Naradan

Vampire Owl: I am glad to find this one finally coming to the OTT.

Vampire Bat: Yes, especially as it is on Amazon Prime Video.

Vampire Owl: With Minnal Murali on Netflix, Tovino has risen to be an even bigger star.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we don’t really need the local theatre stars anymore.

Vampire Owl: It has always been difficult to watch the superstar movies in theatre.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that the corona virus changed that up to an extent.

Vampire Owl: There are too many things that the virus has changed.

Vampire Bat: Smarter movies getting better appreciation all around India through OTT should surely be one of them.

Vampire Owl: Let there be more skills displayed in films.

Vampire Bat: It is all about watching the right movie and avoiding the others. In the case of some movies, we know that they are to be avoided, whatever happens.

[Gets an onion vada and three cups of cardamom tea].

What is the movie about? :: Fr Daniel Purambokkil (Jaffer Idukki) is an activist who provides sensational news for the media while trying to help the poor people in need. He is a regular part of the telvision channel talks. Chandraprakash (Tovino Thomas) is one of those new age journalist who wishes to do those kind of stories which increases the rating of his channel – he is always forced to take it to another level by the channel, News Malayalam, but decides to keep it going naturally as he has been doing for quite a long time. Pradeep John (Sharafudheen) is part of a less popular channel, Vartha 24 X 7, and manages to come up with sone interviews to improve its viewership all of a sudden. Shivadas Kurup (Joy Mathew), Chief Editor of News Malayalam is not happy about the viewers choosing another channel instead of them who have better infrastructure and has had a bigger audience throughout history. Vartha 24 X 7 seems to get debates based on maoists and related news which would bring more of the audience into interest.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Pradeep John joins News Malayalam, much to the dismay of Chandraprakash, who feels that he has been sidelined by a new person who gets the same position and salary, along with better options to excel in the media field. Babuji (Vijayaradhavan) who has different special interests in politics and business comes up with an idea to make the best use of this particular opportunity. With his business partners, he plans to start a news channel which can attract the best revenue options from advertisers. Chandraprakash who is now known as CP, begins the channel with a big news related to Thomman Varghese (Kunchan), the Minister of Finance. The minister accused of being part of a sex scandal, and is forced to resign. Despite the best attempts of News Malayalam, it soon losses the number one spot among news channels. Narada News goes through the paths less taken – it is basically without moral principles as the focus is only one being the number one; where does that lead CP and his team?

The defence of Naradan :: The journalism that goes too hungry for TRP gets a dose here, as that side has been explored without any second thoughts to go with it – with a better ending, things could have been more in the movie’s favour. When Swantham Lekhakan released in 2009, this was a lot more relevant, and when Run Baby Run came into the picture in 2012 and Love 24×7 released in 2015, it continued to stay relevant – despite the YouTube channels gaining a little too many viewers, this one manages to establish the TRP hunt well, thanks to the leading performance from Tovino Thomas. There are some interesting moments related to the field, and we are all taken to this particular world from the beginning itself. One can also find some relations to incidents which happened in real life, but with the corona virus pandemic after that Jio revolution, things seem to have changed even further. Still, one would agree to the fact that news is not to be made for emotions, but discovered for the truth that it happens to be. Maybe, the movie would have been more relevant, releasing a few years ago.

The claws of flaw :: The problem with Naradan is that despite keeping on showing the mirror to media as a whole, it doesn’t show the same with the Youtube channels which do the same – except for a very few channels of high quality, there has been the lack of truth in Youtube, a case which will affect the common man’s senses more than the usual television channels, as the Jio revolution has made sure that anyone can say anything in the name of video blogging or vlogging. Unlike the usual media, the control is so much less there. The ending of Naradan is also not that convincing – there is a certain lack of power around there too. There could have also been a better show of the fight between the channels. In movies like this one, emotional side is also important, but the same doesn’t get to rise in its level either. The movie could have been strong with its pillars, but it decides to just go on without setting the base, which is why it seems to come down with its score here and there – the strong foundation is surely missing around here, along with the overall quality being low.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas once again comes up with some excellence here, but his role should have been closer to what he had played in Kaanekkaane instead of coming up with that change all of a sudden. Forensic had him in the thrillers, but Naradan has him with the negative side effectively. Anna Ben has a short period of time to perform here, even though the Kumbalangi Nights, Sara’s and Helen star remains solid during those moments – a better finish would have helped her cause more though. Vijayaraghavan and Joy Mathew have those smaller, but effective roles, even though they should have been there for more. Sharafudheen’s controlled role is really good. Balachandran Chullikkad and Jayaraj Warrier also have those smaller, but notable roles, which could have been expanded too – they just seem to disappear in between. Jaffer Idukki comes up with another role of a priest after Bro Daddy, and that seems to work really well for him. Renji Panicker and Lukman Avaran makes some good lawyers here too.

How it finishes :: Naradan would have been more effective if it came a few years earlier – the media that we know has been replaced by YouTube these days, and the common man seems to believe what is seen on the internet more than the television channels, and with so many such content in YouTube, the real Narada News would be one of the online channels. We do see so many channels which contradict with the news that they come up with, and we have also seen so many fights going on between these people. One would keep wondering where the truth lies with these channels, as there seems to be not much which can be trusted in the online world of chaos with social media being in the front to spread such news – Whatsapp universities and Facebook colleges do that more than anything else, but that is one blame which the films forgets with convenience, but we find some truth and engaging moments here. This is also not an easy task to deal with this topic, but the director of some of my favourite films like Rani Padmini, Mayaanadhi and Virus could have surely done better.

Release date: 3rd March 2022 (Theatre); 8th April 2022 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 149 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Anna Ben, Joy Mathew, Vijayaraghavan, Sharafudheen, Balachandran Chullikkad, Raghunath Paleri, Jayaraj Warrier, Kunchan, Rafi, Dileesh Nair, Rajesh Madhavan, Indrans, Lukman Avaran, Jaffer Idukki, Renki Panicker, Vijaykumar Prabhakaran, Koottickal Jayachandran, Navas Vallikkunnu

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Madhuram

What is the movie about? :: Kevin (Arjun Ashokan) is the bystander for his mother, who is going to have a surgery at the government medical college hospital very soon. He is married to Cherry (Nikhila Vimal) who isn’t accepted by his mother yet. He is very much tensed about it, and spends most of the time wondering about what is to happen next. Sabu (Joju George) is there as a bystander for his wife Chitra (Shruti Ramachandran). There are also others who have become part of the hospital during their time spent out there. Ravi (Indrans) is a retired postman who is waiting for his wife to be discharged, while celebrating forty years of marriage. Thajudeen (Fahim Safar) is a bystander for his father who is forced to come there because the doctor in the hosptial is very famous, and a quick surgery is required. Despite how much how much Ravi talks about the importance of staying in long marriage and how much Sabu reasserts the same, Kevin and Cherry are on the verge of a divorce. Cherry wonders if it will happen as soon as his mother is healthy and asks him to leave her.

So, what happens happens around here? :: Thajudeen is to first one to leave the hospital from the group, as his father has a stroke and dies, causing moments of silence and depression everywhere around them. Kevin’s tension only further increases as the surgery is delayed, and after knowing about the death of Thajudeen’s father. The same also affects Ravi upto an extent, as he is also a little bit worried. Sabu talks to the others about his love story with Chitra which happened at Kunjikka’s (Jaffar Idukki) restaurant, where she used to come and have biriyani in secret. They married after causing a lot of problems in the neighbourhood. Ravi’s tale is about him falling in love with his wife while delivering letters at a locality, and it was another case of love story wrecking havoc around. When Kevin’s anxiety problems get better, they are surprised to find that Sabu is surprisingly angry at the hospital staff, which leads to the big revelation by Doctor Rajah (Lal) about Chitra. This makes them wonder how long he has been in the hospital.

The defence of Madhuram :: The movie has to be appreciated more for its optimistic viewpoint about relationships, and life that goes on with love and endurance against all odds. With Joju George who seems to go through the whole thing as if living through it rather than acting, and Shruti Ramachandran who blends in to this role in a realistic manner like no other, this one feels like a safe watch from the beginning itself. The movie’s messages about relationships is beautiful, as it celebrates being in marriage, and with love. The movie also knows where to place the emotions, without any overdose of melodrama coming into the picture to ruin things. The humour which the movie uses in the initial stages brings some early delight, and as it passes on to the sad and emotional side, it makes sure that the balance is not lost, and we are not put into a world of eternal depression, for there is faith, belief and hope at all times. The taste of love between husbands and wives never losses its charm, for love in marriage is shown as a thing with wings more than that of the other kinds of relationships.

Positives and negatives :: Some dialogues might feel like a little too much in the view of life, but the actors who deliver them make it even more effective – the emotions are so well portrayed through them, and we appreciate the choice of performers here again and again – you see how Joju and Indrans make us feel, and the rest are following them so well, effectively. The visuals of the hospital are also nice, and songs with all the picturization makes us feel the emotions which are present at all times. The food also stays with us, and the focus in the same also contributes to the overall mood, which is surprisingly a happy one for most of its run, even though it is set in a hospital and there is the long wait for some risky surgeries going on throughout the film. You also see that this one basically maintains the balance between optimism and realism, unlike Jis Joy movies like Sunday Holiday, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and Mohan Kumar Fans which have so much of optimistic attitude that one feels that there is too much of positivity in life which is not really there. Without the same, this one makes you feel the love, and you are into the emotions.

The performers of the soul :: The director here is blessed with a fantastic cast which anyone would wish to have in a work of drama. It is led by none other than Joju George, the man who touched our emotions the best, not with an emotional drama, but with an investigative thriller, Joseph – that was one turning point which still holds strong in our minds, and this drama holds strong with its emotional content, thanks to him more than anyone else. We have always known what he is capable of, and here is one more testimony to his skills. The combination of Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran is something to remember for long, as their relationship has a lot to take away in this tale of different relationships between many couples. Shruti Ramachandran was already there in the highly emotional drama, Kaanekkaane, which was another film which released in the same platform. This love story of the two over one biriyani and more food, is a thing of high quality and the flashback keeps us glued to the seats and in love. They also have some nicely visualized songs to support their cause – you also remember some simple, yet lovely dialogues.

Further performers of the soul :: After the Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran story, we have the other tale of husband and wife, with Arjun Ashokan and Nikhila Vimal playing the couple without that much of love, and with one mother standing in between them, leading to a possible divorce in future. Arjun Ashokan had the role of a lover in June which came from the same director and has no problems here, while Nikhila Vimal was last seen in the horror movie, The Priest. Her ability to deliver some natural performances were seen in two different roles in the movies Aravindante Athidhikal and Njan Prakashan, and she continues to establish herself as a leading actress with such roles. Even though this is the secondary love story, and is often rushed, raises itself with the performances of the two. Indrans has another touching performance to deliver here after Home, and this character also stays close to us. Jaffar Idukki, Jagadish and Lal also come up with some delightful performances, even though in smaller roles. Fahim Safar, Navas Vallikkunnu and Malavika Sreenath are also notable.

How it finishes :: The movie does have its surprises, but the intention here is to bring an emotional surprise rather than the usual one, and the director is successful in doing the same. There is emotional strength which is equal to, or at times even at a higher level than Kaanekkaane also of Sony LIV, for this movie is purely a relatable drama for many people, and it is about husband and wife relationship. The Tovino-Suraj starrer of the same platform had elements of a thriller, and therefore not relatable for all times, but when we look at Madhuram, its emotional intensity is of the common man’s soul. Well, the work that these OTT platforms have done to make our Christmas celebration better, is to be appreciated, for we have already had the greatest superhero film in India in Netflix, and this one is a collection of emotions, which we are to cherish. Well, with these movies being available everywhere in the online platform, you can give some credit to the Corona virus pandemic for bringing these national and international level of attention.

Release date: 24th December 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Ahammed Khabeer
Starring: Joju George, Shruti Ramachandran, Nikhila Vimal, Arjun Ashokan, Lal, Indrans, Jagadish, Malavika Sreenath, Jaffar Idukki, Babu Jose, Sminu Sijo, Thirumala Ramachandran, Navas Vallikkunnu, Fahim Safar

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@ Cemetery Watch
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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.