Aravindante Athidhikal

What is the movie about? :: The movie is set up in the area around the Mookambika Temple in the Udupi district of Karnataka. Abandoned by his mother in the temple premises at an early age, Aravindan (Vineeth Sreenivasan) was adopted by Madhavan (Sreenivasan) who made sure that he grew up to be an energetic and educated young man. Madhavan and Aravindan are running a lodge near the temple, and are trying their best to keep up with the rising competition in the name of religious tourism and spiritual journeys, a case in which religions and regions and competing which each other to bring new holy places into the picture. Meanwhile, Girija (Urvashi) and her daughter Varada (Nikhila Vimal) arrives as his new guests at the lodge. Due to some unexpected circumstances, Varada’s performance at the temple is delayed, and in the mean time, Aravindan and her become very good friends.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As a few days pass and she has to leave due to the death of her uncle, Varada feels that Aravindan should give up simply waiting for his mother and start searching for her – Varada herself takes it as her duty to find her with the help of some of Aravindan’s friends. While practising at Sreejaya Nair’s (Janaki Subramaniam) dance academy at Kumbakonam, she is still looking for clues to find the one lady who abandoned her child at the sacred place, and never really looking back. But the question remains if it is easy to find such a person with no solid clue except for some drawings which Aravindan has been preparing since childhood. Well, Varada is not someone who could be disheartened that easily, and will come back to Mookambika for their team’s performance, and there will be at least one good news for Aravindan. What could that be, in the sacred lands?

The defence of Aravindante Athidhikal :: The movie is perfectly targeted at the family audience rather than anyone else, and the whole thing seems to be well directed towards the particular direction. The music is very good and suits the mood of the movie, as it supports the emotional side, and brings us to that final feel-good factor. There are some nice shots of Mookambika and its surroundings, and we feel the mood of the sacred town more than once. We have some interesting characters too, some who wishes to fly on the wings of hope, and others just keep the hope at home, for without it, there might be no tomorrow. As President Snow says in The Hunger Games, it is hope that remains the only thing stronger than fear – we need it, and people decide on how much. Well, there is no shortage of hope in a holy town. With some simple funny moments and the strong emotional side, this movie gets home without trouble.

The claws of flaw :: The story might feel a little outdated for some people, as old wine in a new bottle, but if that wine is still not that bad, one has to wonder why the audience wouldn’t like to have some. The movie also ends rather too soon, and we know that it is the finish when the credits start rolling. We could have also had more with its core tale, which can go beyond the usual stuff, but that attempt is not made here. With a holy town in the middle and the same made colourful, maybe we could have had things to go a level further up – but the movie is satisfied with just this much. There is no dramatic twist that awaits you in this movie, as it keeps the journey straight and simple, or rather too direct for some people. If you are looking for that extra dose of melodrama, it is not going to be there because we see the attempt to have things going closer to reality than anything else.

The performers of the soul :: Vineeth Sreenivasan and Sreenivasan plays the family again, and even though adopted this time, they are no less father-son in effect. Both have their roles nicely matching them, and got their characters as no challenges, doing well at all moments, whether it is about adding some extra fun moments or to contribute to that deep emotional side. Well, we always have certain minimum expectations when the two come together, and it is once again proven that the duo has the strength to keep the whole thing close. These are times when the family movies are needed, and there are no people better than these two to do so. The presence of the family audience in the theatres is more due to the two being there rather than anything else. Urvashi is there with some fun moments after some break, and Aju Varghese along with Bijukuttan further contributes to the funny side with ease.

Further performers of the soul :: Nikhila Vimal has come back to Malayalam movie industry after Love 24×7, and it feels great to have her back at a time that we seem to need someone like her – she has the type of skills that are above the usual actresses that we have here, most of them seemingly here due to recommendation or by having someone in the cinema field. Nikhila stands tall with her performance here, and each moment, whatever it deals with, she scores. She is a wonderful talent that all of us need here, rather than in another industry. After her introduction, it is more about her rather than anyone else. Sreejaya Nair is a nice addition to this tale, and in between, we have Vijayaraghavan, Premkumar and Kottayam Nazeer contributing to the fun. Baiju and Sneha Sreekumar are there for initiating the comic side, as we see in the beginning. KPAC Lalitha is again there playing a mother figure.

How it finishes :: Well, Aravindante Athidhikal is that kind of a movie that is determined to touch your heart, and also leave a smile on your face in the end. It is the feel-good movie that can rise above the others due to its ability to keep things direct and enjoyable throughout its run-time of two hours and two seconds, a length that leaves no chances to drag in between. It is rather surprising that this movie had less publicity compared to the other movies released on the same day, Avengers: Infinity War, Uncle and Thobama. Well, Panchavarnathatha and Mohanlal are still running too. You are not going to regret watching Aravindante Athidhikal on the big screen, and watching with family would be a wonderful experience – well, this is the holiday season, and watching this one with family might be the right choice. After all, feel-good never leaves our industry, as there is always more of the kind.

Release date: 27th April 2018
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: M Mohanan
Starring: Vineeth Sreenivasan, Nikhila Vimal, Aju Varghese, Sreenivasan, Prem Kumar, Vijayaraghavan, Urvashi, KPAC Lalitha, Baiju, Sneha Sreekumar, Bijukuttan, Sreejaya Nair, Kottayam Nazeer, Shanthi Krishna, Devan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Panchavarnathatha

What is the movie about? :: A nameless man (Jayaram) is a mystery to many, as he owns pets ranging from cats, dogs and parrots to camels, horses, donkeys and elephants. He speaks and acts in strange ways, leading to most people of his neighbourhood belonging to upper middle class family not liking his presence in a plot right between their homes. Most of his collection of birds and animals are leftovers of a circus which had recently ceased to exist. He takes special care of his animals and birds, and sells them only to those people whom he finds fit to give them the best lives. Along with living with these creatures, he also has small real estate business and other small part-time jobs. Even though he might seem tough for people who never knew him, he is more than that, with no hesitation in helping others in need, having special love for children, as he is an orphan who never knew his father and mother.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, Kalesh (Kunchacko Boban) is the MLA of the place, who was elected earlier because his father, the former MLA had died, leaving a wave of sympathy among the common people. Despite his father being a man loved by many people, Kalesh couldn’t do much for those who elected him, and is living in a mansion of his friend, Nazir (Joju George) with his wife Chitra (Anusree) and a complaining mother (Mallika Sukumaran), who blames him being not anywhere close to his father as a politician or a social worker. With his father’s former aid Udayan (Ashokan), Kalesh hopes to claim all the glory in style with a win in the upcoming elections. His opponent for this election is Jimmy (Salim Kumar), who hopes to reclaim the consituency for his party after a long time, in one way or the other.

And what is follow with the events? :: The journeys of the two, the unnamed man and Kalesh meets when the people of the neighbourhood tries to have the animal and bird lover evicted. Kalesh is the person whom they see to accomplish that aim. But not everyone thinks about him in the same way, as the the local police officer KO Rangan (Prem Kumar) himself finds the animals and birds interesting. Things get further complicated when Kalesh is forced to give the man some space in his home because of certain twist of events. With all creatures following him, Kalesh and his family might have taken in more than what they could have. Now, questions remain about the future of the animals and birds, as well as the political career of Kalesh. Can things get better in their lives, or is this strange combination going to ruin everything?

The defence of Panchavarnathatha :: There is some good comedy followed by a fine emotional end in this flick, which is never short of being interesting for the family audience. Along with the same, there is a good message being provided here, about doing good for the others, not just to humans, but also to the animals and birds. With its everyman characters, we feel the need to attach ourselves to it, rather than some random fan movie which has fan-centered life which is not applicable to the common man who think about their families and society rather than any random superstar. The songs are just okay. Ramesh Pisharody’s first attempt at direction surely feels better and closer to heart than those movies celebrated in the name of common man like Amar Akbar Anthony and Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan. There is enough in Panchavarnathatha for most people, and the others are having problems which are surely not visible on the big screen. Some incidents in real life are also reflected here.

The claws of flaw :: There is one person whom we miss on the screen, and it is Ramesh Pisharody himself who has directed the movie, but never appears as an actor. Some of the comedy also misses out, and we feel that this kind of an idea could have had even better treatment, maybe closer to daily life’s incidents, or in a way that it goes beyond the self-inflicted restrictions – you feel the strength of the idea within this one, and the need to have more. It could have been a complete social satire, but that choice is not made even though there is politics with the ugly sides, and people within a society that has its own stranger sides. The movie is also a little too long as it deals with its content, which had to be dealt with better to go for such a long run. Also, these many animals were not needed, as it doesn’t help to take things seriously. There could have been a fine background story for the main character too.

The performers of the soul :: Jayaram is here with a different avatar, and after this year’s disaster of a movie Daivame Kaithozham K Kumar Akanam which competed with Queen to become the worst movie of 2018, he has redeemed up to an extent with this role. There is the absence of those big dialogues with this one, and the character serves with the divergence that was needed. Kunchacko Boban has this character under full control, and Anusree seems to be rightly suited for this role, as she goes natural with the performance. Mallika Sukumaran also contributes well on the usual lines. Dharmajan Bolgatty arrives later, but contributes well to the fun; before that there was Salim Kumar doing the same. Prem Kumar also brings some good contribution for the comic side, and Ashokan is there for the whole length of the movie. Joju George then brings a little more later.

How it finishes :: Panchavarnathatha is the one underrated movie of this Vishu – it seems to have managed less attention than Jayaram’s earlier lesser movies including Daivame Kaithozham K Kumar Akanam and Kunchacko Boban’s Kuttanadan Marpappa, which is rather strange. This one is surely better than Mohanlal which released with Panchavarnathatha gaining more attention, as the comedy is cent percent better working, and has characters that will appeal to us rather than some random fan girl who never really deserved to be taken seriously, as she went on to become a curse for everyone around here. We all need everyman characters, and Panchavarnathatha has something that touches the emotions along with the comic side, rather than becoming a pretender like many other movies; any kind of different uprising is always required among similar movies.

Release date: 14th April 2018
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Ramesh Pisharody
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Jayaram, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Anusree, Ashokan, Salim Kumar, Maniyanpilla Raju, Joju George, Prem Kumar, Mallika Sukumaran, Dini Daniel, Tini Tom, Seema G Nair, Kunchan

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Sakhavu

What is the movie about? :: Krishna Kumar (Nivin Pauly) is a leftist student leader who wishes to make it big at every level. For the same, he has been studying different courses in the college – his aim is to get to the top of party’s student wing, and from there, get to a big position in party’s trade union, and then become MLA or MP. For the same, he is ready to do anything, including getting rid of his best friends who are threat to him. It is his friend in the party Mahesh (Althaf Salim) who provides him support in all his plans without asking for anything in return. One day, he gets a call from the party office to go to the hospital and donate blood for a party member who is in critical condition. He isn’t really interested in the same, and tries to act rude so that he could get out of there as fast as possible. There, he meets Aishwarya (Gayathri Suresh), his old friend from school, working as a nurse at the same hospital, who talks to him about the person who is in the ICU.

So, what happens next? :: There he meets more people including the man’s friends, and also his wife Janaki (Aishwarya Rajesh) and his daughter Nidhi (Aparna Gopinath), and the tale of a much loved comrade is revealed. There is a long past that goes to those days when this comrade, named Krishnan (again Nivin Pauly) had come to Peermade to strengthen the left trade union activities at the place. There were many things that followed, including those incidents which made the man a favourite among the masses, and nothing less than trouble for the exploiters. Krishna Kumar listens to the tale and also to that incident that landed Krishnan at the hospital – there is more to things here than what meets the eye, as he hears about what the comrade has been working on in the last few days. So, how does this tale influence Krishna Kumar, and how does life change for the man who was always after high positions and fame in the party?

The defence of Sakhavu :: There is the strength of ideology behind this movie, and it goes towards taking a righteous stand, especially when a political leader is concerned – on what the left ideals really mean, if they are implemented in the right way. The message is strong, and there is the presence of feel-good elements. The flashback scenes look really nice, and you need to watch this one on the big screen for the same. There is the presence of a lot of humour in the first forty five minutes of the movie, and then things get serious – the strength of the whole thing is tested, but the movie then stands the test, and comes back victorious. It is also the final sequence after the credits start rolling that score big at a time when we feel that the movie ended too soon. The movie can be considered as a nice mixture of things, and without showing no overdose of action sequences, the intensity of the sequences are very well delivered.

The claws of flaw :: There is a rather predictable story in this flick – even though the hero from the past has his heroics to be talked about by others, there is nothing new or special in that tale which follows a pattern which so many tales from the past has followed, with a big estate and firm, along with the workers who suffer because the rich and the affluent just don’t care. The movie could have also been shorter, or could have added some special ingredients to justify its length – maybe a return to the present in the end, and some more sequences to follow with the protagonist’s life could have made things even better, rather than stretching the flashback a little too much with the predictable things. The scope was so much more for this movie, and the divergence that it has taken here is not much, as the attempt is there to balance the class and the mass, never to overdo any of them. The movie could have also used its heroines more, especially in the present.

Performers of the soul :: When you look at Nivin Pauly’s last few movies, Jacobinte Swargarajyam, Action Hero Biju and Premam, they were not just very good movies, but also did great at the box-office; now he is back for more. This is also the best movie with him as a solo hero, and also the best performance from him till date. Here he comes in two roles, and among the two, it is the new-age role that suits the best for him – the other role also demands him to play the elder version of the character, which also leaves a mark. There is the new generation social worker portrayed nicely with all the shortcuts of life which are taken, and there is the maturity of the old generation comrade, who has struggled so hard with everything in life for the party as well as the society. It works at both sides for Nivin Pauly, and this is the kind of performance which will mean a big change and the right kind of deviation in his career. Here, it is Althaf who provides him great support with a nice funny side, making things so much alive.

Further performers of the soul :: Along with Nivin Pauly continuing his run as the one actor whose movies keep the standard, there is also a supporting cast which has rather less to do in helping. There are three heroines in this movie, but they get to do rather less in this flick which is highly dependent on Nivin Pauly to perform in two separate roles. Aishwarya Rajesh gets the most to do in the flashback, as the comrade’s wife, and a little bit in the present, and she manages the same fine, even though there seemed to a little bit of urgency about everything; rather more than required. It is good to see her again after Jomonte Suvisheshangal. Gayathri Suresh gets rather too little in this one, even less than what he had to do in Oru Mexican Aparatha and Puthiya Mugham, playing a character that the protagonist knows from school. Then there is Aparna Gopinath who plays the strongest of female leads, and also the most charming one – a good continuation after the magic of Charlie and the message supply in School Bus.

How it finishes :: Sidhartha Siva, the director is known for some of those critically appreciated movies including 101 Chodyangal and Ain, both winning him national awards, along with that inspirational flick which was very much feel-good, Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho. Sakhavu undoubtedly keeps that high level, and once again, there is no trouble with the quality. Sakhavu is a movie that has almost everything, and it is the movie that you wouldn’t want to miss – it will win this Easter-Vishu season, considering the fact that most people have already watched The Great Father, 1971: Beyond Borders under-performing, and Puthan Panam ended up as one of the worst movies to have released in some time. This should be the season of Sakhavu which succeeds in rising above the expectations; it not just superior to Oru Mexican Aparatha, it is also more responsible, getting to the point in the right way, and leaving the right messages. This is one of the best movies of the year so far. Well, what seems to be a simple family flick, Rakshadhikari Baiju is the next one up at the theatres.

Release date: 15th April 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Sidhartha Siva
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Gayathri Suresh, Sreenivasan, Aishwarya Rajesh, Aparna Gopinath, Althaf Salim, Tony Luke, Musthafa, Sudheesh, Kalabhavan Rahman, Renji Panicker, Prem Kumar, Manianpillai Raju, Aliyar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.