Rakshadhikari Baiju

Vampire Owl: This character reminds me of myself during my early days.

Vampire Bat: You mean the days before you became a vampire.

Vampire Owl: No, my early days as a vampire apprentice.

Vampire Bat: I have heard that you performed really bad during those days.

Vampire Owl: No, I had balance in all aspects of life just like this man in the trailer.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see how this can be termed as balance.

Vampire Owl: Well, my case was all about balancing everything in life with so much skill that I managed to develop just from the inside.

Vampire Bat: There is no balance in life; one thing goes the right way, and something else losses the way.

Vampire Owl: I am actually writing a book on it, with special thanks to you.

Vampire Bat: That is an action completely against balance.

[Gets the tickets with cardamom tea and cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Baiju (Biju Menon) is everything for a group of people at Kumbalam, a region which is commonly considered as a part of an extended Kochi, but still retains its simple, village-like life. Surrounded by the Vembanad Lake, the place is connected at both sides by bridges, which is slowly and steadily transforming the lives of the people there. Here, this man leads a group of youngsters who are part of a cricket team which has been trying to win local tournaments, but not with that much success – it hasn’t stopped them from trying though. The team’s members include Manoj (Deepak Parambol) and Unni (Aju Varghese) among the others. Manoj has fallen for a girl in the neighbourhood named Rose (Anagha L K Maruthora) who also seems to have some interest in him, while a co-worker, Sreekala (Krishna Padmakumar) has fallen for Unni who is not interested in her and is looking for a girl to marry all around the state.

So, what happens next? :: His lack of interest in his job despite being in government service doesn’t make his wife Ajitha (Hannah Reji Koshy) happy, and the same is the case with his parents. He also spends money from his pocket to help his friends in need, and is the major force behind leading a boy in his team to Ranji trophy and later into an IPL team. Despite avoiding all the responsibilities at home as well as office, he is still a loved man everywhere. Being an irrigation department official and also a patron of the Kumbalam Brothers Club will keep him going through a journey which started when he was just a kid, along with George (Dileesh Pothan) and other friends of him, who have all settled outside India or at least outside Kerala. But he remains in his hometown, doing the same things as if it is to go on for eternity – but how long can these continue during a time when modernisation comes up, and who all will be with him?

The defence of Rakshadhikari Baiju :: There is an abundance of humour in Rakshadhikari Baiju, and it is no surprise with the cast that we see here. With the simple things that could happen in anyone’s life, the tale progresses nicely, even as there is nothing like Chinthavishtayaaya Shyamala unlike expected at one point. With the performances and events, things just seem natural here, with nothing artificial added. The message that the movie provides is also something for this age, when children try to replace the outdoor sports for computer games and more and more of mobile gaming – the movie asks its viewers to encourage outdoor sporting events which will improve the health of an upcoming generation, and also to save those free spaces, the green open grounds with trees in villages and towns. There is also that feeling of nostalgia that will come back to us seeing all these happenings. A realistic tale about common people is always better than a fake story claiming to be realistic, whether it is about a slow love story that will take an eternity to finish doing something or related to a tale filling a town with criminals who love pork.

The claws of flaw :: What surprises one the most is that there are villains in the movie, and along with one coming right out of a modern world which has no real face, there is another one played by Padmaraj Ratheesh, which goes absolutely nowhere – there never seems to be any need except for one funny sequence or two which works due to Biju Menon’s comic timing. There is also the love angle added with the character named Rose, which is also pretty much wasted just as our protagonist’s own love story flashback that comes into the present. Without these, the movie would have saved a lot of time, and the extra length of the movie could have been cut down to make this a very good entertainer with no dull moments; but here we see those sequences which are not really needed. The simplicity of the movie also needed more of the touch of feel-good and nostalgia to power it to the next level, and the same is also not there.

Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon once again becomes what the character needs him to be, and this role is no surprise for sure. Just like he did in Vellimoonga and Swarna Kaduva, he uses the simple incidents in life to evoke laughter, and he is well supported here. Aju Varghese keeps doing what he does the best, and provides the fun-filled support. Deepak Parambol does the role that could be of the second hero fine enough, despite his character losing way by the end. It is Hareesh Perumanna who has some of the funniest moments in the movie though, and his character has the comic side strong and written all over. Dileesh Pothan has only his presence for only a few minutes though, and still there is a lot of fun with his sequences starting with the dialogue about having changed by being rich. Hannah Reji Koshy whom we had seen for the last time in Darwinte Parinamam has a nice stay here as the leading actress too.

How it finishes :: This is one of those lesser hyped movies which can stay long just by being the movie that everyone can watch and enjoy, somewhat close to what Vellimoonga did even if not being that much of a force, considering the fact that families only have Sakhavu as the newer movie that is left to go for, Puthan Panam being pretty much a clear terrible movie, and also having an ‘Adult certificate’. The Great Father and 1971: Beyond Borders should also be there along with the undisputed best Malayalam movie of the year so far which is Take Off, but our movie starts a new innings here with not much of a challenge for a week which is in the safe zone. If you liked the Biju Menon starrers Vellimoonga and Swarna Kaduva, there is no doubt that you will like this one too, and so this one is a safe bet; there is a little bit of Anuraga Karikkin Vellam feeling in this one too. Simple, and without complicating things, the movie here stays close to life, and also allows the viewers to take the messages home.

Release date: 21st April 2017
Running time: 162 minutes
Directed by: Ranjan Pramod
Starring: Biju Menon, Hannah Reji Koshy, Aju Varghese, Deepak Parambol, Hareesh Perumanna, Dileesh Pothan, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Alencier Ley Lopez, Janardhanan, Indrans, Vijayaraghavan, Chethan Jayalal, Vishal Krishna, Aabid Nassar, Ambika Mohan, Nebish Benson, Krishna Padmakumar, Anjali Aneesh, Anagha L K Maruthora, Sankar Induchoodan, Sasi Kalinga

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Iyobinte Pusthakam

Iyobinte Pustakam ()

What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of Iyob (Lal) and his three sons, Dimitri (Chemban Vinod Jose), Ivan (Jinu Joseph) and Aloshy (Fahadh Faasil). Iyob was a young local boy who became the right-hand of Harrison (Sal Yusuf), one of the British people who established homes in Munnar, but he managed to rise after his death and had become the most powerful and the influential man in the area. Due to the commanding nature of his father and the atrocities of his brothers which are covered up with money, Aloshy leaves home and joins the Royal Navy from where he is dismissed as a result of a mutiny, which leads him back home. There, his troubles with his brothers begin, and Iyob is infuriated by his lack of obedience and also lack of display of admiration for his father, for which he disinherits him, and his brothers attack him and leaves him for dead. But Iyob doesn’t really know his other sons yet, and an enemy called Angoor Rawther (Jayasurya) shall soon come up.

The defence of Iyobinte Pusthakam :: Iyobinte Pusthakam is brilliant, and amazing beyond words in its visual splendour – it is something that we might have never seen before in Indian cinema, and one can get a peek at the same by just looking at the trailer – the complete stuff is a lot bigger and highly extravagant in its visuals. What you see in the posters are made a lot better in this movie, and not the other way around. The movie’s use of history and the variety in settings are also something to cheer about. We rarely have such good period thrillers in Malayalam, and even in Bollywood. The only things related to history that we have these days are related to killing white people – are we so much out of ideas that we have to talk about one thing again and again? No, not all, says Amal Neerad who has come up with his magnum opus here, which tells the story of the people of the land during the British rule and after, combining history and fiction. You can appreciate this one as long as you have the ability for the same.

Positives and negatives :: The movie might still be slow for a few, but I will say that there is absolutely no drag, and it is achieved by the beauty of the visuals – it is no bloody useless drag like Annayum Rasoolum, I can assure you that; this is more of a Left Right Left of this year. As you enter the world of unparalleled visual beauty, what you want might not be the story. The plot might look ordinary, but it is never about the story. Do watch and get taken into this amazing world, and the first movie from Amal Neerad that I liked – and this is one big like for him! Yes, I have never liked Big B, Sagar Alias Jacky, Anwar and Bachelor’s Party, and you fan-boys and girls can dislike me for the same. Interstellar was just a story that could never happen, but this one is a story of humanity in real, and it is up-to you to choose the one that you wish for this weekend, as both are for entirely different set of minds! Our Malayalam critics will never rate a movie from Kerala high, so just the “very good” rating for this movie would mean “out of this world”.

Performances of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is nothing less than brilliant here, as he has another feather in the cap here. It is amazing how he has managed to thrive under almost every circumstance that has been put before him. How good can he be? We can never know the limits of his abilities as it seems. Lal is also nothing less than the powerful and later the helpless figure that he is supposed to be – there is nobody other who can be this character. Chemban Vinod Jose and Jinu Joseph are also good and the former is extremely efficient at times Isha Sharvani is extremely beautiful and suited for the role with her looks alone, otherwise she has much less to do; but that has still worked well for the character. Jayasurya is one impressive villain too, as he becomes the smiling assassin here. Padmapriya as Rahel also scores, coming out nowhere. Vinayakn is also nice. The characterization is so powerful and they nicely blend into the strength of visual beauty and that nice background score. I shall leave with some more thoughts below.

Soul exploration 1 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as King Lear :: Iyobinte Pusthakam is a lot like King Lear or a loose adaptation from the same – it is as much of Shakespeare as Haider is Hamlet, and it has nicely used the setting to support the same. Iyob is King Lear who divides his kingdom among two sons, disinheriting the third, and in the end, it turns out that he was always the righteous and the loving one who comes out to help the father. Goneril, Regan and Cordelia are all here, and there is the Earl of Kent who is joins with the villains this time as Lazar. Rahel does the job of Edmund here, standing between the two sons and making one kill the other. Meanwhile, going outside the play, Martha becomes the lady love that every movie needs, and Angoor Rawther is just the villain that every story should have. There are also those moments when Iyob seems to be descending into madness, and Oswald is also there, as the man who tries to kill our hero and gets himself killed. Also check for the The Brothers Karamazov kind of characters with the same names.

Soul exploration 2 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as the Parable of the Prodigal Son :: Iyob himself mentions Aloshy as prodigal son when he returns from the navy, and the church priest mentions that he is to be given a warm welcome if it is so, just like in the Holy Bible. But here, Aloshy is not the prodigal son, but rather the lost son, who returns after gaining wisdom rather than losing money, and this illusion of the gone son being the prodigal son is directly reversed in this movie without any complication. But considering a few other cases, he is indeed unemployed and without money compared to what he has at his own home which was left behind. The money that he extravagantly spent are the years of his life, and the time which he should have spent with his family. The father does accept his son, but once again, the elder brothers don’t. The movie’s use of the dialogues about the parable gives us this idea.

Soul exploration 3 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as the Biblical story of Job :: The main character of the movie is Iyob or Job even as the hero is Aloshy. Even as our character here doesn’t have the qualities of a righteous man, he is also someone who losses almost everything that he holds dear, and it includes his own children, his property, and up-to an extent, his health. But the answer to his problems is achieved sooner here, in the form of his earlier lost son Aloshy. During his last moments, he holds onto the cross and gives it to his son, something which he already had, but rarely mentions as his baptism was nothing that he or his people wanted. It is his faith in God that is replenished in his final moments, and even as there is no redemption like that of the Biblical Job here, he does manage to die a good person rather than the evil feudal lord that he had been.

*This is the finest movie of the year from India, among all those which I have watched. Don’t miss this one! It is out of the usual league. It also leaves us with thoughts about the oppressed becoming the oppressor when opportunity arises, and also with a message on equality among the masses.

Release date: 7th November 2014
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Isha Sharvani, Lal, Jayasurya, Padmapriya, Chemban Vinod Jose, Reenu Mathews, Jinu Joseph, Vinayakan, Lena Abhilash, T. G. Ravi, Sreejith Ravi, Shebin Benson, Saritha Kuku, Nebish Benson, Sal Yusuf, Aashiq Abu (cameo), Amala Paul (cameo)

iyobintepustakam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.