Madhuram

What is the movie about? :: Kevin (Arjun Ashokan) is the bystander for his mother, who is going to have a surgery at the government medical college hospital very soon. He is married to Cherry (Nikhila Vimal) who isn’t accepted by his mother yet. He is very much tensed about it, and spends most of the time wondering about what is to happen next. Sabu (Joju George) is there as a bystander for his wife Chitra (Shruti Ramachandran). There are also others who have become part of the hospital during their time spent out there. Ravi (Indrans) is a retired postman who is waiting for his wife to be discharged, while celebrating forty years of marriage. Thajudeen (Fahim Safar) is a bystander for his father who is forced to come there because the doctor in the hosptial is very famous, and a quick surgery is required. Despite how much how much Ravi talks about the importance of staying in long marriage and how much Sabu reasserts the same, Kevin and Cherry are on the verge of a divorce. Cherry wonders if it will happen as soon as his mother is healthy and asks him to leave her.

So, what happens happens around here? :: Thajudeen is to first one to leave the hospital from the group, as his father has a stroke and dies, causing moments of silence and depression everywhere around them. Kevin’s tension only further increases as the surgery is delayed, and after knowing about the death of Thajudeen’s father. The same also affects Ravi upto an extent, as he is also a little bit worried. Sabu talks to the others about his love story with Chitra which happened at Kunjikka’s (Jaffar Idukki) restaurant, where she used to come and have biriyani in secret. They married after causing a lot of problems in the neighbourhood. Ravi’s tale is about him falling in love with his wife while delivering letters at a locality, and it was another case of love story wrecking havoc around. When Kevin’s anxiety problems get better, they are surprised to find that Sabu is surprisingly angry at the hospital staff, which leads to the big revelation by Doctor Rajah (Lal) about Chitra. This makes them wonder how long he has been in the hospital.

The defence of Madhuram :: The movie has to be appreciated more for its optimistic viewpoint about relationships, and life that goes on with love and endurance against all odds. With Joju George who seems to go through the whole thing as if living through it rather than acting, and Shruti Ramachandran who blends in to this role in a realistic manner like no other, this one feels like a safe watch from the beginning itself. The movie’s messages about relationships is beautiful, as it celebrates being in marriage, and with love. The movie also knows where to place the emotions, without any overdose of melodrama coming into the picture to ruin things. The humour which the movie uses in the initial stages brings some early delight, and as it passes on to the sad and emotional side, it makes sure that the balance is not lost, and we are not put into a world of eternal depression, for there is faith, belief and hope at all times. The taste of love between husbands and wives never losses its charm, for love in marriage is shown as a thing with wings more than that of the other kinds of relationships.

Positives and negatives :: Some dialogues might feel like a little too much in the view of life, but the actors who deliver them make it even more effective – the emotions are so well portrayed through them, and we appreciate the choice of performers here again and again – you see how Joju and Indrans make us feel, and the rest are following them so well, effectively. The visuals of the hospital are also nice, and songs with all the picturization makes us feel the emotions which are present at all times. The food also stays with us, and the focus in the same also contributes to the overall mood, which is surprisingly a happy one for most of its run, even though it is set in a hospital and there is the long wait for some risky surgeries going on throughout the film. You also see that this one basically maintains the balance between optimism and realism, unlike Jis Joy movies like Sunday Holiday, Vijay Superum Pournamiyum and Mohan Kumar Fans which have so much of optimistic attitude that one feels that there is too much of positivity in life which is not really there. Without the same, this one makes you feel the love, and you are into the emotions.

The performers of the soul :: The director here is blessed with a fantastic cast which anyone would wish to have in a work of drama. It is led by none other than Joju George, the man who touched our emotions the best, not with an emotional drama, but with an investigative thriller, Joseph – that was one turning point which still holds strong in our minds, and this drama holds strong with its emotional content, thanks to him more than anyone else. We have always known what he is capable of, and here is one more testimony to his skills. The combination of Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran is something to remember for long, as their relationship has a lot to take away in this tale of different relationships between many couples. Shruti Ramachandran was already there in the highly emotional drama, Kaanekkaane, which was another film which released in the same platform. This love story of the two over one biriyani and more food, is a thing of high quality and the flashback keeps us glued to the seats and in love. They also have some nicely visualized songs to support their cause – you also remember some simple, yet lovely dialogues.

Further performers of the soul :: After the Joju George and Shruti Ramachandran story, we have the other tale of husband and wife, with Arjun Ashokan and Nikhila Vimal playing the couple without that much of love, and with one mother standing in between them, leading to a possible divorce in future. Arjun Ashokan had the role of a lover in June which came from the same director and has no problems here, while Nikhila Vimal was last seen in the horror movie, The Priest. Her ability to deliver some natural performances were seen in two different roles in the movies Aravindante Athidhikal and Njan Prakashan, and she continues to establish herself as a leading actress with such roles. Even though this is the secondary love story, and is often rushed, raises itself with the performances of the two. Indrans has another touching performance to deliver here after Home, and this character also stays close to us. Jaffar Idukki, Jagadish and Lal also come up with some delightful performances, even though in smaller roles. Fahim Safar, Navas Vallikkunnu and Malavika Sreenath are also notable.

How it finishes :: The movie does have its surprises, but the intention here is to bring an emotional surprise rather than the usual one, and the director is successful in doing the same. There is emotional strength which is equal to, or at times even at a higher level than Kaanekkaane also of Sony LIV, for this movie is purely a relatable drama for many people, and it is about husband and wife relationship. The Tovino-Suraj starrer of the same platform had elements of a thriller, and therefore not relatable for all times, but when we look at Madhuram, its emotional intensity is of the common man’s soul. Well, the work that these OTT platforms have done to make our Christmas celebration better, is to be appreciated, for we have already had the greatest superhero film in India in Netflix, and this one is a collection of emotions, which we are to cherish. Well, with these movies being available everywhere in the online platform, you can give some credit to the Corona virus pandemic for bringing these national and international level of attention.

Release date: 24th December 2021 (Sony LIV)
Running time: 122 minutes
Directed by: Ahammed Khabeer
Starring: Joju George, Shruti Ramachandran, Nikhila Vimal, Arjun Ashokan, Lal, Indrans, Jagadish, Malavika Sreenath, Jaffar Idukki, Babu Jose, Sminu Sijo, Thirumala Ramachandran, Navas Vallikkunnu, Fahim Safar

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Kaanekkaane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Anveshanam

What is the movie about? :: Aravind (Jayasurya) and Kavitha (Sruthy Ramachandran) are living a happy life in one of those skyscrapers of the city with their two children. Their family seems to be the one perfect world, as their neighbour and close family friend Dr. Gowtham (Vijay Babu) says. There is the smell of a fairy-tale happily ever after, all around there. But one day, their son, Ashwin is hospitalized, and he is supposed to have fallen off the stairs of the apartment. It is Gowtham and Kavitha who brings him to the hospital, while Aravind was spending his time alone after a fight in the television channel where he was working. Dr. Ashok (Srikanth Murali) makes no delay in admitting the boy and trying to save his life, but the head nurse, Sony (Lena) has a doubt regarding the marks found on the boy’s body, and she couldn’t stop herself from informing the police.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Sony suspects that the boy was brutally beaten, and it was a case of child abuse. As she herself was a victim of abuse as a child, she wastes no time in labeling this one in the same way. Latha (Leona Lishoy) and Alphonse (Nandhu) are the police officers on the case, with the former into a few months of pregnancy. They have a list of suspects starting with Aravind who had left office early without telling anyone, and had also visited his apartment. The descriptions provided by Kavitha and Gowtham also do not match one another. The hospital also seems to neglecting some facts, as the boy finally dies, things get even more complicated. The Dr. Faris (Lal) enters the scene from the side of the police to examine things further, and this complex sequence of events need an explanation before next morning – can it be done?

The defence of Anveshanam :: The movie, as expected, begins well, and brings the idea into focus very soon. There are many chances of interesting guesses to be made, as we know the main characters who are put into a situation in a hospital. We are beginning to suspect too many people, from the father and mother, to the neighbour, from the nurse to the doctor, who are all acting strange, and something fishy is going on there, as the police also begins to suspect. As the unsettling atmosphere is built early, and things begin quickly, there is an interesting journey here towards the interval, from where everything slows down and drags. It is only then that we realize that the movie could have risen further with its theme, but stays with a safe zone to which not many people can connect in the right way. But the performances eclipse the same at most parts.

The claws of flaw :: The movie losses its strength in the second half, as it moves from the investigative suspense thriller to a melodramatic and preachy family piece. It struggles to focus on what could have been its strengths, and ends with confusion, as its final moments did show signs of weariness. The movie had the premise and the idea, while the trailer could nicely create interest in the mind of audience. It is when the idea came on the screen, that it never really got its characters going well enough, even though there are many interesting ones. It couldn’t prove its point either, despite trying to go preachy – it could have at least justified its title and went on with the investigation to find what exactly they were searching for. But the movie by the end, decides to go to the middle of nowhere, and declares it fit to sit in no man’s land with some verbal gun shots all around.

The performers of the soul :: Jayasurya once again leads the way, and here we have his presence in a thriller, and as a father figure, this calls for a different approach with a mystery needed to be brought to light. He is not The Great Father kind of father who spends time in wearing fancy jackets and beating up people, and we don’t have that kind of an irritating gun loving strange character of a girl here, and that is the first case of relief which we have here. We have loved his ways of solving mysteries in Pretham and Pretham 2, but this one has his character in a crisis rather than the one solving it. The man who is still best remembered for Aadu has one more serious flick for which he will be remembered as the sole lead – other than Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam and a few others. Anjaam Pathiraa had Kunchacko Boban bringing one thing, and Jayasurya here continues that journey through the drama, but at the receiving end.

Further performers of the soul :: Shruti Ramachandran was seen in Sunday Holiday as the earlier love interest of the main character, and also in Pretham where she played ghost who was haunting a beach side resort and looking for revenge. Here, she has a bigger and stronger role to perform and one would remember this even more. Lena also remains strong, but her character stays underdeveloped despite supposed to be having such a trouble past and childhood. Vijay Babu is very good in the emotional sequences, and Leona Lishoy goes through a pretty good run. Lal is there only for what can be termed as an extended cameo. Nandhu also adds well in a pretty good police role. Srikanth Murali plays the doctor well, as he is the one who becomes the centre of attraction as he treats the boy who is supposed to have fallen from the stairs, a case which leads to all the drama.

How it finishes :: After Anjaam Pathiraa, the audience was expecting another top level investigation thriller, but what we see here is an investigation drama, which seems to have some nice ideas, but is not displayed that well on the screen – this could have become better as a short story, like Roald Dahl’s Lamb to the Slaughter, something which had a crime and what followed with the weapon used for murder. But instead, Anveshanam tries to be many things at ones, and also tries to be too preachy in the end – it is what makes this interesting premise struggle as it moves towards the end. Still, the movie is to be watched for how it builds the tension and suspense within limited space, and while being set in a few hours of time, almost sticking to the Aristotlean Unities except for those multiple flashbacks which keep coming.

Release date: 31st January 2020
Running time: 102 minutes
Directed by: Prasobh Vijayan
Starring: Jayasurya, Leona Lishoy, Shruti Ramachandran, Vijay Babu, Lal, Lena, Nandhu, Jai Vishnu, Shaju K S, Srikanth Murali

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Sunday Holiday

What is the movie about? :: Unni Mukundan (Sreenivasan) is a lecturer teaching in the commerce department of a reputed college in Aluva, who is more interested in giving lessons about life to his students on Sundays, and also to convert his script into a movie. He has been wandering around with his movie dreams for quite a long time, but nobody has accepted, or even considered reading his script. Nobody even believes that he has a good enough story, and most of the popular directors refuse to see him, consider him as just one of those people bothering them with something which will waste their time. It is during those times that Unni comes to know that a popular and highly successful director, David Paul (Lal Jose) has been admitted in the nearby hospital. He decides to make use of that opportunity, and visit him to tell the story. Even though David is initially reluctant, he decides that it will not hurt anyone to just listen during free time.

So, what happens in the story within the story? :: It is the tale of Amal (Asif Ali), a youngster who has been in love with Sithara (Shruti Ramachandran) ever since they had known each other during childhood. It is a relationship which their families which are related to each other, approves of, but only until Sithara gets a proposal from a doctor, something which neither her parents or the opportunist lady herself wishes to let go. As she immediately chooses the newly found love who earns in big numbers, the jobless young man leaves his town of Thalassery to the city of Cochin, as there is a small job set for him at the place. He reaches there and finds himself selling CDs and DVDs of devotional songs, and at the same time, meets a girl named Anu (Aparna Balamurali) who is also doing some selling door to door. The incidents which are to follow affects his life, and the heart-broken one gets something to cheer him up for the rest of his life.

The defence of Sunday Holiday :: You are sure to find happiness in the little things of joy that the movie brings, and even though its humour is not leviathan or anything, it is on those little things that the same also concentrates. We have some nice visuals of the places, and the city from high up, is always a joy to watch. The combination of Asif Ali and Aparna Balamurali also proves to be a very nice one. There are also messages to take home in this movie, as it tells the audience to forgive and move on, and to be concerned and kind to others. A moment featuring Sudheer Karamana and Siddique explains that the best. The movie also asserts goodness in those people who act more angry and frustrated than loving. The final twist is good, but the fact that this had to be a movie within a movie is more tiring than helping the cause. Well, feel-good surely feels better to have rather than mixing meaningless twists to a tale which can’t take it, and therefore Sunday Holiday will stand tall over the director’s earlier flick.

The claws of flaw :: It is certain that you will find not much which will give you the feeling of freshness here – there is the kind of story with feel-good factor that has been flourishing for years, and it is the thing that Malayalam movie industry has found easy to follow. It is up-to us to wonder why there is no experimentation with the kind of genre which has worked so well even without that much of a budget. Is it because the same is considered the safe bet, and therefore doesn’t require any more attention? The movie also has sequences which contribute so less to the movie, and there are also those characters without whom movie could have gone foward, along with those tales of some which don’t get to be close to where we had wanted them to. The songs also seem to be added more than needed, as with a certain drag in the middle, we feel this movie to be longer than it really is.

Performers of the soul :: We were waiting for Thrissivaperoor Kliptham starring both Asif Ali and Aparna Balamurali, and here we have this one starring both of them. The former is coming out of two underrated movies, Adventures of Omanakkuttan and Avarude Raavukal, both being divergent in their own terms, and had potential for even more – both were not short of fun if you look at them.The latter is coming right out feel-good success stories, Maheshinte Prathaikaram and Oru Muthassi Gadha, playing three roles in two flicks, and awaiting the next, Sarvopari Palakkaran. She played a girl from Idukki, from Cochin (Ernakulam), Kannur (Iritty) in this one and is now set to play characters from Kottayam (Palai), and Thrissur – well, all seems to work so well as far as Aparna is concerned. With shades of her character in the realistic Dileesh Pothan movie, she is the pick here. Asif Ali’s character though, is closer to his work in Avarude Raavukal, and he is natural in doing the same.

Further performers of the soul :: As Asif Ali plays the young man in need for confidence and change, Aparna is the muse that he was in need to write the rest of his tale on the book of life. Shruti Ramachandran of the Pretham fame is also here doing not much, restricted to the beginning and the end of the flick – see does give that ghostly look in the end for sure. Sreenivasan, Lal Jose and Asha Sharath’s characters work outside the tale, which means that they have much less to do except for the beginning, before the interval, and just after the tale finishes. The two actors whom we are sure to notice, and will ask for them to be present more are Sudheer Karamana and Siddique – no surprises there when you remember how it has been working with the previous movies. Bhagath Manuel also gets to do a good role, even though it doesn’t become the sidekick role as much as expected. Dharmajan is in hold of the comic side, and the rest only has to follow.

How it finishes :: Sunday Holiday is surely an improvement for the director who had earlier directed the movie Bicycle Thieves which is more or less a shame for the Italian classic with the same name, something to which almost everyone at the theatres agreed, watching that movie with so much high expectations after positive reviews. With no other Malayalam release, this is a weekend which only has Tiyaan and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum from last two weeks giving it some challenge, and therefore, its place should be safe, even without trying that hard. Along with the other two movies having Asif Ali which released last, this becomes another feel-good flick than anything else – I wouldn’t rate this one above those two though, with its problems in the middle part. Still, we all need feel-good movies which leave something for life all the time, and so Sunday Holiday becomes a good movie to watch this weekend, whether it is really Sunday or not.

Release date: 14th July 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Jis Joy
Starring: Asif Ali, Aparna Balamurali, Shruti Ramachandran, Lal Jose, Bhagath Manuel, Sudheer Karamana, KPAC Lalitha, Asha Sharath, Sreenivasan, Siddique, Sunish Kumar, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Vinaya Prasad, Nirmal Palazhi, Sethulakshmi

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