Eighteen Hours

What is the movie about? :: A group of friends is shown as making a journey through the forest, and after meeting an accident on the way, they are shot. Then the scene shifts to six hours earlier to an airport. Six students from a school are traveling from Kerala to Karnataka to take part in an inter-school competition in Bengaluru. But unfortunately, their flight is cancelled, and they have to travel by a bus instead. Along with them, there are the teachers from the school and a former student, Anupama (Indu Thampy) who is also in trouble due to the flight being cancelled. On the way, they reach the exact same place where the accident had happened, and there the bus is hijacked by a group of gunmen who were seen earlier. The gunmen are basically trying to get away from police and cross the border with a collection of drugs which they hope to exchange for a good amount of money. For the same, they hope to keep the bus and the students with them.

So, what happens with the events here? :: As the bus keep moving, the police are also after them, but with the bus in their control, they are able to keep themselves going. The man in charge of the operations is Commissioner Jayakumar IPS (Shyamaprasad). Now, as the teachers, Geetha (Devi Ajith) and Vinayan (Harikrishnan) are thrown out of the bus, the remaining students are Alisha (Sanjana Nair), Elsa (Keerthana Sreekumar), Chandrika (Keerthana P Kumar), Fiza (Abhirami), Bhoomi (Anagha Ravi) and Dwani (Parthavi Vinod), along with Anupama. Now they face the biggest problem in their life, as they realize that most probably, they won’t be going back home. Even though the police do find them, they are killed by the goons. Now, they have to take the matter into their hands and try to escape, but can they do it before time runs out?

The defence of Eighteen Hours :: There is some good experimentation in the form of a survival film here, and despite having some veteran actors in smaller roles in there, we have a lot of young blood at work, as there is some risk well taken around here. But as they all come up with pretty good performances, and with the atmosphere being used very well, film turns out to be effective. The background music is effective, and there is one good song to add to it. The camera work is fantastic, and there are some fine visuals of the forest, even though the focus actually shifts in between, which affects that possibility. Almost all of the film is focused on a forest, or semi-forest area, which is a big bonus for this kind of a theme, even though more adventures through the forest would have been preferred. The final moments also bring a twist, and has hope for a possible sequel, which turned out to be a nice idea, as this film was too short with its length.

The claws of flaw :: The film doesn’t utilize all the elements to its best advantage, even though the scope was for much more – when you get people being kidnapped with the setting in the forest, you know that the possibilities are endless. After all, a forest in nobody’s permanent ally, and it doesn’t matter what your age, gender or social and economic status used to be – a criminal or an innocent, forest has its say. We have seen similar hostage situations in films before, but this one in a more stylish take on the same, with no saviours and no planning, going rather ruthlessly at it, and in a contemporary world with drug-based crimes increasing, one would expect similar things to happen more than they used to be – COVID-19 has left people highly unstable, unpredictable and ready for anything. With a run-time of just more than one and half hours, it doesn’t establish the background story that much. It could have also used more fighting sequences, along with some extra running around and hiding – this should have focused more on escaping and hiding, but it is less in comparison.

Performers of the soul :: Indu Thampy plays the leading character here, and keeps things going, as she only gains strength. The elements of Type 1 Diabetic are nicely incorporated here, as she is supposed to be playing a character with the same health problem which she has in life, and she has some action sequences which are managed really well. Among the veteran actors, only Shyamaprasad gets something to perform here, and he plays the character well when focused on him. He has good scope in playing a senior police officer, as it is shown here. We have all loved him for his skills as a director, and one has to feel that Hollywood touch which was in Ivide and Hey Jude also being reflected here as far as style is concerned. Even he has a small role to play in his films, he has always made that memorable, and it is the same case here. We had last seen him as an actor this year itself, in Chathur Mukham, and we also remember his role in Ranam, another underrated film with its own moments of glory.

Further performers of the soul :: Vijay Babu has an even smaller role even though we feel that this was going to be a bigger role from how it goes in the beginning, while Sudheer Karamana’s work is unfortunately too small for our liking, as we all expected him to make a comeback at later stages as part of the search for the bus. One has to wonder why they needed other police officers to the lead other teams when the latter was there to make an impact. Lengthier presence of such actors were required, but I guess that they can be used better in a possible sequel in the future. The newcomers do handle the work well though. While the villains do suit their role, the girls do their job really well, and considering the fact that this is the first film for most of the cast around here, everything goes very much nicely. For a number of these performers, there will be more roles coming, and bright future is there for at least some of them, depending on how things would go in their next films. Former Miss India, Mansi Sehgal is also here in a cameo.

How it finishes :: Eighteen Hours, despite missing the chance to go higher, has its own merits running through it. It should be the belief in its strengths that made sure that this one had its release not in the theatres, but on Mazhavil Manorama as well as the app, Manorama Max. With less resources and also with a lot of newcomers, the film has managed enough to be entertaining in an atmosphere which seems to make the most out of it. Even when the film seems to struggle, it manages to raise its bar later, and just like its protagonists, the movie doesn’t give up, and goes on to bring a surprise in the end. The director’s best known film was Salt Mango Tree, along with other familiar titles like Thrissur Pooram and Escape from Uganda, but this film, even though without the big names playing major roles, gets to be better, and can inspire even better flicks like this. It adds on as another interesting release during COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, coming straight to home.

Release date: 1st August 2021 (Mazhavil Manorama and Manorama MAX)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Rajesh Nair
Starring: Indu Thampy, Vijay Babu, Sudheer Karamana, Shyamaprasad, Advaith Ajay, Harikrishnan, Krishnan Balakrishnan, Devi Ajith, Vimal Vijay, Sanjana Nair, Keerthana Sreekumar, Keerthana P Kumar, Abhirami, Anagha Ravi, Parthavi Vinod, Mansi Sehgal

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Chathur Mukham

What is the movie about? :: Clement (Alencier Ley Lopez) used to be a professor in the Kerala Agricultural University, and even though he has retired from service, has a certain amount of interest in science which can be matched by nobody else. Due to his skills in science, he is approached by Antony (Sunny Wayne) who wishes to talk to him about a certain kind of energy which can be associated with ghosts, but this time, he is trying to connect the same with science in one way or the other. Clement is a strong believer in science, but not in ghosts, and he is not ready to believe in Antony’s tale about energy in the form of ghosts. Then, Antony comes up with the full story about the woman who was haunted by ghosts, Thejaswini (Manju Warrier). She is someone who spends most of her time in the social media, and has everything related to her life posted on Instagram. She belongs to a new generation which believes that technology is an important part of life, and also that women needs to have education and financial independence before getting married.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Hailing from Kollam, she works with her old friend, Antony who has been running a CCTV business at Thiruvananthapuram as a new venture. Things seem to work out well for her until a strange incident occurs during a ritual at temple and she losses her phone in the temple pond. This leads to her deciding to go for another phone, and she hopes she can find the cheapest one with multimedia features. It is then that she comes across a special offer in a website which seems to have started only a few days ago. This is a type of phone belonging to a brand that nobody had heard about, and they guess that it is some kind of new Chinese device. She orders the same, and gets it only to find out that there is something strange about it. She finds out that there are messages going out of it without her consent, and she even gets electrocuted from the charger, but the mobile phone seems to have full charge even after a long time period of usage. Initially, she feels that only the selfie camera of the phone is the weaker link.

And what is to follow with the terrifying series of events? :: But there is much more to the mobile phone than what meets the eye. The sequence of events unfold in such a way that she becomes afraid of her own mobile phone. She tries to get rid of the phone multiple times, but it ends up being with her, or forces her to take it back in one way or the other. Even dropping the phone in the middle of the road or the temple pond doesn’t help. As the phone continues to come towards her and cause problems, she becomes confident that there is a ghost haunting the phone. She approaches a local magician, but the spirit scares him away too, and she is forced to live with the phone which seems to slowly taking her to death. Clement is still not convinced, and decides to see the woman anyway. But this leads them to a strange past that the mobile phone seems to have a strange and mysterious past, and it is not the only phone that belongs to the same category.

The defence of Chathur Mukham :: The film provides a good deviation from the usual horror films, with technology bringing the horror again, as it was surely tried before, but not with this much focus on science. The cinematography is one thing that increases the effectiveness of this film, as we can see them. These are not the usual horror settings, but the different ones which can provide the environment in a similar manner with variety. With the mobile phone at the centre, this doesn’t even need to have that much of the usual jump scares in action to bring the horror to the social media and the usual dose of technology. There is also the chance of a sequel which is left behind at the end. The special effects are used well enough, and there are some fine explanations to the horror which is added here too. Having Manju Warrier as the main character is also a good addition. With technology being an integral part of our lives, the ghost from technology is more relevant here in comparison to those spirits which wandered through cemeteries and old haunted houses.

The claws of flaw :: There are the usual kind of things which have been done before, and these repetitions bring us back to different films which we have seen before, like The Ring and The Final Destination series. The dramatic side is also not that effective in comparison, and some characters are just not used well enough. With the concept having the deviation, the film could have made it even more innovative, but by the end, film is moving more towards a safer side rather than anything else. It could have also focused on the background, or added more scares, which are not considered either. The ending could have also been better, because there was the chance for creating something grand. It could have also had some science fiction elements taking over in between, but that doesn’t happen, and the film could have also had more deaths, and more spreading of terror. When you have spirits in store within a mobile phone and when it has effect on technology and electricity, you know there are no limits that need to established – it could have run free.

Performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier leads the way in a horror film, and even though this genre is not unfamiliar to her, when we consider The Priest, this is time she faces the ghost, her own fears and death as a strong character. Sunny Wayne, just like he did in Sara’s and June, has the supporting role in another heroine-centered film, which he does in his usual way, being the second most important character around here. He doesn’t really have his moments this time though, but manages to hold on. Niranjana Anoop is unfortunately wasted in a small role here, and the character doesn’t even get killed by the ghost – a few others at least had moments in that way in comparison. The other actors who deserved more attention, including Rony David, Srikant Murali, Babu Annur etc also have their roles limited. Alencier Ley Lopez is the only other actor who comes into the spotlight, and this happens to be a nice change for him from the usual roles. Meanwhile, Shyamaprasad is notable in his small role, while mobile phone is definitely a character all by itself with its ghostly presence.

How it finishes :: Identified as techno horror, the film does have its moments. We have already had ghosts haunting electronic devices, especially mobile phones – the Bollywood film 3G was related to the same, and this one is certainly a better creation in comparison, even though it released eight years later. Pretham and Pretham 2 were also wanderings through the spiritual presence in technology. There are many things that make Chathur Mukham different though, and Manju Warrier is surely one of those elements. This one also works as a warning against the presence of technology in our lives. This is the kind of film which could have released on the OTT platforms much earlier – this delay has made the interest in the movie much lesser, and the fact that it didn’t release in Amazon Prime Video also contributes to that. Cold Case with its ghost in the refrigerator had already made the supernatural working online, and now we have this ghost to haunt the OTT, which it surely does pretty well.

Release date: 8th April 2021 (India), 8th July 2021 (ZEE 5)
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Ranjeet Kamala Sankar, Salil V
Starring: Manju Warrier, Sunny Wayne, Alencier Ley Lopez, Rony David, Shyamaprasad, Niranjana Anoop, Babu Annur, Srikant Murali, Shaju Sreedhar, Kalabhavan Prajod, Balaji Sarma, Navas Vallikkunnu, Saranjith

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Drama

What is the movie about? :: Rosamma John Chacko (Arundathi Nag) has always had a desire to be buried in Kattappana, next to her husband, at their own parish cemetery where their ancestors were buried. But as she is in London with her youngest daughter Mercy (Kaniha), she is afraid that she can’t go back home if she is dead, as none of her children are in Kerala or even India. Mercy who used to be a nurse, is married to Dr Mukundhanunni (Shyamaprasad) who is a reputed cardiac surgeon in London after falling in love, and they are settled in United Kingdom with their two little children. Her eldest son Philip (Suresh Krishna) is a millionaire settled in the United States of America while her second son Benny (Tini Tom) is now in Australia with his wife who is a nurse. Her another daughter Ammini (Subi Suresh) is a nurse working in Canada, and has been living there with her jobless husband Anto (Johny Antony).

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: She also has her youngest son whom she loves more than the others, and Jomon (Niranj S) who is living in Dubai has no say in anything. His presence at United Arab Emirates itself is at the mercy of his good friends. So, with her sons and daughters in the United Kingdom, United States of America, United Arab Emirates, Australia and Canada, she is found dead on her bed while asleep. So, now the question remains about her funeral. The idea to which almost everyone agrees to, is that she is to have a funeral at London. For the same, the two elder brothers assign Dixon (Dileesh Pothan), a funeral director who runs his own funeral services in partnership with Rajagopalan (Mohanlal). The desire of the sons to have their mother’s funeral programme to be grand gives Dixon the idea that this is his chance to make it big.

And what else is to follow here? :: Everything seems to be going smoothly, but then, Jomon resists this idea, and asks for a funeral in Kattappana, at the cemetery where his mother had always wanted to be buried. Even though Mercy, as well as Mukundhanunni who is afraid of his mother-in-law’s spirit wandering around the house without attaining peace does agree to the same, none of them has the voice against the elder brothers who decide on it. It is then that Rajagopalan decides to have a say in the process. He feels that the old lady should get the funeral that she had always desired. But Dixon who has taken the advance payment for the funeral function won’t agree to it, and neither will the lady’s sons who got all of these planned very well. So can Rajagopalan find a way to make things happen as well as re-unite with his wife Rekha (Asha Sarath) who had thrown him out of the house in the name of a poem from the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda?

The defence of Drama :: The movie does deal with a situation that could happen very often in future – it is more or less something which has been dealt with in a realistic manner. When we consider the number of our relatives outside India, it makes about twenty five percent, and if it is about someone who is outside Kerala, that can make up to seventy five percent of the total number of people. The movie certainly shows a reality that a lot of people are going to face. The older generation will have their houses and funerals in trouble soon enough. There will be those busy times at some point, when their opinions will not ever come to being something that the new generation will listen to. But it is all based on money, isn’t it? The movie is also a morality tale, with money finally becoming the least important thing. The flick also has some comedy in there, and the visuals when showing England, is pretty good.

The claws of flaw :: The movie seems stretched, without doubt. It does seem too long, and should have been kept short by removing certain parts. Maybe the introduction of Mohanlal could have happened much earlier, and things could have started happening as early as possible. There is also a certain amount of repetition here, and we can see some struggle with the flow. More focus could have been there with the characters, especially the sons and daughters of the deceased lady, and the problem that a new generation of money and career seeking youth gives to the old generation could have been focused better. Also, considering the fact that this movie comes from the director who gave us the flicks like Pranchiyettan and The Saint, Indian Rupee, Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha, Spirit and Thirakkatha, this is not really the movie that we expected.

The performers of the soul :: Mohanlal doesn’t have any problems with this character as it seems usual and natural for him – there is special to be done or to be divergent. Asha Sarath doesn’t have that much to do here. We note that there are directors here coming in notable roles – Dileesh Pothan, Shyamaprasad, Johny Anony, Renji Panicker, all of them having their interesting moments. Suresh Krishna and Tini Tom plays the two siblings based in United States of America and Australia nicely in their own styles. Kaniha had a rather irrelevant role in Abrahaminte Santhathikal, but here she has a nice role, and has the emotions running strong with this one. Baiju has the funny side to handle, even though the department struggles most of the time. Arundathi Nag plays the corpse for most of the time, but has her moments when not inside the box. Jayaraj Warrier, Shaalin Zoya and Jaffer Idukki got some smaller roles here, but they are notable despite the short stay there.

How it finishes :: How many young men and women go in search of jobs elsewhere, and how many of them remain in Kerala? Do they really settle outside because there are zero opportunities here? It is nice that they show those five nations – United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Australia and United Arab Emirates. These are those places where our people will never cease to try to go and work, along with more nations in the Middle East as well as New Zealand. But is it always worth it? You will have to think over that with the situations created in this flick. It does leave one with a few things to keep thinking, and that seems to have the focus over the entertaining side. With the challenge there with Kayamkulam Kochunni, Drama seems to have just enough to keep going, and it seems to be a choice not to try to have more.

Release date: 1st November 2018
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Ranjith
Starring: Mohanlal, Asha Sarath, Arundathi Nag, Dileesh Pothan, Shyamaprasad, Kaniha, Baiju Santhosh, Johny Antony, Tini Tom, Shaalin Zoya, Subi Suresh, Niranj S, Suresh Krishna, Renji Panicker, Jaffer Idukki, Jayaraj Warrier, Shankar Panicker

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ranam

What is the movie about? :: Aadhi (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is part of the drug trade in Detroit, Michigan even though he doesn’t want any part of it. Being part of what he calls a dying city has him caught between his need for money and existence as well as the desire to get out of this dangerous game which will lead to his end. He is very much attached to his only one relative in the United States who cares for him, Bhaskaran (Nandhu) and his family which includes Aju (Mathew Arun), who is striving to be like Aadhi, a strong figure who deals with cars and secret activiies. Aju is madly in love with his classmate Deepika (Celine Joseph) who doesn’t care for him, and spends her time with parties, drugs and alcohol, not caring for what can be the result of her actions. There are no strings attached to her as she keeps flying further away beyond hope.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Meanwhile, Seema (Isha Talwar), Deepika’s mother has been trying to raise her daughter well, and has been failing miserably in the same – her daughter doesn’t care for her, and her husband Rajan (Shivajith Padmanabhan) who wanted her to abort their child doesn’t care about her or Deepika as he goes on with his business empire and having relationships with other women. Rajan considers Seema to be someone who is there for his money and influence. Along with Aadhi who has a terrible past with his father murdering his mother, Damodar (Rahman) is another man who has lost his Tamil Sri Lankan identity back at his home country, during the Sri Lankan civil war and is hoping for a greater identity in Detroit’s underworld. Rajan and Prabhakaran has been on Damodar’s side for long.

And what else is to come up in this tale? :: Meanwhile, Detective Ahmed Siddique (Giju John) is appointed to take care of the problem of the underworld concerning Damodar and his right-hand man Selvan (Ashwin Kumar) their own gang, a Polish gang that goes against them, and their mediator Chandran (Shyamaprasad). His special skill is that he is good in both Malayalam and Tamil, a quality that is not commong with many police officers of the city. There is case of a new party drug called Redex and both gangs are trying to become the gang to control its collection and sale. Aadhi and Bhaskaran who are trying to move away from the gang will not find that too easy, as Damodar needs them both with him to become the crime lord of the city, the undisputed king to whom Detroit should bow down. But is that as easy as he thinks? Can he find a way to bring Aadhi back to his gang and evade Ahmed? Will Aadhi find peace and is there hope for Seema?

The defence of Ranam :: Just like the less appreciated Prithviraj thriller Ivide, this one also has the elements of an emotional thriller even though the whole thing seems to be a crime drama from outside. The visuals are really great, and there is also a history of the city as well as the same from the characters’ past. The idea of the missed American Dream is always there, as the characters see their dreams vanish, and we feel the ghosts of their lost dreams in the air itself. The music is really good here, and the theme song is one of the best that you can ever have – watching and listening to the same in the theatre is something glorious. There is no pretension in showing the dark world with the diasporas and collisions happening between ideologies, gangs as well as with the misguided innocence of youth battling against the depression that comes from terrible experiences.

The claws of flaw :: There are many characters in the movie that could have been dealt with in a better way. We have a few who could have done more with better screen presence. The common audience of Kerala will also have problems with following a movie is only Malayalam by about fifty percent – the rest of the dialogues are in English and Tamil. We have the clear lack of subtitles here, and I have missed out on some of the Tamil dialogues myself. There are moments when the movie seems to be confused about where it needs to be going. It is when the movie seems to have a certain drag in between. With everything so well set with all the history and background being dealt with, one just can’t be blamed for expecting more, with the wonderful theme music in the background. It could have matched the strong feeling given by the music with its content further. Prithviraj’s London Bridge set in the United Kingdom could do it better

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran once again shows the emotions of someone without roots in the best possible way, following what he did so well in Ivide, which was one less appreciated movie. In Koode, we saw how well he handled the depressing side of emotions, as he kept raising the bar higher to get closer to our soul. The curious case of “still the Thattathin Marayathu” fame Isha Talwar keeps us wondering – she seems to be miscast in most parts of the movie, but after a big loss to her character, she brings us some moments to remember. Giju John as the detective is a strong presence in this movie. Celine Joseph’s Deepika nicely becomes a representation of a new age and a new generation. Her reflection of the character has us impressed. At the same time, Rahman brings a fiery side to the new probable leader of Detroit underworld.

How it finishes :: You can see that Ranam follows the path of Ivide with its setting and how things progress with its characters. But Ranam can’t be considered to be as good as Ivide, because that one had emotions going so strong with all its characters; Ranam‘s focus is rather limited with its characters and their flashbacks. But there is a better focus on the Hollywood style of movie-making, and with style and class being present there to be seen, and that too without holding back at any moment. There is quality in what is presented on the screen, and when we look deeper, there is even more than what is shown on the movie, as the emotions go further and with better strength. Ranam becomes something more than what meets the eye on more than one occasion, and it takes a better pair of eyes to witness the same. Watch the title song from the movie below:

Release date: 6th September 2018
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Nirmal Sahadev
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Rahman, Isha Talwar, Celine Joseph, Giju John, Mathew Arun, Ashwin Kumar, Shyamaprasad, Shivajith Padmanabhan, Justin David, Sajini Sacharaiah, Santhosh Keezhattoor, David Alessi, Christian Brunetti, Christopher Brophy

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Abrahaminte Santhathikal

What is the movie about? :: Derick Abraham (Mammootty) is that kind of a police officer who projects a heroic image for the public, much to the dismay of other police officers like John Painadan (Suresh Krishna) who finds him as a clear threat. He has been keeping a clear image, and is known not to show mercy to the criminals, no matter who tries to persuade him. He has been putting himself in harm’s way on too many occasions, and has also earned many enemies among criminals as well as policemen. But that doesn’t drag him back, as he solves his cases, including the most recent one, which involves a serial killer who believes that he is working according to the will of God. Philip Abraham (Anson Paul) is Derick’s brother, and the only person whom he has as family. For him, Derick had even rejected the marriage proposal of his lover Diana Joseph (Kanika), who is now married to Joseph Esthappan (Sijoy Varghese), a rich businessman.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Philip is a sharp shooter who is in love with Aleena Maria Jacob (Tarushi Jha). Their love story continued to be something evoking jealousy, until Aleena is murdered one day. Philip is framed for her murder, as the evidence is against him. Derick tries to find any clue of his brother’s innocence, but everything seems to be against him. Even Philip’s friends and Aleena’s family seem to believe that Philip is responsible for her death, and Derick who is in charge of the investigation is left with not option, but to believe that his brother is a murderer. The court comes up with the judgement that he is guilty, and Philip gets life imprisonment along with a fine of one lakh rupees. An angry Philip disowns his brother, and Derick is left with regret over his inability to save his own blood,while his enemies celebrate this defeat of the invincible police officer. But is there more than what meets the eye with this case?

The defence of Abrahaminte Santhathikal :: The movie is certainly stylish from the first moments itself, and there are some of those positive shades of Memories, Villain and Grandmaster in there, which seems to have been used well enough. The serial killer begins the movie really well, and has our attention, as we await that cat and mouse game between the two, but that ends too easily, early and without much of an explanation. Then comes the emotional side, which also begins well enough with a love story, and claims some of the nice moments by the end. The visuals are really good as expected, but the terrible slow motion sequences and heroism do affect the same negatively. We do have the suspense factor and some twists out here, even though they are predictable for most people who have watched any of the similar movies. The cast is well suited for this movie, and even those who don’t have that much of screen time score nicely.

The claws of flaw :: Abrahaminte Santhathikal, just like Mammootty’s earlier movie with the same writer, has a certain problem – it seems to value style over substance, and there are elements which seem to remind us of many other movies. We can also see that the story doesn’t hold together, and it keeps going here and there, as if there is no idea what to do with the core. There is that serial killer idea which seems to bring a fine beginning here, but after that, the movie just struggles to continue as a thriller. There is also the absence of explanations in between, and the investigation thriller struggles to live up to its genre on many occasions. The material is only worth about one and half hours, because of which, the movie goes through a certain amount of drag. There are also too many predictable situations in this movie, reminding people of those flicks which shouldn’t be named, as it would spoil the possible suspense and twists.

The performers of the soul :: As one would expect, this movie has another Mammootty movie which seems to be custom made for him, as this one follows Uncle. Almost everything in this movie is solved by him rather than with the help of others – there seems to be only pretensions around here, as just like The Great Father, his character is just too superior even though he misses out one or two simple clues which could have been easily caught by a usual policeman. Mammootty certainly has no problems with playing this character, as the journey is not troublesome. He gets to solve the cases and also kill people – he doesn’t leave anything to the sidekicks, for this character is such a man, near invincible except when he cries for his brother. There are also some of those mass dialogues for the fans, and some of them in the theatre were actually confused when to clap and howl – this is that kind of a mix, but fans can go blind at it as usual, and they needn’t worry much about it.

Further performers of the soul :: Anson Paul who was one of the antagonists in Aadu 2 and played the protagonist in Kala Viplavam Pranayam, has the big supporting role to play here, and playing the hero’s brother, he stays strong. He seems to be rightly suited for both action as well as romance, as we can find out with this movie. We have to wait to see his upcoming works, as he deserves more. The newcomer in her second movie, Tarushi Jha leaves a mark here too, with a cute presence, and some romantic moments, even though the same is short lived. We do wish to see her in bigger roles, without doubt. Shyamaprasad has a nice role here too, and Siddique has some nice moments of villainy in the flick. Kanika’s role is short, and making not much of an impact towards the progress of the movie, and the flick could have done without this particular character. Kalabhavan Shajon scores in another police role along with Renji Panicker, while Suresh Krishna plays another solid and tough role here.

How it finishes :: There is more than one sides to this movie, and overall, it is an okay effort in making a thriller. But it had the strength to becomes something like Memories or Drishyam, and it just lost the way in between, with too much focus on heroism and favouring style over substance, and dialogues over story. The focus on emotional side let its thrilling side go weak, and let it be predictable with elements from other movies. Abrahaminte Santhathikal can be watched for being a pretty good emotional thriller, but it can’t rise much above. If you liked The Great Father a lot, you will surely like this one better. After all, the strength of a suspense thriller depends on its viewers too. If you need more, there are always Hollywood movies out there, with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom still going strong. Otherwise, this movie can take some of your time for the weekend.

Release date: 16th June 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Shaji Padoor
Starring: Mammootty, Anson Paul, Tarushi Jha, Kanika, Siddique, Sijoy Varghese, Renji Panicker, Kalabhavan Shajon, Yog Japee, Suresh Krishna, Mukundhan, Maqbool Salmaan, Master George, Shyamaprasad, Adhil Unais Hussain, Sudev Nair (cameo), Spadikam George (cameo), IM Vijayan (cameo)

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hey Jude

What is the movie about? :: Dominique Rodriguez (Siddique) and Mariya Rodriguez (Neena Kurup), are living a pretty good life with their children Jude Rodriguez (Nivin Pauly) and Andrea Rodriguez (Apoorva Bose) at Fort Cochin. They trace their lineage a long way back, as one of the most respectable Anglo-Indian families at the place. Dominique runs an antique shop nearby, and his skills in doing business depends on his ability to lie so well that he makes a usual thing a symbol of Dravidian world or the last piece of a part of Indian heritage that is not found anywhere else in the country – he sells them at high prices to unsuspecting foreigners who have a strange fascination for the orient, the fine pearls of the East, especially of India. But his son Jude is just the opposite, never able to lie, but more intelligent than anyone else around; at the same time, he completely lacks in any kind of social skill.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jude has no friends in the city, and his co-workers make sure that he gets fired from his job at a hardware company. He spends his time collecting pictures of different aquatic animals – he has all the information about ocean’s creatures, and loves clown fish, jelly fish and gold fish and his dream is about owning a big aquarium one day. While his parents are worried about his future, his sister finds no hope in him, as he wishes to have food at the exact same time every day, and eats only the same food items all the time. He has a list for almost everything in his life, and talks to his video camera about each day about his thoughts. Twenty eight years old and being different from everyone around him, he has a tough time going through each and every day of his life. But he is not ready to accompany his father with the work.

And what follows next in the adventure? :: When Dominique has to travel to Goa to attend a funeral, things change. He has to take Jude and Mariya with him on the journey, leaving Andrea in charge of the antique shop. There, it turns out that Dominique and Jude have inherited everything which was owned by the dead person who had special love for the distant relatives. Now, the problem that Domique faces in selling the newly acquired property and traveling back to Cochin is Sebastian Chakraparambu (Vijay Menon) who lives with his daughter Crystal Ann Chakraparambu (Trisha Krishnan) in the outhouse which cannot be cleared as the building was rented for a period of five years. Dominique comes up with some plans to get rid of the new neighbours, but nothing works. At the same time, Jude and Crystal become good friends, but both have their own troubles in facing life.

The defence of Hey Jude :: From the first moments itself, you are sure that this is that kind of a light-hearted entertainer with messages for life, which will be developing slowly and steadily as the movie progresses. Hey Jude can be considered as the simplest and the most entertaining movie from the director who has known to provide us with strong philosophical side to ponder about. The humour is a clear winner in this movie, as it keeps dropping in all the time. All the characters in this movie are funny in one way or the other, and things never go out of control to bring a possible dark side. The funny side has us more and more interested in the proceedings, and with the grand visuals of Goa, all becomes good for this movie. The music is pretty good, and as it has been talked about, this is a lovely tale of love, self-discovery, healing and transformation. It gets into the list of inspirational movies which have made the big impact in the industry – we see the support for people to be who they want to be.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is kind of longer than one would have wanted it to be. Then, those who wanted Shyamaprasad to go into those deeper human emotions and situations are going to feel the need for more. One can feel that there has been the effort to make things a little too simple – it was surely not needed considering how far our audience could evolve from the time the first movie of the same director released. The movie could have also ended smarter and without a quick full stop. If you don’t like movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, and are unable to connect to the protagonists of those movie, you would have the same trouble here – well, some so called perfect people will always have problems with these kinds of characters, as they jump right out of the firmament with stored thunder in mouth; this one is not for that kind of people born with silver spoons and even golden forks in their mouths.

The performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly surely has the most divergent as well as different character that he has had to play in his whole career, and he could manage the same with great skill. Meanwhile, Trisha makes her Malayalam debut here, and she does that with ease – it is surely surprising that it took her such a long time to be here, but as she is here, it is all good. Well, she has played a Malayali girl in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, making this not the first instance of being part of such a character. Siddique plays the father figure again, as we see him at his best just after watching him in Aadhi in the role of a responsible father – this one is actually more challenging, and his work is light-hearted as well as interesting. Neena Kurup is there throughout as the mother figure, and it is nice to see Apoorva Bose back in action; she was being missed. Vijay Menon plays a funny as well as powerful character present throughout the flick. Aju Varghese has a nice, funny cameo to his credit.

How it finishes :: Shyamaprasad is the one director whom we know the most for adapting the American classic expressionist play, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams for the Malayalam audience, and doing that with such skill, that Mahatma Gandhi University has included it in the paper, Comparative Literature for the final semester BA English students. Arike, which signified the exact opposite meaning to Akale, was another beautiful flick with its quest for love. Ivide with its quest for identity and reflecting rootlessness, was also with philosophical undercurrents. But Hey Jude is rather direct in all that it reflects on the screen, and it can be considered as the most light-hearted as well as the funniest movie from the director with messages to go with it. If you liked movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, I don’t see why you won’t watch this one with family.

Release date: 2nd February 2018
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Shyamaprasad
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Trisha Krishnan, Siddique, Neena Kurup, Vijay Menon, Apoorva Bose, Aju Varghese (cameo), Shyamaprasad (cameo)

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Karinkunnam 6s

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Vampire Owl :: When was the last time we watched a Malayalam movie in the theatre?

Vampire Bat :: Last month, I guess?

Vampire Owl :: Is it? Still, that feels like an eternity.

Vampire Bat :: It is mostly because we are not used to not watching movies.

Vampire Owl :: Yes, I think someone has worked black magic against us, which is why we are missing so many movies.

Vampire Bat :: I see that hands of pure evil itself. But in this case, it is more because we don’t have time.

Vampire Owl :: Did you see the half-yearly list of the movies we have watched in the theatre? It is quite a small list compared to the last few years.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, we definitely need to work on that.

Vampire Owl :: Until then, one Malayalam movie for this weekend?

Vampire Bat :: So be it. A sports drama would be a welcome change!

[Gets the tickets with tea and cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Vandana (Manju Warrier) lives with her husband Aby (Anoop Menon) after successfully running away from home in favour of an inter-caste marriage. Both are from sports background, and the latter has one dream only, to make things better for volleyball in a world dominated by cricket. His love for the game is above everything else, and for the same, he supports his own team Karinkunnam 6s. With the same dream in his mind, he contacts Kesavan (Shyamaprasad), a man who is very much interested in the profits to be gained from the venture. Even though he agrees to the idea of having a Volleyball Premier League on the lines of Indian Premier League and Indian Super League, he decides that it has to be entertainment, and that should include fixed matches – it is something to which Aby can’t agree.

So what happens next? :: What follows next are all against Aby, as he is bed-ridden and Vandana has to take over the team to make sure that it plays in the league, and plays fair. For the same, she contacts many players, but the rich and the influential groups in the league works against her making sure that she gets no official players. But Vandana has help from Haritha (Lena Abhilash), the head of the police department, and decides to choose and train a number of inmates in the prison. The team starts from the powerhouse Douglas (Babu Antony), and is joined by many other inmates who look forward to making a mark. But with no professional training, can the prisoners do enough to make it to the next round of the tournament featuring some of the best? Can they leave their own personal rivalries behind and live for the moment?

The defence of Karinkunnam 6s :: One can easily say that this is one of the best sports drama movies made in Malayalam – there are not many interesting movies belonging to that genre around here. When it is not based on an overrated sport like cricket, things only get better. It takes some courage to take a movie based on something which is not cricket or football – and that risk is taken, and they make sure that it appeals to the audience in this part of the world. The movie is also dedicated to Jimmy George, who was considered as one of the greatest volleyball players – the deserving heroes of our land who are less known just because they didn’t play the hyped game of cricket. There are some very nice moments in this movie, which are a lot inspirational; there are more which are emotional, but it never manages to overdo the same. There is power and there is also a lot of energy here!

The claws of flaw :: This is a movie which could have made it to the list of the best among its kind. The tale here is still predictable for most of the time though. There could have been more focus on the sports rather than the drama and the incidents which occurred outside the court. It could have gone deeper with both too, with the sporting side as well as the dramatic events with direct relation to the characters. It also takes some time to get going in the beginning, and it is with the prisoners getting to the act that things get to be interesting. The climax could have also been bigger. People might be able to find problems with this movie related to the sports, but none of the sports movies in Malayalam can be considered close enough to that big reality, and this one can also be forgiven for those flaws that can be taken out of the grave when the DVD comes out.

Performers of the soul :: Having no huge star, this one relies on the long list of actors who play the characters in fine style – nobody lets us down around here. After Vettah, Manju Warrier is excellent here, and there is so much energy that she carries forward here – it is shared by the rest of the cast too, especially the team which is lead by Babu Antony with his usual style. The other person who catches our attention from the team is Sudheer Karamana who has some very nice moments; Baiju also gets some nice dialogues here. Suraj Venjaramoodu impresses us with a different avatar here too, and he deservingly gets some claps. Anoop Menon goes on smoothly with his role. Even those who does some cameo roles here leaves something for the audience.

How it finishes :: Without the big cast that the other movies of this season have come up with, this one has managed to come up with a special identity of its own. There is entertainment guaranteed, and it is worth a fine watch with the family. This is no perfect sports drama, but you find inspiration here and you will also get the thrills. Lets hope that this movie brings back to its viewers the memories of the volleyball legend, and also bring more interest into this game. Unlike the movies which are filled with ridiculous content for the fans, this is the kind of movie that needs to be watched – there are no superstars here, but everyone in this movie ends up being no less than a special star. All of them contribute here, and we are left applauding for those final dialogues and the tribute.

Release date: 7th July 2016
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Deepu Karunakaran
Starring: Manju Warrier, Babu Antony, Anoop Menon, Jacob Gregory, Baiju, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Sudev Nair, Sudheer Karamana, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Nandhu, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Manikuttan, Vivek Gopan, Kevin, Lena Abhilash (cameo), Shyamaprasad (cameo), Major Ravi (cameo), Hareesh Peradi (cameo), Maniyanpilla Raju (cameo), Jagadish (cameo), Gayathri Suresh (cameo), Samuthirakani (cameo)

karinkunnam6s ()

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Anarkali

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What is it about? :: Shanthanu (Prithviraj Sukumaran) who arrives at Lakshadweep Islands as a diving instructor actually has another plan in his mind. His old friend Zachariya (Biju Menon) is already on the island and they are joined by Koya (Suresh Krishna) to whom they tell that love story which goes back by many years. The tale is about a girl named Nadira (Priyal Gor) and her love with Shanthanu before being separated by her father. Far away from her, and with no idea where the girl is, Shanthanu hopes to find her through her brother who is an officer at the Naval base at Kavaratti, the capital of Lakshadweep. With her rich and influential father standing on the way, and very less chances to find his lady love, Shanthanu knows that he will need all the help that he can get.

The defence of Anarkali :: The success of Anarkali lies in being direct and not taking the easy way out like many other movies. It is a believable love story with strong presence of the “true love” elements and along with maintaining that status, goes beyond states and languages. The comic sequences are very nicely done, and Biju Menon with his amazing comic timing, makes sure that the funny side is perfect. The visuals are amazing, and if you look deeper into this movie, there are similarities with Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal and there is an abiding sad mood of “impossible hope” throughout the movie which reminds one of Prithviraj’s another flick, London Bridge. But Anarkali manages to soar ahead of all these movies. The visuals here might be the best you can have from an island location and the songs are good. The emotions are strong throughout this movie.

Claws of flaw :: A disadvantage of the movie is its length, even though there is no feeling of drag anywhere – that is quite an achievement for the people behind the flick. The movie’s love story is still cliched up-to an extent with the hero and heroine waiting for the approval of the girl’s father, and making that one last effort defying all odds. It could have also used Sufism more. There is also a little bit of Mosayile Kuthira Meenukal here, but Anarkali does manage to rise above that by being an entertainer and a full love story for all kinds of audience. But aren’t these things which can be forgiven in the case of a true romantic story? There is no romance without cliche, and with a lot of other aspects staying away from the cliches, Anarkali is not going to be just another love story, because it is better! You really don’t need to judge this movie based on the opinions of the others, because this one is for the heart and that changes according to individual.

Performers of the soul :: You see another chance for Prithviraj Sukumaran here, and he has once again provided an amazing performance to make sure that this one will work well along with his other movies in the theatre, Ennu Ninte Moideen and Amar Akbar Anthony. There is a lot of energy from him here, and he has also kept this character close to our hearts. Intensity and tranquility are just two sides of this character, and with Prithviraj’s exceptional skills, reaches the audience really well. Biju Menon is there in the supporting role after playing the lead in Salt Mango Tree, and he has managed to give the right amount of the same; most of the funny side of the movie is handled by him, and you will surely love his character. He brings so many of those memorable comic situations in this one. Meanwhile, Renji Panicker and Major Ravi has notable cameo roles.

Further Performers of the soul :: Coming to the heroines, even though only one fits the exact definition, there are two others who share some nice screen presence. Priyal Gor might be the cutest heroine ever to step into the Malayalam movie industry. Another positive thing is that she could bring the emotions to the scene very well. Meanwhile, Miya George has a strong character to perform here and she manages that very well; she is also the first to arrive on screen. Samskruthy Shenoy who plays the third significant female character brings her best performance here – the abiding sadness of her character is elegantly reflected on her face. The Kerala State Film Award Winner of this year, Sudev Nair does a very nice job. Kabir Bedi is very strong in his role, Suresh Krishna brings a notable performance. As Prithviraj scores his hat-trick success, there nothing negative in the cast.

Soul exploration :: Once again, the symbol of true love is “waiting” – there is something about the romance here. The two lovers are radically determined in this movie, as the sea becomes the metaphor for the distance between them and it is the final obstacle for them just like the girl’s father was the metaphor for the same earlier. As the ocean kept them away, it is the island of loneliness to which the protagonist was restricted to, and it has a form when he reaches Lakshadweep. The sea and the girl’s father are his obstacles among which only one needs to be conquered at a time, and as true love is not without troubles, he goes through them, but not without risking his own life and earning a name on the pages inside the chronicles where the saga of sacrifice is written. True love is near impossible because it demands a lot, and our protagonist runs right through, as the emotional side remains strong.

How it finishes :: Anarkali is above Amar Akbar Anthony and Ennu Ninte Moideen both in content and presentation; the feel-good factor also comes as a nice advantage. Rising above the latter as well as Premam, this is undoubtedly the best romantic story which has released for quite some time. If you don’t blindly adore these three movies, you can easily fall in love with Anarkali, because it is made clear in the beginning itself that nothing other than true love awaits in the flick. There is no need to go for the general opinion in this case because a lot of people are still lost in the other movies from Prithviraj and might find it not that easy to digest a movie which has a better philosophical side. If you place these four movies and think neutrally without consulting anyone else, you will know, and in the end, you will re-assert the fact that true love is beyond all barriers and that there is the need to visit the beautiful Lakshadweep Islands.

Release date: 13th November 2015
Running time: 168 minutes
Directed by: Sachy
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Miya George, Priyal Gor, Biju Menon, Samskruthy Shenoy, Kabir Bedi, Sudev Nair, Suresh Krishna, Rajeev Menon, Major Ravi, Assim Jamal, Renji Panicker, Madhupal, Shyamaprasad.

anarkali

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Ivide

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What is it about? :: Varun Blake (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a police officer in the Atlanta Police Department, with the Indian origins as he was adopted by an American couple from a church-run orphanage at Kottayam. Roshni Mathew (Bhavana) is his ex-wife who had decided to separate from him due to his violent behaviour and never-ending insecurities. Krish Hebbar (Nivin Pauly) is her new boss at the new job, and he is someone who used to be her classmate. He is also her newly found love interest at the time of crisis. At the same time, there are murders happening in the city, and the murdered people are all immigrants of Indian origin. As Varun goes after the case and discovers a link, but he might be presented with a choice in the end, which will define his quality as a person and a police officer.

What is it really about? :: We are introduced into the story and are provided with narration when needed in the voice of Prithvraj who himself talks in Malayalam, a language his character is not able to speak. It makes things clear, that it is his subconscious speaking in the only language which he knew during his childhood, and the movie is all about how he finally manages to let go and becomes a better person. He is a man of bad temper and insecurities, but as the movie reaches the end, he becomes a changed man, and all the other characters and incidents are just reasons to bring him to that end. Yes, it is all about Varun Blake, the Indian child adopted into an American family, as he moves towards that change which is rather too radical for him – everything else including the murders are reasons.

The defence of Ivide :: Ivide has the touch of the highly skilled director, Shyamaprasad who refuses to let this go as an investigative thriller, and rather takes it into the minds of the characters who are just simple human beings caught in the web of life. There are reasons for each and every action which defines the lives of the main characters and everyone around, as things come together and there is one touch of integrity, vanity or brutal ambition which creates that butterfly effect exhibiting a ferocious core. Ivide is not really that thriller that you were looking for, but powerful drama of the modern world which makes one question the past, the present and the future. This is set in a beautiful world which has been well transformed on to the screen by the camera – love those skyline shots and the natural beauty on screen; the songs are pretty good too.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is slow; surely a lot faster than movies like Annayum Rasoolum which asks you to go and have Chicken Biriyani and come back only to know that nothing has happened and then you need to go for tea and see if anything good occurs on the screen. In contrast to that, Ivide‘s lack of pace is beautiful, and it adds to the mood of the movie, but still it is drag for the common man. The thriller element is completely lost while the movie deviates to other territories, and thus it does give the fans of the genre certain disappointment if they were just looking for that, and nothing else. Ivide also has other minor struggles here and there with its progress, but if you can get into the rhythm, you might be able to forgive most of them. Even with mixing of genres, the focus on murders is rather lazy. The entertainment factor rather misses out for the regular audience too.

Performers of the soul :: This had to be Prithviraj Sukumaran’s movie, and it surely is. It is all about his character as he moves through that life in which there was always the need to let go, but it is only realized much later. The identity crisis and the confusion about love and care are portrayed very nicely with all the complexities as Prithviraj becomes the true show stealer. He also gets the most memorable lines, and once again establishes himself as the right one to play the cop. Nivin Pauly’s character becomes a major reason for all these to happen, but he is left with less to do, and in a not so challenging role, he does fine. Bhavana is also nice, but once again she and Nivin just do the support in the game lead by Prithviraj. Prakash Bare makes a good appearance too. The foreign actors and actresses also create the needed impact.

Soul exploration :: The movie takes a ride through roots and the absence of knowledge about it, love and the search for it, hope and the desire to believe in it, and love and the search for it in a modernized world in which we can’t go through by looking though just one perspective. There are many things which are dealt with in this movie, and it starts with the racial alienation, and it goes on to explore the insecurities felt by different people because of a wide variety of reasons. There is inability to belong somewhere or with someone, and there is consistent feeling of not being what someone is. There is the corporate evil also in display. Well, even in the end, the fact remains that there is absolutely no reconciliation with his girlfriend and adoptive mother for the main character, and it is a let down for the movie which explores themes like these.

How it finishes :: If you are looking for an investigative thriller in the model of Memories or Mumbai Police, you might need to look for another options, as this is not that kind of Prithviraj movie meant to keep you guessing about the murderer. It is not intense by that order, but surely is intense by the feelings, if and only if you can relate to the character Varun Blake played by Prithviraj. You need to get that emotional connection here, and unless you try early enough and realize the need, you might not get there, and might miss out experiencing the hidden beauty of this movie. It might make you believe that a thriller is in store in the beginning, but do not fall into that trap, and instead fall for the emotions and begin having that emotional connection with the characters right from the start, and then the ride will take that twist of fate and go the right way. Be warned though, about so much of English in this one – still, there are enough subtitles in Malayalam.

Release date: 29th May 2015
Running time: 159 minutes
Directed by: Shyamaprasad
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Bhavana, Alexandra Bartee, Prakash Bare, Jia Patel, Dhanish Karthik, Deepti Nair, Sathi Premji, Haridev, Sunil Veettil, Shaun Xavier, Tim Naddy, Juan Alexander, Kirstein Gilbert, Robin Cole

ivide

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.