Drama

What is the movie about? :: Rosamma John Chacko (Arundathi Nag) has always had a desire to be buried in Kattappana, next to her husband, at their own parish cemetery where their ancestors were buried. But as she is in London with her youngest daughter Mercy (Kaniha), she is afraid that she can’t go back home if she is dead, as none of her children are in Kerala or even India. Mercy who used to be a nurse, is married to Dr Mukundhanunni (Shyamaprasad) who is a reputed cardiac surgeon in London after falling in love, and they are settled in United Kingdom with their two little children. Her eldest son Philip (Suresh Krishna) is a millionaire settled in the United States of America while her second son Benny (Tini Tom) is now in Australia with his wife who is a nurse. Her another daughter Ammini (Subi Suresh) is a nurse working in Canada, and has been living there with her jobless husband Anto (Johny Antony).

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: She also has her youngest son whom she loves more than the others, and Jomon (Niranj S) who is living in Dubai has no say in anything. His presence at United Arab Emirates itself is at the mercy of his good friends. So, with her sons and daughters in the United Kingdom, United States of America, United Arab Emirates, Australia and Canada, she is found dead on her bed while asleep. So, now the question remains about her funeral. The idea to which almost everyone agrees to, is that she is to have a funeral at London. For the same, the two elder brothers assign Dixon (Dileesh Pothan), a funeral director who runs his own funeral services in partnership with Rajagopalan (Mohanlal). The desire of the sons to have their mother’s funeral programme to be grand gives Dixon the idea that this is his chance to make it big.

And what else is to follow here? :: Everything seems to be going smoothly, but then, Jomon resists this idea, and asks for a funeral in Kattappana, at the cemetery where his mother had always wanted to be buried. Even though Mercy, as well as Mukundhanunni who is afraid of his mother-in-law’s spirit wandering around the house without attaining peace does agree to the same, none of them has the voice against the elder brothers who decide on it. It is then that Rajagopalan decides to have a say in the process. He feels that the old lady should get the funeral that she had always desired. But Dixon who has taken the advance payment for the funeral function won’t agree to it, and neither will the lady’s sons who got all of these planned very well. So can Rajagopalan find a way to make things happen as well as re-unite with his wife Rekha (Asha Sarath) who had thrown him out of the house in the name of a poem from the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda?

The defence of Drama :: The movie does deal with a situation that could happen very often in future – it is more or less something which has been dealt with in a realistic manner. When we consider the number of our relatives outside India, it makes about twenty five percent, and if it is about someone who is outside Kerala, that can make up to seventy five percent of the total number of people. The movie certainly shows a reality that a lot of people are going to face. The older generation will have their houses and funerals in trouble soon enough. There will be those busy times at some point, when their opinions will not ever come to being something that the new generation will listen to. But it is all based on money, isn’t it? The movie is also a morality tale, with money finally becoming the least important thing. The flick also has some comedy in there, and the visuals when showing England, is pretty good.

The claws of flaw :: The movie seems stretched, without doubt. It does seem too long, and should have been kept short by removing certain parts. Maybe the introduction of Mohanlal could have happened much earlier, and things could have started happening as early as possible. There is also a certain amount of repetition here, and we can see some struggle with the flow. More focus could have been there with the characters, especially the sons and daughters of the deceased lady, and the problem that a new generation of money and career seeking youth gives to the old generation could have been focused better. Also, considering the fact that this movie comes from the director who gave us the flicks like Pranchiyettan and The Saint, Indian Rupee, Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha, Spirit and Thirakkatha, this is not really the movie that we expected.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal doesn’t have any problems with this character as it seems usual and natural for him – there is special to be done or to be divergent. Asha Sarath doesn’t have that much to do here. We note that there are directors here coming in notable roles – Dileesh Pothan, Shyamaprasad, Johny Anony, Renji Panicker, all of them having their interesting moments. Suresh Krishna and Tini Tom plays the two siblings based in United States of America and Australia nicely in their own styles. Kaniha had a rather irrelevant role in Abrahaminte Santhathikal, but here she has a nice role, and has the emotions running strong with this one. Baiju has the funny side to handle, even though the department struggles most of the time. Arundathi Nag plays the corpse for most of the time, but has her moments when not inside the box. Jayaraj Warrier, Shaalin Zoya and Jaffer Idukki got some smaller roles here, but they are notable despite the short stay there.

How it finishes :: How many young men and women go in search of jobs elsewhere, and how many of them remain in Kerala? Do they really settle outside because there are zero opportunities here? It is nice that they show those five nations – United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia and United Arab Emirates. These are those places where our people will never cease to try to go and work, along with more nations in the Middle East as well as New Zealand. But is it always worth it? You will have to think over that with the situations created in this flick. It does leave one with a few things to keep thinking, and that seems to have the focus over the entertaining side. With the challenge there with Kayamkulam Kochunni, Drama seems to have just enough to keep going, and it seems to be a choice not to try to have more.

Release date: 1st November 2018
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith
Starring: Mohanlal, Asha Sarath, Arundathi Nag, Dileesh Pothan, Shyamaprasad, Kaniha, Baiju Santhosh, Johny Antony, Tini Tom, Shaalin Zoya, Subi Suresh, Niranj S, Suresh Krishna, Renji Panicker, Jaffer Idukki, Jayaraj Warrier, Shankar Panicker

<— Click here to go to the previous review, and the review before that.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mooniloraal

Vampire Owl: But there are only two of us.

Vampire Bat: When we are there, the presence of four can be seen.

Vampire Owl: I don’t understand. How can there be four when we are only two people?

Vampire Bat: You need to count the guardian angel too.

Vampire Owl: Doesn’t that make the total as three?

Vampire Bat: No, my guardian angel and yours. It makes a total of four.

Vampire Owl: Are you sure that vampires also have guardian angels? It is never mentioned in the books at the great vampire libraries?

Vampire Bat: Yes, guardian angels are provided without discrimination.

Vampire Owl: Is it a new guardian angel or is it the same as we had before we died and became undead?

Vampire Bat: You are surely angelophobic. The fear for angels is quite common in the case of owlish vampires.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of Ceylon tea].

What is the movie about? :: The three are best friends – Sam (Don James), Jithu (Steve Antony) and the more philosophical of them, Vishnu (Johns Mathew) who is living with the realization that change is necessary, and will happen, as they ponder about their life at Winnipeg in Canada, far away from home. It is a friendship which has been going on for a long time, and is what they consider is forever. Sam and Vishnu meet a restaurant over a cup of coffee, after which they go on a ride in former’s car who tells his friend that their destination is a place where he hasn’t gone, but needs to go at some point. The road through which the car goes is something of scenic beauty, and they enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way, and Vishnu is interested in the surprise which is in store for him in between the busy and rather too modern life they are living.

So, what happens next? :: Their families need them to come back home leaving their life away from home and settle down at their hometown, but they have settled down rather too much to make their return. On their way, their car meets with an accident, but there seems to be no big problem after the collision. At the same time, Vishnu gets a call from Jithu talking about the death of Sam which had just happened in a car accident. This leaves Vishnu confused about the person who is with him in the car and their destination. A rather weird and frightening feeling comes up right from within him. He then shouts to get the car stopped and runs away only to reach a cemetery which has only fallen leaves and tombstones to give company. So, is it true that Sam had died in a car crash? If it is so, who is the one with him? Which kind of demons or spirits are Vishnu hiding from? What is the thing with being at a cemetery far away from the city?

Soul exploration 1: A case of reality and illusion :: Coming up with the tagline “The Strangest Imagination is Reality”, the movie exactly about the same, bringing a mystery in which one is doubtful about what is reality and what an illusion would be. Along with the illusions spread by media and fake news, we also have our own personal illusions which come back to us depending on the situations – on some cases, it is even bigger. The line between reality and imagination is so thin in so many cases that illusions tend to take over. We ourselves have had such feelings more than once, but we are hesitant to talk further about it in fear of the world. We live in that kind of a world where logic gets a better spot compared to imagination and creativity; money gets more value than values – it is a world which is closer to chaos than order, even if it pretends to hold on to the latter.

Soul exploration 2: Friendship and alienation in a land far away :: It feels strange being away from your roots, and even if it is to another city just a few hundred kilometres away, there is that feeling to get back home – the nostalgia and homesickness are things that humans usually can’t live without. It makes people do stranger things, and despite denying the same, there is that feeling about our own lands that come back – unless you are orcs forced to leave your world like in Warcraft, or humans looking for hope in new planets like in the case of Pandorum and Passengers. You have seen similar complications in the underrated Ivide too. In a land a long way away from home, it is friendship that matters the most, and here we have three of them, and their friendship which has something strangely working within – it is what becomes nicely solved by the end. Alienation in an alien land is another level, when you look at it.

How it finishes :: Not to be confused with the 2006 movie Moonnamathoral, Mooniloraal is a short-film which keeps you wondering about what is to happen next. It is the perfect example of another short-film which is smarter than a good number of those full-length movies which have been arriving in the theatres with the labels of being thrillers. Malayalam short-films are coming up with more ideas these days, and Mooniloraal is the reflection of something that has even enough to be made into a full-length movie, as we notice the friendship, thrills and twists maintained in the right balance bringing the clarity between the two, but certainly not radically ending the cycle – it is fittingly established that there are a few things that will never end. Mooniloraal from Triune Productions is the kind of movie that brings the twists nicely, but not without leaving clues – the final twist brings things together, and we once again understand that there is more than what meets the eye.

[Walks into the balcony with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: This is why I told you that I am not going to the lands of the dark elves even if it is on a diplomatic mission.

Vampire Bat: Dark Elves play no role in such cases.

Vampire Owl: Dark Elves use dark magic to cause disruptions in the bridge connecting life and death, leaving some souls trapped in between. It is a crime.

Vampire Bat: But how is it related to this short-film?

Vampire Owl: Didn’t you see the supernatural forces affecting even technology? It is something which only the Dark Elves can do, joining magic with science.

Vampire Bat: You don’t have any proof for that. The other world always finds a way.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but when they are aided by Dark Elves, it is easier. As the Wood Elves, or the High Elves – they will tell you the stories.

Vampire Bat: There is caste-related violence going on between the three groups of elves – do you think that any of them will tell you the truth about the other?

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that they are no more united against the joint forces of orcs and goblins?

Vampire Bat: Well, you need to read The Great Vampire Imperial Times at some point. These days, they even have a special offer for free coffins.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 25th January 2017
Running time: 19 minutes
Directed by (DOP): Jessay Gopuran
Starring: Don James, Steve Antony, Johns Mathew, Rosamma Nelson (voice)

Watch the movie Mooniloraal here:

Other recommended short-films from India: Red Jacket, Mangalyam Thanthunanena, Moonnamathe Vazhi, Invisible Actor, Grace Villa, Culprit, Ima, Mrithyumjayam.

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.