Odiyan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Adam Joan

What is the movie about? :: Adam Joan Pothen (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a rich planter living in the high-ranges of Kerala. His friends are all married, and the fact that his own brother Alan a.k.a. Unni (Rahul Madhav) fell in love and married Swathi (Bhavana), settling in Europe, got his mother worried about his ways. Adam is still content working with his plantations, which he is hoping to develop further, until he meets Amy Andrews (Mishti Chakraborty), the lead singer in a group performing in churches. They meet each other multiple times, and there is not much trouble in making her alcoholic father Andrews (Maniyan Pillai Raju) agree to their marriage. They travel to Scotland for their honeymoon, and rest of his family has also settled there. There, a tragedy occurs, and Adam has to be separated from his family. It is only years later, that they would meet again, and that would be on the occasion of another tragedy.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: One one of those usual days of Lent, right after the Holy Mass, Unni and Swathi has their child kidnapped by a group of masked men who kills Unni’s mother who resists. Adam who was about to come and visit them, arrives to attend his mother’s funeral, much to his dismay. Learning the news of the child’s abduction, he decides to stay, but his brother and wife wants him to go back home, which surprises him. The two decides to go on with their routine job leaving it to the cops on whom they put trust, but the police are also very less interested in the case – Adam is certainly not satisfied. From his best friend Syriac (Narain), Adam comes to know that the number of kidnapped children has been increasing in the last few years, and the police has had very limited success in tracking down those who were behind the same. While trying to do something about the missing child, he would stumble upon his own past, and there is something about a flashback which has events which have directly or indirectly lead to all these incidents.

The defence of Adam Joan :: You will witness quality on screen, and it doesn’t matter how you look at it. The technical side is indeed splendid, and the visuals of the Scottish countryside, whether it is the farmlands, the hills, the rivers, or the ruins, brings a mystical feeling – there are so many shots taken from a distance, and those taken from higher above will give you a wonderful feeling about the beautiful landscape of Scotland. There is no need for a better advertisement for the area as a tourist destination. The soundtrack is superb, and it nicely adds to the dark side of the movie, which only builds further as the movie progresses. How the makers have used the visuals, the music, as well as the cast to transform an average narrative to an interesting experience on the screen, is an achievement as well as a powerful statement about how much our industry has changed, and shifted the focus towards quality in even simplest aspects. You will see that even with a hero in protagonist, the focus is spread wide. There are also some twists to go with the same.

The claws of flaw :: You are sure to feel a certain lag in between for this movie, and most of it is during the earlier part of the second half, as the first half does end in an interesting manner, setting up things to go further with the latter part. When you see such quality with its shots on the big screen, you also expect the tale to get better and bigger by the end, but that doesn’t happen, with the investigation not getting its due completely. There is also the early destruction of romance, and the only lighter side of this movie is around that one super-hit song – the rest remains dark; you will also notice that even the incidents in the end happen in a darker setting. There are some elements of horror which the movie could have used, and we could have also had more terrifying sequences with the theme that the flick deals with. There was scope to add more thrilling sequences, but the movie chooses to lag on those occasions. This slow pace could have been avoided by decreasing the overall length of the movie.

Performers of the soul :: It is Prithviraj’s mass appeal as well as intensity that drives this movie right from the start – he begins well with emotional and romantic side, and goes on to portray that intensity around the dark side with a performance that will ascertain his place as the master of darker thrillers. You remember Memories and 7th Day which did the same, and this flick also makes it to that list. After two much talked about movies this year, Tiyaan and Ezra, he continues a good run – it is to be noted that there is also a Jewish touch in this movie as it was in the movie featuring the Jewish dybbuk. Even his protagonist never really overdo things as one would have feared – there is only one big action sequence in the end, which is rather stretched, but executed well. It seems that this genre will take him as a permanent player, and you will love some of the dialogue his character gets to deliver – like Liam Neeson of Taken. Still, there might be nothing as good as Memories.

Further performers of the soul :: Mishti Chakraborty is there only for only that super-hit song, and a few more scenes, and we sadly would have to wait more till we get to see more of her in Malayalam movies. She doesn’t get to come up with an impact like Wamiqa Gabbi did with Godha, with not much of a focus on her character other than being the love interest of the protagonist for a short interval of time – still, the song surely did some trick for her. Even though she is paired opposite Prithviraj, we see that the chance for performances go to Bhavana and Lena who get more to do with the twists in the tale. The former was last seen in Adventures of Omanakkuttan, and her character has more than what meets the eye, and so does Lena’s. It is also good to see Rahul Madhav getting more roles, as he supports well in this one. Narain does a good job, but it is rather a single dimensional role with one focus, and you will find just one reason for his character’s existence. He gets to bring the twists to the tale too.

How it finishes :: Jinu V Abraham, on his directorial debut, has brought a marvel on the technical side when you watch it on the big screen, and the same makes one forget its flaws. You might be reminded about some Hollywood movies, but when it is more related to the wonderful technical side than the rest, you will feel good. The competition that this movie has for Onam seems to be a lot, but one can safely say that this flick will be among the winners. There is no reason why you wouldn’t want to go on a virtual trip to Scotland, and at the same time, watch the dark side getting unleashed and being chased by our hopeful protagonist. The exact definition of what you would watch on the screen would be “quality”, and it is this quality that will separate this movie from the rest. I leave you with the beautiful song from the movie which went on to become a big hit. At the same time, I wish all of my readers a Happy Eid, as well as a Happy Onam in advance! 🙂

Release date: 1st September 2017
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Jinu V Abraham
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Mishti Chakraborty, Bhavana, Lena, Narain, Rahul Madhav, Jaya Menon, Madhusudhan Rao, Maniyan Pillai Raju, Sidhartha Siva, Benny Bereal, Mark Strange, Danny Darren

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kavi Uddheshichathu?

kavidudhesichathu-1

What is the movie about? :: The action takes place at a village called Allimoola which is known for the game of volleyball, and its crazy fans, as well as the players who have dedicated their lives towards the game – but it is all in the past now, with the new generation of youngsters looking only for the easy ways to make money, without doing anything really valuable to the society. The women of the village considers the game to be a big wastage, and the men are no longer interested in it as part of their lives. There are only those players of the past who keep talking about their lost glory. Still, there is a section of people who believes that the game is in the blood of the villagers and they don’t believe that they game can ever disappear suddenly – they are hoping for the emergence of better players from the place who can rise above the best.

So how are things moving forward in this movie? :: It is the richest guy in the village, Vattathil Bosco (Narain) who conducts the tournaments now, in memory of his father who used to do the same years ago. But unlike his father, he has no real interest in the game, and only wishes to show the power of his money and wants to be more and more famous, but gets not much of respect from the villagers. He is in love with Lillykutty (Sija Rose), the sister of Kavalam Jimmy (Asif Ali), who is his major opponent in life, a story of dislike which has been going on for many years. Meanwhile, Jimmy is in love with Jasmine (Anju Kurian), who is the sister of Bosco. Jimmy and his friends, including Karala (Balu Varghese), Dineshan (Sudhi Koppa), Aneesh (Benson), Charles (Abhishek) and Sukoor (Ganapathy) form the better known faces of youth in the village who do simple work to make their living.

So, what happens next? :: With the love story of Jimmy and Jasmine being known to people, things get further complicated. At the meeting where the decision on the tournament was to be made, the two opponents end up betting against each other – what they ask for is the hand of the other person’s sister in marriage. The whole village consider takes this in the sportsman spirit, and decides that time has come to celebrate the tournament this time. Looking for a sponsor, Jimmy and his friends find one in Gladys (Lena) who doesn’t like Bosco’s family. Bosco finds a new ally and the team’s coach in Noble Jacob (Saiju Kurup) who had problems with Jimmy and his friends earlier. Joshy (Bijukuttan) arranges a special coach for Jimmy’s team, Minnal Simon (Biju Menon) who is a drunkard and is ready to lose the game for money. So, where does things go from here?

The defence of Kavi Uddheshichathu? :: You know that there will fun around with this movie as you look at the title itself. There is that nostalgia of those old village movies that runs right through this movie, and there is also that feel-good effect that gets to the highest level in the end – it might be what the movie has been aiming for all the time. The locations are nicely captured, with the movie being shot at Iritty in Kannur district, located on the banks of Valapattanam River. The entertainment is guaranteed here, even though it is not provided without the breaks in between. It is the middle part as well as those moments with Biju Menon that stays the strongest here. There is simplicity all around this movie, and even the bad guys in this movie are not that easy to be hated – this is that kind of a comedy movie which leave one without much to think about, and focuses more on what is there to bring some laughter.

The claws of flaw :: There could have been a more interesting story-line, without doubt – instead, this one goes into the territory which Karinkunnam 6s had explored just a few months earlier. The climax is rather predictable, even with an extra dose of feel-good added in the end – everything gets sorted out in the end, and there are no more enemies. There is a certain amount of emptiness in the movie at times due to the same reason – the effort here seems to be to make the feel-good comedy thing work all the time rather than focusing on anything else. We are also left too far away from the characters – there is no real feeling for the character even in a funny way as they do the predictable on the screen. There is also the lack of a strong enough climax that could have finished this the way it should have done – instead this one floats all the way there.

Performers of the soul :: Even though he arrives late, Biju Menon is the soul and heart of this movie – coming after one and half hours in a movie which has only about forty to forty five more to get to the finish, he raises the level of the comedy in this movie. Asif Ali does his job naturally, and there was nothing huge there for him to perform. Narain looks perfect for this role, but it is not really so when he goes on as the character; there is a consistent struggle with comedy going on here, and it never ends until the movie finishes. Lena plays a strong and admirable character with ease. Anju Kurian makes a beautiful addition to this movie, and even in a movie that focuses more on its male stars, leaves a mark; and also leaves the big smiles behind. Sija Rose is also notable in the small role. Among the supporting cast, Balu Varghese stands out, even though the viewers might have expected more from him. Dinesh Prabhakar and Veena Nair forms a nice combination too.

How it finishes :: Thomas Liju Thomas, the director of this movie had already come up with a short-movie, Ramaniyechiyude Namathil before this. It was a critically acclaimed short-film which had managed to grab a number of awards and honours. It is known for winning the first prize in the “Shoot an Idea” competition which was organised by Kappa TV. In his first full-length movie, he has made sure that it remains a complete entertainer, and finishes with a feel-good effect. It did appeal to the audience with its simple jokes, which is undoubtedly the reason why it ran for quite some time in the local theatres as well as multiplexes. Without too much application of brain, this one can work very well with the comic side, even though not that much as a sports movie – the sporting event is just a reason for things to come together; you know what you are going for in this movie instead. Well, simplicity works and so does feel-good, as already proved this year in Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho and Oru Muthassi Gadha.

Release date: 8th October 2016
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Thomas Liju Thomas
Starring: Asif Ali, Anju Kurian, Biju Menon, Narain, Lena, Bijukuttan, Balu Varghese, Sija Rose, Sudhi Koppa, Benson, Abhishek, Ganapathy, Bindu Panicker, Sneha, Saiju Kurup, Manoj Guinness, Akku Melparamb, Chithra Shenoy, Dinesh Prabhakar, Veena Nair, Pradeep Kottayam, Sasi Kalinga, Balaji Sharma, Prasanth, Arul Mash, Alleppey Ashraf, Tom Joseph

kavidudhesichathu

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.