Jai Bhim

What is Jai Bhim about? :: The movie begins with a group of people who are supposed to be from some lower castes or tribes having some police cases forced on them without any particular reason other than their community of birth. In the end, almost all the cases fall on them, as police closes the pending cases by putting them on these people. Raja Kannu (K Manikandan) catches snakes and rats in the village, and lives in a tribal area of a remote village with her wife Senggeni (Lijomol Jose). The tribe is known for their useful job, which helps the rich people of the area who boasts of their higher caste status, and won’t care about these people. But Raja Kannu is also arrested by police in the name of a robbery which happened in the house of the village head, as there is a lot of force on the cops due to the same. The police says that her husband had escaped with three other tribals on a fateful night. They are helped by as Maithra (Rajisha Vijayan) who has been working as a teacher among the tribals, and was trying to provide them with enough education and some identity to go with it.

So, what happens next in this tale? :: Advocate Chandru (Suriya) leads cases for the downtrodden people, and has managed to help many people before. But in this particular case, police has already prepared everything, and with enough proof being ariticially created, this eems to be very difficult for Chandru. SP Ashok Varadhan (Sibi Thomas) wants the case to be solved at any cost, and the local police officers go further to manipulate everything from the first point. Chandru visits the whole area with Maithra, and tries to find some clues. But will he be enough for this particular case, as many more false witnesses are being added, and it becomes a thing of prestige for the government? Can truth go above the false witnesses in an age of hopelessness and lies? The question still remains if the three are even alive and Chandru wants IG Perumalsamy (Prakash Raj) to investigate the office, and Advocate Ram Mohan (Rao Ramesh), the most prominent and respected lawyer will stand against Chandru for the government and the police.

The defence of Jai Bhim :: It is up to Suriya and Lijomol Jose to keep the film strong at the top, and there is no point where you feel that they are not fully immersed in these characters which they portray. Seeing the latter in such a role was a surprise, and one would wish her back in many more Malayalam movies. The film is a valiant take on ferocious discrimination and injustice which has been forced on people just for their birth in a particular community. In doing that, the film remains strong at all times. In staying with the subaltern against the strong and the influential, it makes some very strong points. The same is portrayed without using the useless mass fight scenes, which would have been there if this film was taken a few years ago, but the movie chooses not to satisfy the brainless mass. There are many emotional moments in the film, and the agony that the weak goes through is portrayed realistically rather than with the unnecessary extras. The intensity that the film carries is a lot too, and the strength only increases as the film progresses.

Positives and negatives :: The film does take some time to go through its beginning stages, and it does have the predictable stuff at work too. From the moment it starts, we are somewhat sure about what would happen even without knowing the history of the real-life tale, and we feel that the film could have been a little shorter. Some dialogues could have been avoided, but a few others could have had more detail, like when talking about the Rajan case which happened long ago in Kerala. Rajisha Vijayan could have also had more to be done, even with some good time being spent on the screen. It is always normal to expect more from this kind of a film, because we know the kind of topic it deals with. There is always something to take home in this kind of movies though, and this one, even though dealing with a topic which people might be aware of, leaves us with the reminder that injustice still exists, and there is the need for someone to raise the voice at the right time for the right people, and not for some celebrities who have their own ways of saving themselves, having their own influence and power.

Performers of the soul :: Suriya has one strong performance added here, and it seems that he has become the character like a fine reflection of a determined, enthusiastic, righteous lawyer. The focus that is required in the character is shown without the extreme heroism that would have taken over in some other movie, but not in this case. There is no violence related to the man either, as there is no beating up the bad guys, and there are no stylish dialogues, which makes the character blend in right into the film’s mood. It does feel that he is really into the character so well, and becomes a mirror of the ideology inside him. This is also the first Suriya film that I have reviewed here, and I am glad that this movie could be chosen for the same. Lijomol Jose, whom we know for the lovely supporting role in Maheshinte Prathikaaram and the lead role in Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, has her biggest role here, and she has performed exceptionally, making her the leading actress, the woman who was wronged, and seeking justice. I hope that she would continue in the film industry after marriage too.

Further performers of the soul :: K Manikandan in the husband’s role has death coming to his character after a fine performance. Prakash Raj plays a solid police officer with his own ideology, which we love, and he is the one cop whom you would love to have in your universe of reality. Rajisha Vijayan, who won the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress for her debut film, Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, also has her moments, being a strong part of this. We know what she has done in Kho Kho, June and Finals, and she could suit at any place with grace. She has a superior status among this generation of actresses in Malayalam film industry, and so when she is there, you wish to check out the movie. The villains are all good too – when you look at them, they are not the same kind of antagonists, for the work at different levels. They are all united by a few things, but you see the divergence that runs through them, with them acting different even when doing the same job. There are lots of supporting cast members who also do some jobs worth appreciation, staying strong in the background throughout the film.

How it finishes :: There have been many courtroom dramas, and Pink might be the most famous among them – this one nicely adds to the list of those films. Unlike most of such movies which have dealt with similar topics including bringing justice to the subaltern, this one has its complete focus on such divisions and atrocities committed in the same name. The film is also supposed to be based on a petition which was filed in 1995, and the characters are also known to be based on real-life people with real-life incidents forming the background of the film. There is always the feel for some need for films on discrimination, and this one makes a welcome addition, as it makes some strong points about the same. It is also available with audio in Hindi, and therefore, it should be accessible to a much bigger audience on Amazon Prime Video. Theatres have opened, but you still have moves like this one on OTT, and you know you have to trust the OTT.

Release date: 2nd November 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 164 minutes
Directed by: TJ Gnanavel
Starring: Suriya, Lijimol Jose, Rajisha Vijayan, Prakash Raj, Rao Ramesh, Guru Somasundaram

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Athiran

What is the movie about? :: The year is 1967, and a worried Lakshmi (Shanthi Krishna) finds their family murdered while Nithya (Sai Pallavi) is seen playing with a thread. The situation seems to points to her as dangerously abnormal and a murderer. Five years later in 1972, Dr. MK Nair (Fahadh Faasil), a psychiatrist from Trivandrum Medical College is sent to check out the activities in a mental asylum situated far away from civilization, between the trees in the wilderness. This grand mansion which was built by the British has limited access to other places. Dr Benjamin Diaz (Atul Kulkarni) who served in the 1972 India-China War and a master hypnotist is the resident doctor as well as the owner of the asylum. He is very strict in his methods and doesn’t like anyone from outside making a visit. Renuka (Lena) is in control of things there, and Avarachan (Nandhu) provides further help from outside.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: There are strange incidents happening in the asylum. The inmates include Anna Maria (Leona Lishoy), a religious person, P Subrahmanya Iyer (Vijay Menon), an English professor, Vadakkedath Kamala Lakshmi (Surabhi Lakshmi), a person of too much concern for everyone around her, Jeevan Thomas (Sudev Nair), and a happy and strange romantic person. But it turns out that there is one more patient, and she is hidden and locked away in a cell, considered to be extremely dangerous and uncontrollable – the person is none other than Nithya who lives a restrained life, hostile to those who very rarely come to visit her. The newly arrived doctor realizes that there is something strange about her as well as the working of the hospital – he even has some dream visions and hallucinations when he is there, but some of them might be close to reality.

The defence of Athiran :: We have had a good number of psychological thriller, but after the 1990s, not many movies could rise above a certain level, and Athiran comes as a breath of fresh air – we always needed our own Shutter Island, and this one becomes the same, but with its own different twists. A Cure for Wellness is another movie we are reminded of. There is a similar beautiful setting here just like that island in Shutter Island and the mountain ranges in A Cure for Wellness, as the camera nicely brings all of the same to perfection. There is a Gothic building out there, and has a similar setting as one would have seen in movies like Crimson Peak, even though in the absence of the ghostly presence, is not used to the maximum – we had already seen 9 using a similar setting. The songs and the picturization also prove to be really attractive, and the suspense is maintained until the end as we remain thrilled.

The claws of flaw :: The similarities to A Cure for Wellness and Shutter Island can’t be ignored. There is another movie called The Ward which deals with a similar situation. All these are set in places dealing with “wellness” of the patients, and has similar moments of horror related to treatment procedure, along with secrets there that should be revealed. There is clear influence in bringing a certain Hollywood style, also resembling the Victorian Gothic Model, but the success of the movie is that it has done the same really well, and local elements have been mixed with some skill behind the same. We still have the feeling that something missing in there, and the other patients’ characters could have been better developed. With a setting like this, there was hope for bringing some intensely terrifying moments, but it is not there. Nights in a mental asylum far away from civilization can always bring more, and so can a mentally unstable murderer of family members.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is one actor who has come up with minimum guarantee in the last few months, and we look at his previous movie to make sure about that. His last three ventures in Malayalam movie industry were Kumbalangi Nights, Njan Prakashan and Varathan, all three gaining both critical and commercial success. These movies also had less hype in comparison to the others, and Athiran actually came up with no real boost in marketing – I came to know about this movie very late, and even then I didn’t know that this was a Malayalam movie; the film survived with people’s opinions. It is to be noted that there is a certain change that comes across the character he plays in each of the four movies including this one. One can also note that Fahadh has done a fantastic job here as the main character in a psychological thriller – playing a character in a mental asylum wouldn’t come easy, whether the role is of a mental patient or not.

Further performers of the soul :: Sai Pallavi has returned to Malayalam movie industry once again, and it called for a change, a welcome one, as there is no dance performance around here. She is the kind of actress who can do this role so well, as she showed such signs in Kali itself, even though it was not needed then. Well, here she excels in portraying the character with autism and more. This one is her best performance in the industry so far, clearly better than Premam, and surely better than that which didn’t really matter in the miserable Kali. Atul Kulkarni who has come up with some memorable performances in Malayalam movies before, brings a strong antagonist. Leona Lishoy, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon and Sudev Nair who have their moments as the patients never really get going though, with no real mention about their tales of the past. Lena and Nandhu gets limited in their roles, Shanthi Krishna is there for a few minutes. Renji Panicker is impressive when he is there.

How it finishes :: Athiran is one movie which has been running for so long despite releasing without making much of a noise. One month later, it can be seen that the movie is still going strong, despite Avengers: Endgame taking the most number of viewers, creating the collection record like never before, overtaking Titanic and closing in on Avatar, the effect being seen here too. Athiran, one month later, is challenging the bigger movies like the crowd puller Oru Yamandan Prema Katha and the critics favourite Uyare. It is nice to see a psychological thriller doing such a job, as it has been the genre, with a fee exceptions not bringing the major part of audience to the theatres, especially the family audience. But things have changed now, and Athiran has stood tall when the opportunity came, and it does so in Hollywood style, in a grand environment.

Release date: 12th April 2019
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Vivek
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Sai Pallavi, Lena, Sudev Nair, Leon Lishoy, Prakash Raj, Renji Panicker, Atul Kulkarni, Shanthi Krishna, Nandhu, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon

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@ Cemetery Watch
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9

What is the movie about? :: Dr Albert Lewis (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a very successful astrophysicist who have had a love for science since his childhood. He didn’t have that family life that he wanted though, as his wife Annie (Mamta Mohandas) died with childbirth, and his son Adam (Master Alok) is a known menace in the neighbourhood as well as school, leading to multiple change of educational institutions. As Adam was involved in another incident which left his cousin on a wheel chair, even the relatives are hostile to the boy. With Adam being expelled from his school in the middle of the term for another fight with a student, he gets an assignment from his mentor, a world famous scientist, Dr Inayat Khan (Prakash Raj). The idea is to watch, analyze and record the scene of a huge comet from the Himalayas, where it would bring a different scene altogether. With his team mates and Adam, he reaches the place, and stays at a remote guest house owned by his mentor.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It turns out that this comet is not your usual one. It produces an Electro Magnetic Pulse which would disrupt the modern day life – there would be no electricity, internet or mobile phone; modern day vehicles wouldn’t be able to provide transportation. It would be more or less like going back to nature, without having those facilities which people hold dear. There is panic all around, and Albert who reaches the seemingly Victorian-styled huest house makes sure that there are enough candles and lanterns. He also makes some adjustments to an older vehicle and makes sure that it works even though the usual transportation shuts down. As the shut down occurs, the sky turns red. Albert who is watching the amazing sight comes up again a stranger, Ava (Wamiqa Gabbi) who is lost in the woods. He takes her to the guest house, but there seems to be something special about her. She seems to be holding on to some secrets – what would they be?

The defence of 9 :: There are so many things being dealt with, in this movie which is a combination of genres. The horror in this movie is nicely done, and we have the same with a seemingly Victorian Gothic setting which has everything for a horror thriller. The supernatural, death and decay, ancient beliefs, unsolved mysteries, nightmares, hallucinations, large old building with only a few people, darkness, loneliness, fear – they are all there, and at the same time we wonder if some alien terror is going to be unleashed or if the world is going to end. The mystery element is also nicely made up, and it goes right through the movie. The darkness is the most beautiful thing in the movie, and you fall in love with night here. There is quality in how the setting has been used, with the beautiful as well as creepy visuals; the sound effects are also lovely. There are many Hollywood movies that comes to your mind, and also that same quality.

The claws of flaw :: The story here is not that easy to digest for everyman. It just puts too many things in here and also has an ending which is left open as well as unclear. It is also too long and has too many scenes with the apparition of one dead wife appearing, a case of terrible repetition which could have been avoided. The ending could have also been more direct – even though having multiple interpretations is not that bad, the horror feeling that was established earlier should have been allowed to continue to make an impact and leave the theatre with the audience. After all, the audience have gone through all these, and one of those interpretations just nullify the same. It is the supernatural of the movie that rises above everything else here, and the same should have taken full control and came to a conclusion in the end – well, when there is a chance to go full Gothic in a setting like this, I would take it.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj takes another divergence and another risk with this movie, but this doesn’t trouble him that much because he has been to such a situation before. He has played the protagonist looking for answers, who would be wandering through mystery and horror in different films. We have seen him in the dark flicks like Memories, Adam Joan7th Day and Ezra, making nice impact. The Hollywoodish feeling that he maintained even in last year’s Ranam and Koode are also to be remembered. Prakash Raj is just there for some time, and there is just him going through the long talk and no action. Mamta Mohandas is just there for the song with very short flashbacks and to keep coming back as apparitions in stylish clothing – there could have been more. Mamta is not someone who is to be restricted to that, as we feel that the flashback is more relevant than ever in this movie.

Further performers of the soul :: At the same time, Master Alok brings a fine performance as the child in trouble, and we see something that makes him right for the genre. Back after the much appreciated Godha, Wamiqa Gabbi is fantastic as the mysterious girl who turns out to be more than just a damsel in distress troubled by a piece of comet. There are fine moments which reflects the creepy side is a beautiful way, as she walks through the huge building as lights are turned off, staring outside from a bath-tub and coming up with a mysterious, creepy smile on more than one occasion. She seems to blend into the Gothic horror so well, and I will be glad to see her in a full-horror movie. You look here, and feel that she could be in something like Crimson Peak. Rahul Madhav and Adil Ibrahim are there in smaller roles, and we also see some unknown actors who are there for a short period of time leaving something nice behind.

How it finishes :: It can be seen that 9 goes through different genres at the same time. There is science fiction and the supernatural, as the movie is a psychological horror thriller with a scientific background. It is the first big movie to combine all these well, and one of the first movies to deal with some science fiction of such grand scale. There are questions that go unanswered with the same, and there are moments when we feel that the grip is lost – it could have surely been better, but as it is now, makes an interesting watch. 9 is surely an effort in the right direction, and we can hope to have more movies of the same kind after this. If a combination like this can have everything in the right quantity and quality, there is no limit to how good it can be. Until such a movie is made, we can go to the theatres and enjoy 9 this week.

Release date: 7th February 2019
Running time: 149 minutes
Directed by: Jenuse Mohamed
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Prakash Raj, Wamiqa Gabbi, Mamta Mohandas, Master Alok, Tony Luke, Vishal Krishna, Rahul Madhav, Adil Ibrahim

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Odiyan

What is the movie about? :: Manikyan (Mohanlal) is the last among the odiyans, a group known to know sorcery and had shape-shifting abilities. The skill is passed to him by his grandfather after his father and mother were not ready to stand it, and left the village with their daughter, hoping for a better social and economic status elsewhere. Manikyan is one of the most well-known figures in the village of Thankurissi in Palakkad and also beyond the borders in the Tamil-speaking areas near the Western Ghats – some people consider him to be famous, and the others feel that he is a notorious figure. He is known to lurk in the shadows, with darkness as his ally. As it was the time when there was no electricity in the villages, it was easy for him to induce fear into the minds of the victims. He would take different forms, most commonly that of a bull or a buffalo, to torment those who are given as targets by people who pay a fair amount.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Manikyan’s biggest enemy in the village is Ravunni Menon (Prakash Raj) with whom he has had his problems since childhood. Ravunni’s interest and unrequited love for his cousins Prabha (Manju Warrier) and Meenakshi (Sana Althaf) only makes things worse as Manikyan has been working in their family household and taking care of them for generations. Ravunni decides to make things troublesome for his cousins as well as Manikyan, and with the death of Prabha’s husband Prakashan (Narain) and Meenakshi’s husband Ravi (Kailash), he succeeds in putting the blame on Manikyan. With electricity coming to the village, and almost everyone blaming him for the two deaths, Manikyan is forced to leave for Varanasi. As he is wandering around there, something changes, and he feels the need to return. What would that mean for everyone in the small village?

The defence of Odiyan :: The legend of the people from Kerala folklore with shape-shifting abilities deserved a movie, and it is always nice to have such an adaptation which has its roots in our own historical fantasy. The action scenes are nicely done, and the scenes involving the titular character in the darkness will make sure that we are interested in the whole thing. The setting nicely helps the progress of the movie, and all locations provide some nice visuals. Compared to the 150 crore grand movie Pulimurugan with Mohanlal fighting the tiger, Odiyan is surely a better flick which has a nice background as well as setting – there is also no bad jokes, and the acting itself is of a superior level when we compare the two. Odiyan has moments of class, and it is the quality which that highest grossing Malayalam movie missed in more than one way.

The claws of flaw :: The trailer as well as the hype created with the information provided regarding the movie, might be the one thing which works against the movie more than anything else. The expectations had gone so high that greatness was expected without excuses, and that was one thing which caused so many of early negative reviews. There is no denying the fact that this legend could have been used in an even better way, reducing the mass elements, and adding more mystery, sorcery, twists and horror. The movie is also too long, and the first forty-five minutes might be the least interesting part of the flick. A better beginning would have helped to keep the interest going, and the non-linear narrative disrupts the flow. Flashbacks are good, but not when they are used at inappropriate timings. The final fight could have been better edited. The background music might catch our attention, but the songs never really manage to do so.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal, in more than one avatar during two different ages, displays top form as usual. There are not just the action scenes that make an impact, as the emotional side is also strong with him – the strength as well as the helplessness of the main character is shown nicely here. We remember how he could be both in Villain having the same pair in the lead. Maybe, he could have had more with the shape-shifting idea, resembling that of a werewolf, but that much is not there for him to use his full potential. His last movies Drama and Neerali didn’t make that much of an impact, but I would say that they were better than the common opinions; the case here is also not so different, as Odiyan is certainly better than Pulimurugan, and the hard work that Mohanlal has put in to become this character from the folklore is worth the appreciation.

Further performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier’s previous movie Mohanlal was not really something to be appreciated, whether it was about the flick or regarding her own performance. But she is back once again with her work in this movie. The comments which were made about her one dialogue in this movie is rather strange, because it is a perfectly suited one for the moment – it once again shows that a lot of our viewers are struggling with understanding characters. The lack of empathy that our audience shows at times is rather strange and unacceptable. Prakash Raj is a strong villain indeed, but could have had better dubbing. Sana Althaf has a nice role after Basheerinte Premalekhanam, and she also has her moments. Kailash, Sreejaya Nair and Narain are there only for a few minutes, but they do leave us with something to remember. Siddique, Innocent and Nandhu do provide some good support too.

How it finishes :: Odiyan becomes the second high budget and the most awaited movie of the year after Kayamkulam Kochunni which had great success already. Despite negative opinions, Odiyan also had a strong weekend, with the only challenge coming from Hollywood, in the form of Aquaman, which has lesser number of shows. There is the need for movies like Odiyan, because only such flicks can assure that we will have better exploration of the myths and legends of the lands. We also need people who are ready to go through the less traveled path – we know, as Robert Frost has said, that would make all the difference. Your level of enjoyment would be different according to your expectations from cinema, but Odiyan is surely a movie which you can’t ignore, and is definitely a movie which is better than the highest grossing Malayalam movie of all-time, the Mohanlal starrer Pulimurugan.

Release date: 14th December 2018
Running time: minutes
Directed by: VA Shrikumar Menon
Starring: Mohanlal, Manju Warrier, Innocent, Prakash Raj, Siddique, Manoj Joshi, Nandhu, Narain, Kailash, Sana Althaf, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Sreejaya Nair

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