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

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Ira

What is the movie about? :: Dr. Aryan (Gokul Suresh) arrived at Cochin from Kolkata, trying to leave a mark in his own home state, but is accused of murdering the Minister of Forests and Wildlife Protection, KP Chandy (Alencier Ley Lopez) who seemingly dies due to cardiac arrest. The much discussed case becomes a favourite for the media, as the minister was already in the news for corruption allegations, and his son, the next big name in politics, Jacob Chandy (Shanker Ramakrishnan) is looking forward to punish the man who is supposed to have murdered his father. Aryan is accused of being a naxalite and part of a group which is known to target politicians, and police is very much interested in making him confess to this crime. It is during these times that Inspector Rajeev (Unni Mukundan) arrives to take over the investigation from Delhi.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Rajeev doesn’t have a smooth run with the investigation, as the Commissioner of Police, Satheesh Varma (Kailash) is not interested in helping him. Even the people at the hospital seems to be not that much interested in helping him. But beginning with the taxi driver who dropped Aryan at the nearby church, Rameshan (Saju Navodaya), Rajeev begins to solve the mystery. There is more than what meets the eye with this tale, and he soon finds one love story which becomes the core of the whole thing, with Jennifer Jacob (Niranjana Anoop), the neighbour of Aryan, and his own tale of love with a girl whom he met in a forest near Kothamangalam, a long time ago – Karthika (Miya George). Now, the question remains about who is so much interested in framing Aryan as the murderer of a minister, and it is a difficult question to solve.

The defence of Ira :: We can see that the suspense stays strong throughout the movie, and there is the nice use of opportunities for twists towards the end. The first half as well as the second, has its thrilling moments as well as an effective emotional side. The entertainment side is strong throughout its run, and it has the audience interested in the investigation, and the predicament of the main characters. It is something offering a full run of entertaining moments, even adding some jokes here and there, with some of them working well. We can see how much the politicians manipulate people, and how so many incidents are twisted to be of advantage to them – we see where the common man’s place is, and what they are made to believe by putting them into a coma of indirect oppression. The visuals are very good, especially those of the forest, as we see that it is close enough to the locations where Pulimurugan and Shikkari Shambhu were shot – the beautiful world on the other side of Kothamangalam.

The claws of flaw :: There seems to be reflection of real life moments in the movie, but they really have no point here, and we see that they are unable to affect the movie well enough to make an impact worth remembering – these are more or less like the ingredients added to catch the attention of the viewers with the manifestation of a strange visage. We can also guess a number of things about this movie, as there is not that much focus on making sure that all minor twists hold ground. The movie could have also focused more on its title, as its oppressed including the tribals and the common people facing powerful politicians, never really get enough of justice, even though the poetic justice is delivered by vengeance. This could have been a better thriller, no doubt about that – it could have had a smarter investigation, and a stronger backstory which would be able to connect better with the right kind of bridges between the past and the present.

The performers of the soul :: Unni Mukundan doesn’t have any problem with this police role, the kind which he has already done before. From the nice entry in the beginning, he has things under control, with no real challenge being present in there to play this particular police officer for him. Gokul Suresh seems to be getting better with every movie, and we see how things have managed to rise in quality from Mudhugauv to Masterpiece, and now here. Even though Unni Mukundan’s police officer is established as the hero very early, we come to know in the end that all that Gokul’s character did was of high purpose, from the very first moment itself, with or without him knowing about it. There are also signs of a younger Suresh Gopi with his work, and the viewers are sure to wait for more from him. The significance of him being in an action-thriller is displayed so.

Further performers of the soul :: As you will notice here, the movie does have quite an interesting list of actors. The main female lead would be Miya George, even though she has lesser time on the screen, arriving late, and leaving rather early – she is very good in her work here. It is rather surprising that we don’t see that much of her work these days, Niranjana Anoop has more presence, and has done a pretty good job. There is a long way to go for her, in the industry for sure. Alencier Ley Lopez plays the corrupt politician in a nice way, Shanker Ramakrishnan plays a pretty good negative character for most of the time. Lena plays a strong character, that of a lawyer with ease, and Saju Navodaya only has a few moments to bring the laughter, which he manages; so does Nelson during the flashback moments.

How it finishes :: Ira has enough to make sure that the viewers are engaged at all moments. It might not be the best investigative thriller of our times, but it possesses enough in there to make sure that the audience is entertained. One might think that it could have been made better, as the premise was set very well. But it has been difficult to make good stories of investigation for some time in Malayalam industry, and Ira makes sure that something more is added to that genre. Well, thrillers don’t usually have enough support from the audience, unless it has those family elements like Drishyam, and also has a big superstar at the helm. Let us hope that this one has that support, as experimentation in the genre seems to have stopped rather too early. If the early opinions about the movie is going to continue, Ira might be followed by more of similar flicks.

Release date: 16th March 2018
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Saiju SS
Starring: Unni Mukundan, Gokul Suresh, Miya George, Lena, Alencier Ley Lopez, Niranjana Anoop, Shanker Ramakrishnan, Neeraja, Saju Navodaya, Kailash, Nelson, Mareena Michael Kurisingal

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C/O Saira Banu

What is the movie about? :: Saira Banu (Manju Warrier) is a post woman who lives for her adopted son, Joshua Peter (Shane Nigam). Joshua is the son of a photographer who went missing in the forest and was declared dead long time ago, and this particular award winning photographer, Peter George (Mohanlal – voice only) had adopted Saira a long time ago, after her whole family had committed suicide. Joshua is in love with Arundhati (Niranjana Anoop) who studies in the law college just like him, but it goes on only with interest from his side. His other love is for photography like his father, and he tries hard to make something out of this passion with the support of his young mother. He is finally rewarded one day for his hard work as he wins a contest and is selected to go to Paris. But on the same day, some twist of events happen.

So, what happens next? :: There is a case registered against Joshua, which happens to be not as simple as Saira had thought, as this one is a hit and run case, and the victim had died, with witnesses there to testify. As it threatens to destroy his life and career even though he claims that he is innocent, Saira decides to prove that her adopted son is telling the truth. But fighting the case against Joshua is Annie John Tharavady (Amala Akkineni), one of the most successful lawyers, and is determined to win this case too. Joshua and Saira has no option with all lawyers backing out due to one reason or the other. But she will not surrender – still the question remains if she stands a chance against Annie who is determined to get his side to win every time? Where does Joshua’s future go from this situation from where there seems no chance of redemption?

The defence of C/O Saira Banu :: The movie goes through some interesting incidents in the society, including the case of migrant workers, noodles ban, kiss of love protest, and one other thing which was in the news, but can’t be revealed due to its effect on the suspense factor. There is some comedy that is working in the first half, and there is a second half which has a good amount of thrills to go with that unexpected twist to go with the climax – it succeeds in making people guess and come up with an ending which will be acceptable to most of the viewers along with being a nice surprise for everyone. There is also the message about the reality of this world, on what has been happening with a society which has been divided on the basis of class more than anyone can imagine. Along with the same, C/O Saira Banu is a good-looking movie too.

The claws of flaw :: The first half of the movie will feel a bit longer for one’s liking, as the time taken in establishing the mother-son relationship is a little too much, and some of jokes are not that effective either; same is the case of melodrama too. Better comic stuff in the first half would have helped to keep a momentum in the first half, maybe with some more sequences in the college or the post office – even the neighbourhood was a place which had some good scope. The end credits scene also ends without a warning, when you feel that there was going to be something to be added in the end. You will also feel that there is more than one side to a happy climax and ending; there will be questions if that good feeling is really that good, or is it just an illusion of the same.

Performers of the soul :: This one has Manju Warrier playing the titular character, and the most important role in this movie, and we are glad to see her in another role which provides her the prominence that she deserves and works on really well – Rani Padmini was the last one to get her to that level, even though Karinkunnam 6s and Vettah did show the signs. It is for those emotional moments that we need to look out for the most, and there is that bit of determination in her character against all odds which works so well for her. It is her return that has helped the Malayalam movie industry so much to bring the heroine-oriented roles to the front, something that has been struggling to be there. I don’t see anyone doing such roles like she did for quite some time, something that started so well for her with How Old Are You? and might continue in the same way, as we are seeing now.

Further performers of the soul :: Meanwhile, Amala Akkineni makes her return to Malayalam movies after a very long gap – her last two movies were Ente Sooryaputhrikku and Ulladakkam, with Suresh Gopi and Mohanlal respectively, both releasing in the year 1991 – those were also her only two Malayalam movies before this one. She remains solid in her lawyer character in this one, and the character’s determination has a clear reflection on her. Shane Nigam has his second big role after Kismath despite being there for longer – here he plays a character that has almost no happiness, and there are so many similarities to his role in his previous movie; but he manages the same well. Niranjana Anoop has less to do, which she does fine. It is Biju Sopanam who scores the most outside the main list. There are also those names which are underused, from Joy Mathew to Sujith Shankar.

How it finishes :: Unlike what some people had said, Mohanlal is not making a special cameo appearance in this movie, even though his voice is there. There is enough for everyone with C/O Saira Banu, and the family audience will be the one to benefit the most. Coming from a debutante director, this one is more than one can expect while dealing with a topic like this. It is surely the best movie in Malayalam to have released so far – forget those people who are claiming the same for movies which claim to be realistic when they are not, because C/O Saira Banu is the flick that follows the path of Drishyam, as a family movie as well as a thriller, becoming part of two different genres in two halves. This one is certain to weave its magic among the audience, even if a little bit late – watch it now, and try not to figure out why you didn’t watch this one earlier.

Release date: 17th March 2017
Running time: 156 minutes
Directed by: Antony Sony
Starring: Manju Warrier, Amala Akkineni, Shane Nigam, Niranjana Anoop, P. Balachandran, Joy Mathew, Indrans, John Paul, Ganesh Kumar, Jagadeesh, Sunil Sukhada, Biju Sopanam, Sujith Shankar, Mohanlal (voice only)

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Loham

loham (2)

What is it about? :: Jayanthi (Andrea Jeremiah) has reached Cochin from Mumbai in search of her husband Ramesh (Ashvin A. Mathew). She chooses the taxi of Raju (Mohanlal) as she continues that search. Nobody knows anything about him including his own mother (KPAC Lalitha). Meanwhile, there is certain gold smuggling taking place from Dubai to Calicut/Malappuram and Ramesh who is a customs officer is somehow linked to it. But Raju himself has a special objective which he hopes to accomplish. Meanwhile, another man called Albert (Renji Panicker) lands in Kerala from Cochin and is looking for help in achieving something. At the same time, a group of gold smugglers lead by Unni Mohammed (Siddique) keeps searching for their lost gold.

The defence of Loham :: There are those moments which make the defence, and almost every one of them is related to the twists related to Mohanlal’s character. The first half is surely the superior one, and it surely keeps us very much interested in how these things are going to come together, and the division of the two halves is surely done at the best moment. The funny moments are working and they nicely come to keep the movie more interesting. There is also some criticism of the things happening in the state which is sure to catch one’s attention. The thrills are working, the twists are interesting even though we can’t say the same about how the turns happening at every situation – there are times when the focus could have been at one twist only and build on that. There are some memorable dialogues in Loham too, even though some of them could have used a little polishing.

Claws of flaw :: The audience might feel that this is not what they wanted considering the hype. A better result was expected from the direction of Ranjith. There are moments which make one feel more and more that this is not something new, but consisting of thing that they have watched. The predictability exists here and there. Even though the premise is new, the most common comparisons made should be related to Prithviraj Sukumaran’s two movies, 7th Day and Sapthamashree Thaskaraha. There are too many characters in this movie, and they just keep coming to add nothing special. There are experienced performers doing these roles too, and one has to wonder if they were needed in this movie even though they did their job with ease. The movie doesn’t really finish that well as expected, and the songs are very much forgettable. The pace also has too much variation. The mass moments do more bad than good.

Performers of the soul :: Once again, there is no doubt about who steals the show, as Mohanlal seems to go through this character in his usual style, and due to the same, the protagonist is safe in his hands. There seems to be some moments which seems to be custom made for him, which he manage with elegance. He is surely bigger than this movie itself, and manages to bring that charm to his character which helps to keep the level of this movie higher. Even though it takes about fifteen minutes or a little more for him to come to the screen, he holds things together from his very first appearance. This movie needed him a lot, and he has brought the movie the much needed strength. The support that he gets in this movie is from a lot of people that if you note them down with their performances in detail, you can be sure to have a lot of ink and paper ready.

More performers of the soul :: Andrea Jeremiah is the lady lead in this movie, but she is not Mohanlal’s heroine, and neither does she have anything substantial to contribute to the basic story-line despite what we might expect in the beginning. But she manages to do her job very well – still, one has to wonder if she was needed in her third Malayalam movie for this role which could have been done by one from that long supporting list cast, and they could have done without one character which was not needed? After all, this is no Annayum Rasoolum or London Bridge. Ajmal Ameer, Suresh Krishna, Joju George and others make the team of villains among which the one big performer is once again Siddique who does well at many levels. This is another different role for him, and you have to admire his versatility once again!

Further performers of the soul :: Tini Tom, Sasi Kalinga, Thesni Khan, Muthumani and Shankar Mahadevan are just there for a few dialogues. Manikuttan, Pearle Maaney and Srinda Ashab are there, and you might not even have noticed. Mythili and her character’s flashback in the first few minutes never really gets us interested. One has to wonder if she could have just managed the role of the leading lady and this character could have been cut off. Aju Varghese could have also been better used considering the fact that his character had scope. Even someone with the calibre of Harish Perady has very short screen presence. Abu Salim and Renji Panicker are the two most interesting performers in the team of the protagonist – they make very good impact. Vijayaraghavan does the police role in his usual style easily.

How it finishes :: The long list of well-known cast actually work against the movie at times, as people tend to think that the characters are of more importance, but they never really are. Still, the one person who is not a big name, but still catches our attention is the debutante Niranjana Anoop who provides a cute, natural and lively performance – even though she is there only in a small role and the character having not much for the main plot. We know how big the expectations were related to this movie and what kind of hopes they were. We have been watching so many thrillers these days in different languages, and the number won’t come down. So, the opinions will surely be divided about Loham. But I don’t think that this is not entertaining unlike some opinions, because this surely is an interesting ride despite the flaws.

Release date: 20th August 2015
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith
Starring: Mohanlal, Andrea Jeremiah, Siddique, Vijayaraghavan, Gauri Nanda, Renji Panicker, Joju George, Tini Tom, Ajmal Ameer, Abu Salim, Aju Varghese, KPAC Lalitha, Suresh Krishna, Mythili, Musthafa, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Muthumani, Niranjana Anoop, Mohan Jose, Thesni Khan, Manikuttan, Pearle Maaney, Srinda Ashab, Soubin Sahir, Smiju Tom Joy, Harish Perady, Irshad, Ashvin A. Mathew, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Sasi Kalinga, Kollam Thulasi, Jayan Cherthala, Shyamaprasad (cameo)

loham

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.