Georgettan’s Pooram

Vampire Owl: Why is it that all these people have characters that have something or the other to highlight as a title?

Vampire Bat: You mean, like that first Malayalam movie to release this year – Jomonte Suvisheshangal.

Vampire Owl: And surely Jacobinte Swargarajyam.

Vampire Bat: Along with Darwinte Parinamam.

Vampire Owl: As well as Maheshinte Prathikaram.

Vampire Bat: This is the fifth with this kind of a title, there is no real difference in possessiveness.

Vampire Owl: I think that these people, George, Jomon, Darwin, Jacob and Mahesh are related.

Vampire Bat: There is a great chance that Jacob and Jomon are – they even tell the same story, you know.

Vampire Owl: Maybe they are from different generations, and it is just history repeating itself in a distant family.

Vampire Bat: Georgettan’s Pooram might be more distant with the use of slang in it, though.

[Gets the tickets with some caramel popcorn and vegetable puffs].

What is the movie about? :: A team of four mischievous boys have grown up to be George Vadakkan (Dileep), and his best friends who are known only by their nicknames, Vava (Vinay Forrt), Pallan (Sharfudheen) and Chullan (Thiru Actlab). Living in and around the city of Trichur, the four friends spend most of their time doing nothing, having drinks or simply sleeping, in Mathai Parambu, a piece of land donated to the public by a former Kabbadi player who was part of great achievements from the Indian Kabbadi team – they also have for company and old kabbadi player, Joseph (T.G. Ravi). But George’s father, the parish priest of the local church of the Mar Thoma denomination, Mathew Vadakkan (Renji Panicker), wishes for something or anything better for his son – nobody believes in the same though, even his own friends and relatives.

So, what happens next? :: As the four goes through the path which leads nowhere, George comes across Merlin (Rajisha Vijayan) during a funeral, and immediately falls in love with her. Even though she tells him that he wishes to become a nun and despite the fact that she belongs to another denomination, he shamelessly decides to run after her for love. Without having to do anything else in life, such things have been very easy for him. There is also the entry of Peter Mathai (Chemban Vinod Jose), who claims to be the son of E.V. Mathai and claims the ownership of Mathai Parambu. He seems to be determined to take control of land by one way or the other. But the team of four are not willing to give up their place, and in an effort to save their land as well as to make Merlin fall in love with George, they go on doing some strange things, none of which works well enough.

What follows these events? :: The team of four are clueless as usual, as they are used to do nothing good, and seems to come up with nothing constructive. Even their inspiration, Joseph dies by falling from the top of a tower there. One day, Peter seems to be ready to give up the claim to the land, but for the same, George and his friends will have to play kabbadi, and also start winning. The people of the locality also backs them in this to keep the land in the hands of the public. But is it possible for them to win against top level players with some quick training? How far can the public support and prayers boost them? Is Peter really the son of E.V. Mathai, and does he mean what he says? Can George manage to win the love of Merlin and the appreciation of his parents and siblings? Not really the easier things to do for George, but he decides not to give up.

The defence of Georgettan’s Pooram :: Despite not using the state award winning actress, the star of Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, Rajisha Vijayan to her best of potential, the movie does manage to use Dileep well enough – we get to be confident that he will be back for more with another light-hearted movie, not just producing one like he did for Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan. Vinay Forrt and Sharafudheen also remains interesting, and there is entertainment guaranteed from their side. The level of comedy is fluctuating throughout the movie, but there are some nice ones in this flick. The second half has things getting rather intense, and the plot gets an upgrade there. Chemban Vinod Jose once again impresses the audience with the way that he carries on as the man with a mission, and he remains our hope for future in a lot of different kinds of roles. Renji Panicker continues what he has been doing the best, as the father figure, and this time at more than one level.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is just too long, and it could have easily been made shorter without some bad jokes in the first half and those slow motion sequences of heroism in the second – Karinkunnam 6s had managed to bring volleyball to the centre of everything and managed to be an interesting flick; but this one gets kabbadi too late in the second half only, and things get serious slowly only. Sudheer Karamana gets to play kabbadi here as he had done for volleyball in last year’s Manju Warrier starrer. A certain amount of absence in logic is also there, and the movie also gets confused in working with the Christian denominations. If the priest shown as protagonist’s father is actually a priest of Mar Thoma denomination, as a protestant church, the church building or the house wouldn’t be having saints or statues of anyone. If the person was intended to be a Catholic priest, he wouldn’t have been married – it is a strange world right there. One also wonders why the protagonist has to go after the girl shamelessly after she says no – shouldn’t the “no” always mean a “no”? And still he is a hero?

How it finishes :: Georgettan’s Pooram could have done a lot better not only with its comedy, but also with its sporting side. But as it is now, it is surely a watchable flick, and the best entertainer with Dileep as the main character after Two Countries which had him at what he has been doing the best. The protagonist shouldn’t have turned a super kabbadi player all of a sudden though, battling against the big players. Maybe some restraint could have been brought with the heroism. Maybe, a better flow could have been maintained. But for some time-pass, nobody can deny that this movie has something here and there for most of the people. Surely bigger in fun compared to Dileep’s recent movies, and surely better than any movie in that long list of continuous movies from Kammath and Kammath to Ivan Maryadaraman, Georgettan’s Pooram can ask for some of your time as long as you enough to spare!

Release date: 1st April 2017
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: K. Biju
Starring: Dileep, Rajisha Vijayan, Chemban Vinod Jose, Vinay Forrt, Sharafudheen, Thiru Actlab, Renji Panicker, T. G. Ravi, Sudheer Karamana, Kalaranjini, Assim Jamal, Jayaraj Warrier, Sunil Sukhada, Sathi Premji, Kulappulli Leela

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Jacobinte Swargarajyam

jacobinteswargarajyam (2)

Vampire Owl :: Quite a lot of things happened this year, you know; with the Malayalam movies.

Vampire Bat :: Only a few months have passed, and so you can’t really say a lot!

Vampire Owl :: Well, Darwin completed his evolution and Mahesh had his vengeance. Now, Jacob wants his kingdom of heaven.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, Darwinte Parinamam and Maheshinte Prathikaram; now Jacobinte Swargarajyam – note the “NTE” sound in the middle of the title of every movie.

Vampire Owl :: I am sure that this one has worked so well too. I couldn’t get tickets for the movie at the multiplexes.

Vampire Bat :: Well, it is Vishu. Theatres were supposed to be full.

Vampire Owl :: Is that the same reason why we are here so early?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, you see the large number of people in the queue behind us.

Vampire Owl :: And I am glad that we parked our car early.

Vampire Bat :: This one should work for us too.

[Gets the tickets with cheese popcorn].

What is it about? :: Jacob (Renji Panicker) is a successful businessman who made Dubai his home after striving hard to reach his current position. With his wife Sherly (Lakshmy Ramakrishnan) and four children, Jerry (Nivin Pauly), Abin (Sreenath Bhasi), Ammu (Aima Sebastian) and Chris (Stacen), they go through some of the happiest times of their life. Jerry is in love with Chippy (Reba Monica John), a medical student, and Ammu leaves to study the same course. Abin spends his time with music. But as Jacob is cheated by one of his trusted people, he is left in a lot of trouble and also in dire need of money, disturbing the momentum of the family. With consistent threats from Murali Menon (Ashwin Kumar) and others who had invested in his venture, he decides to travel to Liberia to find bring a deal and come up with a solution to his present problem.

What is it actually about? :: The absence of his father required the rise of Jerry to the vacant position, and it is what the movie is really about. It is about Jerry trying to bring things back together with the help of his family of his brothers and his mother. With his father stuck in Liberia, he will find new ideas and will bring new plans to minimize and later get rid of the damage completely. With the help of the old friends of his father, Unni (T.G. Ravi) and Philip (Sai Kumar), and also the newly found people in his life, Yousuf (Vineeth Sreenivasan), he will rise to the occasion, and with the help of the situation and fate, shall go on to become the person whom he never thought he would be. But the question remains about the timing – with time running out so fast, will he really be able to do that when needed? Can he be the saviour for his family when it matters the most?

The defence of Jacobinte Swargarajyam :: Clean, and staying close to the realities of life, this movie makes a good use of its cast which has come up with some natural performances. The scenes which depict the relationship between the members of the family gives that special and yet beautiful feeling – it provides anyone who values family with that special reflection to life. The funny scenes are simple and from everyday life, but working very well. The emotional scenes are very much touching, but still kept in control. There is so much positivity in this movie even when facing lots of trouble, and the feel-good factor here is rather tremendous. There are also some very nice visuals; the songs are interesting, and “Ee Shishirakaalam” is the pick of them all. The messages left here are also beautiful, of working hard without any shortcuts, supporting one’s family and being there for the ones you love the most.

Claws of flaw :: Yes, undoubtedly, this movie could have been better; the scope was there, and such a wonderful cast was present. This emotional family story goes through a little bit too much of a predictable path too. We can guess a lot of things around here easily. A story at the Middle East and the tale of a family facing financial crisis – these are two things that can appeal to the Malayali audience so well, which is why a better story with a rather slower transformation of the protagonist would have done better for the movie. The film is also a little bit too much focused on money, and it is the capital, the profit and the money that drives too many things in this movie – well, it is still not the primary focus, but the fingers are often pointed towards that, even though not many people might see that. Well, capitalism was always supposed to be there, considering the setting.

Performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly requirest a lot of appreciation here – for he surely knows how to become the hero, and otherwise stay there waiting for the opportunity; it has been the case with his character here. Renji Panicker takes the glory in the beginning stages, and Lakshmy Ramakrishnan dominates at times, and Nivin is there exactly as his character demands, and I consider that a wonderful thing here. After Action Hero Biju, he once again has a realistic portrayal of his character here, and it only gets better. Meanwhile, Aima Sebastian has a small but amazingly cute presence in this movie, and Reba Monica John leaves a mark even with her shorter presence – that could have been explored further. Renji Panicker does his job with ease, and Lakshmy Ramakrishnan has her character becoming one of the best strong mother/wife characters that we have seen for a long time. The other most notable person here is Sreenath Bhasi who is a lot likable.

How it finishes :: Do note that Vineeth Sreenivasan and Aju Varghese make notable cameos here, the former making a bigger impact in the story. The child artist Stacen also does a good job. This movie could have been stronger with its story, but the feeling that it provides is really good. It is something that is perfect for a family watch for the weekend, as it is a movie with faith, hope and values. It is a movie that reminds the viewers of their family and how much the blood keeps us together, binding us. The significance of the family is something that has been part of our movie industry for a long time, and this one becomes a welcome addition to the same. Vineeth Sreenivasan does four in a row, after Malarvadi Arts Club, Thattathin Marayathu and Thira. The Thira sequel won’t be here soon though, I guess.

Here is a song from the movie; you should love it 🙂

Release date: 8th April 2016
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: Vineeth Sreenivasan
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Reba Monica John, Renji Panicker, Aima Sebastian, Lakshmy Ramakrishnan, Sreenath Bhasi, Stacen, Sai Kumar, Ashwin Kumar, T. G. Ravi, Dinesh Prabhakar, Vineeth Sreenivasan (cameo), Aju Varghese (cameo)

jacobinteswargarajyam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Iyobinte Pusthakam

Iyobinte Pustakam ()

What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of Iyob (Lal) and his three sons, Dimitri (Chemban Vinod Jose), Ivan (Jinu Joseph) and Aloshy (Fahadh Faasil). Iyob was a young local boy who became the right-hand of Harrison (Sal Yusuf), one of the British people who established homes in Munnar, but he managed to rise after his death and had become the most powerful and the influential man in the area. Due to the commanding nature of his father and the atrocities of his brothers which are covered up with money, Aloshy leaves home and joins the Royal Navy from where he is dismissed as a result of a mutiny, which leads him back home. There, his troubles with his brothers begin, and Iyob is infuriated by his lack of obedience and also lack of display of admiration for his father, for which he disinherits him, and his brothers attack him and leaves him for dead. But Iyob doesn’t really know his other sons yet, and an enemy called Angoor Rawther (Jayasurya) shall soon come up.

The defence of Iyobinte Pusthakam :: Iyobinte Pusthakam is brilliant, and amazing beyond words in its visual splendour – it is something that we might have never seen before in Indian cinema, and one can get a peek at the same by just looking at the trailer – the complete stuff is a lot bigger and highly extravagant in its visuals. What you see in the posters are made a lot better in this movie, and not the other way around. The movie’s use of history and the variety in settings are also something to cheer about. We rarely have such good period thrillers in Malayalam, and even in Bollywood. The only things related to history that we have these days are related to killing white people – are we so much out of ideas that we have to talk about one thing again and again? No, not all, says Amal Neerad who has come up with his magnum opus here, which tells the story of the people of the land during the British rule and after, combining history and fiction. You can appreciate this one as long as you have the ability for the same.

Positives and negatives :: The movie might still be slow for a few, but I will say that there is absolutely no drag, and it is achieved by the beauty of the visuals – it is no bloody useless drag like Annayum Rasoolum, I can assure you that; this is more of a Left Right Left of this year. As you enter the world of unparalleled visual beauty, what you want might not be the story. The plot might look ordinary, but it is never about the story. Do watch and get taken into this amazing world, and the first movie from Amal Neerad that I liked – and this is one big like for him! Yes, I have never liked Big B, Sagar Alias Jacky, Anwar and Bachelor’s Party, and you fan-boys and girls can dislike me for the same. Interstellar was just a story that could never happen, but this one is a story of humanity in real, and it is up-to you to choose the one that you wish for this weekend, as both are for entirely different set of minds! Our Malayalam critics will never rate a movie from Kerala high, so just the “very good” rating for this movie would mean “out of this world”.

Performances of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is nothing less than brilliant here, as he has another feather in the cap here. It is amazing how he has managed to thrive under almost every circumstance that has been put before him. How good can he be? We can never know the limits of his abilities as it seems. Lal is also nothing less than the powerful and later the helpless figure that he is supposed to be – there is nobody other who can be this character. Chemban Vinod Jose and Jinu Joseph are also good and the former is extremely efficient at times Isha Sharvani is extremely beautiful and suited for the role with her looks alone, otherwise she has much less to do; but that has still worked well for the character. Jayasurya is one impressive villain too, as he becomes the smiling assassin here. Padmapriya as Rahel also scores, coming out nowhere. Vinayakn is also nice. The characterization is so powerful and they nicely blend into the strength of visual beauty and that nice background score. I shall leave with some more thoughts below.

Soul exploration 1 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as King Lear :: Iyobinte Pusthakam is a lot like King Lear or a loose adaptation from the same – it is as much of Shakespeare as Haider is Hamlet, and it has nicely used the setting to support the same. Iyob is King Lear who divides his kingdom among two sons, disinheriting the third, and in the end, it turns out that he was always the righteous and the loving one who comes out to help the father. Goneril, Regan and Cordelia are all here, and there is the Earl of Kent who is joins with the villains this time as Lazar. Rahel does the job of Edmund here, standing between the two sons and making one kill the other. Meanwhile, going outside the play, Martha becomes the lady love that every movie needs, and Angoor Rawther is just the villain that every story should have. There are also those moments when Iyob seems to be descending into madness, and Oswald is also there, as the man who tries to kill our hero and gets himself killed. Also check for the The Brothers Karamazov kind of characters with the same names.

Soul exploration 2 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as the Parable of the Prodigal Son :: Iyob himself mentions Aloshy as prodigal son when he returns from the navy, and the church priest mentions that he is to be given a warm welcome if it is so, just like in the Holy Bible. But here, Aloshy is not the prodigal son, but rather the lost son, who returns after gaining wisdom rather than losing money, and this illusion of the gone son being the prodigal son is directly reversed in this movie without any complication. But considering a few other cases, he is indeed unemployed and without money compared to what he has at his own home which was left behind. The money that he extravagantly spent are the years of his life, and the time which he should have spent with his family. The father does accept his son, but once again, the elder brothers don’t. The movie’s use of the dialogues about the parable gives us this idea.

Soul exploration 3 :: Iyobinte Pusthakam as the Biblical story of Job :: The main character of the movie is Iyob or Job even as the hero is Aloshy. Even as our character here doesn’t have the qualities of a righteous man, he is also someone who losses almost everything that he holds dear, and it includes his own children, his property, and up-to an extent, his health. But the answer to his problems is achieved sooner here, in the form of his earlier lost son Aloshy. During his last moments, he holds onto the cross and gives it to his son, something which he already had, but rarely mentions as his baptism was nothing that he or his people wanted. It is his faith in God that is replenished in his final moments, and even as there is no redemption like that of the Biblical Job here, he does manage to die a good person rather than the evil feudal lord that he had been.

*This is the finest movie of the year from India, among all those which I have watched. Don’t miss this one! It is out of the usual league. It also leaves us with thoughts about the oppressed becoming the oppressor when opportunity arises, and also with a message on equality among the masses.

Release date: 7th November 2014
Running time: 160 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Isha Sharvani, Lal, Jayasurya, Padmapriya, Chemban Vinod Jose, Reenu Mathews, Jinu Joseph, Vinayakan, Lena Abhilash, T. G. Ravi, Sreejith Ravi, Shebin Benson, Saritha Kuku, Nebish Benson, Sal Yusuf, Aashiq Abu (cameo), Amala Paul (cameo)

iyobintepustakam

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

7th Day

7thdayy

The 7th Day significance :: A name which signifies a special day and the tagline which supports the same “The seventh day on which God rested after creating the world in six days”, this was always going to be a different experience. God didn’t need to rest, but he rested on the seventh day which became the Shabbat of Jews, and it is up-to this movie’s release to see how all that would relate to a thriller movie such as this (but it turns out that I thought too much about it). Prithviraj Sukumaran himself says that there has not been any other movie which he has been involved this much, and that only reason that there is no trailer for this movie (there is only the teaser) is because he doesn’t want anyone to have a prior idea or design about this movie which is going to be innovative in many ways. Read more about the same from his official page on Facebook. For anyone who have watched and liked either Mumbai Police or Memories starring the same actor, this was going to be a must watch, and that includes me who considers the latter to be the better movie and among the best of the year. These two movie publicize this movie more than any page or advertisement that can be created – why need anything more?

What is it about? :: David Abraham I.P.S. (Prithviraj Sukumaran) accidently meets Shaan (Vinay Forrt) and Vinu (Anu Mohan) as his jeep hits their motorbike. As he comes across Shaan again and the news spread that Vinu has committed suicide, David feels that there was something strange about the whole thing, and it was evident from their talks and action last night. He goes to meet Shaan who tells him that they have been in trouble for a very long time, and were hunted by the henchmen of a strange and mostly unknown enemy known to many as Christopher Moriarty. They have been trying to run and hide from them in vain, and he was actually separated from his friends before the accident happened. His other friends, Jessy (Janani Iyer), Aby (Tovino Thomas) and Cyril (Praveen Prem) are nowhere to be found and he suspects that they are in deep trouble or possibly dead. David decides to help him and goes out on an investigation by himself, only to uncover strange truths about them, and come to the realization that Shaan might be the only one among the gang who is telling the actual truth. But David is not ready to lose this battle and certainly not the war. His icons are people from the history who lost, but he always plays to win; he doesn’t mind if he tries and losses.

The defence of 7th Day :: The centre of all defence of this movie stands Prithviraj Sukumaran, more powerful than ever. He has the screen presence which makes most of the other things in the movie not that significant. Whenever he is there, everything is under control, as he remains the captain throughout the journey of this ship. Other than that, movie has a nice suspense maintained throughout, and is not without thrills. There is a lot of mystery feeling that the environment of the movie gives. The feeling goes on throughout the movie, especially when our protagonist is on the investigation. The style and lighting in the movie is special, and the darkness that runs throughout the movie helps its mood a lot. There is always something about the inception and development of a dark world in a thriller movie, and this is no exception. We are given the feeling that there is always more than what meets the eye for each character, and even David Abraham himself is no exception, as we see how he changes and reacts according to the situations. There are some stylish dialogues too, some of them which can stay on our minds for at least some time.

The claws of flaw :: 7th Day is a lot like Memories and Mumbai Police, the two other police stories featuring Prithviraj. But the problem is when this one doesn’t give its protagonist to be more of a vulnerable man like in those two, and from the latter, it inherits not just the dark shades, but also the drag which turns out to be rather unfortunate. This also has an investigation going like Memories, but comes nowhere close to that movie in the script or the climax. The occasional drag is a let down, and there are times when the movie becomes less of an investigative thriller and more of a crime drama – something to be expected when the whole thing is related to policeman on suspension and a group of youngsters on the run from a web of crime lead by a ruthless guy whose last name comes from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s greatest known creation, as Professor Moriarty gives it to this one, Christopher Moriarty – I would like to think not much about it, and imagine not about them being related. The chain of events begin on Christmas, so may be they chose to have Christopher as the first name. That should have been avoided, and just another usual name could have done; for villains are not known for their names, but for their actions. Any more talk about that name shall shatter the suspense, and lets not venture more into the same.

Performers of the Soul :: Prithviraj’s real beginning with a police role picks up with Vargam, and that spark returned with Mumbai Police, which was incredibly powered with Memories – the two investigative thrillers of last year which had him in stunning performances, the second being something which was to be appreciated by everyone. He slowly moved away from that kind of police role which Suresh Gopi used to do and gain success, and he himself did with not that much appreciation. Instead, he has come up with so much variety in the same, accepted roles in which he could prove his wonderful acting skills again and again. 7th Day is no exception. From Solomon Joseph to Anthony Moses, and Sam Alex to David Abraham, the fourth memorable police role comes to light here, even as you can surely ask the question if he will come last among the four. Well, Prithviraj steals the show, and this movie is so much about his character – the best thing about the movie. The youngsters are okay with their performances, but as expected, Vinay Forrt stands out as the best of them all, followed by Tovino Thomas. Janani Iyer has the least to do among them, and Joy Mathew has a small, but good role.

Soul exploration :: Welcome to the world of another dark investigative thriller. Unlike Memories, this one leaves much less for the soul. Somehow, I was able to guess the villain as well as the main culprit in the movie, and there were two, and I guessed them both correct – that should have just an incident by accident, and you should give it a try guessing. I was also able to bring up the final twist correctly, something which was rather impossible with Memories and slightly possible with Mumbai Police. The first half’s inherent slowness might have been the main thing which hurt its possibilities of being special, and the second half never really manages to make things faster. The flashback scenes were to be without Prithviraj and they also hurt the soul. It need a lot more of life, something which Mumbai Police partially provided with the negative traits of the character and Memories with the powerful presence of a psycho killer and the memories of the protagonist himself. This one doesn’t have such a boost. We expect much more, but we do not get it. But we are indeed satisfied by what we get, and coming from a debutant director, this is very good.

How it finishes :: This is a week of too many movies – the Vishu holiday which gets extended due to Dr. Amedkar Jayanthi and Sunday with just a day separating them from the Maundy Thursday. With the rush of the summer vacations from school kids and college students, there might not be any movie which can’t be a hit unless it does something really stupid. Gangster‘s inability to impress any kind of audience except for the fans and other concerned groups who say it is good for the obvious reasons, will surely help the other movies which release on the very next day a lot – 7th Day, Ring Master and Polytechnic. Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier gets an extended long run, and with Divergent and Rio 2 ready, and as some other movies refuse to go way including lesser Bollywood releases, this will be a nice weekend for the three Malayalam movies which released today. The families with kids might be looking forward to Bhoothnath Returns too. The Easter week is also coming up, and with 2 States and Transcendence waiting to pounce, it is the best to make most money this week, and with some good opinions, an extended run is a certainty. Now this one has less shows, but that is expected to increase in the upcoming days. 7th Day has the upper-hand as far the opinions are concerned.

Release date: 12th April 2014
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Syam Dhar
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Janani Iyer, Vinay Forrt, Anu Mohan, Tovino Thomas, Praveen Prem, Joy Mathew, T. G. Ravi, Yog Japee

7thday copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Punyalan Agarbathis

punyalan (1)

The time of the saints :: It is the time for the saints, and it was proved by one of the best satirical movies in Malayalam belonging to this century. There was indeed a saint in that movie, and it was Pranchiyettan and the Saint. Now, with the word “punyalan” translated as the saint, this movie also tries to take on the saint + trichur slang which shaped that wonderful satire. The saint is for sale this time, as our hero sells “Saint Incense Sticks” which is how “Punyalan Agarbathis” would get translated, and also if we consider it in another way, it is the sale of a useful saint imagery that happens here, now just as a Christian saint, but rather as the saintly figure in the centre which gets explored so many times, mostly remembered by this year’s movie Immanuel with its title character and Pranchiyettan was himself nothing less than a saint. There is still a lot of interest for the saintly figures among our usual audience, even as the hero who beats up people and says vulgar dialogues might come back any time now – I just hope they stay dead.

What is it about? :: Hailing from Trichur, Joy Thakkolkaran (Jayasurya) is a man who keeps trying his luck in many business ventures, but none of them really working. His latest attempt is on creating incense sticks from elephant dung, and it is named Punyalan Agarbathis hoping that Saint George will help him in his attempt to make it big. He wanders around looking for collecting what he calls “raw materials”. His wife, Anu (Nyla Usha) supports him with a regular job, but it is often insufficient for what he has to spend for his business. He is helped by his long time friend and assistant Greenu Sharma (Aju Varghese) and a driver Abhaya Kumar (Sreejith Ravi) as well as two workers who rarely works. But he has to fight a lot of narrow minded people, politicians and after all, fate which means that his troubles might never end. He is forced to spend most of his time in the court seeking justice, and his ideas keep getting struck down by destiny’s lightning, as he begins to feel that the whole world is against him. The story deals with how he finally survives in his battle.

The defence of Punyalan Agarbathis :: Well, the defence of Punyalan Agarbathis is easy up-to an extent. Other than its social relevance which is mostly about the tragic situation of the common man and the social evil which is harthal, the whole thing is about fun. The simplicity of the movie is worth appreciating. There are lots of funny dialogues stored in between. The beginning credits scene itself is well-crafted with scenes from Trichur. Most of the characters are interesting, and the movie has successfully built up a very good first half after its interesting beginnings. It has moments which makes one wonder how more awesome it can get, and keeps the audience asking for more. The movie’s biggest advantage might be its name, and its trailer which keeps the audience interested, and once the movie starts, there is also the ability to keep close to that standard till the end of first half. The songs are fine and the cinematography is admirable. The saint hasn’t avoided this movie, that is for sure.

Claws of flaw :: The movie seems to create the idea that there is a saint in most of the common man who suffers due to the rich, corrupt hands of the same society, but that kind of fades a few minutes after the first half. By that time, movie had deviated from its wonderful world to an abyss of incapacitated story with the undercurrents of that logic which decided that it is better to leave the flick and go to Mars and stay with Martians. There was always the chance to go astray right from the beginning, but it happened only in the second half, and the way they tried to finish it quickly almost as if a limited offer deus ex machina is used, is a real blemish on the movie. It was more like a cargo ship with great items on board going adrift and losing its good cargo by the time it reaches the destination. Why this sudden disorientation? Even if there was no happy ending to the story, may be if they had just let the leading character miss out and leave his business, it wouldn’t have been a lesser level second half or ending.

Performers of the soul :: If I have to tell who is the performer of the day, that would be a surprise, as Jayasurya is the man in form yet again. He transforms into another interesting character with ease, and Aju Varghese is a wonderful support to him. Sreejith Ravi also contributes to the fun in an avatar he is not usually seen in. Nyla Usha joins the party with charm, and Rachana Narayanankutty does a great job, both serious and funny sides handled with care. Innocent and Tesni Khan also contributes with their relatively small presence, even as we would have liked to see a lot more from the former. T.G. Ravi was there for the last Trichur based satirical comedy and he is there to impress us yet again. Idavela Babu is here as a villain for a change and doing a wonderful job, even as the evil face doesn’t just belong to him, but to so many forces of the society. You have to like Sunil Sukhada in his job. The acting department is so close to perfection, and the other areas of the movies are well supported, yes Mala Aravindan’s funny KAPA character included.

Social relevance :: We have had many movies of social relevance, with Sandesam, Varavelpu and Vellanakalude Naadu quite a long time ago, and Arabikkatha, Passenger and Pranchiyettan and the Saint not too far away from the present. Punyalan Agarbathis falls behind all these movies, but is the next movie which comes to the list. The movie takes on harthal as a social disturbance right from the beginning stages itself. The assertion on the harthal stands tall among others, and another focus is on the corrupt politics and the plight of the common man, and also about how difficult it is to begin an industry in Kerala. But the use of elephant dung there might be strange, but still okay enough as the movie is not to be taken that seriously, and the use of such an insignificant and free thing means that one can’t even try little things in a world of corruption and among influential people who are there to create trouble. If it was presented a little differently, with a better second half and a much better climax, the movie would have been remembered for a very long time.

How it finishes :: Ranjith Sankar has given us messages through his movies, and his best shall yet remain Passenger, a fine Molly Aunty Rocks and a below average Arjunan Saakshi. All of them had something other than the story to tell us, and this one is not different either. The elephant dung thing gets irritating after some time, and you know at which point the movie losses focus. Otherwise, this is the right Malayalam movie for the weekend, if we consider the reports. As the title Bicycle Thieves hurts my feelings about Vittorio De Sica’s neorealist drama and the name Escape from Uganda makes one feel worse, with the only thing further strange being the name Namboothiri Yuvavu @ 43 – this movie is a winner right from the title. The reports also seem to suggest that there is something in the title that is carried into the movie. Still, if you are not fixed on watching a Malayalam movie, I would suggest Frozen as the movie of the week. Meanwhile, our desire to watch another Pranchiyettan and the Saint remains unfulfilled.

PS: The leading character in Pranchiyettan and the Saint was Francis, and here we have the character as Joy. Something tells me that next satires based on Trichur might having the protagonists, as Jos and Paul, and you can make a guess why I predict so! 😀

Release date: 29h November 2013
Running time: 160 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Ranjith Sankar
Starring: Jayasurya, Nyla Usha, Aju Varghese, Innocent, Rachana Narayanankutty, Sreejith Ravi, T.G. Ravi, Tesni Khan, Mala Aravindan, Idavela Babu, Sunil Sukhada, Shivaji Guruvayur

punyalan copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Red Wine

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This wine is not that powerful as a thriller even with its moments of suspense, as the killer is kind of known right from the beginning itself – there is still a possiblity of expecting more twists over twists, but there is none in the end. The movie progresses slowly, unlike the traditional thrill infected flicks. Still, it has a beautiful philosophical touch and an embedded social message. The movie is surely worth watching for the performance of the leading actors, especially Fahadh Fazil & Mohanlal. There seems to be no stopping the former from his awesomeness and the latter proves why he is still considered to be at his best. The support cast has also been significant. A routine investigation movie is told in a different way this time. It is supported by another experimentation with its narratives without losing its simplicity and the path towards goodness. This can be hailed not for the chills and thrills, but for those who can make a philosopher’s stone out of the darkest and the dirtiest of metals, this might be something else.

Mohanlal’s Assistant Commissioner of Police reminds more of the cop from Grandmaster than anything else. This time, the police officer is even more philosophical. He is not a person who look for action all the time, but a slow and steady officer who understands both the victim and the murderer, and knows with ease that both are the victims of circumstances, one of his own ideals of truth, justice and equality which is despised by the land mafia, while the other of his evil past and the need to pay off his loans. He understands the complicated human minds just as the Wayanad’s twists and turns on the way up. The movie is shot at Wayanad and Kozhikode, and the stories of the subaltern of the heights of Wayanad and that of the opposite side of the evil from civilized world also creeps in. This is where Mohanlal’s character has his magnificience – to balance the characters from both sides, pure good, righteous good, forced evil and pure evil, all of them making frequent appearances as significant parts of the movie at parts. He understands the two men he is searching for, as well as the ones he is not directly searching for, as he progresses through his investigation.

Fahadh Fazil carries the movie with such an ease which makes the whole movie a simple, poetic experience. This is very unlike his performances in his recent flicks – there is no strangeness like in Annayum Rasoolum, Chappa Kurisu and Natholi Oru Cheriya Meenalla; there is no shades of darkness or even greyness as in 22 Female Kottayam; or that confusion and uncertainty of life as in Diamond Necklace and Friday. Here, we have a good man, of only good intentions towards the fellow humans, and with the desire to do good to the society and his people. He is an Engineering graduate who passed out of college with good marks and was good enough to get a fine job with an attractive salary at home or abroad. But he chooses to work for his people as the Local committee secretary for the left. His portrayal of the victim Anoop has given the audience his most lovable character ever; that is one character on the side of pure, unadulterated political man who stands between the modern and the traditional world, having the elements of both, in such a way that he stands between the two, understanding and interpreting both with significant ease.

As the movie revolves around the life of three characters, one can’t avoid not fail to sympathize on the third important character, played by Asif Ali. Even as he is the least likable of the three and has less time on the screen, Ramesh is a character of circumstances. He is not someone who is a remorseless man of pure evil like Django. He is not for the depths of hell nor the upper most of firmament. His life is not to be seen separate from his wife Deepthi, played by Mia George. Both of them blends into their characters well enough, and more of the sad situation is conveyed more through their looks and expressions rather than the words. This is that part of the story which is more touching in terms of a common man. Ramesh is a man with an evil past, who has turned good after marrying his lover who is from a rich family, which has lead to their isolation from their relatives. Now, as Ramesh has taken loans over loans, this is his moment where he has to choose between the good which is poverty and the lack of provisions for his family which would soon include a newborn child, as well as the evil which is security of good life for his loved ones. There is choices for him to make and whatever choice he makes, there would be a payment in blood or cash.

Well, the human life itself is like that road to Wayanad, and all these characters fit into those twists and turns. For some of them, death might be the relief and for the others, life is all that matters. Where heaven and hell fits in between them is a matter of debate, in the life which is mixed with so much of good and evil. The strength of the movie is still its cast and their performances. Meera Nandan, Meghna Raj and Kailash comes in smaller roles, as a skilled drama actress, an RDO and a cyber cell officer respectively. Meanwhile, Saiju Kurup comes up with an inspiring performance as the protagonist’s friend Navas. The debutant Maria John and Anusree also fits in, as the lover and the best friend of the protagonist. Suraj Venjaramoodu has a more serious role to play in this one, as the one who benefit the most with the protagonist’s death, a person with hidden agendas, another suspect for the investigating officer. T. G. Ravi has another lovable character, a righteous socialist worker of the party who earns the respect of the viewers right from the beginning. Still, the one who steals the show is Fahadh Fazil, and he seems to do that with such an ease that surprises the audience.

The way in which the movie is narrated gives it more life in spite of it being slow and ordinary in the first look. There is regular breaking of narratives, not in space, but in time – from the death of the protagonist to the life of another man to the progress of the investigation and then back to the protagonist’s ideologies during his lifetime. The space changes, but is still confined to Wayanad and Kozhikode. The movement is like wine poured out of the bottle, some of it which goes into the bottle, some of it to the floor, a little of it in the table and the remaining in the bottle. This is the philosophy of life, for not all can be the same, physically, intellectually, or spiritually. To be frank, the choice to go for this one ahead of 3 Dots and Amen was a big move. It was more for the love of the title and the image of the red wine in the bottle. No, it won’t replace the everlasting image of tea as the elixir of life, nor does it make a substitute for blood. The question would be about what the red wine symbolize and why is it the title of the movie. I have always been interested in the colour, my third favourite after black and blue. It is the colour of blood; that of all the martyrs and saints who died for the mankind. It was also used in the Roman and the Byzantine Empires, such was its honour. What about St George’s Cross and the Red Cross?

The human life has always been full of the colour red, also associated with, revolution, love, socialism, communism, passion, beauty. Lets leave its negative associations for this instance, for this one is everything except pessimism. The red wine itself is a symbol of humanity and their blood in a glass. Does this also symbolize the sacramental wine, the blood of Jesus Christ, for the blood of a modern age revolutionary which was to be shed? They were shown drinking the red wine and they were also shown talking about Christ being the revolutionary, and therefore this chance is surely there. The Red Wine is no Spirit; for it doesn’t glorify drinking or anything in the first half and oppose it in the second half; it sticks to its points – of humanity, right from the beginning to the end, for the red wine symbolizes the blood of a young, educated revolutionary which was shed as he stood for the righteousness. That makes a valid allusion and a wonderful imagery. Red Wine is not your typical murder mystery, for it is a philosophy; not a psychological thriller; never a supernatural thriller, as this one is of another genre and I would like to call it a philosophical thriller. If this was more powerful as a regular thriller, and if it could have conveyed the philosophy better, the movie would have been awesome, for sure.

Release date: 21st March 2013
Running time: 140 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Salam Bappu
Starring: Mohanlal, Fahadh Fazil, Asif Ali, Saiju Kurup, Jayaprakash, Mia George, Meghana Raj, Anusree, Maria John, Meera Nandan, T. G. Ravi, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Kailash, Anoop Chandran

redwine copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.

Lucky Star

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The Vampire Bat had to fight off many bad omens before watching this movie. There were so many souls talking in his dreams that this is going to be a bad movie. To add to it, when the Vampire Bat was travelling on his medieval machine which ran at ten kilometres per hour, the fastest ever invented by a non-human, and there were traffic problems. In the end, the Vampire Bat reached the theatre thirty two seconds late – not too impressive for a creature well known for punctuality. I guess this reveals another thing about the Vampire Bat. He can’t fly – to be frank, it is more like he won’t fly. It is mainly because he is against it, not because he is like that bird in the movie Rio. He has decided not to fly, even if he is pushed off a cliff with non-vampire crocodiles underneath. He is so adamant, but he is no Meursault, for he is as much as a believer as any living soul in Noah’s Arc. Back to the omens, the vampire bat happened to see so much reckless driving and breaking of traffic rules; but if that is to be considered an omen, the Vampire Bat would have seen no other movie.

So the movie has Deepu Anthikkad in his directorial debut, starring Jayaram and Rachana Narayanankutty. It is the story of a small family of Ranjith, Janaki and their daughter Megha. Our hero is a man who always dreams of becoming rich, and the family as a whole has quite huge dreams, and there is a little boasting which results in no big evil. The hero is a tailor who stitches dresses mostly for movies – a random person who got stuck in the city of Chennai after coming there with big movie dreams which he still cherishes. As the couple had love marriage, they live far away from their relatives, both physically and mentally. Ranjith is looking forward to a big enterprise which he plans to start with a bank loan which seems too difficult to get. His desire to send his daughter to one of the best schools in the area, makes the financial situation even worse. He ends up facing an incredible shortage of cash for his liking, which has to be met one way or the other. This has no movement in the Swapna Sanchari direction, that is for sure, but a comparison at certain points might be worthwhile.

Continuing the sotry, the next important character, Doctor John comes up with an offer of ten lakhs for a surrogate mother for the child of an American based Indian couple who wants the mother to be good-looking. But he fails to find a woman of their liking. Janaki herself takes a decision to go for the money despite the initial refusal from her husband. The American couple pays them half the amount as advance and agrees to return to pay the remaining five lakhs after the birth of their child. But after the birth of the child, Ranjith and Janaki find that the parents of the new-born baby will not return as they have already divorced and started to live their own life. They could no longer be expected to have any interest in a child which belongs to both of them. The initial reaction was to abandon the child, but later the kid grows up as their son and their financial situation also improves – meanwhile, an incident causes the original mother of the boy to return and ask for her son – something which changes the situation completely.

The movie might bring back the memories of 1989 Malayalam movie Dasaratham and 2012 Hindi movie Vicky Donor, the former which was a classic and the latter the Vampire Bat knows not too much about other than what he heard from his noturnal allies. But the known facts tell the Vampire Bat to leave the second one further away. Well, this one is less emotional than the 1989 movie for sure, and they are surely not the same. This is more funny and without doubt, quite enjoyable, as they first half is not short of its funny moments. There might have not been many positive reviews about this one, but I would say that this is a highly under-rated movie. It has a debutant director and a debutant leading actress along with the supporting actress, but it never really losses its footing. The two leading actress and Jayaram has had a firm hold in the movie. There are moments where the story might have lost the soil under its feet, but it never really does – from what the Vampire Bat knows of the soil, he never really liked falling head first into the soil, something which happened only three or four times in his life time. In the end, the movie has strong pillars and is a job well done with its limited resources.

A good story presented in a nice package, which should be very attractive to the family audience, but still not so sure about the new generation lovers looking a continuous supply of that word which starts with the first letter of Fan, Freak, Frog prince, Fanny Browne, Faustus the doctor, Frozen dessert and Fool. For your need for everything evil and not-so-nice, find some other movie. There are enough of them with lip-locks, alchohol, drugs, cigarettes and sex; and leave this one alone, for this has goodness and it cherishes on it. The movie goes on and banks on its goodness and cast performances in a balanced manner. There is no overdose of anything, but simple dose of what would make a family-comedy-drama a success. The biggest advantage of this movie might be that it is light hearted and centred on family, the type of role in which we always wished to see Jayaram – like Veendum Chila Veetukaaryangal, Njangal Santhushtaraanu, Bhagyadevatha, Manasinakkare, Georgootty C/O Georgootty, Ayalathe Adheham, Meleparambil Aanveedu, Aadyathe Kanmani, Veruthe Oru Bharya and so many others.

T. G. Ravi and Mamukkoya have smaller, but noticeable roles to play in the movie. Even as there not that much power in any department to strengthen the movie, there is not much flaws around. To be frank, what might have affected the movie more might be the prejudices; the most significant of them might be based on the name – for a name like “Lucky Star” is a little unattractive for movie; a little closer to the first name of the Indian Premier League Cricket team from Cochin, IndiCommandos Kerala, and not that far away from the names like Chennai SuperKings and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Not that these names can be considered horrible, for they are all subjective – a name like “Lucky Star” would create less interest in Kerala than most of the other names. Its like when I say the name of the movie which I am going to watch, and people are like, what in this world is that? That is surely a cause of repulsion. If it also reminds you of the 2011 Malayalam movie, Lucky Jokers, does that help? Not for me to say.

The movie has the right cast and there is nothing wrong in the movie to have this much less reception, and the hope is for it to do better than how it is performing in the theatre right now. Family audience, this is your chance to bring goodness back to Malayalam movies. A must for anyone who wants to see a good world on the screen and the display of the power of family values compared to the world of separation and intolerance. Isn’t this more of humanity than random people wandering around having drugs, sex, alcohol and cigarettes? Isn’t humanity more of being good rather than gaining attention? Even the ambitions and desires which might have existed in the earlier parts of this movie makes way for the big sacrifice in the end. This is how righteousness should be running, not on a cart made of stone wheels created out of a heart of stone, but based on that delicacy which should be worth a whole human life.

Release date: 8th March 2013
Running time: 130 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Deepu Anthikkad
Starring: Jayaram, Rachana Narayanankutty, Pooja Ramachandran, Mukesh, T. G. Ravi, Mamukkoya

luckystar

@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.