The defence of Alamara :: The feel-good element in this movie works very well, and so do the jokes used here. The message here is that the married couple has to live their lives, and the rest of the people around will be only there to give some free advice and also to have the food for the function. The movie asks the pairs to take the decisions about their later lives themselves, and listen the least to the others – also, not to compare, but to live a life which is meant for them and not for those who watch from outside. A lot of situations in the movie can be related, and the comedy used here might feel a lot closer to real life for many. It was also a nice and divergent idea to have the almirah do the narration as the silent witness to all the foolishness that the humans come up with inside their relationships. The movie is visually good, and the songs have good timing.

The claws of flaw :: You will see that there is a lot of predictability associated with this tale which has been going on for a long time in one form or the other. There is no shortage of stories like this in our world – we can see them in all directions. You once again see a married couple having their relationship in trouble due to the interferences from their families who were not sure about this wedlock at the first place. The subplot concerning the property sale at Bangalore was not at all interesting though, and it could have been kept to the minimum to decrease the overall length of this movie. There could have also been something really new and fresh here, considering the fact that the same couldn’t be done with the story and how it goes on. The actors like Bijukuttan and Vijilesh are a little too less used, with more scope there for their characters.

Performers of the soul :: Sunny Wayne is good here, and he maintains the level in most of the sequences too. It is Aditi Ravi who makes a bigger impact here though, and we can expect to see more of her considering how good she has been in this leading role. In the comedy department, it is Manikandan Achari as the protagonist’s favourite uncle, who stands apart in a role completely different from what he did in Kammattipaadam. Aju Varghese and Saiju Kurup scores the most as protagonist’s friends when at Bangalore – also look out for Indrans in another different avatar here. Ranji Panicker and Seema G. Nair makes a fine pair that brings the fun here. Sonu Anna Jacob also has a notable role here. Then there is Salim Kumar providing some fun as the voice of almirah, the poor creation from the wood which gets to see all these and suffer – these humans are truly bad, aren’t they?

How it finishes :: This is the third movie from the director Midhun Manuel Thomas after Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyanu and Annmariya Kalippilaanu. Sunny Wayne, Aju Varghese and Saiju Kurup remains the common factors once again, and there is the humour element of the first movie and the feel-good factor of the second one maintained nicely in this particular flick. This movie is surely better than Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyanu, but not that good as Annmariya Kalippilaanu. With the entertainment, the feel-good factor and the messages for a new generation of families as well as those of the older generation, Alamara will be an interesting movie for more than one kind of audience. The message provided by this movie is valid not just for now, but for a longer period of time, and therefore Alamara should continue to work as the right family flick for many despite not being a huge one! Also look out for C/O Saira Banu this weekend, both movies taking different paths here!

Release date: 17th March 2017
Running time: 130 minutes
Directed by: Midhun Manuel Thomas
Starring: Sunny Wayne, Aditi Ravi, Sonu Anna Jacob, Ranji Panicker, Aju Varghese, Saiju Kurup, Sudhi Koppa, Manikandan Achari, Indrans, Sadiq, Seema G. Nair, Manju Satheesh, Kunchan, Bijukuttan, Vijilesh, Salim Kumar (voice only), Arya Rohit (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.