Sara’s

What is the movie about? :: Sara (Anna Ben) needs to get many things right, and making a name in the film field is only one of them. She has her own set of beliefs, and is not ready to step away from them, no matter the cost happens to be. From her school days itself, she was afraid of having a child, and she maintains that aversion throughout her life. She is bothered by her father Vincent’s (Benny P Nayarambalam) constant requests to get a boyfriend, without which they will come up with a match themselves. It is then that she meets Jeevan (Sunny Wayne), who had left his job in Bangalore and returned home, presently taking care of his sister’s children. When the two meet later, they are united by their lack of interest in having children, and decide to fall in love. They feel that there is a connection between them, and the two decide to wait for a few years before they marry – she hopes that she can study him well during that time, and also get her new movie going.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Their world consists of only the two of them, and they hope to keep it the same without any unwanted trouble. But when their parents come to know about the relationship, things don’t go that smoothly. They are forced to get married too soon, but the two decide to go with the flow without resisting the same. Sara continues to try and get her script accepted by a producer willing to let her direct the film. At the same time, Jeevan goes back to job again. Sara is disappointed by her inability to convince the producers, but things get only worse for her when she gets pregnant. All the relatives come to know about it, and their happiness is only matched by Sara’s disappointment. She hasn’t changed a bit as far as her ideology about children is concerned, even though Jeevan is now not sure. The equations have changed now, and what they had thought earlier might not work any longer.

The defence of Sara’s :: There can always be something about feel-good movies, and that something is carried over here too, with the feeling being too good. Jude Anthany Joseph’s mastery over the same is something on which everybody would agree. The emotional side is strong, and the light-hearted elements with the usual touch of humour works really well here. The reflections of the usual life and the disagreements between generations can also be seen in the flick. It is to be noted that the light-hearted feeling is maintained throughout the film, and it never slips away from the same during its two hours of seemingly perfect run-time, even though it deviates a little bit. As a female centered film, the protagonist does have more to tell you than what meets the eye. There is the requirement to understand that the purpose of marriage is not to have children as soon as you are married, and that parenthood is a responsibility for which everyone has to be prepared well. When people have children in less than an year after marriage, and when they choose to keep having more and more of kids almost every year, it is strange. There is always an intellectual purpose in life as far as humans are concerned, and it is being left behind by these people, both men and women. This film should be an awakening for them, as well as for those who marry early, without maturity coming to them. In India, as more the youth is more dependent on parents it takes them about twenty eight to thirty three years old to be really mature. It is surprising to see some people getting married at the age of twenty one and eighteen, and the recent cases on suicides in the name of domestic violence and dowry were all from those who married too early, especially without the women not being allowed to complete their studies or work freely.

The claws of flaw :: Sara’s could have been more with its ideas, and there was also a chance to add more of light-hearted comedy with those usual kind of situations. You are never really short of some feel-good ideas in our world, and chances for humour were many, but not many of them are taken. It often struggles to make comedy out of silly stuff. The movie should have actually released one day earlier during the weekend, and it would have had more viewers due to the weekend lock-down being imposed, and this flaw in release date will decrease its viewers by a considerable number. These are the kind of choices which make sure how many people watch the film from an OTT platform. Also expectations after Jude Anthany Joseph’s previous movies were very high, and this one has to match that, but this one is more about the ups and downs. This one is certainly not that much fun in comparison with the earlier films, and we also have a little bit more of an emotional side at work here. The final moments seem to have gone for the quick solution, instead of making things innovative. The film is also too materialistic in its viewpoint with main characters going for the selfish motive, the kind which won’t hesitate to cheat and murder if needed, and its heroine wouldn’t be ideal in a morality tale, but as she is shown as a person interested only in films, maybe she is more of a reflection of people in who are part of movies rather than common people. After all, it is difficult for the protagonist to understand that she is not an island, but it is to be noted that the people around her matches her in being judgmental.

Performers of the soul :: With his third venture which seems to resemble the earlier successful works from him, it is Jude Anthany Joseph who has our attention here, more than the main actors and actresses of this film, and it is with high expectations that we are watching this particular flick. The work of Anna Ben remains the same, natural, and perfectly suited for a role like this. Kumbalangi Nights and Helen had her realistic acting skills bringing some surprise to us. This time, we are having exactly what we expected from here, and one more natural performance brings us an lovable film. She is the one actress who makes the perfect new generation star who blends in so well with the roles given to her. Benny P Nayarambalam, Anna’s real-life father plays her father in the film too, and that is indeed a nice addition to the movie. Siddique is also there, and you know what to expect when the veteran actor is once again there, and doing his usual stuff – he has more or less become an integral part of the feel-good Malayalam movies of these times.

Further performers of the soul :: Sunny Wayne is here in a film which is not centered on him, but that comes as no surprise to him, as he was the hero in Annmaria Kalippilaanu, but was not the protagonist there too. He was very good in the earlier supporting roles, and with different roles like the villain in Kayamkulam Kochunni and the surprise entry in June, he is known for these kind of roles more than for being the sole hero in flicks like Alamara and a number of lesser known ones. Before this film, we had him everywhere with that song “Kaamini” in Anugraheethan Antony due to the producers of Chathur Mukham failing to bring it to OTT platforms at a time when films like Cold Case, Drishyam 2, Mohan Kumar Fans, Nizhal, The Priest, Aarkkariyam and Joji scored so high in Amazon Prime Video, Nayattu in Netflix and Kho Kho with Operation Java in ZEE 5. It is also good to see Mallika Sukumaran going through her usual kind of work, and we also see others who have much less to do in here, even though they all form a part.

How it finishes :: This is the third film of Jude Anthany Joseph after Ohm Shanthi Oshaana and Oru Muthassi Gadha, both of those movies being excellent feel-good entertainers, and the former had also won the Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value at the 45th Kerala State Film Awards, as well as making sure that Nazriya Nassim earned a Best Actress Award too. So, this one certainly came with high expectations, especially considering the fact that Anna Ben is a more complete actress in comparison to those who were part of his earlier ventures. The expectations do provide some good results here, as Sara’s is indeed a movie to watch without having too much of the emotional feeling while dealing with similar topics and its light-hearted take on the usual kind of stuff and with a desire for change in the attitudes of the society makes it an interesting watch during these days which still continue have a certain kind of COVID-19 lock-down restrictions going on here and there. Therefore, the audience of all age groups can give it a chance.

Release date: 5th July 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Jude Anthany Joseph
Starring: Anna Ben, Sunny Wayne, Dominic Arun, Siddique, Srindaa, Margret Antony, Siju Wilson, Dhanya Varma, Benny P Nayarambalam, Mallika Sukumaran, Prasanth Nair

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Evidey

What is the movie about? :: Symphony Zachariah (Manoj K Jayan) is a busy, but not so rich musician who keeps traveling all the time, not caring much for his wife and children. Jessy Zachariah (Asha Sharath) is left to care for the family which consists of her father-in-law, Kuttichan (Prem Prakash) and two children. When one day, Zachariah goes missing, Jessy is determined to find out what happened to him. Police Inspector Simon Tharakan (Baiju Santhosh) is the one in charge of the case, and it seems that the case is solved when a letter from Zachariah reaches them. But there is something strange about the letter – Jessy doesn’t believe that it was written by Zachariah. A man named Kabir (Kunchan) who comes to see them makes things even more complicated. Jessy even begins to doubt that Zachariah has another wife and kids.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Their son Leen (Shebin Benson), a college student is in love with Shahana (Anaswara Rajan), a girl whose life he saved when she was drowning, an incident which fetched him a bravery award. But it seems that he is no longer the person that he used to be. Studying at a college far away from home, he seems to be having more opportunities to go divergent from the studies rather than be the student who used to be the face of the college earlier. He doesn’t come home much, and has been a difficult person to find even for his family. This, along with the missing husband is breaking the family apart, but Jessy is determined to find Zachariah. For that, she would have to take more than one journey, through Mangalore and Goa, as he was supposed to perform at one of the events there.

The defence of Evidey :: The movie belongs to the genre of a family thriller rather than anything else, and the approach also seems to suggest a journey through such a path. The short length makes sure that there is no dull moment in the movie, and there is no drag, even when it seems to be trying to be preachy. The issues that are shown in the movie are genuine, with messages against drug abuse, and the parents’ failure to guide children along with the inability to become good role models. This is the time when students need to be told about the terrible effects of drugs and alcohol more, and with parents having no time to take care of their children, along with everything negative influencing them better, the movie has becoming very relevant. There has been too much of such things in the news, and this is a movie which can be shown in schools and colleges.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s songs are all very much interesting, and such a thing does no good to a family thriller – a good family song or even a song on friendship and love if done well enough can lift a movie of the genre and provide it with a boost, covering its faults up to an extent. Evidey doesn’t have that, and it also doesn’t seem to try too hard with its thriller side which was to serve as its stronger point. The investigative side could have also been done in a more interesting way, and a better backstory was needed with the family members – it would have worked well with a good song, and that much time could have been enough to have the characters settled, especially the two pairs. Even the sequences at Goa could have taken a boost, with some more wandering around the major areas of the state which is not short of providing some good visuals at any point.

The performers of the soul :: The movie remains mostly centered on Asha Sharath, who once again plays the mother of a son gone the wrong way, like in Drishyam. It is once again the duty to save him, but the task remains difficult as it is too late – the tormented mother continues to be on the spotlight. Prem Prakash, at the same time, brings some very emotional and controlled moments to remember, as he has done before on many occasions. Manoj K Jayan is not there for much time, as he is the missing character who can only be there with some small flashbacks. One would feel the need for more of such flashbacks to get a better idea of the character. Baiju plays the police officer who is working on the case, and he makes one believable cop. Kunchan has shorter presence too, and Shivaji Guruvayoor as well as Sunil Sukhada got even lesser time on the big screen.

Further performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu makes his appearance in the later stages of the movie, and has some of the best dialogues in the whole film. He becomes an integral part of the movie in the second half, and continues to assert his presence until the end. Even though some part of it seems forced, the character sticks on well. Shebin Benson shows some skills in this role, and the emotional sequences are handled very well. We see how the changes occur with the character, and how the same has been portrayed in a believable manner. Anaswara Rajan of Udaharanam Sujatha fame does a wonderful job here, as her character is a well-written and well-performed one without pretensions. From the early happy mood to those emotional sequences, she shows a controlled, realistic version, and tranquility when needed is a skill that we rarely see on the younger stars these days.

How it finishes :: Evidey easily takes its message against drug abuse to the next level, even though it does take some time to be there. With clubs like SADA (Students Against Drug Abuse) being formed in colleges to provide awareness regarding the same, we are slowly, but steadily realizing the fact that the drug menace can’t be left unchecked. Evidey will surely help to bring the awareness, as did Kerala Excise Department with the Vimukthi Short Film Competition and its winning entry “Midhya” by Mar Baselios Institute of Technology and Science, Kothamangalam. After so many short-films tried to make the point in that certain competition, and a number of them winning runner-up and consolation prizes, we now have a full-length movie which doesn’t glorify the evil at any point, and scores with an emotional climax and message against it.

Release date: 4th July 2019
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: KK Rajeev
Starring: Shebin Benson, Asha Sharath, Anaswara Rajan, Prem Prakash, Manoj K Jayan, Baiju Santhosh, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Kunchan, Sunil Sukhada

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Theevandi

What is the movie about? :: Bineesh (Tovino Thomas) started smoking at an early age, and tries to go on with his life without having any responsibility. He has a few friends around whom most of his life happens. The smoking which he started in school followed him to youth, and even though that bothers his lover Devika (Samyuktha Menon), they continue the relationship. Her father Madhu (Suraaj Venjarammood) is not confident about the relationship as he knows that he is a chain smoker due to which the title “Theevandi” was given to him – there is no positive side in the future which he sees about Bineesh, but he reluctantly agrees as Devika is certain about it. He talks to Bineesh’s brother-in-law, Vijith (Saiju Kurup) who works with him in the same political party and gets Devika and Bineesh engaged.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But Devika discovers that the smoking habit of Bineesh is beyond all limits and decides that she can no longer continue to be in love with a man who is obsessed with cigarettes. As she decides to be no longer engaged, another problem arises about who would be the next MLA of the constituency, following a terrible accident involving the MLA who has only a few days left to live. The two possible candidates are Bineesh’s brother-in-law and his possible father-in-law which brings another problem to light. In between all of these, is his smoking problem, and as long as the same exists, he can solve nothing. Can there be a solution to Bineesh’s problems, and how far can he go to make it happen? Or will he take the easy way out?

The defence of Theevandi :: There is the certainty of fun as far as Theevandi is concerned. Some jokes will be remembered for longer than we think, that is for sure. The message also arrives strong, and gets stronger and stronger as the movie progresses. The song “Jeevamshamayi Thaane” might be the best moment of the movie, with some other songs to join in. The music of the flick is very good, and there are some nice visuals of the beautiful village at which the flick is based. There is simplicity all around, and the message which the flick deals with, is serious and beyond the limitations. It is complicated when we see the whole of it, and the message against smoking is something of universal relevance. If the movie can inspire at least one person to give up smoking and lead a better life, there is great success being shown here – that one person will surely not be the end of it.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Theevandi could have done even better with its content. Being a movie which was supposed to release in June, this has been delayed for too long. The length of the move is also a negative thing, especially considering the fact that the main purpose here to provide one message, the one thing that it attempts more than the others. Some moments which were supposed to be funny, also falls short. The ending of the movie is certainly interesting and feel-good, and after a good beginning, it is the middle part that has somewhat a struggle. The political side could have also been a better satire. The tools and the premise were present there, but we see a struggle to go too deep in there, and maybe that concerns the possible risks.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas has another role of a flawed hero after Maradona and Mayaanadhi. He has done this job naturally, and there is no moment when he seems to be in trouble. The protagonist’s problems are nicely shown, and the man caught in the terrible situation has our attention. Samyuktha Menon makes a big impact in her first big role. As the industry seems to have less big names among current actresses, her performance here should elevate more of the cinema of these times too. She excels in the romantic and funny sequences, and just holds the ground during emotional scenes. The pair has fine chemistry running through, and the same feeling that was conveyed through the popular romantic song in the movie, goes on even when she seems to show less interest.

Further performers of the soul :: Despite being provided with an exaggerated character, Surabhi Lakshmi manages to bring the most fun of the same. The character seems to be forced into existence without detailed thoughts, but she could manage that, and make things work. Suraj Venjaramood is comfortable in this role which is mostly serious with some chance for comedy. We remember how he nicely kept the balance earlier with Varnyathil Aashanka, Oru Muthassi Gadha, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum and Aby – here he has no problems in doing the same again. Shammi Thilakan also brings the funny elements, even though for a lesser amount of time. Sudheesh and Vijilesh do leave a few things for the funny side too. Rajesh Sharma is also there leaving a mark.

How it finishes :: These are the days when the Malayalam movies are making a comeback after a short break caused by the Kerala Floods. It is the return of the films as much as the return of the state to the normal world. It is with more interesting releases including Ranam and Theevandi that Malayalam movies are making a return, as movies like Koode and Maradona have been there for quite long. The case of Theevandi is stronger because it deals with a socially relevant movie. Translated better as “the vehicle of fire” rather than as the literal translation “the train”, this movie certainly becomes a better notice against smoking than any of those small advertisements shown in the beginning of the flicks. It marks a fine return of Malayalam movies as it surely seems to serve its purpose. You might also want to watch the video song from the movie which has become so popular.

Release date: 7th September 2018
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Fellini TP
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Samyuktha Menon, Surabhi Lakshmi, Rajesh Sharma, Suraaj Venjarammood, Shammi Thilakan, Sudheesh, Krishna Praba, Neena Kurup, Vijilesh, Musthafa

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Uncle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Paippinchuvattile Pranayam

What is the movie about? :: Very close to the city, but still, very far away from the urban setting, there is the small island which is known by the name Pandarathuruthu, and the first half of that name itself is enough to know how that place is considered to be, by not just the people from outside, but also those who live there. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge has said in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the people of the island also faces the same situation – “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink”, surrounded by salt water, and having only a few boats – as all roads lead to Rome, all of those boats get them to the city, and nowhere else. This is the tale of the simple people in that particular place, where everyone spends more time waiting for water in a long queue in front of the common tap at the centre of the island, rather than doing anything else. The rest of the people do simple jobs, including fishing, painting and also a little bit of farming which doesn’t need much of fresh water.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is around that place of local gathering around the tap meant to collect water, that Govindankutty a.k.a Govutty (Neeraj Madhav) and Teena (Reba Monica John) falls in love. While there is the scarcity of water there, one can see no difficulty in getting some love, as far as these two are concerned. Govindankutty leads a happy life with his good friends Ayyappan (Sudhi Koppa) and Bashi (Rishi S Kumar) earning enough through painting work and a few dance performances when opportunities are available. There is not much of a complaint from them about their lives, despite the unavailiability of water bothering them all the time. They know that people have tried to bring better facilities to the island before, but nothing has happened with those politicians who keep making excuses, and life goes on. Any further attempt would be waste of time, according to them.

And what is to follow in this small adventure at the island? :: Babumon (Dharmajan Bolgatty) is the one to suffer the most, as no girl wishes to get married to someone without access to drinking water. Teena’s parents are also not ready to get her married to Govindankutty, and they are also looking for someone who got access to clean water, from anywhere outside the village. Despite his mother (Sethulakshmi) asking for the bride, Teena’s parents (Jaffer Idukki and Thesni Khan) are not ready to accept the proposal. It is more or less the reflection of their realization that nothing good can happen in Pandarathuruthu and the people of the island will never have access to clean water. But when one tragedy strikes, they have to think differently, and understand that it is the time to act. It is upon the youth to make the difference, but are they up to it? One journalist named Shyam Prakash (Aju Varghese) is ready to help them, but will that be enough?

The defence of Paippinchuvattile Pranayam :: There are moments in Paippinchuvattile Pranayam that keep rising like the certainty of tides – we see them coming and going. The humour is present here and there, and the lead has a good chemistry going on in movie’s favour. Some good visuals of the place will have our attention, and we see the huge buildings of the city on one side and this small world on the other. The music is good, even though they are used without care at some places. There are messages in store, and we have social issues being discussed, after the lack of availability of clean water in many areas. There were those islands around Cochin which had problems in getting drinking water, something we have been reading about since childhood. Even though a lot of problems have been solved now, it remains something that is present at one place or the other. Paippinchuvattile Pranayam adds something there.

The claws of flaw :: With a little more than two hours of length, some parts of the movie do make us feel a certain amount of drag. There is also the whole thing not used to its advantage, as this one could have been funnier, as well as having a thrilling end which could be a lot more of a difference maker with its ideas. The final moments could have been polished to bring an effect which would have made this one a social thriller with romance to go with it. The romantic side also makes way for the rest of the things too easily – there is not that much of strength with it if we consider the fact that the title Paippinchuvattile Pranayam as well as the expectations were all related to that only. There is also the need for the ability to relate to the problems of the common man, without which, this movie can go flying far away; this one would be more for the common audience, the everyman who can reflect these elements better as well as the invisible villains.

Performers of the soul :: Neeraj Madhav right out of Lavakusha and Oru Mexican Aparatha this year leads the way, and he is comfortable in being this kind of a hero, as all things are in control here. Reba Monica John seems naturally suited for this role, and is there throughout, winning points with big smiles and enchanting expressions, unlike that small presence which she had in Jacobinte Swargarajyam despite being the leading actress there too. As one might have figured out with the trailer and songs, she fits in, even without that many dialogues. Sudhi Koppa is the one actor who supports so well as he rises to the occasion, and he does a fantastic job with those emotional side, more than that comic side which was there earlier. We already saw him in Alamara, Lakshyam and Udaharanam Sujatha in notable roles this year among the others, and he gets his best here. Dharmajan strengthens the funny side, which would have struggled a lot without him. Aju Varghese has a smaller role which is managed easily. Sarath falls prey to a badly written negative character.

How it finishes :: Among those movies about common people made with what seems to rather lower budget, Paippinchuvattile Pranayam will surely have a good position. It is always nice to see tales being made about common men and not those money laundering bourgeoisie class attached to pubs and parties. It can’t claim to be perfect or close to being perfect in what it deals with, but it is as close to reality that we can get, and it is close to the heart of everyone who feels for those who are in need. But concerning others who have no heart for the sufferings of others, this wouldn’t be the movie. This is the age of superheroes with Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League running in the theatres, and one can go for them without thinking too much, for the big entertainment. But if you care, try giving a chance to the smaller movies about everyman, like Paippinchuvattile Pranayam. In simple words, call it “Love, water & other social issues”.

Release date: 24th November 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Domin D’Silva
Starring: Neeraj Madhav, Reba Monica John, Aju Varghese, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sarath Appani, Sudhi Koppa, Sruthy Jayan, Jaffer Idukki, Rishi S Kumar, Tesni Khan, Sethulakshmi, Indrans, Anoop Chandran

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Noor

Vampire Owl: The only Noor I know is from the 1997 Malayalam movie, Chandralekha.

Vampire Bat: That character was Nooruddin.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but saying the name will be like asking for a hundred rupees.

Vampire Bat: It doesn’t matter. If you get one hundred rupees, keep it.

Vampire Owl: But what would I do with human money in our realm?

Vampire Bat: Well, you can start a coin museum. We already have different kinds of museums and one more will do nicely.

Vampire Owl: That is surely not a bad idea. My zombie minions can always do with some extra business when not trying to take over the world.

Vampire Bat: Isn’t it yet proven that they can’t take over the world at all?

Vampire Owl: No, because I have taught them to be positive in their life, or rather in their undead existence.

Vampire Bat: Now I know what is going wrong with a few brainless zombies.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Noor Roy Chaudhary (Sonakshi Sinha) is a girl in her late twenties, worried about so many things, and her weight being more than her Twitter followers is just one of them. She feels that she is the step-daughter of her father, and the cat Dimpy is the real child, as he cares a lot for the cat. She feels that there is nothing good going on in her life, as she spends most of her time in the traffic, and can’t afford anything much, with her salary being lesser than what she has been spending in the last few months – the potholes meant that she had to keep changing the tyres of her Tata Nano, and she also ends up quitting smoking to cut the costs. Her job as a journalist has her disappointed all the time, as she thinks that she is more of a joker than a journalist. She keeps sending her resume to CNN and BBC so that she could escape from the meaningless journalism which she is doing.

So, what happens next? :: Shekhar Das (Manish Chaudhary), her boss used to be a journalist whom everyone admired – all young journalists wanted to be like him. After his marriage to Lavina Kapadia (Suchitra Pillai), he had received his father-in-law’s news agency, and had settled in as the boss, and had no more courageous journalist action. It is there, at The Buzz that Noor also worked as the junior correspondent. She runs a show called Mumbai Believe it or Not which she finds to be pointless. She gets to talk to different people in the city, like someone who walks upside down and another one who never removes her helmet – she wants to do something like the problems local fishermen are facing due to a new coastal road and the problem with sewers. Also, she is worried about her weight, and doesn’t believe that any good and decent guy will fall in love with her, considering that hiring a hitman to kill someone is rather easier.

And what is to follow with this adventure? :: Her best friend in the city is Zaara Patel (Shibani Dandekar) who doesn’t listen to anyone else, and has been trying to motivate her since school days. Saad Sehgal (Kanan Gill), her other friend is now at London, and these childhood friends are all that she got. Her favourite sentence is “I hate my life”, and the maid at the place Malti (Smita Tambe) is the only other person whom she regularly talks, other than her friend and her father (MK Raina). It is then that she comes across Ayananka Banerjee (Purab Kohli) who has been a CNN reporter working in the Middle East during the wars, and the two gets close. It is then that she gets an idea about something more – an exclusive news which could turn things around for her. But will that happen, or will she remains the same and keep blaming herself for not doing it right?

The defence of Noor :: The movie goes on a realistic path, and there is nothing that goes beyond the lines drawn regarding the same. We feel the protagonist’s problems, no matter how silly they will sound, and they are possible in the case of so many people. The first half is really good, with some humour, and there are also those moments which are there to stay. The credit for the same goes to Sonakshi Sinha who makes this character work so well. Her dialogues, expressions, and the incidents in life make things go on smoothly, and we keep enjoying the light and sweet moments around. There is everything going right with this character with those scenes. If you don’t read too many reviews which keep saying that this isn’t right, and that should have been like something else, you will know that this movie is close to life as it can get – most of the blame put on this movie seems to be more due to some prejudice rather than anything else, even though the movie does have its problems. Still, there are messages, and the feel-good factor.

The claws of flaw :: Noor could have been big, and there is no doubt about that. There was scope for almost everything that could have stayed, from big thrilling moments to those big funny scenes, all contributing very well to the movie in totality. There are also those silly scenes which get rather too much of an attention. There are also those final moments, which seem to have finished the movie without trying that much – maybe there was a rush without that much of a thinking. Things get rather too comforable there, and we are left to witness the curse of the second half, which has attacked Bollywood so much, and is without any plans to stop at any time. One has to wonder why it gets a step down from the moment the first half stops. When there seems to be the chance to get deep into the bad practices in the medical field, the movie just takes one step back, and then when getting close to the bad guy, there is another step taken back – strange things happen in the second half. Then there is too much of party.

How it finishes :: One thing that Noor makes one feel is like that of the Malayalam movie Mili. There is a lot in common between the two despite having entirely different personalities. Also, in certain reviews, there have been people judging the character, without thinking about the fact that it is the role, and this is a person who has her own problems – some people are even against her thoughts, and it is not like they say that it is badly done, but coming up with the idea that it is wrong. It is a strange judgment of people when you see it. We surely have some strange people who come with their own strange ways of hating a movie. This flick is based on the novel Karachi, You’re Killing Me! by the Pakistani journalist and writer Saba Imtiaz, which was also her debut novel. She has also developed the script for this movie, and any comparison can only be done by someone who has gone through both the movie and the novel.

Release date: 21st April 2017
Running time: 116 minutes
Directed by: Sunhil Sippy
Starring: Sonakshi Sinha, Shibani Dandekar, Smita Tambe, Kanan Gill, Purab Kohli, Manish Chaudhary, Suchitra Pillai, MK Raina, Gareth Lawrence, Nikhil Khurana, Indraneel Bhattacharya, Sippora Zoutewelle, Ajita Khanna, Yulian Shchukin, Avantika Akerkar, Sunny Leone (cameo), Diljit Dosanjh (cameo), Badshah (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kadam Katha

What is the movie about? :: Giri (Vinay Forrt) is running a textile shop in the city of Cochin without making much of a profit – he has lots of loans to repay, and even his last business venture was a failure, and has been making his life more and more difficult. The worst thing is that he had left a good job to begin a business, a decision which he keeps regretting. With no salary to pay his employees, and not enough cash to take more stock, he decides to close it down. But that was not to solve the problem, as everyone would end up believing that now he has absolutely no way to pay anyone anything. His wife Chandini (Srinda Ashab) is staying at her home, and he is staying in a small house for rent, and he is unable to pay the houseowner too. With the loan shark Sreekanth (Saiju Kurup) after him, he decides to attend an inspirational course which promises to change lives and make it a lot better.

So, what happens next? :: Cleetus (Joju George) is a mechanic who runs a car repair shop with two workers Josemon (Sinoj Varghese) and Thampi (Manikandan Pattambi), the three being more of a family than just friends working together. Cleetus also has to pay back his loans, as his repair shop keeps running into loss; the property is also going to be sold by its owner, ending the rent agreement. Therefore, he also goes to an inspirational course, and after the programme, they meet at a local beer and wine parlour. They become friends, and after Giri is thrown out of his house for not paying rent, Cleetus lets him stay with the three at the repair shop. Meanwhile, Cleetus meets a man named Sreekumar (Renji Panicker), whom he saves after being caught in a car accident. This new friend is among the richest men in the city, who has just returned from the Middle East. Sreekumar decides to give Cleetus an offer that he can’t refuse, and Giri also becomes part of it.

And, what is to follow next in this tale? :: Sreekumar who understands the two men’s need for money, promises them wealth beyond their imagination, and they will just have to do one job, and it is concerning his only daughter who is studying for MBBS as a reputed institution. This girl, Jeena (Veena Nandakumar) is in love with Maneesh (Roshan Mathew), a popular radio jockey at one of those prominent radio stations in the city of Cochin. It is with their relationship that he is most concerned about. Jeena has clearly told him that she is ready to marry nobody else, and they keep wandering all around the city together despite him warning her not to do so. Even Giri and Cleetus keeps seeing the two, or at least Maneesh at times in the city – it is as if they are everywhere and everyone knows about that relationship. Sreekumar is fed up with the same, and asks them to do just one thing. What is that? Can the two do the job?

The defence of Kadam Katha :: With some funny moments here and there, and having a good cast, Kadam Katha manages to go on and on with its two hours and a few seconds on run-time. The movie also depends on simple moments and simple people, and the complication only comes with a new generation and more money as the flick suggests. The message is still about retaining one’s goodness, as long as there has been something at some point – no matter what happens, always get to the bottom of things to know the ultimate truth. The visuals are good without doubt, even though not that much of the city’s beauty is not there on the big screen. The humour is present here and there, but we miss it at a lot of occasions when things seem to drag. Kadam Katha surely has the material inside it, and when we look there, we end up seeing more with a bigger potential – the lesser crowd at the theatre was a sign of movies not meeting up to the standard these days, and movie stars only making reasons the wrong way.

The claws of flaw :: Kadam Katha, for some reason, refuses to use most of its humour, and never extends its funny side to make it memorable. The theme has also been repeated for quite some time, and we keep seeing people who need to do something which their lives, and also those who are in need of money. The movie also doesn’t make best use of the talent, and the big list of characters to whom we are introduced. The songs are just not that interesting – they seem to drag the whole thing rather than do anything else. One has to wonder what has been happening with the Malayalam movie industry for some time, for there has been so many movies, but not many which have left the mark. With so many movies including Oru Cinemakkaran, Role Models, Avarude Raavukal, Sunday Holiday and others note able to go more than just above average, one can see the lack of trying the big variety except for a few like Tiyaan and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum.

Performers of the soul :: With Action Hero Biju being his most recognized role among the masses, Joju George remains one actor who never really disappoints us, and it is reflected here too. It is him who makes us feel like the hero in this one. Seen last in Role Models, Oru Cinemakkaran and Godha, Renji Panicker remains the one who keeps us interested, and he does his work in the usual style. Vinay Forrt whose last movies were Role Models, Avarude Raavukal and Georgettan’s Pooram, gets back to doing a fine job here. There is something about his performance every time. Veena Nandakumar who is known for the short-film Moonnamathe Vazhi makes her big screen debut in this one – it is a short movie that provides a beautiful feeling, and you need to watch it if you haven’t yet. She has less to do in this one, and is good with the romantic side; more to be tested in her next works. Malayalam movie industry keeps getting more and more heroines, I guess.

More and the bottomline :: Roshan Mathew is credited in Adi Kapyare Kootamani and was also there in Puthiya Niyamam, but it is with his role in Aanandam which made him a favourite and a popular actor – his next flick Viswasapoorvam Mansoor‘s short stay at the theatres didn’t help, but he has made a strong come back in this one – he plays the new generation lover character with ease. Hareesh Perumanna is wasted in his small role here though, and this might be one rare instance that his character doesn’t bring the laughter. Sinoj Varghese – Manikandan duo is the one that bring some of the fun instead. Srinda Ashab is another one who gets not much to do in this movie except for making phone calls – there is not even a big flashback to support her cause. Kadam Katha is certainly a story which could have done more, with better situations, comedy, and lasting romance as well as emotional side; but this one touches only a few and plays on the safe side. This one is worth the watch, but won’t bring anything huge.

Release date: 28th July 2017
Running time: 121 minutes
Directed by: Senthil Rajan
Starring: Roshan Mathew, Joju George, Vinay Forrt, Veena Nandakumar, Renji Panicker, Sinoj Varghese, Srinda Ashab, Manikandan Pattambi, Hareesh Perumanna, Alexander Prashanth

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Invisible Actor

Vampire Owl: An invisible actor? Did the actor become invisible after a case was registered against him?

Vampire Bat: I am sure that it is not what they meant. There could be many meanings for the same.

Vampire Owl: Then, has the invisibility elixir been stolen from Doctor Frankenstein? This calls for code bloody red alert on level twenty eight!

Vampire Bat: When did he invent that? It is not even on the research list.

Vampire Owl: Well, I am sure that he would have invented that. He is just not telling us. People invent such things all the time in those science fiction books.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that Mr. Frankenstein has any role to play in this short-film.

Vampire Owl: I am writing an article on the evil side of invisibility anyway.

Vampire Bat: Some people are just invisible even without the elixir.

Vampire Owl: Just like people being alive and immortal without the Elixir of Life.

Vampire Bat: It is another myth. What we have here is real.

[Gets some banana chips and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: The crew of a movie has gathered in an old style Kerala house to shoot for the biopic of a renowned Kathakali artist known as Govindan Master (Kalasala Babu). This particular person, whose name is only taken with so much respect, had such an undying love for the art form that he used to bunk his classes to see and learn it at the academy from a distance. It is said that his father, upon realizing his passion, and his lack of interest in regular studies, let him study Kathakali from an early age, and the art form had become his life, until his last breath. This Kathakali Master had given up his whole life for the same, not asking for anything in return. His performances had inspired many to follow his path, and had elevated Kerala’s own colourful contribution to the story play genre of art to another level. His Kathakali performances had made him a legend, with no parallels.

So, what happens next with this tale of making a biopic? :: It turns out that the superstar (Saiju Kurup) who is supposed to play the character is nowhere to be seen. The whole crew has been waiting for him for quite a long time, but there is no sign of him, and he doesn’t even attend the phone – everyone else is there, and they are worried when they will be able to begin the whole thing, and sends people searching for him at the hotel where he is staying and in the surrounding areas of the town. The breakfast time is over, the lunch is done, and finally the superstar arrives with that dialogue about him being a really punctual person. He listens to the story without much interest, while clicking on his mobile phone’s screen. He looks at the photo of the Kathakali artist as if it doesn’t matter – but little does he know that the character he is playing, is watching him.

Soul exploration 1: Of actors and superstars :: One can divide the movie world into two – one which has the actors, and the other which has the superstars. In our world, both often come together, but we often see some actors who deserve better than the superstars, but it is the superstar movie which go on to become the big hit each and every time. There are those one hundred crore movies in Bollywood, which have almost nothing in them other than its superstars – take a look at those top ten movies, and almost all of them have depended on their superstar rather than the actor. I would think otherwise – if Nawazuddin Siddiqui acts in a movie, I would watch that movie for sure, maybe even twice; whether it is Raman Raghav 2.0 or Te3n from last year. I have never really been interested in these superstars – the day they become more superstars and less actor, is the day they sacrifice their best part.

Soul exploration 2: Within and outside a character :: It is a usual thing to change the character to match that of the superstar – there are so many movies which make us feel the same, and naming a few of them would only bring the fan chaos on us. The superstars will say that they practiced cricket to play a cricketer, lived with gangsters to play a mafia don, slept at a cemetery for a horror movie, had classes at a music academy to play a musician and so on, but we know how fake that could be, just like they come on television and tell everyone that this is his or her best performance ever. But to become a character, the so called superstar needs to know the mind, thinking in the way the character think, and acting the way he would. Otherwise, it is the character that would become the superstar and not the other way around. Will some of our superheroes who need to know this realize the same one day?

Soul exploration 3: An eternity within a performance :: There should always be more in a flick with a performance than just being part of a big hundred crore movie. We have the need to see each character on the screen as a different person – it is the same which has been missing in some of those movies which degrade themselves into what is often termed as mass masala. There is the need to rise above the same, as what is often known to cater to this particular genre is nothing other than pure absurdity. It is the terrible and unfair strength of these mindless mass movies which have been devouring the actor and bringing the superstar out on too many occasions. Then there are those fan clubs which are only interested in turning the cinema halls which is for entertainment and thoughts, into something resembling nuisance. It has to be countered with not a mass performance, but with the beauty of an rternity within a work.

How it finishes :: The movie has two actors who have been rather underused by the industry if you look at their movies. Kalasala Babu amazes us in his presence for the short period of time, while we have Saiju Kurup who had some nice and funny roles in Adventures of Omanakuttan and Alamara doing a wonderful job as the superstar. They make the final few moments of this short-film rise to a higher level, and we have something which is worth more than a usual short movie. I have watched a good number of short-films in the last few days, with choosing to review only less than half of them which seem to be worthy, and among them, this one should have a top place. Invisible Actor wishes for the actor to become invisible and the character to take over when the shooting begins – it should be how we should differentiate actors from superstars; movies need actors, and they could let everyone keep the superstar side out, letting the acting flow, no matter how popular the actor is.

 

Release date: 6th July 2017
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Avinash Chandran
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Kalasala Babu, Jayasankar, Akhil Lekshman, Arun, Naresh

Watch Invisible Actor here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sunday Holiday

What is the movie about? :: Unni Mukundan (Sreenivasan) is a lecturer teaching in the commerce department of a reputed college in Aluva, who is more interested in giving lessons about life to his students on Sundays, and also to convert his script into a movie. He has been wandering around with his movie dreams for quite a long time, but nobody has accepted, or even considered reading his script. Nobody even believes that he has a good enough story, and most of the popular directors refuse to see him, consider him as just one of those people bothering them with something which will waste their time. It is during those times that Unni comes to know that a popular and highly successful director, David Paul (Lal Jose) has been admitted in the nearby hospital. He decides to make use of that opportunity, and visit him to tell the story. Even though David is initially reluctant, he decides that it will not hurt anyone to just listen during free time.

So, what happens in the story within the story? :: It is the tale of Amal (Asif Ali), a youngster who has been in love with Sithara (Shruti Ramachandran) ever since they had known each other during childhood. It is a relationship which their families which are related to each other, approves of, but only until Sithara gets a proposal from a doctor, something which neither her parents or the opportunist lady herself wishes to let go. As she immediately chooses the newly found love who earns in big numbers, the jobless young man leaves his town of Thalassery to the city of Cochin, as there is a small job set for him at the place. He reaches there and finds himself selling CDs and DVDs of devotional songs, and at the same time, meets a girl named Anu (Aparna Balamurali) who is also doing some selling door to door. The incidents which are to follow affects his life, and the heart-broken one gets something to cheer him up for the rest of his life.

The defence of Sunday Holiday :: You are sure to find happiness in the little things of joy that the movie brings, and even though its humour is not leviathan or anything, it is on those little things that the same also concentrates. We have some nice visuals of the places, and the city from high up, is always a joy to watch. The combination of Asif Ali and Aparna Balamurali also proves to be a very nice one. There are also messages to take home in this movie, as it tells the audience to forgive and move on, and to be concerned and kind to others. A moment featuring Sudheer Karamana and Siddique explains that the best. The movie also asserts goodness in those people who act more angry and frustrated than loving. The final twist is good, but the fact that this had to be a movie within a movie is more tiring than helping the cause. Well, feel-good surely feels better to have rather than mixing meaningless twists to a tale which can’t take it, and therefore Sunday Holiday will stand tall over the director’s earlier flick.

The claws of flaw :: It is certain that you will find not much which will give you the feeling of freshness here – there is the kind of story with feel-good factor that has been flourishing for years, and it is the thing that Malayalam movie industry has found easy to follow. It is up-to us to wonder why there is no experimentation with the kind of genre which has worked so well even without that much of a budget. Is it because the same is considered the safe bet, and therefore doesn’t require any more attention? The movie also has sequences which contribute so less to the movie, and there are also those characters without whom movie could have gone foward, along with those tales of some which don’t get to be close to where we had wanted them to. The songs also seem to be added more than needed, as with a certain drag in the middle, we feel this movie to be longer than it really is.

Performers of the soul :: We were waiting for Thrissivaperoor Kliptham starring both Asif Ali and Aparna Balamurali, and here we have this one starring both of them. The former is coming out of two underrated movies, Adventures of Omanakkuttan and Avarude Raavukal, both being divergent in their own terms, and had potential for even more – both were not short of fun if you look at them.The latter is coming right out feel-good success stories, Maheshinte Prathaikaram and Oru Muthassi Gadha, playing three roles in two flicks, and awaiting the next, Sarvopari Palakkaran. She played a girl from Idukki, from Cochin (Ernakulam), Kannur (Iritty) in this one and is now set to play characters from Kottayam (Palai), and Thrissur – well, all seems to work so well as far as Aparna is concerned. With shades of her character in the realistic Dileesh Pothan movie, she is the pick here. Asif Ali’s character though, is closer to his work in Avarude Raavukal, and he is natural in doing the same.

Further performers of the soul :: As Asif Ali plays the young man in need for confidence and change, Aparna is the muse that he was in need to write the rest of his tale on the book of life. Shruti Ramachandran of the Pretham fame is also here doing not much, restricted to the beginning and the end of the flick – see does give that ghostly look in the end for sure. Sreenivasan, Lal Jose and Asha Sharath’s characters work outside the tale, which means that they have much less to do except for the beginning, before the interval, and just after the tale finishes. The two actors whom we are sure to notice, and will ask for them to be present more are Sudheer Karamana and Siddique – no surprises there when you remember how it has been working with the previous movies. Bhagath Manuel also gets to do a good role, even though it doesn’t become the sidekick role as much as expected. Dharmajan is in hold of the comic side, and the rest only has to follow.

How it finishes :: Sunday Holiday is surely an improvement for the director who had earlier directed the movie Bicycle Thieves which is more or less a shame for the Italian classic with the same name, something to which almost everyone at the theatres agreed, watching that movie with so much high expectations after positive reviews. With no other Malayalam release, this is a weekend which only has Tiyaan and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum from last two weeks giving it some challenge, and therefore, its place should be safe, even without trying that hard. Along with the other two movies having Asif Ali which released last, this becomes another feel-good flick than anything else – I wouldn’t rate this one above those two though, with its problems in the middle part. Still, we all need feel-good movies which leave something for life all the time, and so Sunday Holiday becomes a good movie to watch this weekend, whether it is really Sunday or not.

Release date: 14th July 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Asif Ali, Aparna Balamurali, Shruti Ramachandran, Lal Jose, Bhagath Manuel, Sudheer Karamana, KPAC Lalitha, Asha Sharath, Sreenivasan, Siddique, Sunish Kumar, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Vinaya Prasad, Nirmal Palazhi, Sethulakshmi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

The Monkey King II

Vampire Owl: I have this name wandering in my mind somewhere.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that you have known many kings and monkeys during your life-time.

Vampire Owl: Yes, the most recent acquaintance being the Lich Queen with her undead minions.

Vampire Bat: What? You met the Lich Queen? It is forbidden for a vampire to meet an undead queen sorceress.

Vampire Owl: She is not that undead, you know, and she is a good host.

Vampire Bat: Whatever. That doesn’t explain how you met the Monkey King though.

Vampire Owl: Well, I was reading this classic, and the pages came alive.

Vampire Bat: And they attacked you?

Vampire Owl: No, then I realized that I was tearing the pages apart. Then I took some glue and fixed it back to its place.

Vampire Bat: The imperial librarian won’t be that happy this time. You should get a few zombie minions to cover it up.

[Gets three cups of strong tea with Mariegold biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: A young Buddhist monk, Tang Sanzang (Feng Shaofeng) is on the journey to the West, to the Thunder Monastery in India to collect some of the valuable scriptures of Buddha. But the soldiers who were meant to assist and protect him during his journey leaves him when a white tiger attacks them. Trying to protect the horse, he ends up being under attack from the tiger, only to get into a cave and save himself. As he is followed by the tiger, he sees Sun Wukong a.k.a. The Monkey King (Aaron Kwok) who was imprisoned under the Five Fingers Mountain as part of his five hundred years of atonement for the trouble which he had caused in heaven. The awakened and released monkey soon deals with the tiger, but that only begins in new life, as the Goddess Guan Yin (Kelly Chen) has instructed him to protect the monk throughout his journey.

So, what happens next? :: Wukong is not someone who likes taking orders from anyone, but he is bound to stay close to the instructions made by the goddess, as he is wearing a magical headband which can’t be removed, and will cause him pain if he acts like a bad monkey. He finds his life connected to the monk’s, and decides to finish this job as soon as possible, and get back to his usual, mischievous life. On the way, Wukong defeats two other immortals looking like monsters – Zhu Bajie (Xiaoshenyang) and Sha Wujing (Him Law) who joins them in the journey as atonement for their sins, as the monk gets protected from three sides. Both of the new travelers consider Wukong as their big brother, and approves of his superiority in skills. They have some interesting moments during their travel, and reaches Yun Hai Xi Kingdom, which is ruled by a king (Fei Xiang) and his people living in fear.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: The kingdom is terrorized by the White Bone Demon (Gong Li), a powerful demoness who is known to take away children from everywhere, and she is supposed to devour them to keep herself in this world. As the demoness learns about the arrival of the young monk, she decides to eat him, and thus get more powerful, without no reincarnation, being an eternally unstoppable demon who could challenge even heaven and hell. She, along with her three demoness minions (Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi and Miya Muqi) get the four to their house in the middle of the forest, where they offer all of them a place to rest. She tells them the story of her past as a young woman, which had Sanzang in tears. The two monsters fall into the seductive trap of the demonesses posing as beautiful girls, and Wukong seems to have some problem with his eyes – so, will the demoness and her minions be successful in using the young monk to expand their evil? Or will the Monkey King be able to save him?

The defence of The Monkey King 2 :: This movie is visually excellent with its creatures, surroundings and magic having our attention, and has those action sequences which will immediately ask for your attention. There are also the messages about forgiveness, and the reflection of the fact that humans are so capable of being more evil than the demons every time. There is also some humour present here, and the comic relief is very much useful in this movie. It actually combines nicely with the adventure as well as the spiritual side, making this package whole. Everything is so simple in this movie, and this simplicity in fantasy is something that we can cherish, and the same makes sure that this movie is for everyone – kids are certainly going to love this one as much as any animated movie. Even though there are not that many reviews of this movie in English, the ratings received, including those in Rotten Tomatoes make nice example of how well this has worked.

The claws of flaw :: Maybe, a more serious version of the classic might have been expected by many, and also this one happens to be a sequel rather than the original story, which could have also kept some people from watching this particular flick. There is also more needed of action from everyone other than Monkey King whose action scenes never cease being delightful – the fans from everywhere will always look for more from him, as I had wondered more about this particular character than anyone else. Also, despite having a very strong female villain there with minions, her manipulation or the fighting skills get quite less attention than we would have expected to witness. Looking silly at times is not something that one would expect from this movie, as there is enough depth all the time, as long as you have a classic in your hands, and got hope of everyone who has read or has read about the work expecting a lot. Also, despite the movie being a visual treat, there are moments when the CGI looks too much and strange.

How it finishes :: Those who have read the novel Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en, are sure to love this movie adaptation of the tale – there are so many version of the same, and many translations. This tale is actually something that needs to be read by everyone, and this movie will help in attaining that for sure. As more people get to read Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature, adding the other three, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber and Water Margin to their list of books to read, we can safely say that this visual extravaganza of an action movie is successful in doing the right thing for literature. Even if you haven’t watched this movie’s predecessor, or never known about the novel, it is still okay to watch this movie – this one is a rather stand-alone work, and things really can’t get any simpler than this as far as fantasy movies are concerned. Then, the messages are also straight-forward with nothing there to bring a message out of a message. Also note that the actor who played the antagonist in the previous movie plays the protagonist here.

PS: For more on the movie of the week here, read on – Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Release date: 6th February 2016
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Cheang Pou-soi
Starring: Aaron Kwok, Gong Li, Feng Shaofeng, Xiaoshenyang, Him Law, Fei Xiang, Kelly Chen, Lu Weu, Xi’er Qi, Miya Muqi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Role Models

What is the movie about? :: Gautham Shekhar (Fahadh Faasil) is a man who is always concentrating on his work, and is so busy earning money, that the only person whom he regularly speaks to, is the mobile’s assistant app. He wakes up early in the morning and goes through everything according to the schedule. The boss of his company (Dileesh Pothan) is always calling him names in front of his colleagues despite his hardwork, and he lives his life according to calculations, drinking the maximum amount of water and even making sure that he goes to the urinal frequently according to plan. He has no friends and no love, and he is always busy, and when he is not busy, he is just asleep at night. If he ever gets any time to do anything, he dedicates those moments for studying too, and he has special interest in studies regarding astronomy. He has declared himself cent percent against having fun because it is of absolutely no use.

So, what happens next? :: His father and college professor Shekharan (Renji Panicker) is too worried about the same, and therefore contacts his son’s former best friends from college, Rexy Joseph (Sharafudheen) and Jyothish Narayanan (Vinayakan) whom he had himself evicted from the institution to make sure that Gautham wouldn’t be friends with the boys whom he found worthless and making nuisance. The two old friends are not that fond of their former enemy calling them, but decides to have the free alcohol and chooses to help their old friend with whom they had their best moments in life. They are joined by the third person, Shoubahn Khader (Vinay Forrt) who was the fourth member of their gang which used to be called Role Models during their time at the college. The group, along with the mischief making girl Christy (Srinda Ashab) used to create head ache for everyone in the college especially Gautam’s parents who taught there.

And what is to follow with the adventure? :: The three old friends are shocked to see the attitude of their former best friend towards life, as he had changed so much. He seemed to be exactly the opposite of all that he used to be. They try many things to get him back to be the happy and loving person that he used to be, including alcohol, friendship, and even misunderstanding Christy as his lost love from college. But then, they come to know that the real love of Gautham was Shreya Menon (Namitha Pramod), a girl who was more of an all-rounder, present everywhere, but stayed away from becoming a big name. Their search for her lands them in Goa, where she is a changed person. She is happy to see her old friends, but how will they make sure that Gautham can win his love back? Is there any chance for them to have their old friend back in the way that he used to be?

The defence of Role Models :: There are some nice jokes with which the movie begins – it has that kind of a cast with great comic timing, which improves the level, and keep striving for something better in that department. We have them coming quick and steady in the first half, and the trio handling the same never backs down from doing it. “Thechille Penne” song is nice, but you do feel that should have had more relevance in the movie. The movie also has some messages, even though we are not clear which of them needs to get our attention the most. We would figure out that it is more about parenting than any other. It is good to focus on the significance of parents supporting the children in studying what they really want to – almost every time, the father is the culprit, and due to this attitude of the parents and relatives, the youth are transformed into creatures that should just study for scoring high marks, get a good job with big salary and get married to someone rich and of high family value. Well, the movie does end on a good note despite the confusion. A cameo also arrives in the end nicely, but one has to wonder if it was there because there was no other idea available.

The claws of flaw :: Never does Role Models tries to overcome the limitations which it had put on itself, with not thinking much about the story and how it is told with the entertaining elements. The movie just goes on as if it is walking through sleep, as some characters and some incidents are there just for the sake of being there. Fahad’s action scenes were rather useless, and bringing that certain disorder and making it chaos was certainly a real bad idea. If the same was necessary for the makers to do, they could have at least made things more interesting, and presented in a smart manner. The audience often wonders where the movie is actually heading with so many things added as if they are taken from different movies. You feel that with Fahadh Faasil playing a character reminding you of the same in North 24 Kaatham will make things that good, but this one which has its own confusion running through, never becomes something close to that awesome flick which was critically acclaimed. A divergent movie is fair when it uses the divergence to the best effect, the movie makers should have remembered that.

Performers of the soul :: Once again, Fahadh Faasil makes this seem so easy, as he does his character’s both stages with such an ease that we wonder how he is there to make things better for even the least interesting movie. Keeping on rising with Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Take Off, this one will not be another big movie, but his performance is as usual, to be noted; signs were there in that song which became instantly popular. Sharafudheen-Vinayakan-Vinay Forrt combo is also nothing short of a nice call for laughter, and we have them executing the same really well. The friends just makes things so much better. It is also good to see Namitha Pramod back after Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Amar Akbar Anthony – she gets two times of the character’s life here. Srinda has an interesting and funny role too, after Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol and Adventures of Omanakuttan this year. Meanwhile, Renji Panicker is left with not much interesting to do and Suraj is rather wasted in this role.

How it finishes :: It is surprising how close to each other are the three Malayalam movie releases for the Eid holidays, starting from Avarude Raavukal, going through Oru Cinemakkaran and now standing at Role Models. All three of them released on consecutive dates, and are in quality, quite close to each other. They do provide a mixture of genres, and has the comic side as the one fueling everything right from the beginning, and there are twists in store in each of them. Is it a co-incidence that we have all these movies so similar to each other, and those watching it can only give them ratings so close to each other? Well, when Godha, Adventures of Omanakuttan and Achayans had released, all three of them were so different from each other, and we couldn’t consider them to be on the same level. Well, we have regular entertainment in store here for the festival season as Role Models becomes the third movie to release on the third day.

Release date: 25th June 2017
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Rafi
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Namitha Pramod, Vinayakan, Srinda Ashab, Sharafudheen, Rohini, Seetha, Vinay Forrt, Renji Panicker, Suraj Venjarammood, Aswathi Menon, Dileesh Pothan, Siddique, Bibin George, Harisree Ashokan (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Avarude Raavukal

What is the movie about? :: Ashik (Asif Ali) is the popular stage performer in a village on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border who comes to Cochin hoping to work in a movie, after the villagers collect money from their own people to make sure that he gets a chance. Siddharth (Unni Mukundan) is an engineering graduate who is spending his time doing nothing other than to stay at home up-to that extent that his father has to throw him out of the house. Vijay (Vinay Forrt) is an angry young man who was suspended for getting into a fight with another employee in the same company he was working for. Scobo Johnson (Nedumudi Venu) is an old man who is staying alone, and looking for company. Bored and with no plans for future, he comes up with an advertisement calling for bachelors to stay at his place, free of cost – it gets to the three young men who are ready to come right away.

So, what happens next? :: Ashik finds Cochin and the movie world a lot different than what he had thought, and finds problems in even doing the simplest works. He goes to various auditions, but none of them work – he does find a new friend though, in the form of Vinod (Aju Varghese) who is also looking forward to acting in movies, one way or the other. They decide to attend the acting workshop held by Manoj Kuruvila (Mukesh), who is a famous movie director. But even that doesn’t seem to help the two who are more clueless than anything else. Siddharth who does nothing other than staring at girls, even consults Doctor Jayamurugan (Kochu Preman), but his life goes on in the same way until his brother recommends him for a job under Shivani (Honey Rose), which he gets despite performing terribly during the interview. What follows is a terrible mess at the office.

And what follows the events? :: Ashik and Siddharth are not just the ones reaching a higher level of their problems, as Vijay has a bigger issue at hand. His anger issue is more or less the result of something which happened in the past, and his girlfriend Meghna (Milana Pournami) tries to get him out of the same, but with no positive result. Scobo Johnson is the silent witness to all these, and tells them that there are two ways out of it, one the difficult path, and the other, the shortcut. Are the three good enough to get out of the mess that they are in, or is at least Johnson skilled enough to take them through their journeys? Can things finally take a positive twist of events in their lives which haven’t really had much to talk about otherwise? Will their upcoming experiences leave them as better people than who they already are? Only time will tell.

The defence of Avarude Raavukal :: Vinay Forrt successfully leads the group of young men here towards their objectives, as motivation runs right through this one with inspirational dialogues, and featuring the rise of unexpected tales of success; emotional side is strong here. The movie asks its viewers to keep trying, as the fish does; it provides this message without missing its plot, and the direction that it shows is the right one for the new generation. The presence of movies like Mili, Aby, My God and Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam has proved the same, but Avarude Raavukal is more the common person’s story than the rest. There is also the presence of some nice humour in between. There is also some beautiful music in this flick, beginning from “Ethetho Swapnamo” and through “Vaadaathe Veezhathe”, both bringing different but nice feeling. The feel-good effect stays, and despite the certain delay in the movie’s arrival and the morning shows canceled, we are glad to have this movie working and going well enough to provide enough motivation.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t go that close to perfection as the director’s earlier combined venture, Philips and the Monkey Pen, and what we expected was surely more. There are certain ups and downs in between for sure, even as everything seems to have kept at a certain level as much as possible. There are some occasions when we wonder if these things, which do look more and more possible, can ever be solved by the protagonists. The inspirational story is also not something new, and the old man is also a rather strange character, whose twist in the end is even stranger; this one could have just gone simpler and close to life towards the end. Even in the beginning, the movie had taken some time to get going. The cameo roles in the end by Shine Tom Chacko, Sunny Wayne and Sanju Sivram were rather unnecessary too, and the same can be said about a cricket match when it could have been just the engineering classes. You will find the weird and missing sides of the plot, but you can avoid them as they are not that significant.

Performers of the soul :: Asif Ali who is coming out of the late, but sure success of Adventures of Omanakkuttan has done a fine job with a character which had quite something to perform out there. Unni Mukundan comes out of the dismal movie which was Achayans, and makes good use of what was a rather easy job for him. Vinay Forrt had a little less to work with in Georgettan’s Pooram brings the best of them all – his story remains the most interesting one in the whole movie, and he is the backbone of the flick. Aju Varghese should be powered by the grand success of Godha, and does a pretty good job when he is there. Honey Rose who was last seen in My God which was an under-appreciated movie, makes a comeback after two years – not much to do, but good to see her back. Milana works through limited expressions in this one. Nedumudi Venu has some nice dialogues which prove inspirational, and forms the pillars of the movie’s progress.

How it finishes :: It has been a long time since a Malayalam movie with an interesting and long list of star cast released, and being the first movie to release for the Eid holidays, Avarude Raavukal surely has an early advantage among the others which are to follow. Shanil Mohammed, who had earlier directed Philips and the Monkey Pen with Rojin Thomas has his first solo outing here. The flick had won Kerala State Film Award for Best Children’s Movie and Kerala State Film Award for Best Child Artist for Sanoop Santhosh. This one might not create that much of an impact, and has a lot of heavyweights to follow. Getting itself to the list of feel-good movies with messages, Avarude Raavukal will leave with a positive effect more than anything else. There are not many other things that we need for this special season.

Release date: 23rd June 2017
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Shanil Muhammed
Starring: Asif Ali, Unni Mukundan, Honey Rose, Vinay Forrt, Aju Varghese, Mukesh, Milana Pournami, Nedumudi Venu, Sudhi Koppa, Lena, Ambika Mohan, Kiran Aravindakshan, Nisha Sarangh, Aishwarya chandran, Kochu Preman, Shine Tom Chacko (cameo), Sunny Wayne (cameo), Sanju Sivram (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kahaani 2

Vampire Owl: But I haven’t watched the first Kahaani.

Vampire Bat: Neither did I watch that flick. It is not necessary to get into this one.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that this is not really a sequel even though it qualifies as one.

Vampire Bat: Yes, there is no real continuation of the tale here. This is more like Story One and Story Two, as is Kahaani One and Kahaani Two.

Vampire Owl: So both Vidyas in the movie are not the same even as both outside the movie are the same.

Vampire Bat: Yes, just Vidya Balan is the same. Otherwise, in the movie, there are Vidya Venkatesan Bagchi and Vidya Sinha as characters.

Vampire Owl: It makes a total of three Vidyas, two inside the movies and one outside.

Vampire Bat: That is certainly not relevant. We are in no need to be talking about these simple human names.

Vampire Owl: Yes, why can’t they choose interesting names, like The Great Vampire Owl?

Vampire Bat: You don’t have “Great” as a prefix. And yes, humans are not vampires or owls.

[Gets three cups of lemon tea with 50-50 biscuits].

What is the movie about? :: Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan) takes care of her teenage daughter Minnie (Tunisha Sharma) who is paralysed from the waist down. She has a nurse (Soma Adhikari) taking care of the girl when she goes to work. Vidya hopes to make enough money to go to the United States of America, and get her the best treatment so that she could walk again. Despite Vidya’s concern about her daughter, Minnie is happy with her life, and feels the she has nothing to worry about, being content with her present with her mother. Things seem to go on normally, but one morning, the nurse just doesn’t come, and she can’t get her on phone either. She is worried to leave Minnie alone, but the happy girl asks her to go, telling her than she can handle things until the nurse arrives – she might be on the train which should be why they are not able to get her on phone. Vidya finally decides to leave, asking her neighbour to keep an eye on her daughter.

So, what happens next? :: But when she returns home, she is shocked to find out that Minnie is missing, and there is no clue about what had happened around. Earlier, when she called home, she had managed to talk to the nurse who had told her that she is there. But when she calls at the nurse’s number, it she tells her that she never came to the house because Vidya had told her not to come on the day. Her neighbour also tells her that he was told by her that the nurse had come, and so he could stop checking. It is then that she gets an anonymous call which asks her to arrive at a certain location if she is to find her daughter alive. There is also some reference to the past which scares her into running out – all tensed and frightened, she gets hit by a car and ends up in the hospital in a coma. The nursing home where she is admitted is run by Dr. Maity (Pradip Mukherjee) who asks the Police officer Inderjeet Singh (Arjun Rampal) who is on the case to speed up things as the medical bill only gets costlier and costlier.

And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: Inderjeet keeps searching for clues about the lady in the hospital, and finds something interesting in her diary. Meanwhile, Inderjeet’s senior officer who is after a woman named Durga, Pranab Halder (Kharaj Mukherjee), tells him that a certain lady is wanted for a certain kidnapping and murder case – the photo of the wanted woman looks exactly like the lady in the hospital. But Inderjeet doesn’t reveal the similarities between Vidya and Durga, and decides that he has to discover things all by himself. He understands that both the women are one, and are known by the name Durga Rani Singh who worked as a clerk in a school in Kalimpong. After having a terrible childhood, she seems to have a better youth, and is in love with her good friend, Arun (Tota Roychoudhury) who is working in publishing. But, something from her childhood repeats once again in front of her, and she can’t be silent about it – but what she will decide to will have consequences? What is her past all about, and what is happening to her present? What will happen to her future?

The defence of Kahaani 2 :: The movie keeps us trying to figure out the twist which is to come up, and we find the thrilling moments in between – the suspense is maintained, and we are kept unsure about who is right and who is wrong, and above all, who really is the protagonist? The first of the movie is actually done without providing us any chance to complain, as we are taken into a world which has too many secrets, and we are drawn into this mystery which is to be solved in one way or the other. Vidya Balan is just so good in this visually good movie too, and handles the whole thing with so much of skill. We would want her to return if there is a Kahaani 3 too, as she is sure to get hold of proceedings with ease in this kind of a movie. Arjun Rampal provides with some nice support, and he really suits this character, which has balance, being a usual cop with usual family and usual problems. There is also a nice message in store here along with the strong emotional side, about which more talked is to reveal a little too much of the plot as spoiler.

The claws of flaw :: The second half, with the curse that Indian movies, especially the Bollywood ones have, except for the final reveal that brings the twist, is not that much thrilling as the first half, and we would have expected the weaker section of the tale to the be covered better. Those who are awaiting the continuation of the first story are also going to be disappointed, because we hear this tale as another one. Sometimes, we just feel that the movie is getting short with its logic. There is a little too much focus on making the protagonist a superhero, despite getting hit by a car so hard that she had earlier gone into a comma – things get too easy for her, and even with outside help, this is just too convenient for the lady. When you start a movie so well, there is the need to make things better by the end, but the need for the same is not that much reflected here. A few things in the movie are also predictable, and it is quite a bad situation for any thriller movie.

How it finishes :: There are going to be comparisons with the first movie, and it does seem that it had become more popular than this one, but I wouldn’t comment on the same as I didn’t watch the first flick. Also this one is not a direct sequel to the previous movie – well, as Kahaani 2 is a stand-alone movie, it could always come up with something different, and when we look into it, things are rather interesting, and it never ceases to be the same. It does keep us guessing for what is to come next, and even when things are slow, it is never boring. It is nice of Bollywood to have had some nice thrillers in the year, from Wazir to TE3N and this one, as all of these had something special in them, and it is better to have movies like these represent the industry rather than those irritating romantic comedies which keep coming again and again as if there is a certain machine producing the same. Thrillers which are close to the common man’s life is in need more.

PS: Meanwhile, this week’s releases, Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3 has the family audience interested.

Release date: 2nd December 2016
Running time: 128 minutes
Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh
Starring: Vidya Balan, Arjun Rampal, Tunisha Sharma, Naisha Khanna, Manini Chadha, Jugal Hansraj, Amba Sanyal, Kharaj Mukherjee, Tota Roychoudhury, Koushik Sen, Pradip Chakrabarty, Nitya Ganguli, Pradip Mukherjee, Ardhendu Banerjee, Biswajit Chakraborty, Gargi Bharadwaj, Soma Adhikari, Haridas Chatterjee, Sarthak Dey Sarkar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aby

aby-1

What is it about? :: Aby Baby (Vineeth Sreenivasan) has always been interested in flying more than anything else. Right from childhood, he has been fascinated with the airplanes, and he has worked hard to make something that could help him fly. Even though he is an expert in the subject of Physics, nobody considers him as good because he is not just an introvert, but also someone not interested in anything else, with his passion even ending his chances of continuing his studies. Anumol Xavier (Mareena Michael Kurisingal) is his childhood friend who has always supported him, and in return, he has been helping her with her science projects. Aby’s father Baby (Sudheer Karamana) considers him as a fool, and doesn’t favour anything that he does, with the feeling that he is the main reason behind all the misfortunes in their life, chasing after an impossible thing and doing nothing good. But Aby is determined, and leaves his home.

The defence of Aby :: There is no shortage of inspiration in this movie, as our protagonist is the kind of person who is least expected to be successful in life, especially with what he loves the most, and his focus only on that – nobody around him thinks that it is the best thing to focus on. With the visuals of a beautiful village area, the movie provides the message to go after one’s dream, something which the present society doesn’t allow, with parents forcing their children to take the courses which they don’t like – the world has had that obsession with engineering and otherwise also related to getting any job with a high salary. The whole thing is kept simple, even with that tendency to complicate things always there. There are also some good songs, and a fine climax which is sure to make the audience leave with smile on their faces.

The claws of flaw :: One can be sure that a lot of people will find this movie as predictable with its tale of chasing a dream. But the thing about inspirational movies is that you will know how things are to go, and it is something that you need to be prepared for. There is also some trouble here and there with the journey of the protagonist, as it could have surely been shown in a better way. Among all the similarities with inspirational movies, this one is the closest to Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho, with that “achieving dream”, element which will make one feel a certain repetition – you remember that the protagonist there also wished to fly, but by traveling in an airplane rather than trying to make one and fly. The part where the protagonist is in the city, and his relation with a new character called GK is also quite strange – it is the part that could have been better thought out.

Performers of the soul :: The last time we saw Vineeth Sreenivasan on the big screen was in Oru Muthassi Gada, in which he played a rather small role. The same was the case of Jacobinte Swargarajyam, which he himself directed. Kunjiramayanam was the flick in which we last saw him throughout the run, and also as the protagonist. Here, he is back as Aby, and bringing life to the dreams of the character. It is the certain amount of innocence that stays on his face, that makes things work even better in this movie. Aju Varghese is there, providing the needed support as always; he has been the best support with an evergreen funny side throughout so many Malayalam movies, and we see him doing the same, even though he is not there as much as he should have – there is not much a direct influence that his character creates in this movie’s progress, and still we remember his work here.

Further performers of the soul :: It is Sudheer Karamana who gets the best of attention among those who come up with the supporting roles. He is there right from the beginning itself, and has moments until the end. Suraj Venjaramoodu provides some comedy here and there. Meanwhile, Mareena proves herself as an interesting presence in the industry for future, as this role works really well for her – throughout the flick, she has kept it simple, and yet so effective. Most people will know her for playing Sophia in Happy Wedding, and Angel in Amar Akbar Antony, even though the movie which had her the leading heroine was Mumbai Taxi. It was a movie which had some nice moments with twists, and could have done better if it hadn’t tried to be the overreacher it ended up to become. But Mareena has the role for which she is going to be remembered from now on, and we hope that she will get an even better, a huge movie soon.

Soul exploration :: There is always something special about dreaming against all odds in a world which doesn’t believe in you, which seems to have very less in store for you. Yes, some people do have it easy, especially those who have too much money and so much time without having to do anything about it – the rest are to struggle for their dreams, sometimes for an eternity, and at other times, until that destination is reached. There is always something inspirational about going for what one wants, and achieving the same. We keep reading those inspirational stories all the time, of which most of them are only partially true, and some of them just make us rather depressed instead of being motivated. Aby tries to make it to such a world of inspiration, and manages to be another interesting motivational flick here.

How it finishes :: This year has been very good for the Malayalam movie industry and its fans. We had Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol becoming the best family movie in recent times, and Ezra bringing something new to the horror genre here; there was also Jomonte Suvisheshangal doing well, and Fukri bringing some fun element. With Veeram also releasing, Aby brings extra feel-good to the scene, and there was the space for an inspirational flick, which has now been filled. Malayalam movies have had so many of them, and with some variety in treatment, this one is also there, following the movies like Mili, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam, My God, Oru Muthassi Gadha, AnnMariya Kalippilanu, Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho and others. It is once again time to take the inspiration home, and Aby is for everyone, indeed.

Release date: 23rd February 2017
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Srikant Murali
Starring: Vineeth Sreenivasan, Aju Varghese, Mareena Michael Kurisingal, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Sudheer Karamana, Hareesh Peradi, Vinitha Koshy, Manish Choudhary, Dileesh Pothan

abyy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

A Monster Calls

amonstercalls-2

Vampire Owl: Do you know that a monster did call me before?

Vampire Bat: Yes, the potato chips monster.

Vampire Owl: No, a real monster.

Vampire Bat: What did he say?

Vampire Owl: He said that he would eat me for dinner.

Vampire Bat: Oh! A monster that eats the undead for dinner. This should have been in the news.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but it was April Fool, coming right from Uncle Dracula.

Vampire Bat: According to the humans, we are surely monsters. So, from another perspective, it is true.

Vampire Owl: But we are vegetarian.

Vampire Bat: Yes, that is indeed our specialty which is to remain the same.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with potato chips].

What is the movie about? :: A young boy named Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is in a state of worry due to his mother Elizabeth Clayton’s (Felicity Jones) cancer. She keeps telling him that she is getting better, but the truth is that she is not. It is only getting worse, and she is slowly and steadily moving towards her end. It is difficult for him to accept the same, and with his father Mr. O’Malley (Toby Kebbell) being separated from him and living far away from them, he has not many people to look forward to. He is also targeted by Harry (James Melville), a bully at the school, and he is asked by his grandmother Mrs. Clayton (Sigourney Weaver) with whom he doesn’t have a great relationship, to move to her home with her. But Conor is more frustrated by the idea of moving to his grandmother’s home than about being bullied by his classmate and his friends.

So, what happens next? :: One night at exactly 12:07 a.m., Conor comes across a strange tree-like monster (Liam Neeson), that tells him it is going to come up with three stories, after which Conor has to tell the monster his own story, which is the truth behind the nightmare that he keeps seeing. The first story is that of an old king who has lost all his sons battling giants, dragons and great wizards who led men and creatures of darkness. The only heir he had was his grandson who was loved by all people of the kingdom. But at his old age, he gets married to a beautiful woman, after which he falls ill and dies. With the prince not old enough to claim the kingdom, the queen becomes the ruler, and the prince runs away with his love, a farmer’s daughter who seems to be murdered. This queen who is claimed to be a witch, is supposed to be behind the death of both the king and the lover, is saved by the monster, as he claims – Conor wonders why.

So, how do things go from here? :: The second story is that of an ill-tempered, greedy apothecary who follows the old ways of medicine, and pesters a local parson to let him cut the yew tree in the churchyard. The parson who is a man of strong faith is against the apothecary who grows in hatred towards everyone around. But when the parson’s two children gets ill, he asks the apothecary for help, and even offers the yew tree and a change in his own belief. But the apothecary refuses to help him, and the children die. The tree then takes his monstrous form and begins destroying the house of the parson, much to the dismay of Conor who doesn’t understand why the creature is not destroying the house of the apothecary instead. As the third tale nears, Conor’s relationships with his father and grandmother worsens further, and his mother’s disease also gets worse – now, the question remains if the creature can actually heal his mother.

The defence of A Monster Calls :: There is sadness in A Monster Calls, and you can feel it all the way from the beginning to the end. The monster has the message to move on with one’s life, and survive through the unexpected pains – on what it takes to live through the certainty of losing a loved one. It uses all the available themes to its advantage, and tells the message with ease. All the characters used here points to that one message. It has all which are needed to strike you emotionally, and at the same time, despite being a fantasy movie, has more of real life in it with all the fiction that seem to be part of the world. It becomes more of a fairy-tale for the adults rather than children, as each point that its main characters make is worth pondering about. It makes one turn into one’s own mind and ask the same questions about humanity again and again, and at the same time, we get to see the nice creature detail to go with it.

The claws of flaw :: You can keep feeling a certain amount of drag throughout this flick, and those who are looking for the usual kind of fantasy movies are going to feel strange. If you can’t take some preaching, this one is going to be not the movie for you. There also seems to be an attempt to get more and more emotional with things, but that was really not needed, as there was a lot of the same, which came naturally. This is also based on a novel of the same name, written by Patrick Ness, and so it is up-to the author who wrote the screenplay for the movie as well as the fans to decide on how it did justice to the work. There is also the chance to miss out on the symbolism that one comes across in the movie, and so maybe the flick could have hinted on what it was planning to do – a lot of people should have felt that the monster is the usual one, but this one is not just a monster, but much more than that, and one needs to take that.

How it finishes :: The fangs of the message here is quite strong, and it is the performances which support the same more than anything else. You will see how well Lewis MacDougall takes the protagonist to the viewers so well. There is no doubt anywhere about how Sigourney Weaver gets us closer to things, and Felicity Jones makes us feel the pain. As the movie deals with a situation which most people will face in one way or the other, one can be certain that there is the need for A Monster Calls at some point, and we will have to take these messages from the movie right back home. Well, above them all, there is Liam Neeson as the monster, and there is nobody else who could be a monster who provides us with the best messages – proven here without doubt. What would you do when your own monster calls? Well, it is something to keep thinking about.

Release date: 23rd December 2016
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Lewis MacDougall, Liam Neeson, James Melville, Geraldine Chaplin, Max Golds

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.