Forensic

What is the movie about? :: A little girl is separated from her elder sister at a dance school, and is later found murdered. Rithika Xavier IPS (Mamta Mohandas) is in charge of the case which had soon become a media sensation. Samuel John Kattookaran (Tovino Thomas) and Shikha Damodar (Reba Monica John), the forensic experts are asked to assist Rithika in the case. But Samuel also has a past with Rithika who was his elder brother Xavier John Kattookkaran’s (Saiju Kurup) wife until their divorce due to the loss of one of their daughters. Due to the same reason, Samuel and Rithika are not happy about working together in the case, but they manage to find out some important clues, as another child is murdered. They find out that this is the work of a serial killer who was linked to another series of murders known as the Burma Colony serial killings.

So, what happens with the events here? :: A retired police officer Abdul Wahab (Renji Panicker) who was dealing with Burma murders case, a child psychologist Jayakumar Menon (Prathap Pothan) and the two other police officers who are also in the case, Murali Mohankumar (Anwar Shereef) and Dano Mammen (Rony David) also become the key factors in moving forward in the investigation. But time is running out for them, as another child is kidnapped, and this time within a few minutes of her mother leaving her at a seat in the hospital, that too with so much of crowd and CCTV camers around. The cops figure out that it is not the usual serial killer, and the person couldn’t be alone. Someone working close to them might also be helping the killer. But time is running out, and the media has created enough panic among people – how long will it take to end this?

The defence of Forensic :: This movie releases at a time when a little girl had gone missing and her body was found in the nearby river, and this date of release being a strange co-incidence which adds to that feeling of fear and eerie. With twists and thrills maintained, and the suspense existing till the end unlike Anjaam Pathira which decided to make it a revenge movie too early as it showed the villain rather earlier, Forensic definitely holds strong. It takes the terror to the last moments, and has one psycho killer who could actually be called so, without a motive other than the murder which becomes the justification all by itself. There is a balance, and an order being followed here. For a movie which begins with a patricide, there is a fine foreshadowing of what is to follow, if the character shown in the opening scenes is going to be at the centre of attraction. The red herrings are given very well to improve the impact further.

The claws of flaw :: Even though the movie does hold advantage over Anjaam Pathira, the movie lacks similar moments of sudden shock, but the same can be seen running underneath the idea of the movie throughout, and coming to light more in the later stages with the psycho coming out of the darkness. But a better use of darkness and silence was required instead of focusing more on the blood and violent moments – it could have had some balance there. The final moments leading to revelation could have also been managed in a different way to create better impact. There are also some usual moments which were not needed in a serious movie of investigation like this. A few moments of the movie are also predictable, and a better treatment of its main characters like Memories did, would have also contributed here in a better way, but Forensic makes no such effort.

The performers of the soul :: After having two of the best movies of the year to his credit in the form of Virus and Uyare, Tovino Thomas does manage to begin this year in style, as 2020 has one thriller to follow the much appreciated Anjaam Pathira for him too. The character works for him well, as he plays a smart forensic expert who helps the police – it is the kind of role which doesn’t require him to bring anything special. There are some action scenes for him too, as he moves forward strongly with this character. Mamta Mohandas had only two movies to her credit last year, with a supporting role in 9 and playing the lady lead in Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel, both of them not crossing the border to create further impact among the audience. She makes a police officer with a troubled past with ease – the character works well on two levels.

Further performers of the soul :: Reba Monica John who made her debut in Jacobinte Swargarajyam had things going in her favour with the role in Bigil, but other than Paippin Chuvattile Pranayam, she remained mostly unnoticed by the Malayalam movie audience. Her supposed cameo in Mikhael had also gone unnoticed. She has a good role here, and the same doesn’t have any romantic side, and it is a positive thing in a movie like this. Saiju Kurup is paired with Mamta here, and it is to be noted that the two made their debuts as leading actors in the movie Mayookham. He has a rather usual role, which he does with ease, and the same can be said about Renji Panicker who is not stranger to his character in this movie too. Anwar Shereef and Rony David also come up with the roles of police officers, which they do well enough. The kids also play the roles nicely, especially the boy with long hair and the girl who plays the leading actress’ daughter.

How it finishes :: With the success of Anjaam Pathira, there was always going to be the need for more thrillers, and with movies like Anveshanam only becoming half-thrillers while going deep into melodrama, Forensic had become a necessity. Well, it can be said that Forensic scores over Anjaam Pathira when we compare the two – this movie is clear with each element, and shows how one events lead to the other. Forensic also has a clear psycho killer with the motive not being revenge from a long gone post. The movie also doesn’t rush through things like Anjaam Pathira – the terror in Forensic also feels more real, as murder itself becomes the motive, as it was said in the trailer. With a clear revenge motive like Anjaam Pathira did, such a feeling couldn’t have been achieved. The advantage has been clearly gained.

Release date: 28th February 2020
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Akhil Paul, Anas Khan
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Reba Monica John, Mamta Mohandas, Renji Panicker, Saiju Kurup, Prathap Pothan, Mohan Sharma, Rony David, Anwar Shereef, Srikanth Murali, Ramu, Dhanesh Anand, Anjali Nair, Devi Ajith, Anil Murali, Lukman, Giridhar, Rajesh Hebbar, Sadhika Venugopal, Thennal

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mikhael

What is the movie about? :: George Peter (Siddique) is the rich and notorious don of the area who is known to run the family business as well as criminal activities of the city and its surroundings with such energy and enthusiasm that he doesn’t hesistate to kill even police officers according to his will, the latest of them being N Sreenivasan (Kishore) who dared to arrest him in front of the public. When a new investigating officer Easa (JD Chakravarthi) is appointed in his place with Issac (Suraj Venjaramoodu) to assist him, the hunt for the mafia ruling the city gets stronger. It is then that the headless body of George is found along with his right-hand man, brutally murdered. Then the man who mediates between two rival gangs, Patrick (Kalabhavan Shajohn) is also shot by someone. This brings trouble with gang wars ready to break out.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: With George’s brother Marco Jr (Unni Mukundan) coming to the scene, and Francis Davi (Sudev Nair) from the opposite gang trying to have his own vengeance, the police department is kept on his toes. All these seem to point to one man, doctor of the nearby Starcare hospital called Mikhael John (Nivin Pauly) who seems to have a long story to tell about his family and how it came across George. He is the man who seems to be responsible for the death of George and Patrick, but the question remains about what Marco Jr will do about that, with going to police and assuring law and justice, not being an option for him. Easa and Issac will be happy to see the rival gangs fighting each other, or someone murdering the gangsters, but how long can the police department keep away from the scene? Will there be vengeance and can there be justice?

The defence of Mikhael :: The movie is high on style and action sequences, but one can note that it never really goes too far, as it keeps away from elements like flying villains, hero who knows everything before it happens, and all. The music is mostly good and at times excellent, with very few exceptions that we can notice. There are those mass elements, but they are kept in control unlike The Great Father and Abrahaminte Santhathikal which had the same director’s hands firmly on them in one way or the other, or Masterpiece which had so much of the same – the heroism as well as the whole story itself is far more believable, and has better and smarter twists with this one. The thrills are present all the time, and the emotional side works pretty well. The visual style is very nice, and the same rises above the rest. The dialogues are powerful, and Mikhael is a movie that doesn’t hesitate to come up with some moments which are above a normal movie in the industry.

The claws of flaw :: There are times when style gets over substance in this movie too, as The Great Father and Abrahaminte Santhathikal also did. We also see too many similarities with former, with a school being at the centre of attraction, and one girl who is dear to the protagonist – fighting for her becomes the priority for the protagonist. The slow motion could have been reduced, and the interest in sunglasses for some characters continues to be strange. The first half also takes some time to get into the main idea, and we also see the presence of predictability here, with the protagonist and antagonist coming close to facing each other. The ladies don’t have much to do in this movie either, except for the girl who sets everything moving. You can see that some moments were added just for the sake of adding them, and inspirations from foreign movies are certainly there.

The performers of the soul :: It is up to Nivin Pauly to rise and stay at the top, and he manages to do that well – still, his best moments were when his character was a family man, with vulnerability, but it was surely nice to see him in a different avatar, extending what he showed in Action Hero Biju. He does show that he is good at them all, and in a movie which has substance rising over style will surely have him shining better. There are the two qualities of Michael shown by Christina Rossetti with her poem on the angels – service & strength, as doctor & martial arts expert here. One the other side is Unni Mukundan who plays the main antagonist towards the end, and we remember him playing just the opposite in the movie Style – with Tovino as his villain; here he has to face the same thing, even though stylish as he is, with less space on the screen, and not getting the best of dialogues when there was scope for a lot of the same. He should have been given the opportunity to be a more menacing villain rather than showing the muscles. The Luciferesque qualities are seen better with Siddique’s character as Satan against Michael, the leader of heavenly angels – the one who chooses to reign in hell & go against all norms, establishing his own pandemonium. He is the Satan that Milton would keep in his Paradise Lost.

Further performers of the soul :: At the same, Siddique becomes that villain who anyone could have wanted to be – evil and sadistic, going on to reach a state which is nothing less than mentally sick. His ways of tormenting or even finishing off his opponents, and even his dialogues are with that kind of terror that an antagonist can always dream about, and a protagonist can have nightmares about. The girl who played the main character’s sister, a name which hasn’t been known through the early cast list on internet or posters, Navani Devanand also needs some applause as she gets everything right in this movie – she could be a talent to look out for, in the future. She nails all emotions perfectly, whether its anger, sadness or joy. Shantikrishna, Babu Antony, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Ashokan, Baiju and KPAC Lalitha are left with not much to do here. Manjima Mohan as the heroine doesn’t really have anything to do either, and even Reba Monica John who is there for a few minutes leave better impact. JD Chakravarthi, Sudev Nair and Suraj Venjaramoodu get their nice moments though.

How it finishes :: The whole story of Mikhael here has an allusion to the archangel Michael, the leader of the archangels who lead the battle against Satan, a.k.a. Lucifer and his forces who rebeled against God. As a protector and a fighter against evil, this image is reiterated here by giving the same name to the protagonist, and the images of the angel being shown on multiple spaces – the opposite can be seen through the images displayed in the room of the antagonist. The whole movie is about how the brother becomes the guardian angel for his sister, vanquishing the evil forces – with the same, we have the style, all the action, thrills and twists which keep coming at regular intervals; surprisingly, there is also the presence of some funny side. This one might not be the favourite for the family audience, but is surely one nice entertainer which successfully defends its territory within the genre.

Release date: 18th January 2019
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Haneef Adeni
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Unni Mukundan, Navani Devanand, Manjima Mohan, JD Chakravarthi, Sudev Nair, Babu Antony, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Siddique, Renji Panicker, Shantikrishna, Kalabhavan Shajohn, KPAC Lalitha, Amal Shah, V Jayaprakash, Kishore, Reba Monica John, Baiju

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Paippinchuvattile Pranayam

What is the movie about? :: Very close to the city, but still, very far away from the urban setting, there is the small island which is known by the name Pandarathuruthu, and the first half of that name itself is enough to know how that place is considered to be, by not just the people from outside, but also those who live there. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge has said in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the people of the island also faces the same situation – “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink”, surrounded by salt water, and having only a few boats – as all roads lead to Rome, all of those boats get them to the city, and nowhere else. This is the tale of the simple people in that particular place, where everyone spends more time waiting for water in a long queue in front of the common tap at the centre of the island, rather than doing anything else. The rest of the people do simple jobs, including fishing, painting and also a little bit of farming which doesn’t need much of fresh water.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is around that place of local gathering around the tap meant to collect water, that Govindankutty a.k.a Govutty (Neeraj Madhav) and Teena (Reba Monica John) falls in love. While there is the scarcity of water there, one can see no difficulty in getting some love, as far as these two are concerned. Govindankutty leads a happy life with his good friends Ayyappan (Sudhi Koppa) and Bashi (Rishi S Kumar) earning enough through painting work and a few dance performances when opportunities are available. There is not much of a complaint from them about their lives, despite the unavailiability of water bothering them all the time. They know that people have tried to bring better facilities to the island before, but nothing has happened with those politicians who keep making excuses, and life goes on. Any further attempt would be waste of time, according to them.

And what is to follow in this small adventure at the island? :: Babumon (Dharmajan Bolgatty) is the one to suffer the most, as no girl wishes to get married to someone without access to drinking water. Teena’s parents are also not ready to get her married to Govindankutty, and they are also looking for someone who got access to clean water, from anywhere outside the village. Despite his mother (Sethulakshmi) asking for the bride, Teena’s parents (Jaffer Idukki and Thesni Khan) are not ready to accept the proposal. It is more or less the reflection of their realization that nothing good can happen in Pandarathuruthu and the people of the island will never have access to clean water. But when one tragedy strikes, they have to think differently, and understand that it is the time to act. It is upon the youth to make the difference, but are they up to it? One journalist named Shyam Prakash (Aju Varghese) is ready to help them, but will that be enough?

The defence of Paippinchuvattile Pranayam :: There are moments in Paippinchuvattile Pranayam that keep rising like the certainty of tides – we see them coming and going. The humour is present here and there, and the lead has a good chemistry going on in movie’s favour. Some good visuals of the place will have our attention, and we see the huge buildings of the city on one side and this small world on the other. The music is good, even though they are used without care at some places. There are messages in store, and we have social issues being discussed, after the lack of availability of clean water in many areas. There were those islands around Cochin which had problems in getting drinking water, something we have been reading about since childhood. Even though a lot of problems have been solved now, it remains something that is present at one place or the other. Paippinchuvattile Pranayam adds something there.

The claws of flaw :: With a little more than two hours of length, some parts of the movie do make us feel a certain amount of drag. There is also the whole thing not used to its advantage, as this one could have been funnier, as well as having a thrilling end which could be a lot more of a difference maker with its ideas. The final moments could have been polished to bring an effect which would have made this one a social thriller with romance to go with it. The romantic side also makes way for the rest of the things too easily – there is not that much of strength with it if we consider the fact that the title Paippinchuvattile Pranayam as well as the expectations were all related to that only. There is also the need for the ability to relate to the problems of the common man, without which, this movie can go flying far away; this one would be more for the common audience, the everyman who can reflect these elements better as well as the invisible villains.

Performers of the soul :: Neeraj Madhav right out of Lavakusha and Oru Mexican Aparatha this year leads the way, and he is comfortable in being this kind of a hero, as all things are in control here. Reba Monica John seems naturally suited for this role, and is there throughout, winning points with big smiles and enchanting expressions, unlike that small presence which she had in Jacobinte Swargarajyam despite being the leading actress there too. As one might have figured out with the trailer and songs, she fits in, even without that many dialogues. Sudhi Koppa is the one actor who supports so well as he rises to the occasion, and he does a fantastic job with those emotional side, more than that comic side which was there earlier. We already saw him in Alamara, Lakshyam and Udaharanam Sujatha in notable roles this year among the others, and he gets his best here. Dharmajan strengthens the funny side, which would have struggled a lot without him. Aju Varghese has a smaller role which is managed easily. Sarath falls prey to a badly written negative character.

How it finishes :: Among those movies about common people made with what seems to rather lower budget, Paippinchuvattile Pranayam will surely have a good position. It is always nice to see tales being made about common men and not those money laundering bourgeoisie class attached to pubs and parties. It can’t claim to be perfect or close to being perfect in what it deals with, but it is as close to reality that we can get, and it is close to the heart of everyone who feels for those who are in need. But concerning others who have no heart for the sufferings of others, this wouldn’t be the movie. This is the age of superheroes with Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League running in the theatres, and one can go for them without thinking too much, for the big entertainment. But if you care, try giving a chance to the smaller movies about everyman, like Paippinchuvattile Pranayam. In simple words, call it “Love, water & other social issues”.

Release date: 24th November 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Domin D’Silva
Starring: Neeraj Madhav, Reba Monica John, Aju Varghese, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sarath Appani, Sudhi Koppa, Sruthy Jayan, Jaffer Idukki, Rishi S Kumar, Tesni Khan, Sethulakshmi, Indrans, Anoop Chandran

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jacobinte Swargarajyam

jacobinteswargarajyam (2)

Vampire Owl :: Quite a lot of things happened this year, you know; with the Malayalam movies.

Vampire Bat :: Only a few months have passed, and so you can’t really say a lot!

Vampire Owl :: Well, Darwin completed his evolution and Mahesh had his vengeance. Now, Jacob wants his kingdom of heaven.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, Darwinte Parinamam and Maheshinte Prathikaram; now Jacobinte Swargarajyam – note the “NTE” sound in the middle of the title of every movie.

Vampire Owl :: I am sure that this one has worked so well too. I couldn’t get tickets for the movie at the multiplexes.

Vampire Bat :: Well, it is Vishu. Theatres were supposed to be full.

Vampire Owl :: Is that the same reason why we are here so early?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, you see the large number of people in the queue behind us.

Vampire Owl :: And I am glad that we parked our car early.

Vampire Bat :: This one should work for us too.

[Gets the tickets with cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Jacob (Renji Panicker) is a successful businessman who made Dubai his home after striving hard to reach his current position. With his wife Sherly (Lakshmy Ramakrishnan) and four children, Jerry (Nivin Pauly), Abin (Sreenath Bhasi), Ammu (Aima Sebastian) and Chris (Stacen), they go through some of the happiest times of their life. Jerry is in love with Chippy (Reba Monica John), a medical student, and Ammu leaves to study the same course. Abin spends his time with music. But as Jacob is cheated by one of his trusted people, he is left in a lot of trouble and also in dire need of money, disturbing the momentum of the family. With consistent threats from Murali Menon (Ashwin Kumar) and others who had invested in his venture, he decides to travel to Liberia to find bring a deal and come up with a solution to his present problem.

What is it actually about? :: The absence of his father required the rise of Jerry to the vacant position, and it is what the movie is really about. It is about Jerry trying to bring things back together with the help of his family of his brothers and his mother. With his father stuck in Liberia, he will find new ideas and will bring new plans to minimize and later get rid of the damage completely. With the help of the old friends of his father, Unni (T.G. Ravi) and Philip (Sai Kumar), and also the newly found people in his life, Yousuf (Vineeth Sreenivasan), he will rise to the occasion, and with the help of the situation and fate, shall go on to become the person whom he never thought he would be. But the question remains about the timing – with time running out so fast, will he really be able to do that when needed? Can he be the saviour for his family when it matters the most?

The defence of Jacobinte Swargarajyam :: Clean, and staying close to the realities of life, this movie makes a good use of its cast which has come up with some natural performances. The scenes which depict the relationship between the members of the family gives that special and yet beautiful feeling – it provides anyone who values family with that special reflection to life. The funny scenes are simple and from everyday life, but working very well. The emotional scenes are very much touching, but still kept in control. There is so much positivity in this movie even when facing lots of trouble, and the feel-good factor here is rather tremendous. There are also some very nice visuals; the songs are interesting, and “Ee Shishirakaalam” is the pick of them all. The messages left here are also beautiful, of working hard without any shortcuts, supporting one’s family and being there for the ones you love the most.

Claws of flaw :: Yes, undoubtedly, this movie could have been better; the scope was there, and such a wonderful cast was present. This emotional family story goes through a little bit too much of a predictable path too. We can guess a lot of things around here easily. A story at the Middle East and the tale of a family facing financial crisis – these are two things that can appeal to the Malayali audience so well, which is why a better story with a rather slower transformation of the protagonist would have done better for the movie. The film is also a little bit too much focused on money, and it is the capital, the profit and the money that drives too many things in this movie – well, it is still not the primary focus, but the fingers are often pointed towards that, even though not many people might see that. Well, capitalism was always supposed to be there, considering the setting.

Performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly requirest a lot of appreciation here – for he surely knows how to become the hero, and otherwise stay there waiting for the opportunity; it has been the case with his character here. Renji Panicker takes the glory in the beginning stages, and Lakshmy Ramakrishnan dominates at times, and Nivin is there exactly as his character demands, and I consider that a wonderful thing here. After Action Hero Biju, he once again has a realistic portrayal of his character here, and it only gets better. Meanwhile, Aima Sebastian has a small but amazingly cute presence in this movie, and Reba Monica John leaves a mark even with her shorter presence – that could have been explored further. Renji Panicker does his job with ease, and Lakshmy Ramakrishnan has her character becoming one of the best strong mother/wife characters that we have seen for a long time. The other most notable person here is Sreenath Bhasi who is a lot likable.

How it finishes :: Do note that Vineeth Sreenivasan and Aju Varghese make notable cameos here, the former making a bigger impact in the story. The child artist Stacen also does a good job. This movie could have been stronger with its story, but the feeling that it provides is really good. It is something that is perfect for a family watch for the weekend, as it is a movie with faith, hope and values. It is a movie that reminds the viewers of their family and how much the blood keeps us together, binding us. The significance of the family is something that has been part of our movie industry for a long time, and this one becomes a welcome addition to the same. Vineeth Sreenivasan does four in a row, after Malarvadi Arts Club, Thattathin Marayathu and Thira. The Thira sequel won’t be here soon though, I guess.

Here is a song from the movie; you should love it 🙂

Release date: 8th April 2016
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: Vineeth Sreenivasan
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Reba Monica John, Renji Panicker, Aima Sebastian, Lakshmy Ramakrishnan, Sreenath Bhasi, Stacen, Sai Kumar, Ashwin Kumar, T. G. Ravi, Dinesh Prabhakar, Vineeth Sreenivasan (cameo), Aju Varghese (cameo)

jacobinteswargarajyam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.