Kaanekkaane

What is the movie about? :: Deputy Tahsildar Paul Mathai (Suraj Venjaramoodu) is still not out of shock after his daughter Sherin Allen Mathai (Shruti Ramachandran) died as part of a hit and run accident. He is running a case against the man who was responsible for the incident, and he reiterates the fact that he will not forgive the driver not because of the accident, but because he didn’t stop to check on her daughter, and didn’t try to take her to the hospital. Paul believes that it was this hesitation that led to the death of his daughter, as he went missing, and was not found for a long time – an earlier treatment could have saved her. Paul hopes that he will get justice for his dead daughter soon enough. His son-in-law Allen Mathai (Tovino Thomas) is now married to a woman whom he had met during one of his business trips, Sneha George (Aishwarya Lekshmi), who is also pregnant for the first time at the moment. They seem to be a happy family, and his grandson Kuttu (Master Alok Krishna) is also a happy child when he is among them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Sneha’s father George (Prem Prakash) is concerned about Paul’s infatuation with the case, but Paul is determined to keep his eyes on the case all the time. It is then that he feels that there is something strange about Allen and Sneha, as he looks into her past. Even though Allen had introduced Sneha to him much later, and had asked him permission to marry her, he finds out that they were together much earlier, from a photo dated many months earlier. Even when he was supposed to be alone for work, he was with Sneha. He feels that Allen was cheating on Sherin for a very long time, and for both Allen and Sneha, it was a comfortable death – with Sherin out of the way, they could quickly get into a relationship. He also figures out that Allen reached the accident spot from the exact opposite direction of where he was then. He decides to find out if there is something more to the death of Sherin than what meets the eye. But as he gets closer to the same, he is not finding it easy to live with anymore.

The defence of Kaanekkaane :: If you consider the emotional side, this film is one of the strongest in that category, and there is no force that can drive it out of there – this one is an emotional thriller with class. Combining family elements and bringing the thrills is no easy task, and such emotional feeling takes some extra skill. The melancholy mood is always there, and defines the work, even before the revelations are made, and we move to the ideas of remorse and vengeance in multiple dimensions. In the end, all these lead to the message of forgiveness and the relief that lies in the same. It reaches the same by following multiple paths, and we never really feel that there is such a revelation. The emotional strength of the film grows on you, and it is at its top most level by the end. All these emotions are shown as ruling these characters. The emotional undercurrents never seem to disappear, as we keep coming back to it, like the Lake Poets to the beauty of nature and the Gothic Novelists to the dark terrors of any ancient castle.

The claws of flaw :: The emotional side often takes over long above the tale of people which is explored here. The story is basic, and we see that the pace doesn’t really pick up here at any point, and there is no attempt to focus around there. The moments before one main character’s death are not that much explored, as the first wife only gets a little less of screen space for our liking. The chance to throw in some thrills here and there has also been missed, and there too, the focus shifts to the emotional side. There is not much of colour in this film, and that should be because of its melancholy side rather than anything else. The movie could have had more advertisements before its release, even though we are seeing more of it right now. It does have a big heart, but that could be something which the people outside the film might be lacking. But when we are immersed in the emotions of the film, any problem is easily forgotten.

Performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu leads the way here, and he comes up with another emotional performance, the kind in which he has excelled in the last few years, moving out of that comedy genre for long. As far as he is concerned, the list of fantastic performances is just too long, and my favourite has been Finals, in which he played the determined sportsman and father. The same fatherly strength can be seen here too, and the determination that he shows here, and how his character is displayed here are all, a few things to be remembered. There is a lot of melancholy that runs through his face, and we go through his pain as much as he does. His character is also as close to reality as possible, and the emotional depth of the film starts from him, is strengthened by him, and comes to a close with his own actions. Prem Prakash plays the father of the second wife, and the veteran actor has no problems with the work here.

Further performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas also plays a different kind of character, and like he did in Luca, has a heavy emotional performance to come up with. Here, he is okay with playing the second most important character, and he once again excels without doubt. One has to wonder how well he has risen in the last few years, and last year he had Kilometers and Kilometers as well as Forensic, but this year, he has many more films to his credit. Shruti Ramachandran who was last seen in Anveshanam has rather smaller role, but we note that down too. Then we have Aishwarya Lekshmi as the leading lady in the movie, one of the best young actresses of our times, keeping the melancholy mood of the film going forward. Seen with Tovino in one of the best combinations through Maayanadhi after her debut in Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, she is indeed the one actress whom everyone needs to watch out for, as she impresses each and every time, leaving nothing to criticize – the same is the case here.

How it finishes :: This is the movie of Suraj Venjaramoodu, Tovino Thomas and Aishwarya Lekshmi, all three coming up with splendid performances, and when we add these three to the melancholic mood which deals with themes that run through here, there is something of fine quality. The human emotions are really well portrayed through these performers, and the strong emotions are always running strong in the background. With such a strong cast, the film has no problems in portraying what it has been trying to do. It is so much multi-layered that we won’t be able to take the side of any character, and therefore we choose to travel through this journey. This is also the first Malayalam film to directly release in this particular OTT platform. Well, for every other good movie in Malayalam, we seem to have the choice of Amazon Prime Video. There is a lot more to release there in October, and that should be enough to keep the movie lovers interested even during the times of Corona virus.

Release date: 17th September 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 120 minutes
Directed by: Manu Ashokan
Starring: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Tovino Thomas, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Shruti Ramachandran, Prem Prakash, Rony David, Dhanya Mary Varghese, Binu Pappu, Sruthy Jayan, Sreeja Das, Master Alok Krishna

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Chathur Mukham

What is the movie about? :: Clement (Alencier Ley Lopez) used to be a professor in the Kerala Agricultural University, and even though he has retired from service, has a certain amount of interest in science which can be matched by nobody else. Due to his skills in science, he is approached by Antony (Sunny Wayne) who wishes to talk to him about a certain kind of energy which can be associated with ghosts, but this time, he is trying to connect the same with science in one way or the other. Clement is a strong believer in science, but not in ghosts, and he is not ready to believe in Antony’s tale about energy in the form of ghosts. Then, Antony comes up with the full story about the woman who was haunted by ghosts, Thejaswini (Manju Warrier). She is someone who spends most of her time in the social media, and has everything related to her life posted on Instagram. She belongs to a new generation which believes that technology is an important part of life, and also that women needs to have education and financial independence before getting married.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Hailing from Kollam, she works with her old friend, Antony who has been running a CCTV business at Thiruvananthapuram as a new venture. Things seem to work out well for her until a strange incident occurs during a ritual at temple and she losses her phone in the temple pond. This leads to her deciding to go for another phone, and she hopes she can find the cheapest one with multimedia features. It is then that she comes across a special offer in a website which seems to have started only a few days ago. This is a type of phone belonging to a brand that nobody had heard about, and they guess that it is some kind of new Chinese device. She orders the same, and gets it only to find out that there is something strange about it. She finds out that there are messages going out of it without her consent, and she even gets electrocuted from the charger, but the mobile phone seems to have full charge even after a long time period of usage. Initially, she feels that only the selfie camera of the phone is the weaker link.

And what is to follow with the terrifying series of events? :: But there is much more to the mobile phone than what meets the eye. The sequence of events unfold in such a way that she becomes afraid of her own mobile phone. She tries to get rid of the phone multiple times, but it ends up being with her, or forces her to take it back in one way or the other. Even dropping the phone in the middle of the road or the temple pond doesn’t help. As the phone continues to come towards her and cause problems, she becomes confident that there is a ghost haunting the phone. She approaches a local magician, but the spirit scares him away too, and she is forced to live with the phone which seems to slowly taking her to death. Clement is still not convinced, and decides to see the woman anyway. But this leads them to a strange past that the mobile phone seems to have a strange and mysterious past, and it is not the only phone that belongs to the same category.

The defence of Chathur Mukham :: The film provides a good deviation from the usual horror films, with technology bringing the horror again, as it was surely tried before, but not with this much focus on science. The cinematography is one thing that increases the effectiveness of this film, as we can see them. These are not the usual horror settings, but the different ones which can provide the environment in a similar manner with variety. With the mobile phone at the centre, this doesn’t even need to have that much of the usual jump scares in action to bring the horror to the social media and the usual dose of technology. There is also the chance of a sequel which is left behind at the end. The special effects are used well enough, and there are some fine explanations to the horror which is added here too. Having Manju Warrier as the main character is also a good addition. With technology being an integral part of our lives, the ghost from technology is more relevant here in comparison to those spirits which wandered through cemeteries and old haunted houses.

The claws of flaw :: There are the usual kind of things which have been done before, and these repetitions bring us back to different films which we have seen before, like The Ring and The Final Destination series. The dramatic side is also not that effective in comparison, and some characters are just not used well enough. With the concept having the deviation, the film could have made it even more innovative, but by the end, film is moving more towards a safer side rather than anything else. It could have also focused on the background, or added more scares, which are not considered either. The ending could have also been better, because there was the chance for creating something grand. It could have also had some science fiction elements taking over in between, but that doesn’t happen, and the film could have also had more deaths, and more spreading of terror. When you have spirits in store within a mobile phone and when it has effect on technology and electricity, you know there are no limits that need to established – it could have run free.

Performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier leads the way in a horror film, and even though this genre is not unfamiliar to her, when we consider The Priest, this is time she faces the ghost, her own fears and death as a strong character. Sunny Wayne, just like he did in Sara’s and June, has the supporting role in another heroine-centered film, which he does in his usual way, being the second most important character around here. He doesn’t really have his moments this time though, but manages to hold on. Niranjana Anoop is unfortunately wasted in a small role here, and the character doesn’t even get killed by the ghost – a few others at least had moments in that way in comparison. The other actors who deserved more attention, including Rony David, Srikant Murali, Babu Annur etc also have their roles limited. Alencier Ley Lopez is the only other actor who comes into the spotlight, and this happens to be a nice change for him from the usual roles. Meanwhile, Shyamaprasad is notable in his small role, while mobile phone is definitely a character all by itself with its ghostly presence.

How it finishes :: Identified as techno horror, the film does have its moments. We have already had ghosts haunting electronic devices, especially mobile phones – the Bollywood film 3G was related to the same, and this one is certainly a better creation in comparison, even though it released eight years later. Pretham and Pretham 2 were also wanderings through the spiritual presence in technology. There are many things that make Chathur Mukham different though, and Manju Warrier is surely one of those elements. This one also works as a warning against the presence of technology in our lives. This is the kind of film which could have released on the OTT platforms much earlier – this delay has made the interest in the movie much lesser, and the fact that it didn’t release in Amazon Prime Video also contributes to that. Cold Case with its ghost in the refrigerator had already made the supernatural working online, and now we have this ghost to haunt the OTT, which it surely does pretty well.

Release date: 8th April 2021 (India), 8th July 2021 (ZEE 5)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Ranjeet Kamala Sankar, Salil V
Starring: Manju Warrier, Sunny Wayne, Alencier Ley Lopez, Rony David, Shyamaprasad, Niranjana Anoop, Babu Annur, Srikant Murali, Shaju Sreedhar, Kalabhavan Prajod, Balaji Sarma, Navas Vallikkunnu, Saranjith

@ Cemetery Watch
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Nizhal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
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Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha

What is the movie about? :: The story is set in a high range village and at an old style family which is left with one old motherly figure and the young son who hasn’t married yet even though he has reached the age of thirty five. Sleevachan (Asif Ali) is someone who hasn’t thought of marriage at any point of his life. Kuttichan (Jaffer Idukki) has brought profiles of many different women for him, but he didn’t even try to go and see a single lady, much to the dismay of his mother, four sisters and other relatives. Even his neighbours, friends and the villagers are looking forward to see him getting married, as he is a much loved person and a helpful man. But as he realized that his mother was getting older, and she needed help, he finally decides that he can’t manage all the farming activities and look after his mother, as he is always outside home.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: A new proposal comes, and this time, Sleevachan is ready to marry, and the girl is Rincy (Veena Nandakumar), daughter of the church vicar’s sister who lives at Angamaly. Even though Sleevachan’s sisters are doubtful in the beginning stages, the two are supposed to be ideal match, and there is no hesitation from anyone’s side about getting them married, except for Richard (Rony David), Rincy’s brother who also agrees to the union of two families. There is a grand wedding ceremony which is attended by almost the whole village, but on the very first day itself, Sleevachan ends up drinking too much alcohol, and falls asleep early. But from what is to follow later, this might be the better night for him. His own lack of understanding of what happens after marriage would land him in trouble. The question remains about how he can change his ways and adapt.

The defence of Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha :: The success of Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha depends on how its situation and idea is presented to make a story with lesser content far more interesting than how it would have been, if presented directly. The main characters are nicely written, and without any melodrama or insensitive dialogues, the movie takes on the family mode quite easily. There was some risk involved with this movie, and the movie even though does take it, never really venture close to danger – the balance is maintained effectively. The music is pretty good, even though not the best. The visuals of the place are nicely captured, and it serves as another good-looking movie too. The messages here are there to be taken, even though not for everyone, and not at the same dose.

The claws of flaw :: There is not much of a content in this movie that stretches to its full length, as some parts of the movie could have been cut down to make this one and half hours – there is not that much in there to take it to two hours and fifteen minutes. The story can be considered to be too simple, and the beginning half an hour or even up to forty five minutes doesn’t have anything to catch our attention at all, and goes through a struggle to get to the point, until it begins to change the mood. There are also moments when one feels that the movie is not that realistic, and due the lesser content out there, it does drag, and the struggle is visible. The ending, even though good, needed to pack a better punch – the feel-good has itself working all the way here though.

The performers of the soul :: Asif Ali has done a fantastic job here, and it him who gets to drive the movie forward effectively. Even though Kakshi: Amminippilla was a terrible and aimless movie, he had two fantastic movies, Virus and Uyare, as well as the one fine feel-good movies in the form of Vijay Superum Pournamiyum. He makes this simple, highland villager close to life, and also natural enough. He has some fine moments for us to remember, especially in the second half of the movie. This role of the simpleton from a village on a hill, stays safe with him from the beginning to the end. Veena Nandakumar who is best known for the movie Kadam Katha, comes up with a fine, controlled performance. She delivers the most with less dialogues and more from looks and action.

Further performers of the soul :: Basil Joseph, the director of two wonderful movies Kunjiramayanam and Godha has another good role to do after Manoharam. He plays the supporting role well once again, and it is once again the kind of role which Aju Varghese would do in a similar movie. The girl who plays the role of his lover also does a fine job here. Shine Tom Chacko is there in a small role which you would miss if you don’t look around at the right time. Rony David also has a smaller role as the brother of the heroine. Jaffer Idukki has a bigger role, and we get to see him handling a funny as well as matured side. Sruthi Lakshmi and Maala Parvathi are there for shorter moments too. It can be seen that the rest of the cast are also natural, unlike Happy Sardar which released this week, and keeps itself artificial throughout its run.

How it finishes :: Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha has done a pretty good job in keeping close to the family audience while providing a few messages. After the critically acclaimed and top level Helen, this is the movie which will grab your attention. Even with new releases coming this week, its number of shows remaining the same is a sign of the possibility of the movie to stay, even though with Mamangam coming up soon, there is no clear guarantee of the same. Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha‘s title won’t really symbolize the story, but the message does work out, considering the way the movie moves forward. Among the usual feel-good movies, this one strives to be different, and trying new experiments never get old in Malayalam cinema, as we work and seek more.

Release date: 22nd November 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Nissam Basheer
Starring: Asif Ali, Veena Nandakumar, Manohari Joy, Basil Joseph, Rony David, Jaffer Idukki, Raveendran, Sruthi Lakshmi, Maala Parvathi, Shine Tom Chacko, Jayalakshmi, Sini Abraham, Jesna Sibi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Helen

What is the movie about? :: Helen (Anna Ben), a BSc Nursing graduate from Cochin hopes to work and settle in Canada some day. As she attends her English classes during the day, she also works at a fast-food restaurant, Chicken Hub, at Grand Centre Mall. Her father Paul (Lal) is an LIC agent, who doesn’t have much of earnings, and their home itself might be taken over by the bank some day. Even though Paul worked in the Middle East for most of his youth, most of their money was spent for the medical treatment of late Mrs. Paul. Helen hopes to solve all problems by going to Canada and work as a nurse. Until then, she is living a busy life, balancing studies and work. At the same time, he is in love with Azhar (Noble Babu Thomas), a local boy whom she treated when she was working at hospital. She keeps the relationship a secret from most of the people including her father.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: One night, as she lands in the police station, as Azhar who was driving was drunk, Paul comes to know about her daughter’s relationship with the person. SI Ratheesh Kumar (Aju Varghese) of the nearby police station is not someone who is fond of such relationships. The very next day, Azhar has to leave for Chennai to join a new job, and Helen is not ready to talk to him due to the previous night’s incident. Paul is also not talking to her due to the same problem. On the same day, she works longer than usual time, but ends up in the cold storage vault of the shop after the manager Jayashankar (Rony David) locks Chicken Hub. As she had checked out earlier from the shop, everyone thinks that she is no longer there, but she is caught in there at below zero degree celcius with no mobile phone and no way to contact anyone. Now, its all about survival.

The defence of Helen :: Choosing to be among the best movies of the year along with Kumbalangi Nights, Finals, Unda, Virus and Uyare, Helen is one movie that you will love from the beginning to the end. The thrilling moments are created smartly, and the emotional scenes are right up there with the grand impact. The two hour movie never feels long, and we are there to love each and every moment of it. Debutante director Mathukutty Xavier makes sure that everything is impressive about this movie. This fine package also has some nice foreshadowing to go with it – even though the idea was already given in the trailer, in the beginning of the movie, we see an ant falling into an ice cube tray, and getting frozen in water, a situation symbolic of what is to happen to the titular character, as well as a mouse which also gets trapped inside the cold storage.

Positives and negatives :: It can be safely said that nobody has come up with a negative opinion on the movie, and there is nothing in there to inspire one. We see the thrills and the emotions, but what we take home is the feel-good factor, the idea of a beautiful smile for a stranger that we take home. We have watched Hollywood survival thrillers like The Shallows with one lady caught in the sea hunted by a shark and Bollywood survival thrillers like Trapped with one man caught in a partially completed flat with no water, food, electricity or means for communication. The truth that this movie could stand tall at the same level is something that all of us can be proud of. Driven by multiple performances other than focusing only on one person who is in peril, this one makes things even better – the movie is also the most realistic among the flicks of the same type.

The performers of the soul :: Anna Ben, in her second movie after Kumbalangi Nights, come up with a performance that can’t be easily matched by anyone. She shines as the lovable girl next door, father’s sweet child, responsible adult as well as the determined survivor who refuses to give up, despite even the mouse who was with her in the cold storage room deciding not to fight anymore. The way in which she adapts to each and every moment, will have our attention. She is very much believable as the girl who is trying to survive, and the terror of the situation is reflected on her face as her expressions catch our attention. From Babymol of Kumbalangi Nights to Helen, her work has been worth more appreciation than what most of the newcomers gain with many movies, and this seems to be a case of perfect choice of scripts.

Further performers of the soul :: Lal is perfectly suited for the role of the old-fashioned, loving father, the kind of character which seems to suit him more and more every time – remember Njanundukalude Naattil Oru Idavela. Aju Varghese plays a negative character here, and his police officer might be the beginning of more of similar dark shaded characters to come. He was into full comedy in Adhyarathri, Ittymaani: Made in China and Love Action Drama, and all of a sudden, we seem doing a wonderful job in a different role. Noble Babu Thomas who wrote the script also plays the male lead, and leaves a fine mark. He can move into more roles quick enough. Rony David has a role which has him doing very nicely. Vineeth Sreenivasan who is producing a movie a long time after Aanandam can be seen in a cameo which is a nice one.

How it finishes :: Helen is a well-made survival thriller, maybe the best of its kind not just in Malayalam, but also in any Indian language. With limited resources, the movie provides a fine experience, an emotional and thrilling ride, with a strong feel-good factor. Christopher Marlowe in Doctor Faustus called Helen of Troy from Illiad as the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium. Helen of Sparta and later Troy, was someone who started a war with her newfound choice, and here, Helen is someone who would wage a war against a frozen world, not causing one between a city on the northwest coast of Turkey and the allied Greek states. Helen of Troy was someone who did the unthinkable with her elopement, but here, she chooses not to go with her lover, but becomes the epitome of will-power and not beauty. There is that unparalleled charm in this movie which you shouldn’t miss. Watch a beautiful song from the movie below.

Release date: 15th November 2019
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: Mathukutty Xavier
Starring: Anna Ben, Noble Babu Thomas, Lal, Aju Varghese, Rony David, Bonny Mary Mathew, Binu Pappu, Jayaraj, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Kookal Raghavan, Lakshmi Marikar, Lali Marikar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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.

Kamuki

What is the movie about? :: Achaama (Aparna Balamurali) was born to a school teacher Varghese (Baiju) in a auto rickshaw, and continued to be a headache for her parents from childhood to youth. But her elder sister proves to be a hard working girl who stands on her own feet at an early age, but causes trouble for her parents when she marries someone against their will. Achaama decides to be an obedient girl for some time, but soon chooses against it as she joins MSW at Sree Shankara College, Kalady. Her idea of MSW is to have full fun as she considers it to be an easy course with much less to study, and joining Achaama is her childhood friend Jeena (Kavya Suresh) who hopes to go abroad and earn some extra money, working with some NGOs after this course.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: At the college, Achaama meets Harikrishnan (Askar Ali), a blind student who is her senior. Harikrishnan has been working hard to overcome his problems to do academically better than most of the other students around, who are there only for having some fun. Even though she doesn’t realize it in the beginning, she is attracted to the person who manages to go on with his life without any complaints, and never stepping back. Despite making that promise to her father that she won’t marry against his wishes, she finds that determination under threat. But can the love story of Achaama and Harikrishnan have a happy ending, considering their differences and all the other factors which seem to be good enough to finish the relationship before it even begins?

The defence of Kamuki :: In the medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s work The Canterbury Tales, The Merchant’s Tale section, the proverb that love is blind was found – it becomes further direct with this movie, as the protagonist himself is blind. The dialogues about Deepika Padukone, new generation MSW students and blindness are perfectly hitting the right spot, even though they are somewhat not used according to the situations. It is Aparna Balamurali who rises above the limitations of this movie, and the flick uses her skills to make sure that this becomes entertaining in one way or the other, as it struggles with its story which doesn’t have much in there. There is the message about rising above your disabilities and problems with a positive attitude towards life, to make the impossible possible, but the same could have shown in a better and more effective manner too. Yes, some of the comedy can be termed good enough and the music is pretty good.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is like an unstable thing which keeps showing the signs of falling apart all the time – there is no real direction, and we can never see an attempt to keep things together. The whole movie is spread in all directions, and we are often confused about where it is headed with that love story which gets more added, making the mixture look confusing. The love story in this movie itself seems half-baked, and that never really becomes strong enough to justify the title. The final moments seem to be forced to make things better, but we never get it in full strength or in a believable manner. The dramatic side is weak, because after some time, we just stop caring for the main characters. There needed some better effort in dealing with this kind of things, and we see no signs of things getting any better at any stage, as the path chosen is ordinary.

The performers of the soul :: Aparna Balamurali is indeed the one who saves this movie from drowning, when there were many chances of the same. Whenever the movie struggles, there is something from her that keeps it floating just above trouble. This one never really gets near her role in Maheshinte Prathikaaram, or even the work in Oru Muthassi Gada, but one can only blame the movie’s lack of stability for the same. Whether it was in Sunday Holiday, Sarvopari Palakkaran or Thrissivaperoor Kliptham, she has been doing a good job with her characters. Well, even with movies that refuse to rise, she gets them to do better than they are, and it is the skill that she possesses better than any other actress in Malayalam movie industry. This movie can also thank her for the same.

Further performers of the soul :: As it is said above, and just as it is expected, this one is more of the Aparna Balamurali movie, as Om Shanti Oshana was Nazriya Nazim movie. Askar Ali has his moments here and there, but never really leaves much for the viewers. Kavya Suresh has her own moments too, as the supporting cast did for Nazriya in Om Shanti Oshana – she looks nicely suitable for this role. Rony David who is best known for his role in Aanandam, once again leaves a mark. Baiju’s role is as funny as one would expect from a father character with daughter problems and high expectations. Pradeep Kottayam has some comedy to go with it. We can also find some okay performances from some lesser known actors who play those characters which come and go without contributing that much to the story.

How it finishes :: We can see that Kamuki tries to be different in love, but this particular divergence here is never really believable or interesting except in moments. There was a certain amount of hype about this movie, and the trailer was quite interesting – we just can’t see that level being reflected in the flick, and that is a shame. You can watch this one for Aparna Balamurali though, as she keeps saving the day again and again. We have had movies like Aravindante Athidhikal which dealt with a simple thing on one side, and there was Uncle on the other side which dealt with the complicated on the other side – then we have the movies like Kamuki which won’t fit in both categories. Kamuki could have been something better, and as it is now, it is almost there, becoming an okay watch for these holidays.

Release date: 11th May 2018
Running time:122 minutes
Directed by: Binu S
Starring: Askar Ali, Aparna Balamurali, Rony David, Kavya Suresh, Pradeep Kottayam, Baiju, Rosin Jolly, Ullas Pandalam

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Street Lights

What is the movie about? :: There is a burglary occuring in the city, and the two thieves are being chased by security guards, only to be saved by a third man who is part of the gang. The three men are revealed to be the confused Sachi (Hareesh Perummana), clueless Raju (Dharmajan Bolgatty) and the angry, violent Murugan (Stunt Silva) who is determined to get what he wants in any way possible. They have stolen a diamond necklace, which might be the key to making their life better, and maybe perfect enough to ensure an eternity of wonderful existence. Simon Mundackal (Joy Mathew) who is the owner of the diamond necklace, is afraid to go to the police as the necklace is made from unaccounted money, which makes him call his nephew who is a police officer, James (Mammootty) – a man known to have his special skills in solving difficult cases.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: James has no problem in taking over this case, as he is known to have a history with Murugan, a criminal from Tamil Nadu’s Theni who has escaped to Kerala. He keeps only his most trusted people from the force with him, keeping the investigation personal and far away from the force’s knowledge. This search for the five crore worth of necklace begins with the one mobile phone which the thieves left at the house, but the journey forward is not that smooth for them, with James’ trusted officer Issac (Rony David) getting injured while fighting Murugan. The three thieves got their own safe houses in and around Cochin, and even when they are not to be found in the city, they have their presence. But they do make one mistake while hiding the diamond necklace, and Raju has the credit for the same.

And what follows next in the adventure? :: Their complicated adventure collides with the normal life of the people of Vypin and other places close to the city, and things begin to undergo changes for all of them. Remya (Lijomol Jose), her cousin and childhood friend (Soubin Shahir) who is in love with her, a child in her neighbourhood, his father who is connected to the thieves, and others are forced into the world of policemen and thieves, which has only one diamond necklace as the means to solve everything. There is also a flashback or many of them related to how everything begins. But the question remains if Murugan and his friends can be caught, and whether the diamond necklace can ever get back to Simon who is waiting for the same – well, you will never know, as there are some twists ready to happen.

The defence of Street Lights :: There is certain suspense about how things are going to come together, and things get nicely uncovered, and we have them joining well enough to make a point as we march towards the end. There is also a balance regarding importance given to the characters, as a number of roles seems to have the same significance in how things keep happening. The characters are more or less like the street lights, making their presence felt by lighting up moments – some are surely brighter than the rest, but all are working unlike in some parts of our world. Even those characters who come only in one scene have enough in them to be memorable. There is the mixture of comedy, thrills and twists that go on well, even though none of them gets to a level which makes the whole thing truly remarkable. The comic side brings the balance, you have almost all genres except horror looking right into this movie which is kept short for our interests.

The claws of flaw :: The final moments of the movie seem to be forced. One has to wonder why there had to be the need to bring the hero and the villain face to face, to get the protagonist to beat up his opponent with ease, when everything has been going in a rather realistic manner. The heroism with sunshades, slow motion and the stylish vehicles just seem to be added for the sake of having them there. A tale of the common man gets lost in this need to go unreal at times. A few predictable moments could have been avoided, and the focus should have been more with the child and the romantic tale, with the police-criminal moments being restricted. The final moments showing the greatness of the protagonist is rather dull, and a near perfect police officer is mis-fit for this kind of a realistic tale of the common people we see around.

The performers of the soul :: Mammootty plays the hero in this tale of other people, and he has no problem in playing this character which brings no challenge – it is just the usual stereotype of a police officer surrounded by characters full of life. Here, he brings the needed the charm, and surely strengthens the movie as the star. Lijomol Jose and Soubin Shahir have their own moments in this one, and there is fun around when they are around, with a certain amount of cuteness to go with the same. Hareesh Perumanna and Dharmajan Bolgatty are the two to provide the best of comedy though, as they bring something or the other all the time without hesitation. Stunt Silva does make a perfect villain in between, and we can see the evil side coming out of the veil, as we see the villainy which gets darker, revealing the strength of that darkness. Adhish Praveen is wonderful throughout the movie, and Gayathri Krishna’s shorter presence has our attention.

How it finishes :: Street Lights is not what many people might have expected, but its core tale of common people that we have been in need. If the so called action side was removed, it could have been a thriller with Maheshinte Prathikaaram or Thondimuthalum Drikshakshiyum model comic side. It never really matches them in totality, but Street Lights does manage to bring its own identity around here. Among the movies which go on doing the same thing again and again, this one does try to go a different path, particularly with one side of its story, and we can appreciate the same. It is with the same thing that Street Lights differs from Masterpiece – there is an idea here which is divergent in its core, and there is the attempt to experiment at certain points. Well, we can safely say that the street lights bring enough to get rid of the darkness here.

Release date: 26th January 2018
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Shamdat Sainudeen
Starring: Mammootty, Gayathri Krishna, Lijomol Jose, Soubin Shahir, Joy Mathew, Hareesh Perumanna, Stunt Silva, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Rony David, Jude Anthany Joseph, Sudhi Koppa, Motta Rajendran, Neena Kurup, Adhish Praveen, Sohan Seenulal, Rajasekharan

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Thrissivaperoor Kliptham

What is the movie about? :: David Pauly (Chemban Vinod Jose) and Joy Chembadan (Baburaj) have been enemies since childhood. There was a certain incident over a girl in their school which had turned the two against each other on an eventful rainy day. The two have fought each other for so long that the city of Thrissur knows their rivalry very well, and knows what would happen if the two were to come face to face. With Joy being accused of messing up David’s betrothal ceremony, the latter decides that it is time to settle the scores by dealing the final blow which will be fatal for his opponent from school days. For the same, he calls up his friends, but ends up being in a fight with Joy’s hired goons. It is during that time that Girija Vallabhan (Asif Ali) enters the situation. He is a young man who lives in the outskirts of Thrissur city, and is in a struggle with his uncle Chandu Menon (Sunil Sukhada) who doesn’t allow him to take the profit from their family property, or sell it.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Bhageerathy (Aparna Balamurali), a bold and angry young lady and auto rickshaw driver also become part of their lives, as she is seen almost everywhere in the city. Vallabhan who visits the city, also ends up meeting her, as well as David, as part of some not so pleasant events. He decides to join the gang of David, and after being hit by a flying stick during a fight between David and Joy’s team, gets the chance, and he has never been happier. But it is short-lived, as they are caught by OK Sehladhan (Sreejith Ravi), who is a friend of Joy, and had studied in the same school. After getting out of the police station, the gang decides to have revenge on Joy by messing up his jewellery shop inauguration, for which he has invited a famous movie star from North India, Nilina Mehndi (Shilpi Sharma). With no chance to match up with Joy who deals with gold, David’s team tries to use both brain and brawn to mess up the enemy. But are they good enough for that?

The defence of Thrissivaperoor Kliptham :: There is some nice humour in between here, which brought the theatre alive on a number of occasions. We see a lot of interesting moments in the early rivalry between the characters, and the first few minutes are among the best, and this one surely knows how to begin nicely, and catch the interest of the audience early enough. You will find even a few messages in this one, which come at the end. There is the need to forgive, and the realization that what you are luckier than you think you are, in life, and those who are deprived of what you have, are so many – a few things which we wanted were just trivial; the movie asserts. The first half is superior to the second by a long way, and the expectations are high at the interval. An effort at feel-good elements is also there by the end, when you look closer. The visuals of the city are really good, as the essence is nicely captured here. The songs are just okay, and there is not that much to gain there.

The claws of flaw :: There is the curse of the second half which troubles this movie, and the problems begin right when the latter half starts. It seems to be everywhere, not certain about which direction it is heading to. Even in the climax, except for coming up with that message for not just the audience, but also for the characters in the movie which undergo change, there is not that much to talk about. There is also the presence of some irritating sequences, and also those which could have been just avoided – that way, the movie could have gone with a run-time less than two hours, making this a little, funny movie with a message in the end. One also has to wonder where this movie would have reached if it had maintained that funny side it had displayed in the first few minutes – but Thrissivaperoor Kliptham had chosen to be cursed in the second half, and it had to come down; which sorcerer or witch had cursed a movie which had so much potential? Well, it might be a wizard that we don’t know.

Performers of the soul :: Aparna Balamurali is surely having a nice run, with fine performances in Sarvopari Palakkaran and Sunday Holiday already in the theatres with a fine feel-good run, extending from her work in Oru Muthassi Gada and Maheshinte Prathikaaram. Here, once again, she is good, playing a strong character, and she successfully rises above the flaws in making of the character – she also has rather less presence here with the focus being on the gangs. Asif Ali’s adventure goes back to Adventures of Omanakuttan and that smaller role in Take Off, and Avarude Raavukal. Both Asif and Aparna had their combination working in Sunday Holiday. The point to be noted here is that despite him being claimed as the hero, he is not really one, and as the hero who is not really the hero, he has nicely managed his work in the movie. Shilpi Sharma has less presence here, with a few scenes and one song, and looks very good throughout, in her first Malayalam movie.

Further performers of the soul :: Chemban Vinod Jose continues his journey through Thrissur which was going great in the satirical fun movie Varnyathil Aashanka. One can say that he is the one hero that this movie has, more heroic in character than anyone else. It is him who deserves the best applause in this particular flick, whether it is about the serious scenes or those funny moments – these days, whatever be the character, we love to have his presence. Unlike a few years ago, we see very less of Baburaj in movies these days, and it is very good to see him back, and for some reason, he is also given lesser of the funny side. You will also find Vineeth Mohan of Adi Kapyare Kootamani fame here in a good, smaller role. Rony David and Irshad provides some good company to the protagonist, while Vijayakumar and a few others nicely work on the other team. Rachana Narayanankutty and Zarina Wahab are in one scene each, and if you miss those scenes, you miss them.

How it finishes :: Movies based on Thrissur has been many more this year, with Georgettan’s Pooram and Varnyathil Aashanka there with this particular movie, and even Sarvopari Palakkaran was set mostly in Thrissur despite beginning from the Kottayam side; Jomonte Suvisheshangal was also based there. Among all these movies, this is surely the movie which has captured Thrissur in the best way. After drawing some good audience even further away from the city in which it is based, there is something about this movie that has attracted the audience to watch it. Thrissivaperoor Kliptham is surely a movie which could have improved itself in the second half on its journey towards the climax, but beginning so well, and with help of humour, this one manages to keep itself as a movie which provides some entertainment, and the performances from the cast support the whole thing very well.

Release date: 11th August 2017
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Ratheish Kumar
Starring: Asif Ali, Aparna Balamurali, Chemban Vinod Jose, Shilpi Sharma, Vineeth Mohan, Baburaj, Vijayakumar, Rachana Narayanankutty, Rony David, Zarina Wahab, Sunil Sukhada, Jayaraj Warrier, Sreejith Ravi, Sudheesh, Meghanadhan, Nandhu, Irshad, Neeraja Rajendran, TG Ravi, Sneha Sreekumar, Manju Sunichen

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aanandam

anandam-2

What is the movie about? :: The leader of the gang Varun (Arun Kurian), lovers Gautham (Roshan Mathew) and Devika (Annu Antony), the seemingly silent but observant Darshana (Anarkali Marikar), Akshay (Thomas Matthew) and Diya (Siddhi Mahajankatti) who has been the girl of his dreams since his first day at the college, and their best friend and photography enthusiast Kuppi (Vishak Nair), makes plans and are part of an industrial visit from a private engineering college which goes through Hampi, Mysore and Goa. As it is a pleasure trip in disguise of the industrial visit, all the students are excited about it, and that has made the teachers extra careful about the same. But the permission is granted, and the trip finally happens.

So, how do things go throughout this trip? :: Akshay really feels the need to talk about his love to Diya, but despite the best efforts of his friends, he is not able to do that, and that keeps bothering him. Varun is a disappointed man as he was rejected by the same girl, and doesn’t want to talk to her anymore. Gautham and Devika finds more of the differences between them as situation changes from the usual stage of their college, its canteen and class rooms. At Hampi itself, there are signs of the same, and by the time they reach Goa, things seem to get out hand with their own personal problems and as they realise that while following the same timetable and doing the same things again and again during the college days, they never knew enough about their best friends at all, a certain distance is felt, but not for long!

The defence of Aanandam :: The movie makes use of the simple incidents that can happen in a trip involving friends, and everything remains light-hearted, without anything huge or threatening in any way happening. It is the cause of success for this movie, as things could be related, even with the very minute exaggerations, which could also be related by some people. There is no doubt about the ability of this movie to connect to the youth, and the funny sequences keep scoring whenever there is a chance. The visuals are really good, and the songs are very much effective. One can be sure that a lot of people have a certain nostalgia about this movie, with where that happens changing for each person. This movie is a safe bet for everyone too, as it begins and ends as a feel-good flick.

Claws of flaw :: There is not much here in the story, as bringing something special was never the idea. The movie has its slow moments here and there, and its love story gets a little bit too much of light over of the friendship factor. The movie could have been better with the romance taking a much lower position in the order of things. This is that kind of a movie that could thrive more on a better focus on college friendship rather than anything else, and even though that is surely touched, this one gets people more focused on the love stories of the protagonists, as one character himself says why he is there – to be there and enjoy with his friends. The movie’s choice of locations also remains a little case of wonder here, but strange decisions happen in life, and so is the case here.

Performers of the soul :: Even though the movie is left without much to bring out anything out of the box, everyone has successfully come up with some natural performances in the roles that seemed to suit them really well. Among the cast, Arun Kurian shows big potential with his serious character while Roshan Mathew has some of the funniest moments with Annu Antony – the tattoo, the metal band, the syringe, the fainting, the thing about knowing each other better; all come together perfectly with them. Siddhi Mahajankatti is the cute side of the movie, and Thomas Matthew also forms the same side. Anarkali Marikar makes the silent assassin, the witness and the narrator of all things, work in the rightful manner. Vishak Nair joins in between with moments of fun too.

Further performers of the soul :: Rony David comes with a memorable performance contributing to the fun – the comedy here works with absolutely no flaw as long as his character is concerned. The moments between the teachers come as the surprise fun in this flick which revolves a lot around six or seven characters, threatening to make everything else non-existent. You can see the presence of Aju Varghese around there too, not as a working character there, but you will see. Renji Panicker is once again there in one of those roles in which you have seen him before multiple times, and that is once again nice, but surely brings no surprise there. Meanwhile, the big surprise comes with Nivin Pauly being there, and he has got some nice moments during his short stay on the screen as the brother of one of the protagonists.

How it finishes :: The debutante director Ganesh Raj has made more than just a fine beginning here, as he had not an easy task with new faces all around, and theatres with superstar movies – but he has succeeded in making this one live up-to its name, and leave us with a happy feeling. Already running with packed crowds, the movie is sure to be the one flick that makes one happy not just with its content, but for the realisation that a movie doesn’t need stars, as what comes a long way above it should be a dedicated team of people working together and working hard to make things happen – the Vampire Bat and the Vampire Owl believe that it is the secret behind the simple, cute, effective as well as charming existence and success of this movie, and with talent and the yearning for the target, that is achieved on this day or the other.

Release date: 21st October 2016
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Ganesh Raj
Starring: Arun Kurian, Thomas Matthew, Roshan Mathew, Vishak Nair, Annu Antony, Siddhi Mahajankatti, Anarkali Marikar, Rony David, Nivin Pauly (Cameo), Aju Varghese (Cameo), Renji Panicker (Cameo)

anandam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.