Salute

Vampire Owl: This movie surely had our attention early enough.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we noticed something about this one quite long ago.

Vampire Owl: We have all been fond of such thrillers.

Vampire Bat: This seems to be something on the lines of Meppadiyan.

Vampire Owl: Yes, a thriller which seems to reflect the usual happenings.

Vampire Bat: A thriller that makes us more conscious then!

Vampire Owl: We should be better aware of the human world for sure.

Vampire Bat: We can never be aware enough about human evil.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but it is always better to be prepared.

Vampire Bat: Well, you will know that you can never be enough prepared for anything what the humans can offer.

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: SI Aravind Karunakaran (Dulquer Salmaan) was one of the investigating officers on a murder case which was investigated by him and his brother who is also in the police force, DySP Ajith Karunakaran (Manoj K Jayan) along with a few others. They find the only person who holds a definite grudge against the murder victim and had also spoken against him – the same person had so many motives to commit the murder. The police feels cent percent sure that he was the one who committed the murder, and plants evidence against him, leading to his arrest. It is at the same time that another person seems to be linked to the murder, but the same police officers decide not to investigate on the case any more as it is closed, leaving everything to the court. Aravind is not happy about it though, and wishes to make a difference. But his brother and other senior police officers make sure that he won’t have any access to any clues, and keeps him busy with other work.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Aravind is fed up with the situation and decides to take five years leave without salary. He pursues a course in the North, and in the process meets Dia (Diana Penty) with whom he falls in love. She is the daughter of a military officer, and they start a live-in relationship. Things seem to go on in a usual manner, and then his niece Malavika Ajith (Saniya Iyappan) invites him to her wedding which is to happen soon. Ajith also asks him to come home early and be part of the preparations. He decides to return home, even though he had decided to leave his past behind. When he gets back to his hometown, he takes Dia with him, and the family members except Malavika are not pleased about the same. There, he gets the news that the man who was framed in the murder is now convicted in the case. He decides to cancel his leave and ho after it once again. But can he solve the case better this time, after so many years?

The defence of Salute :: It can be seen that Salute keeps the whole thing procedural, and there is no masala which is often added with the usual police movies which are more categorized to action rather than anything else. Some of the Bollywood movies have brought us shame in the recent years with their depiction of police officers, and I am sure that most of the sensible people wished for a change – mass masala is indeed not a genre, and is the lack of creative imagination and skills. Even for those films without much of action added, this remains very realistic in comparison. The emotional side also remains strong throughout the movie, as not all battles here are meant to hurt the others, and yet requires to serve justice. The way in which the story is told, as it moves from one point to the other, is to be applauded. It also have very less predictability in its working. There is the reflection of the intelligence of the writers and director displayed at regular intervals though the progression of the tale.

Positives and negatives :: The movie talks about impersonation, which happens rather too often than one would think about. It is something which can easily happen in our world, as people tend to believe others rather too easily. Some people have the skills to talk very well, and in the end, the common man will only end up believing the person and as a result, is cheated. The movie is still slow, and it has a little too much of a length than what was needed – maybe it could have been shortened by removing a few moments with the romantic side or family drama. This is also not the movie for everyone, as some people will be looking for a much different thing. You don’t get an invincible hero here, but you do get the faceless villain, and there is a certain amount of beauty related to it. Along with the same, there are many red herrings, and as we move from one clue to the other, we feel that we are so close to finding the person responsible for all of these, but the slip is so nicely orchestrated around here.

The performers of the soul :: This indeed among Dulquer Salmaan’s best movies in some time, and he has given the right controlled performance required for this particular role. There is no beating up the villains or taking the extreme measure to catch one of them – he is a flawed character like the one Prithviraj Sukumaran played in Memories or Joju George played in Joseph, even though much younger and more energetic. Dulquer plays the police officer who is held between the requirements of duty and family really well, and in between all of these, romance was indeed unnecessary. I am not fond of people who remember Dulquer for movies like Bangalore Days – he needs to come the mind for works like this one! On the other side, there is Manoj K Jayan, and the tension between the two brothers are shown very nicely, as the veteran actor also comes in strong as the elder brother and superior police officer. Diana Penty’s Malayalam debut is good to watch, but nothing much is added by the character. Saniya Iyappan plays the happy and cheerful niece well. There are a good number of people who play the police officers well here too.

How it finishes :: Salute is not your conventional police investigation thriller, as it follows a path which is much better, even though not for the taste of the typical fan boys. This is also a good reason for the movie to release on the OTT platform rather than the theatre. Movies like this one will not have that much of an appreciation from the usual crowd of the theatres, but with the release on SonyLIV, it has reached a bigger audience all around India – it is the kind of crowd that would be happy with divergent movies like this. With a fine narrative style, and having no police officer who throws people around, we are into the realistic mode – the cop here is not perfect, and neither is the world around him. We see the reflection of our own universe, for the usual police movies with throwing people around seem to belong to another multiverse, a parallel universe where the protagonists are superheroes with special powers which will bring the DC and Marvel metahumans to shame. We are real, and so is this movie – there is no wrong turn.

Release date: 17th March 2022 (SonyLIV)
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Rosshan Andrrews
Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Diana Penty, Saniya Iyappan, Manoj K Jayan, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Saikumar, Binu Pappu, Alencier Ley Lopez, Sudheer Karamana, Deepak Parambol, Irshad, Rajesh Sharma, Boban Alummoodan, Ganapathi S Poduval, Indrans, Vijilesh Karayad, Maala Parvathi, Nitin Thomas

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Kaaval

What is the movie about? :: Thamban Maathan (Suresh Gopi) and Antony Joseph (Renji Panikkar) used to be close friends for a long time, but now Antony is left alone at his home with his two children, Rachel Antony (Rachel David) and Alex Antony (Evan Anil). Antony’s health has been failing for a long time, and is troubled by those who had loaned them money, as well as some former adversaries. He wishes to get Rachel married as soon as possible, but it seems like an impossible task, as those who had provided them with money won’t allow that. The local SI Madhu K (Kichu Tellus) doesn’t care about what happens to Antony, as police has always held a grudge against him due to a few incidents which happened many years ago. They are only happy about Antony being at the receiving end of all these troublesome incidents. Head Constable Aravindakshan (Sadiq) is the only person who thinks otherwise, but is helpless. It is evident that the locals will also haunt their family in the name of their past.

So, what happens happens around here? :: Things would seem to go on as usual, but is only a matter of time until Thamban dies and the situation gets worse for Alex and Rachel. During their troublesome past, Thamban and Antony had been fighting against the local bigshot Kuzhiyil Chandy (Suresh Krishna), as well as the police officers SI Muralidharan (Sreejith Ravi) and PC KP Varghese (Shanker Ramakrishnan). Situation continues to go out of hand further, as the whole thing intensifies with retaliations happening all the time. Soon enough, Varghese is found dead, and it becomes a matter of self-respect for Muralidharan and the entire police force. But the cops won’t depend on themselves for the act, as there are many others who are looking to get back to the two. As the intensity of the rivalry increases, Antony is beaten up and has his leg amputated, while Thampan somehow manages to survive the attempt to murder him. Antony’s wife asks Thampan to go away and cause no further problems there, to which he agrees. But now, he will need to make the much needed comeback.

The defence of Kaaval :: When we talk about the movie, it is clear that it is dependent on Suresh Gopi to keep it going. The strength here is all focused on that core on which the structure is built. The movie seems to be made for him to play this character, one which is supposed to make a comeback as he himself is doing here. There are some moments to remember, and those are all related to him making that grand return. The movie also has most of its characters as evil, and it is basically the reality about our world – humanity’s degeneration has been shown to catch our attention, for these are the times when you just cannot trust people who choose to live on hatred towards their fellow creatures. There is also some fine twists to go in the end, and as the mystery is revealed, it is not something you have predicted, even though the same could have been revealed in a more interesting manner instead of just talking about it. The visuals are all beautiful, and one can only love this setting with greenery all around.

The claws of flaw :: The movie follows somewhat the usual pattern that was chosen a few years ago, and such a repetition can be seen as being followed here too. It also does drag, and this much of a length should have actually been avoided. The flashback here is also too weak and pretty much predictable, with a few weaknesses coming in there, as the same also ends rather quickly to let in the newer world. If the movie had released much earlier, its flaws would have been mostly forgiven. We are also predicting too much of the things around here, and that goes for even the dialogues. The strength of the movies like Ekalavyan, Commissioner, Lelam and Vazhunnor cannot be emulated even in a much smaller dose. The film also seems to have been in a hurry to end, as the final moments don’t do justice to all the build-up, for there were so many ways in which the movie could have ended, and none of them are taken. The quick end can now only be justified by a sequel, but one can have doubts about the same. Then there is also the burden of expectations.

The performers of the soul :: Kaaval is the film that marks the return of Suresh Gopi after the much awaited earlier return in Varane Avashyamund – that was not a comeback to his comfort zone though, but we did see the spark returning there. The film here has him returning to his usual style instead of the comic side which was prevailing in that movie which released last year. He has two other similar films coming up in the form of Ottakkomban and Paappan which seems to share the feeling which is not so far away – the two also seems to have more grandeur related to its scope. As we look around here, it is more or less the Suresh Gopi that we have loved to watch in the past – the years haven’t changed him related to what he has been doing doing for sure. Renji Panicker comes up with some fine combination with Suresh Gopi, and the two would have made a fine team if the film was released many years earlier, for the movie itself has elements which could link it to many years ago.

Further performers of the soul :: Rachel David plays the role of the daughter figure, and she has done the same in a convincing manner, with a much better role than what she had on her debut as the leading actress. Evan Anil, the brother of Drishyam‘s Esther Anil also plays one significant role here, which stays as notable. The two youngsters do show some promise, and it is not really that much of a surprise. Among the villains, Kichu Tellus does stay strong in comparison with the others, while Suresh Krishna’s character is dead too early. The film also has its own dose of surprise villains, as the twists related to them are there to be taken, and bring the surprise in the end. There are lots of known names around here, and they all play their parts well enough. You see Shanker Ramakrishnan, Sreejith Ravi, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Rajesh Sharma and others, all playing fine roles as part of the tale. This never goes short with actors and actresses.

How it finishes :: Kaaval doesn’t bring anything new, but does come up with some additions the memories of the past. It is an entertaining movie, even with some stretching in between. But some advancement according to a new world was surely required, for some innovation in the usual thing can always be taken. With a shorter run-time, and moving somewhat away from the older formula, this could have surely been much better. Even without the same, we can be happy with the grand return that Suresh Gopi has received, and be glad that we are reminded of those movies of the 1990s which we have cherished for so long. With the release on Netflix, we are also able to watch that at a time when the new variant of COVID-19 is threatening to close the theatres again and has us worried. During these troubling times, we are reminded of those Suresh Gopi movies which have entertained us with big action and heavy dialogues. Kaaval is a reminder, and something of that nostalgia that will live forever.

Release date: 27th December 2021 (Netflix), 25th November 2021 (India)
Running time: 148 minutes
Directed by: Nithin Renji Panicker
Starring: Suresh Gopi, Rachel David, Renji Panicker, Evan Anil, Kichu Tellus, Kannan Rajan P Dev, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Muthumani, Sadiq, Sreejith Ravi, Suresh Krishna, Shanker Ramakrishnan, Rajesh Sharma, Pauly Valsan, Chali Pala, Baby Parvathy, Anjali Nair, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Santhakumari, Gilu Joseph, Aristo Suresh, Anitha Nair, Ambika Mohan, Aman Panicker, Jaise Jose, Ajmal

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Malik

What is the movie about? :: Sulaiman Malik (Fahadh Faasil) is a leader of a coastal community consisting mostly of fishermen. He is taking a break from the usual activities, and is going for Hajj, when he is arrested by the police. In his coastal village of Ramadappilly, people begin an agitation. A strike is organized to demand his release, and a curfew is imposed on the area. Soon, there are riots in the streets, and the local people take on the police. It seems that there is a political game going on in the background, with corporates having a say in the same, as PA Aboobacker (Dileesh Pothan), the minister from the area also pretends that he knows nothing, and doesn’t support the request to provide some extra security to him in prison. At the same time, there are plans being made to finish Saulaiman in the prison itself, as the police hopes that this would end their troubles, and can finally bring peace to the seaside community.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Sulaiman has had a troublesome past, as he often got into trouble in school itself, and soon lands in the juvenile home, a place where he would have to go again. After dropping out from school with his best friend David Christudas (Vinay Forrt) and Peter Esthappan (Dinesh Prabhakar) he gets into smuggling with Aboobacker and Chandran (Nisthar Sait), who controls most of the happenings in the coast. But there is a rift between the groups, and they split. Sulaiman and David lead the young group which makes inroads into the business, and makes great profit at the expense of Chandran. Sulaiman falls in love with Roselin (Nimisha Sajayan), David’s sister who is the only one from the area who has studied in a college, but not many people know about this interest. At the same time, the new collector, Anwar Ali (Joju George) provides them help to start a new school. But all of a sudden, things take another twist, and Sulaiman develops into another kind of a leader, and it would change the whole equation, leading to the present events.

The defence of Malik :: Malik maintains a certain strength throughout its run, and even with its seemingly lighter moments, the same is maintained. The film goes through the strong message of political games running wild in the background, as everything seems to be planned by people in control, the government and the corporates which use religion for their own purposes, and it is more about the religious identity rather than God as long as it stays with them – of course, this is about the corporates who pay the politicians, especially those who are rather too rich. WH Auden had said about the same in his poem, Refugee Blues, on the plight of humans in comparison to animals and birds due to politicians. There are many threads of revenge and hatred which runs right through here, and some of them also takes some fine, memorable twists. The connections made here are also nice. Here, it has the struggles of the characters, and questions about who is right and who is wrong. It also takes on what happens in between everything, as something more than what meets the eye. The visuals are also really good here, as there are some fine shots of the sea and the surroundings.

Positives and negatives :: There is something that Malik seems to miss in between, some periods of time which could have been better shown here. The ending could have also been better, as the movie finishes without leaving the mark which was set earlier. In the end, there is the understanding that there is no hope, and this is where the movie seems to try and bring the beginning of a repetition. For a film which had this much of a grandeur in store, this kind of a finish doesn’t serve enough of the purpose. Maybe, the lack of triumph on the side of the common man is more or less a reflection of what actually happens in this world where the powerful will continue to reign, and it doesn’t matter who is at the helm. It does show how terrifying it will continue to be, as long as religion is in the hands of politicians, who are more of atheists rather than believers, from the way they use religion for their own advantages. Malik can surely use a more positive sequel too, even if far from reality.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has another film added to the long list of films that have made an impact. He was last seen on OTT, then too on Amazon Prime, with a wonderful performance in Joji, and this one also follows the same suite, but in a different way, as the characters go divergent in both cases. Here, he plays another strong character, and it has been one which the audience has been waiting for, since months ago – the movie has been getting delayed all the time for releasing in the theatres, and it has come to OTT, which is a perfect move, for Fahadh has his admirers everywhere. This performance from him will be listed among the big ones too. He has moments in different points of the main characters’ life, and all these time periods have something special from his side, for the audience to remember. Nimisha Sajayan who was last seen in Nayattu, also has a fine job to do here, which she manages to do without any struggle. She also has a strong role here, and the support that she provides is of high quality.

Further performers of the soul :: The next person who has our attention is Vinay Forrt, who gets into this role with ease. He adds a natural performance to the whole thing. Dileesh Pothan comes in, and plays a typical politician with his own sinister motives, and it is done naturally too. Indrans’ role of the police officer also becomes very much notable. Joju George also has some nice contribution to provide here, and he is supposed to be doing a role which was initially meant for Biju Menon. Dinesh Prabhakar is also here, adding to the totality. Appani Sarath and Sudhi Koppa have some contributions to provide here, and they do it well, only to have only a short stay there, when we were expecting something grand to be there. Salim Kumar also has a comparatively smaller role to do around here. There is the lesser known among the cast who have also done some nice job around here, and it includes Sanal Aman who played the character of Freddy, Parvathy Krishna who played the doctor, along with some police officers and people of the village.

How it finishes :: Malik was supposed to be one grand film to be released in theatre with all the grandeur that it deserved, and even its OTT release, the film maintains some of it. The wait has been worth it, when we look at the movie as a whole. The question would be still be about if it could have been more, as the expectations were that high, and there is the certainty of deviations from what was actually expected after watching the trailer. But the film is indeed strong, and with Fahadh Faasil and Nimisha Sajayan in the lead, you would expect that. Well, it is nice to see that it has finally released, because the same wouldn’t have happened in the theatres soon enough, and releasing something like Marakkar on the big screen will be a big risk even in the month of August, as we see where the COVID-19 numbers are going – it is certainly much above what was expected, and we don’t really see things getting safer with another possible wave on the way. Until then, we can also watch Cold Case, Mohan Kumar Fans, Kho Kho, Aarkkariyam etc among others on Prime again!

Release date: 15th July 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Mahesh Narayanan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Nimisha Sajayan, Joju George, Vinay Forrt, Dileesh Pothan, Anjusha CA, Divya Prabha, Amal Rajdev, Indrans, Jalaja, Salim Kumar, Appani Sarath, Sudhi Koppa, Devan, Dinesh Prabhakar, Rajesh Babu, Meenakshi Raveendran, Rajesh Sharma, Irshad, Abhijith Krishna, Nisthar Sait, Dev Mohan, Sanal Aman, Parvathy Krishna, Devaki Rajendran, Asif Yogi

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Luca

What is the movie about? :: As part of a case investigation, Police officer Akbar (Nithin George) comes across a diary which goes through the lives of Luca (Tovino Thomas) and Niharika (Ahaana Krishna). Luca is a highly talented artist who makes the best art works out of scrap materials, but is a short-tempered man who lives close to his small circle of friends. He had lost his father at a very young age, and his mother within a few years after that. He has extreme fear of death and dead bodies. Niharika is a research scholar in industrial chemistry who has come to Cochin from Bangalore as part of her research. Half-Malayali and half-Bengali, she has had a troubled childhood, and had lost her father at a very young age. Akbar is very close to divorcing his wife Fathima (Vinitha Koshy), as he is unable to forget his first love Jannet (Neethu Bala) who left him for reasons unknown to him, and is often adviced by his senior officer Jayaraman (Thalaivasal Vijay).

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The story goes through the love story of Luca and Niharika as well as the tale of Akbar going through his investigation with the help of his junior officer Aloshy (Anwar Shereef). The friendship and later love of Luca and Niharika develops after latter has a bad opinion about the former’s works, which she changes soon. Later, the two meets again, only to have her move to one of the empty rooms in his house, as she feels safer there. The only two people who are at the home most of the time are those who do the household duties, Martin (Chempil Asokan) and Salomi (Pauly Valsan). Niharika’s uncle Jayaprakash (Srikant Murali) despises her attitude and actions, but as she hates him, things come as no surprise. But there would be a few incidents which would change the lives of Luca and Niharika, but nothing changes regarding love.

The defence of Luca :: There is beauty in every frame of Luca. It is more or less like having a wizard, an overlord of aesthetics at work here, as we see beauty on the big screen, which never gets even close to fading away. We have home which is a work or art by itself, and the presence of rain makes the scenes even more beautiful. At the same time, we see some of those elements which have certain significance in the society, and the role that childhood plays in the lives of people and how it affects them as grown-ups can be seen. The movie is also strong with its emotional moments, especially in the end, as it deals with love in a deeper way rather than what is usually seen on the outside. There are also those moments which are there to stay for now, and we feel that a few things are rather symbolic of something else. The narrative strength of the tale keeps the movie together, and one has to love the way it progresses.

The claws of flaw :: Luca does not become your usual flick about romance. Well, it goes beyond that, and can make Romeo and Juliet feel that they can do better at a few things – it is that kind of love that is deeper that what our common movie watchers can take on. There is also a certain tragedy associated with it, and it stretches a bit with the story. One would also think that the tale could have been better, with a deeper investigation side. The mystery could have unfolded in another way too, and with such visual beauty on the screen, the movie had all it needed to go bigger. There is also that usage of flashback which is a little more than one would want to have. There might have been the feeling that Luca was going to be Charlie, but that didn’t happen, as this one develops its own identity.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas’ avatar is nothing less than stunning, as we see the character go through the journey of colours. Even though this is not your usual character, he makes his character both lovable and believable, set close to all that defines Kochi Biennale. He is here after three highly appreciated critical and commercial success movies, Virus, Uyare and Lucifer, and this happens to be one fantastic year for him already – we still have half an year to go. Well, the last year was not less grand either, as we had more. Ahaana Krishna hasn’t been there in many movies, and we remember seeing her last in Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela – she has nicely blended in here and has done a fantastic job. She has become the character with ease, and we see her excel in the emotional as well as romantic moments, as she makes a fine combination with Tovino.

Further performers of the soul :: Nithin George who plays the police officer in charge of the investigation comes up with a brilliant performance. He plays the man who lives in his memories, and hopes for answers from the past, and we go on the journey with the character. There is the beauty of serenity in that performance, and the situation that he is in also has us interested. Vinitha Koshy who played the teacher in Aanandam once again has interested in her character. Chempil Asokan and Pauly Valsan makes a perfect pair as the helping hands of the house. Anwar Shereef gives good support as the junior police officer. Jaffer Idukki is there for only a short period of time, and Thalaivasal Vijay only has a little more time with bigger dialogues. Srikant Murali leaves a mark with certain moments. Neethu Bala makes some good impact with one song which she is part of.

How it finishes :: Luca easily gets to the list of the best movies of the year, and it does the same with the love story side rather than getting into some other genre – the investigation and twist are there, but the focus continues to be with the romantic side. With some wonderful music in there, the flick had already caught out attention, and it is one movie which you shouldn’t miss for the beauty on the screen. Along with the same, the socially relevant issues also stays there. As it stands, Luca will continue to stay strong in our theatres. One would wish to watch it again for the emotional content as well as the power of aesthetics, both never backing away from giving the best, just like the actors in there. Have a look at a song from the movie, among the best of the year so far.

Release date: 28th June 2019
Running time: 151 minutes
Directed by: Arun Bose
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Nithin George, Ahaana Krishna, Neethu Bala, Anwar Shereef, Rajesh Sharma, Vinitha Koshy, Sooraj S Kurup, Shalu Rahim, Chempil Asokan, Devi Ajith, Jaffer Idukki, Neena Kurup, Pauly Valsan, Srikant Murali, Thalaivasal Vijay, Raghavan, Hansika Krrishna

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Vijay Superum Pournamiyum

What is the movie about? :: Vijay (Asif Ali) represents a generation of young men who were forced to do engineering even as they want to do something else. He struggled hard and finally managed to pass the exams after multiple efforts. But his dream is to become a chef and for the same, he keeps trying. But his father Chandramohan (Siddique) is convinced that he shouldn’t do cooking after studying engineering, and gets him a job in a call centre. He meets Reshma (Viviya Santh) there and falls in love, only to end up realizing that she was cheating on her – his expression of his anger becomes viral on Youtube, and he also losses his job. His parents feel that the only way to make him responsible is to get him married to a rich and educated girl who would also be able to provide him with financial support. Finally, they find such a family and a girl.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This leads them to the house of Venugopal (Renji Panicker) who wishes to see his daughter Pournami a.k.a. Pinky (Aishwarya Lekshmi) married as soon as possible. Being an MBA holder and wishing to become a successful entrepreneur, she has the record of failing in every business she tried to begin, and in the process, losing the money her father invested in her ventures. As the two meet and talk, the door of the room which was being repaired, gets closed and is automatically locked. As the two are locked inside with the carpenter being called for, they are left with a few hours to talk about their past, present, future and ambitions. This talk changes the journey of life for both of them. They don’t find them as good match for each other and are not in a mood to marry soon, but destiny has other plans.

The defence of Vijay Superum Pournamiyum :: Remake of a Telugu movie Pelli Choopulu starring Vijay Devarakonda and Ritu Varma which is also known to have a Hindi remake called Mitron, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum does manage to make it completely Keralite with its moments nicely reflecting life easily. The feel-good elements work nicely, and the movie is light-hearted throughout its run, despite having moments which could have driven it through another path. The first half is full of fun, and the second one comes with an emotional touch as expected. With a simple plot, the characters are of interest right from the beginning itself. There are things that you can relate to, and it is a fine watch for the family audience in more than one way. The messages are good, and these also go for all kinds of audience of the present age.

The claws of flaw :: The second half, except for the final moments, doesn’t have the fun as the first half had. The radio talk sequence also could have something better to replace it, as it made things look too easy in the end. There is too much of a journey on the expected path, and the divergence could have been shown in a better way. There is the confusion, inability to talk about one’s love for each other, business deals relating to wedding and more, all of them going in a predictable manner. After the food truck business started, there was actually scope for more too. The songs are okay, and there is a nice one; the background music is good enough to give the feeling – there are those strange and ridiculous dance sequences in one song though, which don’t even come close to being funny. There are times when the movie seems to get into the melodrama mood, which was kind of out of place. Well, this is the first big Malayalam movie of the year, and you can expect more every time.

The performers of the soul :: Asif Ali plays the immature youth unable to do anything positive in life, and lacking confidence – it is something that he does with ease and in a believable way. We remember how he did the confused young man roles in the movies like Thrissivaperoor Kliptham, Avarude Raavukal and Adventures of Omanakkuttan. The irresponsible youth role was safe with him even in the earlier movies like Kavi Uddheshichathu..? and Anuraga Karikkin Vellam. Aishwarya Lekshmi coming out of the Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, Mayaanadhi, Varathan trio of big hits critically appreciated, does another fantastic job in portraying the lady who is set to leave a mark – she is once again a long way ahead of the rest, getting into her role so well. She has all those moments in control, no matter what is thrown at her.

Further performers of the soul :: Siddique and Renji Panicker handles the father roles here really well, with former going through his familiar territory nicely and latter doing what he has been doing so well since Om Shanti Oshana – the father who is very much caring for his children and supports them in more than one way. Another father figure who is there for a lesser amount of time is Devan who has not a lot to do. Aju Varghese has only a smaller role, but it is significant, and the funny side is strong during his presence. Balu Varghese and Joseph Annamkutty Jose support with enough jokes to add to the fun too. Shantikrishna has another mother role which she continues after the recently released Ente Ummante Peru in which she was there only for a few minutes. Darshana Rajendran also has some friendly, cute support in store for the protagonists. Then there is KPAC Lalitha doing the perfect grandmother yet again.

How it finishes :: As the third movie that united Jis Joy and Asif Ali as director and leading actor, following Bicycle Thieves and Sunday Holiday, this movie was expected to have something special in store. Bicycle Thieves was a dumb movie with foolish twists which were not needed, but Sunday Holiday had nice feel-good factor in store. With Vijay Superum Pournamiyum too, it was the same thing that the audience expected, and it is the same that they received, but in an even better package. Njan Prakashan is still running in the theatres with strong feel-good elements and Ente Ummante Peru had no shortage of the same; Thattumpurath Achuthan despite lagging behind had also tried the same – in this season of feel-good supported by Christmas and New Year, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum has its own high position to be proud of.

Release date: 11th January 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Asif Ali, Balu Varghese, Aju Varghese, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Siddique, Darshana Rajendran, Devan, Joseph Annamkutty Jose, KPAC Lalitha, Maya Menon, Renji Panicker, Shantikrishna, Austin Dan, Viviya Santh, Shaheen Siddique, Rajesh Sharma, K. S. Chithra, Harisanth Sharan

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Hindi Medium

What is the movie about? :: Raj Batra (Irrfan Khan) runs a highly successful business in Delhi, selling bridal wears, and he often likes to call himself a business tycoon. He had married his love from childhood Meeta Batra (Saba Qamar) when she had come to his small tailoring shop. Although he is rich and influential, knowing all politicians and businessmen of the area, he is a simple man, finding happiness in those simple things in life. His lack of education and the absence of knowledge in English are something which makes his wife disappointed, and she wishes to be part of the high class rather than live where they have always lived. Worried about the future of their only daughter Pia Batra (Dishita Sehgal), she wishes to have her admitted into one of the top schools in Delhi, including Prakriti School where the students are taught everything through dance and music, Suraj Valley School which nothing less than a five star hotel and Cross Road School which has a tie-up with Eton.

So, what happens next in this movie? :: But the biggest of them all is the Delhi Grammar School which has been at the top position in the school rankings for a long time. The famous politicians and business tycoons have all studied there, and everyone is sure that under the guidance of the visionary principal (Amrita Singh) who used to be a student there, the school can go only up from its position. But the school only gives admission forms to those who live nearby, within three kilometres radius. She forces him to make sure that they move out of Chandni Chowk to Vasant Vihar as the first part of trying to get admission. She is adamant that Pia will not study in a Hindi medium government school like they did, and she will speak English like no other. At their new place, they have new neighbours, but struggle to make friends with people like Aarti (Neha Dhupia) who find the new people to be of low class, not fit to be part of their high level society.

And what is to follow in this adventure for school admissions? :: To prepare their daughter as well as themselves from the upcoming interviews in the top schools, the meet up and take the advice of a consultant (Tillotama Shome) who has been training rich people and their children for a big price. But despite all these training, they are not that great at the interview, and the kid doesn’t get admission. There is the feeling that uneducated parents’ children will find it difficult to get an admission. This leads to him trying to get a seat in a top school in many other ways, including trying to bribe the principal and asking many politicians for help. But none of those ideas work, and they still keep trying, only to find that one of their employees’ child got admission in Prakriti School under Right to Education quota reserved for the people with lower income. There they find a way to get the much needed seat – make some changes in the necessary documents to find their chance. Can they succeed here in one way or the other?

The defence of Hindi Medium :: The movie’s comparison should be to Ramdhanu which is known to deal with a similar theme, and Salt Mango Tree which has remade the same movie. In comparison to Salt Mango Tree which is close to an exact adaptation, there are more differences than similarities here. Hindi Medium actually rises above the other, with a smarter adaptation of the idea. It has a girl child instead of the boy child, and has a rich family rather than the middle class one. There is also a better ending, and there is no foreigner coming to India and adapting the customs – it is a ridiculous idea in comparison to the overall theme, just like it was in Bangalore Days, for them adapting the Indian culture as the right way would only make Indians wishing to adapt theirs righteous. Hindi Medium rises above such foolishness along with the lame jokes there, and also shows the consultant in the right colour. With this one, Bollywood shows the skill and rises above the rest, and the medium is right here; feel-good it is.

The claws of flaw :: One might feel that Hindi Medium takes the simple things a little bit further than one would have thought. Some moments are surely overdone, or rather stretched further than needed. The jokes are also less in comparison even though the quality is certainly there. We can also see the glorification of poverty, even though it is a fact that being more and more rich only gets things to be worse – people getting rich just goes away from the common man’s world as well as the values which have been there for so long. There is also the focus on Hindi medium itself right from the title, when having the government school itself was enough. It would feel strange that all these are coming at a time when the government has been trying to impose Hindi in one way or the other, all over the states which have come up against the same. In an attempt to get away from English, one has to wonder if the need will soon be to escape from Hindi itself with a suicide squad.

Performers of the soul :: The one person who stands out in this movie in comparison with Salt Mango Tree is Irrfan Khan who shows a lot of balance in the way the comic side as well as the serious moments are carried on his his shoulders in the right manner. Saba Qamar also blends in, and does a wonderful job as the mother who wishes for more with the education of her child – Angels‘ own Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli’s work was more natural and emotional in Salt Mango Tree though. Deepak Dobriyal is too good in his role, and Swati Das is fine support to him. Tillotama Shome as the consultant might be the best among the smaller roles here – she is really good. Neha Dhupia is left with not much to do, with her role resembling a cameo. When you look at the cast of Salt Mango Tree, you will notice that in totality, there is more of known talent there, working towards making things better.

How it finishes :: My first thought about Hindi Medium was that it was going to be exactly Salt Mango Tree which seems to be more like the carbon copy of the 2014 Bengali family drama, Ramdhanu. But that certainly wasn’t the case, with the movie having its own ideas, and it is also better than the movie which came before that, and it does the same by quite a distance. The movies like Hindi Medium are required during these times when education has become a business – I would prefer to teach students values first, and English and Hindi later, but that wouldn’t really be possible in this world, I guess. There will also be people who will wish to steal the opportunity of others, and we will also see those people who think that speaking good English everything – but I wouldn’t consider that to be great. With communication, just understanding the point is necessary, and Hindi Medium surely has more valid points than your regular Bollywood movie. It also seems free from the terrible fans.

Release date: 19th May 2017
Running time: 132 minutes
Directed by: Saket Chaudhary
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Saba Qamar, Sanjana Sanghi, Tillotama Shome, Deepak Dobriyal, Delzad Hiwale, Sumit Gulati, Swati Das, Dishita Sehgal, Angshuman Nandi, Jaspal Sharma, Vijay Kumar Dogra, Rohit Tannan, Amrita Singh, Neha Dhupia, Sushil Parwana, Rajesh Sharma, Sanjay Suri, Mallika Dua, Tanishkaa Sanghvi

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Theevandi

What is the movie about? :: Bineesh (Tovino Thomas) started smoking at an early age, and tries to go on with his life without having any responsibility. He has a few friends around whom most of his life happens. The smoking which he started in school followed him to youth, and even though that bothers his lover Devika (Samyuktha Menon), they continue the relationship. Her father Madhu (Suraaj Venjarammood) is not confident about the relationship as he knows that he is a chain smoker due to which the title “Theevandi” was given to him – there is no positive side in the future which he sees about Bineesh, but he reluctantly agrees as Devika is certain about it. He talks to Bineesh’s brother-in-law, Vijith (Saiju Kurup) who works with him in the same political party and gets Devika and Bineesh engaged.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But Devika discovers that the smoking habit of Bineesh is beyond all limits and decides that she can no longer continue to be in love with a man who is obsessed with cigarettes. As she decides to be no longer engaged, another problem arises about who would be the next MLA of the constituency, following a terrible accident involving the MLA who has only a few days left to live. The two possible candidates are Bineesh’s brother-in-law and his possible father-in-law which brings another problem to light. In between all of these, is his smoking problem, and as long as the same exists, he can solve nothing. Can there be a solution to Bineesh’s problems, and how far can he go to make it happen? Or will he take the easy way out?

The defence of Theevandi :: There is the certainty of fun as far as Theevandi is concerned. Some jokes will be remembered for longer than we think, that is for sure. The message also arrives strong, and gets stronger and stronger as the movie progresses. The song “Jeevamshamayi Thaane” might be the best moment of the movie, with some other songs to join in. The music of the flick is very good, and there are some nice visuals of the beautiful village at which the flick is based. There is simplicity all around, and the message which the flick deals with, is serious and beyond the limitations. It is complicated when we see the whole of it, and the message against smoking is something of universal relevance. If the movie can inspire at least one person to give up smoking and lead a better life, there is great success being shown here – that one person will surely not be the end of it.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Theevandi could have done even better with its content. Being a movie which was supposed to release in June, this has been delayed for too long. The length of the move is also a negative thing, especially considering the fact that the main purpose here to provide one message, the one thing that it attempts more than the others. Some moments which were supposed to be funny, also falls short. The ending of the movie is certainly interesting and feel-good, and after a good beginning, it is the middle part that has somewhat a struggle. The political side could have also been a better satire. The tools and the premise were present there, but we see a struggle to go too deep in there, and maybe that concerns the possible risks.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas has another role of a flawed hero after Maradona and Mayaanadhi. He has done this job naturally, and there is no moment when he seems to be in trouble. The protagonist’s problems are nicely shown, and the man caught in the terrible situation has our attention. Samyuktha Menon makes a big impact in her first big role. As the industry seems to have less big names among current actresses, her performance here should elevate more of the cinema of these times too. She excels in the romantic and funny sequences, and just holds the ground during emotional scenes. The pair has fine chemistry running through, and the same feeling that was conveyed through the popular romantic song in the movie, goes on even when she seems to show less interest.

Further performers of the soul :: Despite being provided with an exaggerated character, Surabhi Lakshmi manages to bring the most fun of the same. The character seems to be forced into existence without detailed thoughts, but she could manage that, and make things work. Suraj Venjaramood is comfortable in this role which is mostly serious with some chance for comedy. We remember how he nicely kept the balance earlier with Varnyathil Aashanka, Oru Muthassi Gadha, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum and Aby – here he has no problems in doing the same again. Shammi Thilakan also brings the funny elements, even though for a lesser amount of time. Sudheesh and Vijilesh do leave a few things for the funny side too. Rajesh Sharma is also there leaving a mark.

How it finishes :: These are the days when the Malayalam movies are making a comeback after a short break caused by the Kerala Floods. It is the return of the films as much as the return of the state to the normal world. It is with more interesting releases including Ranam and Theevandi that Malayalam movies are making a return, as movies like Koode and Maradona have been there for quite long. The case of Theevandi is stronger because it deals with a socially relevant movie. Translated better as “the vehicle of fire” rather than as the literal translation “the train”, this movie certainly becomes a better notice against smoking than any of those small advertisements shown in the beginning of the flicks. It marks a fine return of Malayalam movies as it surely seems to serve its purpose. You might also want to watch the video song from the movie which has become so popular.

Release date: 7th September 2018
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Fellini TP
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Samyuktha Menon, Surabhi Lakshmi, Rajesh Sharma, Suraaj Venjarammood, Shammi Thilakan, Sudheesh, Krishna Praba, Neena Kurup, Vijilesh, Musthafa

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