The Priest

What is the movie about? :: Fr Carmen Benedict (Mammootty) is a priest who is known to have helped the police in multiple cases. Diya Alex Alatt (Saniya Iyappan) approaches him with a certain amount of concern regarding a series of deaths which had occured earlier in the rich and influential family, and were dismissed as suicides. Diya feels that the present controller of the assets of the family, Elizabeth Alatt (Meera Nair) might know something about it. He calls DYSP Shekhar (Sivadas Kannur), who begins to share some of his doubts. When a little girl named Ameya Gabriel (Baby Monica) is also found in the house, and the connected incidents related to her lead to the discovery of more clues related to the murder, Fr Carmen also understands that there is more to her than what meets the eye. Ameya is an orphan, and nobody has any idea what she is upto, because she often goes missing from her orphanage, and comes back by herself. Her actions are also nothing less than what others consider to be strange.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jessy Cherian (Nikhila Vimal), a new teacher takes charge in the school where Ameya is studying. Even though Ameya has been hostile to each and every person in the school including teachers and students, she immediately becomes friendly to Jessy who is also happy about the same. As the school is closed for summer vacation, Ameya begs for her to be taken with Jessy. With the permission of the orphanage authorities, she manages to take the child to her home in the highlands, which had been abandoned for a long time. But it turns out that this child is not really the kid which she had expected. When anyone else comes in between Jessy and Ameya, the latter reacts violently, especially when Jessy’s fiance Siddharth (Venkitesh VP) comes to meet her, and proposes her. Soon, things take a further violent turn, and Fr Carmen makes his way to the place, as he understands the seriousness of the situation. But this might not be the kind of spirit which Carmen thought it is. He takes the help of Dr Mathews (TG Ravi), but he understands the need to learn about the spirit.

The defence of The Priest :: The movie scores heavily with its visuals, as we do have a perfect setting for horror, and along with the environment, there are the usual scares effectively used with the help of sound effects. The music is also very interesting. The scares are added here and there, and at times they work depending on the audience. There are some twists to be added here, but we do expect a few among with ease, seemingly because of trying to stick to the Hollywood style. The performance are also of a higher level, even though we do feel that the first investigation was even more interesting than what came later. It does have the most interesting part in the beginning, like Mammootty’s Abrahaminte Santhathikal had that crime at the start, and even with the presence of clowns, doesn’t make them nonsensical like it was done in the strange Mammootty movie The Great Father. Instead, most of the time, The Priest plays to its strength, and makes sure that there is no risk taken, even though it was there to be taken.

The claws of flaw :: The Priest has many elements which we would feel borrowed, and the reminder of Hollywood movies is sure to come back here. The climax doesn’t deliver the needed punch either, as it goes through the safe way, and adds one scene after the finish, seemingly as a justification. Looking at films like The Conjuring, The Nun, Insidious, Sinister and Annabelle, we have had an overdose of horror movies with spirits, and as there was enough for reference, this could have certainly done better – we all remember what Ezra did with the Jewish demon. Well, when the demon really doesn’t want to be terrifying, and with the first motive being close to a Mathematics teachers, the scary side weakens – when the motive and actions of the supernatural doesn’t scare us enough, the genre itself struggles. After all, a spirit should do what it always does the best, and it should go further when listing itself as a horror film at all places. There can be more to an act of exorcism and the process of haunting. We also see something missing with the sequence of events, but can’t talk about that without revealing the suspense and twists.

The performers of the soul :: The movie was marketed as the first movie in which Mammootty and Manju Warrier acted together – the last word does have some complications though, because the latter’s character was dead some time ago, and so the characters won’t be living together in the film, and we would have to wait to see them in the leading roles. Manju Warrier’s role is also quite short here, and it can be considered only as long as the work of Saniya Iyappan who also has some work to do related to the first adventure of the protagonist. Mammootty’s avatar here is a lot better than what we have seen in most of his action and thriller films, and this is a character that he does with ease. We can now remember him like Father Brown, the Roman Catholic priest and detective who was the main character in the fifty three short stories written by British novelist GK Chesterton in the years after Victorian era. There we were not into horror though.

Further performers of the soul :: Even though often known as the first Mammootty-Manju Warrier movie, the latter gets only limited presence, and in the first half we don’t even have a clue that she exists. But when she is there, she works through this very well. Nikhila Vimal is once again seen as a talented actress, extending her good work from Njan Prakashan and Aravindante Athithikal. Saniya Iyappan has the early shorter presence, and as we had seen her effectiveness in horror with Krishnankutty Pani Thudangi where she was the only saving grace, we were expected more of her presence there. Ramesh Pisharody and Jagadish are also given some early moments in here. Venkitesh VP whom we have known from the television show Nayika Nayakan also has done some good work. Baby Monica also contributes nicely once the horror side begins. She excels in displaying that scary side which is brought to light in the second half of the movie.

How it finishes :: The Priest was among the much awaited movies with Mammootty in the lead, and it has come late due to COVID-19 pandemic – according to the reports, it has still managed to be a profit-making venture, even with the theatre occupancy being controlled. The Priest is the one Malayalam movie which brought the viewers to the theatres and made sure that the business was running smoothly. As it has released on the OTT platform of Amazon Prime, one can now watch the film without those fears which we had earlier. The Priest is not only on a path towards being a stylish horror movie, as it is also an innovation in having a release on an OTT platform a month after its theatre release – it is a path which many more movies can follow, as there are other films which need to be released, and we are still facing the worst case of that one grand pandemic. With the clouds bringing darkness early in the afternoon, The Priest makes an interesting thriller for the time, even though it could have been bigger and smarter.

I also wish everyone a Very Happy Vishu! Stay safe and enjoy the day 🙂

Release date: 11th March 2021 (Theatre), 14th April 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Jofin T Chacko
Starring: Mammootty, Manju Warrier, Nikhila Vimal, Baby Monica, Venkitesh VP, Saniya Iyappan, Sivadas Kannur, Jagadish, Lishoy, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Ramesh Pisharody, Kochu Preman, Ameya Mathew, TG Ravi, Dinesh Panicker, Kalabhavan Haneef, Naseer Sankranthi, Sminu Sijo, Jeeva Joseph, Shiny T Rajan, VK Prakash, Meera Nair, Thomas Kuriakose, Jayadevan, Manoj Chennai, Sohan Seenulal, Madhupal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Njan Prakashan

What is the movie about? :: Prakashan (Fahadh Faasil) is someone who is looking for easy money instead of going for the profession that he is skilled in – the job of a male nurse in one of the hospitals in the state or even the nation doesn’t seem to appeal to him, as he wastes his days doing nothing useful other than complain. His hope for a better job sees some light when he once again meets his former lover Salomi (Nikhila Vimal) who studied in the same nursing college. He was consistently avoiding her as she wasn’t that rich as he expected her to be. But the information that she is leaving for Germany to work at a salary of above three lakhs, his love for her quickly returns to him. He hopes to marry her and go to Germany, only to divorce her and marry someone from a rich and reputed family later. For achieving the same, he begins showing his love towards her and her family in different ways.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Now known as PR Akash after changing his original name, he is determined to leave for Germany, whatever happens. He seeks the help of his father’s former student Gopalji (Sreenivasan) who is a labout supplier, and even learns German after shifting to the city. For achieving his German dreams, he even pretends to be an orphan and secretly marry Salomi at the register office. He even tries and succeeds in getting the remaining cash which is needed for her to leave for Germany. Everything seems perfect until her father lands in the hospital. Twist of fate lands him at another place, as a male nurse to a rich child Tina (Devika Sanjay) who has been an eternal pain to her nurses until they left, and he also comes across Shruthi (Anju Kurian) who is struggling to keep her life going after the death of her father. For him, Germany no longer is the option or the dream.

The defence of Njan Prakashan :: There are some wonderful performances to power this movie, and along with the same, it also holds a mirror in front of the society – it is more or less a satire, as we see more than one people you know in the form of Prakashan. Our protagonist is someone who is not willing to work hard thus choosing any chance for easy money, complaining about one thing or the other, being sceptical and jealous about others, and more. We do meet people having these qualities often, which is why the movie becomes a reflection of those around us. The movie as a satire is funny, but not throughout, and it leaves us with some questions, along with invoking the emotional side slightly as well as brutally. As the movie reaches the end, it becomes that morality tale which has the lesson being taught as it finishes. The second half of the movie is top quality, racing ahead of the first, towards glory in the end with the climax and beyond.

The claws of flaw :: Njan Prakashan could have been more natural and it would have been as good as Maheshinte Prathikaaram – instead, this one has been polished, and certain cliches have been added, with the progress being more or less in an old format. The repetitive mode of comedy is rather strange considering the fact that these moments have a lot more to contribute to the overal quality of the movie. The first half of the movie is kind of dull in most parts, with jokes being present at times, and it doesn’t work at some points either. If the first half was reduced in length and more was added to the second, that would have helped the movie further. There is also the absence of some good songs, which should be the selling point of such flicks. We also see no attempt to capture the beauty and tranquility of the villages, as the same could also been positive addition to the movie. The talk about migrant labour population also gets nowhere in the end.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is once again the man to look out for, as there are shades of Maheshinte Prathikaaram in his character, and the same is combined with the other side of his character in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. Fahadh easily manages this role with every ingredient that the character needed, and it comes as no surprise for us, considering the variety he has been bringing until his last movie, Varathan. We see him excelling in the natural fun moments as well as those strong emotional moments. The change that comes within the character is also nicely displayed by him, and is complete by the end. He also gets to show some shades of his character in Oru Indian Pranayakadha, the earlier combination between him and the same veteran director. The role from Carbon should also be coming to one’s mind as part of those different, yet similar faces of the man who has shown us many faces on the big screen.

Further performers of the soul :: The two heroines of the movie are Nikhila Vimal and Anju Kurian. Nikhila who had her first lead role in Love 24×7 was last seen in another wonderful performance in Aravindante Athidhikal. Anju’s lead role in Kavi Uddheshichathu was a memorable one. The former leads the first half while the latter influences the second. Both are perfectly suited for their roles, and we look forward to seeing them in more movies. Devika Sanjay who plays Tina in this movie with her debut, makes her first one grand, without doubt. She is someone for the future of the industry without doubt. The different shades of a lone school girl is nicely portrayed by her. Sreenivasan remains strong throughout the movie, even though one would feel that his character could have been a lot funnier consider the role and the setting.

How it finishes :: Ente Ummante Peru, Thattumpurath Achuthan, Pretham 2 and Njan Prakashan have been the Christmas moves, and all of them have been doing pretty good, with Odiyan also staying there. Well, the best of the year, Joseph is not finished yet, and we know that there are so many options out there. Among these movies, Njan Prakashan surely has an advantage, because of how it ends, and regarding how it can be connected to the common man’s life. As the year comes to an end, there are things that we need to make sure about, before taking those new year resolutions. Njan Prakashan is that kind of a movie which helps one to do that with ease. The change that needs to happen, is clearly shown in this flick, as we look forward to another year, a better one, with better us.

Release date: 21st December 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Sathyan Anthikad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Nikhila Vimal, Anju Kurian, Sreenivasan, Aparna Das, Aneesh G Menon, Sabitha Anand, KPAC Lalitha, Veena Nair, Manjula, Manjusha, Jayashankar, Munshi Dileep, Devika Sanjay, MG Sasi, Shania D’Souza

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aravindante Athidhikal

What is the movie about? :: The movie is set up in the area around the Mookambika Temple in the Udupi district of Karnataka. Abandoned by his mother in the temple premises at an early age, Aravindan (Vineeth Sreenivasan) was adopted by Madhavan (Sreenivasan) who made sure that he grew up to be an energetic and educated young man. Madhavan and Aravindan are running a lodge near the temple, and are trying their best to keep up with the rising competition in the name of religious tourism and spiritual journeys, a case in which religions and regions and competing which each other to bring new holy places into the picture. Meanwhile, Girija (Urvashi) and her daughter Varada (Nikhila Vimal) arrives as his new guests at the lodge. Due to some unexpected circumstances, Varada’s performance at the temple is delayed, and in the mean time, Aravindan and her become very good friends.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As a few days pass and she has to leave due to the death of her uncle, Varada feels that Aravindan should give up simply waiting for his mother and start searching for her – Varada herself takes it as her duty to find her with the help of some of Aravindan’s friends. While practising at Sreejaya Nair’s (Janaki Subramaniam) dance academy at Kumbakonam, she is still looking for clues to find the one lady who abandoned her child at the sacred place, and never really looking back. But the question remains if it is easy to find such a person with no solid clue except for some drawings which Aravindan has been preparing since childhood. Well, Varada is not someone who could be disheartened that easily, and will come back to Mookambika for their team’s performance, and there will be at least one good news for Aravindan. What could that be, in the sacred lands?

The defence of Aravindante Athidhikal :: The movie is perfectly targeted at the family audience rather than anyone else, and the whole thing seems to be well directed towards the particular direction. The music is very good and suits the mood of the movie, as it supports the emotional side, and brings us to that final feel-good factor. There are some nice shots of Mookambika and its surroundings, and we feel the mood of the sacred town more than once. We have some interesting characters too, some who wishes to fly on the wings of hope, and others just keep the hope at home, for without it, there might be no tomorrow. As President Snow says in The Hunger Games, it is hope that remains the only thing stronger than fear – we need it, and people decide on how much. Well, there is no shortage of hope in a holy town. With some simple funny moments and the strong emotional side, this movie gets home without trouble.

The claws of flaw :: The story might feel a little outdated for some people, as old wine in a new bottle, but if that wine is still not that bad, one has to wonder why the audience wouldn’t like to have some. The movie also ends rather too soon, and we know that it is the finish when the credits start rolling. We could have also had more with its core tale, which can go beyond the usual stuff, but that attempt is not made here. With a holy town in the middle and the same made colourful, maybe we could have had things to go a level further up – but the movie is satisfied with just this much. There is no dramatic twist that awaits you in this movie, as it keeps the journey straight and simple, or rather too direct for some people. If you are looking for that extra dose of melodrama, it is not going to be there because we see the attempt to have things going closer to reality than anything else.

The performers of the soul :: Vineeth Sreenivasan and Sreenivasan plays the family again, and even though adopted this time, they are no less father-son in effect. Both have their roles nicely matching them, and got their characters as no challenges, doing well at all moments, whether it is about adding some extra fun moments or to contribute to that deep emotional side. Well, we always have certain minimum expectations when the two come together, and it is once again proven that the duo has the strength to keep the whole thing close. These are times when the family movies are needed, and there are no people better than these two to do so. The presence of the family audience in the theatres is more due to the two being there rather than anything else. Urvashi is there with some fun moments after some break, and Aju Varghese along with Bijukuttan further contributes to the funny side with ease.

Further performers of the soul :: Nikhila Vimal has come back to Malayalam movie industry after Love 24×7, and it feels great to have her back at a time that we seem to need someone like her – she has the type of skills that are above the usual actresses that we have here, most of them seemingly here due to recommendation or by having someone in the cinema field. Nikhila stands tall with her performance here, and each moment, whatever it deals with, she scores. She is a wonderful talent that all of us need here, rather than in another industry. After her introduction, it is more about her rather than anyone else. Sreejaya Nair is a nice addition to this tale, and in between, we have Vijayaraghavan, Premkumar and Kottayam Nazeer contributing to the fun. Baiju and Sneha Sreekumar are there for initiating the comic side, as we see in the beginning. KPAC Lalitha is again there playing a mother figure.

How it finishes :: Well, Aravindante Athidhikal is that kind of a movie that is determined to touch your heart, and also leave a smile on your face in the end. It is the feel-good movie that can rise above the others due to its ability to keep things direct and enjoyable throughout its run-time of two hours and two seconds, a length that leaves no chances to drag in between. It is rather surprising that this movie had less publicity compared to the other movies released on the same day, Avengers: Infinity War, Uncle and Thobama. Well, Panchavarnathatha and Mohanlal are still running too. You are not going to regret watching Aravindante Athidhikal on the big screen, and watching with family would be a wonderful experience – well, this is the holiday season, and watching this one with family might be the right choice. After all, feel-good never leaves our industry, as there is always more of the kind.

Release date: 27th April 2018
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: M Mohanan
Starring: Vineeth Sreenivasan, Nikhila Vimal, Aju Varghese, Sreenivasan, Prem Kumar, Vijayaraghavan, Urvashi, KPAC Lalitha, Baiju, Sneha Sreekumar, Bijukuttan, Sreejaya Nair, Kottayam Nazeer, Shanthi Krishna, Devan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Love 24×7

love24x7 (1)

What is it about? :: Roopesh Nambiar (Dileep) is a well-known television presenter and anchor working for a popular channel called Naalamidam. He enjoys almost a celebrity status among the people with his special shows. Kabani Sugathan (Nikhila Vimal) is a trainee who joins the channel, and very soon, the two become very close to each other, falling in love. Umar Abdullah (Sreenivasan) is a godfather kind of figure for them, and also their superior. Dr. Sarayu (Suhasini) is a family friend of Roopesh and Kabani’s stay is arranged with her. With her husband dead and son living the United States of America with his wife and child, she feels lonely, but is happy with the company of her old friend Dr. Satheesh (Sashi Kumar) who is a divorcee. Things seem happy, but is it really so?

The defence of Love 24×7 :: The biggest advantage of this movie is the first half which never drags or bores even for a second. There is a happy feel-good thing going on here and with some nice jokes within the limits, this movie keeps our interests high going into the second half. The first one hour and a few minutes can be considered as realistic and charming happy hours which do this movie a lot of good. The performances make sure that things work as expected. There is the presence of not many cliches here, and despite a big tendency, this one doesn’t go the way of another movie with Dileep and the same theme – Swa Le. There is a certain message against the coporate culture and capitalism, and even though that too struggles, it is the better one among them all; the rest are incomplete and meaningless.

The claws of flaw :: The characters are not without faults. Kabani remains the most developed character here, but that too is not without a struggle. The second half starts going down, and the latter part of the second half goes a lot further down. The climax has the incompleteness of the main plot, and chooses to complete the secondary plot and gives us the idea that it will complete like the secondary one some day later. It is like completing the secondary mission in a computer game and failing to finish the main objective, which will be considered a loss in that case. Well, the message that the life repeats itself has very rare chance of happening, and so this incompleteness waiting for a complete flourish and finish later is unreal. The messages which seem to be incompletely told are all pretty much ridiculous.

Performer of the soul :: I had missed Dileep’s earlier movie, Chandrettan Evideya due to having some exams, but I did hear from my trusted sources that it was a nice change for Dileep, and this one also proves to be the same. His last movies from Kammath & Kammath through Sringaravelan and Nadodimannan reaching Villali Veeran and Ivan Maryadaraman is not kind of Dileep that we wanted. They were all too repetitive, and going down in quality even as simple comedy movies – terrible jokes were increasing. But this movie bring the man back to the audience with that change which is readily acceptable. There is no need for big performances here, and it is a role which should have come easy for an experienced actor like Dileep, and he just manages things. Yes, Dileep is back and has moved away from the fake entertainers brought to the audience in the name of comedy.

The lady soul :: The rest of the cast also evokes our interest. Among them, you notice a beautiful face you have never seen before. The newcomer Nikhila Vimal does very well in a role which demanded more than one mode of performance, and in every case she manages her side with utmost sincerity, as it seems – a quality rarely found with a new actress. She is there are the struggling newbie from a rural background and then as the news anchor in a leading channel; the former remains her finer territory. Emoting without any impediment and the slang working very well for her, she adds to the list of the interesting new faces in the Malayalam movie industry. Seemingly very natural in her beauty and the performance, her only problems come from the story and the characterization, because it is clear that she has given a notable performance. The final few moments do her as well as her character no favour though.

The other performers of the soul :: We have Suhasini back in Malayalam movies again; even though she was there in Kalimannu, she hasn’t been that much present in a big way in the Malayalam movies since 2009 flick Makante Achan. It is good to see her doing an interesting and emotional role again. Sashi Kumar also looked so good in his performance, as with him, there was a certain amount of charm even to a character which was going to go unnoticed in a normal situation of events. There is a certain search about the cast done whenever the actors list is provided, and this one has lead me to a movie called Kaya Taran directed by this same actor, and reading on the same gives a feeling to know more about the work. Sreenivasan and Lena Abhilash has the roles which are no trouble to them.

How it finishes :: The director of this movie, Sreebala K Menon is also an author who won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for ‘Best Humor’ for her work – 19, Canal Road in 2005. She is also known to come up with some socially relevant short films and documentaries. She has worked as the assistant director in a number of movies, and it is time to welcome her to the Malayalam movie industry and Love 24×7 will do just fine. Love 24×7 should do okay this weekend because none of the Malayalam movies have managed to really meet the expectations. There are movies which can be watched, but none to create that impact which should be part of the festival season. Let us hope that these Malayalam movies stay enough for people to watch at the theatres itself.

Release date: 18th July 2015
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Sreebala K Menon
Starring: Dileep, Nikhila Vimal, Anjali Aneesh Upasana, Idavela Babu, Lena Abhilash, Suhasini Maniratnam, Manju Pillai, Thesni Khan, Sashi Kumar, Krishna Prabha, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Sudhi Koppa, Sidhartha Siva

love24x7

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.