Salute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kayamkulam Kochunni

What is the movie about? :: Born to a thief, Kochunni (Nivin Pauly) is someone who had left his village a long time ago to start a new life, without letting anyone about his past. As he works at a local shop, realizes that a master of martial arts, Thangal (Babu Antony) has arrived in the village. During the time when caste system goes deep into the roots, with the help of a lower caste woman Janaki (Priya Anand) who has fallen in love with him, Kochunni tries to learn martial arts. Thangal wouldn’t accept him as his disciple because he knows that Kochunni’s father is a thief. But Kochunni is able to watch the training from a distance and learn it with the help of Janaki. When Thangal realizes how much he has learned from a distance in such a short period of time, he decides that this particular person could be his successor.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This decision to have the son of a thief who just started training, to be the successor of Thangal enrages the former best student of the academy, Kesavan Pillai (Sunny wayne), who decides to leave with a promise to return for vengeance. In a village which seems to be in full control of the upper castes, Kochunni is asked to find some lost gold from the bottom of a river. When he does the same, the upper caste landlords who wish to keep the gold for themselves instead of giving it to the king, gets their goons to attack Kochunni, declare him as a thief. They also have Janaki judged for being in love with someone outside her caste, and she is stoned as well as banished from the village. Even though his friend Vava (Manikandan R Achari) and the rebel Kochu Pillai (Shine Tom Chacko) supports him, there is no hope as he is left to die. But it is not the end of his story, is it?

The defence of Kayamkulam Kochunni :: The movie has the life of Kayamkulam Kochunni brought to us straight, and without pretentions, and there is focus on the problems faced by the subaltern, those who have no say in how things proceed. The subaltern, the lower caste who suffers due to the laws made by the rich and the powerful, the upper caste supported by the whites get their hero who is more than just a thief who steals from the poor and gives it to the rich. Kochunni gets the strength of a revolutionary hero who strives for equality, and the change that comes on the character is visible as the movie progresses. The visuals are great, and the time period is nicely recreated with all the necessary elements. The viewers are transported to the age, and gets close to the life of the protagonist easily. The final moments provide the heroism with further strength.

The claws of flaw :: The story would seem usual, with a hero of the masses fighting against the men in power – it shows that side of the heroes which is rather too common. The legend of Kayamkulam Kochunni does deserve more than that, to rise above the usual fighter for the downtrodden. He is supposed to become our heroic outlaw, our own Robin Hood, but the same is not there. We can also notice that there is the usual separation of good and evil here, and the predictability with the story’s twists is rather strange. The movie could have also been darker in theme at least in parts, but it seems that there is no attempt made here to go beyond the usual, and this one seems to attempt to provide the natural for the family audience instead of striving further. After all, this is the most expensive Malayalam movie to be made so far, and the expectations were always high.

The performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly manages to do the whole thing really well, especially with the transformation. The first part surely came naturally to him, and there is exaggeration with that side, but when things go further, everything gets serious, and the final moments have him even stronger. The role seems to have deviated well for him, suiting him more and more as it progresses. He has been venturing into the variety with movies like Hey Jude, Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, Sakhavu, Jacobinte Swargarajyam and Action Hero Biju, all showing different versions of him. He has been choosing his movies well, and here we see no difference. Among the female characters, Priyanka Thimmesh is the second heroine, and she has not much to do, except for that much needed existence to keep things moving forward.

Further performers of the soul :: Priya Anand who was last seen in her only other Malayalam movie Ezra, was there in the much loved song “Kalariyadavum” – she manages to do justice to a role which also has an existence which is short-lived. Nora Fatehi is there for one dance performance. Mohanlal’s extended cameo makes the big impact, and it is a clear case of stealing the show with ease. The mood itself seems to change at that time, seemingly deviating from how things used to be. Babu Antony gets to be back again, with that martial arts strength that he has always possessed – he is the Dronacharya here that supports his Ekalavya. Sunny Wayne gets a strong role to play here, with no more the signs of being funny, and he displays the feelings of his character really well. Shine Tom Chacko and Manikandan R Achari make their smaller roles relevant and worth the time.

How it finishes :: When you think about this movie, the wait has been very long. Earlier set to release on 15 August 2018 and being further postponed, this one finally came to be big screen only a few days earlier. The song “Kalariyadavum” had already created the much needed effect for this movie, and with our own local Robin Hood story, this was always going to be something everyone would attempt to watch. It is to be noted that another version of Robin Hood is releasing in one month and a week. Well, the need for the common man’s hero has been more than ever during these days. There is always the presence of the rich and the powerful dictating the terms without any consideration for the people in need – the relevance shall never cease to exist, and Kochunni will remain the prototype from this part of the world. Let us enjoy the efforts taken by the makers here to bring the man alive again.

Release date: 11th October 2018
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Rosshan Andrrews
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Priya Anand, Priyanka Thimmesh, Babu Antony, Shine Tom Chacko, Sunny Wayne, Romanch, Manikandan R. Achari, Sidhartha Siva, Sadiq, Thesni Khan, Sunil Sukhada, Sudheer Karamana, MS Bhaskar, Edavela Babu, Jude Anthany Joseph, Sudev Nair, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Ashwini Chandrashekhar, Mohanlal (cameo), Nora Fatehi (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

School Bus

schoolbus (2)

Vampire Owl :: Do you know that I am completely against the idea of school bus?

Vampire Bat :: Because school bus is more of a capitalist idea meant for the schools of the rich, and the normal way is for the kids to go home by public transport and walk through the rest of the distance?

Vampire Owl :: No, it is because centuries ago, when I was a little toothless kid, buses were not invented.

Vampire Bat :: I thought you were going to refer to the nostalgia of walking through the greenery and throwing stones at the mangoes which are about to fall.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, that is also there, but I am more concerned about what I didn’t have in the past.

Vampire Bat :: Well, this movie has Rosshan Andrrews and Bobby-Sanjay teaming up again after How Old Are You? and Mumbai Police. The latter had their interesting Nirnaayakam getting lost in the Premam effect – it didn’t just hurt Ivide, you know.

Vampire Owl :: That makes this school bus better than the usual ones, I believe.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, and a message is certain from this one from the looks of it.

Vampire Owl :: As the humans rarely make use of the messages from movies except for some show-off, lets make better use of them ourselves.

Vampire Bat :: Lets go for the movie then.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Joseph (Jayasurya) and Aparna (Aparna Gopinath) lead a normal family life with their children, even both happen to have their own struggles. They are not that much comfortable with the ego that each of them possesses, and there is very less time for them to spend with their children. While Joseph is rather too strict with the children, while Aparna has even lesser time – both has a lot of time for their work though. There is also a legal battle going on between Joseph and his brother over three cents of land, and that takes away the rest of the time. Due to the same reasons, their kids, Ajoy Joseph (Aakash Muraleedheeran) and Angelina Joseph (Angelina Rosshan) gets no attention except for the wrong reasons. Ajoy only gets into more and more trouble at school, and his class teacher as well as the principal are fed up with his tendency to attract all the problems to himself.

So what happens next? :: One day, Ajoy creates that kind of a problem at the school which might not end at the school. This clearly turns the whole department and the parents of other children against him. With everyone screaming for punishment, he bunks classes, and when that is also found out, runs away from all his troubles. It is the soft-spoken and intelligent police officer, the new entrant into the force, Inspector Gopakumar (Kunchako Boban) who is in charge of finding the missing child, with the assistance of Mohan (Nandu). But the investigation only leads them to a forest – how does everything point to that one place where there is no chance of a child in the city reaching? Can the police officers get Ajoy back home? How will things go as the parents seem to have realized that they haven’t been the father and mother whom they should have been?

The defence of School Bus :: The messages are abundant in this movie, for the parents, married couples, children, teachers and that list goes on, as most people are going to take something or the other from here. I would always choose a movie which leaves on with something to think about, over the rest of the flicks. This is actually a shorter movie, extending only for less than two hours, which makes sure that the momentum stays on throughout its run. The visuals are good whether in the forest or the city, and the movie has some funny moments involving the kids to provide the needed light feeling. There is a certain reflection of incidents that might have happened in our lives as well as the lives of people whom we know. It is that reflection that we hope not to happen, and what we wish to deny happening during our busy lifestyles, but there are things which will happen considering how much less time we have for the people we love. Sometimes you think that this is going to go the Malooty way, but it doesn’t.

The claws of flaw :: School Bus is a movie which could have been a lot better, especially with the last few moments; its ending could have left one with a clearer message rather than attempting to go different in a strange way. It has enough moments which could have actually been presented in another way. The predictability also shows its head on too many occasions – it is not really something that we would expect from a thriller that attempts to keep the messages alive at the same time. As the moments featuring the kids stand out, a better option here would have been to keep them there for most of the time, or otherwise give more importance to the older characters – but neither of these happens here. By the time Kunchako Boban enters the story, too much of the interesting moments in the movie has passed. Clearer message, better adult characters, less predictability and a much better ending – these could have improved this flick!

Performers of the soul :: Jayasurya and Aparna Gopinath does a fine job, but as things doesn’t go around their characters, there is not that much to be seen except for a few emotional moments in the second half. Kunchako Boban also makes his appearance only in the second half and does his job as expected, in his very first police role of the career – there is not that much here to do big though. In the end, it is the kids who get all the attention, and it is them who has more of the screen presence. Aakash Muraleedharan who plays the main character here has done his job well. The director, Rosshan Andrews’ daughter Angelina has made her debut in Malayalam cinema with this movie, and she has done a good job – there are some funny moments for her with those cute grins and the fake fainting, with special mention for the question about the toys. Sudheer Karamana and Nandu have some interesting moments in the second half, but that’s all they would get from this particular movie.

How it finishes :: The combination of Bobby-Sanjay and Rosshan Andrrews has had quite a good amount of success and appreciation except for the dismal thing which was Casanovva. Despite the less hype surrounding it, School Bus is another interesting flick with a fine message to go with it, even though it could have been a lot better; the scope was so much there. The messages include the requirement of the love and care for the kids, the need to keep one’s ego away in relationships, and the significance of sibling love. How many parents look forward to knowing what the children wish for? When both are working and has not time, what happens to the children? As history repeats itself, they and the relatives just keep pushing for the next generation to do only what they want. The final message is also to return to nature, and the true world remains there – well, that is one special thing for the World Environment Day.

Release date: 27th May 2016
Running time: 117 minutes
Directed by: Rosshan Andrrews
Starring: Jayasurya, Kunchacko Boban, Aparna Gopinath, Aakash Muraleedharan, Angelina Rosshan, Sudheer Karamana, Nandu

schoolbus

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.