Bhramam

What is the movie about? :: Ray Mathews (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a blind musician who hopes that he will be known among the great pianists of the world. It is when he crosses the road and gets hit by Anna’s (Raashi Khanna) scooter, that there is the beginning of a romantic relationship between the two – then, it is revealed to the audience that he is not really blind, but is only acting as if he cannot see. Uday Kumar (Shankar Panicker) who was one of the big superstars of an earlier time asks him to sing at his home for his wedding anniversary with his wife Simi (Mamta Mohandas). But when Ray reaches there, he finds out that Uday is lying there dead, and Dinesh (Unni Mukundan) is also there with Simi. He sees that the two are trying to get rid of the body and the clues, as they feel that he won’t know as he is blind. Soon, Uday’s body is found in the container terminal road, and a story is created about how he was murdered by his driver.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As Dinesh is the police officer investigating the case, Ray is not able to tell anything to the police, but his arrival at the police station creates suspicions for both Dinesh and Simi. Dinesh’s wife Swapna (Ananya Nair) feels that her husband can find the murderer with ease. Dinesh has further doubts about Ray’s eye sight after searching his place, but as him being a witness only helps them, they decide not to do anything. But it is then that Ray witness another murder that Simi commits, and she decides to visit him at his place. Then, she would realize that he is not really blind, and due to the same, she has to take better precautions. At the same time, Anna is worried that Ray hasn’t shown up for a long time. A worried Dinesh wants Ray dead, and a boy in the neighborhood has proof that Ray is not really blind. All these lead to a sequence of events which means that life won’t be the same again for the people involved.

The defence of Bhramam :: Bhramam, even though not an original story, is executed really well. The strength of the cast is one advantage that this film can be proud about. The recreation of the tale in this particular setting is very good – the choice of Cochin and its surroundings, especially Fort Cochin makes it a better visual treat than one would expect. There have been similar visual splendour before, but not in a way that it suits the whole thing so well. From reading about the original film, there seems to be some differences here, but nothing that someone who hasn’t watched the Hindi version can confirm. As it stands, the film does rise above the expectations which the trailer had created, especially with the black humour and the twists that it provides. There is always something different that we can expect with Bhramam, as it moves forward, as it never hesitates to move away from the usual and the predictable.

The claws of flaw :: There can be comparisons between Bhramam and the original version which was in Hindi, and we know that original can often have the advantage, but as I have not watch that one, it won’t be my job to do. There are surely some moments in this film which could have been better, and the beginning moments could have had an extension, as they were indeed cute. Some more changes could have also been added to make this not that exact an adaptation. It could have managed to get more out of the last moments too, as scope was always there. The social commentary could have also been stronger, even though the presence is felt on some occasions. Some occasions could have also had better clarity, and a few scenes could also take better strength. As a film on a musician and a pianist, this could have also had more songs to add to the quality.

Performers of the soul :: After Cold Case and Kuruthi, Prithviraj Sukumaran has another release on Amazon Prime Video, the only OTT platform, where he had fresh releases. In comparison with the other roles in these movies, this does take a fine deviation for him, and this is further away from what one would expect from the trailer. The black comedy factor does work well for him. Unni Mukundan has had a certain amount of break time after the release of Mamangam much earlier. In the role of a police officer, he makes a fine comeback, even though this role doesn’t demand that much. Shankar Panicker has a small role, as he plays a superstar of the past himself with ease. At the same time, Jagadish comes up with a role which we don’t usually see him doing, and supporting him are Sminu Sijo and Aneesh Gopal, who have some fine contributions to provide here – the three are basically the unexpected turning point providers in the film.

Further performers of the soul :: Mamta Mohandas had her voice in Sunny, after having her full works in Forensic, Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel, 9 and the quick appearance of Johny Johny Yes Appa. She is back here, playing the main role, and she has done the same in a believable manner, leaving not much to the doubts. It is always good to have her back, and it doesn’t matter how many times we miss her due to her health related reasons. Raashi Khanna has her second Malayalam film here after Villain. This is a more notable role as we look at it, and she holds on to the cuteness factor from the beginning stages, even though she has to make way for Mamta later, only to have something to add in the final stages of the film. Shine Tom Chacko also makes an appearance in a cameo, but it is a role which defines many things in the film. Nandhana Varma plays the role of the daughter of the superstar, and that also is a notable one. Valsala Menon plays a neighbour of importance too.

How it finishes :: Bhramam is the remake of the much appreciated Hindi movie, Andhadhun – basically one of the many remakes as the same film is remade in different languages. Those who have watched that critically acclaimed movie, can know the quality of this version better for sure. When we consider this film as a stand-alone work, it is also a very well done work. After all, keeping up the quality is often difficult with remakes, unless there is something like a Drishyam which can come in many languages, and can even come up with the right sequel. For now, we can be sure that Bhramam which is taken out of Andhadhun works really well in this form too, and if there was ever any doubt about that, the same was not needed. We cannot blame ourselves about the same though, as doubting is in our blood, and trusting people to make things better is never really that easy.

Release date: 7th October 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 152 minutes
Directed by: Ravi K Chandran
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Raashi Khanna, Unni Mukundan, Mamta Mohandas, Shankar Panicker, Ananya Nair, Sminu Sijo, Sudheer Karamana, Aneesh Gopal, Valsala Menon, Nandhana Varma, Jagadish, Rajesh Raj, Master Avyukth Menon, Shine Tom Chacko (cameo)

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Operation Java

What is the movie about? :: Anthony George (Balu Varghese) and Vinaya Dasan (Lukman) are two unemployed youth who have finished Engineering. Things are not easy for them, as finding a job had become more difficult than ever, and they have been trying for a job for such a long time, with neighbours and relatives ridiculing their situation. They manage to change things around as they provide a new perspective to a film piracy case cyber cell office providing a new perspective to a famous film piracy case related to the film, Premam. The police decides to reopen the case and conduct further investigation with their help. This leads them to Jerry (Mathew Thomas) and Anjali (Anju Mary Thomas) who are studying in the same school, and finally they get to the person behind all the trouble. Still, the credit of solving the case goes to the crime branch. Anthony’s former classmate and lover, Alphonsa (Mamitha Baiju) who is a nurse, also leaves him because she gets an offer from Ireland, with a grand salary package.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: When there is the chance for an internship in a cyber cell, the police officers call the two to join as the officers Prathap Chandran (Irshad) and Joy Pulimoottil (Binu Pappu) recommend them due to their previous service. The two come across different cases, most of which are the result of carelessness. There are the usual cases of cheating through Facebook, OTP etc among others which are of even more serious nature. The only media favourite case was that of Ramanathan (Vinayakan) and Janaki (Dhanya Ananya) who are trying to prove that the latter is not a part of a video. But soon, they come across a case filed by Anthony’s former lover Alphonsa who had lost more than two lakhs of rupees which she had given for a job in Ireland. The newcomers are asked to find the details of the case. But this case won’t be the only thing that they will have to worry about. This journey with the cyber cell would decide their future.

The defence of Operation Java :: There are many things that Operation Java shows without pretensions, as this is indeed a realistic work on the lines of Action Hero Biju, but without the superstar power. Almost everything here feels real, and with the usual cybercrime cases being mentioned, this stays close to what usually happens with people, and is shown in news channels. During these times when cybercrimes continue to be on the rise, the film also serves as a reminder to what all can happen, and the title Java seems to point to the computer language of the same name more than anything else. There is also the situation of the new graduates who don’t have a job shown here through the lives of the two main characters, and that can also be seen in some of the crimes being investigated here. Loss of cash from account through online means, creating fake videos and making them viral, online job scams have made part of news on many occasions.

Positives and negatives :: Operation Java might not be the movie for everyone, as there will also be people looking for the superhero mode when there is a police investigation, even though Anjaam Pathira and Forensic did make certain move against the same, minimizing action, and maximizing the focus on the procedure of finding the culprit. But you will know that this is as much enjoyable as anything else. The final case in the movie is indeed the most interesting of them all, even though there are lots of interesting things related the cyber cell happening in between. The fights which happen in between are also as realistic as it can get. When the film released, people might have been confused about what kind of a movie this was, but that problem is solved for now, and the OTT platforms deserve your presence now. The film has that kind of a cast, the type which seems to be so perfectly done, and we can expect wonders from them too.

The performers of the soul :: Balu Varghese in a serious role here instead of the usual stuff has proven to be a welcome change. He along with Lukman who was part of Unda earlier, makes a fine combination. They go through those realistic moments really well. There is also a certain amount of humour, and they go through the emotional side nicely too. The two are more or less like the usual type of people whom we see around. Shine Tom Chacko makes a nice entry in the final moments of the film, and as usual, he is great to watch – he enters realistic mode with ease. Irshad and Binu Pappu plays two likable police officers of the cyber cell, while Prasanth Alexander plays the role of the not too likable one around, as all these supporting characters leave some good moments for us to remember, with everyone being the common people and not superhuman officers who keep hunting criminals with their special skills.

Further performers of the soul :: The female characters are not given much of importance in this film, even though there is one lady police officer in the cyber cell. Even though Vinitha Koshy of Aanandam and Luca fame is here as the biggest female name on the list, she is seen for only a few minutes as a murder victim as the film nears the end. Dhanya Ananya surely has some of the most emotional moments, even when she is not speaking, but she along with Vinayakan who plays her husband doesn’t get screen time at all. Vinayakan was in most of the posters, maybe to bring more viewers into interest here. Other female cast includes Anju Mary Thomas and Rithu Manthra who don’t have screen space either. Mamitha Baiju is the only one who has something enough to do here, and she does her job quite well. P Balachandran and Johny Antony are also on the screen for very few minutes, while Mathew Thomas of Kumbalangi Nights and Thanneermathan Dinangal fame is there for that much short time period too.

How it finishes :: Operation Java is one of the movies which released directly in the theatre when the COVID-19 lockdown on theatres was lifted. It had received many positive reviews then, and is now available on ZEE 5 along with having the television premiere on ZEE Keralam. The message about the unemployed youth and awareness on cybercrimes adds to the movie’s advantages. At a time when the police investigation films continue to slide towards becoming mass entertainers, Operation Java stands apart, and can inspire some of the other industries with superstars to think beyond. As the film is now in OTT platform, one can choose to watch it from anywhere in the world, and we can expect it to come back to ZEE Keralam on multiple occasions too. Do watch the film, as these are type of movies which can keep our world realistic rather than inside escapism. There was Nayattu which released earlier, and this adds to that realistic world.

Release date: 12th February 2021 (Theatre), 15th May 2021 (ZEE 5 & ZEE Keralam)
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Tharun Moorthy
Starring: Balu Varghese, Lukman, Shine Tom Chacko, Vinayakan, Prasanth Alexander, Binu Pappu, Irshad, Vinitha Koshy, Dhanya Ananya, Dinesh Prabhakar, Mamitha Baiju, Mathew Thomas, Johny Antony, P Balachandran, Anju Mary Thomas, Sanjay K Nair, Rithu Manthra, Deepak Vijayan, Eldho Raju, Ramesh Chandran, Sreeja Ajith, Sunil Meleppuram, Shiny Zara, Anil Kumar, Dilshana Dilshad, Althaf Salim

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Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kayamkulam Kochunni

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mayaanadhi

What is the movie about? :: A young man named John Mathews a.k.a. Mathan (Tovino Thomas), hailing from Perumbavoor, is in love with a girl from Kakkanad, Aparna Ravi a.k.a. Appu (Aishwarya Lekshmi) who studied as his junior at the engineering college outside the state, both not gaining much from the professional course. Mathan gets caught in a series of events that lead to the death of a police officer while he was trying to escape. While the Tamil Nadu police is looking for him, he gets back to Cochin in an attempt to find Aparna who is trying to make it big with the help of her friend Sameera (Leona Lishoy) who is a big name in the movie industry. Aparna couldn’t make much of a progress with her life, as she has been doing different jobs following dropping out of her Engineering course. Her relationship with Mathan is strained due to the fact that he didn’t return the money which she had borrowed from her friend, and she feels that he took advantage of her trust.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As policemen from Madurai chases him to Kerala for vengeance for the death of their colleague rather than anything else, Mathan is trying to get a visa to the Middle East, and hopes that he can also take Aparna with him. Irritated by the attitude of her mother towards her, and failing in auditions, Aparna is in no mood to forgive Mathan, and seems to have no time to get back into a relationship. With revenge-seeking policemen on his trail who would be happy with nothing less than his encounter, can Mathan, with his simple ways, escape to the Middle East with the love of his life without whom he doesn’t want to run? Can Aparna make something out of her never-ending adventures related to cinema and modeling? Does fate get to play the final twisted role in this tale as it does in most of the love stories?

The defence of Mayaanadhi :: As this one brings a new love story of this age, the melodrama never finds a seat. There is a realistic approach in this movie, and we never really gets tired of the same, even when the movie seems to get slow in between. We see how much people need each other, when things get better, or when they get terrible. The protagonists are two people who have struggled with their lives, and their world is something which is not difficult to relate as we understand their circumstances. The music is really good, and there is “Uyirin Nadhiye” which will grab your attention and stay in your mind for long. There are some jokes in there too, but there is the overall sadness in this movie, which seems to reflect on the depressing human condition which remains the same, no matter how the world changes. There are also some harsh realities reflected too, with either fate being so cruel, or the society being against the individual. There is very less for one to be happy in the grim world of Mayaanadhi, and even in between the beautiful shots of the city, there is melancholy.

The claws of flaw :: Mayaanadhi might not be the best option for the family audience, considering the intensity of love that is shown in there, even though the movie uses everything in an aesthetic way rather than in a sexual manner. There is a certain slowness with this movie, and you will also feel that there is not much of a story to tell here other than what we have seen and heard on so many occasions. Maybe, two hours could have done just enough for this movie, and the gangster and police angle could have been left out to bring something just random into the scene as the factors causing problems for the protagonists. The Tamil dialogues without subtitles caused problems for the audience who had tough time figuring it out. The fact that this is the least hyped movie among all the releases of Christmas, Aadu oru Bheekara Jeeviyanu 2, Vimaanam, Aana Alaralodalaral, Masterpiece and also Tiger Zinda Hai from Bollywood, we know that this one could use some attention if it is to do any better at the theatres.

The performers of the soul :: You might have felt that Tovino Thomas hasn’t got the best of divergence out of his movies, and this one surely has that element. Tharangam, Godha, Oru Mexican Aparatha, Ezra and Guppy, which were his last movies had good performances from him, but nothing as divergent as this one. His character has no heroism associated, and he lets his pair, the leading actress who is two movies old, handle the job so well. Aishwarya Lekshmi coming right out of Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela is too good in this movie – she was certainly good in that one, but with this adventure, she makes it many levels here; she gets the bigger opportunity to perform here, and never does she fail to deliver. Her best moment might be during her final audition, but her first which has getting down to reality from the plastic side is not far behind, and you will also find her scenes with Tovino charged with fine chemistry.

Further performers of the soul :: We last saw Leona Lishoy in Annmariya Kalippilannu, and even though we have seen her in other flicks including the lead role in Jawan of Vellimala, she gets enough moments in this one to make sure that Mayaanadhi is something to remember her for. This is also my second favourite movie of Aashiq Abu, after Rani Padmini. You will note that the directors Basil Joseph and Lijo Jose Pellissery also make smaller appearances in the flick. Unnimaya Prasad who played Sara in Maheshinte Prathikaram and Maya teacher in Parava also catches our attention. Soubin Shahir and Aparna Balamurali got very small cameos in the film – it is the kind of job that could have been done by anybody. There are some faces which we are not familiar with, but you see that nobody has to be behind in this realistic tale which has good work from the whole cast. Aashiq Abu has no worries with the acting department.

How it finishes :: It has been a difficult job for those who have been looking for sensible love stories on the big screen. What most of the critics seem to have appreciated seems to be the slow motion walk into absurdity called Annayum Rasoolum and an exaggeration of reality called Ennu Ninte Moideen. Thankfully, we have Mayaanadhi here, which is the one river which shows the right kind of divergence, as it chooses to flow like a river of beautiful illusions, as its name suggests, and in the sadness and phantasm, finds a real world which we can relate. There might be many other movies which would get the attention of the youth, as well as that of the family audience – but this is one movie which shows how the movies are to be made in the right manner, without showing the tendency to follow that path which has been traveled so much that there are rather too many pot-holes on the way. Mayaanadhi is different, and enjoyable in the right way for a movie-loving group of people, looking out for better stuff all the time, as well as the variety. If you liked Thondimuthalum Drisksakshiyum, I don’t see why you can’t like this one with its realism.

Release date: 22nd December 2017
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Leona Lishoy, Basil Joseph, Lijo Jose Pellissery, Darshana, Unnimaya Prasad, Maya Rajesh, Harish Uthaman, Khalid Rahman, Nizhalgal Ravi, Shine Tom Chacko, Aparna Balamurali (cameo), Soubin Shahir (cameo)

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Parava

What is the movie about? :: Irshad a.k.a. Ichappy (Amal Shah) and Haseeb (Govind V Pai) are friends from a neighbourhood in Mattanchery, and also goes to the same class until the former fails in a subject to stay back in the class for an year. Their main time-pass together is breeding pigeons for the big pigeon race which is held every year. With different gangs with older people trying to do better in the competition every year, the two boys find it tough to keep their birds from being stolen or the cages destroyed at night by some other gang. Still, they don’t back down, and also don’t miss some chance to have fun with romancing a new beautiful girl in the school, participating in the usual sporting events, or watching one of those movies which they are not allowed to watch. But in the end, everything comes to the pigeon race, which stands tall over other sports, whether it is cricket or football.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: While the newer generation seems to have some fun out there, we have the youth, who have had a terrible flashback. The same which includes Shane (Shane Nigam), Hakeem (Arjun Ashokan), Mujeeb (Jacob Gregory), Imran (Dulquer Salman) and a few more, has had a brutal and bloody side written all over it with one incident on the beach with a group of drug addicts (Soubin Shahir, Sreenath Bhasi and others). Such an incident wasn’t known to happen in the locality for so many years. This has kept Shane silent and uninterested in almost everything which has been going around for a long time, including the fights with the rival team leader in the pigeon race (Shine Tom Chacko). The same had left Irshad as the last hope for parents, and his hope is on his pigeons. What would happen when things get intertwined?

The defence of Parava :: There is the bold choice of subject being taken here, on the lines of Guppy, which is not known for its box-office success. The visuals of the place takes over, and with some nice music, gives us the feel of the neighborhood. Yes, these locations like Mattanchery and Fort Cochin, or even Thoppumpady and Kumbalangy can give that kind of a feeling if captured on the camera well enough. There are some cute moments involving the pigeons as well as those situations in school which evoke laughter. The funny side is strong with the kids, and the emotional side runs parallel, and gets into form when needed. The strength of the cast assures that the same happens well. We see the happenings as simple, and the movie as a feel-good entertainer, knowing its strength in its cast. Even its extended cameo is placed exactly where it could do the best impact; one would have felt the need to add it in the beginning or the end, but this one appears at the right place.

The claws of flaw :: Parava does stretch itself a little too much than needed, as it should have been shorter with the realistic world which it gets to have – but the positive thing is that it holds ground, and never gets to be the long dragging thing which was Annayum Rasoolum. There is also the absence of notable female characters who are able to make any impact on the flow of the tale, other than being the reason. There is no real heroine in this one, and there is no leading actress to talk about either. Also, when there was the chance for the movie to become another Maheshinte Prathikaram or Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum with its reflection of reality, it just doesn’t take it, and floats away. Even Guppy was simpler, with simple people and their simple dreams. The movie could have also shortened the final fight scene and finished it with a final shot of them playing on the ground; this one extends both scenes.

Performers of the soul :: As it was Chethan Jayalal for the movie which was less watched in the theatres, but appreciated later, Guppy, we have Govind and Amal doing the job. Among the two, one can’t stop noticing the shades of Chethan in the former. You feel the strength of the skills from an upcoming generation right here in this movie, as the two handles not just the funny moments, but also the emotional side without holding back at any moment. Whether it is about those lighter incidents at school or those harder situations in the reality of life, they remain solid, and holds the movie together. They rise above everyone else, as they have more screen presence as well as more situations, none of which goes missing from them. You see scope to make more movies with children at the centre after this one, maybe even come up with many sequels of Philips and the Monkey Pen.

Further performers of the soul :: Among the elder cast, it is Shane Nigam who shines, taking it to the next level from Kismath and C/O Saira Banu, two fine movies which he has been part of, after the smaller role in Kammatipaadam. He has his best moments with one of sadness and final release of anger. Dulquer Salmaan who is restricted to less than half an hour, gets a strong character, but we lose him as we get to know and love him. More of Dulquer’s character would have been good, but we adjust with what we can have with a big cameo. Jacob Gregory also has less of the funny side to explore here unlike expected, and Siddique does the classic father role with ease. Soubin Shahir and Sreenath Bhasi brings the negative shades smartly, while Shine Tom Chacko is there in another noticeable role with his pigeons. Among the female characters, it is Srinda who gets the better.

How it finishes :: Parava is that kind of a movie which attracts us towards it, right from the first sequence involving the kids and the fish, and towards that final fight scene. It has to be noted that how well Soubin Shahir in his first movie as a director takes something which is lesser known in other parts, and elevates it to a higher and more popular level – there is nothing huge being added to the mixture at the same time. As a feel-good entertainer, this one makes us forget its tendency to stretch, and makes us feel as part of the place ourselves, whether we have visited the place or not. We need experimentation like this one to make sure that the wings of our industry stay stronger, as this one releases with Pokkiri Simon. After all, we expect our pigeons to improve and do better every time. Parava is that kind of a movie, which makes on feel that there is surely something to keep close to heart.

Release date: 21st September 2017
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Soubin Shahir
Starring: Shane Nigam, Govind V Pai, Amal Shah, Dulquer Salmaan, Jacob Gregory, Shine Tom Chacko, Harisree Ashokan, Jaffer Idukki, Indrans, Srinda Ashab, Soubin Shahir, Sreenath Bhasi, Zinil Zainudeen, Arjun Ashokan, Siddique, Len Prasad

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Varnyathil Aashanka

What is the movie about? :: Pratheesh (Shine Tom Chacko) is a simple guy looking to start a business in or around the city of Thrissur. But usual way of making money doesn’t come naturally to him – he is always looking for the easy path, the shortcuts to his objective. His people doesn’t have a high opinion about him, especially his uncle (Jayaraj Warrier) from whom he takes small amounts of money which he can’t pay back. He also needs money for his new business and has nobody to aid him. At the same time, he has to pay to get back the gold ornaments of his friend Thanima (Gayathri Suresh), which he had used to get money for his needs – she threatens to commit suicide after letting everyone know that he is responsible for her death. Pratheesh even tries pickpocketing, but gets beaten up before escaping. His best friend is Wilson (Chemban Vinod Jose) who also goes through a similar phase, and is looking for some money for family matters.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, Shivan (Kunchacko Boban) is a rather experienced thief in the locality. He is known to be very good at his work, and whenever he brings something home, everyone thinks that he has stolen it. Pratheesh, Wilson and Shivan meets up over alcohol, and Gilbert (Manikandan R Achari) from the nearby town also joins them. As they all have their own problems, they decide to solve them all by doing a big heist at the nearby Aishwarya Jewellery owned by Ittoop (Sunil Sukhada). It is something that could change their lives forever, and they plan to do it the simple and effective way, on a twenty four hour harthal night which will have almost nobody on the road in front of the shop. With violence having broken out after the death of a party worker, people have been staying indoor throughout the district, and they decide to use it to their advantage. If things work out right, this would be their one big heist and the last one.

And what else is to happen here? :: Dayanandhan (Suraj Venjaramoodu) is just another guy living nearby, and has been sitting idle at home after the bar where he was working had shut down according to the new liquor policy of the government. His wife Keerthana (Rachana Narayanankutty) goes to work at a nearby textile shop, and he isn’t interested in searching for a new job. They have also taken loans, and as they had married after eloping, there is nobody from their place to help them. While returning home after meeting a friend at Aluva on the same harthal day, Dayanandan comes up against the same thieves, and they decide to shut him up in one way or the other. There are also two policemen, Gireesh (Tini Tom) and Murugan (Dinesh Prabhakar) who arrives at the same location at the same time. This leaves everyone confused, on what is to happen next. Everyone has their own problems to deal with, but this one only gets more twisted.

The defence of Varnyathil Aashanka :: The movie goes through a satirical mode with its content, as it takes on what has been happening in the state during some time. There is a lot of humour happening here with simple incidents, as you would notice – the simple things in life gets packed into more and more humour, and there seems to be no difficulty in doing the same at any point. There are also those reflections and messages to take home, as uses its humour to show the people around us as they are – you see that the thieves are the same, and you doubt if this and that are the same. Never does the movie losses its pace, and you will see that it is always interesting. You also see the power of team work in this one, as this is not limited to one person overshadowing the rest – everyone gets to do their part, and contribute to the tale as well as the overall humour. You are going to be interested in being part of the simple man’s heist without complications, in one way or the other.

The claws of flaw :: Despite providing a reflection of the state of our surroundings and leaving the message, the movie’s final funny and interesting speech will feel a little too lengthy, and the final moments will also seem not matching the whole movie, as it goes without the wonder which was rather expected. There also those moments which seem to defy logic, but in the name of bringing the funny side in a neat way, you will find things to be fair – with the same, it eclipses the other two movies which released on the same day. Still, the movie has a few moments in the first half which will hold it down, but it is just by a little bit. There shouldn’t be the expectations about seeing a big heist movie with this one too, as that can ruin things. On the first day of its release, this one seemed to be rather not hyped, and made way for the rest of the releases, but we see this one getting stronger now.

Performers of the soul :: The movie begins with Shine Tom Chacko’s character, and he gets a fine role here following Tiyaan, which he has done without stumbling anywhere. Kunchacko Boban has brought his character to a fine level, and it is very unlike what he has been doing in the recent past. Suraj Venjaramoodu has another interesting role, which immediately catches our attention right from the beginning – he arrives late and he conquers. There is one final speech that he gets to make further difference nicely and effectively. Chemban Vinod Jose is at his usual best, as he has played the thief in so many other movies, having no trouble with this one. Manikandan R Achari extends the fun which is present like he did with Alamara and Basheerinte Premalekhanam, and has his own moments with the flick. Gayathri Suresh makes one nice cameo at the end, which you will remember. Rachana Narayanankutty is a fine addition too, as you would see here.

How it finishes :: Varnyathil Aashanka battles against Sarvopari Palakkaran and Chunkzz for this weeekend, while the others including Sunday Holiday, Kadam Katha and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum are also there from the previous weeks. Its comparisons are going to be to Sapthamashree Thaskaraha and Kohinoor, both having quite a big group of thieves looking forward to the big heist. In comparison, one can place this movie in between the other two movies, as it is better than Sapthamashree Thaskaraha, but not as better as Kohinoor. Certainly a lot better than the other movie of thieves like Bicycle Thieves and Urumbukal Urangaarilla, Varnyathil Aashanka has something that the rest of the flicks of the same kind never had – its ability to use some satire to reflect and make fun of the happenings in the state, and the movie can consider the same as its special quality which makes its stand apart.

Release date: 4th August 2017
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Sidharth Bharathan
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Chemban Vinod Jose, Shine Tom Chacko, Rachana Narayanankutty, Manikandan R Achari, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Jayaraj Warrier, Sunil Sukhada, Tini Tom, Dinesh Prabhakar, Gayathri Suresh (cameo), KPAC Lalitha (cameo)

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Tiyaan

What is the movie about? :: Pattabhiraman Giri (Indrajith Sukumaran) is living a happy and normal life with his wife Amba (Ananya) and his only daughter, Arya (Nakshatra Indrajith). They belong to a small group, including Malayalis who reside in a small village, somewhere in North India. He comes from a long line of Brahmins who have a huge legacy. But the respect and the admiration that he has in the village due to his good nature, closeness to God and kindness lands himself in trouble as Mahashay Bhagavan (Murali Gopy), a famous godman with millions of followers wishes to build an ashram there. While a number of people are forced to run away from the village in one way or the other, a few others like Jayanthan Nair (Suraj Venjaramoodu) decides to become the poweful godman’s latest disciple, and find a place to stay within his ashram after selling his assets to the spiritual organisation and being assured of some monthly earnings.

So, what happens next? :: Mahashay, whose original name is Remakant, was a disciple of the great spiritual guru, Vasundhara Devi (Padmapriya Janakiraman) who was found dead in her ashram, after which the man has been everything about the organisation. He is so powerful that almost every V.I.P. in the belt worships him – the Chief Minister himself visits him so often, and has declared his victory even before the election began as he has the blessings of this godman. With all these people in his pocket, the police is also helpless, focusing more on dealing with smaller cases, or those which will make the politicians happy, making the common man suffer in the absence of law and order. He has branches of his ashram in different parts of India, and has spread abroad a lot during the recent times. He has everything planned all the time, and keeps getting what he wants.

And, what is to follow next in this tale? :: Pattabhiraman is determined to keep his ancestral home at any cost, and he finds it his duty and privilege to do the same. Mahashay provides him with time until Shivaratri to come up with the right decision, which is to leave his place and go back to Kerala after accepting the compensation and the blessings from him; otherwise, there is only the curse that will await him. Almost everyone who is left in the village has accepted this new godman as their new saviour and guru, as they feel that it is the only option as well as the right choice for the future. It is during these troubled times that he comes across Aslan Mohammed (Prithviraj Sukumaran) who offers him help. One day, while looking for Aslan and not finding him, Pattabhiraman is told the tale of Aslan by another man, Jameel Askari (Shine Tom Chacko). Aslan might not be the man whom Pattabhiraman thought he was, but can he be of help?

The defence of Tiyaan :: The thought-provoking moments of Tiyaan are intense, with that intensity like never before. The dialogues are stronger than ever, and we feel all the correct emotions in each of them, whether it is anger, hate, fear or grief. There are signs of what is to come from the beginning itself, and we feel how this is going to be something different, and it is. The whole thing remains a thought-provoking saga, and we are left with hope in a world which doesn’t have much of the same with almost everyone being hypocrites. There might be complexity within, but the final message is rather too simple, with all religions leading to one God, and love being the path. There are only some people who use the name of God in vain, and use it to hate and kill others; but our culture has always been in favour of diversity, and in our world, we have always been one. It is only the corporate side and the rest who are seeking mileage political or social, spreading the hate, as it is shown in the movie – it is all for the rich and influential as the rest suffers. The visuals are really good too.

The claws of flaw :: Tiyaan is too long a movie, and this much of a length doesn’t work in favour of such a flick. It is predictable at parts, and the flashback story is not that interesting. There are those parts of the movie which could have had more focus on them than the rest, but the movie just leave some of them behind. The philosophical side just hesitates to go any deeper, and the mass takes over when things could have been rather natural and realistic. One can only wonder what more this flick could have achieved with the material that it possessed, and considering the way it began and set everything ready by the interval. The final scene about the link between the two protagonists from the past might actually be the lowest point of the movie, and it was never needed to exist. Even though this is a Malayalam movie, there is less presence of the language, and the common audience will have trouble with the same.

Performers of the soul :: The movie focuses on Indrajith in the first half and on Prithviraj in the second. While the former returning after Lakshyam has quality time on screen in those beginning stages, the latter returning after Ezra finishes off in style, and also brings something for the mass in the second half. The fact that even after the performances, considering our common nature, some fans will also have to write imposition to remember the message for daily life. There is one dialogue from Indrajith about what is spoken by God and what is added by humans for their convenience – that one stays for so long. Then there is Prithviraj talking about selfish people and the rest of the world, so much charm there. Murali Gopy’s godman act is something that will be remembered for his way of bringing that character to its full strength right from the beginning. We also see Indrajith’s daughter Nakshatra doing so well, and Ananya is there in a short role done fine. Suraj Venjaramoodu does nice when he is there, and the same can be said about Shine Tom Chacko.

How it finishes :: On one side, we get those movies made in a hurry as if they have just got the dates of superstars and there is no time – on the other side, there are movies like Tiyaan which seems to be well-thought, and made to suit the times. They could have done without those overdone action sequences and the larger than life flashback which serve as nothing less than road blocks on a long journey. It is the messages that balance the equation, and when they rise above the rest, brings the thoughts that our world needs, and our people have been waiting for. As the message that all religions are one, leading to one final destination, spreads, there is no longer the need for change of faith, for it is replaced by change of mind – there is no more conversion, but transformation of the soul. There are the good and evil in each religion, and then there is God who plays no part in the terrible acts of people who claim to be like the Almighty One, or as following his path. There was Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, and now there is this movie – divergent ways are surely back!

Release date: 7th July 2017
Running time: 168 minutes
Directed by: Jiyen Krishnakumar
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Indrajith Sukumaran, Shine Tom Chacko, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Murali Gopy, Ananya, Padmapriya Janakiraman, Ravi Singh, John Kokken, Mridula Sathe, Rahul Madhav, Ranjeet, Amit Tiwari, Nakshatra Indrajith, Manasa Radhakrishnan, Paris Laxmi, Bhavika, Anand Attukal, Adesh S Nair

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Avarude Raavukal

What is the movie about? :: Ashik (Asif Ali) is the popular stage performer in a village on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border who comes to Cochin hoping to work in a movie, after the villagers collect money from their own people to make sure that he gets a chance. Siddharth (Unni Mukundan) is an engineering graduate who is spending his time doing nothing other than to stay at home up-to that extent that his father has to throw him out of the house. Vijay (Vinay Forrt) is an angry young man who was suspended for getting into a fight with another employee in the same company he was working for. Scobo Johnson (Nedumudi Venu) is an old man who is staying alone, and looking for company. Bored and with no plans for future, he comes up with an advertisement calling for bachelors to stay at his place, free of cost – it gets to the three young men who are ready to come right away.

So, what happens next? :: Ashik finds Cochin and the movie world a lot different than what he had thought, and finds problems in even doing the simplest works. He goes to various auditions, but none of them work – he does find a new friend though, in the form of Vinod (Aju Varghese) who is also looking forward to acting in movies, one way or the other. They decide to attend the acting workshop held by Manoj Kuruvila (Mukesh), who is a famous movie director. But even that doesn’t seem to help the two who are more clueless than anything else. Siddharth who does nothing other than staring at girls, even consults Doctor Jayamurugan (Kochu Preman), but his life goes on in the same way until his brother recommends him for a job under Shivani (Honey Rose), which he gets despite performing terribly during the interview. What follows is a terrible mess at the office.

And what follows the events? :: Ashik and Siddharth are not just the ones reaching a higher level of their problems, as Vijay has a bigger issue at hand. His anger issue is more or less the result of something which happened in the past, and his girlfriend Meghna (Milana Pournami) tries to get him out of the same, but with no positive result. Scobo Johnson is the silent witness to all these, and tells them that there are two ways out of it, one the difficult path, and the other, the shortcut. Are the three good enough to get out of the mess that they are in, or is at least Johnson skilled enough to take them through their journeys? Can things finally take a positive twist of events in their lives which haven’t really had much to talk about otherwise? Will their upcoming experiences leave them as better people than who they already are? Only time will tell.

The defence of Avarude Raavukal :: Vinay Forrt successfully leads the group of young men here towards their objectives, as motivation runs right through this one with inspirational dialogues, and featuring the rise of unexpected tales of success; emotional side is strong here. The movie asks its viewers to keep trying, as the fish does; it provides this message without missing its plot, and the direction that it shows is the right one for the new generation. The presence of movies like Mili, Aby, My God and Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam has proved the same, but Avarude Raavukal is more the common person’s story than the rest. There is also the presence of some nice humour in between. There is also some beautiful music in this flick, beginning from “Ethetho Swapnamo” and through “Vaadaathe Veezhathe”, both bringing different but nice feeling. The feel-good effect stays, and despite the certain delay in the movie’s arrival and the morning shows canceled, we are glad to have this movie working and going well enough to provide enough motivation.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t go that close to perfection as the director’s earlier combined venture, Philips and the Monkey Pen, and what we expected was surely more. There are certain ups and downs in between for sure, even as everything seems to have kept at a certain level as much as possible. There are some occasions when we wonder if these things, which do look more and more possible, can ever be solved by the protagonists. The inspirational story is also not something new, and the old man is also a rather strange character, whose twist in the end is even stranger; this one could have just gone simpler and close to life towards the end. Even in the beginning, the movie had taken some time to get going. The cameo roles in the end by Shine Tom Chacko, Sunny Wayne and Sanju Sivram were rather unnecessary too, and the same can be said about a cricket match when it could have been just the engineering classes. You will find the weird and missing sides of the plot, but you can avoid them as they are not that significant.

Performers of the soul :: Asif Ali who is coming out of the late, but sure success of Adventures of Omanakkuttan has done a fine job with a character which had quite something to perform out there. Unni Mukundan comes out of the dismal movie which was Achayans, and makes good use of what was a rather easy job for him. Vinay Forrt had a little less to work with in Georgettan’s Pooram brings the best of them all – his story remains the most interesting one in the whole movie, and he is the backbone of the flick. Aju Varghese should be powered by the grand success of Godha, and does a pretty good job when he is there. Honey Rose who was last seen in My God which was an under-appreciated movie, makes a comeback after two years – not much to do, but good to see her back. Milana works through limited expressions in this one. Nedumudi Venu has some nice dialogues which prove inspirational, and forms the pillars of the movie’s progress.

How it finishes :: It has been a long time since a Malayalam movie with an interesting and long list of star cast released, and being the first movie to release for the Eid holidays, Avarude Raavukal surely has an early advantage among the others which are to follow. Shanil Mohammed, who had earlier directed Philips and the Monkey Pen with Rojin Thomas has his first solo outing here. The flick had won Kerala State Film Award for Best Children’s Movie and Kerala State Film Award for Best Child Artist for Sanoop Santhosh. This one might not create that much of an impact, and has a lot of heavyweights to follow. Getting itself to the list of feel-good movies with messages, Avarude Raavukal will leave with a positive effect more than anything else. There are not many other things that we need for this special season.

Release date: 23rd June 2017
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Shanil Muhammed
Starring: Asif Ali, Unni Mukundan, Honey Rose, Vinay Forrt, Aju Varghese, Mukesh, Milana Pournami, Nedumudi Venu, Sudhi Koppa, Lena, Ambika Mohan, Kiran Aravindakshan, Nisha Sarangh, Aishwarya chandran, Kochu Preman, Shine Tom Chacko (cameo), Sunny Wayne (cameo), Sanju Sivram (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kammattipaadam

kammattipaadam-2

Vampire Owl :: Did you hear that the kids at Kammattipaadam can stop not just the buses, but also the trains?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, I have heard about it. The same is a dialogue spoken by Dulquer Salmaan.

Vampire Owl :: We should hire a few of them then. Our zombie minions don’t even stop the tricycles.

Vampire Bat :: It is certainly not the reason for us to watch this movie.

Vampire Owl :: There is one reason for us not watching this movie. It is that the director’s first movie Annayum Rasoolum had me sleeping for so long.

Vampire Bat :: I remember having many cups of tea in between, and when I returned to the theatre, nothing had happened.

Vampire Owl :: But the zombie minions had liked it; it is as slow as them, and so it is the one movie which they could finally watch.

Vampire Bat :: I did like Njan Steve Lopez better. It was the story of common man, closer to life than ever.

Vampire Owl :: And this is the movie the best appreciated by critics and the audience.

Vampire Bat :: Lets go for it then.

[Gets three cups of tea with tapioca chips].

What is the movie about? :: Krishnan (Dulquer Salmaan), who works as part of a security agency in Mumbai, receives a call from Ganga (Vinayakan) who was his childhood friend and partner in crime. Even though the old friend doesn’t say anything clearly, Krishnan understands that Ganga needs his help because someone is after his blood, and it is only a matter of time until he has to see the corpse of his friend. Krishnan decides that despite the problems that they had in between, he needs to help the one true friend that he had, and travels to Cochin to find Ganga. But things have changed since he was last there in the city, and it is no more that developing town, but a thriving city which is having metro rail under development, and building that go straight up.

So how did it reach here? :: The flashback is long and told in parts while Krishnan goes on with his search for Ganga in a city which has become more than he had imagined it long ago. The memories has Krishnan and Ganga as best friends during childhood. As Ganga is a lower caste boy, Krishnan’s parents are against this friendship which also leads to them being involved in illegal activities during early youth. As Ganga’s elder brother Balan (Manikandan R Achari) is a well known thug and earns money by making and smuggling spirit, they have their own trainer in deeds of crime. They are all working for Surendran a.k.a. Ashaan (Anil Nedumangad). It is with the return of Krishnan from prison, after serving the sentence for the attempted murder of a policeman, that things get tougher.

Where are things heading for? :: Krishnan is in love with Anitha (Shaun Romy), Ganga’s relative whom Ganga himself wishes to marry. This creates certain tension, which gets worse with the death of Balan a few months after his marriage with Rosamma (Amalda Liz). Johnny (Shine Tom Chacko) is also their rival in the illegal activies, and fire keeps burning in them as he is suspect of murdering Balan. During these many years at the city of Cochin because it became what is seen now, there are many stories that go forgotten, and Krishnan looks forward to finding some of them which happened during these days of his absence. He managed to relocate to Mumbai to get away from all his troubles while Ganga had married Anitha. He will find some uncomfortable truths in between, and some news which will give him relief, but the question remains if he can find his best friend Ganga alive in between all this chaos?

The defence of Kammattipaadam :: The best strength of this movie are its characters that stay with us for a long time. It is also not a movie of one person, but of many, as the screen space is nicely shared between the main characters. We have Dulquer Salmaan who come up with a wonderful performance as the protagonist rising from the terrible movie which was Kali while Vinayakan and Manikandan R Achari steals the show with their brilliant work. Shine Tom Chacko comes up with one of his best performances, and Shaun Romy is very good in her role of lesser significance, and same is the case of Amalda Liz – the cast is all perfectly done. The visuals are also very nice, and you will love the way things are presented, as the common man and the subaltern struggle in this battle against a rising higher class that uses these people to their advantage, as it is the story everywhere.

Claws of flaw :: The movie’s disadvantage is its length, which goes as much as very close to three hours. There remains very less people who have the patience to watch a three hour long movie these days. Yes, it does move slowly towards its destination. The ‘A’ certificate is another thing, and it is disappointing because this one doesn’t deserve the same in its current status after the cuts – one would misinterpret the same, but Kammattipaadam is rather clean in that matter. This one also won’t appeal for everyone, and it also could have done without making its story-teller a hero in the end – if he also had met the end or felt more of the terrible situation which he had a part in creating, things would have finished perfectly, but it is not the case.

How it finishes :: This flick happens to be another one which tells the stories of the subaltern, who are there under a thriving city. The special case of this movie though, is that it remains realistic right from the beginning to the end. It reflects on the life that is difficult and right in between a world full of thorns. It is the same reason why the movie is so touching – the movie tells the tale of a struggle that the subaltern had to suffer; it is a story that the common man can relate with. It is due to corporate, the rich and the influential that the common man suffers, and it is them with the politicians that misguides the poor – Kammattipaadam is a tale that comes up with the same story, but in a realistic way, and here we understands that it is the same story everywhere, and there is no escape from the sad brutality of it. This movie makes sure that we know the truth. Unlike some other movies of these times, Kammattipaadam is not here to pretend or to hide, for it unleashes reality.

Release date: 20th May 2016
Running time: 177 minutes
Directed by: Rajeev Ravi
Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Vinayakan, Manikandan R Achari, Vinay Forrt, Shine Tom Chacko, Anil Nedumangad, Amalda Liz, Shaun Romy, P. Balachandran, Suraj Venjarammood, Alencier Ley Lopez, Anjali Aneesh, Muthumani, Sreekanth Chandran, Shane Nigam, Ganapathy, Soubin Shahir

kammattipaadam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Annmariya Kalippilaanu

annmariya-kalippilaanu-2

Vampire Owl :: The title itself says that the kid is dangerous. Is it actually safe to watch this particular flick?

Vampire Bat :: What? Now, you are afraid of kids?

Vampire Owl :: Yes, one kid called me bad owl and threw a stone at me when I was doing my owlish meditation.

Vampire Bat :: Owls don’t meditate. This makes no sense.

Vampire Owl :: What are you talking about? Even Kungfu Panda meditates. Why not me?

Vampire Bat :: He does Kungfu. The only thing that you do throughout the day is sleep and worry about the possible devastation of the New Vampire World.

Vampire Owl :: I meditate in my dreams. Sometimes, I even meditate inside the dream within my dream’s dream.

Vampire Bat :: You are my nightmare!

Vampire Owl :: I occasionally dream within nightmares to make them better too.

Vampire Bat :: I am going to declare you the Nightmare Owl, the one true creature of the dark nightmares.

[Gets three cups of tea with banana chips].

What is the movie about? :: Annmariya (Sara Arjun) is the daughter of a doctor couple, Roy (Saiju Kurup) and Teresa (Leona Lishoy). The latter is working with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement at the war-torn nation of Syria, with the former left to take care of their daughter all by herself while working at a private hospital called Nyle. He rarely has time to call, and even when he does, there is not enough time that he spends talking to his wife and child. Annmariya’s dream to get a medal in the fourth standard for long jump just like her father did, and is striving for the same. But she fails to do that as her P.T. teacher David (John Kaippallil) disqualifies her after calling her jump a foul in return for complaining to the principal about him harassing their English teacher, Megha (Anjali Aneesh Upasana).

So what happens next with Annmariya unleashing the fury? :: A disappointed Annmariya wishes for vengeance against the teacher, and for the same, he asks Avinash (Master Vishal Krishna) to help her, and as he has a crush on her, he readily agrees and consults Sarath (Althaf Manaf) who promises to find them a thug to beat up the bad teacher. For the same, they find Gireesh (Sunny Wayne), an idle young man looking for ways to make easy money and his best friend Ambrose (Aju Varghese), an auto-driver who doesn’t go for work. Annmariya gives him the i-phone gifted by her father to beat David, and after some intervention by her uncle Inspector James (Vijayakumar) and another thug Suku (Shine Tom Chako), he agrees to beat up her teacher, but things don’t go as easily as planned.

The defence of Annmariya Kalippilaanu :: It is great to see how another world of a child has been brought to the screen with all the innocence – following the path of the movies like Philips and the Monkeypen. There is sweetness in the way that each incident is shown in this movie, and there is also the presence of that cute funny side which comes in between. Whether it is the good millionaire named Baby who travels with the sign “Baby on board” or the loving servant at home who tries hard to speak good Malayalam, the exaggerated tales about the thug or the combinations of different actors, all come together to make this one a sweet, enjoyable ride to be taken with the family. You will have enough messages to take home too, about family, love for each other, and the bond of friendship, along with the strength that strong belief of other as well as yourself brings to you.

Claws of flaw :: Due to its simplicity, there is not much of the flaws being visible here. Everything in this movie is presented in such a cute way that we don’t feel much of the problems that threaten to come up here and there. There is a certain amount of time that the movie takes to get going in the beginning; also with the first few moments of introduction of Sunny Wayne’s character. The main idea of the movie could have been presented in an even better way – the whole thing could have been even funnier. There is also no attempt to bring anything special. Most of the time, we know what is to happen next, and we are just glad to have them coming here. There is also uncertainty regarding the angel, whether it is a real person or magic realism added. Not all characters are used to their full potential here though. The animation in between was rather strange.

Performers of the soul :: Sara Arjun is one amazing child lead, there is cent percent certainty about it, and it is so clear from this movie. We had seen her in Deiva Thirumagal with Vikram as well as Jazbaa with Aiswarya Rai – we can be confident about seeing more of her work, and that will be great for Malayalam movie industry. Sunny Wayne has a fine run throughout the movie in this role, and this character has him doing the job comfortably. Aju Varghese provides a nice support, and he is good teaming up with Sunny Wayne. Siddique provides some nice support here, and his character is both funny and interesting. Leona Lishoy does some fine work as the mother, and Saiju Kurup is good when he is there. John Kaippallil stays strong as the antagonist too. Shine Tom Chacko has another good role here, which also seems to suit him. Even those in smaller roles do interesting work!

How it finishes :: This movie comes from Midhun Manuel Thomas who had recently directed Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeeviyanu, a movie which was so underrated during its release, and so overrated when it released on DVD. After that movie which is more or less average in totality, Annmariya Kalippilaanu is a big step ahead for him, and it leaves us wishing for more of similar movies from him; we see the silliness in the previous movie being replaced by happiness and messages in this movie – it is the kind of stuff that we people need, and the same is delivered by this movie. There will always be something about the movies like this, as we will keep feeling the need for some inspiration, and also get those special messages that are to be kept in heart.

Release date: 5th August 2016
Running time: 127 minutes
Directed by: Midhun Manuel Thomas
Starring: Baby Sara, Sunny Wayne, Aju Varghese, Shine Tom Chacko, Leona Lishoy, John Kaippallil, Siddique, Saiju Kurup, Vijayakumar, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sethulakshmi, Althaf Manaf, Master Vishal Krishna, Bijukuttan, Anjali Aneesh Upasana, Dulquer Salmaan (Cameo)

annmariya-kalippilanu

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Style

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Vampire Owl :: It is strange that we haven’t yet watched the first big movie of the year yet.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, and it was also going to be one of the last movies of last year until the release was postponed.

Vampire Owl :: Then we are going to watch a movie which has a two year presence.

Vampire Bat :: Well, if you wish to explain the delay of a movie in that manner.

Vampire Owl :: Haven’t we finished the rest of the big movies? I don’t think that we have the opportunity not to watch this one.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, we also need to begin this year’s movie watching experience without delay.

Vampire Owl :: Exactly; only a fine beginning can ensure that we will end up watching one hundred movies in the theatres by the end of the year.

Vampire Bat :: We have to get there. It is a century which I could have achieved easily if the first six months had more movies watched in the theatres.

Vampire Owl :: So, lets begin the journey within the first week of the year itself.

Vampire Bat :: So be it. We shall begin our battles at this theatre.

[Gets the tickets with some cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Tom (Unni Mukundan) is leading a happy life with his little brother Jerry (Master Ilhan) and parents in the city, as he also works with modifying cars while the family also owns a restaurant. His best friend in Kapra (Balu Varghese) working as a car mechanic who doesn’t know how to repair anything. It is during one of these days that Diya (Priya Kandwal) comes into his life with the beginning of the rainy season. They gets closer and as expected, falls in love, with Tom already infatuated with her. As Diya keeps driving her father’s specially modified car through the busy city, she drives her way into Edgar (Tovino Thomas) who is a rich gangster controlling the most powerful criminal empire in the city. Edgar doesn’t like anyone touching his car, as it is to him like the dog is to John Wick, but Diya’s driving doesn’t help.

The defence of Style :: As the name suggests, the movie does look good, and it is stylish; you will know that it is special with the looks right from the beginning itself. The visuals are splendid and there are some good stunts performed in here. There is the attempt to use this visual advantage all the time, and as the big action entertainers have gone so less in number, this one also tries to make something out of that side. The action sequences were mostly very good, but the best one is surprisingly the one from the villain which comes first; that one has the least slow motion sequences and special acts as it is done straight in a believable way; it also kept the style factor very high. There are some pretty good jokes in the middle and the extended sequence after the movie that comes with the credits become a welcome addition. There are some thrills too, even though it is the first half romance and comedy which entertains next after the villain who makes smaller appearances than expected.

Claws of flaw :: There is not much of a story around here, and things go on as predicted. As the makers had already mentioned in the posters, this is indeed the first cliche story of the year, and there is no attempt to add anything different to that anywhere in the story. The later stunts in the movie got a little too much of the flying bodies, and more heroism; the final stunt deviates into the extra masala territory with more villains beaten up – even as this is supposed to have cliches, may be there were elements which could have made this one more believable, but they are left untouched in the end. I am pretty sure that the Malayali audience would have wanted a more believable cliche story as we consider the time from around interval are concerned. The stage was set by the end of first half, and then the movie slowly goes to that too much predictable finish which is not that much for this generation – we are surely beyond that kind of heroism. There could have been more funny moments too along with better songs.

Performers of the soul :: It is the villain who steals the show in this movie, and even though he appears only in a few sequences, it is Tovino Thomas who gets all the appreciation from the audience after the critically acclaimed Ennu Ninte Moideen fame. But as everyone would have wanted, he needed to be there for more time, but we see that he will only be there when the need is there. The makers haven’t used the powerful image that this villain had in the beginning of this movie, to the maximum advantage. The psychotic side of the villain is not used to benefit the movie either, and there goes the bonus which could have lifted this movie to the next level. I would say that when you have a villain with such big screen presence, you shouldn’t restrict him – he should be allowed to thrive like the evil existence that he is supposed to be. But it is not really the case here.

Further performers of the soul :: Unni Mukundan does his role in a simple way, without adding anything grand. Action will surely work nicely for him, as proven. The movie should be a fine setting for him to reclaim the action hero image which he had displayed so well in Mallu Singh. Priya Kandwal manages to be a lot pretty in this debut movie, and even as she doesn’t have much to perform here except for being the fairest one around, she does her job without trouble. I am sure that Malayalam movies will see more of this debutante heroine. Balu Varghese is the one who handles most of the funny side, and he keeps his usual style here, and it works despite not that much humour being worked on here. Vijayaraghavan also has some humour elements to work with here. Also look out for the kid who has his own nice moments. Noby plays another character bringing some humour, but disappears soon. Shine Tom Chacko has just one scene which is not really relevant.

How it finishes :: Coming from the makers of the surprise hit Ithihasa, maybe the audience would have expected a lot more. The challenges are from the most awaited movie of 2015 which was Charlie, the funniest movie of 2015 which was Adi Kapyare Kootamani and the proven crowd-puller which was Two Countries. With Jo and the Boy also around at that time, the shifting of this movie to one week later was pretty much the good idea. With most people already watched the rest of the movie in the theatres, Style surely has a better chance – it is also the kind of movie which Malayalam movie industry has kept away from for quite some time; the entertainer filled with cliches. There will be the kind of audience who will be looking for this kind – there is one hero, one heroine and a villain who doesn’t like them both; you know what to expect.

Release date: 2nd January 2016
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: Binu S
Starring: Unni Mukundan, Tovino Thomas, Balu Varghese, Priya Kandwal, Vijayaraghavan, Master Ilhan, Noby Markose, Dominic, Baiju, Shine Tom Chacko

style

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.