Unda

What is the movie about? :: A team of police officers from Kerala travels to certain Maoist affected area in Chhattisgarh for election duty. Mathews Anthony (Ranjith) leads the team through the journey in the train, and right through the village area. But accommodation is not provided for all of them at the same place, and they are separated into different teams. The team is lead by Manikandan CP (Mammootty) gets to stay in a polling booth which is isolated and situated near the forest which is known to be infested by Maoists. Leading the support is Jojo Samson (Shine Tom Chacko) who is angry about his wife sending him a divorce petition which he is not ready to sign. Among the other police men are Varghese Kuruvila (Jacob Gregory), Aji Peter (Rony David) and Gireesh TP (Arjun Ashokan) among others. Aji and Gireesh are not in good terms with each other either. The other members of the team also have their own differences.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The location has an ITBP commando Kapil Dev (Bhagwan Tiwary), and nothing else for their support. The arms and ammunition that they have with them might not be enough either, as the ITBP Commander Dakota Akanito (Chien Ho Liao) advices them to ask for something more from Kerala, as there are land mines everywhere, and Maoists attacks keep happening during random intervals at random places. But it seems that help from Kerala might not be coming anytime soon, and the ITBP wouldn’t helping those police men whom they called for support. So, as Maoists threaten to attack, the team is on their own, with their own little personal problems also coming into the scene. Now, the question remains if they can survive these days till the end of election, as the landlords and their goons will also have a say in this. I will be up to Manikandan to lead the way, but he is not the kind of person who is into violence.

The defence of Unda :: There is certain beauty and quality in how the police men are portrayed here, and even the leader is not shown as someone who could know most of the things and go on beating up people. Each member of the team is different, and we see how people from different parts of Kerala have to face the strange and hostile environment for the first time – we witness how they have to adapt and survive, but there is something from home that continues to go strong in them. The setting is used nicely to create the impact, and we feel that we are traveling through the same place with the same team. We want these people to survive like never before, and we hold them close. There are thrilling moments, and we also have a certain dose of humour, which is also something of interest. The final scene of action is highly entertaining, with action, thrills and humour added, all at the right quantity.

Positives and negatives :: The story-line might seem to be not much, as there is just the tale of a few police men facing the Maoists in the middle of nowhere. But it is more than that when we look close, and we see what the subaltern has to face; the poor, the low caste, the scheduled tribes, all of them – the word “poor” defines them well enough, as it is common to all of such deprived men and women. They are surrounded by all kinds of people, hunted, and maybe killed, only to find the blame still with them, even after death – the perpetual blame is the weight that they have to carry to the grave and beyond. We see a certain moral crisis, and there is always the question about where the newly landless people can go. The movie provides no answers, and finds no solution to the problems that the world face, but we know that we will need them – they are not to come from the movie, but from a real world beyond all limits of fiction.

The performers of the soul :: As expected, and with top quality and realistic performance, Mammootty leads from the front. He has had some characters which would beat up everyone and throw them all around, in the last few years, with the recently released Madhura Raja and the earlier movie Masterpiece which came across the biggest of such a problems. This movie goes the exact opposite way, and it is beautiful in doing the same – the way in which Mammootty plays this role will have us wishing for the character to have the final victory, and the same we wish without hope. In those other movies, things were direct, but in this case, it is beautifully complicated, and we love to watch him here. Right from the introduction of his character, we know that things are going to be different this time, and Mammootty thrives on this divergence which keeps us close to the common man’s police officer, someone who is not going to kick or punch people into the sky to make Superman proud.

Further performers of the soul :: Shine Tom Chacko has had a good run during the recent days, and the roles which he played has been very much memorable. This one is no exception, and the last moments have the whole of our attention. At the same tim, , Arjun Ashokan and Rony David also catches our attention, and so do almost everyone in the small police team in the voting booth. We do get only a few moments from Dileesh Pothan and Kalabhavan Shajohn as well as a little more from Ranjith as far as these names are concerned. Actors like Omkar Das Manikpuri and Bhagwan Tiwari comes up with some emotional side to remember too. Easwari Rao who plays Mammootty’s wife in a cameo-like performance is the only female character with a name, and the only one that we can remember. The cameo from Vinay Forrt and Asif Ali were rather unnecessary, and just the news of missing bullets could have been enough.

How it finishes :: With the name of the movie being Unda, there has been many speculations, but it is indeed about the bullets – it is certain that the name has left some people away from the movie, as this is a film which deserved a better opening. But the bookings are picking up now, as the opinions have all been positive. There will be higher booking in the coming days, and the movie is surely here to stay, as this is a flick which is to be taken seriously. Lets hope that the movies that deal with similar topics remain close to reality like this one, and don’t go on to finish off the laws of gravity by sending villains flying in the air. Unda nicely manages to bring everything together, and use its elements to gain advantage. The result is that there is the thrilling ride with humour and messages stored in there. This is the kind of movie that serves better, and does the same faithfully unlike those mindless mass entertainers which serve as darkness to the senses. Well, it has been a fine year in the first half itself with movies like Kumbalangi Nights, Virus and Uyare rising very high.

Release date: 14th June 2019
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Khalid Rahman
Starring: Mammootty, Shine Tom Chacko, Jacob Gregory, Ranjith, Arjun Ashokan, Bhagwan Tiwari, Dileesh Pothan, Omkar Das Manikpuri, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Chien Ho Liao, Easwari Rao, Sudhi Koppa, Rony David, Lukman, Abhiram Poduval, Noushad Bombay, Asif Ali (cameo), Vinay Forrt (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Drama

What is the movie about? :: Rosamma John Chacko (Arundathi Nag) has always had a desire to be buried in Kattappana, next to her husband, at their own parish cemetery where their ancestors were buried. But as she is in London with her youngest daughter Mercy (Kaniha), she is afraid that she can’t go back home if she is dead, as none of her children are in Kerala or even India. Mercy who used to be a nurse, is married to Dr Mukundhanunni (Shyamaprasad) who is a reputed cardiac surgeon in London after falling in love, and they are settled in United Kingdom with their two little children. Her eldest son Philip (Suresh Krishna) is a millionaire settled in the United States of America while her second son Benny (Tini Tom) is now in Australia with his wife who is a nurse. Her another daughter Ammini (Subi Suresh) is a nurse working in Canada, and has been living there with her jobless husband Anto (Johny Antony).

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: She also has her youngest son whom she loves more than the others, and Jomon (Niranj S) who is living in Dubai has no say in anything. His presence at United Arab Emirates itself is at the mercy of his good friends. So, with her sons and daughters in the United Kingdom, United States of America, United Arab Emirates, Australia and Canada, she is found dead on her bed while asleep. So, now the question remains about her funeral. The idea to which almost everyone agrees to, is that she is to have a funeral at London. For the same, the two elder brothers assign Dixon (Dileesh Pothan), a funeral director who runs his own funeral services in partnership with Rajagopalan (Mohanlal). The desire of the sons to have their mother’s funeral programme to be grand gives Dixon the idea that this is his chance to make it big.

And what else is to follow here? :: Everything seems to be going smoothly, but then, Jomon resists this idea, and asks for a funeral in Kattappana, at the cemetery where his mother had always wanted to be buried. Even though Mercy, as well as Mukundhanunni who is afraid of his mother-in-law’s spirit wandering around the house without attaining peace does agree to the same, none of them has the voice against the elder brothers who decide on it. It is then that Rajagopalan decides to have a say in the process. He feels that the old lady should get the funeral that she had always desired. But Dixon who has taken the advance payment for the funeral function won’t agree to it, and neither will the lady’s sons who got all of these planned very well. So can Rajagopalan find a way to make things happen as well as re-unite with his wife Rekha (Asha Sarath) who had thrown him out of the house in the name of a poem from the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda?

The defence of Drama :: The movie does deal with a situation that could happen very often in future – it is more or less something which has been dealt with in a realistic manner. When we consider the number of our relatives outside India, it makes about twenty five percent, and if it is about someone who is outside Kerala, that can make up to seventy five percent of the total number of people. The movie certainly shows a reality that a lot of people are going to face. The older generation will have their houses and funerals in trouble soon enough. There will be those busy times at some point, when their opinions will not ever come to being something that the new generation will listen to. But it is all based on money, isn’t it? The movie is also a morality tale, with money finally becoming the least important thing. The flick also has some comedy in there, and the visuals when showing England, is pretty good.

The claws of flaw :: The movie seems stretched, without doubt. It does seem too long, and should have been kept short by removing certain parts. Maybe the introduction of Mohanlal could have happened much earlier, and things could have started happening as early as possible. There is also a certain amount of repetition here, and we can see some struggle with the flow. More focus could have been there with the characters, especially the sons and daughters of the deceased lady, and the problem that a new generation of money and career seeking youth gives to the old generation could have been focused better. Also, considering the fact that this movie comes from the director who gave us the flicks like Pranchiyettan and The Saint, Indian Rupee, Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha, Spirit and Thirakkatha, this is not really the movie that we expected.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal doesn’t have any problems with this character as it seems usual and natural for him – there is special to be done or to be divergent. Asha Sarath doesn’t have that much to do here. We note that there are directors here coming in notable roles – Dileesh Pothan, Shyamaprasad, Johny Anony, Renji Panicker, all of them having their interesting moments. Suresh Krishna and Tini Tom plays the two siblings based in United States of America and Australia nicely in their own styles. Kaniha had a rather irrelevant role in Abrahaminte Santhathikal, but here she has a nice role, and has the emotions running strong with this one. Baiju has the funny side to handle, even though the department struggles most of the time. Arundathi Nag plays the corpse for most of the time, but has her moments when not inside the box. Jayaraj Warrier, Shaalin Zoya and Jaffer Idukki got some smaller roles here, but they are notable despite the short stay there.

How it finishes :: How many young men and women go in search of jobs elsewhere, and how many of them remain in Kerala? Do they really settle outside because there are zero opportunities here? It is nice that they show those five nations – United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia and United Arab Emirates. These are those places where our people will never cease to try to go and work, along with more nations in the Middle East as well as New Zealand. But is it always worth it? You will have to think over that with the situations created in this flick. It does leave one with a few things to keep thinking, and that seems to have the focus over the entertaining side. With the challenge there with Kayamkulam Kochunni, Drama seems to have just enough to keep going, and it seems to be a choice not to try to have more.

Release date: 1st November 2018
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith
Starring: Mohanlal, Asha Sarath, Arundathi Nag, Dileesh Pothan, Shyamaprasad, Kaniha, Baiju Santhosh, Johny Antony, Tini Tom, Shaalin Zoya, Subi Suresh, Niranj S, Suresh Krishna, Renji Panicker, Jaffer Idukki, Jayaraj Warrier, Shankar Panicker

<— Click here to go to the previous review, and the review before that.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Grace Villa

Vampire Owl: Do you know that writing about short-films is not that rewarding?

Vampire Bat: Yes, especially short-films which are older.

Vampire Owl: So, you understand the same, and is not writing about those bigger movies which will get you more visits?

Vampire Bat: Movies of the Soul’s opinions will not be lost among those many fake paid reviews brought by blind fans and those who sell fake opinions.

Vampire Owl: What about the hope that someone will notice?

Vampire Bat: That exists no more. It disappeared quite some time ago.

Vampire Owl: It is a shame. The fake and paid reviews are still shared more on the movie and celebrity pages.

Vampire Bat: Yes, if we honestly write a movie review, it doesn’t mean much.

Vampire Owl: I wonder how humans managed to be such liars even when it is about art.

Vampire Bat: Lie, hate and lie more; it is their motto. They sacrifice their values for money each and every time.

[Gets some tapioca chips and three cups of Vagamon tea].

What is the movie about? :: A real estate broker (Kochu Preman) is having some bad business going, with most of the properties he is selling, not having many buyers for the same. It is a rather dull time for real estate business, and his efforts are not becoming fruitful. His biggest pain is a property called Grace Villa owned by Saly Grace (Parvathy T) whose son Michael (Vineeth Vishwam) had died a few years ago, and is living with the pain, sadness and depression regarding the same. This particular property has been there for sale ever since Michael had died, and Saly is not ready to sell this property which costs around three lakhs to a maximum of three and half lakhs to anyone at a rate below twenty five lakhs. Many people have come and looked at the property – they have liked it, but nobody is willing to pay about eight to nine times the calculated price.

So, what happens next? :: It is when nobody seems to be interested, that a man named Mathews (Rajesh Hebbar) comes from far away, to the misty town. This man who seems to be there for the first time is very curious about the house, and likes it at first sight. He is determined to buy that property in any way possible, but still the amount of twenty five lakhs seem to be too much for him. Despite the real estate broker and his assistant (Saritha Sreejith) being hopeless about this sale happening, Mathews decides to talk to the lady and come up with some arrangement which will leave him with an opportunity to buy the property at a lesser rate. As he goes to the place and is welcome by Saly, he realizes that there is something about her than what meets the eye, and there is a particular secret that haunts the house. What would that be? Can the mystery be solved and the house be solved?

The defence of Grace Villa :: From the beginning itself, we know that there is something about Grace Villa, something which will bring the nice twist in the end. It was launched by Tovino Thomas, and has some faces which are well-known for us. Rajesh Hebbar is most known to us for the satirical family serial on television known as Oridathoridathu, and has been in the televison programmes for quite a long time – pardon me for not watching television that much. Parvathi T has been there for long too, and we last saw her in three big movies playing the mother of Tovino Thomas, Kunchako Boban and Dulquer Salmaan in Godha, Take Off and CIA: Comrade in America respectively. Kochu Preman also joins them, and there are also the others who play less significant roles. The performances make sure that this one becomes more, as it does more with its material, as we await the mystery to be unveiled.

Soul exploration :: The movie’s theme, as many other short-films is revenge – yes, a lot of short-films deal with revenge or love, or even both these days. This one tells the tale of a revenge that has the strength of waiting, and it only takes a few minutes to execute the same. There is no doubt that people love how this simple and short thing is able to bring so much of effect – people will guess this one half way into the flashback though, and maybe with a little additions here and there, that could have been avoided, and left to be guessed only at the final moment. But once again you will realize that revenge is sweet, and there is nothing as strong as a mother’s need to get justice for her son – well, the thing about revenge is there coming in full cycle in the Tamil and Kannada short-film Red Jacket which I had reviewed earlier. Grace Villa is all about mystery getting to that revenge.

How it finishes :: Grace Villa is based on The Right Kind of House by Henry Slezar, which dates back to the year 1957. If you have read that novel, you will find that the essence of the work is taken right into this short-film which has changed only the elements which are to make it happen at a small town in South India. You will see that the name of the son of the house owner is also the same in this version. The feeling that people have about each other and the house also seems to be the same, along with the order of incidents and location – this is pretty much a faithful adaptation if you just read the work quickly and watch Grace Villa. But the short-film version does seem to explain a little bit more, something which our audience have always wanted. Well, you know what all movie lovers want, as it is to get the story to appeal to them whether it is with mystery or with a message like Mangalyam Thanthunanena, and Grace Villa is undoubtedly a success.

[Walks into the verandah with another cup of tea].

Vampire Owl: I am going to rename my area of the castle as Grace Villa.

Vampire Bat: You have a small room. Why would you name that small a room? Who will notice?

Vampire Owl: There is a mystery behind my room, which nobody will ever find out.

Vampire Bat: What is that mystery? What are you hiding?

Vampire Owl: If I talk to you about that mystery, it will be mystery no more. It is why nobody should know.

Vampire Bat: You are lying that there is a mystery because that can make the other vampires impressed.

Vampire Owl: What are you talking about? I am someone unable to lie. Truth is my other name.

Vampire Bat: You once said that Death is your other name.

Vampire Owl: Yes, I am known by multiple names. There are so many of them, that I forget ninety eight percent of them.

Vampire Bat: You are the kind of vampire who should be a zombie. There is a folk-song among witches regarding that.

[Walks into the silence of darkness].

Release date: 28th October 2016
Running time: 15 minutes
Directed by: Binoy Raveendran
Starring: Parvathi T, Babu Annur , Rajesh Hebbar , Kochu Preman , Vineeth Vishwam, Saritha Sreejith, Vaudev, Suryadev, Saami Vaas, Ranjith, Vinod, Abhilash Abi, Athul S Dev

Watch the movie Grace Villa here:

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Loham

loham (2)

What is it about? :: Jayanthi (Andrea Jeremiah) has reached Cochin from Mumbai in search of her husband Ramesh (Ashvin A. Mathew). She chooses the taxi of Raju (Mohanlal) as she continues that search. Nobody knows anything about him including his own mother (KPAC Lalitha). Meanwhile, there is certain gold smuggling taking place from Dubai to Calicut/Malappuram and Ramesh who is a customs officer is somehow linked to it. But Raju himself has a special objective which he hopes to accomplish. Meanwhile, another man called Albert (Renji Panicker) lands in Kerala from Cochin and is looking for help in achieving something. At the same time, a group of gold smugglers lead by Unni Mohammed (Siddique) keeps searching for their lost gold.

The defence of Loham :: There are those moments which make the defence, and almost every one of them is related to the twists related to Mohanlal’s character. The first half is surely the superior one, and it surely keeps us very much interested in how these things are going to come together, and the division of the two halves is surely done at the best moment. The funny moments are working and they nicely come to keep the movie more interesting. There is also some criticism of the things happening in the state which is sure to catch one’s attention. The thrills are working, the twists are interesting even though we can’t say the same about how the turns happening at every situation – there are times when the focus could have been at one twist only and build on that. There are some memorable dialogues in Loham too, even though some of them could have used a little polishing.

Claws of flaw :: The audience might feel that this is not what they wanted considering the hype. A better result was expected from the direction of Ranjith. There are moments which make one feel more and more that this is not something new, but consisting of thing that they have watched. The predictability exists here and there. Even though the premise is new, the most common comparisons made should be related to Prithviraj Sukumaran’s two movies, 7th Day and Sapthamashree Thaskaraha. There are too many characters in this movie, and they just keep coming to add nothing special. There are experienced performers doing these roles too, and one has to wonder if they were needed in this movie even though they did their job with ease. The movie doesn’t really finish that well as expected, and the songs are very much forgettable. The pace also has too much variation. The mass moments do more bad than good.

Performers of the soul :: Once again, there is no doubt about who steals the show, as Mohanlal seems to go through this character in his usual style, and due to the same, the protagonist is safe in his hands. There seems to be some moments which seems to be custom made for him, which he manage with elegance. He is surely bigger than this movie itself, and manages to bring that charm to his character which helps to keep the level of this movie higher. Even though it takes about fifteen minutes or a little more for him to come to the screen, he holds things together from his very first appearance. This movie needed him a lot, and he has brought the movie the much needed strength. The support that he gets in this movie is from a lot of people that if you note them down with their performances in detail, you can be sure to have a lot of ink and paper ready.

More performers of the soul :: Andrea Jeremiah is the lady lead in this movie, but she is not Mohanlal’s heroine, and neither does she have anything substantial to contribute to the basic story-line despite what we might expect in the beginning. But she manages to do her job very well – still, one has to wonder if she was needed in her third Malayalam movie for this role which could have been done by one from that long supporting list cast, and they could have done without one character which was not needed? After all, this is no Annayum Rasoolum or London Bridge. Ajmal Ameer, Suresh Krishna, Joju George and others make the team of villains among which the one big performer is once again Siddique who does well at many levels. This is another different role for him, and you have to admire his versatility once again!

Further performers of the soul :: Tini Tom, Sasi Kalinga, Thesni Khan, Muthumani and Shankar Mahadevan are just there for a few dialogues. Manikuttan, Pearle Maaney and Srinda Ashab are there, and you might not even have noticed. Mythili and her character’s flashback in the first few minutes never really gets us interested. One has to wonder if she could have just managed the role of the leading lady and this character could have been cut off. Aju Varghese could have also been better used considering the fact that his character had scope. Even someone with the calibre of Harish Perady has very short screen presence. Abu Salim and Renji Panicker are the two most interesting performers in the team of the protagonist – they make very good impact. Vijayaraghavan does the police role in his usual style easily.

How it finishes :: The long list of well-known cast actually work against the movie at times, as people tend to think that the characters are of more importance, but they never really are. Still, the one person who is not a big name, but still catches our attention is the debutante Niranjana Anoop who provides a cute, natural and lively performance – even though she is there only in a small role and the character having not much for the main plot. We know how big the expectations were related to this movie and what kind of hopes they were. We have been watching so many thrillers these days in different languages, and the number won’t come down. So, the opinions will surely be divided about Loham. But I don’t think that this is not entertaining unlike some opinions, because this surely is an interesting ride despite the flaws.

Release date: 20th August 2015
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith
Starring: Mohanlal, Andrea Jeremiah, Siddique, Vijayaraghavan, Gauri Nanda, Renji Panicker, Joju George, Tini Tom, Ajmal Ameer, Abu Salim, Aju Varghese, KPAC Lalitha, Suresh Krishna, Mythili, Musthafa, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Muthumani, Niranjana Anoop, Mohan Jose, Thesni Khan, Manikuttan, Pearle Maaney, Srinda Ashab, Soubin Sahir, Smiju Tom Joy, Harish Perady, Irshad, Ashvin A. Mathew, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Sasi Kalinga, Kollam Thulasi, Jayan Cherthala, Shyamaprasad (cameo)

loham

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.