Chathur Mukham

What is the movie about? :: Clement (Alencier Ley Lopez) used to be a professor in the Kerala Agricultural University, and even though he has retired from service, has a certain amount of interest in science which can be matched by nobody else. Due to his skills in science, he is approached by Antony (Sunny Wayne) who wishes to talk to him about a certain kind of energy which can be associated with ghosts, but this time, he is trying to connect the same with science in one way or the other. Clement is a strong believer in science, but not in ghosts, and he is not ready to believe in Antony’s tale about energy in the form of ghosts. Then, Antony comes up with the full story about the woman who was haunted by ghosts, Thejaswini (Manju Warrier). She is someone who spends most of her time in the social media, and has everything related to her life posted on Instagram. She belongs to a new generation which believes that technology is an important part of life, and also that women needs to have education and financial independence before getting married.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Hailing from Kollam, she works with her old friend, Antony who has been running a CCTV business at Thiruvananthapuram as a new venture. Things seem to work out well for her until a strange incident occurs during a ritual at temple and she losses her phone in the temple pond. This leads to her deciding to go for another phone, and she hopes she can find the cheapest one with multimedia features. It is then that she comes across a special offer in a website which seems to have started only a few days ago. This is a type of phone belonging to a brand that nobody had heard about, and they guess that it is some kind of new Chinese device. She orders the same, and gets it only to find out that there is something strange about it. She finds out that there are messages going out of it without her consent, and she even gets electrocuted from the charger, but the mobile phone seems to have full charge even after a long time period of usage. Initially, she feels that only the selfie camera of the phone is the weaker link.

And what is to follow with the terrifying series of events? :: But there is much more to the mobile phone than what meets the eye. The sequence of events unfold in such a way that she becomes afraid of her own mobile phone. She tries to get rid of the phone multiple times, but it ends up being with her, or forces her to take it back in one way or the other. Even dropping the phone in the middle of the road or the temple pond doesn’t help. As the phone continues to come towards her and cause problems, she becomes confident that there is a ghost haunting the phone. She approaches a local magician, but the spirit scares him away too, and she is forced to live with the phone which seems to slowly taking her to death. Clement is still not convinced, and decides to see the woman anyway. But this leads them to a strange past that the mobile phone seems to have a strange and mysterious past, and it is not the only phone that belongs to the same category.

The defence of Chathur Mukham :: The film provides a good deviation from the usual horror films, with technology bringing the horror again, as it was surely tried before, but not with this much focus on science. The cinematography is one thing that increases the effectiveness of this film, as we can see them. These are not the usual horror settings, but the different ones which can provide the environment in a similar manner with variety. With the mobile phone at the centre, this doesn’t even need to have that much of the usual jump scares in action to bring the horror to the social media and the usual dose of technology. There is also the chance of a sequel which is left behind at the end. The special effects are used well enough, and there are some fine explanations to the horror which is added here too. Having Manju Warrier as the main character is also a good addition. With technology being an integral part of our lives, the ghost from technology is more relevant here in comparison to those spirits which wandered through cemeteries and old haunted houses.

The claws of flaw :: There are the usual kind of things which have been done before, and these repetitions bring us back to different films which we have seen before, like The Ring and The Final Destination series. The dramatic side is also not that effective in comparison, and some characters are just not used well enough. With the concept having the deviation, the film could have made it even more innovative, but by the end, film is moving more towards a safer side rather than anything else. It could have also focused on the background, or added more scares, which are not considered either. The ending could have also been better, because there was the chance for creating something grand. It could have also had some science fiction elements taking over in between, but that doesn’t happen, and the film could have also had more deaths, and more spreading of terror. When you have spirits in store within a mobile phone and when it has effect on technology and electricity, you know there are no limits that need to established – it could have run free.

Performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier leads the way in a horror film, and even though this genre is not unfamiliar to her, when we consider The Priest, this is time she faces the ghost, her own fears and death as a strong character. Sunny Wayne, just like he did in Sara’s and June, has the supporting role in another heroine-centered film, which he does in his usual way, being the second most important character around here. He doesn’t really have his moments this time though, but manages to hold on. Niranjana Anoop is unfortunately wasted in a small role here, and the character doesn’t even get killed by the ghost – a few others at least had moments in that way in comparison. The other actors who deserved more attention, including Rony David, Srikant Murali, Babu Annur etc also have their roles limited. Alencier Ley Lopez is the only other actor who comes into the spotlight, and this happens to be a nice change for him from the usual roles. Meanwhile, Shyamaprasad is notable in his small role, while mobile phone is definitely a character all by itself with its ghostly presence.

How it finishes :: Identified as techno horror, the film does have its moments. We have already had ghosts haunting electronic devices, especially mobile phones – the Bollywood film 3G was related to the same, and this one is certainly a better creation in comparison, even though it released eight years later. Pretham and Pretham 2 were also wanderings through the spiritual presence in technology. There are many things that make Chathur Mukham different though, and Manju Warrier is surely one of those elements. This one also works as a warning against the presence of technology in our lives. This is the kind of film which could have released on the OTT platforms much earlier – this delay has made the interest in the movie much lesser, and the fact that it didn’t release in Amazon Prime Video also contributes to that. Cold Case with its ghost in the refrigerator had already made the supernatural working online, and now we have this ghost to haunt the OTT, which it surely does pretty well.

Release date: 8th April 2021 (India), 8th July 2021 (ZEE 5)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Ranjeet Kamala Sankar, Salil V
Starring: Manju Warrier, Sunny Wayne, Alencier Ley Lopez, Rony David, Shyamaprasad, Niranjana Anoop, Babu Annur, Srikant Murali, Shaju Sreedhar, Kalabhavan Prajod, Balaji Sarma, Navas Vallikkunnu, Saranjith

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lucifer

What is the movie about? :: Kerala is ruled by IUF, and its leader and Chief Minister PK Ramdas (Sachin Khedekar) is a respected figure with a great fan following, not just among the people of his party, but also outside. It is his death which changes things in Kerala’s politics, all of a sudden. Mahesh Varma (Saikumar) who is next in charge finds this to be a golden opportunity to become the leader of the party as well as the Chief Minister of the state. Ramdas’ eldest daughter Priyadarshini (Manju Warrier) along with her daughter Jhanvi (Saniya Iyappan) is the first to come to the scene. Her second and current husband Bimal Nair a.k.a. Bobby (Vivek Oberoi) keeps close watch of the situation at the same time. Even though Priyadarshini and Jhanvi are not after political power, Bobby looks forward to it so that he can use it to spread his narcotics business to Kerala and earn a great amount of money.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, the only son of Ramdas, Jathin (Tovino Thomas) is living abroad. Bobby figures out that he is the one big chance that they have here, and by making him the new leader, could go through the drug business without anyone coming to know. He already has the support of Mahesh Varma and Priyadarshini regarding the same. He uses Jhanvi as a means to go through the family smoother. Govardhan (Indrajith Sukumaran) is one of those people who knows all these, as he had been searching for truth for a very long time – but he finds himself locked inside a mental asylum, thanks to Bobby. But before he is locked up, he finds the one other person who might be part of this power struggle – Stephen Nedumpally (Mohanlal), an orphan who was raised by Ramdas, a people’s favourite leader from the highrange constituency of Central Kerala.

And what else is to follow? :: Stephen Nedumpally is the kind of person none of the power seekers here want to have in the game, and the family also wants no part of him out there. The politicians on both sides, Mahesh Varma on one side and Medayil Rajan (Shivaji Guruvayoor) on the other wants him gone. Bobby is also hoping to make no mistakes, as he is playing a dangerous game involving Abdul (Suresh Chandra Menon) and Fyodor (Frank Free) who are masters of the game in Mumbai. He would have Stephen’s opposition out of the way as the party would be sponsored by the drug mafia. The people in the middle part of all these including Aloshy Joseph (Kalabhavan Shajohn) and Murugan (Baiju Santhosh) will have interesting roles to play as Kerala prepares for the big change. But the question remains about who would gain and loss the most in the battle between evil and evil.

The defence of Lucifer :: Unlike what was expected, Lucifer doesn’t jump into the shoes of a mass movie all of a sudden, and that is the clear advantage that this one has over Pulimurugan. Clearly a better movie having content of quality and rich in ideas, this one rises over the expected mass masala, and becomes more, but at the same time, it never hesitates to provide what the fans want. There is working on two levels, something which Odiyan could have focused on, to become a favourite. There are elements from politics nicely used too, and we get to go through a certain dirty side that attempts to take over politics every time, and may be even succeeds up to an extent. The action scenes are nicely done, and except for a very few, keeps itself in control to make us believe. The control that is maintained in the final scene with the song nicely contributing to it, is also worth mentioning. There is a higher level of making here, and the thrills are of great strength.

The claws of flaw :: The slow motion sequences, even though less in number, could have been avoided. There could have been more of Tovino Thomas on the screen too. Vivek Oberoi’s character could have been bigger terror, something that could pose a challenge that goes a long way ahead. The presence of predictable elements in between, should have been avoided. The references and allusions made in the movie also seems nice, but could have been better connected. There are quotes shown in the end including the one from Lucifer as the tragic figure of John Milton’s Paradise Lost who famously declares “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven”; we also have “Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here” from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest being shown on the screen in the end – is there something left for a sequel? One is left to wonder. The use of media could also been better shown. The movie is also too long.

The performers of the soul :: It is late to review a movie which has reached the 100 crore collection mark already, Pulimurugan, Drishyam, Oppam and this one leading the glory with the rest – almost everyone knows what Mohanlal has brought to this movie as the titular character, and needs no more talk about the same, as Stephen Nedumpally is grand. Meanwhile, the one person who steals the show with less amount of screen time is Tovino Thomas whose moments are nothing less than glorious. Manju Warrier has her fine emotional moments in here following Odiyan. Vivek Oberoi’s villain doesn’t maintain that terror that he seemed to possess in the beginning, but he is a fine choice for the role as we can see. Kalabhavan Shajohn, Saikumar, Baiju Santhosh, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Nandhu – all the characters play the roles of politicians with ease. Meanwhile, we see Shaun Romy of Kammatipaadam making an appearance after a long time. There is a long line of extended support here too.

How it finishes :: When someone like Prithviraj Sukumaran comes up with his directorial debut, you know that there is something special coming up. His previous movies as the leading actor had the Hollywood touch, whether it was the never before science fiction apocalyptic thriller called 9 or the diasporic crime drama set in a deteriorating, decaying city called Ranam – this one has the elements beyond the usual Malayalam movie, and as a flick written by Murali Gopy, we know that there is more. Lucifer is the kind of movie which combines its elements very well, and thus becomes a rare piece of a flick. It can be liked for more than one reason, and there is much to cherish for almost every kind of viewer. Well, this is Vishu and Easter is also on its way, and we have much to watch. For now, I wish all of you a Very Happy Vishu, and hope you enjoy the holidays well – but at the same time, be careful about the heat which is rising.

Release date: 28th March 2019
Running time: 174 minutes
Directed by: Prithviraj Sukumaran
Starring: Mohanlal, Tovino Thomas, Manju Warrier, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Indrajith Sukumaran, Saniya Iyappan, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Giju John, Saikumar, Baiju Santhosh, Fazil, Sachin Khedekar, Suresh Chandra Menon, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Nandhu, John Vijay, Aneesh G Menon, Kainakary Thankaraj, Bala, Adil Ibrahim, Shaun Romy, Adarsh, Helen, Frank Freem, Waluscha De Sousa, Sijoy Varghese, Thara Kalyan, Parvathi T, Binu Pappu, Parvathy Menon, Sreeya Remesh, Sshivada, Antony Perumbavoor, Shakti Kapoor

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Odiyan

What is the movie about? :: Manikyan (Mohanlal) is the last among the odiyans, a group known to know sorcery and had shape-shifting abilities. The skill is passed to him by his grandfather after his father and mother were not ready to stand it, and left the village with their daughter, hoping for a better social and economic status elsewhere. Manikyan is one of the most well-known figures in the village of Thankurissi in Palakkad and also beyond the borders in the Tamil-speaking areas near the Western Ghats – some people consider him to be famous, and the others feel that he is a notorious figure. He is known to lurk in the shadows, with darkness as his ally. As it was the time when there was no electricity in the villages, it was easy for him to induce fear into the minds of the victims. He would take different forms, most commonly that of a bull or a buffalo, to torment those who are given as targets by people who pay a fair amount.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Manikyan’s biggest enemy in the village is Ravunni Menon (Prakash Raj) with whom he has had his problems since childhood. Ravunni’s interest and unrequited love for his cousins Prabha (Manju Warrier) and Meenakshi (Sana Althaf) only makes things worse as Manikyan has been working in their family household and taking care of them for generations. Ravunni decides to make things troublesome for his cousins as well as Manikyan, and with the death of Prabha’s husband Prakashan (Narain) and Meenakshi’s husband Ravi (Kailash), he succeeds in putting the blame on Manikyan. With electricity coming to the village, and almost everyone blaming him for the two deaths, Manikyan is forced to leave for Varanasi. As he is wandering around there, something changes, and he feels the need to return. What would that mean for everyone in the small village?

The defence of Odiyan :: The legend of the people from Kerala folklore with shape-shifting abilities deserved a movie, and it is always nice to have such an adaptation which has its roots in our own historical fantasy. The action scenes are nicely done, and the scenes involving the titular character in the darkness will make sure that we are interested in the whole thing. The setting nicely helps the progress of the movie, and all locations provide some nice visuals. Compared to the 150 crore grand movie Pulimurugan with Mohanlal fighting the tiger, Odiyan is surely a better flick which has a nice background as well as setting – there is also no bad jokes, and the acting itself is of a superior level when we compare the two. Odiyan has moments of class, and it is the quality which that highest grossing Malayalam movie missed in more than one way.

The claws of flaw :: The trailer as well as the hype created with the information provided regarding the movie, might be the one thing which works against the movie more than anything else. The expectations had gone so high that greatness was expected without excuses, and that was one thing which caused so many of early negative reviews. There is no denying the fact that this legend could have been used in an even better way, reducing the mass elements, and adding more mystery, sorcery, twists and horror. The movie is also too long, and the first forty-five minutes might be the least interesting part of the flick. A better beginning would have helped to keep the interest going, and the non-linear narrative disrupts the flow. Flashbacks are good, but not when they are used at inappropriate timings. The final fight could have been better edited. The background music might catch our attention, but the songs never really manage to do so.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal, in more than one avatar during two different ages, displays top form as usual. There are not just the action scenes that make an impact, as the emotional side is also strong with him – the strength as well as the helplessness of the main character is shown nicely here. We remember how he could be both in Villain having the same pair in the lead. Maybe, he could have had more with the shape-shifting idea, resembling that of a werewolf, but that much is not there for him to use his full potential. His last movies Drama and Neerali didn’t make that much of an impact, but I would say that they were better than the common opinions; the case here is also not so different, as Odiyan is certainly better than Pulimurugan, and the hard work that Mohanlal has put in to become this character from the folklore is worth the appreciation.

Further performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier’s previous movie Mohanlal was not really something to be appreciated, whether it was about the flick or regarding her own performance. But she is back once again with her work in this movie. The comments which were made about her one dialogue in this movie is rather strange, because it is a perfectly suited one for the moment – it once again shows that a lot of our viewers are struggling with understanding characters. The lack of empathy that our audience shows at times is rather strange and unacceptable. Prakash Raj is a strong villain indeed, but could have had better dubbing. Sana Althaf has a nice role after Basheerinte Premalekhanam, and she also has her moments. Kailash, Sreejaya Nair and Narain are there only for a few minutes, but they do leave us with something to remember. Siddique, Innocent and Nandhu do provide some good support too.

How it finishes :: Odiyan becomes the second high budget and the most awaited movie of the year after Kayamkulam Kochunni which had great success already. Despite negative opinions, Odiyan also had a strong weekend, with the only challenge coming from Hollywood, in the form of Aquaman, which has lesser number of shows. There is the need for movies like Odiyan, because only such flicks can assure that we will have better exploration of the myths and legends of the lands. We also need people who are ready to go through the less traveled path – we know, as Robert Frost has said, that would make all the difference. Your level of enjoyment would be different according to your expectations from cinema, but Odiyan is surely a movie which you can’t ignore, and is definitely a movie which is better than the highest grossing Malayalam movie of all-time, the Mohanlal starrer Pulimurugan.

Release date: 14th December 2018
Running time: minutes
Directed by: VA Shrikumar Menon
Starring: Mohanlal, Manju Warrier, Innocent, Prakash Raj, Siddique, Manoj Joshi, Nandhu, Narain, Kailash, Sana Althaf, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Sreejaya Nair

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mohanlal

What is the movie about? :: Meenakshi (Manju Warrier) a.k.a. Meenukkutty is a die-hard fan of Mohanlal who was born on the same day on which the actor’s first movie, Manjil Virinja Pookkal released. Right from childhood, she used to be that huge a fan of the actor that she couldn’t stand anything said against him – she could only be pleased by things related to Mohanlal. After growing up, nothing changed for her, and she is finally married to Sethumadhavan (Indrajith Sukumaran) who has been in love with her since their childhood times at the same classes in the same school. As Meenakshi just goes on watching Mohanlal movies on the first day first show, and fighting with people who speaks against the actor, the marriage itself seems secondary to her. Sethumadhavan who couldn’t even think about not loving her, decides to keep her happy by allowing this strange addiction which goes over everything else.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But things only get worse, and Sethumadhavan decides to end his life by jumping in front of a train. There he meets a stranger (Soubin Shahir) who is sitting in the railway station with his dog. Sethumadhavan tells his story to the new friend who seems to be a little crazy himself. The story begins from their childhood when he develops certain interest for Meenakshi, and to their marriage and beyond. Meenakshi’s interests only get stranger, and it gets to the worst situation with her getting pregnant after a long wait, and them losing their child because of her need to watch another Mohanlal movie on the first day first show. But that wouldn’t change her, and after moving to a new place, there would me more to affect their family life in a terrible manner. How can they fight through this struggle which keeps repeating itself?

The defence of Mohanlal :: There is nostalgia being awakened in this movie, as Mohanlal movies had been defining our childhood. We see a fine beginning to this movie, with reference to Manjil Virinja Pookkal in which Mohanlal made the entry as a villain. The song in the beginning is the best of them all, and sets a fine mood for everything. The scenes involving the children are too good, as they grow up watching Mohanlal in his movies, and the youth also has a few moments during its short existence. It is the first half maintaining a certain level that makes sure that people are very much interested in knowing what is to follow. The movie is also a clear improvement from the director’s earlier movie, IDI: Inspector Dawood Ibrahim. The comedy is also better than the earlier fan stuff movie, Pokkiri Simon, even though there is no twist or suspense to this one.

The claws of flaw :: There seems to be not much care given for the story here, as it is rather too ordinary, with nothing innovative happening, even though there was surely the chance for something special. The reflection of fan stuff is also done in a strange manner. The fan thing is more or less irritating at times, and the length of the movie is also a little too much for such a story which never tries to raise its level. The justification provided for extreme fan worship is even stranger, and never does it seem to bring things together – its ending is rather forced to become a happy one, and the reality, as one would expect, can only be much worse. There was the chance to lighten up the nostalgia with each moment of life, but such a plan is never there. This never seems to have the plan to show a normal fan who has controlled love for the favourite superstar. The first half is some fun, while the second half drags on.

The performers of the soul :: Even though we can say that Manju Warrier is perfectly suited for this role, there will be opinions that the character has been overdone, and is more or less irritating for anyone’s taste. Some of the actions of the character just can’t be justified, and providing justification here would do more harm than good. Coming out of C/O Saira Banu, Udaharanam Sujatha and Villain last year followed by Aami, this character has no strength, no matter into which genre we put this one. Yes, there are moments which stay, and the comic side is handled better in the early stages, while the latter moments never even come close. Indrajith had two thrilling adventures last year in the form of Tiyaan and Lakshyam, both taking different paths, and here we have a change again. He seems comfortable in this role, and he plays the helpless husband facing fan nonsense with no problems.

Further performers of the soul :: Meenakshi, known the best for Amar Akbar Anthony and Oppam, makes the childhood moments memorable, with Vishal Krishna of Maalgudi Days and Annmaria Kalippilaanu fame. Shebin Benson and Krittika Pradeep also have some shorter moments of glory, with latter earlier being seem in Aadhi as the girl who admires the leading character. Soubin Shahir provides some fun, but the character never really suits this movie. The same can be said about Salim Kumar who has too short a role, which makes no contribution to the overall story. Even Aju Varghese who plays a major character has the role being given less attention, with ineffective jokes – Hareesh Perumanna is also wasted in a small presence. There are many characters, with faces that can be recognized easily, but most of them seem to be present for the sake of being there.

How it finishes :: This is the movie that needs Mohanlal to fuel it, but it doesn’t deserve the star due to the ordinary stuff that it provides in the name of an extraordinary actor. When you name a movie Mohanlal, there is a certain expectation about keeping a level, but we see that it is the only thing this one tries to focus to bring the fans. We do feel those movies with which we grew up with, and at the same time, we keep wondering if this is the best tribute that was there to be watched. After all, this is Vishu, and we Keralites deserve more. This year had many movies, but as of now, it has been struggling to catch up with the flicks which released last year during the same months. Is this the loss of creativity around here, or because the big ones are yet to come? We will see that, and until then, Mohanlal might be the movie that families can enjoy up to an extent along with some Mohanlal fans, depending upon what you are looking for.

Release date: 14th April 2018
Running time: 140 minutes
Directed by: Sajid Yahiya
Starring: Manju Warrier, Indrajith Sukumaran, Aju Varghese, Krittika Pradeep, Baby Meenakshi, Shebin Benson, Master Vishal, Unni Krishnan, Salim Kumar, Soubin Shahir, KPAC Lalitha, Hareesh Perumanna, Sreejith Ravi, Anjali Aneesh, Siddique, Balachandran Chullikkadu, Pradeep Kottayam, Riyas Doha, Sudhi Koppa, Sunil Sukhada, Manoj Guinness, Sajan Palluruthy, Kottayam Nazeer, Anjana Appukuttan, Praseetha Menon, Sethu Lakshmi, Asha Aravind, Unni Rajan P Dev, Sreya Remesh, Molly Kannamaly, Prithviraj Sukumaran (voice)

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Villain

What is the movie about? :: Mathew K Manjooran (Mohanlal) is the ADGP in the city who has been out of action for about six months following a road accident which lead to the death of his wife and only child. He is looking forward to take voluntary retirement from service on the day on which the murder of three big names in the city occur in an abandoned mansion. Therefore, it becomes the final case that he has to take care of, even though he is forced to carry it over through for a few days after his retirement, as requested by his colleagues in the department. In this twisted case which includes a police officer Vinod Abraham (Kottayam Nazeer) as one of the dead, he is provided assistance by H Sreenivasan (Renji Panicker) who was first given the investigation charge, along with two subordinate officers Harshitha Chopra (Raashi Khanna) and Iqbal Mohammed (Chemban Vinod Jose) who are now part of the city task force which he had started long ago.

And what is to follow in this particular adventure? :: The one who used to be one of the strongest arms of law, has undergone quite a change in the recent past, as Mathew seems to be more of a tired and philosophical man these days. The one thing that he does hold on to is his love for Shakespeare, with a reflection of the same in his life, as he remembers Lady Macbeth’s words about all the perfumes of Arabia, has his own hesitation related to vengeance like Hamlet, fights a possibility of being drowned in madness like King Lear, and has his own Brutus in the police force, as does Julius Ceasar – he is also the Prospero of his own Tempest. He figures out that there is someone trying to get their attention, and at the same time, another murder of three people takes place. Meanwhile, the clues seem to lead to Shaktivel Palanisamy (Vishal) and Shreya Venkatesh (Hansika Motwani). But they wonder about how the six dead people are related.

The defence of Villain :: There are thrills in store with Villain, and there is some suspense over how things are going to come down. The first half has us guessing about more than one thing not just about the murderers, but also about the protagonist. We feel that there is a link coming up between everything, and things are set very well by the end of the first half. The thrills are there, and the twists are provided a little too early unlike The Great Father. The mass elements also take the backseat for most of the time, which is a great thing here. There is also the case against vengeance here, as we hear about it eating up the one who seeks it as much as those who end up on the receiving end of an act of revenge. You will notice that the emotional side is very strong with this one, as we feel the grief as much as the protagonist does on the big screen. Villain is also a very good-looking movie on the screen, as there is so much of visual beauty, and the locations seem to be nicely chosen. The songs are also sweet.

The claws of flaw :: If the identity as well as the motive of the murderers was left for a big twist in the end, that would have served this movie a lot better. This is the kind of premise that can support more twists in between, and the movie doesn’t use its resources to the best effect. The movie also needed a flashback from Vishal’s character’s angle, to really explore his perspective instead of taking a few things for granted – it is the same with Hansika’s flashback which relates to him. Also, the movie is a little too long, when you look at it. The scissors could have been put on some of the flashback sequences, and they could have been restricted to the songs and a few dialogues – we see have seen that done very well with the movie Memories. The idea about killing out of love and killing out of hate is very good, but not done in the way it could have brought the best effect. The talk about “the grey” side between black and white is also not used to its best advantage in the final scenes.

Performers of the soul :: The tranquility among the waves inside his mind, which is wonderfully depicted by Mohanlal with this character is the best thing about this movie. The serenity that is reflected on his face which has the feeling of pain visibly hidden, is nothing less than beauty to watch. He has two looks in this one, a side of the confident police officer determined to fight crime, having the look with the mustache, and also the side of the tired former police officer trying to solve one final case with just hope, having the look with the white beard. The latter one goes deep, and the pain that this particular avatar seems to possess, got the ability to break your heart with an abiding sadness if you get too close to the character with a case of empathy. Coming right out of a good run with Udaharanam Sujatha and C/O Saira Banu, Manju Warrier plays the wife of Mohanlal’s character, and she has handled it without trouble, even though the same is not a long one. The girl who plays their daughter was also very good, strong and energetic all the time.

Further performers of the soul :: Vishal and Hansika Motwani make fine debut in the Malayalam movie industry, even though a number of their sequences do give way for style over the rest. The former seems to have perfect hold of his character, while the latter, along with looking good, comes up with good support, despite given not much of a character development. We feel that Vishal could have been here earlier. Srikanth has much less to do than expected, and has a little too stylish a villain as his character. Aju Varghese has a rather small appearance as in Loham, while Renji Panicker and Siddique have no problems in doing their job here. Also, one can’t help not loving Chemban Vinod Jose as a police officer once again. He is at his best when he is playing a thief or a police officer, and he scores high here too. Whether it is about playing the good guy or the bad guy, whether it is about doing a funny role, or a serial villain, he has been so good these days. Coming out of a thief role in Varnyathil Aashanka, here he is doing protagonist’s support with ease. Also, another person to note is Raashi Khanna who began with Madras Cafe getting to play a smart cop here, and that works, a long way ahead of the other supporting female cops in our movies.

How it finishes :: The one movie to which this flick seems to have the most similarity, might be B. Unnikrishnan’s own movie, Grandmaster. But the reflection of sadness in this movie, and the situation of the protagonist is more comparable to that of Sam Alex in Jeethu Joseph’s Prithviraj starrer thriller, Memories. But you can easily notice the difference in treatment here, as things go more philosophical in nature, and the same replaces the powerful suspense and twist that Memories had, and the identity of the killers and the motives are revealed rather too early. But Villain is never short of being entertaining. It is surely better than the two huge Mohanlal blockbusters of last year Oppam and Pulimurugan, but is nowhere near Drishyam with the same. Villain is the kind of movie that would work with almost every kind of audience, and it is one more reason for you and your family to not miss this engaging thriller.

Release date: 27th October 2017
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: B. Unnikrishnan
Starring: Mohanlal, Manju Warrier, Raashi Khanna, Vishal, Hansika Motwani, Aju Varghese, Chemban Vinod Jose, Srikanth, Siddique, Renji Panicker, Anand, Idavela Babu, Kottayam Nazeer, Balaji Sarma, Antony Perumbavoor, Sai Kumar, Irshad, Sanju Shivram, Vishnu Govindan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Udaharanam Sujatha

What is the movie about? :: Sujatha Krishnan (Manju Warrier), who stopped school at ninth standard, hopes to provide good education to her daughter Athira Krishnan (Anaswara Rajan) who is no mood to study, and despite considered smart, raises questions about how she has reached so far with her studies. The Trivandrum district collector (Mamta Mohandas) is Sujatha’s role model, but Athira has no such plans as to getting close to even trying for civil service examinations – Mathematics of tenth standard is terror enough for her. Athira enjoys her life watching television and playing with her friends, doing not much of reading, even telling her mother that she only wants to be a servant like her, and work at households, giving the excuse that it is the children of engineers who become engineers, and kids of doctors become doctors. This worries Sujatha who has been looking for better education for her daughter, and complains to Paul George (Nedumudi Venu) who owns the house where she mainly works.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Paul asks her to get her daughter to the famous institution which trains the students so well that they can be nothing less than highly successful in their lives. Cherian (Alencier Ley Lopez) who runs the institution tells her to have her daughter score at least fifty percent marks in the examination, and he will be ready to give them a big discount in fees. But Athira’s skill lies in becoming first from behind, as her scores are always in single digits, never really getting past what batsmen get from a lofted shot over the boundary during a game of cricket. So, Sujatha decides to join school too, and with the help of Sreekumar (Joju George), the most feared Mathematics teacher and headmaster of the school who is persuaded by Paul, she gets special permission and joins the tenth standard of the institution, much to the dismay of Athira who feels ashamed by the same. Now, the question remains about what change it can make.

The defence of Udaharanam Sujatha :: We will find the movie’s main character as someone who the common man can relate to, with ease. There is always the presence of those parents who dreams for their children, and there are always those kids who don’t want to do anything with their lives. We have the simple moments that touch us, and then there is the moment of final realization that helps the movie to rise further. There is the reflection of the difficulties that a mother has to undergo for the child, and we see the new generation who has no awareness, or doesn’t want to think more about the same. We also find the focus being made on the importance of education, and on being thankful to our own people, our family, especially our parents. Yes, along with some humour as well as emotional moments, Udaharanam Sujatha is that kind of a movie which would catch the attention of family audience more than any other, no matter what superstar it would have.

The claws of flaw :: Seemingly having two movies as its base for the story, Nil Battey Sannata and Amma Kanakku, in Hindi and Tamil respectively, one would expect more from this particular tale, with Manju Warrier right there in the lead. You will also find that the movie is an overreacher with what its characters achieve. There is no Doctor Faustus, but one has to feel that a simple movie like this would have had simple steps steadily moving towards glory. We feel that it is too quick to get there, using that cliched twist to make the child understand the significance of her mother and the dreams – maybe the other movies which came earlier had similar things, but there has been enough time to re-organize things. Well, we are pretty much confident that not that many people have watched or even heard about those other flicks; that much was certain from the audience watching this movie. There was also chance for more humour, and the emotional side could have been stronger.

Performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier handles another movie with care, and she has this character in full control. She is here after that wonderful movie which was C/O Saira Banu, and the inspirational sports movie, Karinkunnam 6s; the thriller Vettah also showed a certain divergence, and here she is now, being part of another one of those interesting women-centric movies that has more than what you would think from outside. She has the funny side as well as the emotional one working well here. One has to feel that there will be no replacement for her for a long time. Supporting her very well is Anaswara Rajan as the daughter who has her own way of living her life. She rightly joins in to play her role, and only gets better as the movie progresses. Her combination with Manju Warrier had moments that will immediately catch our attention, more on the emotional side rather than with the funny part.

Further performers of the soul :: Regarding the funny side, we leave that to Joju George who excels with the comedy, and it is him whom we can hundred percent depend to make us laugh here. There are so many moments of laughter being generated in the class room, thanks to him who is also one of the producers of this movie. It is that kind of a character who can be used for a full movie based inside a school. Meanwhile, Alencier Ley Lopez only has a small role to play in this one, appearing twice to be noted. Mamta Mohandas also has a little role to play in this one, as we remember seeing her last in Thoppil Joppan and Two Countries. It is always a pleasure to see her, and there are lots of movies in which we had wished for her to be a part of, as we watch them on the big screen, and see someone missing from its soul. Then there is Nedumudi Venu who plays the inspirational role, as he keeps motivating like no other in this movie.

How it finishes :: There is the certainty of existence of two movies which have dealt with the same thing, and Udaharanam Sujatha also comes in there as the third of them. I wouldn’t be able to comment on Nil Battey Sannata or Amma Kanakku, but Udaharanam Sujatha has its heart at the right place. You might need to think not that much about the transformation and those final moments which go a little too ambitious, but Udaharanam Sujatha is a movie that will attract family audience like a strong magnet, as it has that feel-good factor with positive messages in favour of education, and dreaming high. Well, there might be so many other inspirational movies, but Udaharanam Sujatha goes more family-oriented than any other. So, the question remains if you are ready to be inspired by Sujatha’s example? Do you know someone who has gone through a similar example of a path?

Release date: 28th September 2017
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Phantom Praveen
Starring: Manju Warrier, Anaswara Rajan, Nedumudi Venu, Mamta Mohandas, Joju George, V Suresh Thampanoor, Alencier Ley Lopez

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

C/O Saira Banu

What is the movie about? :: Saira Banu (Manju Warrier) is a post woman who lives for her adopted son, Joshua Peter (Shane Nigam). Joshua is the son of a photographer who went missing in the forest and was declared dead long time ago, and this particular award winning photographer, Peter George (Mohanlal – voice only) had adopted Saira a long time ago, after her whole family had committed suicide. Joshua is in love with Arundhati (Niranjana Anoop) who studies in the law college just like him, but it goes on only with interest from his side. His other love is for photography like his father, and he tries hard to make something out of this passion with the support of his young mother. He is finally rewarded one day for his hard work as he wins a contest and is selected to go to Paris. But on the same day, some twist of events happen.

So, what happens next? :: There is a case registered against Joshua, which happens to be not as simple as Saira had thought, as this one is a hit and run case, and the victim had died, with witnesses there to testify. As it threatens to destroy his life and career even though he claims that he is innocent, Saira decides to prove that her adopted son is telling the truth. But fighting the case against Joshua is Annie John Tharavady (Amala Akkineni), one of the most successful lawyers, and is determined to win this case too. Joshua and Saira has no option with all lawyers backing out due to one reason or the other. But she will not surrender – still the question remains if she stands a chance against Annie who is determined to get his side to win every time? Where does Joshua’s future go from this situation from where there seems no chance of redemption?

The defence of C/O Saira Banu :: The movie goes through some interesting incidents in the society, including the case of migrant workers, noodles ban, kiss of love protest, and one other thing which was in the news, but can’t be revealed due to its effect on the suspense factor. There is some comedy that is working in the first half, and there is a second half which has a good amount of thrills to go with that unexpected twist to go with the climax – it succeeds in making people guess and come up with an ending which will be acceptable to most of the viewers along with being a nice surprise for everyone. There is also the message about the reality of this world, on what has been happening with a society which has been divided on the basis of class more than anyone can imagine. Along with the same, C/O Saira Banu is a good-looking movie too.

The claws of flaw :: The first half of the movie will feel a bit longer for one’s liking, as the time taken in establishing the mother-son relationship is a little too much, and some of jokes are not that effective either; same is the case of melodrama too. Better comic stuff in the first half would have helped to keep a momentum in the first half, maybe with some more sequences in the college or the post office – even the neighbourhood was a place which had some good scope. The end credits scene also ends without a warning, when you feel that there was going to be something to be added in the end. You will also feel that there is more than one side to a happy climax and ending; there will be questions if that good feeling is really that good, or is it just an illusion of the same.

Performers of the soul :: This one has Manju Warrier playing the titular character, and the most important role in this movie, and we are glad to see her in another role which provides her the prominence that she deserves and works on really well – Rani Padmini was the last one to get her to that level, even though Karinkunnam 6s and Vettah did show the signs. It is for those emotional moments that we need to look out for the most, and there is that bit of determination in her character against all odds which works so well for her. It is her return that has helped the Malayalam movie industry so much to bring the heroine-oriented roles to the front, something that has been struggling to be there. I don’t see anyone doing such roles like she did for quite some time, something that started so well for her with How Old Are You? and might continue in the same way, as we are seeing now.

Further performers of the soul :: Meanwhile, Amala Akkineni makes her return to Malayalam movies after a very long gap – her last two movies were Ente Sooryaputhrikku and Ulladakkam, with Suresh Gopi and Mohanlal respectively, both releasing in the year 1991 – those were also her only two Malayalam movies before this one. She remains solid in her lawyer character in this one, and the character’s determination has a clear reflection on her. Shane Nigam has his second big role after Kismath despite being there for longer – here he plays a character that has almost no happiness, and there are so many similarities to his role in his previous movie; but he manages the same well. Niranjana Anoop has less to do, which she does fine. It is Biju Sopanam who scores the most outside the main list. There are also those names which are underused, from Joy Mathew to Sujith Shankar.

How it finishes :: Unlike what some people had said, Mohanlal is not making a special cameo appearance in this movie, even though his voice is there. There is enough for everyone with C/O Saira Banu, and the family audience will be the one to benefit the most. Coming from a debutante director, this one is more than one can expect while dealing with a topic like this. It is surely the best movie in Malayalam to have released so far – forget those people who are claiming the same for movies which claim to be realistic when they are not, because C/O Saira Banu is the flick that follows the path of Drishyam, as a family movie as well as a thriller, becoming part of two different genres in two halves. This one is certain to weave its magic among the audience, even if a little bit late – watch it now, and try not to figure out why you didn’t watch this one earlier.

Release date: 17th March 2017
Running time: 156 minutes
Directed by: Antony Sony
Starring: Manju Warrier, Amala Akkineni, Shane Nigam, Niranjana Anoop, P. Balachandran, Joy Mathew, Indrans, John Paul, Ganesh Kumar, Jagadeesh, Sunil Sukhada, Biju Sopanam, Sujith Shankar, Mohanlal (voice only)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Karinkunnam 6s

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Vampire Owl :: When was the last time we watched a Malayalam movie in the theatre?

Vampire Bat :: Last month, I guess?

Vampire Owl :: Is it? Still, that feels like an eternity.

Vampire Bat :: It is mostly because we are not used to not watching movies.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, I think someone has worked black magic against us, which is why we are missing so many movies.

Vampire Bat :: I see that hands of pure evil itself. But in this case, it is more because we don’t have time.

Vampire Owl :: Did you see the half-yearly list of the movies we have watched in the theatre? It is quite a small list compared to the last few years.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, we definitely need to work on that.

Vampire Owl :: Until then, one Malayalam movie for this weekend?

Vampire Bat :: So be it. A sports drama would be a welcome change!

[Gets the tickets with tea and cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Vandana (Manju Warrier) lives with her husband Aby (Anoop Menon) after successfully running away from home in favour of an inter-caste marriage. Both are from sports background, and the latter has one dream only, to make things better for volleyball in a world dominated by cricket. His love for the game is above everything else, and for the same, he supports his own team Karinkunnam 6s. With the same dream in his mind, he contacts Kesavan (Shyamaprasad), a man who is very much interested in the profits to be gained from the venture. Even though he agrees to the idea of having a Volleyball Premier League on the lines of Indian Premier League and Indian Super League, he decides that it has to be entertainment, and that should include fixed matches – it is something to which Aby can’t agree.

So what happens next? :: What follows next are all against Aby, as he is bed-ridden and Vandana has to take over the team to make sure that it plays in the league, and plays fair. For the same, she contacts many players, but the rich and the influential groups in the league works against her making sure that she gets no official players. But Vandana has help from Haritha (Lena Abhilash), the head of the police department, and decides to choose and train a number of inmates in the prison. The team starts from the powerhouse Douglas (Babu Antony), and is joined by many other inmates who look forward to making a mark. But with no professional training, can the prisoners do enough to make it to the next round of the tournament featuring some of the best? Can they leave their own personal rivalries behind and live for the moment?

The defence of Karinkunnam 6s :: One can easily say that this is one of the best sports drama movies made in Malayalam – there are not many interesting movies belonging to that genre around here. When it is not based on an overrated sport like cricket, things only get better. It takes some courage to take a movie based on something which is not cricket or football – and that risk is taken, and they make sure that it appeals to the audience in this part of the world. The movie is also dedicated to Jimmy George, who was considered as one of the greatest volleyball players – the deserving heroes of our land who are less known just because they didn’t play the hyped game of cricket. There are some very nice moments in this movie, which are a lot inspirational; there are more which are emotional, but it never manages to overdo the same. There is power and there is also a lot of energy here!

The claws of flaw :: This is a movie which could have made it to the list of the best among its kind. The tale here is still predictable for most of the time though. There could have been more focus on the sports rather than the drama and the incidents which occurred outside the court. It could have gone deeper with both too, with the sporting side as well as the dramatic events with direct relation to the characters. It also takes some time to get going in the beginning, and it is with the prisoners getting to the act that things get to be interesting. The climax could have also been bigger. People might be able to find problems with this movie related to the sports, but none of the sports movies in Malayalam can be considered close enough to that big reality, and this one can also be forgiven for those flaws that can be taken out of the grave when the DVD comes out.

Performers of the soul :: Having no huge star, this one relies on the long list of actors who play the characters in fine style – nobody lets us down around here. After Vettah, Manju Warrier is excellent here, and there is so much energy that she carries forward here – it is shared by the rest of the cast too, especially the team which is lead by Babu Antony with his usual style. The other person who catches our attention from the team is Sudheer Karamana who has some very nice moments; Baiju also gets some nice dialogues here. Suraj Venjaramoodu impresses us with a different avatar here too, and he deservingly gets some claps. Anoop Menon goes on smoothly with his role. Even those who does some cameo roles here leaves something for the audience.

How it finishes :: Without the big cast that the other movies of this season have come up with, this one has managed to come up with a special identity of its own. There is entertainment guaranteed, and it is worth a fine watch with the family. This is no perfect sports drama, but you find inspiration here and you will also get the thrills. Lets hope that this movie brings back to its viewers the memories of the volleyball legend, and also bring more interest into this game. Unlike the movies which are filled with ridiculous content for the fans, this is the kind of movie that needs to be watched – there are no superstars here, but everyone in this movie ends up being no less than a special star. All of them contribute here, and we are left applauding for those final dialogues and the tribute.

Release date: 7th July 2016
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Deepu Karunakaran
Starring: Manju Warrier, Babu Antony, Anoop Menon, Jacob Gregory, Baiju, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Sudev Nair, Sudheer Karamana, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Nandhu, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Manikuttan, Vivek Gopan, Kevin, Lena Abhilash (cameo), Shyamaprasad (cameo), Major Ravi (cameo), Hareesh Peradi (cameo), Maniyanpilla Raju (cameo), Jagadish (cameo), Gayathri Suresh (cameo), Samuthirakani (cameo)

karinkunnam6s ()

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vettah

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What is the movie about? :: The City Police Commissioner, Sreebala IPS (Manju Warrier) is investigating a case about one missing actress and her old friend; the possibility of a kidnap and a murder is there, and all signs lead to one man only, Melvin Philip (Kunchacko Boban) who claims that he killed both of them and has buried the corpses at a certain location which he cannot remember. Further questions don’t reveal much as he keeps repeating one particular part of his tale. ACP Xylex Abraham (Indrajith Sukumaran) helps Sreebala in the case, and is troubled by his own family problems. The story of Melvin goes back to his own life, and his relationship with his wife Sherin (Kaadhal Sandhya) after an inter-faith marriage and the loss of their daughter, finally leading to the death of her too.

So, where does the investigation go from there? :: Here, during the questioning, Melvin talks to the police officers about trust and its role in life. With the case of Melvin, it is not incident of two people missing that comes to the light, but many facts which were rather hidden. There is the case the accident of Sreebala’s father (Vijayaraghavan), the relationship between Xylex and his wife as well as a lesser known past of Melvin, all coming to light, and each of these being connected to the other, the past to the present and the future, all things being revealed as the story progresses towards the end. So, will Sreebala and Xylex find the missing people, and are they really dead as Melvin says? Is Melvin really the culprit, and has he killed these people or is he just some random person who lost his sanity after the death of his wife and daughter?

The defence of Vettah :: The mind game factor remains the core of the movie, as manipulations make the most impact around here; the intelligent entertainer comes to the picture here. There is nothing of masala here though; for there exists no comedy and no action sequences at all as the brain game keeps going here. The final twist is a working one and does justice to the rest of the movie. The suspense is maintained well throughout the movie and we will keep guessing about how it will go towards the end. As this one released without a trailer, and a lot less known about the flick, there was a certain amount of mystery surrounding this one, and that brings the surprise to light. There are also some messages related to how the world works, as the movie takes one through the darker side where justice is rather difficult, and revenge becomes the more realistic option. The visuals are also very good.

Claws of flaw :: I am pretty much sure that a lot of people will have problems in following this movie due to its choice of following a different and more complex path. Some people would surely ask for more explanations, and if you miss some points, you will miss a lot. The movie also leaves a few occasions without making much impact, even though the moments could have been better. There is also a certain amount of slowness that you feel in here, and the pace could have actually increased better in the earlier stages too. A number of scenes could have been avoided or presented in another way, but it still works in the way that we see them. The story of each main character could have been separately developed, and that of Indrajith’s character could have used a lot more of ideas too. There is nothing much in the music.

Performers of the soul :: We haven’t seen Kunchacko Boban as someone with this much negative shades on that many occasions; and he has managed this one really well – he comes up with the biggest score here. There is a certain amount of wicked beauty about his character on a number of occasions, and it works really well for him. His smile is something that gives you the clue about what you are witnessing, which is part of a bigger plan, and it has the nice dark side waiting to unleash itself. It is a lot his movie rather than of any other. The idea that many people might have had earlier with the investigation belonging to the two police officer characters will take a u-turn related to this one. It is Kunchako’s biggest and the most interesting role in a commercial movie for a long time. He makes a lot happen here in style.

Further performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier has a good run in the first police role in her career, and the one role which remains serious through the run-time – it also becomes her only full serious role during her return, as Vettah allows no comedy as it goes direct and is strictly a serious flick. Coming right out of Rani Padmini and Jo and the Boy which were heavy in messages as well as Paavada which had her in a special appearance, she leaves a mark with the first flick with her as the leading actress. Beginning her second innings with How Old Are You?, I will say that she has had a very good run which continues – there is too much jealousy on the same as far as the fans of the rest are concerned though, which explains a certain amount of dislike or hate. Well, she is surely a lot better than the other other fake lady superstars who claim such a title!

How it finishes :: The final lead here, Indrajith Sukumaran is solid, but the character is left to less importance, and that is a case of something interesting gone missing. The one sad thing here is that with his demise, Vettah will be Rajesh Pillai’s last movie, and it is a terrible loss to the Malayalam movie industry. His Traffic was undoubtedly one of the best with the narrative, and also brought an amazing change at a time when Malayalam movie industry had more terrible movies than the good ones. His Mili was also one of the best of its kind, the only real movie to bring the introvert opinion to light in the right way – it was so good that it bothered a lot of people who couldn’t stand seeing an introvert as the leading character; which is why I consider it as the one righteous movie which gave voice to the lesser shown “others”. We will miss the visionary director.

Release date: 26th February 2016
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Rajesh Pillai
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Manju Warrier, Indrajith Sukumaran, Sandhya, Deepak Parambol, Rony David Raj, Prem Prakash, Vijayaraghavan, Kottayam Nazir, Baby Akshara Kishore, Baby Nandana Sajan, Akash Keralan, Jith Pirappancode

vettah

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Paavada

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What is it about? :: Joy a.k.a. Paambu Joy (Prithviraj Sukumaran) spends his day with alcohol, and that leads to his wife Cinimol (Miya George) leaving him to do service in a charitable institution. He spends most of his time with alcohol as if there is no tomorrow. With nobody left to control him, the local priest tries to make him stop drinking, but it is of no use, and the priest finally admits Joy in a de-addiction centre. Babu a.k.a. Paavada Babu (Anoop Menon) used to be a college lecturer teaching English, but now spends his time lost in alcohol as if it is the only thing that he does throughout the day. Except for the dialogues which he takes out of the Shakesperean Drama including Hamlet, Macbeth and Julius Caesar, there is nothing much good that comes out of his mouth. His well-wishers forcibly take him to a de-addiction centre.

So, what happens next in the movie? :: The well-wishers think that they can only return after changing themselves, but that turns out to be a wrong idea, as the two manage to escape from the place which is heavily guarded. This brings a special bond between the two which is forged in alcohol, even though the caretaker of Babu doesn’t really like the fact that Joy has started living in their house. But they get along as time progresses, and as they are united in alcohol, something else comes up which changes their times of happiness into something depressing. There will be a flashback which works against their happy days, and certain news will add fire to the same. So, with the help of their well-wishers, will they be able to overcome this problem which affects them both?

The defence of Paavada :: The movie begins with the notice that this happened before the bars had closed in Kerala. You will feel that Paavada is a clear entertainer right from the beginning to the end. There are no dull moments here, and this is certainly a quality which the audience will appreciate. The comedy sequences power the first half while the emotional side takes over the second, even though there is some fun in parts concerning the latter part of the movie too; it ends with very much of a happy angle. The story remains strong here, especially with how things take the twists, and this side takes over when the rest goes a little down. There will be dialogues for you to remember, and even as it has too much of alcohol, there is message and something for the family audience along with the youth. There is clearly enjoyment in store here. You can also find a message against alcoholism by the end.

Claws of flaw :: Some jokes won’t work that well, and a number of them seems to be more forced to be added with alcohol rather than being better. There are also certain deviations from the trailer, and the story won’t follow that path which you might have predicted earlier. There is also that too much of a focus on alcohol in the first half at a time when other factors could have also been there. Alcohol gets too much of screen space here than one would have wanted. The songs are all forgettable, and if they were avoided, the movie could have gotten rid of a few extra minutes which were there. The movie also has a huge amount of melodrama which comes in during the second half. The final light moments after the climax were also not that effective. Paavada really did have scope to be an even better movie.

Performers of the soul :: Prithviraj has been making the right choices with his movies, and this one is no different, as he has become the one actor whose movies can be trusted more than any other. Even earlier, I liked his movies like Ivide and London Bridge which had certain viewers in doubt. In this movie, he handles both the funny as well as the emotional side with no problems at all. We had seen how well he could handle a character suffering from addiction in Memories, and here he comes up very well with two sides of the same coin. Some people might have had doubts from the trailer, but they will be cleared with this movie. Miya plays the role of his wife, and has the usual stuff to do, which she manages fine; they were together in their last movie Anarkali too, even though not paired with each other.

Further performers of the soul :: Anoop Menon continues his good work from the less appreciated, but interesting Maalgudi Days. I have felt that he was nothing less than a perfect choice to play the alcoholic English professor with a philosophical side and love for drama; also having a troubled past. Except for the alcoholism, he carries over the rest from his previous movie, and there are some very nice moments which he shares with Prithviraj. Kalabhavan Shajon once again plays a character with evil shades, reminding one of Drishyam. Siddique has a strong performance by the end of the movie while Chemban Vinod Jose and Sudheer Karamana manage their contrasting priest roles really well. Sharafudeen of Premam fame has some nice moments in the first half. Maniyan Pilla Raju and Nedumudi Venu provides fine support and Asha Sarath is another positive.

How it finishes :: Prithviraj had only finished a hat-trick of blockbusters with Ennu Ninte Moideen, Amar Akbar Anthony and Anarkali, and this would surely add to that list of great success. I watched this movie at a multiplex screen, and even though it was in the morning, the place was almost houseful with seats vacant only here and there. I am expecting this to be the first blockbuster of 2016 as far as Malayalam movies are concerned. So, this year has a very fine beginning for Prithviraj, and his upcoming movies this year which should begin with Darvinte Parinamam, are also the titles which will catch our attention. I am pretty sure that Paavada is the movie which will work for all kinds of audience, and so it should be your movie of the weekend as it seems now; plus you see that the goodness side wins in the end whatever be the circumstances.

Release date: 15th January 2016
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: G. Marthandan
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Miya George, Anoop Menon, Kalabhavan Shajon, Chemban Vinod Jose, Maniyan Pilla Raju, Nedumudi Venu, Sudheer Karamana, Siddique, Sharafudeen, Renji Panicher, Kunjan, Asha Sarath, Dinesh Prabhakar, Murali Gopy, Manikuttan, Sai Kumar, Sunil Sukhada, Manju Warrier

paavada

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jo and the Boy

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What is the movie about? :: Joan Mary John (Manju Warrier) used to be a kid who loved Mickey Mouse a lot and later took it as her ambition to create a cartoon character like that. When asked at school about whom she wanted to be, she had the answer as Walt Disney. Later, she grows up to be an animator who hopes to make a big series or movie with a character created by her, and for the same, she makes different approaches, but with not much of a result. As she goes above the age of thirty with no job and no interest in marriage, her parents Johnny (Lalu Alex) and Mary (Kalaranjini) become more and more worried. But she continues in her own small world trying to make that big difference to it with one right moment. Then the life changing moment appears, and the story has another direction to proceed.

So what is this sudden change of direction in life about? :: Joan needed something special with her life. Things take a turn with the arrival of a boy called Chris (Sanoop Santhosh) who was adopted by Catherine (Rekha), one of Joan’s relatives. The visit happens at a time when Joan is struggling to make a mark as things continue to work against her. After the initial dislike due to the boy’s attitude, Joan becomes good friends with him, and they become good friends. Later, he becomes the inspiration for the cartoon character whom Joan is planning to create, and she ends up designing her creation just like him. Calling the character Criz, she keeps making the attempt to impress the firm, with the man at its head not interested in her ideas. With the help of her friends and the boy, Joan will try again, as it is her only dream in life.

The defence of Jo and the Boy :: There is a very nice beginning to this movie, with the child and Mickey Mouse; it keeps that level or somewhere around there until the cartoon character gets its own problems. There was the possiblity of this one becoming the right movie embedded in the spirit of Christmas in the beginning stages. The ending is also pretty good, even though the climax has a little bit too much melodrama. This is inspirational and feel-good, that is for sure – there is no shortage of such stuff here and there even though not in totality with the story. The Philips and the Monkey Pen feeling exists right through this one, even though that much strength is not there to be a worthy successor to that amazing movie – don’t keep the expectations that high about this one. There is also the strength of some amazing visuals in this flick. You are going to fall in love with locations used here, and there is no question about that. The performances will be another plus point.

Claws of flaw :: The movie will have problems in connecting to a good number of viewers who might not have expected this from the trailers. The humour here is rather too less. The songs are not that good either, and visuals are the ones which give the feel to the music. There are problems in the middle part and the first part of the second half does have some lagging portions along with cliches. A lot of scenes which were shown in the trailer in a nice way have almost no significance in the movie in its totality. The Philips and the Monkey Pen magic is not really recreated here, with some magical moments here and there, but that connectivity, clarity and emotional strength isn’t that much present here. It should be also why this movie try to be the great overreacher with its story, when it could have stayed on the ground with the common man; instead it does try to fly too high, and becomes the Icarus with burnt wings – unlike the son of Daedalus, this one survives though. A better or even simpler story would have made this a fairy-tale beauty.

Performers of the soul :: As you might have already expected, Manju Warrier is the big performer here, as she once again manages an inspiration role to take it to a fine level, after How Old Are You? and Rani Padmini. All those “different” characteristics of this role comes to life with her, even though common man question the action here – that is explained with the “difference” factor; “divergence” isn’t really a crime, right? Sanoop Santhosh also does an interesting job here as the boy who brings the diversion in life. Even though the character is not that likable as in Philips and the Monkey Pen, he does his character well. It is nice to see Lalu Alex doing the “cool father act” once again. Sudheer Karamana is too underused here as his character disappears after making a nice impact. Sunil Sukhada also has a short appearance in the beginning stages of the movie. Pearle Maaney provides some good support. A point to be noted is that there is no pair for the heroine here, and as you expected, the romance is null.

Soul exploration :: Jo and the Boy is another movie which talks about dreams. The whole story is about the lady protagonist who has a dream in her childhood and keeps going towards it even as she reaches the age of thirty – unmarried and without a job. It is the story of many good men and women who couldn’t achieve a particular thing just because they don’t have enough contacts or blood-relationships with people at good positions – we know how it works in this world, as people with reservations and powerful relatives will get things done easily and earlier while others have to work hard to achieve it. But our protagonist keeps trying, and despite the worries, her parents also supports her. In a world in which sons and daughters of actors/directors/producers become actors without any skill, and children of ministers become leaders and then ministers, Joan is a symbol of everyone who keeps trying without accepting defeat and changing the path.

How it finishes :: As you might know already, there is no shortage of inspirational movies in Malayalam Cinema; even this year, it is a process which started with Mili, and continued to go on through Rani Padmini, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam and My God. Among these five big inspirational movies including this one, three of them are heroine-oriented, one has a person who rises above his disability, and another movie has a kid at the centre of everything. Malayalam movie industry does know how to inspire its audience, that is for sure. With Jo and the Boy, I am glad that there has been a lot of inspiration gained from movies this year, and there are also those feel-good entertainers which have provided us with some more happiness, and some movies are both! I am extremely glad to have watched more Malayalam movies than the flicks in any other language this year, in the theatres.

Release date: 24th December 2015
Running time: 156 minutes
Directed by: Rojin Thomas
Starring: Manju Warrier, Sanoop Santhosh, Pearle Maaney, Kiran, Lalu Alex, Kalaranjini, Rekha, Sudheer Karamana, Sunil Sukhada

joandtheboy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rani Padmini

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What is it about? :: Rani Padmini tells the story of the journey of two women. Padmini (Manju Warrier) is the wife of Giri (Jinu Joseph) who had settled in North India many years ago. Even though her mother-in-law (Sajitha Madathil) is adamant that she shouldn’t work, her husband tells her to follow her heart, just like he races in mountain rallies against the wishes of his mother. She starts working as a physiotherapist much to the dismay of her mother-in-law who brings up a divorce notice to teach her a lesson when Giri goes for racing. Padmini decides to run away from home and find her husband. Meanwhile, Rani (Rima Kalingal) is facing a financial problem and a gang of criminals is also after her after she revealed their hiding location to the police. She runs away from home with enough problems on her trail.

How it goes on :: Soon, Rani and Padmini will get their roads to converge, as they meet up in a bus, and decide to continue their journey together. Even though they have their differences, they manage to get along well. As her mother-in-law arranges for the police to bring her back, Giri gets into tough competition with a veteran racer who is determined to win it this time. The two ladies get through the problems on the road by using the best of their abilities and also by luck; sometimes being helped by people on the road including journalists, trekkers and even local men and women. With this one interesting journey, there will be the realization of some truths, not only for the two protagonists, but also for the people who are connected to them in one way or the other. A lot of things are sure to change in their lives.

The defence of Rani Padmini :: There is a wonderful working combination in Rani Padmini. It is not just related to the two leading ladies who take this experience to another level, but also about how this movie combines its feel-good factor, messages, funny side and beautiful sceneries together to bring some awesomeness on the screen. The advantage here is that it is applicable to not just a category of people, but for everyone. The humour in this movie is really good, and it makes the presence felt regularly. Unlike what the trailer seemed to suggest, the movie is light-hearted, and there is not much of a dark side to it. The visuals are nothing less than amazing, and it provides the viewer with the desire to travel to those locations far away. The background music adds to the positives, and the songs also have something for the heart and the soul. You will also love the way in which the message takes a path which asserts freedom rather than labels.

Claws of flaw :: Rani Padmini doesn’t bring a lot to the story as the focus is on the idea and what is brought to the viewers on the screen. There could have been many other ways through which this movie had the ability to progress better. Some people might feel slight drag, but it is more dependent on how you see and how you think, that much freedom is provided by Rani Padmini to the viewers. It is also not the usual entertainer, even though it entertains with its moments. The idea could have also been better brought to the audience. It seems that due to the negative opinions from critics and the audience alike for his previous movie that Aashiq Abu decided not to publicize this one like Gangster which almost everyone considers as his worst movie ever. The initial rush might be less for this movie due to the same reason, but it will pick up and is here to stay in the theatres.

Performers of the soul :: The movie is completely dependent on the lady characters who lead the way. The two leading ladies have done an amazing job here, absorbing the soul of the characters into themselves. They are very good together, and makes a perfect team. We have seen Rima Kallingal only once since 2013, with the spoof movie, Chirakodinja Kinavukal this year. This flick is a perfect example of why she needs to be there on screen more. She provides a highly memorable performance as the rebellious young lady who wishes to prove herself to her mother. She excels in the comic side like never before, and got some of the funniest moments in the movie. People can talk about having other actresses in the same role, but not like this, and not in the way Rima has done; for this is special.

Further performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier’s second run is only two movies old, with How Old Are You in 2014 and Ennum Eppozhum in 2015. But here, she has her best performance in her second innings, and this is also the best movie in her second entry. The family audience will love her a lot in this avatar, and others will also love this performance as she has a balanced character providing different levels of experience. She handles both the emotional and comic scenes with fine skill. You should look out for the story which she tells her friend and her interest in a flower and a soap. While Rima excels in showing her anger and frustration in a funny way, she scores with the humour in nostalgia, concerns and affection. Jinu Joseph does a good job even with smaller screen presence, and Sajitha Madathil remains solid as usual.

How it finishes :: Here is a movie which keeps saying that Aashiq Abu is back. He has taken the risk once again, and remembering how the audience reacted to Gangster, this one surely needed the confidence – he scores due to the same, big time. Rani Padmini‘s advantage over other movies is that it doesn’t preach, and what the two leading women characters in the movie manage is to finally become the individuals whom they are and those personalities whom they wish to be. It is a case of embracing the truth and one’s abilities, as they make the others around understand the same. You can ask if Rani Padmini is How Old Are You or Queen, and I will reply that it is better than them both. I actually consider this one Aashiq Abu’s best work ever, the first one which goes directly into the soul rather than towards the brain or the heart.

Release date: 23rd October 2015
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Manju Warrier, Rima Kallingal, Jinu Joseph, Praveen Jain, Sajitha Madathil, Sreenath Bhasi, Sana Althaf, Srinda Ashab, Soubin Shahir, Kunchan, Ambika Mohan, Dileesh Pothan, Binu Pappu, Rajitha Madhu, Hareesh Khanna

rainpadmini

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.