Malayankunju

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the floods and landslides of the last few years?

Vampire Bat: Yes, 2018 floods was too terrifying for vampires too.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this movie will be a Fahadh Faasil show.

Vampire Bat: You mean, more focused on him than the big works like Joji and Malik.

Vampire Owl: I don’t see why it should be any different.

Vampire Bat: There can always be balanced acts.

Vampire Owl: The focus always shifts to Fahadh Faasil at some point of time.

Vampire Bat: We remember the much earlier Fahadh Faasil movie which was focused on high ranges too.

Vampire Owl: Maheshinte Prathikaaram was one of its kind.

Vampire Bat: Well, so was Kumbalangi Nights which deserved better accolades than what it had received then. Still my favourite movies of him would still be the earlier ones in the form of Amen and Diamond Necklace.

[Gets a blueberry cake and three scoops of blackcurrant ice cream].

What is the movie about? :: Anil Kumar aka Anikuttan (Fahadh Faasil) is an expert electrician who serves the locals of the high ranges of Kerala. He is the one whom almost everyone depends on, whether it is about laptops and mobiles or related to general household items like televisions, refrigerators and washing machines, with any possible doubts being cleared using Youtube. Sumesh (Deepak Parambol) is his best friend, and helps him with obtaining the electrical equipments required for repair, as they live closer to the forest area. His father Radhakrishnan (Jaffar Idukki) had committed suicide a long time ago, and he had been unhappy about it for a long time, leading him to becoming frequently angry towards others and even resulted in him acting strangely for most of time. His mother Shanthamma (Jaya S Kurup) is particularly unhappy about how he has been living his life – as the child next door cries all the time, he feels disturbed and not able to concentrate on his work, leading to more fights with neighbours.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: All of these points to his sister Sandhya (Rajisha Vijayan) eloping with Deepu (Arjun Ashokan) on the night before her marriage, the event thus becoming the major reason for the suicide of Anil’s father. Even though his uncle Surendran (Indrans), neighbour Poulose (Irshad) and a few others are still in support of him, he doesn’t gain any fans among the people around. As his sister comes back to the area with her child, he is not ready to go and see her. He also gets into fights with the locals, and lands in the police station. But he somewhat gets along with these people, but it has been raining heavily for a long time, and an alert was already issued. Most of the people nearby had already moved from the area, and Anil’s neighbours plan to get out there the very next morning. Anil is adamant that he won’t leave his house, despite the warnings of his mother. But the landslide occurs during that night, and everyone seems to have perished. Anil tries to get out of the area underneath the land and try to save others who might have also been caught in there, but can he?

The defence of Malayankunju :: The struggle that the main character has to face, feels as real as possible. The skills with cinematography seems to have worked in favour of the movie, not just underneath the ground, but also outside with the shots, even though there are no shots of this particular world like in one of the best quality films in high ranges for sometime, John Luther. There are no exaggerations in this tale which is close to reality from the beginning to the end – the protagonist is no hero, and struggles with the problems of the mind reminding us of North 24 Kaatham which had a different crisis from inside. The movie is very much well shot in parts, and with some fine use of lighting and sound effects, creates the desired effects to take us to that world. The nature with all the greenery works close to the tale, even though environment is pushed to the background for quite a long time. This seems to be a movie custom made for Fahadh Faasil, and he assures the audience about the same. He continues with his excellence, and when he is there, you know that the movie will rise further, even if caught in the ordinary at times.

The claws of flaw :: With the premise, one would have expected this to be a disaster movie with the visuals of the terror also coming into the picture. The time spent underneath the ground could have also looked better, with some more smaller events of interest – the situation outside could have also been shown from outside, about what had actually happened, and how the news channels report the incidents – these could be easily achieved without making things complicated or exaggerated. The idea of having the father appear in the dream-like sequence doesn’t work, considering the mood which the film has been maintaining. Some of the characters are there to do very less, and it is disappointing considering their skills. The sudden interest in humanity which is displayed by the protagonist seems to be forced, as he looks like the one who is interested in his fellow humans all of a sudden. The movie had already stretched a little bit too much with the events in the early stages. After all, as people watch survival thrillers in different languages, they are no strangers to the idea. The songs are also not that interesting.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has never stopped amazing us with his works, and it is to be noted that even with the ordinary stories like Ayal Njanalla and Role Models, he has elevated the movie to a classic level, and there is no question about those works which have managed to be close to perfection with his presence. We have been seeing him as the actor who has been part of movies from different languages and having more and more fans from different parts of the world and even outside the nation. Here, he is excellent in displaying the protagonist’s desire to survive against all odds, as he is caught in the debris which remained after the landslide. Rajisha Vijayan plays another role in which she does a fine job, even though one would have wanted to see her more, as we had only recently seen how well she managed to work as the sole star in Keedam, a quality which was also seen in Kho Kho, Finals and June, all of them having her rising above all expectations. The usual veterans are surely strong in here, in the form of Indrans, Irshad and Jaffar Idukki. Nilja K Baby also gets a good role which is performed well, and we would expect RJ Nilja as part of more similar movies – more of future for the film industry.

How it finishes :: The movie seems to have had its inspiration from the landslides which occurred in Kerala, especially from the year of Kerala’s biggest floods of the century till the year of the corona virus – the devastation of the times seems to serve as inspiration for creativity as much as for caution. The horror related to natural disasters has never been too far away from us. This one works as an eye opener for all people, as everyone needs to come together during the disaster which unites humanity, and let them get out of the boundaries of religion, caste, race and language. The disaster has been used to remind people of what they have been missing, and some fantastic performances make sure that it gets to the viewers. It also works as the triumph of humanity when it discovers what it had lost in the last few years – hope and love for the other. Malayankunju successfully urges the audience to reclaim the same, even though a world of chaos and destruction awaits to be unleashed on unsuspecting people.

Release date: 11th August 2022 (Amazon Prime Video); 22 July 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 114 minutes
Directed by: Sajimon Prabhakar
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Rajisha Vijayan, Indrans, Nilja K Baby, Johny Antony, Jose MV, Deepu Navaikulam, Jaffar Idukki, Jaya S Kurup, Deepak Parambol, Arjun Ashokan, Meera Krishnan, Binu Manambur, Irshad, Chali Pala, Meera Krishnan, Remya Suresh, Kiran Peethambaram

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Varane Avashyamundu

What is the movie about? :: Neena (Shobhana) is a divorced mother who is living with her daughter Nikitha (Kalyani Priyadarshan) in the busy city of Chennai. As Neena had eloped from home and married, the only relative who comes to see them is her uncle Manuel (Lalu Alex) while her husband lived far away from them. While Neena works as a teacher of French language, Nikitha also supports herself with a job, and is looking for a groom in a matrimonial website all by herself. Those whom she finds as match include Alphonse (Siju Wilson) and Aby (Rahul Rajasekharan), a Motor Vehicle Inspector and an NRI respectively. In the same block of apartments where they are living, Major Unnikrishnan (Suresh Gopi), a retired army officer also lives alone. He is known for his anger management issues due to which he often gets into trouble, and is disliked by the people living near him.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Bipeesh (Dulquer Salmaan) is the new resident at the apartments, beginning his stay with an argument with Nikitha over their two-wheelers. Nikitha is not fond of him as well as Unnikrishnan who also buys a dog which is almost as huge as him. Major Athmaram (Major Ravi) who was also in the army tries to solve Unnikrishnan’s anger management issues by sending him to his friend who is also a doctor – Doctor Bose (Johny Antony). Unnikrishnan is someone who had managed to climb Mount Everest during his youth, and is also someone who participated in the skirmishes at the Indo-Pakistan border. But he finds it difficult to mingle with people, especially with ladies. The kids of the apartments particularly hate him for his rough attitude. As he tries to change his behaviour, he ends up getting closer to Neena, which changes the lives of Nikitha and Bipeesh as well. But what does it mean for his anger?

The defence of Varane Avashyamundu :: The movie runs on its cast which is an enviable one. It has one generation of veteran performers in the form of Suresh Gopi and Shobhana, and another generation with Dulquer Salmaan and Kalyani Priyadarshan, making it something which everyone from more than one generation feeling the need to watch it. The focus being on the elder stars is the best thing about this movie, as it works really well with the tale to connect with everyone. The funny moments work really well, and the credit for the same rests mostly with Suresh Gopi, supported by Johny Antony. The setting of the apartments in the middle of a city, and people going through their flawed, but interesting lives is nicely shown here. There are some messages given, and most of the time, it is about life and relationships. But, it should have had more depth, in more than one way.

The claws of flaw :: One trouble that Varane Avashyamundu seems to face is that it doesn’t have a script to match the cast that it possesses. It had to be better focused on what it was doing, and the same would have allowed us to go beyond that initial drag with ease, and that ending which seemed to be rushed, even though it cannot be termed terrible. The predictability is always there, as we know which direction this is heading – there is no need for any special skill for the same. The need to put the feel-good factor into place would always be a priority, considering the fact that this movie’s competitors were all focused on other genres including the year’s first big hit Anjaam Pathira which is clearly on the other side with the shades. The movie doesn’t have memorable songs or music, and it could have also been shorter, removing some scenes. Even some characters seemed to be rather unnecessary here.

The performers of the soul :: If there is a question about the leading performer in the movie, that is not the leading young pair – it is Suresh Gopi who makes the retired army officer a joy to watch. We had last seen him in My God, and here we have him doing the comedy and emotions exceptionally well, and his character and the changes undergone are too good. Shobana adds to the charm here, and her combination scenes with Suresh Gopi as well as Kalyani. Urvashi also has a memorable role to add here. But at the same time, Dulquer Salmaan doesn’t have much of a screen time – his character is also one which doesn’t suit the overall mood of the movie, and the romance here is also half-baked, seemingly built on fake emotions and therefore lacking in strength. Johny Antony is the next person to bring the comic side alive, while Siju Wilson and Major Ravi also have a few similar moments. Meanwhile, Lalu Alex is there with another usual, but memorable kind of role.

Further performers of the soul :: Kalyani Priyadarshan has her first Malayalam movie, and Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham will be the next. As the daughter of the renowned film director Priyadarshan and the popular actress of her time Lissy Priyadarshan, her debut was long overdue. The other star children had already arrived, and we know what nepotism can do to you, as it was proven with the star kids, even though not that much as it has done with Bollywood. At least in the case of Malayalam movie industry, the sons and daughters can act, and often even excel in what they do, a case which have made the industry rise above the usual brainless acts of Bollywood. Kalyani is no exception either, as she nails her emotional and funny moments. Often reminding one of Bhagyalakshmi Prabhu who plays Meenakshi in Thatteem Mutteem especially with KPAC Lalitha around, she gets to be perfectly fit in this family feel-good stuff.

How it finishes :: Anoop Sathyan, son of the veteran film director Sathyan Anthikad is at the helm of this movie. He is known to have served as assistant director at Malayalam film industry and have also directed independent documentaries. There is a certain Sathyan Anthikad touch that can be seen in this movie, and the same can’t be denied, especially in a feel-good movie directed by his son. It is just with the setting that the difference can be seen – otherwise the model is more or less the same. A shift from the village to the city can be felt more, as it is a change from a very rural setting to a very urban metro setting. But the characters are shown in a simple and lovable manner as we have seen in those rural settings, which make this movie a fine watch for the family audience. There is no question about what the one clean family movie can be, with a modern setting.

Release date: 7th February 2020
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: Anoop Sathyan
Starring: Suresh Gopi, Shobana, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Dulquer Salmaan, Urvashi, Lalu Alex, KPAC Lalitha, Johny Antony, Siju Wilson, Major Ravi, Sarvajith Santosh, Meera Krishnan, Sreeja Ravi, Rahul Rajasekharan, Wafa Khatheeja Rahman, Krishna Chandran A Nair, Vidya Menon, Aravind Venugopal, Theni Murugan, K Gopal, Nalsen K Gafoor, Lal Jose (cameo)

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.