Lucifer

What is the movie about? :: Kerala is ruled by IUF, and its leader and Chief Minister PK Ramdas (Sachin Khedekar) is a respected figure with a great fan following, not just among the people of his party, but also outside. It is his death which changes things in Kerala’s politics, all of a sudden. Mahesh Varma (Saikumar) who is next in charge finds this to be a golden opportunity to become the leader of the party as well as the Chief Minister of the state. Ramdas’ eldest daughter Priyadarshini (Manju Warrier) along with her daughter Jhanvi (Saniya Iyappan) is the first to come to the scene. Her second and current husband Bimal Nair a.k.a. Bobby (Vivek Oberoi) keeps close watch of the situation at the same time. Even though Priyadarshini and Jhanvi are not after political power, Bobby looks forward to it so that he can use it to spread his narcotics business to Kerala and earn a great amount of money.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, the only son of Ramdas, Jathin (Tovino Thomas) is living abroad. Bobby figures out that he is the one big chance that they have here, and by making him the new leader, could go through the drug business without anyone coming to know. He already has the support of Mahesh Varma and Priyadarshini regarding the same. He uses Jhanvi as a means to go through the family smoother. Govardhan (Indrajith Sukumaran) is one of those people who knows all these, as he had been searching for truth for a very long time – but he finds himself locked inside a mental asylum, thanks to Bobby. But before he is locked up, he finds the one other person who might be part of this power struggle – Stephen Nedumpally (Mohanlal), an orphan who was raised by Ramdas, a people’s favourite leader from the highrange constituency of Central Kerala.

And what else is to follow? :: Stephen Nedumpally is the kind of person none of the power seekers here want to have in the game, and the family also wants no part of him out there. The politicians on both sides, Mahesh Varma on one side and Medayil Rajan (Shivaji Guruvayoor) on the other wants him gone. Bobby is also hoping to make no mistakes, as he is playing a dangerous game involving Abdul (Suresh Chandra Menon) and Fyodor (Frank Free) who are masters of the game in Mumbai. He would have Stephen’s opposition out of the way as the party would be sponsored by the drug mafia. The people in the middle part of all these including Aloshy Joseph (Kalabhavan Shajohn) and Murugan (Baiju Santhosh) will have interesting roles to play as Kerala prepares for the big change. But the question remains about who would gain and loss the most in the battle between evil and evil.

The defence of Lucifer :: Unlike what was expected, Lucifer doesn’t jump into the shoes of a mass movie all of a sudden, and that is the clear advantage that this one has over Pulimurugan. Clearly a better movie having content of quality and rich in ideas, this one rises over the expected mass masala, and becomes more, but at the same time, it never hesitates to provide what the fans want. There is working on two levels, something which Odiyan could have focused on, to become a favourite. There are elements from politics nicely used too, and we get to go through a certain dirty side that attempts to take over politics every time, and may be even succeeds up to an extent. The action scenes are nicely done, and except for a very few, keeps itself in control to make us believe. The control that is maintained in the final scene with the song nicely contributing to it, is also worth mentioning. There is a higher level of making here, and the thrills are of great strength.

The claws of flaw :: The slow motion sequences, even though less in number, could have been avoided. There could have been more of Tovino Thomas on the screen too. Vivek Oberoi’s character could have been bigger terror, something that could pose a challenge that goes a long way ahead. The presence of predictable elements in between, should have been avoided. The references and allusions made in the movie also seems nice, but could have been better connected. There are quotes shown in the end including the one from Lucifer as the tragic figure of John Milton’s Paradise Lost who famously declares “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven”; we also have “Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here” from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest being shown on the screen in the end – is there something left for a sequel? One is left to wonder. The use of media could also been better shown. The movie is also too long.

The performers of the soul :: It is late to review a movie which has reached the 100 crore collection mark already, Pulimurugan, Drishyam, Oppam and this one leading the glory with the rest – almost everyone knows what Mohanlal has brought to this movie as the titular character, and needs no more talk about the same, as Stephen Nedumpally is grand. Meanwhile, the one person who steals the show with less amount of screen time is Tovino Thomas whose moments are nothing less than glorious. Manju Warrier has her fine emotional moments in here following Odiyan. Vivek Oberoi’s villain doesn’t maintain that terror that he seemed to possess in the beginning, but he is a fine choice for the role as we can see. Kalabhavan Shajohn, Saikumar, Baiju Santhosh, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Nandhu – all the characters play the roles of politicians with ease. Meanwhile, we see Shaun Romy of Kammatipaadam making an appearance after a long time. There is a long line of extended support here too.

How it finishes :: When someone like Prithviraj Sukumaran comes up with his directorial debut, you know that there is something special coming up. His previous movies as the leading actor had the Hollywood touch, whether it was the never before science fiction apocalyptic thriller called 9 or the diasporic crime drama set in a deteriorating, decaying city called Ranam – this one has the elements beyond the usual Malayalam movie, and as a flick written by Murali Gopy, we know that there is more. Lucifer is the kind of movie which combines its elements very well, and thus becomes a rare piece of a flick. It can be liked for more than one reason, and there is much to cherish for almost every kind of viewer. Well, this is Vishu and Easter is also on its way, and we have much to watch. For now, I wish all of you a Very Happy Vishu, and hope you enjoy the holidays well – but at the same time, be careful about the heat which is rising.

Release date: 28th March 2019
Running time: 174 minutes
Directed by: Prithviraj Sukumaran
Starring: Mohanlal, Tovino Thomas, Manju Warrier, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Indrajith Sukumaran, Saniya Iyappan, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Giju John, Saikumar, Baiju Santhosh, Fazil, Sachin Khedekar, Suresh Chandra Menon, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Nandhu, John Vijay, Aneesh G Menon, Kainakary Thankaraj, Bala, Adil Ibrahim, Shaun Romy, Adarsh, Helen, Frank Freem, Waluscha De Sousa, Sijoy Varghese, Thara Kalyan, Parvathi T, Binu Pappu, Parvathy Menon, Sreeya Remesh, Sshivada, Antony Perumbavoor, Shakti Kapoor

<—Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Grace Villa

Vampire Owl: Do you know that writing about short-films is not that rewarding?

Vampire Bat: Yes, especially short-films which are older.

Vampire Owl: So, you understand the same, and is not writing about those bigger movies which will get you more visits?

Vampire Bat: Movies of the Soul’s opinions will not be lost among those many fake paid reviews brought by blind fans and those who sell fake opinions.

Vampire Owl: What about the hope that someone will notice?

Vampire Bat: That exists no more. It disappeared quite some time ago.

Vampire Owl: It is a shame. The fake and paid reviews are still shared more on the movie and celebrity pages.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if we honestly write a movie review, it doesn’t mean much.

Vampire Owl: I wonder how humans managed to be such liars even when it is about art.

Vampire Bat: Lie, hate and lie more; it is their motto. They sacrifice their values for money each and every time.

[Gets some tapioca chips and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: A real estate broker (Kochu Preman) is having some bad business going, with most of the properties he is selling, not having many buyers for the same. It is a rather dull time for real estate business, and his efforts are not becoming fruitful. His biggest pain is a property called Grace Villa owned by Saly Grace (Parvathy T) whose son Michael (Vineeth Vishwam) had died a few years ago, and is living with the pain, sadness and depression regarding the same. This particular property has been there for sale ever since Michael had died, and Saly is not ready to sell this property which costs around three lakhs to a maximum of three and half lakhs to anyone at a rate below twenty five lakhs. Many people have come and looked at the property – they have liked it, but nobody is willing to pay about eight to nine times the calculated price.

So, what happens next? :: It is when nobody seems to be interested, that a man named Mathews (Rajesh Hebbar) comes from far away, to the misty town. This man who seems to be there for the first time is very curious about the house, and likes it at first sight. He is determined to buy that property in any way possible, but still the amount of twenty five lakhs seem to be too much for him. Despite the real estate broker and his assistant (Saritha Sreejith) being hopeless about this sale happening, Mathews decides to talk to the lady and come up with some arrangement which will leave him with an opportunity to buy the property at a lesser rate. As he goes to the place and is welcome by Saly, he realizes that there is something about her than what meets the eye, and there is a particular secret that haunts the house. What would that be? Can the mystery be solved and the house be solved?

The defence of Grace Villa :: From the beginning itself, we know that there is something about Grace Villa, something which will bring the nice twist in the end. It was launched by Tovino Thomas, and has some faces which are well-known for us. Rajesh Hebbar is most known to us for the satirical family serial on television known as Oridathoridathu, and has been in the televison programmes for quite a long time – pardon me for not watching television that much. Parvathi T has been there for long too, and we last saw her in three big movies playing the mother of Tovino Thomas, Kunchako Boban and Dulquer Salmaan in Godha, Take Off and CIA: Comrade in America respectively. Kochu Preman also joins them, and there are also the others who play less significant roles. The performances make sure that this one becomes more, as it does more with its material, as we await the mystery to be unveiled.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s theme, as many other short-films is revenge – yes, a lot of short-films deal with revenge or love, or even both these days. This one tells the tale of a revenge that has the strength of waiting, and it only takes a few minutes to execute the same. There is no doubt that people love how this simple and short thing is able to bring so much of effect – people will guess this one half way into the flashback though, and maybe with a little additions here and there, that could have been avoided, and left to be guessed only at the final moment. But once again you will realize that revenge is sweet, and there is nothing as strong as a mother’s need to get justice for her son – well, the thing about revenge is there coming in full cycle in the Tamil and Kannada short-film Red Jacket which I had reviewed earlier. Grace Villa is all about mystery getting to that revenge.

How it finishes :: Grace Villa is based on The Right Kind of House by Henry Slezar, which dates back to the year 1957. If you have read that novel, you will find that the essence of the work is taken right into this short-film which has changed only the elements which are to make it happen at a small town in South India. You will see that the name of the son of the house owner is also the same in this version. The feeling that people have about each other and the house also seems to be the same, along with the order of incidents and location – this is pretty much a faithful adaptation if you just read the work quickly and watch Grace Villa. But the short-film version does seem to explain a little bit more, something which our audience have always wanted. Well, you know what all movie lovers want, as it is to get the story to appeal to them whether it is with mystery or with a message like Mangalyam Thanthunanena, and Grace Villa is undoubtedly a success.

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

Vampire Owl: I am going to rename my area of the castle as Grace Villa.

Vampire Bat: You have a small room. Why would you name that small a room? Who will notice?

Vampire Owl: There is a mystery behind my room, which nobody will ever find out.

Vampire Bat: What is that mystery? What are you hiding?

Vampire Owl: If I talk to you about that mystery, it will be mystery no more. It is why nobody should know.

Vampire Bat: You are lying that there is a mystery because that can make the other vampires impressed.

Vampire Owl: What are you talking about? I am someone unable to lie. Truth is my other name.

Vampire Bat: You once said that Death is your other name.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I am known by multiple names. There are so many of them, that I forget ninety eight percent of them.

Vampire Bat: You are the kind of vampire who should be a zombie. There is a folk-song among witches regarding that.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 28th October 2016
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Binoy Raveendran
Starring: Parvathi T, Babu Annur , Rajesh Hebbar , Kochu Preman , Vineeth Vishwam, Saritha Sreejith, Vaudev, Suryadev, Saami Vaas, Ranjith, Vinod, Abhilash Abi, Athul S Dev

Watch the movie Grace Villa here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Take Off

What is the movie about? :: Sameera (Parvathy) is a divorced nurse who is trying to work hard in the local hospital and pay the debts of her family, as well as ensure that the studies of her younger sisters are also dealt with. She was formerly married to Faisal (Asif Ali), and has a child, but they were separated due to problems in both families related to her work as well as the differences in way of seeing things. Shaheed (Kunchacko Boban) who works as a male nurse in the same hospital, is in love with her, and is hoping to marry her if she agrees some day. Both of them are expected to go to Iraq for work soon, and in that way, earn a better salary. Sameera finally decides that it is better for her to marry Shaheed and move on, as he is also moving to Iraq, and her relatives would make her get married to someone else anyway; at least she finds Shaheed as a good person and he is in love with her.

So, what happens next? :: After marriage, Sameera gets pregnant, but they soon have to move to Iraq and join the new job. They have heard that the place is not that safe, but there are other nurses who work there and earn a good salary. It is the year 2014, and ISIS has launched itself into the major cities of the nation. It is at the same time that Sameera’s son Ibrahim a.k.a Ibru (Master Eric) comes to live with her. Their location, Tikrit, as well as Mosul where Shaheed had traveled to with the military, all are under attack despite the repeated assurances that the army of the country will keep them safe. Sameera is shocked when she realises that Mosul is captured by the extremists and has become impossible to reach on phone. She approaches the Indian ambassador to Iraq, Manoj Abraham (Fahad Faasil) who assures her that he will do his best to find her husband.

And what is to follow between the chaos and destruction? :: It doesn’t take the ISIS long to take full control of all significant landmarks in the city of Tikrit with the military falling and later becoming a non-existent force there. The militants also make it inside the hospital and keeps the nurses as hostage. Shaheed is still in Mosul, captured by the militants there. But Manoj is determined to rescue and bring all these people back to India in one way or the other. For the same, he works with Ranjan (Prakash Belawadi), his superior officer as well as Jayamohan (Prem Prakash) who is a rich Malayali businessman with many connections in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. With the External Affairs Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Kerala in contact with him, he will try a plan which is claimed to be risky by more than one person, but is considered to be the best option to bring the nurses home by Manoj himself.

The defence of Take Off :: The movie is based on the captivity of forty six Indian nurses by ISIS, and their evacuation by the Indian government, which was one of those celebrated events and a major achievement for the nation – it takes a lot of effort to recreate and add something extra for the creative and cinematic side, and still keep it simple and real. The director has succeeded in doing the same here. The movie has nicely handled the situations of war, and also related to the hostage crisis – with terrorism to be worked with here, things could have gone different ways, but all goes well in this movie; we see balance and maturity in everything here. The emotional side is also strong, and things are kept realistic as well as interesting at the same time, a quality which has been only fakely attributed to certain movies these days.

Positives and negatives :: The first half of the movie is more about the family drama, with the final few minutes getting the protagonists to reach Iraq, with the terrible disaster of a war waiting to happen. From there, it is a thrilling adventure, and the movie works as two here. This movie is visually geat, and also has some nice music as well as background score to go with the same. The movie, despite not trying to bring anything out of the box, got all of us interested, with how this tale is told, and how the characters feel simple and real as the common man who wishes to make money for their families while protecting the same. Even with its smaller budget compared to the Bollywood movies like Airlift which deals with the evacuation of Indians too, Take Off can easily give a fine competition – in simple words, it is surely better than the Bollywood movie dealing with this. There is a better re-imagination here for you to watch.

Performers of the soul :: There is no shortage of interesting performances here, and Parvathy manages to keep her character at the right place, even living through the war on most of the occasions. The different stages of life of her character are nicely portrayed, and this is sure to bring more and more applause as the movie runs in the theatres and will be watched by more followed the highly positive opinions – following Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. Kunchacko Boban has a controlled performance here as he once again plays a character who will appeal really well for the family audience, after Kochauvva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. Then there is Fahadh Faasil who arrives in the second half, and steals the show – there are so many moments for him as he goes strong after Maheshinte Prathikaaram once again, and the last few moments are undoubtedly his. The child actor Eric is also too good. Prakash Belawadi, Prem Prakash, Asif Ali and Alencier Ley Lopez also catch our attention with their smaller roles.

How it finishes :: We had the Akashay Kumar and Nimrat Kaur starrer Airlift directed by another Malayali, Raja Krishna Menon, which had dealt with a similar crisis and somewhat same kind of situation which released in 2016 and had received many positive opinions. While Airlift was based on the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, this one is based on the 2004 ISIS invasion of Iraq. Both are about evacuating the Indians left in the nation torn by war, and both has the patriotism as well as the final success that goes with the same – both have also received a lot of critical acclaim, and has been in the news even before the release. The comparisons maybe many, and it is certain that what we need are movies like Take Off and Airlift which deals with the situations related to common people who struggle anywhere in the world, and it is also significant how realistically their tales are told. This is the best movie of the year so far, as it joins C/O Saira Banu, Alamara and Honey Bee 2 which are running in the theatres stronger than the rest.

Release date: 24th March 2017
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Mahesh Narayan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Parvathy, Fahadh Faasil, Prakash Belawadi, Asif Ali, Prem Prakash, Alencier Ley Lopez, Parvathi T, Anjali Aneesh Upasana, Master Eric, Joju George, Sidhartha Siva, Devi Ajith, Divya Prabha, Prashant Nair, Rukhsar Rehman

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.