Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela

What is the movie about? :: Chacko (Lal) and Sheela (Shanthi Krishna) are a couple in the city who are going through their usual days. The former was working at Kuwait until a few years ago, and the latter is a Chemistry professor at the nearby college. While their youngest child Sarah (Ahaana Krishna) lives with them, their eldest child Mary (Srinda Arhaan) lives with her husband Tony (Siju Wilson) nearby. Their only son Kurien (Nivin Pauly) is working at London, and it has been some time since he last visited India. It is during one of these days that Sheela develops a doubt if she has breast cancer. The talk about the same frightens Chacko, who consults his good friend and dentist Varkichan (Dileesh Pothan). The man refers Chacko to a reputed doctor of a famous hospital in Cochin, Saiju (Saiju Kurup) who has cured many patients suffering from cancer. After consulting him and undergoing the tests, they confirm the same, that she does have stage two breast cancer.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is at the same time that Kurien returns to Cochin for spending a forced break, as Sheela had called and asked him to come as soon as possible without saying any reason. He gets the feeling that she had called him to get him married, as most of the other relatives of his age have been married already, and his siblings also share the same thoughts. The only other reason could be related to their grandfather, but he has been the same for years, and there is absolutely no change regarding his health. Chacko, who is afraid of the disease, struggles to even talk about it to his children – but one day, he manages to let them know the truth after a series of misunderstandings. Everyone in the family is shocked and sad, and are cent percent confused about what to do next. The family which had things going straight without any intermissions, gets a lot of thinking to do after that revelation.

And what else is to follow in the adventure in the land of crabs? :: Kurien’s only relief is his long lost friend Subbu (Krishna Shankar) whom he meets after a long time. Sheela tells her family to support her happily, but everyone remains sad and depressed. They decide to get a home nurse to look after the grandfather as Sheela is not well. Their search for one ends with Yesudas (Sharafudheen) whose conditions are agreed upon. Meanwhile, while taking his mother to one of the chemotherapy sessions, Kurien meets a girl from Bangalore named Raichel (Aishwarya Lekshmi) who had arrived in the hospital with her parents, as her father also had cancer. They become good friends, and Kurien feels very much attracted to her. Meanwhile, Sarah is also in love. Chacko keeps struggling to make himself adjust to the understanding and fear of his wife’s disease. In this newly confused world, the battle between chemo and the crab goes on.

The defence of Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela :: There are two sides to Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela – a humorous one and the emotional one. The humour is there in the movie all the way – the light-hearted side of this flick will make it a much loved title for this Onam season for the families. The emotional side is there, as the family is shaken by the unexpected trouble, and we see how they overcome the same, but never missing out on bringing a little comedy here and there. The balance which has been maintained here without letting the flick stumble into some kind of melodrama, is a remarkable achievement. The use of the right cast also makes sure that things work better. The movie leaves us with the message that it is the unexpected twist in life that makes us stronger, and it is the difficulties that makes us capable of more – positivity added there when the trap of hopelessness is present. Along with the same, it is once again re-iterated that family is that important, and it would come over almost all the other things in life; something that most of the new generation would need to realize at some point.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does take the safe route rather than trying anything special or unexpected. It might be rather too simple for the liking of some people, unlike Adam Joan, the other good movie of the Onam-Eid season which makes sure that it is more like the exact opposite of this movie – like a mirror image which reverses things. Well, we have interesting movies at both sides of the mirror, and it is a positive sign for the Malayalam movie industry. Yet, one wonders why it was so necessary to add a romantic side to this movie which adds nothing more than a little bit of cuteness along with a song – without the same, this one would have finished in less than two hours, and Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela would have had no moment of deviation from its beautiful family stuff. In a world when youth wishes for quick movies, the movie’s dilatoriness will trouble more than one person, but if you relate to the characters well enough, such a problem can vanish into thin air. There could also be people who want some parts of this movie to be more serious; well could have been even more touching for sure.

Performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly goes through his role comfortably, as the lazy, Lays eating, London-er with more Keralite thoughts than anything else. There is also a little bit of romantic side for him here, but it is once again the family stuff that he gets to handle, and does very well. When the movie is cute, and the hero is Nivin Pauly, I wonder what can stop the family from rushing into the theatres. It has been a long time since we saw Shanthi Krishna, and it is good to see her back, and she remains the strong point of this movie from the beginning to the end. Lal also joins in and makes this role exactly at the right place. Ahaana Krishna’s second role also seems to be a good choice, as she seems to be doing what Aima Rosmy Sebastian has been doing – she has more to do than the heroine, Aishwarya Lekshmi who has a memorable presence, but gets less time on screen. The Aluvaite Premam team has kind of a get together with Siju Wilson, Krishna Shankar and Sharafudheen there, and strengthens the funny side, and so does Srinda.

How it finishes :: You will find Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela from the debutante director Althaf Salim to be a treat for the whole family, even without trying anything huge. It stays close to life and closer to the heart with those simple moments of life, and simpler instances of comedy being nicely woven into the plot. One has to wonder how well Nivin Pauly has been choosing his movies – from those dual releases of Ivide and Premam, it has been such a fantastic journey. The last three movies, Action Hero Biju, Jacobinte Swargarajyam and Sakhavu have been different in core, and all three of them are worth the appreciation. Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela continues that sequences of interesting movies. With the Tamil movie Richie supposed to come up soon, our movie here will raise hope to an even higher level. As of now, there is no void as it has been at certain points of time, and we have enough to enjoy this vacation season. I wish all of my readers a Happy Eid, as well as a Happy Onam in advance! 🙂

PS: Relate the crab to cancer, and there is more than one meaning which you can take from “the land of crabs” in the title.

Release date: 1st September 2017
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Althaf Salim
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Lal, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Ahaana Krishna, Shanthi Krishna, Siju Wilson, Srinda Arhaan, Krishna Shankar, Sharafudheen, Dileesh Pothan, Saiju Kurup, Sidhartha Siva

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Adam Joan

What is the movie about? :: Adam Joan Pothen (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a rich planter living in the high-ranges of Kerala. His friends are all married, and the fact that his own brother Alan a.k.a. Unni (Rahul Madhav) fell in love and married Swathi (Bhavana), settling in Europe, got his mother worried about his ways. Adam is still content working with his plantations, which he is hoping to develop further, until he meets Amy Andrews (Mishti Chakraborty), the lead singer in a group performing in churches. They meet each other multiple times, and there is not much trouble in making her alcoholic father Andrews (Maniyan Pillai Raju) agree to their marriage. They travel to Scotland for their honeymoon, and rest of his family has also settled there. There, a tragedy occurs, and Adam has to be separated from his family. It is only years later, that they would meet again, and that would be on the occasion of another tragedy.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: One one of those usual days of Lent, right after the Holy Mass, Unni and Swathi has their child kidnapped by a group of masked men who kills Unni’s mother who resists. Adam who was about to come and visit them, arrives to attend his mother’s funeral, much to his dismay. Learning the news of the child’s abduction, he decides to stay, but his brother and wife wants him to go back home, which surprises him. The two decides to go on with their routine job leaving it to the cops on whom they put trust, but the police are also very less interested in the case – Adam is certainly not satisfied. From his best friend Syriac (Narain), Adam comes to know that the number of kidnapped children has been increasing in the last few years, and the police has had very limited success in tracking down those who were behind the same. While trying to do something about the missing child, he would stumble upon his own past, and there is something about a flashback which has events which have directly or indirectly lead to all these incidents.

The defence of Adam Joan :: You will witness quality on screen, and it doesn’t matter how you look at it. The technical side is indeed splendid, and the visuals of the Scottish countryside, whether it is the farmlands, the hills, the rivers, or the ruins, brings a mystical feeling – there are so many shots taken from a distance, and those taken from higher above will give you a wonderful feeling about the beautiful landscape of Scotland. There is no need for a better advertisement for the area as a tourist destination. The soundtrack is superb, and it nicely adds to the dark side of the movie, which only builds further as the movie progresses. How the makers have used the visuals, the music, as well as the cast to transform an average narrative to an interesting experience on the screen, is an achievement as well as a powerful statement about how much our industry has changed, and shifted the focus towards quality in even simplest aspects. You will see that even with a hero in protagonist, the focus is spread wide. There are also some twists to go with the same.

The claws of flaw :: You are sure to feel a certain lag in between for this movie, and most of it is during the earlier part of the second half, as the first half does end in an interesting manner, setting up things to go further with the latter part. When you see such quality with its shots on the big screen, you also expect the tale to get better and bigger by the end, but that doesn’t happen, with the investigation not getting its due completely. There is also the early destruction of romance, and the only lighter side of this movie is around that one super-hit song – the rest remains dark; you will also notice that even the incidents in the end happen in a darker setting. There are some elements of horror which the movie could have used, and we could have also had more terrifying sequences with the theme that the flick deals with. There was scope to add more thrilling sequences, but the movie chooses to lag on those occasions. This slow pace could have been avoided by decreasing the overall length of the movie.

Performers of the soul :: It is Prithviraj’s mass appeal as well as intensity that drives this movie right from the start – he begins well with emotional and romantic side, and goes on to portray that intensity around the dark side with a performance that will ascertain his place as the master of darker thrillers. You remember Memories and 7th Day which did the same, and this flick also makes it to that list. After two much talked about movies this year, Tiyaan and Ezra, he continues a good run – it is to be noted that there is also a Jewish touch in this movie as it was in the movie featuring the Jewish dybbuk. Even his protagonist never really overdo things as one would have feared – there is only one big action sequence in the end, which is rather stretched, but executed well. It seems that this genre will take him as a permanent player, and you will love some of the dialogue his character gets to deliver – like Liam Neeson of Taken. Still, there might be nothing as good as Memories.

Further performers of the soul :: Mishti Chakraborty is there only for only that super-hit song, and a few more scenes, and we sadly would have to wait more till we get to see more of her in Malayalam movies. She doesn’t get to come up with an impact like Wamiqa Gabbi did with Godha, with not much of a focus on her character other than being the love interest of the protagonist for a short interval of time – still, the song surely did some trick for her. Even though she is paired opposite Prithviraj, we see that the chance for performances go to Bhavana and Lena who get more to do with the twists in the tale. The former was last seen in Adventures of Omanakkuttan, and her character has more than what meets the eye, and so does Lena’s. It is also good to see Rahul Madhav getting more roles, as he supports well in this one. Narain does a good job, but it is rather a single dimensional role with one focus, and you will find just one reason for his character’s existence. He gets to bring the twists to the tale too.

How it finishes :: Jinu V Abraham, on his directorial debut, has brought a marvel on the technical side when you watch it on the big screen, and the same makes one forget its flaws. You might be reminded about some Hollywood movies, but when it is more related to the wonderful technical side than the rest, you will feel good. The competition that this movie has for Onam seems to be a lot, but one can safely say that this flick will be among the winners. There is no reason why you wouldn’t want to go on a virtual trip to Scotland, and at the same time, watch the dark side getting unleashed and being chased by our hopeful protagonist. The exact definition of what you would watch on the screen would be “quality”, and it is this quality that will separate this movie from the rest. I leave you with the beautiful song from the movie which went on to become a big hit. At the same time, I wish all of my readers a Happy Eid, as well as a Happy Onam in advance! 🙂

Release date: 1st September 2017
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Jinu V Abraham
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Mishti Chakraborty, Bhavana, Lena, Narain, Rahul Madhav, Jaya Menon, Madhusudhan Rao, Maniyan Pillai Raju, Sidhartha Siva, Benny Bereal, Mark Strange, Danny Darren

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

God’s Own Cleetus

cleetus (3)

I have taken the liberty to anglicize Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus into God’s Own Cleetus just like how Daivathinte Swantham Naadu becomes God’s Own Country. No, this is not that much of a lovable character to be baptised twice, but it is the effort of the actor behind the character and the way in which he has done justice to that character which makes Cleetus our own. Yes, you might find the world of this movie asking for a better treatment, but for a debutant director and the background which has been used, this is a very good recovery for a movie which didn’t impress the audience by its trailer nor with the brief storyline which was shared. Let me be clear about one thing; this movie could have gone either way, to the depths of abyss or to the heights of the lost paradise regained. If there is a question about where it stands at the moment, it is a long way from that abyss. Yes, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus has survived, and did use its survival instincts well enough to add on to that survival guide new stories of goodness and faith. If you don’t like this movie, that is still understandable, but it can never stoop low enough to deserve hatred, that is where this movie plays safe, and it is how this movie shall hold on to its audience during this Onam vacation.

It will be facing a tough competition from the most awaited movie of the Onam, Dileep’s Sringaravelan, a possible surprise in the form of Indrajith Sukumaran’s Ezhamathe Varavu, and an interest-seeking Fahadh flick North 24 Kaatham, as we leave D Company out of that list. The Hollywood’s challenge in the form of Grown Ups 2 has self-destructed, and Bollywood’s John Day along with Horror Story are too much limited in shows with an adult-rated Grand Masti not to be an Onam favourite for sure. With pretty much a good competition in store, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus might not be expected to do that good, but the verdict for the other Malayalam movies are not really out yet. Why would we still need movies like this to survive? Because it has tried its luck in an unfamiliar territory even if the fuel is a familiar one. It has a little bit of Chamayam, Pranchiyettan and The Saint and Amen in it, hidden well, but not from the eyes of experienced movie watchers. But, has the movie relentlessly tried to dig these movies out? The answer is no. There is nothing in common as a whole, and our movie has successfully brought out a legacy of its own, not from the ashes, but out of the most valuable sparks which could give rise to a phoenix.

The story tells the story of Cleetus (Mammootty), a feared criminal who causes problems wherever he goes. He is an alcoholic and always ready to do anything for money. As a parish priest Sunny Vadakkumthala (Siddique) chooses him to act as Jesus Christ in a drama as part of a church programme without knowing his true identity, something he does after rejecting a lot of people, chaos breaks loose among the theatre artists. The priest decides to persist with him and his sidekick (Aju Varghese) despite knowing his true identity, in the belief that the experience of being a character such as Jesus Christ might reform him, thus taking a huge risk considering the massive show which is going to happen and the audience expected. If Cleetus changes or makes the people around him change, whether the drama happens or Cleetus makes a clear mess out of it is left to be seen. Will Jesus Christ’s life change Cleetus or will his life change the fate of the drama in a horrible way? The movie answers the question very late, as every time, he would seem to get a little better, the world around him changes needing him to make those adjustments he is not used to make.

The whole movie undoubtedly rests on Mammootty, and as once again he rises to occasion, it is a treat to all the fans and neutral audience alike. No, Cleetus is not Immanuel, Kunjananthan, Bavutty or Mathukkutty, for he is a gunda, and he is surely nowhere near Pranchiyettan. A long list of characters of goodness is teared apart here, as our protagonist starts as the sinner who is not even set on the path to redemption. Unlike the others, Cleetus is a man who rises and takes the chalice of goodness, finishing it with relative ease. There is no denying that the image gets some self-imposed backlashes, but nothing that will not contribute to Cleetus being more and more human, with the shades of grey rather than pitch black – after all who can deny some mood-swings? Do we love Cleetus? The answer would be no. But he gets as close to being lovable as possible for a man seeking redemption, and he seemed to have attained some of it by the end. He comes that far by keeping himself far away from a superhuman image which could come across this time, even as there is no denying the fact that our protagonist beats up a lot of people, something which was expected right from the beginning.

Even as the movie belongs to Mammootty in an undisputed manner, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Thesni Khan handles the humour department quite effectively. Suraj remains the strong link of humour in this flick. Rejith Menon has made his presence felt, as the one and only Romeo character in the movie. Honey Rose is very good in her role, and it a matured character that we see this time. Sanam Shetty has that beautiful presence, something which she carries over from what we saw in Cinema Company, that grace and beauty which was talked about as that of a Greek goddess in that movie; for there is no denying who is the Aphrodite as well as the Juliet in this movie. Vijayaraghavan leaves a mark as one of the villain characters, and so does Kailash. Siddique was at his best, doing a character which he seemed to perfect. It is impossible to keep him out of this world where he once again does a fantastic job. There is a tremendous energy in his character, and also that much needed serenity, the two things which seemed to suit each other very well. One of our favourite comedy stars on television, Ullas Pandalam also makes good mark in the movie.

So, can the worst of people change and go back to God? Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus shows us that all hope is not lost. As the character goes through playing the life of Jesus Christ, his attitude towards life changes too, as a lot of the events in the life of Christ seems to be reflecting in his own world in a small and slightly similar manner. We have a man who has no previous acting experience, like Manoj K. Jayan in Chamayam. No, I am not really comparing, for that one would make it to my all-time favourite list, or may be more than one list. As that monologue in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts” – here Cleetus plays one, and plays it fine and it replaces his real life as his new role, and it didn’t just go away as one of the parts which he played, as it stayed on with him. It is “Quod fere totus mundus exerceat histrionem” (Because almost the whole world are actors) as Petronius is supposed to have given us. Some of us live our part and others play our roles, and in both cases, the path is similar and leading to the same destination.

Well, we know that it is never late to turn to God. It is the faith, belief and hope that is supposed to guide us rather than materialism. Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus comes up with a great spectacle of divinity by the end, something which is comparable to Amen’s final battle of music, even as this one is less about music and more about the scenes. Is there a hidden magic realism in it? Does it have the magic touch of Pranchiyettan and The Saint helping the movie on moving forward? These are questions which can have more than one answers. But for now, this movie has done its part, but not living upto its potential. The life of Cleetus and his transformation could have been a lot more interesting. It was so close to achieving that balance that a little Icarus-sun battle might have brought it closer to its current rating. It is still your choice if you are to choose one man, who is both the saint and the sinner, saviour and the punisher, redeemer and the destroyer, moving from the path of evil to the way of goodness paved by angels and showered by blessings. This is another Pilgrim’s Progress from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. The destiny of Cleetus now stands in the hands of the viewers, and its final fate is yet to be decided.

Release date: 12th September 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Marthandan
Starring: Mammootty, Honey Rose, Aju Varghese, Sanam Shetty, Rejith Menon, Kailash, Siddique, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Thesni Khan, Vinayakan, Vijayaraghavan, Anoop Chandran, P. Balachandran, Ullas Pandalam

cleetu copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.