Keedam

Vampire Owl: The name of this movie is interesting.

Vampire Bat: I also support people to use similar names for their movies.

Vampire Owl: We should also grow some vampire pests at home.

Vampire Bat: Uncle Dracula managed to get rid of the pests after a long struggle.

Vampire Owl: We should use the pests to our advantage.

Vampire Bat: You can’t control these pests at all. Only the witches can do it.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that they might use the pests against us?

Vampire Bat: They are good with such small creatures.

Vampire Owl: Well, I would expect an attack at any moment.

Vampire Bat: You should have faith in at least some witches. We are not so different from each other.

[Gets a masala dosa and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Radhika Balan (Rajisha Vijayan) lives with her father, Retired Advocate Balan (Sreenivasan) while working as a cyber-security expert at her own start-up company with her partner Vijay (Rahul Riji Nair). She is good friends with CI Charles (Vijay Babu), whom she helps as part of an investigation. Radhika is adamant that one’s privacy should always be respected and that their firm should only help people who have compromised their privacy due to hacking or carlessness. It is then that she accidentally calls a wrong number and Kili Biju (Mahesh Nair) who is on the other side continues to bother her on phone. He gets her name through True Caller App and finds more information about her by searching her name on Facebook. She is frustrated and decides to complain to the police, and things go out of control at the police station. Biju’s friend Thurumbu Aji (Renjit Shekar Nair) is a man who has been on the criminal records for a long time, and was also involved in a murder case – he decides to lead his friends (Anand Manmadhan and Arjun Ranjan) in an attempt to make Radhika’s life a living hell, and doesn’t leave her father out of it either.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: They follow her at her home and office, and also goes on to destroy the reputation of her father – it feels like wherever she goes, they are present at the location. When they decide that they are finally done with Radhika and her father, she decides that this is not the end. She decides to get into their privacy by hacking their mobile phones, so that they won’t think about doing this to anybody else again. Vijay is worried about her actions, and the same is the case of her father, but she is not ready to go back on it. She manages to get into the phone of Biju, and even though it is only revenge that was looking for, she comes across the information that could mean more than that. It turns out that even though they live as scrap-dealers, there is more to them than what meets the eye. They are involved in gold smuggling and other illegal activities, and they work as carriers for different people in different areas. Radhika might be dealing with a little bit too much, and it will be of the best interest for everyone if she backs down, but will she? What will Aji and his group do when they find out that she is spying on their crimes?

The defence of Keedam :: We can see that Keedam chooses a realistic character who doesn’t create any magic within a thriller unlike what is often expected. The female protagonist here does what she has always done the best, and she does the same in style. The messages about cyber security is more or less of a reminder of the world that we are living in, and leaves the idea that we need to be more careful when we are using any electronic device. There are some defining moments here which makes things more interesting. The final moments are indeed thrilling, even though the much needed final closure was not there to be taken. The divergence that the movie possesses is to be appreciated, and unlike some other industries, Malayalam seems to have all those movies, with the makers moving from one category to the other with relative ease, and even coming up classic stuff in between. The father-daughter relationship is shown well, reminding one of the same in Helen and Uyare with Lal-Anna and Siddique-Parvathy, even though the father figure here is more worried and weakened, and still doesn’t trouble her with his lectures much.

The claws of flaw :: Keedam doesn’t use its resources to the best advantage – the premise was so good, and there were so many paths which it could have travelled; there is no limitation in the cyber world. Cyber security is no longer the topic of a selected few, and the rise of Jio and the spread of COVID-19 did change the situation for internet and its unlimited resources which came upon unsuspecting people all of a sudden – most of them were easy prey to cyber problems as they were not ready, and the youth just fell into the mobile gaming trap. The film could have dealt with such problems more effectively like Operation Java. Often, there is the feeling that something is missing in between. As it follows this particular pattern, there is the unconvincing feeling coming up at times. The ending could have also been better, and it didn’t need the forced extra scene there. The movie had also started with Hindi lines with the beginning credits, and that provides the feeling that someone speaking Hindi was involved in crimes or that this happens outside Kerala and Tamil Nadu, a rather strange to do, whatever be the reason.

The performers of the soul :: Rajisha Vijayan who could be a part of the much acclaimed Jai Bhim after the sports drama Kho Kho, once again does an excellent job in another role of interest. There are not many roles which she can’t do in the industry, as she rises above the other actresses with movies having her as main protagonist. She gets into this character which is very much different from her much appreciated roles in June and Finals, and always looks comfortable with the same. Rahul Riji Nair who directs another film with the same lady lead has things in control as the actor too. Sreenivasan is present in the father role, and has done the character of a concerned father well. Vijay Babu plays a sensible police officer with all the qualities which are needed with it. Manikandan Pattambi of Marimayam fame manages the negative character well, and it is his dialogue which seems to give the title to this movie. The rest of the antagonists of the group have managed their roles well, and in a realistic manner, led by Renjit Shekar Nair. For this movie, the choice of antagonists did work in its favour, even though in the end, there should have been more in store for them.
How it finishes :: Keedam is a movie which could have achieved so much more – there was so much potential considering the topic which it was dealing with. But with its idea and the protagonist to be noted, there is another step in the right direction, and it remains very much interesting at the same time too. It is another reminder of Malayalam movie industry’s courage to venture into unfamiliar territories, as it had already done with the superhero stuff in Minnal Murali stuff, while also having one of the most human films in the form of Madhuram releasing in different OTT platforms within the gap of a few days. Rajisha Vijayan might be the best actress we have in Malayalam film industry now, and we know that people don’t get Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress on debut movies just like that as she did in Anuraga Karikkin Vellam. She has dealt with sadness, depression, anger, fear, love and friendship with so much effectiveness in her movies. The movie could have had more for her, but as it seems now, is an entertaining thriller which also has a realistic side in parts.

Release date: 1st July 2022 (ZEE5); 20th May 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 104 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Riji Nair
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Vijay Babu, Sreenivasan, Manikandan Pattambi, Renjit Shekar Nair, Anand Manmadhan, Mahesh Nair, Rahul Riji Nair, Arjun Ranjan

<<< Click here to go to the previous review.

<<< Click here to go to the previous Malayalam film review.

<<< Click here to go to the review of the most anticipated film of the year.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Chathur Mukham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Culprit

Vampire Owl: Do you know that I am a culprit in love?

Vampire Bat: How is that relevant right now?

Vampire Owl: I just wanted to remind you that the word applies to me too.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that your experience cannot match the genre of this short-film.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that you are not finished reviewing short-films?

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why I should ever stop doing that.

Vampire Owl: What about those big movies which have got you most of the hits?

Vampire Bat: They have stopped being something that matter. I am supporting smaller ones right now; they are the future. There is more material in them.

Vampire Owl: You are talking like a true vampire apprentice.

Vampire Bat: I am the first vampire apprentice to write movie reviews. So, my opinion counts more than most of the others in the New Vampire World.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: Amal (Akhil Vivek) reaches Mumbai from Cochin to meet Jithu (Danish Ashokan), a friend and an elder brotherly figure. It turns out that he has run away from Kerala after the circumstances which lead to a girl named Ancy Kuriyan Thomas (Dona Shankar) going missing, pointed fingers at him. There hasn’t been much progress in the case which only has him as the sole link to the events, but about which he has no clue. Amal tells Jithu his story, which has his best friend Sooraj (Akash Sheel), and an unknown phone call from a female voice which introduced itself as a girl named Devika Varma. As they get closer, Amal asks for her to meet up with him instead of being the random voice on his phone. But despite her agreeing to meet up at Cherai, later calls him to warn him against calling her again unless he wishes to get in trouble.

So, what happens next? :: As they attempt to investigate on the matter, it leads them to Dr. Shafeeq (Anwar Shereef) on whose name, the sim card is taken. He tells them something about the missing girl in the news, Ancy Kuriyan Thomas, which shocks them. But it turns out that they can’t tell that to anyone else, as it would put the shadow of doubt on them. But the police ends up getting a photo which works against Amal, and puts him directly in trouble from the cops as well as the media. Now, he has come directly to Maharashtra and hopes to solve this confusing problem. Can he do that before time runs out? Who is this Devika Varma and how is she related to the mysterious disappearance of Ancy Kuriyan Thomas? Is there a chance than Ancy might be alive after so many days? Why does all this point to Amal when it seems to be clear that he has nothing to do with the girl named Ancy?

The defence of Culprit :: The suspense that the movie has is pretty much huge, and we enjoy how it is told, and it is twisted, in a positive way. From the first few moments, it is established that we have a thriller in store, and then, after a few minutes of the usual stuff to set up the whole thing, we are taken back to staying on the edge of our seats. One would still feel that the end was too quick, and wonder if the absence of the explanation for some deeds were the need – it still lets us think more, and come up with our own conclusions. The movie is actually longer than most of those usual short-films that you see, and so there is plenty of time for the viewers to get drawn into it. With its half an hour run-time over, we end up wishing for the length to be little more, and that is surely a rare thing. Whenever the movie seems to stray away from its path, there will be something, a moment or a dialogue to bring it back on track, and it has a smooth run all the way.

Soul exploration :: Culprit explores what all are there as more than what meets the eye. It shows a protagonist being clueless against a force which seems to have worked against him right from the beginning. There is a mystery here that needs to be solved, as it threatens his own existence, and he understands it should be done as quickly as possible. What we see here is a crime committed, and the person who does that goes to any end to make sure that he is not convicted; for it is something planned well enough to have more than one escape route – there is not much of friendships here to save the day, as the protagonist can trust nobody. We see the movie slowly and steadily getting hold of things, leading to that wonderful revealing in the end. There are things that the movie doesn’t try to tell, and on everything else, what you see and understand gets the clarity.

How it finishes :: Culprit is a fine example of how the right talent shows itself when there is a chance. On one side, we have those big movies struggling to become interesting thrillers, and even with that high budget and big stars, they fail – but here, we have something small in scale, but strong with the idea, which is presented really well on screen. We get a great quality here, without waiting in the queue or spending that extra money on online booking, along with those increased ticket prices – we just need a few MB of data to get into some nice thrilling moments. Culprit also comes at a time when there have been too many short-films dealing with the great nonsense romance in many absurd ways. A well-made thriller lasting half an hour is something that has the strength to go far, and it is hence proven by this short-film.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: Do you think that such people can exist in our society too?

Vampire Bat: We are an alcohol-free society – so it would be difficult, but evil always finds a way.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that they could come through the portal which Doctor Frankenstein had opened earlier?

Vampire Bat: Mr. Frankenstein can only be the means to evil if we allow him to be.

Vampire Owl: It could be through anyone, someone whom we trust the most.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Evil as a person is a clever manipulator.

Vampire Owl: It could be the Lich Queen, Werewolf Anger, Vampire Kung Fu Panda

Vampire Bat: Why do you keep waiting for evil to come, when there is the chance to embrace goodness?

Vampire Owl: Well, you just can’t see so much evil, and still go with goodness.

Vampire Bat: Goodness is difficult, and evil is easy. It is on this that we wonder, and get inspired to think more about the same.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 9th July 2017
Running time: 31 minutes
Directed by: Jithin S Babu
Starring: Akhil Vivek, Danish Ashokan, Dona Shankar, Akash Sheel, Anwar Shereef, Santhu Bhai

Watch the interesting thriller, Culprit here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.