Mamangam

What is the movie about? :: Mamangam, a grand fair used to be held on the banks of Bharathappuzha in the north of Kerala has a history that is written in blood. It had great economic, social and political significance, along with being a religious festival associated with the temples. There, the Zamorin ruler of the Kingdom of Calicut challenged other regional kingdoms to oppose his supremacy. There were the suicidal warriors from Valluvanad region who dared to oppose him and make history. But they would mostly die fighting against the powerful army of Zamorin, and only left those messages of bravery and honour for their people to cherish. It becomes their right to die as a soldier in the battlefield, and inspire more to follow their path through martyrdom. The last Mamangam fair was held in 1755, and this movie comes up with a memorable one before that.

So, what happens with the events here? :: Chandroth Panicker (Unni Mukundan) is the latest addition to that list of the suicidal warriors known as Cheverukal, attempting to challenge Calicut’s Zamorin’s authority again. His mother, wife and sister are unhappy about the decision, but they can do nothing, as for him, it is a decision made by the gods. It is then that the son of his sister, the young Chandroth Chanthunni (Master Achuthan) also joins him to join Chaverukal, much to the dismay of the whole family. They have the tale of Chandroth Valiya Panicker (Mammootty) who betrayed their tradition ahead of them, so that they should go on with that they have been training for – to end Zamorin which is the best thing to do. On the way, they have to stop at the abode of Unnimaaya (Prachi Tehlan) and Unni Neeli (Iniya), after being attacked by Zamorin’s men. There is a long way ahead of them, but they will need some help to get anywhere close to success.

The defence of Mamangam :: There are not many movies which we have waited for so long like Mamangam, except for some which are still to be released. Malayalam movie industry always needed good historical movies other than those which keep talking about the British – The Colachel War has been long forgotten, despite it being a landmark. Considering the same, Mamangam has taken the pain to bring something with a difference. The visuals are all grand, even better than some of those overrated movies seemingly belonging to a similar genre. The beauty out there is not limited to the background, but to almost everything in particular. The action sequences are all very good, especially in the final moments, which are breath-taking, leaving one wishing for more. The message goes on against revenge, and that it is not something healthy to pass the same through the generations – forgiving and forgetting do have better meaning.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is a little bit too long, and its extra dose of dialogues make it feel even longer. It does seem to repeat the same thing multiple times, and deviates from the idea of action and adventure associated with the title. Even though the “Mookkuthi” song makes some impact, the rest of the songs are not up to the mark. The presence of a mentor character doesn’t add much to the otherwise direct and straightforward movie, and the feminine version of the character is a bad and unnecessary diversion. The lack of completeness is evident, as the movie struggles to live up to its theme and story on many occasions. The final scene after the mamangam fight also feels unnecessary, as there could be nothing bigger to be added. A movie like this should offer something better, and one is left to wonder why it is becoming more and more difficult to make movies based on Kerala History, even those which are set at a time period not even five hundred years into the past.

The performers of the soul :: Mammootty was part of one of the best movies of the year, Unda, and now he is back with the movie with we have all been waiting for. As we all know, he is no stranger to historical movies and epic stories which tell the tales of heroes of the past, and this was time that he had another one to add to that list. Still, one has to wonder why he went for that exaggerated dance and some ridiculous comedy with another side of that character – this kind of ridiculous moments are not suitable for this kind of a movie, not for a historical epic action movie. Unni Mukundan does a fine work here, and his controlled performance is worth the appreciation. Master Achuthan comes up with a wonderful performance at the same time. It is him who catches our attention the most, and he excels in the action sequences even more. The last scenes are nothing less than magnificent, and it belongs to him completely.

Further performers of the soul :: Prachi Tehlan comes up as the leading female presence in this one – the former netball and basketball player has no trouble in the less amount of role given to her. Iniya provides her support, even though not much is needed from her side. At the same time, Anu Sithara and Kaniha has even smaller roles here, most of the time sticking to some dialogue or tears. There are also other actresses here including Maala Parvathi and Kaviyoor Ponnamma, but the female characters here are rather insignificant in the movie plan at work. Siddique has a villainous role here, and even though done quite well, it is not the kind of antagonist that we are going to remember for doing the terrifying job. Sudev Nair, even though nice, is wasted in a role which makes no difference to story at all – the character doesn’t add anything significant to the whole thing, for even otherwise, things could progress in the same manner without any trouble at all.

How it finishes :: Last year, in another December, on almost the same date, we had another Malayalam movie set in the past trying to make history – Odiyan. It was not that much of a successful attempt, but that was certainly a sign. We have more signs here, even though we are still far away from having that right historical movie. There is the need to improve, as Mamangam goes on through its journey. There is a better understanding of history and the reflection of the same required, and one can only hope that things could reach further level with the genre. A fine depiction of Colachel War might be the solution, but we haven’t heard about anyone trying for such a case. Until then, we have these movies which have the potential for greatness, but fall short in the process. But we would need to watch these, with all the splendour which is displayed on the big screen.

Release date: 12th December 2019
Running time: 157 minutes
Directed by: M Padmakumar
Starring: Mammootty, Prachi Tehlan, Unni Mukundan, Master Achuthan, Siddique, Anu Sithara, Kaniha, Mohan Sharma, Tarun Arora, Iniya, Maala Parvathi, Neeraj Madhav, Idavela Babu, Manikuttan, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Suresh Krishna, Sunil Sukhada, Meghanathan, Manikandan Achari, Baiju Ezhupunna, Jayan Cherthala, Sudheer Sukumaran, Vishnu Marakkal, Abu Salim, Sudev Nair, Nandan Unni, Valsala Menon, Nilambur Ayisha

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Athiran

What is the movie about? :: The year is 1967, and a worried Lakshmi (Shanthi Krishna) finds their family murdered while Nithya (Sai Pallavi) is seen playing with a thread. The situation seems to points to her as dangerously abnormal and a murderer. Five years later in 1972, Dr. MK Nair (Fahadh Faasil), a psychiatrist from Trivandrum Medical College is sent to check out the activities in a mental asylum situated far away from civilization, between the trees in the wilderness. This grand mansion which was built by the British has limited access to other places. Dr Benjamin Diaz (Atul Kulkarni) who served in the 1972 India-China War and a master hypnotist is the resident doctor as well as the owner of the asylum. He is very strict in his methods and doesn’t like anyone from outside making a visit. Renuka (Lena) is in control of things there, and Avarachan (Nandhu) provides further help from outside.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: There are strange incidents happening in the asylum. The inmates include Anna Maria (Leona Lishoy), a religious person, P Subrahmanya Iyer (Vijay Menon), an English professor, Vadakkedath Kamala Lakshmi (Surabhi Lakshmi), a person of too much concern for everyone around her, Jeevan Thomas (Sudev Nair), and a happy and strange romantic person. But it turns out that there is one more patient, and she is hidden and locked away in a cell, considered to be extremely dangerous and uncontrollable – the person is none other than Nithya who lives a restrained life, hostile to those who very rarely come to visit her. The newly arrived doctor realizes that there is something strange about her as well as the working of the hospital – he even has some dream visions and hallucinations when he is there, but some of them might be close to reality.

The defence of Athiran :: We have had a good number of psychological thriller, but after the 1990s, not many movies could rise above a certain level, and Athiran comes as a breath of fresh air – we always needed our own Shutter Island, and this one becomes the same, but with its own different twists. A Cure for Wellness is another movie we are reminded of. There is a similar beautiful setting here just like that island in Shutter Island and the mountain ranges in A Cure for Wellness, as the camera nicely brings all of the same to perfection. There is a Gothic building out there, and has a similar setting as one would have seen in movies like Crimson Peak, even though in the absence of the ghostly presence, is not used to the maximum – we had already seen 9 using a similar setting. The songs and the picturization also prove to be really attractive, and the suspense is maintained until the end as we remain thrilled.

The claws of flaw :: The similarities to A Cure for Wellness and Shutter Island can’t be ignored. There is another movie called The Ward which deals with a similar situation. All these are set in places dealing with “wellness” of the patients, and has similar moments of horror related to treatment procedure, along with secrets there that should be revealed. There is clear influence in bringing a certain Hollywood style, also resembling the Victorian Gothic Model, but the success of the movie is that it has done the same really well, and local elements have been mixed with some skill behind the same. We still have the feeling that something missing in there, and the other patients’ characters could have been better developed. With a setting like this, there was hope for bringing some intensely terrifying moments, but it is not there. Nights in a mental asylum far away from civilization can always bring more, and so can a mentally unstable murderer of family members.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is one actor who has come up with minimum guarantee in the last few months, and we look at his previous movie to make sure about that. His last three ventures in Malayalam movie industry were Kumbalangi Nights, Njan Prakashan and Varathan, all three gaining both critical and commercial success. These movies also had less hype in comparison to the others, and Athiran actually came up with no real boost in marketing – I came to know about this movie very late, and even then I didn’t know that this was a Malayalam movie; the film survived with people’s opinions. It is to be noted that there is a certain change that comes across the character he plays in each of the four movies including this one. One can also note that Fahadh has done a fantastic job here as the main character in a psychological thriller – playing a character in a mental asylum wouldn’t come easy, whether the role is of a mental patient or not.

Further performers of the soul :: Sai Pallavi has returned to Malayalam movie industry once again, and it called for a change, a welcome one, as there is no dance performance around here. She is the kind of actress who can do this role so well, as she showed such signs in Kali itself, even though it was not needed then. Well, here she excels in portraying the character with autism and more. This one is her best performance in the industry so far, clearly better than Premam, and surely better than that which didn’t really matter in the miserable Kali. Atul Kulkarni who has come up with some memorable performances in Malayalam movies before, brings a strong antagonist. Leona Lishoy, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon and Sudev Nair who have their moments as the patients never really get going though, with no real mention about their tales of the past. Lena and Nandhu gets limited in their roles, Shanthi Krishna is there for a few minutes. Renji Panicker is impressive when he is there.

How it finishes :: Athiran is one movie which has been running for so long despite releasing without making much of a noise. One month later, it can be seen that the movie is still going strong, despite Avengers: Endgame taking the most number of viewers, creating the collection record like never before, overtaking Titanic and closing in on Avatar, the effect being seen here too. Athiran, one month later, is challenging the bigger movies like the crowd puller Oru Yamandan Prema Katha and the critics favourite Uyare. It is nice to see a psychological thriller doing such a job, as it has been the genre, with a fee exceptions not bringing the major part of audience to the theatres, especially the family audience. But things have changed now, and Athiran has stood tall when the opportunity came, and it does so in Hollywood style, in a grand environment.

Release date: 12th April 2019
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Vivek
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Sai Pallavi, Lena, Sudev Nair, Leon Lishoy, Prakash Raj, Renji Panicker, Atul Kulkarni, Shanthi Krishna, Nandhu, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon

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Mikhael

What is the movie about? :: George Peter (Siddique) is the rich and notorious don of the area who is known to run the family business as well as criminal activities of the city and its surroundings with such energy and enthusiasm that he doesn’t hesistate to kill even police officers according to his will, the latest of them being N Sreenivasan (Kishore) who dared to arrest him in front of the public. When a new investigating officer Easa (JD Chakravarthi) is appointed in his place with Issac (Suraj Venjaramoodu) to assist him, the hunt for the mafia ruling the city gets stronger. It is then that the headless body of George is found along with his right-hand man, brutally murdered. Then the man who mediates between two rival gangs, Patrick (Kalabhavan Shajohn) is also shot by someone. This brings trouble with gang wars ready to break out.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: With George’s brother Marco Jr (Unni Mukundan) coming to the scene, and Francis Davi (Sudev Nair) from the opposite gang trying to have his own vengeance, the police department is kept on his toes. All these seem to point to one man, doctor of the nearby Starcare hospital called Mikhael John (Nivin Pauly) who seems to have a long story to tell about his family and how it came across George. He is the man who seems to be responsible for the death of George and Patrick, but the question remains about what Marco Jr will do about that, with going to police and assuring law and justice, not being an option for him. Easa and Issac will be happy to see the rival gangs fighting each other, or someone murdering the gangsters, but how long can the police department keep away from the scene? Will there be vengeance and can there be justice?

The defence of Mikhael :: The movie is high on style and action sequences, but one can note that it never really goes too far, as it keeps away from elements like flying villains, hero who knows everything before it happens, and all. The music is mostly good and at times excellent, with very few exceptions that we can notice. There are those mass elements, but they are kept in control unlike The Great Father and Abrahaminte Santhathikal which had the same director’s hands firmly on them in one way or the other, or Masterpiece which had so much of the same – the heroism as well as the whole story itself is far more believable, and has better and smarter twists with this one. The thrills are present all the time, and the emotional side works pretty well. The visual style is very nice, and the same rises above the rest. The dialogues are powerful, and Mikhael is a movie that doesn’t hesitate to come up with some moments which are above a normal movie in the industry.

The claws of flaw :: There are times when style gets over substance in this movie too, as The Great Father and Abrahaminte Santhathikal also did. We also see too many similarities with former, with a school being at the centre of attraction, and one girl who is dear to the protagonist – fighting for her becomes the priority for the protagonist. The slow motion could have been reduced, and the interest in sunglasses for some characters continues to be strange. The first half also takes some time to get into the main idea, and we also see the presence of predictability here, with the protagonist and antagonist coming close to facing each other. The ladies don’t have much to do in this movie either, except for the girl who sets everything moving. You can see that some moments were added just for the sake of adding them, and inspirations from foreign movies are certainly there.

The performers of the soul :: It is up to Nivin Pauly to rise and stay at the top, and he manages to do that well – still, his best moments were when his character was a family man, with vulnerability, but it was surely nice to see him in a different avatar, extending what he showed in Action Hero Biju. He does show that he is good at them all, and in a movie which has substance rising over style will surely have him shining better. There are the two qualities of Michael shown by Christina Rossetti with her poem on the angels – service & strength, as doctor & martial arts expert here. One the other side is Unni Mukundan who plays the main antagonist towards the end, and we remember him playing just the opposite in the movie Style – with Tovino as his villain; here he has to face the same thing, even though stylish as he is, with less space on the screen, and not getting the best of dialogues when there was scope for a lot of the same. He should have been given the opportunity to be a more menacing villain rather than showing the muscles. The Luciferesque qualities are seen better with Siddique’s character as Satan against Michael, the leader of heavenly angels – the one who chooses to reign in hell & go against all norms, establishing his own pandemonium. He is the Satan that Milton would keep in his Paradise Lost.

Further performers of the soul :: At the same, Siddique becomes that villain who anyone could have wanted to be – evil and sadistic, going on to reach a state which is nothing less than mentally sick. His ways of tormenting or even finishing off his opponents, and even his dialogues are with that kind of terror that an antagonist can always dream about, and a protagonist can have nightmares about. The girl who played the main character’s sister, a name which hasn’t been known through the early cast list on internet or posters, Navani Devanand also needs some applause as she gets everything right in this movie – she could be a talent to look out for, in the future. She nails all emotions perfectly, whether its anger, sadness or joy. Shantikrishna, Babu Antony, Kalabhavan Shajohn, Ashokan, Baiju and KPAC Lalitha are left with not much to do here. Manjima Mohan as the heroine doesn’t really have anything to do either, and even Reba Monica John who is there for a few minutes leave better impact. JD Chakravarthi, Sudev Nair and Suraj Venjaramoodu get their nice moments though.

How it finishes :: The whole story of Mikhael here has an allusion to the archangel Michael, the leader of the archangels who lead the battle against Satan, a.k.a. Lucifer and his forces who rebeled against God. As a protector and a fighter against evil, this image is reiterated here by giving the same name to the protagonist, and the images of the angel being shown on multiple spaces – the opposite can be seen through the images displayed in the room of the antagonist. The whole movie is about how the brother becomes the guardian angel for his sister, vanquishing the evil forces – with the same, we have the style, all the action, thrills and twists which keep coming at regular intervals; surprisingly, there is also the presence of some funny side. This one might not be the favourite for the family audience, but is surely one nice entertainer which successfully defends its territory within the genre.

Release date: 18th January 2019
Running time: 150 minutes
Directed by: Haneef Adeni
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Unni Mukundan, Navani Devanand, Manjima Mohan, JD Chakravarthi, Sudev Nair, Babu Antony, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Siddique, Renji Panicker, Shantikrishna, Kalabhavan Shajohn, KPAC Lalitha, Amal Shah, V Jayaprakash, Kishore, Reba Monica John, Baiju

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Kayamkulam Kochunni

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Ezra

ezra-2

Vampire Owl: Malayalam movies have always needed more horror movies.

Vampire Bat: This has come after a long wait too.

Vampire Owl: Do you remember the last time we really loved a Malayalam horror movie?

Vampire Bat: I am not sure about that. We have been loving the Hollywood horror only.

Vampire Owl: I heard that it has a little bit of Jewish culture in Kerala.

Vampire Bat: And that it was also going to be dubbed into more than one other language?

Vampire Owl: I hope one or two vampire languages are added.

Vampire Bat: I am sure that this one will be different. It is evident from the poster and also from what people talk about it.

Vampire Owl: Ghosts need to be shown different, because they are all not the same.

Vampire Bat: Well, maybe this is the answer to the prayers of many such spirits.

[Gets the tickets with masala tea and caramel popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Ranjan Mathew (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is an orphan and a successful professional working in Mumbai. After falling in love with an interior designer Priya Raghunathan (Priya Anand) who is also based in Mumbai, they get married against the wishes of her parents. One and half years later, he gets a transfer to Cochin, and despite Priya’s reluctance to move from the city which had become a part of her, they relocate to the new place, which is a mansion-like old house rented to them upon the recommendation of Father Samuel (Vijayaraghavan) who is not just a priest, but also Ranjan’s uncle. Ranjan’s company is dealing with disposing the nuclear waste from the nuclear reactors in South India, and he is in charge of the operations. Meanwhile, A.C.P. Shafeer Ahammed (Tovino Thomas) is tired of investigating a strange murder in an antique shop which leaves no clue.

So, what happens next? :: As Priya has a lot of free time, she tries to do some interior work for their new house and buys some interesting items from the shop of Moosa (Alencier Ley Lopez) who had managed to bring a few new things of interest from the house of a Jew who died without a heir in the country, as everyone had left for Israel. After getting a box from the shop and opening it, things begin to change, as Priya sees a creepy figure in the mirror as well as the wardrobe, and Ranjan hears footsteps from the roof – and more spooky things follow. As Father Samuel finds Jewish inscriptions on a strange box, he advises Ranjan to consult Rabbi David Benyamin (Babu Antony) who resides in Mumbai. As Ranjan comes to know that Priya is pregnant, he becomes more desperate, but David’s death follows, and now the only hope seems to be in the form of Rabbi Marcus (Sujith Shanker) who has arrived at Cochin.

The defence of Ezra :: There is variety without doubt in Ezra, and the same can be said about the quality displayed in this movie. The visuals are really well-used here to create the advantage, and the darkness as well as some spooky elements are created well with the use of sound effects, and these work really well in the first half to make us interested in the second. There is also a lot in the story told here, unlike the other horror movies, and the creature that this flick chooses here is not among the usual ones, as the myth used is something not many people around here have known before. The use of a perfect setting and antiques happen to be something that works for this flick more than any other horror movie. There is also one twist that happens by the end, even though it is the only big surprise in the movie, and could have been presented in a better way. The songs are good, especially “Lailakame”.

The claws of flaw :: The movie does get a curse, and it happens in the second half, as many other movies – this evil spirit doesn’t really make that much impact as it should in the latter part, and the final exorcism, brings nothing huge. There were so many possibilities with this movie, and the infinite chances are not used at all – it is kind of strange that the movie doesn’t bring the special ingredient; there were so many opportunities and Ezra hesitates to think out of the box, even with a spirit from inside a box. As we see the characters watching The Conjuring 2 on television, one has no doubt about one movie which has inspired this one. But Ezra has so much of hesitation in unleashing the terror – the viewers find so many situations which could have been scarier, but the movie doesn’t seem to find the need to bring huge scares. Also, at one point, you feel that this is the Odette Annable starrer The Unborn, but then it is not; there is just the dybbuk and the pregnancy in common.

Performers of the soul :: In a movie that has Prithviraj as the protagonist, it is him who leads the way – it is the first half that gets the best of him with a simple and rather natural touch to the proceedings – not that much with the final scenes though. Priya Anand makes a Malayalam debut which the Keralites will remember. Sujith Shanker makes a surprising entry here, and in this role, most of us might not even recognise that he is the same person from Njan Steve Lopez and Maheshinte Prathikaram – it is quite solid work. Tovino Thomas, even though he is there for less amount of time, has his moments. Vijayaraghavan is fine there, but Babu Antony’s stay is cut short; the same is the case of Pratap K. Pothen and Alencier Ley Lopez who leaves the proceedings rather too early. Sudev Nair and Ann Sheetal has a nicely created flashback scene which is done fine.

How it finishes :: There is a little shortage of horror movies in Malayalam movie industry, and there is a lot of shortage in the case of good horror movies – the latter is also applicable to the Bollywood film industry too, which is why, for the Indian cinema as a whole, the requirement is for more good horror. There is no need for more drama and more romance – there is too much of the same already, and there is nothing closer to life than horror, in one way or the other. Therefore, Ezra‘s presence is something which has to be appreciated, and despite not using all the possibilities in the scary side, manages to be a horror movie with a difference as far as the Malayalam movie industry is considered. It is evident that the Malayalam movies are back after that break – and each release this year, including Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, Jomonte Suviseshangal, Fukri and Ezra have stayed different from each other.

Release date: 10th February 2016
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Jay K
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Priya Anand, Tovino Thomas, Sudev Nair, Vijayaraghavan, Sujith Shanker, Pratap K. Pothen, Babu Antony, Alencier Ley Lopez, Ann Sheetal

ezra

@ 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.