Prakashan Parakkatte

Vampire Owl: I think that they are trying to make the light spread.

Vampire Bat: You are misunderstanding the title.

Vampire Owl: So, humans are no longer spreading the light.

Vampire Bat: They had stopped living in the light a long time ago.

Vampire Owl: You mean living in goodness.

Vampire Bat: Goodness has not graced humans for such a long time.

Vampire Owl: Well, I have always known that humans fall easily.

Vampire Bat: When they fall, they end up very deep.

Vampire Owl: I would say they would go as deep as hellfire.

Vampire Bat: There is no fire that could burn a fried evil human.

[Gets a Little Hearts biscuit and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: Das (Mathew Thomas) is a plus two student who is not interested in studies, and spends time in other activities, leading to him missing classes regularly. He lives with his parents Prakashan (Dileesh Pothan) and Latha (Nisha Sarang) as well as his younger brother Akhil (Ritunjay Sreejith). Das’ best friend is Anwar (Govid Pai) who joins him in bunking class, a process which is repeated on almost all days. They often go to the local town of Mukkom and the city of Calicut without anyone noticing. Nobody believes that any of the two friends will pass the plus two exam, and even the headmaster is not bothered about them leaving the class too early, and encourages them to leave without bothering other students. Das also falls in love with another plus two student, Neethu (Malavika Manoj), but the problem seems that she belongs to a rich family which owns the bus which travels in the same route. She also studies in a private girls’ school, which bothers him. To get close to her, he also joins the tuition centre of Suni (Dhyan Sreenivasan) where Neethu also studies.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Prakashan owns a grocery shop in the village which is not that much of a profitable enterprise, but as there are not many similar shops nearby, things don’t get that bad for them. His brother-in-law Kuttan (Saiju Kurup) spends his time wasting all the money which is earned from the shop. He is also a youtuber who has a group of people who calls themselves vloggers, but are nuisance to the locals. It is then that things get more difficult, as according to the local leader Raghavan (Sreejith Ravi) warned him earlier, Musthafa (Aju Varghese) starts Madheena supermarket near the grocery shop. Kuttan also supports Musthafa, who is his childhood friend, and the supermarket becomes a grand success. It is then that Akhil meets with an accident, and Das is blamed for the same for his reckless behaviour, especially by Latha who had always preferred her younger son over the elder one. As Akhil requires a surgery and further care, Latha is further angry at Das. Prakshan is forced to take loans from different people as there is the emergency. This turns their lives upside down, with an uncertain future.

The defence of Prakashan Parakkatte :: The movie is set up nicely to bring a tale of the common people who have their own struggles within the family. It never ceases to make one feel like it is a realistic world of simple things. The setting is really good, and there are the usual kind of people which we see around. The movie’s emotional side remains relatable and the struggles feel very much real. The truth about the youtubers who do no constructive things in life is also brought to life here in opposition to people who work hard and still can’t have enough to keep their family going. People who are looking for easy money and their spreading the curse through videos can be seen here. The visuals of this particular world nicely contributes to the overall movie, as the highlands have never really ceased being beautiful in Malayalam movies which explores the common man’s lives and struggles. The songs are good, and the one depicting plus two romance stands stronger. The cast is a really good one, and we can only love these performers going through the realistic mode.

The claws of flaw :: There is nothing new that the movie tries to bring around here. The formula has already been tested and approved, and there is no special ingredient to elevate the level of the film. Sometimes, the movie just seems to move forward without an idea about where it is heading – the direction should have been better planned here. Some of the emotional sides also feel overdone, and predictability is rather high. The ending doesn’t end the movie, but brings a continuation which seems to reflect the usual world. It could have chosen many different paths to reach the final destination, but here we see the safe path being taken instead. Taking risk doesn’t seem to be this movie’s cup of tea. The trailer and the choice of actors and actresses seemed to point to something bigger, but that much is not achieved here. There was the chance for bringing more humour here too, but without enough focus, it is not achieved. Sometimes, one does wonder what exactly the plan is. It could have added more feel-good elements, which had many opportunities to come to the scene – after all plus two life in school also becomes reflection of more opportunities.

The performers of the soul :: Mathew Thomas who had some fantastic performances in Kumbalangi Nights, Thanneer Mathan Dinangal and Jo and Jo has another work to remember here. He has always stood one step ahead of the other actors of his age. Govind V Pai of Parava fame is the one who supports him this time instead of Naslen K Gafoor who has aged a little too much to get back to his plus two avatar, and should be looking for the college roles or the elder brother roles to Mathew and Govind. Dhyan Sreenivasan plays the kind of role which Vineeth Sreenivasan had played with Mathew years ago, and this time, it is a cameo. Dileesh Pothan shines in the father role here, and the director turned actor is indeed the best choice for a role like this. Nisha Sarang of Uppum Mulakum fame joins and suits the role really well. Malavika Manoj is good addition to the role here, and she surely has a fine future ahead – she can join the new group of actresses like Mamitha Baiju and Anaswara Rajan who have had some strong presence early enough. Saiju Kurup nicely plays the typical new generation youtuber who tries the easy path without any hard work.

How it finishes :: Prakashan Parakkatte works just like those nice little feel-good movies following the trend which started with new life in Maheshinte Prathikaaram. The movie also serves as a coming-of-age story, the bildungsroman which works with the first half of life if we consider Premam as the one typical story in Malayalam film industry. The final message about money not being that important in life comes a little bit too late, and it is the kind of revelation which won’t work with people of this age where how much one earns and has in the bank account is considered to be the most significant thing, without which there is no life. One would wonder if the message of being a good person considered more important than money will work in this particular age when society depends on what lies in the bank account. But the movie attempts to provide that message and hope that thing will come together well. In the process, this becomes the usual movie with the common family problems, while being in control of the emotional side.

Release date: 29th July 2022 (ZEE 5); 17th June 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Shahad Nilambur
Starring: Mathew Thomas, Dileesh Pothan, Malavika Manoj, Nisha Sarang, Govid Pai, Saiju Kurup, Aju Varghese, Dhyan Sreenivasan, Sreejith Ravi, Ritunjay Sreejith, Nithin Sabu, Stevin Bijum

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

12th Man

What is the movie about? :: A few friends from college come together at a resort far away from civilization – Zacharia (Unni Mukundan), Mathew (Saiju Kurup), Nayana (Sshivada) Shiny (Anusree), Merin (Anu Sithara), Sidharth (Anu Mohan), Jithesh (Chandhunath), Sam (Rahul Madhav), Fida (Leona Lishoy), Aarathy (Aditi Ravi) and Annie (Priyanka Nair) come together with their families after a very long time. Zacharia and Annie had just found out that they are going to be parents. Sidharth and Aarathy are going to get married soon, and this particular party is on them. The resort is fully booked only for them, and a lot of facilities are available for them. As they play cricket, Siddharth’s big shot ends up hitting Chandrashekhar (Mohanlal), who is angry that he lost his bottle of liquor when the ball hit him. He asks for a replacement, but there are not bars or beverage shops nearby. To avoid him, the resort arranges some local toddy, but in the final stages, that also becomes becomes unavailable, and the group has to provide him with the alcohol. He accepts it and leaves.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: After Chandrasekhar leaves, the group decides to take it to the next level. There are too many calls attended by the participants of the programme, and they decide to make all calls and messages which reach their mobile phones during the time period public, in a game of trust. But it is not that simple a game as they had thought, despite Nayana and Fida supporting the same very much. In the first phone call itself, the problems between Zacharia’s mother and wife is revealed, as the former talks about latter’s pregnancy and related issues. Now, Zacharia is in support of the game, saying that let everyone go through the same situation. Two phone calls go on without creating much of a problem, but soon, Mathew’s financial problems are revealed to everyone. But that will not be the biggest revelation, and soon, there would be a revelation that would affect their friendship. Then, soon enough, there is a murder in the premises. Now, the question remains about what can happen next in this small world in the middle of nowhere? Who is the trouble maker here?

The defence of 12th Man :: What interests us the most here is the visual setting, and the atmosphere that it provides the catalyst to help the whole story. This is the kind of world where murders could happen without a trace. The beauty of the place is another thing, and that would surely make one want to visit the area, The twists are really well built in the movie after the death happens. There are different viewpoints being nicely explored around here. Most of the film keeps close to the three classical unities, and maintains its effectiveness using the short time period of the tale. The voice cast is also strong around here – Mallika Sukumaran, Kottayam Pradeep, Soubin Shahir, Aju Varghese and Murali Gopy. Mohanlal can be seen as nicely taking over control here from an environment in which there was nothing like that. He has played a different police officer, and excels in the second half. The movie does a fine job in exposing the fake friendships going on with masks always present there. It reflects how friendships over drinks are the quickest to break apart, and that those built on lies have no existence at all.

The claws of flaw :: Playing games in a building was earlier seen in the Bollywood movie Chehre. This movie takes a lot of times to get there. The final conclusion with the killer is not that conclusive. Some of the revelations are rather too predictable, and with a setting like this, they could have tried more to keep things smarter – this is not the same audience that the makers are facing, or OTT has changed their world by a long way, and the expectations won’t be the same. The initial moments with silly jokes based on the protagonist surely feels more dumb than ever; maybe it would have worked in the theatres with the fans sitting all around. The fans are known for making the nonsense a case of brilliance, but when a movie is releasing on OTT, it has to be smart, as the fans can’t create that kind of an influence, and there are people around the world who are judging this. The movie could have also used the environment in an even better way. Each character could have also been explored further, for there was a lot of talent out there. The film is also too long.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal is not present on the screen when a lot of interesting things happen around here. He has a terrible, mostly dumb entry in the beginning, which falls flat on its face, while going on becoming more and more irritating. It seems to be fashion to show drunk people becoming heroes. But later, after a murder happens, things only get better, and the character is finally given a true existence outside alcohol and talking nonsense. Mohanlal is completely in control of things in the later stages, as he leads the journey with efficiency. It is always nice to see the two sides of him – Bro Daddy was there on the other side. The next person to catch our attention is Leona Lishoy, the actress who has been seen as someone with different dimensions, always notable in any role that she plays, whether it is the mother in Annmariya Kalippilaanu, sister in Maradona or the investigator in Anveshanam; often rising above the movie itself. We knew how she fared in Mayaanadhi, and she comes up with the divergence here too. Some people do their roles rather too perfectly and she is one of them.

Further performers of the soul :: The next person who catches our attention is Anu Sithara, and she has played the good girl image really well – she does look different around here, and that also suits her. Anusree does the job of the most irritating female character of last few years after Srindha in Sherlock Toms. It does feel like a little too much at times. Priyanka Nair and Saiju Kurup are here after that interesting thriller called Antakshari, and both of them once again proves to be solid performers, even though not seen as a pair this time. Unni Mukundan does nothing heroic like in Meppadiyan, and has only a role which is at par or at times, a little below most of the others. Sshivada seems to be playing the one respectable character out there, who doesn’t keep secrets to save herself. Anu Mohan and Chandhunath comes into the picture strong enough. Rahul Madhav plays another character with more than what meets eye well, and that actually applies to all of them. Nandhu and Siddique gets rather smaller roles which they go through with ease. Aditi Ravi supports well within the group.

How it finishes :: When the name Jeethu Joseph is associated with any movie, we know that it will have something of relevance as far as the thrills are concerned. Even though Oozham did have a struggle to go through its nonsensical world, Memories and Drishyam were the biggest thrillers of the industry at that time. This movie attempts to get into that particular group of greatness too. Yet, the journey is not of that high quality, and never does it provide the innovation to feel that this is not something we haven’t seen before. The best movies are indeed the ones which have Jeethu Joseph writing and directing all by himself, but this one doesn’t have the script from him. Yet, this one surely goes on an interesting journey, with its own twists and turns in a setting which adds to the overall mood. I am always in support of a murder investigation mystery in which everyone is a suspect – with the perfect surroundings, things have a minimum guarantee.

Release date: 20th May 2022 (Hotstar)
Running time: 163 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Mohanlal, Unni Mukundan, Saiju Kurup, Anu Sithara, Leona Lishoy, Sshivada, Aditi Ravi, Priyanka Nair, Anusree, Anu Mohan, Rahul Madhav, Chaghunath, Nandhu, Pradeep Chandran, Chali Pala, Siddique

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Antakshari

Vampire Owl: This reminds us of the great game that we had in the castle.

Vampire Bat: The human game was indeed interesting.

Vampire Owl: Yet, humans play more of the evil games.

Vampire Bat: It is just a part of their evil nature.

Vampire Owl: Evil is part of their nature more than ever these days.

Vampire Bat: Can you guess how many evil humans are in this movie?

Vampire Owl: I am guessing that at least ninety five percent of them will be evil.

Vampire Bat: It is not really a big percentage for any group of humans.

Vampire Owl: Doctor Frankenstein has determined it be as high as ninety nine most of the time.

Vampire Bat: I don’t think that this has anything to do with Mr Frankenstein and his fake experiments of no meaning.

[Gets a chicken samosa and three cups of orange tea].

What is the movie about? :: Circle Inspector Das (Saiju Kurup) is the officer in charge of a police station in the remote area of a hilly terrain, where Srinivas (Sudhi Koppa) joins as a probationary officer while hoping to solve a big case as soon as possible. Das gets into a fight with Vasudevan (Vijay Babu), who is a local leader of a prominent party, and also has multiple business interests. On the very next day, Das’ daughter is almost strangled to death by a man wearing a paper mask, saved only because of his wife Chitra (Priyanka Nair) noticing it at the right time. Despite threatening Das and his family before, Vasudevan denies any kind of involvement in the act, affirming that his problems are solved face to face, and there will be no hiding. Das has the habit of playing antakshari where each person sings a song, and the next person begins with the letter on which the previous person’s song ended. On the day on which his daughter was attacked, he had also received a call from an unknown number asking him to sing a song, or his daughter will be singing instead.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Their senior officer Jayachandran (Binu Pappu) and the local head constable Hariharan (Kottayam Ramesh) are not really fond of Das, as they are on the side of Vasudevan, and do not want him to solve too mysterious a case. He also comes against a strange, mute girl named Nayana (Ishita Singh) who has come to her grandparents’ home from Delhi. There is something about her, as she also seems to be hiding some secrets which nobody would want to know. Das and Srinivas slowly, but effectively connects the dots and finds out that similar murders have happened before, but police had closed the cases. Some of those murders were also considered to be accidents, and the deaths of the fathers after the murders of their children were considered to be accidents or suicides as a result of alcoholism and depression. The two officers end up finding a chain of events which lead a long way back, but will they be able to find the person behind it in time or is there another murder on the path?

The defence of Antakshari :: The movie has a police officer who is rather ordinary, and it has his struggles in finding the psychotic murderer, who is really that crazy as in Forensic, and very unlike the non-psychotic revenge seeker in Anjaam Pathira. The cop doesn’t have that much of a flaw as the protagonist of Memories, but is very much relatable with a usual kind of family and personal problems. The movie is shot nicely, and with some fine performances, leaves scope for a possible sequel – despite the low chances, we hope that such an attempt is made; there are also other similar trials of investigation which can be combined with this one to create a shared universe. Such a sequel can also talk about those elements of this movie which seems lost, and maybe, it can be a serial killer universe instead of a cop universe. This is the kind of movie which Bollywood would use to make a super-cop, but thankfully, we don’t leave it in their hands. The movie doesn’t take the predictable path either, as there seems to be the possibility of fun discovered in taking the road less taken, on the lines of Robert Frost.

The claws of flaw :: Antakshari is quite slow in its progression, and there are characters who don’t really play much of a role in moving the tale forward. A few things also go without explanations. The whole saga of one family with an abusive father, frustrated mother, music-playing son and cat-loving daughter facing a mysterious girl don’t fit in here at all – neither do the broken guitar and dead cat. This is that kind of a family which could have been there for namesake, but so much of time is wasted on them. If a red herring was intended, that should have been a part of the storyline – there was another villain out there who could have served the same. The young engineering student who is in love with a mysterious mute girl makes no sense, even if the vampires were to turn cent percent vegetarian. Without these moments, the movie could have been shorter, and the pacing could have surely been better. This one lets the lost moments go lost rather than get it back and link them. There were so many paths that this film could have taken, that is for sure.

The performers of the soul :: Saiju Kurup shines really well as the police inspector who has this investigation on a personal level rather than anything else, like Joju George of Joseph. He has been one actor who didn’t get enough opportunities to lead, but this is one chance which he holds on to. He is someone who suits this kind of a police officer really well. Sudhi Koppa plays the role of the supporting officer well, and it is also not a role he is stranger to. He is another performer whom we need to see very often, as there seems to be a lot of requirements for quality actors rather than entertainers. Binu Pappu doesn’t have that good and understanding police officer role here, but does this shade with ease. Priyanka Nair who did have some fine roles years ago has another one to remember here. Among all the roles being performed here, Ishita Singh’s role remains the one which doesn’t seem to give us any idea of its purpose of existence – feels like an absurd side around here, even though she suits the character. The rest of the characters mostly just have to play along here, but more notable are the woman and child from the flashback. Vijay Babu has a small role.

How it finishes :: Like Salute, Antakshari is another movie which doesn’t depend on the foolish mass masala to go through investigations by police officers. It is very good and effective because it doesn’t cater to those brainless fans who visit the theatres and get a movie crores of business while losing all their money to petrol, parking fees, highly expensive food and others. This movie is for the others, who look out for the new releases on OTT platforms, as the Corona virus pandemic has shown us that it is indeed the right thing to do. Well, you have the choice not to go to the theatre and watch those foolish dance and music to which insanity is unleashed in between a story – I would call for the lack of the same every time. The mass masala genre itself is a fake thing created for the superstars and their children to call their fans to the theatres and by creating the fake vibes, they make the rest of the audience feel that the movie is fantastic – lets see how long these star kids who fly around beating people and doing dumb romance will go. After that, you can come back to good movies like this one.

Release date: 22nd April 2022 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Vipin Das
Starring: Saiju Kurup, Priyanka Nair, Sudhi Koppa, Vijay Babu, Binu Pappu, Thomas Kunnampuzha, Shabareesh Varma, Sruthy Suresh, Kottayam Ramesh, Boban Samuel, Sandeep Pradeep, Ishita Singh

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Meppadiyan

Vampire Owl: So, this is officially the third Malayalam movie that we watch this year.

Vampire Bat: Yes, Bheemante Vazhi was watched last year, and review posted this year.

Vampire Owl: Well, it was not really that good an adventure.

Vampire Bat: That was indeed a path which shouldn’t have been travelled.

Vampire Owl: I am sure that this one is a better path in comparison.

Vampire Bat: I have travelled through too many paths of similar quality.

Vampire Owl: You only travel through the clouds these days.

Vampire Bat: I make my own path through the clouds.

Vampire Owl: I hope that this movie shows enough of human evil.

Vampire Bat: I have read that this film has enough of that.

[Gets a vegetable puffs and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: Xavier (Aju Varghese), Democratic Malayora Congress Youth Wing President burns down a small hotel namely Ammini tea shop. Even though he is blamed for this, there is no proof for his involvement in the act. At the same time, Jayakrishnan (Unni Mukundan) continues as an expert autombile mechanic who has a high reputation for his skills in the village. One of his best friends is Varkey (Saiju Kurup) is someone who spends his time with alcohol and cigarattes, and also tries all the business activities which don’t work. Still, his wife Annie (Arya) supports him all the time. He also gets into regular fights in bars, and wants to make some easy money. He also runs a small business venture known as Varkey Stores without any responsibility. People say that he has destroyed all the reputation that his father had created, and lost most of the money and property which belonged to his family. But he continues to think big, and hopes to make quick profits. Jayakrishnan is in love with Renuka (Anju Kurian), who is a temporary school teacher.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Renuka wants him to get a government job and get settled in life, but he is not so sure about it, as he is confident about his abilities. She is also featured in the rank list of the last examination which she wrote. But he feels that by doing what he does the best, he could be successful in life, and getting a government job or going to the Middle East is totally unnecessary. It is then that Varkey and Satheesan (Jordi Poonjar) comes up with a plan to buy the land where the Ammini tea shop was standing, belonging to Yacob (Kundara Johny) and Stella (Nisha Sarang), and Jayakrishnan who requires ten cents of land also becomes part of it. As they decide to buy the land and gives an advance, they are forced to get money for half of the plot immediately as Yacob’s daughter is going to get married soon, and they have made arrangements having this in mind. But Jayakrishnan will only get the required money after a few months, and Varkey’s home and lands are going to be taken away by the bank. Now, they have to find some quick money, but the path which they choose will lead to many complications.

The defence of Meppadiyan :: The movie is a reflection of the common man’s suffering as he is the one who lands in trouble due to all these problems, and the terrible complications which government offices and the government itself brings on. Then there is the reflection of the inherent evil in humans which has gotten bigger in scope due to the greed for money that has cast a pure evil shadow on everyone. It is so close to truth that most probably, after watching this movie, you will no longer trust most of the people around you, as an understanding of evil humanity is provided without a chance to doubt it. I desire to call this the warning movie for everyone, and if you are going to sell or buy something that costs a lot, maximum care is to be taken. The film captures the essence of a village really well, and there are some nice twists which are added here and there, mostly related to problems being added one after the other to trouble the common man. It was only a few days ago that we read about a man who committed suicide due to problems related to his land, and this is also a grand reminder.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s beginning stages seems to be stretched with a certain amount of predictability, and some parts of the movie can be guessed. Some of the websites about this movie also provided the spoilers without that much of a warning, and there was also an unnecessary controversy created related to that, even though I wouldn’t see any such problem related to that. The emotional side is also a little bit more stretched than how it should have existed here. The female characters could have also had something to do here, instead of being worried for most of the time and depending on the main characters for help. Also, much earlier, the movie was expected to be a thriller, but those elements are very much limited. Even though we do understand the evil which is present in this movie, we should have been able to see its reflection as pure evil, like how we associate them with goblins and orcs – well, even though they belong to fantasy, some of the humans are exactly like them, not that much with appearance, but with what goes on inside. Trust a human, goblin or orc too much, you might be gone forever. The ending could have been better, and not quickly forced like seen here.

The performers of the soul :: Unni Mukundan who plays the main character, just lives as the man, as this seems to be one role which suits him so well. He plays the one man who is determined to get things right for everyone, and we are left to support him above everyone else as he seems to be the only one who doesn’t have any negative shades – those other positive people are all more helpless than him. His character serves as a mortal instrument to understand the evil humanity around us, and this understanding which will prevent us from trusting people again will be helpful to us in future, and considering the same, Unni Mukundan’s performance is a blessing in a fake world of chaos. Aju Varghese plays a good friend who also takes commission, and so not so good – interesting performance there. Anju Kurian’s role is good, but limited in presence. Saiju Kurup plays the usual dumb and lazy person who hopes to get rich by one good deal, but doesn’t have the ability to do that, and once again he is good. Indrans is very much notable in his role. Kottayam Ramesh also contributes nicely, while Kundara Johny and Nisha Sarang also got their moments.

How it finishes :: Meppadiyan‘s basic idea is that most of the people, as well as the government and politics remain evil at all times. It is a perfect understanding of the world that surrounds us. One should understand that in this money-oriented world, there is no hope for good common man, unless he has a huge amount of luck or gets a favour from the heavens. Everyone around you is looking for monetary benefits, and it will be nice if everyone takes the warning out of this movie and be careful with dealing with people all around. Living in this world and trusting humans will be more difficult than ever after watching the film – what we can do is to take the best precautions, for you cannot trust any person, not your friend, government official or the government itself. Everyone is after your money, and these are the kind of people who will beg for cash out of a beggar’s bowl. Along with being an interesting emotional thriller, Meppadiyan works as a warning against the devils that are around you. The movie leaves a doubtful, but really careful person, which will help for your future dealing with those who live around you, as this seems to be inspired from things heard and seen in our world – stay awake to possible evil, and make sure you take no wrong turn.

Release date: 18th February 2022 (Amazon Prime Video); 14th January 2022 (Theatres)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Vishnu Mohan
Starring: Unni Mukundan, Aju Varghese, Anju Kurian, Arya, Kottayam Ramesh, Saiju Kurup, Indrans, Nisha Sarang, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Kundara Johny, Pauly Valsan, Jordi Poonjar, Manohari Joy, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Major Ravi, Krishna Prasad, Sreejith Ravi, Aparna Janardhanan, Naveen Illath

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bhoothakaalam

Vampire Owl: So, the title could mean the days of the past as well as the days of the ghost.

Vampire Bat: It is a nice play on the words being used here.

Vampire Owl: Do you think that Malayalam movie industry can have good horror anymore?

Vampire Bat: Well, horror is the only reality of life. So, it is always possible.

Vampire Owl: You mean to say that the realistic tendencies of the industry can help.

Vampire Bat: Yes, what is life, but a collection of horror of reality?

Vampire Owl: I can’t disagree. I once heard the story of the devil finding the burning hell as a better place to live in comparison to Earth.

Vampire Bat: Well, you know what humans are capable of. They have already made their world a place worse than hell.

Vampire Owl: So, who are the real monsters?

Vampire Bat: Humans are the real monsters, from the day of birth itself. You should see how they torment their own people.

[Gets a chicken biriyani and three cups of elaichi tea].

What is the movie about? :: Vinu (Shane Nigam) is a D.Pharm graduate who is living with his mother, Asha (Revathy) in what seems to have been a very unhappy household since the death of Vinu’s father post leaving a lot of money to be paid back for the loans which were taken. His grandmother dies after living most of her life on the bed after a terrible stroke which she barely survived, and the life of mother and son which was full of negativity only gets worse after the demise. Vinu has been looking for a job for a long time, but as he is focusing on getting some work in his field, and is also trying to keep the search close to home, he is not really able to make any progress with that. Depression seems to come naturally to him, as well as his mother, who is a school teacher for small children. Asha is also hesitant to send him anywhere distant, especially to go for a job which is not directly related to the course which he studied. She also temporarily losses her job, as she ends up hitting a child accidently.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: The mother and the son continues to have arguments over the past, present and future, as Vinu decides to find a job outside Kerala or even India at some hotels where his friends are working. Asha finds him as a rather useless person, as she originally wanted him to study MBBS, and they had spent a lot of money related to that too. But soon, things get worse, as Vinu feels that he was locked within a room by his dead grandmother, who moves around in the wheel chair. Asha feels that he needs counselling, but he doesn’t agree. George (Saiju Kurup) who runs a counselling centre comes home to help him, but Vinu is not happy about it at all, as he feels that he is being marked as an alcoholic and drug addict. George also feels that the sleeplessness might also be a reason, along with the mental problems which runs within the family. Vinu is in love with Priya (Athira Patel), but has stopped returning her calls, as he does almost nothing, while staying in his room, or in front of the television. But he continues to see and feel things – can this mean something else?

The defence of Bhoothakaalam :: Starting off as a movie which seems to have characters with some mental problems related to trauma, it smoothly enters the horror mode after some time. With many options being left behind, one can make different guesses about what actually happened. The minimum elements are used effectively, and the atmosphere of the house also brings a certain amount nostalgia – like our old houses which had mosaic on the floor along with some old style furniture as well as spaces on the wall. The darkness and shadows are pretty much effective in bringing the scares, and there is much to be felt about the possible presence in the house – they contribute to reaching a point where the title can be justified. The emotional side is also very much working, and there is much of the feelings going through here. Even with all the terror coming from outside, there is also the presence of the depressing past related to regret which continues to haunt everyone – the memories can be disorienting enough, as we move forward through a world of chaotic mind here too.

The claws of flaw :: Bhoothakaalam often restricts itself in the use of horror, except for the finally fifteen to twenty minutes when the film is finally allowed to unleash itself, bringing all the elements which it had in store, but didn’t use early enough. It does take its own time, and one feels that it is moving too slowly during that period of time. There are movies which slowly gets stronger, like Come Play, In Fear and It Follows, and one might feel that this might not feel that new with the early slow movement. The mind could have been given better focus, and the presence in the house could have also been better explained, thus leading to a better final finish. It is surely not that scary as some people seem to talk about it – there is something to be frightened about, but not that much as what the reviews exaggerate here, for only those who haven’t watched Hollywood horror movies at all can be that scared about it. After all, these are not the days when people are scared of ghosts that much, because humans have proven themselves to be more evil, each and every time. Ghosts have to be a special kind of scary to rise about human demonic acts.

The performers of the soul :: Shane Nigam continues his work more out of Kumbalangi Nights rather than the other movies, as he once again plays a similar youth who doesn’t really have a job for a multitude of reason, even though he is better educated this time. Revathy’s work continues to be a thing of quality, as he plays a mother role with a difference. There are moments which rises above the natural so well. James Eliya seems to be the man with logic, and has his moments of advice. Jilu Joseph has a small presence as a psychiatrist, as it is Saiju Kurup who deals with the counselling more, and even finds out a few secrets about the house – one would have loved to see more actions being taken by him here. Manju Pathrose plays the usual nosy neighbour, a role which is quite short. Valsala Menon played the grandmother, and that was the role which also lasted for only a few minutes as the movie continues to focus on the mother-son duo for almost all the time. Athira Patel is more or less the Mamitha Baiju of Operation Java coming in here as the seemingly forced love affair which in this case doesn’t reach anywhere in comparison.

How it finishes :: When we think about ghosts and past, the first movie which comes to our mind is Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, a Gothic romance horror which was not watched by that many people in this part of the world. But the past that haunts this movie is more or less related a good number of other horror movies, with one haunted house as well as a psychological side, both complimenting each other, sometimes from a distance, and at times, getting close enough and going through one another in style. Bhoothakaalam doesn’t hesitate to combine its elements, and then come up with the defining moments in the final stages of the film. This is surely a good deviation from the usual horror movies that we have in the Malayalam movie industry, and just like some of the other Sony LIV movies which released in the last few months, like Madhuram and Kaanekaane, this one also has a strong emotional side to go with. Well, you can also have some interesting horror with relationships running emotional in the background, for the ghosts are better and truer with their emotions than the fake humans.

Release date: 21st January 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 105 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Sadasivan
Starring: Shane Nigam, Revathy, Athira Patel, Saiju Kurup, Manju Pathrose, James Eliya, Jilu Joseph, Valsala Menon

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mohan Kumar Fans

What is the movie about? :: Mohan Kumar (Siddique) used to be a huge superstar until he lost the race to the younger stars. He does believe that it was the result of black magic done by his rival actors. After a long gap, he does get a role to play in a critically acclaimed movie, for which everyone feels that he will get an award. His daughter Sreeranjini Mohankumar (Anarkali Nazar), is an interior designer who wishes to be a singer, for which she tries her luck in different reality shows. Krishnan Unni (Kunchacko Boban), is a youngster who is also trying to make it big as a playback singer. They meet at a reality show, and he is also sent to work for Mohan Kumar as the driver by Prakash (Mukesh), his old friend and a struggling producer who is trying to make a film with Kripesh aka Aghosh Menon (Vinay Forrt), a young superstar who is extremely arrogant, and thinks that he is above everyone. Krishnan Unni and Sreeranjini start competing in the reality show, mostly as a team, and Mohan Kumar also becomes fond of the young man who is there to help him.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Kripesh continues to try to make a name in the industry, as his fame rises, and tells everyone that his living together partner Brighty Menon (Deepa Thomas) is a sisterly figure, and fakes different events in which he is shown as a man with love and respect, raising his popularity even higher with PR work. When Arun Rajeev (Adil Ibrahim) and Prakash approaches him with a new film script, his demands only get higher. Meanwhile it is just another downwards journey for the former star, as the critical acclaimed film is taken out of the theatres much to the dismay of Mohan Kumar, who felt that he was going back to that stardom with all the appreciation he received, even more than Kripesh who was originally supposed to be the hero, but was sidelined in front of his fantastic performance. After a fight with Hamsa Randathani (Nisthar Sait), his name is nicely taken out of the Kerala state awards final list, but there is still hope for National Awards – yet, it is to be seen if they can find a way to take it to Delhi with time running out, and a lot more to be done.

The defence of Mohan Kumar Fans :: The movie’s messages are strong, for it is against the vanity and arrogance which has been going on in the film industry. The lack of quality in the visual media is also shown, and it also displays YouTube, Instagram and other social media as what it is, showing how celebrities use fake videos or good for nothing videos just to gain popularity, while skilled performers and quality actors don’t get the recognition they need. Well, if one actress stand outside her home and take a video, it gains so many viewers and appreciation, and it more or less shows the same. Well, you know that literacy means the ability to read and write, and with so many videos being preferred over written content, one has to wonder if it is because of the lack of literacy among people. Our YouTube-Instagram loving celebrities in the film might be suffering from that illiteracy too. It is shown with very nicely prepared humour with fine satire, and the feel-good factor is also high around here. The songs are just okay, and it is not short of some touching moments.

The claws of flaw :: As this movie makes fun of a certain group of people and says the truth about them, such people won’t like it – especially the blind superstar fans, creators of nonsense in YouTube and Instagram as well as those so called celebrities who try to become popular by fake means. For others, they will surely like the film, but they won’t be able to dismiss the fact that this should have had more depth with its content. Mohan Kumar Fans is that kind of a film which could have taken each of its strong elements into another level, but it is certainly not able to do that because it has chosen to travel through a safe path – the feel-good side can always get you over the line, but if you stick on to that, and play safe, it is like aiming for run-a-ball in an IPL match when there is good chance for stroke-play. Maybe, they did so because there was not much of a competition in the theatres with less number of big Malayalam films being released and less number of people watching in the theatres – but that would just be an excuse if we think so.

The performers of the soul :: This one comes after the director’s films which have maintained the feel-good factor at some point, starting with Bicycle Thieves, my least favourite film in a long time, the definite improvement in Sunday Holiday, the bigger improvement in Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and now this film, which also has Asif Ali in a cameo, making all these films Asif starrers. Well, you know that who else was there in all these movies, and it is Siddique, with his biggest role in this movie, as he is the real protagonist here, with everything centered around him, and all things being about him only. It ultimately becomes all about the positive message that is spread through his life, and in that, this movie races ahead of all among the director Jis Joy’s movies, except Vijay Superum Pournamiyum, which was much more ahead in the race. Siddique, the veteran actor, nicely stays at the core of the film, and manages everything in his usual style. If this much was done in a feel-good film, you can guess how much more could have been done if this was a serious tragedy.

Further performers of the soul :: Kunchacko Boban outside the thriller mode of Nizhal and Nayattu, does have his moments, as he is indeed the hero here, trying to keep the main character happy and ready to take the risks just for the sake of the man. Anarkali Nazar is a lovely addition here, as we see her for the first time, and despite the introduction not being that great, we see that the emotions work really well for her. Among the rest, it is Vinay Forrt who stays with us the most, with one of the best satires on the superstars who can’t really act, but tries to get mileage through videos posted in YouTube, Instagram or any social media. As video medium attracts the illiterate and those who find it difficult to read English, these celebrities get more attention that they need, and being as fake as the character he displays here, their first option will always be YouTube to fake their life in front of the blind fans, who will share the same in social media, displaying their foolishness as much as they can. After Saroj Kumar, his Aagosh Menon strikes gold with the satire.

How it finishes :: Mohan Kumar Fans does take an approach which the movies like Driving Licence didn’t have the courage to take. Instead of taking the side of the common man, it had stood with the superstar and his fans. This movie is courageous in that case, taking the side of the common people, and it focuses on the gracious actor instead of the dumb superstar, the dumbness of the latter nicely shown throughout the film, and it also shows everything fake that has been running through YouTube. We keep seeing those celebrities doing YouTube videos, and we know that they are all fake, but there will always be those people who watch such nonsense posted by such people who are only looking for fame. Well, if a celebrity post any nonsense on YouTube, everyone wants to watch that, and if something sensible is posted on YouTube by the common man, you know how it is left unnoticed – it is such an age, when quality is not rewarded, a common problem with the visual media in comparison to the written one. This is the same reason why people who are looking for easy paths to success without hard work won’t like this flick. For others, this works in varying levels of interest, mostly on the higher levels.

Release date: 19th March 2021 (Theatre), 21st May 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Anarkali Nazar, Siddique, Mukesh, Sreenivasan, Saiju Kurup, Vinay Forrt, Ramesh Pisharody, TG Ravi, Alencier Ley Lopez, Major Ravi, Joy Mathew, Krishna Shankar, Adil Ibrahim, Sudheer Karamana, KPAC Lalitha, Deepa Thomas, Srikant Murali, Anjali Nair, Prasanth Alexander, Sreelakshmi, Sethu Lakshmi, Nisthar Sait

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Amazon Prime film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aarkkariyam

What is the movie about? :: Ittyavira (Biju Menon) is a retired mathematics teacher who is spending his time alone in a village in the district of Kottayam. At the same time, his daughter Shirley (Parvathy Thiruvothu) and her second husband Roy (Sharafudheen) are living in Andheri, Mumbai, and are planning to come back to Kerala after some time, despite the COVID-19 restrictions being further imposed everywhere. The coming of Corona has kept all of them in their own space, without much contact with outside world, and the spread of Corona virus had also brought some financial crisis to Roy and Shirley. The former’s business was already failing and there is no success in mutual fund either. The two manage to come all the way to Kerala to Shirley’s hometown and meet Ittyvira, who is really happy to see them. But they are also not able to meet their daughter, as the borders are closed. They apply for permission, but soon, a nation-wide lock-down is imposed, and they are all stuck there in their home in the village.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The lock-down changes their lives by a long way, and the restrictions reach their place too. The already interior home now feels even more away from civilization. This is the time when people were only beginning to understand the COVID-19 situation, and everyone was expecting all these problems to be solved as the virus would eradicated in the end of lock-down. One of the consignments of Roy is now stuck with the customs, and without that, there is nothing much that can be done. Now, the only way to get some quick money so that they can pay back Vyshak (Saiju Kurup) is by selling the ancestral lands, and it is Ittyvira who provides them that idea. But there are some complications related to the same, as there seems to be some secrets from the past which need to be taken care of. Roy begins to feel uncomfortable about the same, but there is nothing that he can do, other than worry about the same.

The defence of Aarkkariyam :: Aarkkariyam would seem to be a usual film in a village setting, but it is surely more than that – we get the idea only later though. Every moment in this movie nicely contributes to keep it going, and it is not that long either with each second in there used in an interesting manner. It does have that fine punch at the interval, something that makes the film take another route from the second half. The title itself is a worthy one here, as we keep wondering who all knows about a number of things including a sinister event and a person who was involved in the same. The performance of the three main characters elevates the film further, and the supporting cast is also interesting. The surroundings are nicely created, and the feeling of Pala-Kanjirappilly area is given with the rural touch everywhere, from the people to the environment. The film also focuses on the different opinions that different people would have about one person, and how polarized the same happens to be – how one can pretend to be good among the common people.

The claws of flaw :: Aarkkariyam is not the kind of movie which you would expect, as it has a certain deviation in store there. It is also slow at times, and there are lots of moments when nothing happens, even though they do contribute to the mood. There is also the presence of some usual cliché stuff here, but the same will go on and pass. Even if it feels like family drama, it doesn’t suit into that genre completely, and one would have doubt about the kind of audience it is actually looking for – even though we can keep it for the common audience in general. A little bit more of the moments in Mumbai and their return to hometown as well as a few twists in between would have helped more, even if it would deviate further away from the genre. It was an opportunity for something more, and there was the chance to be a classic, but the film manages to keep it going straight and without adding any special ingredient into it – maybe because there was the feeling that it was not needed, like Kungfu Panda would agree.

The performers of the soul :: This movie, as expected has Biju Menon with a performance to remember, and that too with a different kind of work. He has embraced this role like Vijayaraghavan did, as he moved from the usual kind of hero to the senior roles. Much elder to Biju Menon, he would be the one we would expect in a role like this, something which he has done in earlier films, but not as the protagonist like we see here. We know that other older superstars are still playing the characters of lower age group, but Biju Menon has had the courage to take it to the next level. If we remember his last few films, we will see that this difference in looks has come unexpected, and by a long way. Even as everything is kept simple about the character, there is always something to remember with this act. There are also those simple dialogues will stay, and sometimes come back – it is one realistic performance to remember as we look at it.

Further performers of the soul :: The movie is indeed about Biju Menon, but others do play their part too. Parvathy Thiruvothu once again has a role to remember, as she blends in here nicely, just like she has done so many times with ease not limited to her most appreciated performances in Uyare, Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. She does get pushed to the background though, as the film progresses. It is also nice to see Sharafudheen in a serious role this time. We have been so much used to see him in those comic roles, except for that villainy in Varathan and the psychotic side in Anjaam Pathira, but those were kind of exaggerated when we have a look back – this is really a fine change here from the early comic side in Premam and the same later in Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela. The two match with their performances, and the cast has worked really well. Saiju Kurup plays the supporting role in the usual kind of way, but could have been part of more of the action too. Shoba Mohan is the only person here who gives the feeling that we have seen the person before.

How it finishes :: The first movie directed by cinematographer Sanu John Varghese is not something that we can leave behind. This is the kind of movie which I would have surely watched in the theatre early enough, if there was no COVID-19. It was a good decision to release this one on Amazon Prime Video along with Neestream, Roots Video and Cave OTT platforms because most of us were always going to watch it on Prime Video only – it is still difficult to find the movie there because of the spelling required to be exactly as it is when searching, and surprisingly it is also not on the list of the new film releases on Amazon. But we do get to it anyway, and during this time of lock-down and triple lock-down in Kerala, this is the kind of movie that reminds us of last year’s lock-down exactly as it is, and it is more or less a realistic experience that we go through – the kind which we had seen in Joji, and also in Nayattu even though this one keeps the thriller side at a distance.

Release date: 1st April 2021 (Theatre), 19th May 2021 (Amazon Prime Video, Neestream, Roots Video, Cave)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Sanu John Varghese
Starring: Biju Menon, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Sharafudheen, Arya Salim, Ganga G Nair, Saiju Kurup, Thejaswi Praveen, Shoba Mohan, Jacob George, Pramod Veliyanad

<— Click here to go to the previous film review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Malayalam film review.

<— Click here to go to the previous superstar film review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

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
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Driving Licence

What is the movie about? :: Hareendran (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a superstar who is in no shortage of fans, gaining all success with continuous superhit movies breaking one box-office record after the other. He is a typical, arrogant, billionaire star who doesn’t care about people in general. His love for cars is well-known, but as nobody had asked him for a driving licence for a long time, he had lost it somewhere, and the shooting of the climax required the licence. For the same, he attempts to get a new one issued by Motor Vehicle Inspector Kuruvilla (Suraj Venjaramoodu) who is a die hard fan of the star. Even though Kuruvilla is a lot interested in meeting the star, things don’t turn out so well with media coming to know about the superstar driving all these years without a driving licence. Hareendran is particularly angry about this being flashed on the news.

So, what happens with the events here? :: At the same time, the other big superstar on the big screen, Bhadran (Suresh Krishna) is trying to get some success with his movies, as it is Hareendran’s movies which get all the attention and the best of theatres. He tries to exaggerate this problem between the two, and is successful up to an extent, as the news is everywhere on all television channels. At the same time, there is the attack on Kuruvilla’s family, and further problems between Hareendran and the producer of the movie, as he wants to leave to the United States with his wife for her treatment before completing the film. But he would really need that driving licence, but because of the confusion and humiliation which he had faced due to the superstar, Kuruvilla is reluctant, but with his contacts, the arrogant Hareendran would try to force him out of his options.

The defence of Driving Licence :: The movie has two people in different fields set against each other, with certain background humour working well all the time. Some of the scenes seem to stand apart, and the interval punch is very good. Some of the situations are nicely created, and well acted too. The visuals are pretty good to add to the same. There are some elements of the evil of blind celebrity worship and the celebrity attitude being shown here, even though the focus is not that much to be seen. The common man’s plight is shown, even though heroism is once again left to the superstar. The focus is partially on different aspects of the society, and there are some messages to be taken home. The whole thing is kept simple, and there are no pretensions here, as many things are shown as they should be, even though the deviations can’t be denied.

The claws of flaw :: It is sad to see that the movie deviates from what should have been its most important message, against the fanatic fans – here, the movie takes the most extreme level, as the so called superstar talks in support of his loyal fans who almost murdered a police officer in an extreme case of crowd frenzy. The superstar’s rich and filthy arrogance is allowed to win over the common man with ease, which is a shame, because the movie without a second thought chooses to go against everyman with its support for violent fans and arrogant superheroes. Some characters are of no use too. Even though the movie focuses on the mood of Christmas, there is nothing much in there to reflect the same. Some parts of the film just looks not needed. There is also a problem with the movie’s flow, and it bothers everyone that it is only the good everyman character who gets beaten up, and all the evil people around him are shown in better light, and spared the rod.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran after his highly underrated thrillers as the lead, Brother’s Day and 9, has the superstar to play, and it doesn’t become difficult for him at any moment. It is the kind of star who is shown as the bigger superstar of the industry, and that gets done rather easily. Playing the roles of actors in movies, the extra performance which is to be put in seems to be rather less in almost every case. Suraj Venjaramoodu continues to impress in the emotional sequences, and the comedy as usual, comes natural to him in this movie too. We have been witnessing much of such skills in the last few years rather than sticking to the humorous side. The roles of simple common men have been coming very fine to him. The child actor Adhish Praveen also comes with a nice performance as the child who wants his father to win against the giant superstar at least once.

Further performers of the soul :: Mia George is the heroine who gets more dialogues, and has some funny moments of her, as she shines in a role which brings the laughter in a simple manner. Deepti Sati, the other heroine does look beautiful, and has less to do – but the purpose is served well in her case too. Salim Kumar plays a kind of cameo which becomes relevant in the end, but is irritating during most of its existence. It was good to see Lalu Alex there doing a fine job, and we need to see him more in the industry. Idavela Babu and Vijayaraghavan play two irritating characters from the movie industry. Major Ravi and Shivaji Guruvayoor have some smaller roles to play too. At the same time, Suresh Krishna is really funny in his avatar, and the same can be said about Saiju Kurup too. Nandhu has a memorable tole to play here too.

How it finishes :: Driving Licence could have been a better movie if it had shown the courage to show evil as it is. But the movie hesitates in doing the same, and finds the rich celebrity and his fans abusing and almost murdering a common man to be okay – maybe they did the same to satisfy their large number of fans, but it cannot be considered as a fair thing. The good start of the movie should have been better maintained, especially in the second half – the ending should have been better too. Still, as these are holidays, it is easier to have these kinds of movies running in the theatres, as we have that kind of family audience who have come out to enjoy the Christmas vacations. So, this works for some simple fun, but could have been more with its premise. After all, getting a driving licence never ceases to be a thing of interest.

Release date: 20th December 2019
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Jean Paul Lal
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Mia George, Deepti Sati, Lalu Alex, Suresh Krishna, Arun, Idavela Babu, Vijayaraghavan, Salim Kumar, Saiju Kurup, Adhish Praveen, Major Ravi, Kalabhavan Navas, Sohan Seenulal, Nandhu

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Balan Vakeel

What is the movie about? :: S Balakrishnan (Dileep) is a lawyer who works under the reputed advocate Pramod Sujanapalan (Arjun Nandakumar). But he hasn’t been able to achieve much in his professional career due to his stammer, even though he was known to be a smart & intelligent person during his college days. His father and mother (Siddique and Bindu Panicker) are concerned about him, but are sure that he can only be a failure in life, with former also being a chain smoker who tries different drugs. His first successful case is that of Ansaar Ali Khan (Aju Varghese), a local goon who is involved in a robbery case. Ansaar doesn’t have the cash to pay as his fees, and therefore provides him with a place to stay at low rent. But this new place has Irumbu Babu’s (Bheeman Raghu) presence, and he considers it to be his own room and wants him to leave. But it will be the smallest of his problems.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is then that his brother-in-law P Mohanan Pillai (Suraj Venjaramoodu) comes up with a plan to make some easy money. He asks Balakrishnan to be a part of it, and she accepts the same reluctantly. He sends a notice to a given address asking for compensation in the name of a woman (Priya Anand) who claims to have been abused by the person at the address. But it turns out that it is the address of the DGP of Kerala Police, KE Eapen (Renji Panicker) who is suprised to get the same. The charge of investigation goes to Indhulekha Marar (Lena) who gets only a limited amount of time to solve the case. Meanwhile it turns out that the person whose name is in the letter is Anuradha Sudharshan (Mamta Mohandas), a woman who is completely unaware of this. There seems to be some conspiracy behind all these. But there is no clue regarding where to begin.

The defence of Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel :: There are the twists in store in Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel for sure, and there is mystery awaiting to be revealed, related to a conspiracy. We also have incidents which seems to reflect reality, but there is the certainty of exaggeration regarding the same. The emotional flashback in the movie becomes effective with the last twist, but otherwise it feels strange, and makes you wait the whole time trying to find something out of it. There is also the presence of a fine cast to support everything out there, making sure that they manage all that this movie can provide. There is some good humour out there, even though not throughout the flick. It is seen more in the initial stages, starting from the introduction of the main character itself. The interval punch is strong enough to make one interested in the second half, even though the first half wasn’t that much there.

The claws of flaw :: It can be seen that there is no attempt to make this movie go through a fully entertaining path, and there is no plan to make this a perfect journey as an investigation thriller either, as this is caught somewhere in between. The jokes are also just partially effective, and we see that the funny side in the name of children hitting older men, people falling on electricity lines and surviving, a drug addict father instead of the usual alcoholic one etc – they are just there for the sake of adding some strange funny side. There is also the presence of some unnecessary mass scenes, and the hero sending people flying around comes in, and the struggling protagonist that we wanted to watch from the trailer is lost. Having such a protagonist beating up people all of a sudden works against the overall mood of the movie, and what we know about the protagonist. The songs are not that good either.

The performers of the soul :: This seems to be a movie nicely made for Dileep, as he has this in control, just like many other movies of the same kind. There is no problem here, as he had played advocate trying to serve justice before in Passenger, and there was Mamta Mohandas there too, with the same name for her character, Anuradha. Well, Passenger is a movie long way ahead of this one, without doubt. Mamta Mohandas is here for a full role unlike what she had in 9. There is not much for her to do regarding the investigation here though, as she is the victim and there is the protagonist to save the day. A little romantic side added there seems to be rather forced though, as this movie could have done without it. The focus on its main idea would have been enough, and trying to play cupid between the main character didn’t do both of them any good.

Further performers of the soul :: Siddique’s father character is kind of strange, but brings the funniest moments of the movie with ease. There is his comic timing that lightens up the movie really well. Aju Varghese is the next person in the comedy department, and it works well for him most of the time too – he does get some memorable funny ones. Suraj Venjaramoodu also has the comedy working in his favour, even though at parts it seems out of order. Priya Anand gets another smart role after Ezra and Kayamkulam Kochunni, but with lesser time spent on the screen. Veterans like Ganesh Kumar and Renji Panicker right there, doing what they do the best in police roles. Another person who shines so well inside the uniform is Lena, who is also there Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam, and mystery-solving journey of puzzles which is also running in the theatres.

How it finishes :: For B Unnikrishnan, this movie comes after Villain, which was a smart one for sure. Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel does take the path of Vikadakumaran and Jolly LLB, a trend related to a struggling lawyer whenever the same is the protagonist. This one has its moments of thrills and twists are brought into the scene, but there is not doubt about the fact that this could have done better. There is the fine premise already set, and the idea that has scope for a lot, but it is not utilized in the best way. Maybe we have to wait to get something better out of a story related to courtroom, and we can do that. Until then, lets watch Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel and enjoy the interesting side. For those who wants the more realistic side, there is always Kumbalangi Nights & June running, and seemingly good enough to keep doing the same for a long time.

Release date: 21st February 2019
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: B Unnikrishnan
Starring: Dileep, Mamta Mohandas, Priya Anand, Aju Varghese, Siddique, Ganesh Kumar, Renji Panicker, Bindu Panicker, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Saiju Kurup, Vamsi Krishna, Harish Uthaman, Lena, Arjun Nandakumar, Pramod Sujanapalan, Bheeman Raghu, Veena Nair, Pradeep Kottayam, Thesni Khan, Sajid Yahiya

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aadu 2

What is the movie about? :: The team of Shaji Pappan (Jayasurya) go on with the journey after the events of the first film. Their world hasn’t really gotten any better, as they keep struggling to find the money to keep their club, and once again their option is to participate in the tug of war competition. With the Pinky episode closed both with the girl and the goat, Pappan just continues to have his back pain, but leads his team to victory in the competition, only to have his golden trophy stolen by the rival team lead by Anali Sabu (Anson Paul). Meanwhile, S.I. Sarbath Shameer (Vijay Babu) manages to get back to service after begging the new Home Minister of Kerala, P.P. Sasi Aashan (Indrans) to have his uniform again. He decides to keep his eyes on Shaji Pappan who had thrown the former S.I. of the station into the dam reservoir, and prove to everyone that he is an even better police officer than he used to be.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: At the same time, Damodaran Unnimakan Delmen Edakochi a.k.a. Dude (Vinayakan) is having an even more terrible time, working at a restaurant, and with his friends and the new comrade Dragon Paili (Nelson) is planning something huge, without being depressed of his failure – he is ridiculed by the owner of the restaurant, but he is waiting for his opportunity to get back to what he does the best. Satan Xavier (Sunny Wayne) surely has better times with the help of Kanjavu Soman (Sudhi Koppa) and Battery Simon (Bijukuttan) who work for him at small wages. But their world along with that of a criminal mastermind, a villain known as Shetty (John Kaippallil) are to come together soon, with that day on which five hundred and one thousand rupee notes ceased being legal tender. It would begin a series of blunders and confusion that would lead to a twist of fate for some.

The defence of Aadu 2 :: After Aadu Oru Bheekara Jeevi Aanu disappeared from the theatres, people have been slowly trying to like it, and there has been a lot of talk about the same – for them, this would prove to be a nice treat, as they have all wanted it a lot. There are some funny moments in here for sure, and they come and go. The beginning with the introduction of the protagonist, and the return of the police officer to duty are all good, making sure that the sequel starts well. The music and visuals are all pretty good, and there seems to be more and more of an effort to make the youth appreciate it rather than an individual or the family. From a reviewer’s perspective, this movie would come only under Midhun Manuel Thomas’s each and every other work – Annmariya Kalippilaanu, Alamara and Aadu Oru Bheekara Jeevi Aanu are better than this. But you know that it is not the thing which always counts, but on the other side, we know that more people liking or pretending to like a movie to go with the crowd doesn’t make it a better one.

The claws of flaw :: There is not that much of fun in Aadu 2 as it was there in its prequel. It falls short there, and also the story itself is not that interesting. The limited number of working jokes is rather a sad thing. The excuse in favour of this movie might be that it is meant to be nonsense – but even making quality nonsense requires better thinking, and when we look at this movie, that part has come down a level from the first movie too. There are so many ways of making a funny thing work, and whether it is funny in a smart way or if it is nonsense, the thing has to work. Here, Aadu 2 has the nonsense which struggles to be funny even as nonsense, and that is a crime, which is repeated a number of times. Also, even a dumb story can be smart in how it is made to seem ridiculous. This one falls short of its predecessor in doing the same too.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya leads the way as expected after another sequel, Punyalan Private Limited, playing the character that nobody has refused to like. There is no surprise about the fact everyone wishes to see Shaji Pappan again – even I remember that entry that he had in the first part; there is not that much of an entrance here that we will keep remembering, but we love him anyway, as the one character who seems to be part of us in one way or the other. Vinayakan’s Dude could have used even more screen-time, as among them all, the man makes us laugh the most – almost everything from him works, unlike some of the other characters that got to struggle to keep up with the standards set in the first movie. Vijay Babu is in full form with this character which he seems to hold close, and with the support of Noby Marcose, he gets to score with nice moments. Indrans has his presence limited, maybe due to the absence of the sidekick character – and that is disappointing too.

Further performers of the soul :: One can’t help noticing the absence of two of the characters that made the best impact in the first part, played by Chemban Vinod Jose and Sandra Thomas. The former’s moments which are widely used in memes for trolls and latter being a reflection of a certain group of people who prefer animals to men, are clearly missed in this flick, and Chemban not being found here is a bigger surprise. Sunny Wayne’s character, despite being a big name again, never really gets to get bigger. The big team of the protagonist including Saiju Kurup, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Bhagath Manuel, Vineeth Mohan and others won’t make that big impact this time, as they also struggle to live up to what they did in the first movie, with some jokes here and there. Sometimes, irritating moments do come in as if they are jokes, and the characters just manage to play with the same. Well, fans will just find awesomeness in everything and abuse, but we can’t, can we descend that low?

How it finishes :: The first movie, Aadu Oru Bheekara Jeevi Aanu, was kind of late to gather all the positive opinions, as it had failed at the box-office, and didn’t make much an impact with the critics of that time. This one has picked up due to the fans going in favour of it, and youth taking it as their duty to support it. But in the end, you will find that it is not that funny, and there is a lesser effect here than what was created in the first movie. It is enjoyable in parts, but as a whole, the first movie was surely better, and it also had a better effect on us, as it was something that felt new. But here, we see a movie which seems to try to repeat the same thing without trying anything better or new. It is the curse of the sequels that has caught this movie, and we know that sequels are rarely better than the originals – well, this one is no exception. Well, if you are not going to think about any of these, and desperately wishes to watch the second part, just go for it. After all, it is Christmas, and the festival season and holidays can use some meaningless fun. It is surely why it is more difficult to get tickets for this one than its competitors Vimaanam, Mayaanadhi, Aana Alaralodalaral and Masterpiece.

Release date: 22nd December 2017
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Midhun Manuel Thomas
Starring: Jayasurya, Sunny Wayne, Vijay Babu, Saiju Kurup, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Bhagath Manuel, Vineeth Mohan, Harikrishnan, Noby Marcose, Aju Varghese, Vinayakan, Indrans, Sudhi Koppa, Anson Paul, Srinda Arhaan, Nelson, Bijukuttan, Gopesh, Mamukoya, Baiju, Irshad

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vimaanam

What is the movie about? :: Venkateswaran a.k.a. Venkidi (Prithviraj Sukumaran), a man with hearing problems, is the latest recipient of Padma Bhushan for his grand achievements in the field of Aeronautics. But it turns out that he has a past which is deeply set in emotions. As he travels back to his hometown in Kerala from Delhi despite the warnings of his good friend Elias (Major Ravi), his flashback is revealed. It goes back to that time when he was going through his school days. From then, there was only one thing which interested him, and it was all about flying. His desire to fly got him to a bigger need, to build an airplane, inspired by Roger’s (Alencier Ley Lopez) tales about how the first flying airplane was invented. He grew up dreaming about the same, and not being interested in studies much, despite being an excellent student. There is someone who had supported him all the time, and continued to do so; that would be Janaki (Durga Krishna), his childhood friend who plans to join MBBS – they have been in love for longer than they can remember.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As Venkidi is half-Christian and half-Hindu, the possibility of their love story becoming something that would be approved at Janaki’s home, is very less, despite him following the same Hindu traditions. But their love continues to grow, and causing trouble for the romance is Anand (Saiju Kurup) to whom Janaki’s father hopes to marry her off, as his family is rich and settled in Singapore. Meanwhile, with the help of Janaki, Roger and his favourite uncle (Sudheer Karamana), Venkidi keeps trying to fly his new machines, none of which manage to rise from the floor. The whole village makes fun of his attempts, but he is not the kind of person who would back down. During difficult times, Venkidi and Roger, with the help of Janaki, steals an engine, which does help them to fly, but flying won’t be enough to get the lovers together in a society which looks for more than just that.

The defence of Vimaanam :: The movie tries to be another inspirational movie in Malayalam, and adds to that long list of similar movies which have tried to do the same, a few being Mili, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam, Rani Padmini, Udaharanam Sujatha, My God and Aby. Yes, the inspiration to achieve the dreams which have been there for long, is right there. It achieves the same, and makes one feel the power of dreams, not just with the dream of the protagonist, but with that of a shared dream, which gets its significance by the end – as some people would say, that one’s dream is not his or her alone, as it is shared by all those who are beloved. The love story scores more due to the songs, as this flick undoubtedly has some delightful songs, as do its romantic competitor, Mayaanadhi. Well, this one uses subtitles whether it is English or Hindi, and it is something which people related to Mayaanadhi couldn’t do for Tamil. The visuals are also good, and the setting of this movie is something which is capable of achieving a lot more than what we can see on the big screen.

The claws of flaw :: We can see that a simple tale based on real-life people has been exaggerated a lot rather than keeping the simplicity in place. Vineeth Sreenivasan starrer Aby, which released in February this year also dealt with the same thing, about its protagonist trying to make an airplane and fly, fighting against all odds. A number of people might have felt that this is more of a repetition, with bigger budget, and more familiar cast. But the fact remains that Aby was a much simpler story, and it had some light moments of fun to go with it; this one lacks the same. You remember the Jomonte Suvisheshangal becoming the repetition of Jacobinte Swargarajyam, and the same is the case here, causing Vimaanam not to go that high as it could have. The romantic side of this movie, and the incidents surrounding the same, are also the same old wine in that bottle which was available in the market from February itself. There is absolutely no attempt to make this one special, even there were so many chances in there, and the result is a certain predictability with drag in between.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran comes up with more here, as we see him in another avatar, unlike his recent adventures of the year, Ezra, Tiyaan and Adam Joan. Among the young stars, he has been the one with the most variety in his roles, and with Vimaanam, there is nothing there to compared with his previous roles of 2017. Vimaanam‘s role is rather easy for him, compared to the other three characters which he had played in the year, which included a troubled man tackling a Jewish creature of pure darkness, a former gangster turning into a mystic and a father hoping to find his kidnapped daughter who might be in the hands of Satan worshipers – even the movie before that, Oozham had him seeking vengeance; in comparison, this one brings no challenge to him. As he has played character from real life with charm, significant examples being Celluloid and Ennu Ninte Moideen, you know what to expect when he is out there.

Further performers of the soul :: When we look at Aby and this movie, we keep looking for something new, and that new element is Durga Krishna, the debutante actress who brings cuteness and energy to the flick, in a performance which is certain to bring her more roles in the future. The character might feel single-dimensional, and cent percent predictable in a world itself having no surprises, but her work makes the same work for the audience. Alencier Ley Lopez is certainly the man to look out for in the movie, as this character seems to be so well suited for him. Sudheer Karamana is not far behind in that case either, for he was against flight in Aby, but is with all support for his favourite boy’s flight in this one. Eric Zachariah who plays Prithviraj’s childhood has one delightful performance for us, which would prepare us for what is to follow, a wonderful child actor there. Anarkali Marikar has a smaller role, but it is nice to have her there after Aanandam. Lena and Saiju Kurup are good as usual.

How it finishes :: Vimaanam is a movie which was much talked about for a long time. Even as Aby had overtaken the movie with its own protagonist trying to make an airplane and fly like Jacobinte Swargarajyam did before Jomonte Suvisheshangal, this one was something which kept the audience’s interest alive due to the presence of Prithviraj Sukumaran in a different look. But you will find that even with its cliched characters and melodrama, Vimaanam has managed to fly, and battle Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeevi Aanu 2 which has been the youth favourite even before it had released, and even with Mayaanadhi, Masterpiece and Aana Alaralodalaral there with Tiger Zinda Hai, this flight is also catching our attention. It is more or less a reflection of the noble intentions of a movie which is hoping to inspire more and more dreams in a world of chaos. Vimaanam might be the one right family movie for Christmas, catering to the needs of the full family outing, unlike the rest of the movies which are focusing on selections.

Release date: 22nd December 2017
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Pradeep M Nair
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Durga Krishna, Alencier Ley Lopez, Lena, Sudheer Karamana, Saiju Kurup, P. Balachandran, Anarkali Marikar, Major Ravi, Nandhu, Master Eric Zachariah, Ashokan, Tesni Khan, Liya Anu Varghese, Baby Durga Premjith

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Tharangam

What is the movie about? :: Padmanabhan Pillai a.k.a. Pappan (Tovino Thomas) used to be the Sub Inspector of Police working in the traffic department until getting suspended on an unfortunate night during a special operation not approved by the department, along with his good friend and subordinate officer Joy C (Balu Varghese). This incident which lead to the death of their senior officer Antony (Manoj K Jayan) has them wandering around the city in need of money, as they need to pay Ittimani (Alencier Ley Lopez) a sum of five lakhs. Their senior officer Sivadasa Menon (Vijayaraghavan) assures them that he will do all that he can to get them back in the uniform. It is him who come up with a special duty for them, which could bring them some money as part of an unofficial investigation. With things not being that great with his girlfriend Malini a.k.a Malu, Pappan decides to take the job, as some easy money with less risk is not that much of a bad idea.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This unofficial investigation is provided to them by Tharian Mathew (Shammi Thilakan), who offers them a lot of money to find what is going on with his wife, Omana Varghese (Neha Iyer) who owns a restaurant chain in the city and its surroundings. He suspects that she is having an affair, and wishes to divorce her after finding proof of her adultery. As the two friends go on their newly discovered adventure, they only find out that something is strange with the people that she meets, but there is no proof of her having an affair. But when they are watching her, someone else is watching them – Christopher Luke (Sijoy Varghese) is the man after them, and then there is their earlier enemy from the failed operation, Siju (Saiju Kurup) who comes in their way. There is so much going on with their lives that the whole thing seems to be messed up. Can they make the necessary changes to make things better?

The defence of Tharangam :: There is something different in the way this movie begins and ends, and even though the same is not something seen before, it has never been this fresh. It is a fine experiment as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned – with the hero and a lot of characters surrounding him, and add all the fun, you will find something like Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyaanu here, as our heroes as well as more than one teams of villains are looking for one thing that goes missing. The movie also has a strong side of fantasy to go with the real incidents, even though they are only related in a few occasions. There are messages about people being responsible for their own fate, as God provides them with a number of choices in their life, as one little act of kindness or cruelty, can change everything. There is a lot of dark humour present in this one too, as it nicely deviates from the usual foolish comedy which could have been served here with the subject on another day.

The claws of flaw :: Tharangam doesn’t go through the path which the common audience would expect – the trailer had given less idea about what it was going to be in totality, but even then, this seems to have deviated a lot, and will not leave the viewers with the usual and expected kind of experience for them to cherish. Maybe, they could have shortened the fantasy side, and maybe even limited the same to a few dialogues. The romance also disappears earlier than one would expect. There are opportunities of humour being lost, and there are moments when the audience can feel lost. The two cops could have handled the whole thing with lots of funny moments, but such an attempt is not made, as this one tries to bring one thing after the other, creating a mixture which not everyone can take home. The divergence is a fine thing, but the doubt about where to go with the same, is rather strange when we look deep. It is the story that needed to rise more when needed.

Performers of the soul :: It is nice to see Tovino Thomas coming up with different types of roles, as he could do with the two big movies Godha and Oru Mexican Aparatha, as well as that much respected movie on the internet, Guppy. But we know that his best is still to come, and that can even go bilingual. We see him go through the comic side rather easily. Balu Varghese supports him well, even though one wonders why there is no big memorable comedy sequences in this movie even there was more than one chance. The “Luketta” call from the two is just one of them. The one person whom we miss early is Manoj K Jayan, who has only a few minutes of presence there. Dileesh Pothan surprises us in his avatar and is very good with the same, even when the movie could have gone on without extending that sequence a little too much in the beginning.

Further performers of the soul :: Santhy Balachandran makes a much memorable debut here, and she has some very nice moments as well as dialogues in the movie – one can be sure that there are miles ahead for her in Malayalam movie industry. We keep feeling that she is capable of more if provided the bigger roles. One is going to find it hard to believe that this is her first movie. The other new face, Neha Iyer is also strong with her character into which she seems to have dived deep – there is more than face to this character, which she reflects with skill. Saiju Kurup has another character who catches our attention with ease, as he had in Pokkiri Simon, Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela, Adventures of Omanakuttan and Alamara earlier. Sijoy Varghese is strong with the negative side of the character throughout his existence in this movie. Alencier Ley Lopez, Vijayaraghavan and Shammi Thilakan get rather shorter, but important roles in this movie.

How it finishes :: Tharangam is that kind of a movie which you can either love or hate, and there is also the option to stand in between – it is more of a movie of the audience, as each viewer can have a separate opinion regarding the same. The level of enjoyment regarding this movie is different, as you notice those simple things which affect your opinion. We know that crime comedy thrillers are not that easy to bring to the common audience, and this one has surely tried hard to do the same, even with those flaws. Dhanush has also made his Malayalam debut as a producer with Tharangam. It has been on the list of much awaited movies for quite some time, and one song with Tovino Thomas and Santhy Balachandran had brought further need to watch this movie as soon as possible. Now, we have this one for Pooja holidays, and if you like movies like Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyaanu, there is a good chance that you will like this one too, and the overall quality of Tharangam feels more – be ready for some experimentation on screen. I will leave you with the wonderful song from the movie.

Release date: 29th September 2017
Running time: 153 minutes
Directed by: Dominic Arun
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Balu Varghese, Santhy Balachandran, Neha Iyer, Dileesh Pothan, Sijoy Varghese, Alencier Ley Lopez, Vijayaraghavan, Manoj K Jayan, Shammi Thilakan, Saiju Kurup, Sanju Shivram, Unni Mukundan (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pokkiri Simon

What is the movie about? :: Simon (Sunny Wayne), known more as “Pokkiri” Simon after the name of the Vijay movie is the leader of the Vijay fans association of the locality. His two best friends, and members of the association are “Hanuman” Biju (Jacob Gregory) who spends most of his life’s time trying to become Vijay’s bodyguard, and “Love Today” Ganesh (Sarath Kumar) who has the nickname after one of Vijay’s earlier movies. They spend almost all of their time, talking about Vijay’s movies and celebrating whenever one of his movies get a release in Trivandrum. On the other side, there are Surya fans including “Singam” Suni (Sajid Yahiya) who continue celebrating the latest sequel to Singam. There is also some compeition between them, and the gang of Vijay fans lead by Beemapally Noushad (Saiju Kurup) who has his own fan association based around the mosque. Both of them tries to make the best out of ten year celebration of Pokkiri, and lands in the police station.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Landing in the police station is nothing new for them, as SI Sathyan (Baiju) finds it easy to catch them for making nuisance all around the theatre in the name of fan club based activities. The one to save them each and every time is CI Alex John (Dileesh Pothan), a police officer from a rich family having an eye on politics. Simon’s father Yesudas (Ashokan) is also a police man, but just like his mother and sister, has not much of an opinion about him. Simon and his friends who do no job, and wanders all around the locality as considered to be nuisance rather than anything else. The only thing Simon manages to do outside the friends circle in the fans association, is to write random PSC examinations, including the police tests to satisfy his father. The only thing they wait for is to watch another Vijay movie – without the same, there is no life for them.

And what else is to follow with the fan adventures? :: The parents of Simon have lost hope in him getting a job, and they wish to get him married. But the problem is that he wants to marry only the girl whom he saw whistling during a Vijay movie. Simon soon finds her again while playing cricket on the beach. Deepa (Prayaga Martin), who is the daughter of a rich sea captain, is the girl whom he wish to marry. Using the plans from a former scientist of ISRO, Seetha Raman (Nedumudi Venu) who turns out to be a Vijay fan too, Simon tries to get her attention, and finally manages to win her love. But things are not that smooth, as there are people like Arjunan Pillai (Shammi Thilakan) and Indran Pillai (Marshal Tito Wilson) who are running all kinds of criminal activities in the city. The young blood of the fans association manages to make both of these brothers angry, and it is no more about sweet love.

The defence of Pokkiri Simon :: There are some funny scenes here which will work, thanks to the long line of interesting cast managing to keep things strong. There is also the reference to Vijay movies, along with something for Pulimurugan. One can be sure that those who follow Vijay movies will find this one more entertaining, and so will those who watch Tamil movies very often. Yes, the fan stuff scores. There is also that part of the story that goes on like the common man’s life, and you will find one final twist waiting for you. If you like Amar Akbar Anthony, I am sure that you will have no problems in finding this one good enough. This movie also follows the same pattern, with the life of the common people with some comedy in the first half, and the second half having a twist, when the unexpected person becomes the villain; from being one of the best among good people in the flick, as he joins the other villains who have been there – in this case too, it is related to a missing girl.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s weakest point is the romantic angle, and the same never really gets going. One can safely say that it even stumbles on many occasions even without starting to get better. The songs also suffers the same fate. There was the feeling that this movie would also focus on the good deeds done by fans in the name of their favourite stars, but that is not there – instead, they do the comparison of stars to gods as a justification which might be the strangest that you would ever get. It is rather bizarre during these days when superstar godmen who reflect gods get convicted. There are also many characters who don’t get what they deserve, as they exist and go on without making the desired impact. The people who don’t follow many movies, and don’t watch much of Tamil cinema will have less to take home. Also, you will find that the movie could have managed all its elements, bringing them together in a better way. It could have been a better movie to become a better tribute to Vijay.

Performers of the soul :: The friendship of the three characters played by Sunny Wayne, Jacob Gregory and Sarath Kumar is undoubtedly better than the same shown in Amar Akbar Anthony. The latter two takes it more on the funny side, while Sunny Wayne is very good playing the main character. He has provided us some good work with Annmariya Kalippilaanu and Alamara, but for some reason, they don’t go on to stay at the theatres like some of those overrated movies with no content do. Marshal Tito Wilson from Angamaly Diaries is also there, playing one of the two antagonists, and he is surely a strong point here, joining Shammi Thilakan who scores on the evil side. Dileesh Pothan is a perfect addition as the police character who impresses with his different side, and Baiju and Ashokan plays two different cops in support well. Prayaga Martin only has a character existing there to be part of that bad romantic side, and she never gets in form – in the end, she disappears like Namitha Pramod in Amar Akbar Anthony. Before that, there are some terrible moments for her, including one song.

How it finishes :: Pokkiri Simon should be a must watch for Vijay fans, and for the rest, it could provide some time-pass. Following the pattern of Amar Akbar Anthony more than any other, we can also see a little bit of Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan mode in here. There are those jokes, and also the dialogues which are from Vijay’s popular movies. The director’s previous movie, Darwinte Parinamam was also an underrated movie, and this one also has elements of silver lining even when the clouds are dark, but it isn’t lifted high enough from there. If you are a fan and you can relate to this, that would be great, for there seems to be an attempt to make this one a colourful and quick entertainer. One thing is for sure, and it is that unlike those movies which have claimed to do great with similar cast, this one surely manages to do better – Pokkiri Simon does that for the fans.

Release date: 22nd September 2017
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Jijo Antony
Starring: Sunny Wayne, Jacob Gregory, Prayaga Martin, Sarath Kumar, Dileesh Pothan, Nedumudi Venu, Ashoka, Baiju, Shammi Thilakan, Marshal Tito Wilson, Bitto, Thara Kalyan, Saiju Kurup, Pradeep Kottayam, Sajid Yahiya, Rohni, Vijay Menon, Tanuja Karthik, Sinoj Varghese, Anjali Aneesh, Jude Anthany Joseph, Hena, Sudeep Kopa, Govindan Kutty

PS: Velipadinte Pusthakam, Adam Joan and Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela seems to stay on… 🙂

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.