Malik

What is the movie about? :: Sulaiman Malik (Fahadh Faasil) is a leader of a coastal community consisting mostly of fishermen. He is taking a break from the usual activities, and is going for Hajj, when he is arrested by the police. In his coastal village of Ramadappilly, people begin an agitation. A strike is organized to demand his release, and a curfew is imposed on the area. Soon, there are riots in the streets, and the local people take on the police. It seems that there is a political game going on in the background, with corporates having a say in the same, as PA Aboobacker (Dileesh Pothan), the minister from the area also pretends that he knows nothing, and doesn’t support the request to provide some extra security to him in prison. At the same time, there are plans being made to finish Saulaiman in the prison itself, as the police hopes that this would end their troubles, and can finally bring peace to the seaside community.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Sulaiman has had a troublesome past, as he often got into trouble in school itself, and soon lands in the juvenile home, a place where he would have to go again. After dropping out from school with his best friend David Christudas (Vinay Forrt) and Peter Esthappan (Dinesh Prabhakar) he gets into smuggling with Aboobacker and Chandran (Nisthar Sait), who controls most of the happenings in the coast. But there is a rift between the groups, and they split. Sulaiman and David lead the young group which makes inroads into the business, and makes great profit at the expense of Chandran. Sulaiman falls in love with Roselin (Nimisha Sajayan), David’s sister who is the only one from the area who has studied in a college, but not many people know about this interest. At the same time, the new collector, Anwar Ali (Joju George) provides them help to start a new school. But all of a sudden, things take another twist, and Sulaiman develops into another kind of a leader, and it would change the whole equation, leading to the present events.

The defence of Malik :: Malik maintains a certain strength throughout its run, and even with its seemingly lighter moments, the same is maintained. The film goes through the strong message of political games running wild in the background, as everything seems to be planned by people in control, the government and the corporates which use religion for their own purposes, and it is more about the religious identity rather than God as long as it stays with them – of course, this is about the corporates who pay the politicians, especially those who are rather too rich. WH Auden had said about the same in his poem, Refugee Blues, on the plight of humans in comparison to animals and birds due to politicians. There are many threads of revenge and hatred which runs right through here, and some of them also takes some fine, memorable twists. The connections made here are also nice. Here, it has the struggles of the characters, and questions about who is right and who is wrong. It also takes on what happens in between everything, as something more than what meets the eye. The visuals are also really good here, as there are some fine shots of the sea and the surroundings.

Positives and negatives :: There is something that Malik seems to miss in between, some periods of time which could have been better shown here. The ending could have also been better, as the movie finishes without leaving the mark which was set earlier. In the end, there is the understanding that there is no hope, and this is where the movie seems to try and bring the beginning of a repetition. For a film which had this much of a grandeur in store, this kind of a finish doesn’t serve enough of the purpose. Maybe, the lack of triumph on the side of the common man is more or less a reflection of what actually happens in this world where the powerful will continue to reign, and it doesn’t matter who is at the helm. It does show how terrifying it will continue to be, as long as religion is in the hands of politicians, who are more of atheists rather than believers, from the way they use religion for their own advantages. Malik can surely use a more positive sequel too, even if far from reality.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has another film added to the long list of films that have made an impact. He was last seen on OTT, then too on Amazon Prime, with a wonderful performance in Joji, and this one also follows the same suite, but in a different way, as the characters go divergent in both cases. Here, he plays another strong character, and it has been one which the audience has been waiting for, since months ago – the movie has been getting delayed all the time for releasing in the theatres, and it has come to OTT, which is a perfect move, for Fahadh has his admirers everywhere. This performance from him will be listed among the big ones too. He has moments in different points of the main characters’ life, and all these time periods have something special from his side, for the audience to remember. Nimisha Sajayan who was last seen in Nayattu, also has a fine job to do here, which she manages to do without any struggle. She also has a strong role here, and the support that she provides is of high quality.

Further performers of the soul :: The next person who has our attention is Vinay Forrt, who gets into this role with ease. He adds a natural performance to the whole thing. Dileesh Pothan comes in, and plays a typical politician with his own sinister motives, and it is done naturally too. Indrans’ role of the police officer also becomes very much notable. Joju George also has some nice contribution to provide here, and he is supposed to be doing a role which was initially meant for Biju Menon. Dinesh Prabhakar is also here, adding to the totality. Appani Sarath and Sudhi Koppa have some contributions to provide here, and they do it well, only to have only a short stay there, when we were expecting something grand to be there. Salim Kumar also has a comparatively smaller role to do around here. There is the lesser known among the cast who have also done some nice job around here, and it includes Sanal Aman who played the character of Freddy, Parvathy Krishna who played the doctor, along with some police officers and people of the village.

How it finishes :: Malik was supposed to be one grand film to be released in theatre with all the grandeur that it deserved, and even its OTT release, the film maintains some of it. The wait has been worth it, when we look at the movie as a whole. The question would be still be about if it could have been more, as the expectations were that high, and there is the certainty of deviations from what was actually expected after watching the trailer. But the film is indeed strong, and with Fahadh Faasil and Nimisha Sajayan in the lead, you would expect that. Well, it is nice to see that it has finally released, because the same wouldn’t have happened in the theatres soon enough, and releasing something like Marakkar on the big screen will be a big risk even in the month of August, as we see where the COVID-19 numbers are going – it is certainly much above what was expected, and we don’t really see things getting safer with another possible wave on the way. Until then, we can also watch Cold Case, Mohan Kumar Fans, Kho Kho, Aarkkariyam etc among others on Prime again!

Release date: 15th July 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Mahesh Narayanan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Nimisha Sajayan, Joju George, Vinay Forrt, Dileesh Pothan, Anjusha CA, Divya Prabha, Amal Rajdev, Indrans, Jalaja, Salim Kumar, Appani Sarath, Sudhi Koppa, Devan, Dinesh Prabhakar, Rajesh Babu, Meenakshi Raveendran, Rajesh Sharma, Irshad, Abhijith Krishna, Nisthar Sait, Dev Mohan, Sanal Aman, Parvathy Krishna, Devaki Rajendran, Asif Yogi

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Mohan Kumar Fans

What is the movie about? :: Mohan Kumar (Siddique) used to be a huge superstar until he lost the race to the younger stars. He does believe that it was the result of black magic done by his rival actors. After a long gap, he does get a role to play in a critically acclaimed movie, for which everyone feels that he will get an award. His daughter Sreeranjini Mohankumar (Anarkali Nazar), is an interior designer who wishes to be a singer, for which she tries her luck in different reality shows. Krishnan Unni (Kunchacko Boban), is a youngster who is also trying to make it big as a playback singer. They meet at a reality show, and he is also sent to work for Mohan Kumar as the driver by Prakash (Mukesh), his old friend and a struggling producer who is trying to make a film with Kripesh aka Aghosh Menon (Vinay Forrt), a young superstar who is extremely arrogant, and thinks that he is above everyone. Krishnan Unni and Sreeranjini start competing in the reality show, mostly as a team, and Mohan Kumar also becomes fond of the young man who is there to help him.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Kripesh continues to try to make a name in the industry, as his fame rises, and tells everyone that his living together partner Brighty Menon (Deepa Thomas) is a sisterly figure, and fakes different events in which he is shown as a man with love and respect, raising his popularity even higher with PR work. When Arun Rajeev (Adil Ibrahim) and Prakash approaches him with a new film script, his demands only get higher. Meanwhile it is just another downwards journey for the former star, as the critical acclaimed film is taken out of the theatres much to the dismay of Mohan Kumar, who felt that he was going back to that stardom with all the appreciation he received, even more than Kripesh who was originally supposed to be the hero, but was sidelined in front of his fantastic performance. After a fight with Hamsa Randathani (Nisthar Sait), his name is nicely taken out of the Kerala state awards final list, but there is still hope for National Awards – yet, it is to be seen if they can find a way to take it to Delhi with time running out, and a lot more to be done.

The defence of Mohan Kumar Fans :: The movie’s messages are strong, for it is against the vanity and arrogance which has been going on in the film industry. The lack of quality in the visual media is also shown, and it also displays YouTube, Instagram and other social media as what it is, showing how celebrities use fake videos or good for nothing videos just to gain popularity, while skilled performers and quality actors don’t get the recognition they need. Well, if one actress stand outside her home and take a video, it gains so many viewers and appreciation, and it more or less shows the same. Well, you know that literacy means the ability to read and write, and with so many videos being preferred over written content, one has to wonder if it is because of the lack of literacy among people. Our YouTube-Instagram loving celebrities in the film might be suffering from that illiteracy too. It is shown with very nicely prepared humour with fine satire, and the feel-good factor is also high around here. The songs are just okay, and it is not short of some touching moments.

The claws of flaw :: As this movie makes fun of a certain group of people and says the truth about them, such people won’t like it – especially the blind superstar fans, creators of nonsense in YouTube and Instagram as well as those so called celebrities who try to become popular by fake means. For others, they will surely like the film, but they won’t be able to dismiss the fact that this should have had more depth with its content. Mohan Kumar Fans is that kind of a film which could have taken each of its strong elements into another level, but it is certainly not able to do that because it has chosen to travel through a safe path – the feel-good side can always get you over the line, but if you stick on to that, and play safe, it is like aiming for run-a-ball in an IPL match when there is good chance for stroke-play. Maybe, they did so because there was not much of a competition in the theatres with less number of big Malayalam films being released and less number of people watching in the theatres – but that would just be an excuse if we think so.

The performers of the soul :: This one comes after the director’s films which have maintained the feel-good factor at some point, starting with Bicycle Thieves, my least favourite film in a long time, the definite improvement in Sunday Holiday, the bigger improvement in Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and now this film, which also has Asif Ali in a cameo, making all these films Asif starrers. Well, you know that who else was there in all these movies, and it is Siddique, with his biggest role in this movie, as he is the real protagonist here, with everything centered around him, and all things being about him only. It ultimately becomes all about the positive message that is spread through his life, and in that, this movie races ahead of all among the director Jis Joy’s movies, except Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, which was much more ahead in the race. Siddique, the veteran actor, nicely stays at the core of the film, and manages everything in his usual style. If this much was done in a feel-good film, you can guess how much more could have been done if this was a serious tragedy.

Further performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban outside the thriller mode of Nizhal and Nayattu, does have his moments, as he is indeed the hero here, trying to keep the main character happy and ready to take the risks just for the sake of the man. Anarkali Nazar is a lovely addition here, as we see her for the first time, and despite the introduction not being that great, we see that the emotions work really well for her. Among the rest, it is Vinay Forrt who stays with us the most, with one of the best satires on the superstars who can’t really act, but tries to get mileage through videos posted in YouTube, Instagram or any social media. As video medium attracts the illiterate and those who find it difficult to read English, these celebrities get more attention that they need, and being as fake as the character he displays here, their first option will always be YouTube to fake their life in front of the blind fans, who will share the same in social media, displaying their foolishness as much as they can. After Saroj Kumar, his Aagosh Menon strikes gold with the satire.

How it finishes :: Mohan Kumar Fans does take an approach which the movies like Driving Licence didn’t have the courage to take. Instead of taking the side of the common man, it had stood with the superstar and his fans. This movie is courageous in that case, taking the side of the common people, and it focuses on the gracious actor instead of the dumb superstar, the dumbness of the latter nicely shown throughout the film, and it also shows everything fake that has been running through YouTube. We keep seeing those celebrities doing YouTube videos, and we know that they are all fake, but there will always be those people who watch such nonsense posted by such people who are only looking for fame. Well, if a celebrity post any nonsense on YouTube, everyone wants to watch that, and if something sensible is posted on YouTube by the common man, you know how it is left unnoticed – it is such an age, when quality is not rewarded, a common problem with the visual media in comparison to the written one. This is the same reason why people who are looking for easy paths to success without hard work won’t like this flick. For others, this works in varying levels of interest, mostly on the higher levels.

Release date: 19th March 2021 (Theatre), 21st May 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Anarkali Nazar, Siddique, Mukesh, Sreenivasan, Saiju Kurup, Vinay Forrt, Ramesh Pisharody, TG Ravi, Alencier Ley Lopez, Major Ravi, Joy Mathew, Krishna Shankar, Adil Ibrahim, Sudheer Karamana, KPAC Lalitha, Deepa Thomas, Srikant Murali, Anjali Nair, Prasanth Alexander, Sreelakshmi, Sethu Lakshmi, Nisthar Sait

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Finals

What is the movie about? :: Alice Varghese (Rajisha Vijayan) is a cyclist from Kattappana who has evolved to become the national champion under the guidance of his father KP Varghese (Suraaj Venjaramoodu) who has worked as a sports coach in more than one school, and also at his own academy. Varghese is someone who hasn’t achieved much from his career as a trainer, and has all his hopes set on his daughter who is supposed to represent India at the 2020 Summer Olympic at Tokyo from 24 July to 9th August 2020. Before appearing at the event, she is also selected by the National Olympic Committee to have her training in Russia. At the first city in Asia to host the Olympic Games twice, she is supposed to be a clear favourite to gain a medal, finishing far ahead of others in all competitions. Before she leaves for Russia, she hopes to visit her friends and relatives at hometown for the last time, and she returns to Kattappana for the same reason.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: There she meets her childhood friend Manuel Thomas (Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju) one more time. Manuel has been in love with her since school days, and wanted a reply from her for a long time, but she has been evading that question with ease. She visits the school where she studied, after a very long time, and motivates the students there, along with traveling through those places which provides her with a nostalgic feeling. Varghese who has supported the Olympic dream with everything that he had in his life, never really had anything more than that small house, because the dream was the only thing that he lived for. As she makes her return, there is one last race which she will be participating in, before leaving for the Russian training – but there are twists of events that await her, and her loved ones. Fate had a backup plan to bring the twist – well, fate always finds a way, as it would follow here.

The defence of Finals :: The best thing about Finals is that it decides to change its pattern from the usual stuff which has been followed in almost every known sports movie – there would be a sportsperson or a sports team which is facing some kind of trouble, and someone would help the person or the team to rise up to the occasion and win the competition, or at least come close to doing that so that we feel that there would be a victory next year. We have the sportsperson at the top in the beginning itself in this case, and we see what happens later. But the movie is not limited to her, and the neither is it limited to her family or the people around – the world goes further, as there are many issues being discussed despite the budget and the number of big names being so less. There is the corruption and nepotism which are part of sports, which lead to the athletes from the lower strata of the society suffering – except for cricket in which everyone gets something.

Positives and negatives :: Well, it is only when the interval hits you so hard that you realize that there is a big change coming up, making this a very different sports drama – we love both sides of the interval, as each shows something of beauty, and also feeds our emotional so well, along with providing motivation. We can feel those emotions even after we are finished with the movie, a short one lasting only a little more than two hours. The beautiful visuals of the high-ranges also contribute to the same, with some nice songs to go with them. The struggle that the movie shows feels so real, as we know how the athletes other than cricketers are sidelined with ease. The absence of necessities for the other sports-persons, is something that needed attention a long time ago, especially with those games which more than nine or ten nations of the world are interested in playing. One might still feel that this is not the kind of movie they expected from the trailer, but that indeed is the beauty of it.

The performers of the soul :: Rajisha Vijayan is fantastic in a movie which brings more than one face of her, and its a step forward from the State Award winning Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, the two lesser known Georgettan’s Pooram and Oru Cinemakkaran as well as the most recent charming bildungsroman adventure, June. There is deep feeling in her performance, whether in happiness or in grief, whether in determination or in the absence of the same – the emotions can be seen going very deep here, and we are happy to see that she is always one step ahead of the character, with her preparations as well as the final work. The character here is so natural and close to life, further ahead of anything she has played in the past. If Rajisha could’nt pull this off, nobody else could have, and we see that she never struggles in doing the same – she is that good as of now. This could be another award winning performance, and we wouldn’t doubt that.

Further performers of the soul :: Suraaj Venjaramoodu in serious roles has been a revelation in the past, whether it was about a small role in Action Hero Biju or a full role in Thondimuthalum Drikshakshiyum. This is another character which carries a certain amount of melancholy, from which there is no escape – we are also part of those emotions which go deep, as the struggling coach tries to successful at at least some point. There are those emotional undercurrents which we can feel in such a way that they return to us when we are sitting idle and thinking about those moments. Meanwhile, Niranj doesn’t just shine, but glitters in this world, coming with a performance close to life, as a commoner from the hilly side of Central Kerala. We have him touching both heart and soul here with the feelings running heavy. There are those dialogues and his combination scenes with both Rajisha and Suraaj that tests our emotional strength. Tini Tom and Sona Nair provide fine support as his parents too.

How it finishes :: Even though it is announced earlier that the movie is a fictional story, the credits in the end dedicate the movie to the cyclist Shiny Siles who died in a road accident while participating in the State Road Cycle race at Manjeri in the year 2002. With or without it, this movie happens to be one of the best sports drama flicks ever produced in the country, and not watching it will be a crime, if not a cardinal sin. You feel the frustration, hopelessness, anger, fear, determination, hope, and everything else just like the characters do, and as we live a life with these characters, our second and the most realistic part of life, Finals easily becomes the best movie among the Onam releases, rising above the fighting thriller Brother’s Day and the not-so-serious comedy flicks following the same pattern – Love Action Drama and Ittymaani. The number of viewers as of now is surely low for the movie, but if we don’t support a movie like this at the theatre, we would be the barbarians, unless we are cacodemons. Here, I leave you with a song from the movie. Why you would stop yourself from falling in love with this movie and feel deep with it, is beyond me, as Finals come up with that kind of a lovely feeling in multiple ways.

Release date: 6th September 2019
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: PR Arun
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Suraaj Venjaramoodu, Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju, Tini Tom, Sona Nair, Muthumani, Kunchan, Nisthar Sait, Dhruvan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Varathan

What is the movie about? :: After spending a long time in love, two IT professionals working in Dubai, Aby (Fahadh Faasil) and Priya (Aishwarya Lekshmi) gets married, and has been expecting their first child. But as the child dies and Aby is forced to give up his job due to his boss feeling that they can’t afford him anymore, the two decides that their time at the big city is over. Priya wishes to go back to her ancestral home, and they settle down in her father’s estate at Pathinettaam Mile, an area that goes a long way into the highranges. They travel to the new place, and stays at her father’s cottage which has a long history going back to the time of the British. There they come up against the locals who are not happy about their existence there in a modern and foreign style, something which they consider to be against local culture and traditions of the small village area.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is Joice (Sharafudheen) and his friends and relatives including his childhood friend Jithin (Vijilesh Karayad) who had studied with Priya in a school in Pathinettaam Mile that creates most of the problems for them. This gang that has a history of being infatuated with Priya from the school days, decides to take things further by spying on the couple. Priya finds people near the house at regular intervals, and suspects that they are up to no good. The only person who seems to be interested in helping them is the Benny (Dileesh Pothan) who had been taking care of the place in their absence. Aby and Priya find out that there is more problems for them to solve than what were seen, but the question remains if it is that easy for them to survive in a strange world which provides not much for the outsiders.

The defence of Varathan :: There is no shortage of style in this movie, and the music is really good, whether it is in the background or being there as part of some wonderful songs. There is a visual treat for store in here too, a quality which has always been there in Amal Neerad movies, and being at the best in his previous movies, Iyobinte Pustakam and CIA: Comrade in America. The thrills are also strong in this one, and the terror here is real. The movie also asks some relevant questions about the attitude of a lazy, booze-loving, jobless new generation, and also the perspective of a judgmental society which categorizes people by the way they live and how they dress. There is a stylish beginning and a thrilling, extra-stylish ending that is seen in this movie. The movie’s transformation into a home invasion flick in the end has a strange beauty which makes it travel right between the genres.

The claws of flaw :: If you have watched the movies like Don’t Breathe, you know how well the home invasion flicks can turn out to be – Varathan is only partially that, and often you wonder if it does have that genre confusion. Between the beginning and the end, there is the middle part which lags, and got its own problems with keeping the movie going without repetition. The struggle is there, and it is as real as the terror itself. The final transformation is also a little too quick for everyone to follow with a willing suspension of disbelief. The movie trailer had also seemed to suggest more – there was scope for having strange mysteries and terrible secrets being revealed, with the psychological side being stronger than ever. But such a diversion never arrives. The tale could have also been more believable if the setting was different, maybe in some of those areas of NH10.

The performers of the soul :: The movie is Fahadh Faasil’s second one in this year, coming after Carbon which released in January. It has been a long time considering the fact that the works of other actors have been releasing quite frequently. You will find this one as a wait which matters a lot, because it is a wonderful performance that he comes up with. There is more than one phase to his work, as there is stoicism that runs through him in the beginning, and as patience keeps running out, the beast is to be unleashed in the end. The transformation that comes across him is brilliantly shown on the screen, and he has those moments in the end which changes the mood of the film all of a sudden. Well, when he is around, he rises above the movie itself, not with his fans as the superstars do, but with the performance – this one has no surprises there, and we know that the expectations are to be met in that particular department every time.

Further performers of the soul :: There is no doubt about what Aishwarya Lekshmi can do either, as she began with Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela and went on to act in Mayaanadhi, a movie which brought her all the appreciation that a new actress in the field could gather. The intensity that she displays in this movie is something that we haven’t seen for a long time. The emotions are strong with her, and we feel the depth all the time. We have had many actresses who came into the industry and disappeared rather soon, but Aishwarya in one actress who is certain to be here – a movie with Fahadh and her around was always going to a work with some fantastic performances, and that was absolutely true. Sharafudheen comes in an avatar which is different, and that kind which is not usually associated with him, and same is the case of Vijilesh who was last seen in Theevandi. Dileesh Pothan has a nice small role, and Unnimaya Prasad of Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Parava fame as well as Chethan who is best known for Guppy leaves some impact.

How it finishes :: The movie becomes special more because of the treatment rather than anything else. The story might seem like something which you know, and wandering through different genres, the transformation is certainly too quick for some of the viewers to like. But just like his other movies, Amal Neerad has surely brought something for us to remember – it could be one element, and something which is coated in so much style, but we have it each and every time. Mangalyam Thanthunanena which has released on the same day with Kunchacko Boban and Nimisha Sajayan has a very deep struggle in there, and therefore, the success of Varathan should come as no surprise. It becomes an example of a stylish thriller with great visuals, music and a wonderful cast. Ranam had the style, but this one thrives on the thrills, especially at the end.

Release date: 20th September 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Dileesh Pothan, Arjun Asokan, Sharafudheen, Vijilesh Karayad, Nisthar Sait, Chethan Jayalal, Jinu Joseph, Kochu Preman, Unnimaya Prasad, Maala Parvathi, Shobhi Thilakan


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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.