Balan Vakeel

What is the movie about? :: S Balakrishnan (Dileep) is a lawyer who works under the reputed advocate Pramod Sujanapalan (Arjun Nandakumar). But he hasn’t been able to achieve much in his professional career due to his stammer, even though he was known to be a smart & intelligent person during his college days. His father and mother (Siddique and Bindu Panicker) are concerned about him, but are sure that he can only be a failure in life, with former also being a chain smoker who tries different drugs. His first successful case is that of Ansaar Ali Khan (Aju Varghese), a local goon who is involved in a robbery case. Ansaar doesn’t have the cash to pay as his fees, and therefore provides him with a place to stay at low rent. But this new place has Irumbu Babu’s (Bheeman Raghu) presence, and he considers it to be his own room and wants him to leave. But it will be the smallest of his problems.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is then that his brother-in-law P Mohanan Pillai (Suraj Venjaramoodu) comes up with a plan to make some easy money. He asks Balakrishnan to be a part of it, and she accepts the same reluctantly. He sends a notice to a given address asking for compensation in the name of a woman (Priya Anand) who claims to have been abused by the person at the address. But it turns out that it is the address of the DGP of Kerala Police, KE Eapen (Renji Panicker) who is suprised to get the same. The charge of investigation goes to Indhulekha Marar (Lena) who gets only a limited amount of time to solve the case. Meanwhile it turns out that the person whose name is in the letter is Anuradha Sudharshan (Mamta Mohandas), a woman who is completely unaware of this. There seems to be some conspiracy behind all these. But there is no clue regarding where to begin.

The defence of Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel :: There are the twists in store in Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel for sure, and there is mystery awaiting to be revealed, related to a conspiracy. We also have incidents which seems to reflect reality, but there is the certainty of exaggeration regarding the same. The emotional flashback in the movie becomes effective with the last twist, but otherwise it feels strange, and makes you wait the whole time trying to find something out of it. There is also the presence of a fine cast to support everything out there, making sure that they manage all that this movie can provide. There is some good humour out there, even though not throughout the flick. It is seen more in the initial stages, starting from the introduction of the main character itself. The interval punch is strong enough to make one interested in the second half, even though the first half wasn’t that much there.

The claws of flaw :: It can be seen that there is no attempt to make this movie go through a fully entertaining path, and there is no plan to make this a perfect journey as an investigation thriller either, as this is caught somewhere in between. The jokes are also just partially effective, and we see that the funny side in the name of children hitting older men, people falling on electricity lines and surviving, a drug addict father instead of the usual alcoholic one etc – they are just there for the sake of adding some strange funny side. There is also the presence of some unnecessary mass scenes, and the hero sending people flying around comes in, and the struggling protagonist that we wanted to watch from the trailer is lost. Having such a protagonist beating up people all of a sudden works against the overall mood of the movie, and what we know about the protagonist. The songs are not that good either.

The performers of the soul :: This seems to be a movie nicely made for Dileep, as he has this in control, just like many other movies of the same kind. There is no problem here, as he had played advocate trying to serve justice before in Passenger, and there was Mamta Mohandas there too, with the same name for her character, Anuradha. Well, Passenger is a movie long way ahead of this one, without doubt. Mamta Mohandas is here for a full role unlike what she had in 9. There is not much for her to do regarding the investigation here though, as she is the victim and there is the protagonist to save the day. A little romantic side added there seems to be rather forced though, as this movie could have done without it. The focus on its main idea would have been enough, and trying to play cupid between the main character didn’t do both of them any good.

Further performers of the soul :: Siddique’s father character is kind of strange, but brings the funniest moments of the movie with ease. There is his comic timing that lightens up the movie really well. Aju Varghese is the next person in the comedy department, and it works well for him most of the time too – he does get some memorable funny ones. Suraj Venjaramoodu also has the comedy working in his favour, even though at parts it seems out of order. Priya Anand gets another smart role after Ezra and Kayamkulam Kochunni, but with lesser time spent on the screen. Veterans like Ganesh Kumar and Renji Panicker right there, doing what they do the best in police roles. Another person who shines so well inside the uniform is Lena, who is also there Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam, and mystery-solving journey of puzzles which is also running in the theatres.

How it finishes :: For B Unnikrishnan, this movie comes after Villain, which was a smart one for sure. Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel does take the path of Vikadakumaran and Jolly LLB, a trend related to a struggling lawyer whenever the same is the protagonist. This one has its moments of thrills and twists are brought into the scene, but there is not doubt about the fact that this could have done better. There is the fine premise already set, and the idea that has scope for a lot, but it is not utilized in the best way. Maybe we have to wait to get something better out of a story related to courtroom, and we can do that. Until then, lets watch Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel and enjoy the interesting side. For those who wants the more realistic side, there is always Kumbalangi Nights & June running, and seemingly good enough to keep doing the same for a long time.

Release date: 21st February 2019
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: B Unnikrishnan
Starring: Dileep, Mamta Mohandas, Priya Anand, Aju Varghese, Siddique, Ganesh Kumar, Renji Panicker, Bindu Panicker, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Saiju Kurup, Vamsi Krishna, Harish Uthaman, Lena, Arjun Nandakumar, Pramod Sujanapalan, Bheeman Raghu, Veena Nair, Pradeep Kottayam, Thesni Khan, Sajid Yahiya

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kayamkulam Kochunni

What is the movie about? :: Born to a thief, Kochunni (Nivin Pauly) is someone who had left his village a long time ago to start a new life, without letting anyone about his past. As he works at a local shop, realizes that a master of martial arts, Thangal (Babu Antony) has arrived in the village. During the time when caste system goes deep into the roots, with the help of a lower caste woman Janaki (Priya Anand) who has fallen in love with him, Kochunni tries to learn martial arts. Thangal wouldn’t accept him as his disciple because he knows that Kochunni’s father is a thief. But Kochunni is able to watch the training from a distance and learn it with the help of Janaki. When Thangal realizes how much he has learned from a distance in such a short period of time, he decides that this particular person could be his successor.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This decision to have the son of a thief who just started training, to be the successor of Thangal enrages the former best student of the academy, Kesavan Pillai (Sunny wayne), who decides to leave with a promise to return for vengeance. In a village which seems to be in full control of the upper castes, Kochunni is asked to find some lost gold from the bottom of a river. When he does the same, the upper caste landlords who wish to keep the gold for themselves instead of giving it to the king, gets their goons to attack Kochunni, declare him as a thief. They also have Janaki judged for being in love with someone outside her caste, and she is stoned as well as banished from the village. Even though his friend Vava (Manikandan R Achari) and the rebel Kochu Pillai (Shine Tom Chacko) supports him, there is no hope as he is left to die. But it is not the end of his story, is it?

The defence of Kayamkulam Kochunni :: The movie has the life of Kayamkulam Kochunni brought to us straight, and without pretentions, and there is focus on the problems faced by the subaltern, those who have no say in how things proceed. The subaltern, the lower caste who suffers due to the laws made by the rich and the powerful, the upper caste supported by the whites get their hero who is more than just a thief who steals from the poor and gives it to the rich. Kochunni gets the strength of a revolutionary hero who strives for equality, and the change that comes on the character is visible as the movie progresses. The visuals are great, and the time period is nicely recreated with all the necessary elements. The viewers are transported to the age, and gets close to the life of the protagonist easily. The final moments provide the heroism with further strength.

The claws of flaw :: The story would seem usual, with a hero of the masses fighting against the men in power – it shows that side of the heroes which is rather too common. The legend of Kayamkulam Kochunni does deserve more than that, to rise above the usual fighter for the downtrodden. He is supposed to become our heroic outlaw, our own Robin Hood, but the same is not there. We can also notice that there is the usual separation of good and evil here, and the predictability with the story’s twists is rather strange. The movie could have also been darker in theme at least in parts, but it seems that there is no attempt made here to go beyond the usual, and this one seems to attempt to provide the natural for the family audience instead of striving further. After all, this is the most expensive Malayalam movie to be made so far, and the expectations were always high.

The performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly manages to do the whole thing really well, especially with the transformation. The first part surely came naturally to him, and there is exaggeration with that side, but when things go further, everything gets serious, and the final moments have him even stronger. The role seems to have deviated well for him, suiting him more and more as it progresses. He has been venturing into the variety with movies like Hey Jude, Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, Sakhavu, Jacobinte Swargarajyam and Action Hero Biju, all showing different versions of him. He has been choosing his movies well, and here we see no difference. Among the female characters, Priyanka Thimmesh is the second heroine, and she has not much to do, except for that much needed existence to keep things moving forward.

Further performers of the soul :: Priya Anand who was last seen in her only other Malayalam movie Ezra, was there in the much loved song “Kalariyadavum” – she manages to do justice to a role which also has an existence which is short-lived. Nora Fatehi is there for one dance performance. Mohanlal’s extended cameo makes the big impact, and it is a clear case of stealing the show with ease. The mood itself seems to change at that time, seemingly deviating from how things used to be. Babu Antony gets to be back again, with that martial arts strength that he has always possessed – he is the Dronacharya here that supports his Ekalavya. Sunny Wayne gets a strong role to play here, with no more the signs of being funny, and he displays the feelings of his character really well. Shine Tom Chacko and Manikandan R Achari make their smaller roles relevant and worth the time.

How it finishes :: When you think about this movie, the wait has been very long. Earlier set to release on 15 August 2018 and being further postponed, this one finally came to be big screen only a few days earlier. The song “Kalariyadavum” had already created the much needed effect for this movie, and with our own local Robin Hood story, this was always going to be something everyone would attempt to watch. It is to be noted that another version of Robin Hood is releasing in one month and a week. Well, the need for the common man’s hero has been more than ever during these days. There is always the presence of the rich and the powerful dictating the terms without any consideration for the people in need – the relevance shall never cease to exist, and Kochunni will remain the prototype from this part of the world. Let us enjoy the efforts taken by the makers here to bring the man alive again.

Release date: 11th October 2018
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Rosshan Andrrews
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Priya Anand, Priyanka Thimmesh, Babu Antony, Shine Tom Chacko, Sunny Wayne, Romanch, Manikandan R. Achari, Sidhartha Siva, Sadiq, Thesni Khan, Sunil Sukhada, Sudheer Karamana, MS Bhaskar, Edavela Babu, Jude Anthany Joseph, Sudev Nair, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Ashwini Chandrashekhar, Mohanlal (cameo), Nora Fatehi (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ezra

ezra-2

Vampire Owl: Malayalam movies have always needed more horror movies.

Vampire Bat: This has come after a long wait too.

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time we really loved a Malayalam horror movie?

Vampire Bat: I am not sure about that. We have been loving the Hollywood horror only.

Vampire Owl: I heard that it has a little bit of Jewish culture in Kerala.

Vampire Bat: And that it was also going to be dubbed into more than one other language?

Vampire Owl: I hope one or two vampire languages are added.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that this one will be different. It is evident from the poster and also from what people talk about it.

Vampire Owl: Ghosts need to be shown different, because they are all not the same.

Vampire Bat: Well, maybe this is the answer to the prayers of many such spirits.

[Gets the tickets with masala tea and caramel popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Ranjan Mathew (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is an orphan and a successful professional working in Mumbai. After falling in love with an interior designer Priya Raghunathan (Priya Anand) who is also based in Mumbai, they get married against the wishes of her parents. One and half years later, he gets a transfer to Cochin, and despite Priya’s reluctance to move from the city which had become a part of her, they relocate to the new place, which is a mansion-like old house rented to them upon the recommendation of Father Samuel (Vijayaraghavan) who is not just a priest, but also Ranjan’s uncle. Ranjan’s company is dealing with disposing the nuclear waste from the nuclear reactors in South India, and he is in charge of the operations. Meanwhile, A.C.P. Shafeer Ahammed (Tovino Thomas) is tired of investigating a strange murder in an antique shop which leaves no clue.

So, what happens next? :: As Priya has a lot of free time, she tries to do some interior work for their new house and buys some interesting items from the shop of Moosa (Alencier Ley Lopez) who had managed to bring a few new things of interest from the house of a Jew who died without a heir in the country, as everyone had left for Israel. After getting a box from the shop and opening it, things begin to change, as Priya sees a creepy figure in the mirror as well as the wardrobe, and Ranjan hears footsteps from the roof – and more spooky things follow. As Father Samuel finds Jewish inscriptions on a strange box, he advises Ranjan to consult Rabbi David Benyamin (Babu Antony) who resides in Mumbai. As Ranjan comes to know that Priya is pregnant, he becomes more desperate, but David’s death follows, and now the only hope seems to be in the form of Rabbi Marcus (Sujith Shanker) who has arrived at Cochin.

The defence of Ezra :: There is variety without doubt in Ezra, and the same can be said about the quality displayed in this movie. The visuals are really well-used here to create the advantage, and the darkness as well as some spooky elements are created well with the use of sound effects, and these work really well in the first half to make us interested in the second. There is also a lot in the story told here, unlike the other horror movies, and the creature that this flick chooses here is not among the usual ones, as the myth used is something not many people around here have known before. The use of a perfect setting and antiques happen to be something that works for this flick more than any other horror movie. There is also one twist that happens by the end, even though it is the only big surprise in the movie, and could have been presented in a better way. The songs are good, especially “Lailakame”.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does get a curse, and it happens in the second half, as many other movies – this evil spirit doesn’t really make that much impact as it should in the latter part, and the final exorcism, brings nothing huge. There were so many possibilities with this movie, and the infinite chances are not used at all – it is kind of strange that the movie doesn’t bring the special ingredient; there were so many opportunities and Ezra hesitates to think out of the box, even with a spirit from inside a box. As we see the characters watching The Conjuring 2 on television, one has no doubt about one movie which has inspired this one. But Ezra has so much of hesitation in unleashing the terror – the viewers find so many situations which could have been scarier, but the movie doesn’t seem to find the need to bring huge scares. Also, at one point, you feel that this is the Odette Annable starrer The Unborn, but then it is not; there is just the dybbuk and the pregnancy in common.

Performers of the soul :: In a movie that has Prithviraj as the protagonist, it is him who leads the way – it is the first half that gets the best of him with a simple and rather natural touch to the proceedings – not that much with the final scenes though. Priya Anand makes a Malayalam debut which the Keralites will remember. Sujith Shanker makes a surprising entry here, and in this role, most of us might not even recognise that he is the same person from Njan Steve Lopez and Maheshinte Prathikaram – it is quite solid work. Tovino Thomas, even though he is there for less amount of time, has his moments. Vijayaraghavan is fine there, but Babu Antony’s stay is cut short; the same is the case of Pratap K. Pothen and Alencier Ley Lopez who leaves the proceedings rather too early. Sudev Nair and Ann Sheetal has a nicely created flashback scene which is done fine.

How it finishes :: There is a little shortage of horror movies in Malayalam movie industry, and there is a lot of shortage in the case of good horror movies – the latter is also applicable to the Bollywood film industry too, which is why, for the Indian cinema as a whole, the requirement is for more good horror. There is no need for more drama and more romance – there is too much of the same already, and there is nothing closer to life than horror, in one way or the other. Therefore, Ezra‘s presence is something which has to be appreciated, and despite not using all the possibilities in the scary side, manages to be a horror movie with a difference as far as the Malayalam movie industry is considered. It is evident that the Malayalam movies are back after that break – and each release this year, including Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, Jomonte Suviseshangal, Fukri and Ezra have stayed different from each other.

Release date: 10th February 2016
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Jay K
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Priya Anand, Tovino Thomas, Sudev Nair, Vijayaraghavan, Sujith Shanker, Pratap K. Pothen, Babu Antony, Alencier Ley Lopez, Ann Sheetal

ezra

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.