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

<– Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Theevandi

What is the movie about? :: Bineesh (Tovino Thomas) started smoking at an early age, and tries to go on with his life without having any responsibility. He has a few friends around whom most of his life happens. The smoking which he started in school followed him to youth, and even though that bothers his lover Devika (Samyuktha Menon), they continue the relationship. Her father Madhu (Suraaj Venjarammood) is not confident about the relationship as he knows that he is a chain smoker due to which the title “Theevandi” was given to him – there is no positive side in the future which he sees about Bineesh, but he reluctantly agrees as Devika is certain about it. He talks to Bineesh’s brother-in-law, Vijith (Saiju Kurup) who works with him in the same political party and gets Devika and Bineesh engaged.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: But Devika discovers that the smoking habit of Bineesh is beyond all limits and decides that she can no longer continue to be in love with a man who is obsessed with cigarettes. As she decides to be no longer engaged, another problem arises about who would be the next MLA of the constituency, following a terrible accident involving the MLA who has only a few days left to live. The two possible candidates are Bineesh’s brother-in-law and his possible father-in-law which brings another problem to light. In between all of these, is his smoking problem, and as long as the same exists, he can solve nothing. Can there be a solution to Bineesh’s problems, and how far can he go to make it happen? Or will he take the easy way out?

The defence of Theevandi :: There is the certainty of fun as far as Theevandi is concerned. Some jokes will be remembered for longer than we think, that is for sure. The message also arrives strong, and gets stronger and stronger as the movie progresses. The song “Jeevamshamayi Thaane” might be the best moment of the movie, with some other songs to join in. The music of the flick is very good, and there are some nice visuals of the beautiful village at which the flick is based. There is simplicity all around, and the message which the flick deals with, is serious and beyond the limitations. It is complicated when we see the whole of it, and the message against smoking is something of universal relevance. If the movie can inspire at least one person to give up smoking and lead a better life, there is great success being shown here – that one person will surely not be the end of it.

The claws of flaw :: There is no doubt about the fact that Theevandi could have done even better with its content. Being a movie which was supposed to release in June, this has been delayed for too long. The length of the move is also a negative thing, especially considering the fact that the main purpose here to provide one message, the one thing that it attempts more than the others. Some moments which were supposed to be funny, also falls short. The ending of the movie is certainly interesting and feel-good, and after a good beginning, it is the middle part that has somewhat a struggle. The political side could have also been a better satire. The tools and the premise were present there, but we see a struggle to go too deep in there, and maybe that concerns the possible risks.

The performers of the soul :: Tovino Thomas has another role of a flawed hero after Maradona and Mayaanadhi. He has done this job naturally, and there is no moment when he seems to be in trouble. The protagonist’s problems are nicely shown, and the man caught in the terrible situation has our attention. Samyuktha Menon makes a big impact in her first big role. As the industry seems to have less big names among current actresses, her performance here should elevate more of the cinema of these times too. She excels in the romantic and funny sequences, and just holds the ground during emotional scenes. The pair has fine chemistry running through, and the same feeling that was conveyed through the popular romantic song in the movie, goes on even when she seems to show less interest.

Further performers of the soul :: Despite being provided with an exaggerated character, Surabhi Lakshmi manages to bring the most fun of the same. The character seems to be forced into existence without detailed thoughts, but she could manage that, and make things work. Suraj Venjaramood is comfortable in this role which is mostly serious with some chance for comedy. We remember how he nicely kept the balance earlier with Varnyathil Aashanka, Oru Muthassi Gadha, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum and Aby – here he has no problems in doing the same again. Shammi Thilakan also brings the funny elements, even though for a lesser amount of time. Sudheesh and Vijilesh do leave a few things for the funny side too. Rajesh Sharma is also there leaving a mark.

How it finishes :: These are the days when the Malayalam movies are making a comeback after a short break caused by the Kerala Floods. It is the return of the films as much as the return of the state to the normal world. It is with more interesting releases including Ranam and Theevandi that Malayalam movies are making a return, as movies like Koode and Maradona have been there for quite long. The case of Theevandi is stronger because it deals with a socially relevant movie. Translated better as “the vehicle of fire” rather than as the literal translation “the train”, this movie certainly becomes a better notice against smoking than any of those small advertisements shown in the beginning of the flicks. It marks a fine return of Malayalam movies as it surely seems to serve its purpose. You might also want to watch the video song from the movie which has become so popular.

Release date: 7th September 2018
Running time: 144 minutes
Directed by: Fellini TP
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Samyuktha Menon, Surabhi Lakshmi, Rajesh Sharma, Suraaj Venjarammood, Shammi Thilakan, Sudheesh, Krishna Praba, Neena Kurup, Vijilesh, Musthafa

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

CIA

What is the movie about? :: Aji Mathews (Dulquer Salmaan) spends most of his time working for the leftist party and keeping his communist ideology active to that extent that he keeps seeing his all-time favourite historical figures, Lenin, Karl Marx, Stalin and Che Guevara whenever there is some crisis or when something special needs to be done. He does visit his old college whenever there is time, even though he had passed the degree exams some time ago – he remains a respected figure among the students there. It is there that he meets Sarah Mary Kurian (Karthika Muralidharan), the daughter of a rich businessman settled in the United States, and is living with her maternal uncle Baby’s (Maniyan Pillai Raju) family. She has a completely different ideology, and wishes to return to the United States as soon as her studies are over, but falls in love with Aji who is a popular figure in the local wing of the leftist party and its activities.

So, what happens next? :: But things won’t go that smoothly as planned for the two lovers, as Sarah is called back to the United States as her mother is not well, and it turns out that they are making her marry someone against her will by the end of the month. Now without even having a passport for which there never seemed to be a need, Aji has to get himself to the United States with less than a month left. All travel agencies tell him that it is impossible, and his best friends Hari (Dileesh Pothan) and Jomon (Soubin Shahir) also asks him to drop the idea. It is then that Aji’s cousin brother, Cyril (Jinu Joseph) tells him about an idea which he shouldn’t try – it turns out to be the one that he was going to try, with hopes of being at her lover’s place before her wedding ceremony. His family bids him adieu hoping that he will find a job in the United States and settle there with the help of his cousin brother, but Aji’s plan is rather divergent.

And what is there to follow? :: Aji has the whole plan thought about clearly. The first item on the list is to travel to Nicaragua, after getting the passport on time. With it being the closest nation to the United States which doesn’t require a visa for a holder of Indian passport, that seemed to be the one right option at that time. It is something which he does with ease, and also makes it to the office of the Communist Party there. The next part of the journey remains the more complicated side, with the need to travel to Mexico on road through Honduras and Guatemala, and then crossing over the border to the United States, with his cousin brother waiting for him on the other side. During his journey, he will meet a Sri Lankan Tamil cab driver who has been eternally trying to get to the United States, a Mexican family of four that needs to cross the border for survival, a Pakistani man attempting to get to his wife and daughter who have left him, a Chinese man looking forward to the freedom in the United States and also a Malayali girl, Pallavi (Chandini Sreedharan).

The defence of Comrade in America :: Just like Amal Neerad’s previous effort sometime ago, Iyobinte Pustakam, this one also remains visually excellent, focusing in Kerala through Palai and Ramapuram, going towards the Latin American nations. It is the beauty and the style on the screen that brings the best here, even though we keep asking ourselves at times if this could have been a better experience. The funny side has strength in the first half. There is also a thrilling journey in the second half, even though it isn’t taken control of, completely. Love, politics and journey – these were the factors in focus for Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, and maybe it is from this particular flick that we have Comrade in America, which is certainly a better movie if you look at it without prejudice. There are also emotional moments here and there which work, but the same is not the case for all of them. To add to it, the background music is perfectly suited for this movie, and will have you asking for more situations with it.

The claws of flaw :: The focus on the story seems to be rather so much less, with the movie going on predictable lines in the first half, and there is not much of an effort put in the second half too. Its comrade side is clearly half-baked, and the romance between the lead pair just doesn’t seem to be there – one often feels that there was no love, but the protagonist was just trying to keep his promise. The movie has style and mass more when it is rather not that much required – a protagonist seems to be someone who can even load and use a gun – when it is asked about why he doesn’t need a final anointment, he misses a trick, and doesn’t focus on his need to be with his love; even by the end, there is a struggle with the character which seems to be feeling a need to become “mass” for his fans, and for the same justifies hooliganism. There is no battle between the ideologies of capitalism and communism as the title seemed to suggest.

Performers of the soul :: It is Dulquer Salmaan’s star value and the effort that he seems to have put into this role that will catch your attention right from his stylish introduction to the credit scenes. The first half seems to be not of that much challenge, but the second half is surely something that brings the effort out of him, and he delivers here as expected from him. Still, it has to be noted that this is the nth movie that has him leaving his home, and he does the same thing that he did in Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi in a better way, and unlike Charlie, there is nobody searching for his character instead. The next one to catch our attention is not any of the heroines though, as it is Dileesh Pothan, the director of Maheshinte Prathikaaram in his role of the leader of the local party committee and combines with Soubin Shahir to bring the funniest moments of the movie; you remember the same in Rani Padmini. Then there is Siddique, once again flawless with his comic side.

How it finishes :: The movie, despite having two heroines, doesn’t use them much though, and among the two, it is Chandini Sreedharan who lights up the screen when she is there – as she returns after Darwinte Parinamam. Karthika Muralidharan gets less and does less, as far as this flick is concerned. Well, the focus had to be on Dulquer Salmaan; his fans are certain to find this a very nice treat for these holidays. Red has been a dominant colour and the movies have been going left with the likes of Oru Mexican Aparatha and Sakhavu, starring Tovino Thomas and Nivin Pauly respectively – Comrade in America comes with the addition of some romance and a journey abroad to add to the same, at the cost showing less of the leftist ideas. Instead, the focus is more on the protagonist’s attempt to get to his destination, with the support of some wonderful visuals – with all the crowd support, this movie is certain to give any other superstar’s flick a competition for sure.

Release date: 5th May 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Chandini Sreedharan, Dileesh Pothan, Surabhi Lakshmi, Jinu Joseph, John Vijay, Siddique, Karthika Muralidharan, Priyanka P Nair, Soubin Shahir, Vishnu Gopal Nair, Nandamuri Balakrishna, Sujith Sankar, Maniyan Pillai Raju, Alencier Ley Lopez, Len Prasad, Julio Antonio Alonzo, Murillo Alves, Nathan Amir

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kismath

kismat

What is the movie about? :: The movie tells the love story of Irfan (Shane Nigam) and Anita (Shruthy Menon) in the coastal town of Ponnani, in the district of Malappuram. Irfan is a twenty three year old Muslim boy from a rich and influential family that has big businesses running in the town, and he doesn’t have a full-time job after dropping out of engineering course; neither does he tries to get one. Anita is a twenty eight year old scheduled caste Hindu girl who is financially not sound, and is a research scholar at the nearby college. They meet after Irfan’s modified motor-bike hits Anita’s mother who was crossing the road. He gets her to the hospital and takes care of her until her relatives arrive. Anita and the other relatives are hostile to her in the beginning, but she understands that there is no mistake on his part. Irfan continues to visit them until her mother discharged from the hospital.

Where are things heading for? :: They see each other on more occasions later, and he also helps her with the project which is related to the mosques of the town. As they realize that love has blossomed and it won’t be supported by anybody in their respective families due to the difference in religions, social status and the negative age difference, they decide to go to the police station for protection. But what they don’t realize is that the police is an integral part of the society, and it doesn’t exist separate from the people of the town which includes their own families. Sub Inspector Ajay C Menon (Vinay Forrt) is not the kind of person who likes to move that much away from the society that he lives in; he refuses to be divergent – he doesn’t approve of this relationship for the same reason. The same is the case of ASI Nair (Sunil Sukhada), as they call for their relatives to arrive at the police station. Now, what happens next means trouble for the young couple.

The defence of Kismath :: The two big movies with similar theme of forbidden love, Thattathin Marayathu and Ennu Ninte Moideen were taken over by the commercial side, and the next talked about flick with inter-caste love story, Annayum Rasoolum was just hours of drag that made us hate the protagonists – it was only when the heroine died in the end that we were relieved, but then too, things were of not much of a purpose. But Kismath has this in control, with fine visuals and depicting usual incidents in a realistic way – there is also a realistic ending. As it is well-executed, we feel the emotional depth, and the two protagonists go straight into our hearts. This one has a five plus years older heroine, and so things were going to be more difficult, as we can see in the proceedings of this movie. We not only get into the lives of the protagonists, but also into the lives of the people of the particular town.

Claws of flaw :: Even though not as slow as the slowest movie in this century’s Malayalam movie list called Annayum Rasoolum, this one is also somewhat slow, which will make it difficult for a good number of entertainment loving fans to stay with this one. There are also the two protagonists who have no job of their own, trying to oppose the families to which they are attached, which was sure to have terrible consequences – a case of bad thinking from their part. It is also strange that even if this movie says that it depicts the life of real life people who faced a situation like this, there is no mention of what happened to them in the end – we never knew such a situation from the news, and so we do wonder how things went with them after watching this movie. The songs are also not that interesting, and a little more of the town outside the police station would have brought more for this movie. There was more scope for this love story, as you will realize when watching it.

Performers of the soul :: Shruthy Menon has the biggest role of her career, and she does her job really well – there is just a controlled performance here, which she does without the emotional overdose which the movies like these tend to have. Shane Nigam, son of Abi, whom we know from earlier movies and has been a popular mimicry artist, is also in control here in his first lead role in a movie – it is interesting to note that he made his acting debut as a grown-up in Annayum Rasoolum which has a similar theme to deal with. The director, Shanavas K Bavakkutty who is also a debutante, has made this one work smoothly, throughout its run. Alencier Ley Lopez continues his form, while Vinay Forrt has the most noticable role, and he does that with ease becoming the Sub Inspector character. Sunil Sukhada is the next one we notice at the police station.

Soul exploration :: This movie is different, that is for sure. It is not an entertainer like the other two movies with similar settings, Thattathin Marayathu and Ennu Ninte Moideen which presented the Hindu-Muslim love stories, and neither is this one like Annayum Rasoolum which was so boring and slow that one would have wanted to jump of a cliff instead of watching that one for three hours – yes, the lesser run-time comes as a boon for this movie, and as it never tries to be funny or stylish, we are without those terrible marketing strategies. What we have here is surely closer to the lives of the common people. We are also able to connect to the protagonists better, and feeling their pain is easier because they are just common people who are confused about what to do when both their families don’t agree to their marriage. So, they go for the option that seems to be safe for them, even though they are not that much informed about how things would go from there.

How it finishes :: Kismath has tried and has become the movie that Annayum Rasoolum should have been. It is solid in what it does, and even when not that fast, manages to be not dragging like Annayum Rasoolum had been. What works for Kismath differently is that it is less of the romantic tale, and it is more of the consequences of love, for what comes after the love story is the trouble, and what they suffer. It is fate or rather the destiny that has awaited the lovers for a long time – it is more of going towards that uncertainty with certainty. This is the kind of movie that you need to watch if you like to go through a simple, yet emotional experience without the melodrama and unnecessary commercial aspects – this is love without those colours, and this the “kismath” that could await more than one person if done without thinking about society, as people will be like that only – there is no change coming.

Release date: 29th July 2016
Running time: 103 minutes
Directed by: Shanavas K Bavakkutty
Starring: Shane Nigam, Shruthy Menon, Vinay Forrt, Alencier Ley Lopez, Sajitha Madathil, Surabhi Lakshmi, P. Balachandran, Sunil Sukhada, Anil Nedumangad, Vijayan Karanthoor, Jayaprakash Kuloor, Binoy Nambala

kismat

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.