The Priest

What is the movie about? :: Fr Carmen Benedict (Mammootty) is a priest who is known to have helped the police in multiple cases. Diya Alex Alatt (Saniya Iyappan) approaches him with a certain amount of concern regarding a series of deaths which had occured earlier in the rich and influential family, and were dismissed as suicides. Diya feels that the present controller of the assets of the family, Elizabeth Alatt (Meera Nair) might know something about it. He calls DYSP Shekhar (Sivadas Kannur), who begins to share some of his doubts. When a little girl named Ameya Gabriel (Baby Monica) is also found in the house, and the connected incidents related to her lead to the discovery of more clues related to the murder, Fr Carmen also understands that there is more to her than what meets the eye. Ameya is an orphan, and nobody has any idea what she is upto, because she often goes missing from her orphanage, and comes back by herself. Her actions are also nothing less than what others consider to be strange.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jessy Cherian (Nikhila Vimal), a new teacher takes charge in the school where Ameya is studying. Even though Ameya has been hostile to each and every person in the school including teachers and students, she immediately becomes friendly to Jessy who is also happy about the same. As the school is closed for summer vacation, Ameya begs for her to be taken with Jessy. With the permission of the orphanage authorities, she manages to take the child to her home in the highlands, which had been abandoned for a long time. But it turns out that this child is not really the kid which she had expected. When anyone else comes in between Jessy and Ameya, the latter reacts violently, especially when Jessy’s fiance Siddharth (Venkitesh VP) comes to meet her, and proposes her. Soon, things take a further violent turn, and Fr Carmen makes his way to the place, as he understands the seriousness of the situation. But this might not be the kind of spirit which Carmen thought it is. He takes the help of Dr Mathews (TG Ravi), but he understands the need to learn about the spirit.

The defence of The Priest :: The movie scores heavily with its visuals, as we do have a perfect setting for horror, and along with the environment, there are the usual scares effectively used with the help of sound effects. The music is also very interesting. The scares are added here and there, and at times they work depending on the audience. There are some twists to be added here, but we do expect a few among with ease, seemingly because of trying to stick to the Hollywood style. The performance are also of a higher level, even though we do feel that the first investigation was even more interesting than what came later. It does have the most interesting part in the beginning, like Mammootty’s Abrahaminte Santhathikal had that crime at the start, and even with the presence of clowns, doesn’t make them nonsensical like it was done in the strange Mammootty movie The Great Father. Instead, most of the time, The Priest plays to its strength, and makes sure that there is no risk taken, even though it was there to be taken.

The claws of flaw :: The Priest has many elements which we would feel borrowed, and the reminder of Hollywood movies is sure to come back here. The climax doesn’t deliver the needed punch either, as it goes through the safe way, and adds one scene after the finish, seemingly as a justification. Looking at films like The Conjuring, The Nun, Insidious, Sinister and Annabelle, we have had an overdose of horror movies with spirits, and as there was enough for reference, this could have certainly done better – we all remember what Ezra did with the Jewish demon. Well, when the demon really doesn’t want to be terrifying, and with the first motive being close to a Mathematics teachers, the scary side weakens – when the motive and actions of the supernatural doesn’t scare us enough, the genre itself struggles. After all, a spirit should do what it always does the best, and it should go further when listing itself as a horror film at all places. There can be more to an act of exorcism and the process of haunting. We also see something missing with the sequence of events, but can’t talk about that without revealing the suspense and twists.

The performers of the soul :: The movie was marketed as the first movie in which Mammootty and Manju Warrier acted together – the last word does have some complications though, because the latter’s character was dead some time ago, and so the characters won’t be living together in the film, and we would have to wait to see them in the leading roles. Manju Warrier’s role is also quite short here, and it can be considered only as long as the work of Saniya Iyappan who also has some work to do related to the first adventure of the protagonist. Mammootty’s avatar here is a lot better than what we have seen in most of his action and thriller films, and this is a character that he does with ease. We can now remember him like Father Brown, the Roman Catholic priest and detective who was the main character in the fifty three short stories written by British novelist GK Chesterton in the years after Victorian era. There we were not into horror though.

Further performers of the soul :: Even though often known as the first Mammootty-Manju Warrier movie, the latter gets only limited presence, and in the first half we don’t even have a clue that she exists. But when she is there, she works through this very well. Nikhila Vimal is once again seen as a talented actress, extending her good work from Njan Prakashan and Aravindante Athithikal. Saniya Iyappan has the early shorter presence, and as we had seen her effectiveness in horror with Krishnankutty Pani Thudangi where she was the only saving grace, we were expected more of her presence there. Ramesh Pisharody and Jagadish are also given some early moments in here. Venkitesh VP whom we have known from the television show Nayika Nayakan also has done some good work. Baby Monica also contributes nicely once the horror side begins. She excels in displaying that scary side which is brought to light in the second half of the movie.

How it finishes :: The Priest was among the much awaited movies with Mammootty in the lead, and it has come late due to COVID-19 pandemic – according to the reports, it has still managed to be a profit-making venture, even with the theatre occupancy being controlled. The Priest is the one Malayalam movie which brought the viewers to the theatres and made sure that the business was running smoothly. As it has released on the OTT platform of Amazon Prime, one can now watch the film without those fears which we had earlier. The Priest is not only on a path towards being a stylish horror movie, as it is also an innovation in having a release on an OTT platform a month after its theatre release – it is a path which many more movies can follow, as there are other films which need to be released, and we are still facing the worst case of that one grand pandemic. With the clouds bringing darkness early in the afternoon, The Priest makes an interesting thriller for the time, even though it could have been bigger and smarter.

I also wish everyone a Very Happy Vishu! Stay safe and enjoy the day 🙂

Release date: 11th March 2021 (Theatre), 14th April 2021 (Amazon Prime)
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Jofin T Chacko
Starring: Mammootty, Manju Warrier, Nikhila Vimal, Baby Monica, Venkitesh VP, Saniya Iyappan, Sivadas Kannur, Jagadish, Lishoy, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Ramesh Pisharody, Kochu Preman, Ameya Mathew, TG Ravi, Dinesh Panicker, Kalabhavan Haneef, Naseer Sankranthi, Sminu Sijo, Jeeva Joseph, Shiny T Rajan, VK Prakash, Meera Nair, Thomas Kuriakose, Jayadevan, Manoj Chennai, Sohan Seenulal, Madhupal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Brother’s Day

What is the movie about? :: Ronnie (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is your average handsome guy next door, leading a catering service, taxi, hotel and restaurant run at Fort Cochin by Joy (Kottayam Nazir). His sister Ruby (Prayaga Martin) has been paralysed from waist down, and is undergoing treatment at an ayurvedic centre. He is helped by Munna (Dharmajan Bolgatty), a chronic bachelor spending his leisure time looking for a suitable match so that he can get married at least this year. During a wedding reception, he meets Jema (Madonna Sebastian), the daughter of George (Spadikam George) who is getting married at an old age after his wife left him. Even though their initial introduction is rather messed up, they become good friends later. Ronnie and Jema have their own saddening stories to tell, but both find happiness visiting the old age homes and spending a few moments together.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: He is also comes across Chandy (Vijayaraghavan), a businessman whom he meets by accident and lands in the police station as well as the hospital. He become good friends with Ronnie, Jema, Munna and Joy after a series of incidents. Ronnie is also introduced to Santa (Aishwarya Lekshmi), Chandy’s beautiful daughter who seems to be a cheerful and energetic young lady from outside, but seems to be holding a secret or two. They also come across Thaneesha (Miya George), a woman whose wedding ceremony was cancelled, and is searching for the reason behind her father’s suicide. Then there is Shiva (Prasanna), a mastermind behind many events involving the rich families and politicians of the city. The question remains about how these people are linked, but their paths are going to cross at some point.

The defence of Brother’s Day :: The movie which begins in a happy, funny mood, gets to the darker mood in the second half, even though there are traces of the same already seen in the beginning, right after the opening credits, and also in parts during its early run. The early comedy is nice, and unlike some of the other movies which pretend to be entertainers using cheap and vulgar jokes, there is none of such kind here. Then we have the twists happening, the suspense, and we also see how the characters and events come together nicely. The songs are good, and the background music is catchy. There are some fine visuals to go with the same too. Unlike the other movies which deal with the similar themes, there is no over-use of style here, and it also maintains a direct approach rather than trying to keep projecting the protagonist as the great hero all the time. The importance given to the antagonist is nice, and the use of red herring and foreshadowing are worth mentioning.

The claws of flaw :: It can be seen that some of the characters do disappear in the second half, and at least some them deserved to have a better role in the latter stages. There could have been some investigation going on here too, with the missing parts being found out rather than revealed. The second half of the movie goes in an entirely different path in comparison with the first half – even though movies like Drishyam also did the same, the core had remained the same in that case. The movie could have also been better if the small details were taken care of, and if there was not that much of predictability in the final stages. The movie also reminds one of the flicks like Mikhael and The Great Father with the dark mood and the kind of problems as well as the antagonists that the main characters have to deal with – but this one has the same one step better, and has a comic side which those movies completely lacked. There is also some violence to make some people uncomfortable.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj goes through the movie smoothly with his character – there is a certain special quality in his movies, as 9, Ranam and Koode had something more than what a usual Malayalam movie would have; not just with the settings, but with the feelings that it reflected on the audience. This one is no exception. Dharmajan handles the comedy with ease here. Vijayaraghavan’s character is a mixture of many things, and we see him doing what he has been doing the best once again. Vijayakumar plays another police officer role in his usual style. Kottayam Nazir and Shivaji Guruvayoor have lesser roles to play here. At the same time, Prasanna makes a fine, menacing villain, psychotic in nature and with no remorse even when he sees possible death in front of him. The presence of such a strong, and mysterious antagonist leaves the movie with further effects.

Further performers of the soul :: Madonna Sebastian was so close to becoming the main heroine of the movie, but then comes Aishwarya Lekshmi to take away the honours. This is still Madonna’s best after that fine introduction in Premam. Aishwarya has a similar character as she did in Varathan, as she is stalked by a different figure this time, something which she can’t ask to go away. In the second half, Madonna passes the heroine tag to Aishwarya, and towards the end, the latter handles it very well. Prayaga Martin and Miya George are just sidelined as their characters are rather minor. Both don’t have any sequences together even though each get about fifteen minutes each in different parts of the movie. Even with four heroine-like figures present in the movie, there is no real romantic angle for the protagonist, which is a good thing considering how the overall mood of the movie changes at the interval, and through the second half.

How it finishes :: As Brother’s Day finishes as a fine entertainer touching all aspects, it can be said that Kalabhavan Shajon books his seat as a director for many more to come – an interesting debut can be seen here, and he also makes a cameo appearance as the police officer in the end. Even though there can be opinions that it could have been a better thriller, this one is strong enough as it is, and maintains the comic side so clean and elevated that, it brings the lower level but self-proclaimed big entertainers like Amar Akbar Anthony and Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan to shame with those little moments of fun. Brother’s Day has a full entertainer packed in there, and even though the family audience won’t be that happy with the violence, the rest can easily go through the same and celebrate Onam. As long as you are expect the Malayalam movie industry to have its necessary turns, you will like this one enough. Happy Onam and continue enjoying the vacations! 🙂

Release date: 6th September 2019
Running time: 164 minutes
Directed by: Kalabhavan Shajohn
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Madonna Sebastian, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Prayaga Martin, Miya George, Prasanna, Aima Rosmy Sebastian, Vijayakumar, Vijayaraghavan, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Maala Parvathi, Kottayam Nazir, Spadikam George, Ponnamma Babu, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Kochu Preman, Anil Murali, Jayasankar Karimuttam, Vinod Kedamangalam, Kalabhavan Shajohn (cameo)

Also check the reviews of other Onam releases, Ittymaani and Love Action Drama.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Evidey

What is the movie about? :: Symphony Zachariah (Manoj K Jayan) is a busy, but not so rich musician who keeps traveling all the time, not caring much for his wife and children. Jessy Zachariah (Asha Sharath) is left to care for the family which consists of her father-in-law, Kuttichan (Prem Prakash) and two children. When one day, Zachariah goes missing, Jessy is determined to find out what happened to him. Police Inspector Simon Tharakan (Baiju Santhosh) is the one in charge of the case, and it seems that the case is solved when a letter from Zachariah reaches them. But there is something strange about the letter – Jessy doesn’t believe that it was written by Zachariah. A man named Kabir (Kunchan) who comes to see them makes things even more complicated. Jessy even begins to doubt that Zachariah has another wife and kids.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Their son Leen (Shebin Benson), a college student is in love with Shahana (Anaswara Rajan), a girl whose life he saved when she was drowning, an incident which fetched him a bravery award. But it seems that he is no longer the person that he used to be. Studying at a college far away from home, he seems to be having more opportunities to go divergent from the studies rather than be the student who used to be the face of the college earlier. He doesn’t come home much, and has been a difficult person to find even for his family. This, along with the missing husband is breaking the family apart, but Jessy is determined to find Zachariah. For that, she would have to take more than one journey, through Mangalore and Goa, as he was supposed to perform at one of the events there.

The defence of Evidey :: The movie belongs to the genre of a family thriller rather than anything else, and the approach also seems to suggest a journey through such a path. The short length makes sure that there is no dull moment in the movie, and there is no drag, even when it seems to be trying to be preachy. The issues that are shown in the movie are genuine, with messages against drug abuse, and the parents’ failure to guide children along with the inability to become good role models. This is the time when students need to be told about the terrible effects of drugs and alcohol more, and with parents having no time to take care of their children, along with everything negative influencing them better, the movie has becoming very relevant. There has been too much of such things in the news, and this is a movie which can be shown in schools and colleges.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s songs are all very much interesting, and such a thing does no good to a family thriller – a good family song or even a song on friendship and love if done well enough can lift a movie of the genre and provide it with a boost, covering its faults up to an extent. Evidey doesn’t have that, and it also doesn’t seem to try too hard with its thriller side which was to serve as its stronger point. The investigative side could have also been done in a more interesting way, and a better backstory was needed with the family members – it would have worked well with a good song, and that much time could have been enough to have the characters settled, especially the two pairs. Even the sequences at Goa could have taken a boost, with some more wandering around the major areas of the state which is not short of providing some good visuals at any point.

The performers of the soul :: The movie remains mostly centered on Asha Sharath, who once again plays the mother of a son gone the wrong way, like in Drishyam. It is once again the duty to save him, but the task remains difficult as it is too late – the tormented mother continues to be on the spotlight. Prem Prakash, at the same time, brings some very emotional and controlled moments to remember, as he has done before on many occasions. Manoj K Jayan is not there for much time, as he is the missing character who can only be there with some small flashbacks. One would feel the need for more of such flashbacks to get a better idea of the character. Baiju plays the police officer who is working on the case, and he makes one believable cop. Kunchan has shorter presence too, and Shivaji Guruvayoor as well as Sunil Sukhada got even lesser time on the big screen.

Further performers of the soul :: Suraj Venjaramoodu makes his appearance in the later stages of the movie, and has some of the best dialogues in the whole film. He becomes an integral part of the movie in the second half, and continues to assert his presence until the end. Even though some part of it seems forced, the character sticks on well. Shebin Benson shows some skills in this role, and the emotional sequences are handled very well. We see how the changes occur with the character, and how the same has been portrayed in a believable manner. Anaswara Rajan of Udaharanam Sujatha fame does a wonderful job here, as her character is a well-written and well-performed one without pretensions. From the early happy mood to those emotional sequences, she shows a controlled, realistic version, and tranquility when needed is a skill that we rarely see on the younger stars these days.

How it finishes :: Evidey easily takes its message against drug abuse to the next level, even though it does take some time to be there. With clubs like SADA (Students Against Drug Abuse) being formed in colleges to provide awareness regarding the same, we are slowly, but steadily realizing the fact that the drug menace can’t be left unchecked. Evidey will surely help to bring the awareness, as did Kerala Excise Department with the Vimukthi Short Film Competition and its winning entry “Midhya” by Mar Baselios Institute of Technology and Science, Kothamangalam. After so many short-films tried to make the point in that certain competition, and a number of them winning runner-up and consolation prizes, we now have a full-length movie which doesn’t glorify the evil at any point, and scores with an emotional climax and message against it.

Release date: 4th July 2019
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: KK Rajeev
Starring: Shebin Benson, Asha Sharath, Anaswara Rajan, Prem Prakash, Manoj K Jayan, Baiju Santhosh, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Kunchan, Sunil Sukhada

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Lucifer

What is the movie about? :: Kerala is ruled by IUF, and its leader and Chief Minister PK Ramdas (Sachin Khedekar) is a respected figure with a great fan following, not just among the people of his party, but also outside. It is his death which changes things in Kerala’s politics, all of a sudden. Mahesh Varma (Saikumar) who is next in charge finds this to be a golden opportunity to become the leader of the party as well as the Chief Minister of the state. Ramdas’ eldest daughter Priyadarshini (Manju Warrier) along with her daughter Jhanvi (Saniya Iyappan) is the first to come to the scene. Her second and current husband Bimal Nair a.k.a. Bobby (Vivek Oberoi) keeps close watch of the situation at the same time. Even though Priyadarshini and Jhanvi are not after political power, Bobby looks forward to it so that he can use it to spread his narcotics business to Kerala and earn a great amount of money.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, the only son of Ramdas, Jathin (Tovino Thomas) is living abroad. Bobby figures out that he is the one big chance that they have here, and by making him the new leader, could go through the drug business without anyone coming to know. He already has the support of Mahesh Varma and Priyadarshini regarding the same. He uses Jhanvi as a means to go through the family smoother. Govardhan (Indrajith Sukumaran) is one of those people who knows all these, as he had been searching for truth for a very long time – but he finds himself locked inside a mental asylum, thanks to Bobby. But before he is locked up, he finds the one other person who might be part of this power struggle – Stephen Nedumpally (Mohanlal), an orphan who was raised by Ramdas, a people’s favourite leader from the highrange constituency of Central Kerala.

And what else is to follow? :: Stephen Nedumpally is the kind of person none of the power seekers here want to have in the game, and the family also wants no part of him out there. The politicians on both sides, Mahesh Varma on one side and Medayil Rajan (Shivaji Guruvayoor) on the other wants him gone. Bobby is also hoping to make no mistakes, as he is playing a dangerous game involving Abdul (Suresh Chandra Menon) and Fyodor (Frank Free) who are masters of the game in Mumbai. He would have Stephen’s opposition out of the way as the party would be sponsored by the drug mafia. The people in the middle part of all these including Aloshy Joseph (Kalabhavan Shajohn) and Murugan (Baiju Santhosh) will have interesting roles to play as Kerala prepares for the big change. But the question remains about who would gain and loss the most in the battle between evil and evil.

The defence of Lucifer :: Unlike what was expected, Lucifer doesn’t jump into the shoes of a mass movie all of a sudden, and that is the clear advantage that this one has over Pulimurugan. Clearly a better movie having content of quality and rich in ideas, this one rises over the expected mass masala, and becomes more, but at the same time, it never hesitates to provide what the fans want. There is working on two levels, something which Odiyan could have focused on, to become a favourite. There are elements from politics nicely used too, and we get to go through a certain dirty side that attempts to take over politics every time, and may be even succeeds up to an extent. The action scenes are nicely done, and except for a very few, keeps itself in control to make us believe. The control that is maintained in the final scene with the song nicely contributing to it, is also worth mentioning. There is a higher level of making here, and the thrills are of great strength.

The claws of flaw :: The slow motion sequences, even though less in number, could have been avoided. There could have been more of Tovino Thomas on the screen too. Vivek Oberoi’s character could have been bigger terror, something that could pose a challenge that goes a long way ahead. The presence of predictable elements in between, should have been avoided. The references and allusions made in the movie also seems nice, but could have been better connected. There are quotes shown in the end including the one from Lucifer as the tragic figure of John Milton’s Paradise Lost who famously declares “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven”; we also have “Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here” from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest being shown on the screen in the end – is there something left for a sequel? One is left to wonder. The use of media could also been better shown. The movie is also too long.

The performers of the soul :: It is late to review a movie which has reached the 100 crore collection mark already, Pulimurugan, Drishyam, Oppam and this one leading the glory with the rest – almost everyone knows what Mohanlal has brought to this movie as the titular character, and needs no more talk about the same, as Stephen Nedumpally is grand. Meanwhile, the one person who steals the show with less amount of screen time is Tovino Thomas whose moments are nothing less than glorious. Manju Warrier has her fine emotional moments in here following Odiyan. Vivek Oberoi’s villain doesn’t maintain that terror that he seemed to possess in the beginning, but he is a fine choice for the role as we can see. Kalabhavan Shajohn, Saikumar, Baiju Santhosh, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Nandhu – all the characters play the roles of politicians with ease. Meanwhile, we see Shaun Romy of Kammatipaadam making an appearance after a long time. There is a long line of extended support here too.

How it finishes :: When someone like Prithviraj Sukumaran comes up with his directorial debut, you know that there is something special coming up. His previous movies as the leading actor had the Hollywood touch, whether it was the never before science fiction apocalyptic thriller called 9 or the diasporic crime drama set in a deteriorating, decaying city called Ranam – this one has the elements beyond the usual Malayalam movie, and as a flick written by Murali Gopy, we know that there is more. Lucifer is the kind of movie which combines its elements very well, and thus becomes a rare piece of a flick. It can be liked for more than one reason, and there is much to cherish for almost every kind of viewer. Well, this is Vishu and Easter is also on its way, and we have much to watch. For now, I wish all of you a Very Happy Vishu, and hope you enjoy the holidays well – but at the same time, be careful about the heat which is rising.

Release date: 28th March 2019
Running time: 174 minutes
Directed by: Prithviraj Sukumaran
Starring: Mohanlal, Tovino Thomas, Manju Warrier, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Indrajith Sukumaran, Saniya Iyappan, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Giju John, Saikumar, Baiju Santhosh, Fazil, Sachin Khedekar, Suresh Chandra Menon, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Nandhu, John Vijay, Aneesh G Menon, Kainakary Thankaraj, Bala, Adil Ibrahim, Shaun Romy, Adarsh, Helen, Frank Freem, Waluscha De Sousa, Sijoy Varghese, Thara Kalyan, Parvathi T, Binu Pappu, Parvathy Menon, Sreeya Remesh, Sshivada, Antony Perumbavoor, Shakti Kapoor

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Aanakkallan

What is the movie about? :: The central character of the movie is Pavithran (Biju Menon) who is a man spending his time in prison for committing robbery in a palace and museum. But his life gets better when a skeleton is found in the palace while the place was undergoing renovation. It is found out that the skeleton is almost as old as the time when the person was committing the robbery at the place. The police figures out that he could be either the suspect or the witness, and Pavithran agrees to the fact that he witnessed the murder taking place, and the killer getting rid of the body. As he assures them that he can recognize the killer, the police officers in charge KV Esthappan (Siddique) and Rajendra Babu (Suresh Krishna) decides to get him a parol. With a special permission from their superior officer Alex T Kuruvilla (Shivaji Guruvayoor), they make a master plan.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: This master plan involves taking Pavithran to Esthappan’s wife house, from where he eloped with his wife Nancy Palakkal (Sarayu) a long time ago. By returning there, they would get a chance to stay close to Anandapuram Palace where the body was found. Pavithran would be forced to stay in the house as Esthappan’s friend who is a rich businessman from Palai. Despite their doubts, the parents of Nancy, Thomachan Palakkal (Sai Kumar) and Kochu Tresia (Bindu Panicker) welcomes them home. From there, a series of confusing events occur related to their lives. There are secrets to be revealed and mysteries to be solved, about Pavithran’s past, and that particular night on which the murder is supposed to have taken place. But as someone who is in prison for robbery and cheating, can Pavithran be trusted to help the police well enough?

The defence of Aanakkallan :: Being a movie which has a certain amount of confusion in itself, Aanakkallan can use some defence in its favour. There is no doubt about the fact that the movie begins well, and even before Biju Menon makes his entry, the beginning is set. The idea is good here, with an attempt made to solve a mystery regarding a skeleton found in a palace – to solve the case, a thief is needed too, and that man has a strange past. Well, this could have surely developed into something bigger as there is no shortage of content, and the fun is always there to be added. We remember how well Biju Menon added to the same in Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu. The funny side gets some regular contributions even when there are those problems of repetitions as well as the confusions.

The claws of flaw :: There is much that one would expect from a movie like Aanakkallan with Biju Menon in the lead, as people will have their own idea about how it would turn out to be. But the movie struggles to do the same, to meet the expectations. There are moments when the movie keeps making us feel the drag, as it goes above two and half hours, without that much of a content to boast about. The songs are all bad, and unnecessary – all of them seem to drag this piece of work towards that eternity, and most of the viewers won’t appreciate the same. There is so much of repetition here, not just with the old jokes, but also with the same kind of jokes used within the movie. The first and the second parts seem to be confused in where the movie is heading, and the long flashback in the second half is the worst part. The predictability factor is also very high.

The performers of the soul :: Biju Menon was supposed to be the one person who could hold the parts together, and one surely can’t doubt his ability in doing that – the movie surely depends on him a lot. He seems to find things easy here, as no surprises are added here in any department. Hareesh Perumanna and Dharmajan nicely contributes to the comedy at the same time, and Sudheer Karamana also joins in. But it is to be noted that none of these performers are used in a way that evokes that kind of fun to be remembered for long – there were opportunities present. Dharmajan’s Baahubali moment stands out, and Hareesh with his counters keep the movie on a better path. Suraaj Venjarammoodu once again has a rather serious role to perform here, and he has no problems in getting into this character of a thief.

Further performers of the soul :: The main female characters in this movie, Shamna Kasim, Sarayu and Anusree fail to have much to do. While Shamna Kasim’s role is more or less about being the fairest of them all, the other two are given even lesser work to do. It strange that we can’t have more. Siddique plays the police officer with ease, as he has the second most important character related to this one. Suresh Krishna does leave an impact with his funny police role here, being divergent from the serious one he played in Abrahaminte Santhathikal. Indrans is also here with an interesting character, even though limited in scope. Bala and Kailash are also there, contributing nicely to the story. But the focus, as we all know is on one person, and it is no surprise at all.

How it finishes :: The movie doesn’t go on to become a Vellimoonga, and it doesn’t even go on to become a Swarna Kaduva. This one is rather closer to Sherlock Toms which was a half-baked movie unable to stay within any genre, or do justice to at least one of them well enough. The director’s previous movie was Ivan Maryadaraman, and in comparison to that, this flick is surely an improvement. But the question would remain if that much is enough. The fact that there is still the use of the same kind of strange stereotypes and cliches after so many years and movies of attempts, doesn’t leave a true movie lover a happy one. But Aanakkallan does serve to waste some time for a lazy weekend, and this particular weekend is indeed one. There is just Kayamkulam Kochunni to make you think otherwise.

Release date: 18th October 2018
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: Suresh Divakar
Starring: Biju Menon, Siddique, Suraaj Venjarammoodu , Shamna Kasim , Anusree, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sudheer Karamana, Suresh Krishna, Hareesh Perumanna, Bindu Panicker, Saikumar, Sarayu, Bala, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Indrans, Kailash

<— Click here to go to the previous review

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Masterpiece

What is the movie about? :: An arrogant Roshan Cherian (John Kaipallil) and an adamant Mahesh Raj (Maqbool Salmaan) leads two rival gangs at the Travancore Maharaja College in the centre of the city. These two gangs, Royal Warriors and Real Fighters fight for domination, with hockey sticks, cricket bats, cycle chains, table legs or whatever they can find, sometimes in the remote corners of the huge college campus, and at other right times, right in front of the students and faculty, much to the dismay of the Roshan’s father, Vice Principal Cherian Philip (Mukesha) and Principal Narayana Kaimal (Sunil Sukhada). There is no shortage of chaos already, but the love story of a Real Fighters member Unnikrishnan (Gokul Suresh) with a girl named Vedhika (Mahima Nambiar) from the nearby college makes things even worse. They soon find the dead body of Vedhika in the college premises, and first suspect for the crime is Unnikrishnan who is arrested.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Soon, Unnikrishnan is found hanging inside his cell in the police station, and things get worse. A.C.P. John Thekkan I.P.S. (Unni Mukundan) who was leading the investigation lands up in the hospital after college students attack the police, and S.I. Ramakrishnan (Kalabhavan Shajohn) is suspended after being held responsible for the death of the student. There are wide protests in the city by student organisations which take over the whole thing, and as Vedhika comes from a reputed and rich family, and is the daughter of an influential politician, pressure mounts on the officials, and a new team lead by A.C.P Bhavani Durga I.P.S. is brought to action. With John Thekkan expected to return and join the team soon, the group decides to take quick and firm action against the possible culprits before new orders come from the top again.

And what comes next with this murder mystery? :: After questioning the peon of the college, Sankarankutty (Santhosh Pandit), canteen in charge Maniyan (Saju Navodaya) and helper Reji (Bijukuttan), the police comes to know that Roshan had alcohol mixed in Unnikrishnan’s drink making sure that he wouldn’t get to meet Vedhika who was waiting for them at the beach, where she was last spotted. Roshan becomes the suspect, and the police tries to enter the campus to arrest him, only to be stopped by protesting students, with the exception of Real Fighters who welcome the move to arrest the leader of Royal Warriors. As police and students fight inside the campus, the new English professor arrives to take charge – Edward Livingstone (Mammootty) who has a record of police cases for himself. He decides to change the whole setup in the college, and re-unite its students, as police looks for the murderer.

The defence of Masterpiece :: It is after Mammootty arrives that this movie gets better, as the latter part of the movie is surely better. There will also be a lot for the fans, and that is for sure – as I skipped the early fan shows and watched the movie with normal hardworking people, there was no focus on those mass scenes in the theatre. The suspense is maintained till the end, and the revelation awaits at the final moments. Just like Aadu 2, this one is for more the fans, and the other categories of viewers will find only limited impact. The festival mood of this holiday season is also maintained in this movie. This leaves no surprise about how well the movie began at the theatres, as the first of the many flicks of Christmas including Mayaanadhi, Vimaanam, Aadu 2 and Aana Alaralodalaral. Well, it is always good to go back to the campus isn’t it? And nothing better than a murder mystery in a college campus to provide a grand entry for the hero who is all prepared to go invincible and immortal in a world of cheap mortal humans.

The claws of flaw :: You will find Masterpiece to be too similar to Mohanlal starrer Velipadinte Pusthakam, but the mass elements are rather too much in this one. A college professor with a complicated past coming into a college where students battle each other as part of two separate gangs with a murder behind – just the same idea that you had seen on the big screen earlier. The shots of hero throwing the goons to the Mahindra Scorpios parked there, destroying the vehicles too easily will have the makers of the vehicles wonder what would happen if a Scooty is to hit them in the middle – will the SUV be split into two then? Then there is a modified vehicle which goes through walls – are they promoting this vehicle against Mahindra? Is that a foreign-made SUV that is declared to be better than Mahindra SUVs? The hero also throws a heavily built villain around with one hand a little too many times, and the movie could have done without these scenes. In this too long a movie, the jokes are less effective and there is confusion about where it is going. Slow motion is used badly as expected.

The performers of the soul :: It takes just above an hour for Mammootty to come in, and it might be because of the presence of too many characters that it takes so long. It is after he arrives that things begin to get interesting, as he immediately makes the impact as the college professor. The two female characters who are there till the end, Poonam Bajwa and Varalaxmi Sarathkumar got not much to contribute, playing stereotypes. Mahima Nambiar gets better but the character goes dead. Unni Mukundan has to go a little too much towards the stylish side, but has our attention. Kalabhavan Shajohn is someone who never struggles in this one, as a cop suits him so well just like in Oppam and Drishyam. Gokul Suresh did believable work here. John Kaipallil and Maqbool Salmaan were good playing what Arun Kurian and Sarath Kumar played in Velipadinte Pusthakam. Saju Navodaya brings some comedy here and here with Bijukuttan, but not that much as we would expect. Captain Raju brings some laughs, even though we see more going over the head.

How it finishes :: The movie is something which seems to be exactly opposite what the title says. Masterpiece is exactly what this movie isn’t, but if we separate the word into two, and say “Master in pieces”, that would be more appropriate. But as Velipadinte Pusthakam itself was, this is not really a terrible movie. There is something here and there for the fans, and we know that the core idea had more potential. The hero worship in this movie is exactly what brings this movie down – it is always the superstar’s fans and their needs that brings a wonderful actor down, as it is proven on so many occasions. We need to forget a few moments defying gravitational force along with slow motion, and some unnecessary dialogues about respecting women without meaning the same when there is no need, and we have one twist awaiting us in the end, and a villain whom we least expected. As a thriller, the idea at the base is surely good, but we have to often wonder at the final product.

Release date: 21st December 2017
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Ajai Vasudev
Starring: Mammootty, Unni Mukundan, Poonam Bajwa, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Mahima Nambiar, Megha Mathew, Lena, John Kaipallil, Mukesh, Gokul Suresh, Maqbool Salmaan, David John, Santhosh Pandit, Kailash, Nandu, Divya Pillai, Sunil Sukhada, Arjun Nandhakumar, Saju Navodaya, Thesni Khan, Divyadarshan, Ameer Niyaz, Bijukuttan, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Udaykrishna, Renji Panicker, Manikkuttan, Anjali Nair, Captain Raju

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Velipadinte Pusthakam

What is the movie about? :: Pheonix College of Arts and Science was established ten years ago as a result of the efforts of Vishwanathan (Anoop Menon), a local man who was killed on a terrible night after he made this possible. The location of this college is at a coastal village, where most children stop education at the school level itself, and a few don’t even bother to get to the verandah of nursery. There have been the presence of rich people like Mathan Tharakan (Siddique) and his right hand man, a criminal Kakka Ramesh (Chemban Vinod Jose) who don’t want the local youth to attend college, as it would deprive them of the workers for their fishing business. The college did develop into a popular institution ten years after its inception though, and people from city also joined in to make the campus a mixture of different kings of students, as the number of students from the village doesn’t get any higher, with fishing being a traditional job for the locals.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Into this college where the memories of Vishwanathan is more treasured that anything else, there has been the entry of violence – there is nothing political or religious in nature with the quarrels being rather social. With more students filling in the vacant seats left by the locals, there are two groups which can’t afford to see each other. The first one is led by Franklin (Sarath Kumar), as the son of the best friend of Vishwanathan, coming from the local fishing community – proud and not backing away from a fight. They ridicule those coming from outside as rich beggars who have been trying to take away their opportunities and buy seats with cash. The second one has their leader in Sameer (Arun Kurian) who is an angry young man coming from a rich family in the city, and wastes no time in getting into fights and ridicule his rivals for being poor and doing fishing.

And what else is to follow with the book of revelation? :: The two gangs find one reason or the other to fight it out at open spaces or inside the college auditorium when there is the need for some privacy. Supporting the city gang against the village team is the vice principal of the college, Prem Raj (Salim Kumar) who has become an irritation to the female students as well as the teachers, earning him the nick name Kamaraj. Franklin and his team gets rid of him with a nicely executed plan which exposes him in front of the principal. He manages to continue as a professor, while the post of vice principal goes to Michael Idicula (Mohanlal), a happy and easy-going professor who teaches Malayalam. With a grand entry, he manages to be a favourite of all students, and even manages to win the trust both Franklin and Sameer at the same time. But there is one more thing that he will need to do, and by doing the same, he will make sure that there will be some revelations, not just about himself, but also about Vishwanathan and his death.

The defence of Velipadinte Pusthakam :: The movie is entertaining for sure, and the first half has a lot of funny moments to add to the cause – whenever there is something related to the college and its people, there is the comic side that comes up; it is Salim Kumar who handles that all the time. The visuals of the coastal village is very good, and there are some dialogues to remembered, some as serious ones, and a few from the comic side – this is never the complete with its funny side though. With its ups and downs, the movie depends on Mohanlal to save it, and it is his presence that makes the audience miss some of the troubles that this movie has. There are some twists in this movie, some are on the funny side, and the rest are on the more serious angle – some of the thrills come not that strong, but they are surely present there. The most interesting song remains the one you have already listened, and had become the big hit.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s trouble is with its second story, which makes one wish to return to the college, and keep things there. The thrilling side is not used as one would have wanted it to be, and the revelation of the suspense could have been done in a much better manner. There is also the lack of focus on a number of characters that could have done wonders. The second half becomes inferior to the first, and the curse of the second half tightens its grip on rather too many occasions. We also think that there would be some relevant social theme being taken about the rich and the poor, which is not there – with those early clashes, that could have been on the list of things to show for sure. Also, Mohanlal as a lecturer could have become the perfect lecturer to transform this college through a series of interesting events, rather than skipping through all that. This one is also too long a movie, which is why there is the feeling of dragging in between.

Performers of the soul :: Mohanlal, in his usual style, manages to cover the limitations of the script here. Due to the same, this movie also becomes a treat for the fans, who will get to clap here and there, especially with his entry and more in the second half. Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol from this year, and Oppam and Pulimurugan from last year have all been doing wonders for him. Anoop Menon has much to with flashbacks, and he remains pretty much suitable, but has not many dialogues. You will find out that Sarath Kumar as well Arun Kurian finds themselves limited as their characters’ rivalry is lost rather too easily. The work here is no challenge for them. Even Anna Reshma Rajan fades away in the process, and so does almost every female character including Priyanka Nair and Sneha Sreekumar. Salim Kumar here has one a full swing comedy attack as he launches one funny dialogue after the other, and with ups and downs, some of them misses by a long distance, but there are a few others which are close to target. The two negative characters played by Chemban Vinod Jose and Siddique are solid, without doubt.

How it finishes :: How much Velipadinte Pusthakam would work for you, certainly depends on your expectations. The expectations were also so high for this one – this was also the movie I was looking for, with Lal Jose and Mohanlal coming together, and the cast from Angamaly Diaries, Sarath Kumar and Anna Reshma Rajan doing some memorable roles. Yes, even more expectations than what was there for Njandukalude Nattil Oru Idavela and Adam Joan. If that much is your expectation, there will be some trouble. The movie is actually quite far away from what you might have expected from the trailer. I was surely surprised by how much the movie has deviated from what I had thought about it, and it is due to the same, that I have crafted the story in such a way that none of the twists, whether serious or funny, are revealed. If you are watching Veilpadinte Pusthakam, be prepared for the deviation. You can’t deny the presence of fun though, especially if you are watching it with family.

Release date: 31st August 2017
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Mohanlal, Anoop Menon, Anna Reshma Rajan, Arun Kurian, Sarath Kumar, Chemban Vinod Jose, Alencier Ley Lopez, Priyanka Nair, Siddique, Salim Kumar, Jude Anthany Joseph, Sneha Sreekumar, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Krishna Kumar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jomonte Suvisheshangal

jomontesuviseshangal

What is the movie about? :: Jomon (Dulquer Salmaan) is the youngest son of a very rich businessman named Vincent (Mukesh) who hails from the city of Thrissur. The big family is Vincent’s other success story along with his huge business empire and assets – it includes Laly (Muthumani), Alphonse (Vinu Mohan) and Jessy (Rasna Pavithran) as well as their spouses who are all successful people in life, along with Jomon who is considered as the son who is born to spoil the name of the family along with all the money that he keeps squandering. He successfully continues the procedure, as he finishes the trouble-making with a sentence that ends with “still I love you” to his father. There is no shortage of people who think that he is good for nothing though, as he even misses his sister Jessy’s wedding function after he meets his old friend Mushtaq (Jacob Gregory) and spends time at a bar with him at Coimbatore, ending up in the police station.

Where are things heading for? :: It is during these times that Jomon falls in love with Catherine (Anupama Parameswaran) which changes the attitude of his family members towards him, as she is from one of the richest families around, and her parents have business established in various parts of the Middle East. They get really close until one day, Vincent miscalculates one of his business deals, and has his biggest failure in life. Everyone blames Vincent for the terrible decision he made, but Jomon doesn’t. He stands with his father, and hopes to reclaim at least most of what was lost. For the same, he relocates with Vincent to Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, and meets Vydehi (Aishwarya Rajesh) who helps him and vice versa. It was easy to go forward in the early stages, and now the question remains about how he can get his father to return to his lost glory, as that world is miles away.

The defence of Jomonte Suvisheshangal :: Without much of a surprise, Dulquer Salmaan leads the way as the protagonist, on whom this movie is based right from the title itself – there are messages about family, and there is some motivation to go through it; even as there is not that much visible. There is also some comedy, and the emotional side remains strong in this one, especially around Dulquer and Mukesh. Even with the smaller roles, Indu Thampi and Rasna Pavithran from Oozham get their moments too, even more than the bigger names in the cast. This will work even better for you if you haven’t watched Jacobinte Swargarajyam which has the same theme. The one bigger positive in this movie’s messages is that this one tells the audience to save more while the movie from last year was asking to earn more – it was more reclaiming the glory that was lost, while this one builds another one, something that is different from what was gone. It is also a long way ahead of the disappointing Kali, but is nowhere near that beautiful divergent dream which was Charlie.

Claws of flaw :: There is absolutely no attempt to bring anything new with Jomonte Suvisheshangal, and there is no trying to make things less predictable throughout its run. They have also wasted Anupama Parameswaran in a role which was rather not needed – well, in another Malayalam movie, she gets less time on the screen after the hero sees her inside a church; Premam and now this. Aishwarya Rajesh, despite suiting the character she played, works less as a pair to Dulquer. Another sad thing is that there isn’t enough of a funny side provided for Jacob Gregory’s character, even when there was so much chance, for he is to Dulquer, what Aju Varghese has been to Nivin Pauly. The songs are not that good, even though “Nokki nokki” is something that will do well without being related to the overall progress of the movie. There is also that level that we expect from Sathyan Anthikad, which is not there – that won’t be considered the right thing.

Soul exploration :: The idea of the prodigal son continues here, as the money laundering son comes back to his father – well, he even saves the day. It is not something that we have missed; this is something that a hero would do in a movie without fail. A rather inexperienced son becoming all responsible to help his father when his business faces a crisis, isn’t really a new thing even for the newer team of movie watchers, as we had witnessed the same in the last year’s Nivin Pauly starrer, Jacobinte Swargagrajyam. With Dulquer Salmaan replacing Nivin Pauly, we have a similar tale here; it is Mukesh who replaces Renji Panicker too. But considering both movies as the same will be doing injustice, and we can only consider them to be similar as we look at how things have been proceeding. This thought is something which is often related to real-life incidents, and so Jomonte Suvisheshangal surely has the right to take it as much as any other flick.

Further soul exploration :: Those who have watched both movies won’t find it easy to stop these comparisons coming into their minds. In a movie in which Dulquer once again leaves his home, but this time with his father, one can safely say that the success of this movie does belong to him, as most of the time, it is him or Mukesh that holds the movie together. This one could have actually worked well with its songs and visuals as Jacobinte Swargarajyam did though. As far as similarities and differences are concerned, we have two businessmen whose sons get responsible all of a sudden, one at Dubai and the other at Thrissur, both families Christian, one Orthodox and the other Catholic, both the families having four children, with a more evenly matched gender count here without a mother, the Mercedes Benz being there in both cases – there is also at least one heroine who has less to do in both movies; well, everything ends well too with the handsome son doing the heroics helped by one stranger who gets impressed, whether it is Vineeth Srinivasan or a European lady.

How it finishes :: Being the first movie to release after the theatre strike, Jomonte Suvisheshangal surely had the advantage, and no wonder there were so many people wishing to watch this one on the big screen. Having one day advantage over Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, this one certainly managed to begin well, and also continues to attract the crowds. With a simple story that will appeal to the family audience, both these movies have managed to make sure that things are going on well for Malayalam cinema, even as there was a break after Pulimurugan created that record of 150 crores – well, that one is still running, as you will notice. With no element of boredom, Jomonte Suvisheshangal is also certain to bring some fine moments for the audience. As Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol is also doing well, we can expect the theatres to be full with Ezra, Georgettan’s Pooram and Fukri getting ready for release.

Release date: 19th January 2017
Running time: 158 minutes
Directed by: Sathyan Anthikad
Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Anupama Parameswaran, Mukesh, Jacob Gregory, Aishwarya Rajesh, Innocent, Irshad, Muthumani, Manobala, Rasna Pavithran, Vinu Mohan, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Vinod Kedamangalam, Indu Thampi

jomontesuvisheshangal

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Mumbai Taxi

mumbaitaxi (2)

Vampire Owl :: You have brought me to this theatre because you are a bloody regionalist.

Vampire Bat :: What? Not at all. I am a global citizen. My namesakes are there in English novels and Hollywood movies.

Vampire Owl :: I don’t believe that. You have taken me to this theatre at Alwaye because you are an Aluvaite and it says Always Alwaye’s on the poster. I doubt your secret intentions to promote your town.

Vampire Bat :: But I don’t even live at Alwaye anymore.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, but you have lived at Alwaye enough to be psychologically attached to it, and I understood that with your expression while watching Premam.

Vampire Bat :: But that expression was related to the UC College.

Vampire Owl :: I doubt that because UC College is at Alwaye, and you haven’t been to that college for more than a year, but you do visit the town very often.

Vampire Bat :: Well, my favourite restaurants are at Alwaye. There is the Surya, Mahnami, Indian Coffee House, Anna Gowri, Shenoy’s, Anna Lakshmi, Al Falah, Aaryas…

Vampire Owl :: No. I visited Shenoy’s last week and they told me that they haven’t seen you for an year. Why do you come to Alwaye to watch movies when there are theatres closer to your current location? Is it an automatic procedure?

Vampire Bat :: What? Can you just get the ticket please? You can analyze my decision to watch this movie at this theatre later. I am planning a detailed review on Mumbai Taxi!

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: It is just another normal day in the city when a stranger reaches the town with plans to plant bombs at different parts of Mumbai. The Anti Terrorist Squad manages to get information on the same because of an anonymous caller, and even though they are not sure if it is real or hoax, they take no risks and prepare for the day as if the information is quite clear. The anonymous person even sends them a photo of the suspect, and they prepare to catch the person without leaking the information and causing panic among the public. For the same, they make a special plan. Meanwhile, a Malayali taxi driver is going on his daily duty, and hopes to find the perfect trip which can make his day better. But the day is not like any other day with the dark clouds of terror getting even darker, and whatever be the fate of the city, it will be known on that one day.

The defence of Mumbai Taxi :: A very interesting story unfolds well in this movie, and the biggest advantage of the movie is the skill in maintaining the suspense – there are many things here that you know, but there are things that are going to deviate from that knowledge. By the end, there is the enthralling introduction of that unexpected final twist which works very nicely. Well, it is not the only twist there, but when someone can bring the climax to a good effect a time when a number of other bigger movies have been tumbling down from the final stairs, that procurement deserves the most noteworthy applause. There are a number of things in this movie that comes together very nicely by the end, and what you think of as a cliche, might not be that! Well, you can guess about your own twists, but this one might have a different one in most cases. The shots are also very good, and even when there is chance, this movie doesn’t sink into a romantic song – applause for that!

Claws of flaw :: The jokes come as a big disappointment and they could have been avoided to make the movie more interesting, and flow would have also been better. It works as a slough of despond in this journey with all the unnecessary weight. The absence of the same would have made it a very engaging thriller finishing at almost one and half hours. The final slow motion sequences also come against the original flow of the movie which was supposed to be going fine without any of such extra ornaments. I won’t say for the others, but I personally wouldn’t prefer a one-man show for a movie which was more about going through a smart combined operation by a team of policemen, especially when the heroism of the particular person is not established beforehand with a sequence of events or at least stories. An interesting flashback for the villains, organization and their motives would have also been nice – at least for the main antagonist.

Performers of the soul :: Badhshah Mohammed is a new face with fine potential, and the audience will remember the kid in Pappayude Swantham Appoos who has returned right here as the hero. That was a smart move to include the much remembered song “Olathumbathu” in the movie, which he himself sings on more than one occasion – and talking about his return, makes a very nice point. The second attempt at the same didn’t work that well, but the first dialogue about being back was like the punch dialogue, even better than those bigger dialogues at the end of the movie. He has done well here, and he is sure to do better as time passes, with bigger opportunities. I would like to take this occasion to wish him best of luck with his next movies. We will never forget that kid, that movie or that song; I am sure that all Keralites know him from long ago – child actors making a good return is like a double success story, isn’t it?

More performers of the soul :: I also felt that Riyaz Fazzan who played the police officer was solid – you can feel the determination there. The one thing I would like to add more than the others is about how good Mareena Michael Kurisingal performed in this movie. I haven’t known anything about her before I checked the releases for the weekend and saw the main cast. I had my doubts, but she has been a gargantuan surprise here. From the beginning to the end, she has kept things under control; there is the tough look and wicked smile – she makes a fine addition to our list of actresses. There are a few well known actors who have smaller roles mostly related to comedy. I apologize for not knowing more of the performers who have all done very good except for those smaller stumbles here and there. I wish they had listed the names somewhere, but there are only two at BookMyShow and there are the usual names which I know. For the rest, I had to keep searching only to find very little.

How it finishes :: I have often wondered if I should watch the movies from the debutantes because I doubted if I don’t like it, and they won’t be able to take criticism positively. But I am glad that I made the decision to watch this movie because it was one of the best movies ever with lesser known faces. I feel that it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks, but it is our duty to watch the movies without the hype and the big superstars and promote them if they are good. Mumbai Taxi is such a movie, and with a group of newer faces, it has done a very good job. We can thank Fazil Basheer for not going after the stereotypes which were surely the safer bets. At a time when the Malayalam movie is moving beyond the star value to bring quality, it is the need of the times to support the good beginnings by youngsters. I have done my job by watching this movie and giving it the positive support which it deserved. So, what will you do? I have watched most of the Malayalam movies which released after Premam, and among them, I rate this the highest. #MumbaiTaxi definitely works!

Release date: 7th August 2015
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Fazil Basheer
Starring: Mareena Michael Kurisingal, Badhshah Mohammed, Riyaz Fazzan, Sreejith Ravi, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Sunil Sukhada, Tini Tom
***I would appreciate an expansion of this list to make this review on Mumbai Taxi better 🙂

mumbaitaxi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Vellimoonga

vellimoonga (1)

Vampire Owl :: I condemn the name of this movie. They are not supposed to name a comedy movie as “the silver owl”.

Vampire Bat :: It says silver owl, not vampire owl or not even night owl. There is no way it can affect you.

Vampire Owl :: But I am still deeply offended.

Vampire Bat :: You were just looking to find a reason to be offended.

Vampire Owl :: Everyone is offended by something or anything all the time, and I choose to follow that path which is the new fashion. I shall still forgive them if the movie is a good one, because I am a generous Vampire Owl.

Vampire Bat :: It has good reviews so far. You could actually not blame a few people this time.

Vampire Owl :: Who are they to judge and review an owl? What do they even know about owls? Are they married to owls?

Vampire Bat :: It is not really the story of an owl. It has humans. What is wrong with you these days?

Vampire Owl :: I stare at the mirror and see only the owlish truth. The absolute truth that only the owls can recognize as true.

Vampire Bat :: This is exactly why zombies eat brains.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Vellimoonga tells the story of a politician Mamachan (Biju Menon) who attempts to reach big heights by being part of political party in the north of India rather than joining a local party and using his local image to become a leader in the locality. He roams around his village, attempting to make a name using his political affliation to the big party of which he is just one of the very few members in the whole state. His best friend and the only other member of the party in that locality is Pachan (Aju Varghese) who helps him in his initiatives, hoping to go to Delhi with him some day. Jose (Tini Tom) is his big political enemy from the left wing. Mamachan who is not married even after his younger brother getting married and having two kids, finally falls of a girl who attends the same church, Lisa (Nikki Galrani), but would face big resistance from her father Vareeth (Siddique) who used to be his rival. How our hero handles the situation becomes the rest of the story.

The defence of Vellimoonga :: The movie’s ability to be a laugh riot cannot be questioned in the most doubtful situations. We come to know that right in the beginning itself. They could ornate this simple plot with nice comic numbers and some interesting twists with serene strength. The script does have enough to extract the performances from the actors and actresses. The visuals are good as the beauty of the rural area is captured nicely and the shots are beautifully adorned. There is no questioning the movie’s propensity for competence even without the presence of any so called superstar or heavy publicity, and for the same, the movie deserves some more applause. The movie could skillfully use its cast to its strength, and could thrive on the abilities of its actors to evoke laughter embedding the right situations here and there and there is also the ultimate realization that it gives to its viewers on how cute and pretty Nikki Galrani actually looks.

The claws of flaw :: Vellimoonga could have surely had a little more logic with some of its proceedings, but that should be a purely subjective opinion as far as a funny movie purely made for fun is concerned, and it does keep some of the same. The songs are just ordinary, nothing really making an impact. There is a little bit of missing in the middle, with the flow getting lost at times, but that can often go unnoticed. A little more care to the plot could have been nice, instead of deviating each situation to bring comedy here and there. A little bit more of the reflections of the major political incidents would have also done this movie more favours. A full swing political satire like Sandhesam could have been here, may be developing what Oru Indian Pranayakadha had also partially shown, sadly that much is not there to be seen. There are also a number of comedy numbers which should have been rather avoided, but may be it caters to a certain group of viewers.

Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon returns to the big screen as the solo leading character of a movie after a very long time, and it is not just the silver in the name of the movie that he strikes, but it is the gold itself. It was splendid to see how well he captures the mannerisms of his character and gets into the role of a political player with such an ease. Yes, it is Aju Varghese who skillfully supports him and does what he has been doing the best, but there is nothing like Biju Menon leading the comedy train, something he has been doing for such a long time along with his other variety roles. He doesn’t combine with or play second fiddle to Kunchako Boban or Dileep this time as takes things forwards with the support of Aju. This also turns out to be Nikki Galrani’s best ever outing in Malayalam as she is stunningly beautiful and cute like no other actress of these days. Tini Tom also essays an impressive role with ease, and Asif Ali’s extended cameo is likable. It is good to see Anu Joseph in the movies too. Sunil Sukhada and Sasi Kalinga scores with their comic numbers too.

Soul exploration :: Vellimoonga does work as a satire, there is no doubt about it. The movie doesn’t hesitate in making fun of the political situation that is prevalent in the country concerned with unholy alliances between the parties and seat sharing, along with the influence of regional parties. The situations related to politics remain funny throughout the movie, and the personal life of the protagonist and his infatuation towards the girl comes only as a part of the same. The significant thing is that the whole thing is concerned with what happens in one village, something which provides a certain feel-good factor to this movie, as the audience also seems to need such locations. The movie doesn’t give the feeling of drinking some bourgeoisie coffee which is provided by some random machinery, but that of a certain kind of tea which has the flavour of the villages and its hardworking common people.

How it finishes :: Vellimoonga is the winner of the weekend before Gandhi Jayanthi and will carry over its success to the Pooja season – who would have thought that this Biju Menon starrer will be the winner facing bigger movies which released at the same time, or were already in the theatres when it came to the audience? Yes, Biju Menon wins this round with ease, and for giving us this one with all its power, we can thank his versatility as a wonderful actor. Let’s hope that this movie is not lost in mindless remakes coming from Bollywood with the dumb stuff like Bang Bang! We are in need of comedy movies which don’t stoop into buffoonery of any kind, and Vellimoonga guarantees that such movies can exist without superstars with its own existence. May be it will inspire more movies which can come up with some more genuine comedy which won’t make the brains of the audience feel like vegetable noodles.

Release date: 26th September 2014
Running time: 130 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Jibu Jacob
Starring: Biju Menon, Aju Varghese, Nikki Galrani, Tini Tom, Lena, Asif Ali, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Siddique, Sunil Sukhada, Sasi Kalinga, Kalabhavan Shajon, Anu Joseph, Chembil Ashokan, Shivaji Guruvayoor

vellimoonga!

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pullipulikal and Aattinkutti

pullipulikalum aattinkuttiyum )

This is the season of the Malayalam movies, and what these movies have done with the help of Chennai Express, to keep the English movies away from the theatre is quite dissappointing, to be honest. The typhoon of Malayalam movies started off with Kadal Kadannu Oru Mathukutty, followed by Neelaakasam Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, Memories and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum. I am not in favour of such a week boasting the absence of the new English movie releases, at a time when they do get released in other countries. But as I know that there can be a great next week, and all the Malayalam movie titles are interesting enough, that should solve the problem up-to an extent. There is no surprise about so many movies releasing during the Eid after a long season of drought, as the people have already rushed to the multiplexes as well as the local theatres for these movies, and the malls, or at least some of them are so crowded that the Vampire Bat had doubts if there were free Blood Biriyani being supplied there. There is also the signs of the local theatres taking the effect of these new multiplexes, as the difference in the rates of tickets has become considerably small. We had such an option, and we had to choose the multiplex – there is the shift of the balance of power.

Literally translated as “Leopards and the Little Goat” had the first signs of vulnerability and a display of what kind of audience they were targeting, with their first promo in the theatres, which had a cartoon involving three leopards, one goat and a bull. Who are the people representing these characters, is something which should be revealed with ease as one watches the movie. Its target of the family audiences has surely been achieved with this one, but the question remains if it has achieved exactly what the movie lovers wished for, and another doubt would be about its power to match the other movies from Lal Jose – in that case, this should be closer in significance to Immanuel. Otherwise, this is a little bit of what should be termed as Elsamma Enna Aankutty meets Marykkundoru Kunjaadu at Kuttand setting, with a weaker second half and a forced ending. But it is not to be denied that the movie is fun, and the first half is close enough to a laugh riot. With the beautiful settings at Kuttanadu second only to Amen, and the melodious songs score to make all the absences transform into some kind of presence, and keep the viewers attached to the world of backwaters.

The movie set in the rural area of Kuttanad centers around one hardworking youth who tries in vain to pay off his loan to the bank by running a houseboat which he might lose in case of a failure to pay the same. Chakkattutharayil Gopan (Kunchako Boban), in short – Chakka Gopan a.k.a Aadu Gopan, is the goat-man as he is widely considered to be for his beard resembling a goat. There was that character in the movie Nee Ko Njaa Cha, and an allusion to that one with a background sound of the goat might help to figure out this appearance of our hero. This is the protagonist who gets beaten up almost every day due to the bad deeds of his three big brothers, as well as his own little problems. There comes the similarities with Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, and its just that this time, the protagonist is not lazy, and can beat a few people up rather than getting beaten up all the time. He has to feed three of his brothers and mother, as well as make sure that he earns enough to keep his houseboat floating. The three brothers are the type of people who takes money even from him to keep him safe, and they never miss an opportunity to take money from others or even lie, cheat and steal. The feeling of Elsamma Enna Aankutty also runs through, but more as an invisible force. But the fact remains that all the three movies were those which I liked, and therefore, there is nothing negative out there other than a little absence of innovation.

Along with dealing with his own lazy bully brothers and attempting to pay off his loans, Gopan faces the problem of not being able to attract enough tourists to his comparatively inferior houseboat, and asks the help of Mamachan (Suraj Venjaramoodu) for some attraction which could bring in more foreign tourists. The result comes in the form of Kainakari Jayasree (Namitha Pramod), a Mohiniyattam artist. With her assistance and also with the help of Suseelan (Harisree Asokan), his problems seem to get solved until his path crosses with that of Kavalykal Kuriyachan (Shammi Thilakan). While attempting to deal with his brothers’ unruly life and his love with Jayasree, he also has to deal with the rich businessman who seeks revenge on Gopan. At the same time, he comes up with some plans to deal with his brothers as well as to keep his love with Jayasree. Even as his and Kuriyachan’s path rarely crosses each other directly, there is always the unexpected harm that he would seem to give the man who would go on to become the villain whom he himself has to deal with, not as the goat which runs away, but as the super-goat-man if such a thing exists.

Kunchako Boban has come up with the comedy avatar again, and that should satisfy most of the fans. With his new looks and style, he has done complete justice to his role, and carries the whole world on screen with his shoulders. Namitha Pramod is also that good as Kainakari Jayasree, and never manages to move away from the character. It was nice to see her character, the other dynamic lovable one along with the character of the protagonist. Suraj Venjaramoodu and Harisree Asokan handles their own familiar territory with so much ease. We have been missing this Suraj for sometime, and the latter uses his home base of comedy to the efficiency of the movie. The three brothers might have carried on the legacy of Marykkundoru Kunjaadu‘s brother, but one might still miss Biju Menon. Shammi Thilakan’s Kavalykal Kuriyachan is a fine villain indeed, but not the scary, evil Satan or the one who sold his soul to the Devil, for he is the villain of circumstances, and the result of the people knowing about his own villainy. But the fact remains that he rises to this discovered throne of bad guy, and continues to do what he did with a mask, without any visage of artificially created vanity.

The movie’s success as a comedy movie is beyond doubt, and even with its lack of flow in the script, and an ending which was rather thrown into the middle of things, there is the beauty in simplicity, and the eventual victory of goodness portrayed without being preachy or pretending to be highly virtuous. There is the beautiful portrayal of nature which joins with the melodious songs to keep it working towards the end. The messages about the importance of goodness, hardwork and belief in oneself is asserted throughout the film in one way or the other. Marykkundoru Kunjaadu had the same, but some people just noticed the fear element in it. This movie is more logical in that case, making an attempt to touch the soul with a central character who is more useful to the family as well as the society, caring less about himself. He is another Elsamma in that case, and even his love interest is not of less significance in many ways. There has been an overflow of similar themes in the past, and this movie also reflects the same in such a way as to make an impact in a path more travelled. Whether it has made a difference or not is a question yet to be answered, and until now, the future looks bright enough for this goat-man and his own leopard people of the family.

This is recommended for those who loved Elsamma Enna Aankutty and even more recommended for those who loved Marykkundoru Kunjaadu, and even those viewers who loved both of these movies a little, might find this one impossible to run away from. Nature has been a great redeemer, and for some, there is music; for the missing laughter, the others need comedy. This movie has got them all, but while looking for the logically awesome movie with a great bowl of completeness delivered as a result of the horn of plenty, there is that awkward movie of detest. But, it is highly advised that such a cornucopia is not expected in the case of this movie – Amalthea, goat and nature; something should relate, but the release of Plenty might have served as nothing less than a Pandora’s box in the case of such a movie. Therefore, lets forget the little strange things which might give the indigestion of logic fed to your brain, and enjoy this movie for the little beautiful things it got, and flies directly to the heart. The movie shall win its battle with the titles which got bigger names associated with the cast, not by much, but by what is enough to make the lamb-sheep-goat-characters live on with their goodness, lack of violence and a certain amount of love which takes its own toll on the characters.  Meanwhile, the title of this review has been adjusted to make it short – kindly don’t feel strange, for it is Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum indeed.

Release date: 9th August 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lal Jose
Starring: Kunchako Boban, Namitha Pramod, Shammi Thilakan, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Harisree Asokan, Shivaji Guruvayoor, Anusree, Irshad, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Bindu Panicker, Reena Bhasheer, Thesni Khan, Seema G. Nair, Ponnamma Babu

PullipulikalumAattinkuttiyum copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.