Nizhal

What is the movie about? :: John Baby (Kunchacko Boban), a district court judge gets into a car accident after being in a fight with rash bike rider. After the accident, he begins to see things, and when there is sunshine, he keeps seeing dark clouds and rain. His psychatrist Dr TP Basheer (Rajesh Hebbar) tells him that it is just post-traumatic stress which will be over in a few days. He is also forced to wear a mask to make sure his damaged nose wouldn’t suffer any more damage, and will stay stable. He is not able to continue with his job as he used to, and his senior, Ajith Kumar (Saiju Kurup) is doubtful about his mental status. His best friend Rajan (Rony David) and wife Shalini (Divya Prabha) helps him, as latter is also a psychologist. From Shalini, he gets to know about a boy named Nitin (Izin Hash) who had written a story of murder when teachers had told the students to do some creative writing exercise. The teachers are concerned because as a child, he was supposed to write about things less terrifying by a long way.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As this has him interested, he meets Sharmila (Nayanthara) the boy’s mother with the help of Shalini so that he could get rid of the feeling that something is wrong. Even though she doesn’t agree in the beginning, she lets them into their home fearing the police getting into the act. Nitin seems to be a happy little boy who lives with his mother in a luxurious flat in the middle of the city, and his only contact is Megha (Aadya Prasad), a college student who comes regularly to teach him, and is his only real friend. Nitin gets close to John easily, especially due to his mask which reminded him about Batman and Robin. Soon, things take a turn, as they understand that the murder which the boy had talked about, is something which had really happened. The body which was supposed to be hidden in the area which he mentioned actually existed, as they fnd a skeleton which was about thirty years old. Now, the boy has another story, and things begin to get serious with police involved.

The defence of Nizhal :: There is a certain amount of quality that we can witness as far as b is considered as a mystery thriller – this is the style which some of the Prithviraj movies had possessed, those belonging to the same genre. The technical department is quite strong here, and we see some fine visuals and the background score as well as the other sound effects are of top quality. The mystery is well maintained throughout the film, and there is the suspense which is not revealed that easily. The movie, as a thing of mystery has that Hollywood touch in different areas. It never lets the slowing down of the tale to hurt it, because there is the artistic quality which makes everything feel relevant and running. The first half is surely better than the second, and the interval punch is of top quality, as it is where you get your expectations to the highest point. From there, the movie travels through the safer zone in comparison.

The claws of flaw :: The climax could have surely been better, instead of seemingly taking everything towards what seemed to be a rather convenient ending – not really appropriate for a movie which had taken itself out of the comfort zone in the early stages making one feel that this was going to be something divergent beyond expectations. There are also those situations which could have been more twisted than what is seen on the screen, and moments when it could have taken a big leap. We could have also seen better reasons for what has happened on the screen, but that is also not here to be taken. The comic relief, even though is pretty good, disappears too soon, and the seriousness is not transformed into that next level as it was needed, when we see the final moments of the film. One can’t really blame that as the biggest mystery and fear has been about the Corona virus for some time now. The movie also needed better advertising because there are still people who don’t know about this one.

The performers of the soul :: Kunchako Boban has been winning with his thriller movies, from Anjaam Pathiraa to Nayattu, the first one being an investigation thriller and the second one being a survival thriller against all odds. With all these movies, it is clear that he is getting rid of that romantic hero image once again, as this works really well for him. I would expect to find many more of similar movies with him in the lead, as we see how well this has suited him. After Love Action Drama, Nayanthara makes another return to Malayalam cinema, and this time it is into another genre, even though this time, we don’t have the whole thing centered around her – there is no real romantic side to this tale, and it is indeed a positive thing in a mystery thriller based on murders. Her character is also limited in comparison, and maybe it could have had more dimensions rather than being important as the mother of child causing trouble.

Further performers of the soul :: Izin Hash who plays the kid does the usual job quite well too. Saiju Kurup does things well in a role which suits him. Lal makes an appearance in the end, and it is the kind of role, though significant, stays on for the last fifteen minutes or so. Maybe, he could have had something to do earlier in the film too, and that would have made the whole thing better. Rony David who is best remembered for Aanandam, plays a significant role here too, and Divya Prabha who were among the nurse characters in Take Off has a nice role here, as a child psychologist, which she does to perfection – another case of finding the right support cast. We also see Marimayam‘s Vinod Kovoor and Star Magic‘s Kollam Sudhi in smaller roles, and we can hope for more of them later too. Among others, Aadhya Prasad seemed to be a notable newcomer, and we can find out that the lesser roles are given to those who are suitable for the job.

How it finishes :: Nizhal is the latest in the list of those Malayalam movies which were forced out of the theatres due to the COVID-19 complete lock-down being brought on the state. It is a fine choice, as nothing reaches viewers like Amazon Prime. After Drishyam 2 became a huge success and Joji received some high level critical opinion, it was already too late for a movie like this to have its release in the OTT platform. So, finally it arrived, and one can be sure not to be disappointed with this mystery thriller, as it is more than the usual mysteries which you see everywhere. It was also nice to see parts of UC College, Aluva being included in parts of the movie – the college had its biggest appearance in Premam, but here also, we are happy to see that grand educational institution which only recently completed one hundred years since its beginning. Nizhal, as a mystery thriller wins its battle, and lets hope that we win ours against COVID-19 too. Stay safe, everyone.

Release date: 9th April 2021 (Theatre), 11th May 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Appu N Bhattathiri
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Nayanthara, Lal, Rony David, Saiju Kurup, Izin Hash, Divya Prabha, Vinod Kovoor, Aneesh Gopal, Siyad Yadu, Sadiq, Aadhya Prasad, Rajesh Hebbar, Kollam Sudhi, Sreelatha Namboothiri

<— If looking for horror genre in Amazon Prime, read this review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hey Jude

What is the movie about? :: Dominique Rodriguez (Siddique) and Mariya Rodriguez (Neena Kurup), are living a pretty good life with their children Jude Rodriguez (Nivin Pauly) and Andrea Rodriguez (Apoorva Bose) at Fort Cochin. They trace their lineage a long way back, as one of the most respectable Anglo-Indian families at the place. Dominique runs an antique shop nearby, and his skills in doing business depends on his ability to lie so well that he makes a usual thing a symbol of Dravidian world or the last piece of a part of Indian heritage that is not found anywhere else in the country – he sells them at high prices to unsuspecting foreigners who have a strange fascination for the orient, the fine pearls of the East, especially of India. But his son Jude is just the opposite, never able to lie, but more intelligent than anyone else around; at the same time, he completely lacks in any kind of social skill.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jude has no friends in the city, and his co-workers make sure that he gets fired from his job at a hardware company. He spends his time collecting pictures of different aquatic animals – he has all the information about ocean’s creatures, and loves clown fish, jelly fish and gold fish and his dream is about owning a big aquarium one day. While his parents are worried about his future, his sister finds no hope in him, as he wishes to have food at the exact same time every day, and eats only the same food items all the time. He has a list for almost everything in his life, and talks to his video camera about each day about his thoughts. Twenty eight years old and being different from everyone around him, he has a tough time going through each and every day of his life. But he is not ready to accompany his father with the work.

And what follows next in the adventure? :: When Dominique has to travel to Goa to attend a funeral, things change. He has to take Jude and Mariya with him on the journey, leaving Andrea in charge of the antique shop. There, it turns out that Dominique and Jude have inherited everything which was owned by the dead person who had special love for the distant relatives. Now, the problem that Domique faces in selling the newly acquired property and traveling back to Cochin is Sebastian Chakraparambu (Vijay Menon) who lives with his daughter Crystal Ann Chakraparambu (Trisha Krishnan) in the outhouse which cannot be cleared as the building was rented for a period of five years. Dominique comes up with some plans to get rid of the new neighbours, but nothing works. At the same time, Jude and Crystal become good friends, but both have their own troubles in facing life.

The defence of Hey Jude :: From the first moments itself, you are sure that this is that kind of a light-hearted entertainer with messages for life, which will be developing slowly and steadily as the movie progresses. Hey Jude can be considered as the simplest and the most entertaining movie from the director who has known to provide us with strong philosophical side to ponder about. The humour is a clear winner in this movie, as it keeps dropping in all the time. All the characters in this movie are funny in one way or the other, and things never go out of control to bring a possible dark side. The funny side has us more and more interested in the proceedings, and with the grand visuals of Goa, all becomes good for this movie. The music is pretty good, and as it has been talked about, this is a lovely tale of love, self-discovery, healing and transformation. It gets into the list of inspirational movies which have made the big impact in the industry – we see the support for people to be who they want to be.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is kind of longer than one would have wanted it to be. Then, those who wanted Shyamaprasad to go into those deeper human emotions and situations are going to feel the need for more. One can feel that there has been the effort to make things a little too simple – it was surely not needed considering how far our audience could evolve from the time the first movie of the same director released. The movie could have also ended smarter and without a quick full stop. If you don’t like movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, and are unable to connect to the protagonists of those movie, you would have the same trouble here – well, some so called perfect people will always have problems with these kinds of characters, as they jump right out of the firmament with stored thunder in mouth; this one is not for that kind of people born with silver spoons and even golden forks in their mouths.

The performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly surely has the most divergent as well as different character that he has had to play in his whole career, and he could manage the same with great skill. Meanwhile, Trisha makes her Malayalam debut here, and she does that with ease – it is surely surprising that it took her such a long time to be here, but as she is here, it is all good. Well, she has played a Malayali girl in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, making this not the first instance of being part of such a character. Siddique plays the father figure again, as we see him at his best just after watching him in Aadhi in the role of a responsible father – this one is actually more challenging, and his work is light-hearted as well as interesting. Neena Kurup is there throughout as the mother figure, and it is nice to see Apoorva Bose back in action; she was being missed. Vijay Menon plays a funny as well as powerful character present throughout the flick. Aju Varghese has a nice, funny cameo to his credit.

How it finishes :: Shyamaprasad is the one director whom we know the most for adapting the American classic expressionist play, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams for the Malayalam audience, and doing that with such skill, that Mahatma Gandhi University has included it in the paper, Comparative Literature for the final semester BA English students. Arike, which signified the exact opposite meaning to Akale, was another beautiful flick with its quest for love. Ivide with its quest for identity and reflecting rootlessness, was also with philosophical undercurrents. But Hey Jude is rather direct in all that it reflects on the screen, and it can be considered as the most light-hearted as well as the funniest movie from the director with messages to go with it. If you liked movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, I don’t see why you won’t watch this one with family.

Release date: 2nd February 2018
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Shyamaprasad
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Trisha Krishnan, Siddique, Neena Kurup, Vijay Menon, Apoorva Bose, Aju Varghese (cameo), Shyamaprasad (cameo)

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Split

Vampire Owl: Sometimes, I feel that I am more than one person.

Vampire Bat: Due to you being unable to keep your promises, we have all felt the same on one day or the other.

Vampire Owl: You are taking this the negative way.

Vampire Bat: I remember you telling us that you were not you, but another you when asked about coming for the vampire exercise.

Vampire Owl: But that was not me, but a shadow of me.

Vampire Bat: You just found a few reasons to run away from everything; that is what happened.

Vampire Owl: I am telling you that all of you haven’t met my most dominant side yet.

Vampire Bat: And that will still be you.

Vampire Owl: My zombie minions clearly understand all these.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why they wouldn’t try to agree to your theory about yourself, as it is told to your own brainless minions.

[Gets three cups of masala tea with special ghee roast].

What is the movie about? :: Three teenagers, including best friends Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), along with another girl Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), who were part of a birthday party celebration, are kidnapped while returning home. They wake up only hours later, and they realise that they are held in captivity by a man known by the name Dennis. This particular person is actually one of the twenty three personalities present in the mind of Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy). This man, who was a victim of childhood abuse was having a case of dissociative identity disorder, and has been treated by his psychiatrist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley). The girls soon meet Patricia, which is actually the same person dressed in women’s clothes, and is just a little nicer than Dennis. They also meet Hedwig, who is the third personality, a nine year old boy who is looking for some fun and is afraid of Dennis and Patricia.

So, what happens next? :: The three girls discuss how to escape, and while Claire wishes to pounce on the man and attack him, Casey keeps thinking about a smarter way to get out from there. It is Claire who tries to escape first through the ventillation, and she does get to an open space in the building, but is caught by Dennis who takes over from Hedwig and chases her. She is taken to a room, and is kept there in solitary confinement. Marcia also tries to escape, when Patricia is in charge, but she also finds her, and threatening with a knife, gets her into another room alone. Meanwhile, Casey also tries to make a radio call, outsmarting Hedwig, but that idea also doesn’t work, and Patricia gets hold of her, as she gets locked up again. These two personalities, Dennis and Patricia, who have replaced Barry who was the earlier dominant personality, are planning present the three girls to a rumoured twenty fourth personality, known only as the Beast – can the girls escape before that?

The defence of Split :: After you read the synopsis and summary of this one, you know that something different is in store, and the same has been provided here by M. Night Shyamalan who continues his run after the lesser hyped thriller, The Visit. The movie goes on steadily right from the beginning, and we soon comes to know what is awaiting us as the flick progresses. There are some nice twists, and a fine finish in the end, which makes way for a sequel which could be even better than this one, so much is the potential there. Our director is one man who knows how to keep the balance, between the psychological thriller and the supernatural thriller, and the same is revealed here. We already know how good he can be, and this is the movie that once again proves the same for the non-believers who go on this very interesting journey that will keep you guessing what is coming up next with the unpredictability of not just the antagonist, but also the protagonist who has her own big flashbacks.

The claws of flaw :: Split, with its variety in treatment, might not be the movie for everyone, as M. Night Shyamalan makes the difference again while not following the usual path. With this kind of a premise, people might be expecting something else, but not with this man at the helm. Split, even when there exists not much of a fault, will have to face those strange female reviewers who will also keep looking for the quantity of clothes that the female characters are wearing – something which doesn’t even come close to being anything by even Bollywood standards; well, some reviewers from India are the kind of people who are busy praising Hindi movies, and haven’t seen many movies from the other languages, and don’t intend to. Lets hope that the sequel to this movie is kept away from them as much as possible. Maybe, some people would have also wanted this to go faster, and with more action to go with the same – the need to see all those personalities might also be there with a few viewers.

Performers of the soul :: As expected, it is James McAvoy who leads the way here with one man and his multiple personalities – he shines with each one of them, and you are going to notice the Hedwig one more than any other. He is certainly the one person who can handle even more than this number of people inside him, and the character or rather the characters within the character are very much safe with him; maybe the Oscars next year can try and deserve him. Anya Taylor-Joy is one amazing talent as she continues her run, from The Witch, through Morgan and now into this movie – we see the character through sadness and a depressing past. The two other girls, Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula are not too far away in performances either, as they also leave a mark – both of them surely have a long way to go; more memorable scream queens should be there in store for us. Maybe they could have gotten to battle the rumoured beast a lot too.

How it finishes :: Releasing here a little bit late compared to its United States release, M. Night Shyamalan had showed signs of his return with the interesting thriller which was The Visit, and this one even does better. Unlike After Earth which was one terrible movie without doubt, his three negatively reviewed movies before that were not that terrible when we look at it overall. Lady in the Water, The Happening and The Last Airbender were all movies with so much scope and could have been there, even though they fell short. The same doesn’t happen with Split, as the force remains strong with this one, considering how it progresses, and how the cast is used to maximum impact. This year might be having the best thriller very early itself, as Split has all it takes to go the distance, being quite the improvement from The Visit. M. Night Shyamalan is back for real, and you can tell that to the other movie fans in the neighbourhood! If you liked this movie, also go for 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Release date: 20th January 2017 (USA); 24th February 2017 (India)
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Betty Buckley, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus, Neal Huff, Kim Director, Lyne Renée, M. Night Shyamalan, Bruce Willis (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mama

mama (3)

This one goes back a little to the past in this year itself, and this is one of those movies which could easily initiate such a sequence in the eternal time machine. This is rather more of the present than the past, as it doesn’t really go back that far if there is an intellectual consideration in depth. It was different in being different, and therefore its influence had to be such a lasting thing. There is one point where all the interest about this movie begins, and that is when one reads these lines from its cover – “Presented by Guillermo del Toro, creator of Pan’s Labyrinth“. He serves as executive producer, and as far as it is known, the movie is based on a 2008 short film of the same name in Spanish, about which there is nothing more to shoot in the quiver which is short of its crossbow bolts from that part of the world. The movie comes up with the dark tale of two little girls left in a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods, taken care of by an unknown person or creature that they call Mama, and the same entity even follows the girls to their new home to which their father’s brother takes them after finding them as two feral children.

During a financial crisis, a disappointed and depressed man, Jeffrey Desange (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), kills his business partners and wife before taking his little children Victoria and Lilly away from home. Driving too fast on a road paved by snow and upset with all the thoughts about his failures and the crimes he had committed, the car slides off the path and crashes in the woods. Jeffrey takes the children and walks away from civilization, finally reaching something that seems to be an abandoned cabin. He plans to murder his daughters and commit suicide with a gun, but then a mysterious figure arrives in time to instantly kill him and it also feeds the two children. Victoria talks about the figure as a woman whose legs don’t touch the ground. Then the scene shifts to five years later, with Jeffrey’s brother, the kids’ uncle Lucas Desange (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), living with his girlfriend Annabel Moore (Jessica Chastain). They don’t live under good conditions, but Lucas haven’t lost hope about finding the children of his brother. He still sponsors search parties hoping to find some trace of his brother and children.

One of them find the children alive in the same cabin, but dirty, half-naked, horribly thin and with an animal-like behaviour – walking on four legs and talking like making some strange noises. The girls are put under the care of psychatirst Dr. Gerald Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash). They keeps talking about someone called “Mama”. He feels that it is just a creation of the girls’ minds as they were alone in the woods without help. But soon, Lucas is attacked by the same shadowy figure known as Mama and enters a comma. Annabel is forced to take care of the girls all by herself even as Mama’s visits continue. Annabel does get close to the elder child, Victoria, but Lilly remains hostile and highly attached only to Mama. Meanwhile, Gerald finds out something about this mysterious figure from the clues which Victoria gave away. Mama is a mother separated from her child – she used to be Edith Brennan, a mental asylum inmate in the 1800s. He also finds a box containing an infant’s remains from that former mental asylum which was kept as her belonging there. Meanwhile, Annabel has a nightmare revealing Mama’s past which reveals more about her. Lucas also has a disturbing dream of his dead brother Jeffrey telling him to save his kids.

But there might have been more about Mama that what met the eye. She is undoubtedly supernatural as well as tormented. The problem remained if she is normal and thus if she is reasonable. The psychatrist might have thought so, but the experience doesn’t go well for him. Even Lucas and his wife has to go through near-death experiences. So the question would be more about “why mama why?” rather than “who is mama?”. Well, mama is undoubtedly a former mother who no longer exists as a human mother. The nature of her strange love for her child is evident from her asylum background. The question might be about how much torment a mentally unstable ghost can cause to a group of normal, living people. That would be a lot of it, much more than what the mentally unstable father of two little children could do. How much is the chance of one making peace with her? It wasn’t possible when she was alive, and considering the fact that she is more motivated by the love for children rather than anything else, the solution becomes even more complicated in the human world.

Mama is a visual treat of a horror film, and not part of the gory ones which take over in the usual style. There is a well-created world of horror right in front of you all the time, and then suddenly there is a scene that takes your breath further away and then it goes back to normal to await the next thing. Welcome to this story of old-style less bloody horror movie of low gore level. There are signs of Guillermo del Toro’s magical extravaganza Pan’s Labyrinth or El laberinto del fauno, are evident in both the characters as well as the environment. There is the feeling of a dark fantasy through out and there is the lack of sunshine which is more motivating than the depressing thing which it might have become, which is a success in all ways. It’s just how horror films should be, without using any cheap or low class tricks. The looks of Mama is also a revelation, as she emerges from the walls or closet, sometimes suddenly and on other occasions as if part of all the horror that surrounds them. The use of moths to show Mama’s presence is a further effective thing, as it shows more of her tormented sould which is not completely evil, thus owl, crow or bat not chosen; neither is the wolf or cat given a chance at it. Mama is more of a butterfly rather than anything else, but a fierce one.

The movie’s dark world move along the path of Pan’s Labyrinth, but it is still not of that class of ultimate perfection and awesomeness, and still is close enough. It meets Hansel and Gretel in its witch-like creature who is less of a ghost and more of an undead freak of nature. There it shows the qualities of The Orphan meeting The Grudge and The Ring in a good way. Mama could have even made a good creature in Alien or The Exorcist, and the creature’s success is in its strange, but “suitable for almost every genre” looks. She is a dark fairy, the nature’s spectre, the tormented undead mother and the dark elf. She belongs to nature and as a creature to the living, she is more moth or a group of moths rather than anything else. They signify her presence, and if she takes the children with her, there will be more moths for sure. There is the positive thing – the innovation, for how the ghost is treated around here with a difference. The movie is fresh in its treatment of a new ghostly creature with heavy parental instincts. Such a creature is not onne would expect in such a movie, and until it appears everything might look more psychological than supernatural, even if the signs are already there from the beginning itself.

While Mama is a benevolent spirit when it comes to two children, but she is a malevolent and even a death-dealer with everyone else. She hasn’t yet become pure evil, even as her allignment away from goodness and sanity is clear by the climax scene. Even her unseen presence suggests the same. Her moths symbolize the little beauty that she has lost to death and decay and the beautiful world which was lost to her more due to the people around rather than her own madness. There are no usual suspects of the common supernatural, as there is only the variation which is Mama. The movie is very much dependent on your taste to survive, but the fact remains that it is more close to being suitable for all people with not that much blood and gore, or the display of any kind of nudity – well, this one never needed it considering its content and presentation. There is not much of a male gaze or a possible female gaze working out in this one. It is story of an undead mother’s love and with the addition of insanity to it, there is a lot to think about. There is no compromise in being spooky or creepy enough though.

Release date: 18th January 2013
Running time: 100 minutes
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Megan Charpentier, Isabelle Nélisse, Daniel Kash, Javier Botet, Jane Moffat

mama copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Table No. 21

tablenotw1

There are times when one has break the narrative and the flow, and come up with something which he missed in his writing, something which deserved to be there, but faded into the void even before threatening to make an impact. This would need a flashback and some scratching of the memories, and here comes one movie which was left out thinking that it was released in 2012 while remembering the dates from February when this blog was started, but actually the date was 4th January 2013 – but considering how good a movie it is, there is the need for it to be present here, and here I add this one to the middle of the others, almost like inserting the past into the present even as 2013 as a whole could be considered the present. This can be more considered as a guest, or a former tenant who couldn’t stay in the house enough to make it known to the neighbours and the people of the town or village. Well, Table No. 21 is much more than a simple tenant – it is more of an owner of its own genre, something which would be revealed more as we progress. Welcome to the group, forgotten movie – for you are to be remembered in this post with a status as good as the others, as belonging to the present, for you deserve it; this is more of a honorary status.

I am being lenient on this one considering my ignorance which was inflicted upon this so brutally, even as the brutality affects not even Mickey Mouse. The question would be more like how much brutal this movie can be – and how cruel the game master can be. Well, this is about a game, and that much should be certain for everyone who has read something about the movie. The unemployed couple Vivaan (Rajeev Khandelwal) and Siya (Tena Desae) gets a chance to visit Fiji. To add to the glory of visiting the beautiful islands, it is their wedding anniversary. But all the beauty tends to take a wrong turn as they encounter Mr. Khan (Paresh Rawal), the owner of the resort who invites the couple to take part in a live game show named Table No. 21 which offers a breath-taking amount of 10 million Fijian Dollars as the prize money – something which would convert to crores of rupees. The rules are simple – a total of eight questions will be asked regarding their personal life for which they have to answer truthfully with an yes or no, and have to do the task assigned to each question. They are not allowed to quit in the middle of the game, and neither can they skip a question or its related task. Their mobiles are taken away and are surrounded by cameras and henchmen.

The questions first seem very easy to answer and the confidence level reaches new heights for the couple, as if they were made for this game and all their financial needs are soon to be met. Their doubts about this is an idea to make fun of them, slowly vanishes. The first question about their love and the task to kiss in public was of no trouble. The question concerning them knowing each other and the task of Siya eating non-vegetarian is also of not too much difficulty. The question concerning manipulating others and the task of instant manipulation creates no tension even if it leads to slight suspicions which they leave behind thinking about the huge amount of money which awaited them. Then comes the difficult parts, the need for blood which is the first dangerous and life threatening situation of the game, as Vivaan answers he would go to any extent to save his love – the point is that here he has to fight his tendency to faint at seeing blood to save her by filling a bottle full of his blood and use it as a key to unlock a glass cage short of oxygen. Even in an unfamiliar territory, as the need had arisen, the task is completed right in time.

The question of love continues, and the task involves shaving Siya’s head to which they protest, but is brought back into the game by threatening, with the lady ending up with a shaved head. The next question is about domestic violence, and Siya is asked to return a slap she recieved from him with full force, a point when they realize that the master of the game knows more about them than they thought, even the most personal details. The task involving Vivaan vandalizing a random car puts him in trouble as he gets beaten up as well as getting almost caught by police, and what it does worse is when he asks help and thus breaks the rules landing his wife in trouble. He arrives in time to save his wife, but that is not the last of the troubles, as the game goes on, the situation becomes even more strange and horrible, and they realize that their past is being reminded in a horrid manner. But the true realization comes only the end, and it is where the game master is justified and the hidden truth of the past is revealed to the audience. But this revelation never overpowers the thrills and the social message, as the balance is successfully maintained. An another message could be said to be against the greed and never-ending avarice, the desire for easy money and also about the meaninglessness of reality shows.

Parwesh Rawal seems to have the movie working like a flawless machine with his performance as the game master. He is the most hospitable resort owner, the sadistic manipulator and a loving father, three in one. Even as he has the second personality during most of the movie and may be before the horrid twist happens to the game, there is no loss of the power of trio in himself. Rajeev Khandelwal does his character in a rightly truthful manner. There is no exaggeration of the personality and there is nothing unnecessary added to it; the simplicity in complexity attributed to the character is lesser only to that of the game master – he traverses from the inflictor or pain to the vulnerable one at the recieving end. Tena Desae as Siya – has blended in well from the beach, bikinis and love to fear, anxiety and absolute horror. From having a shaved head to being in one of the worst situations for a damsel in distress at a strip club, from the passionate and loyal lover to losing her character and trust, from the photogenic lady in bikini to the oppressor who became the oppressed, it is quite a powerful performance adding to the strength of the film. There is no flat, static character among these, for they have all gone through the much needed changes.

The movie rests on the three, and if we add the next two important characters, the whole suspense would be lost. As the clues, there is the college were these two met and fell in love and there is the case of ragging. There is no loss of intensity in that flashback story too. The bottomline of the movie is its message that ragging is not a joke, but a crime. The title of the movie comes from the article 21, on the protection of life and liberty. The message is as powerful as the movie, and the use of flashbacks has worked perfectly to suit the overall mood of the movie, and the whole game is more or less a recreation of their cruel deeds at the college as the seniors. Even the uneasy silence and the absence of descriptions in the movie makes an impact and the whole setup which leads to one powerful social message is the ultimate triumph of the movie. But, the message is not used as a propaganda. A joke is no joke that causes harm to others and having fun at the expense of others is both a sin and a crime – this is the best way it can be summarized. The injection of reality into unreality in a sincere manner as to create the feeling of truth – it is surely not something many horror movies desire to achieve and not something any popular horror movie has come up with so far.

The greatest advantage of this movie is that it surprises you – right from the beginning to end; almost every moment has a certain amount of unpredictability associated with it, sometimes with the twists of plot and sometimes with the performance of the cast. There are lesser moments when it would seem that this one has lost its gasoline, but then it comes up with an alternative fuel which takes over and makes this one run better. The biggest of the twist comes up with the social message which is the most striking element of the movie and how it is unveiled is a method of slow, step by step ignition leading to the big catastrophe of ultimate success. There was rarely a moment when the movie was not ahead of the audience, creating that element of spooky suspense, and by the end, one comes to know how much ahead it really is, in a world where the suspense horror movies never really got its due – suffering from a typical horror movie rights violation due to some too-natural or never-natural romantic love stories which never really deserved to be called movies; therefore this is your welcome break and not to be missed even for a chance to go to Mars and be imprisoned by the Martians virtually created by the lies of science which people adore and would never cease to believe.

Release date: 4th January 2013
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed by: Aditya Datt
Starring: Paresh Rawal, Tena Desae, Rajeev Khandelwal, Dhruv Ganesh

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.