Vimaanam

What is the movie about? :: Venkateswaran a.k.a. Venkidi (Prithviraj Sukumaran), a man with hearing problems, is the latest recipient of Padma Bhushan for his grand achievements in the field of Aeronautics. But it turns out that he has a past which is deeply set in emotions. As he travels back to his hometown in Kerala from Delhi despite the warnings of his good friend Elias (Major Ravi), his flashback is revealed. It goes back to that time when he was going through his school days. From then, there was only one thing which interested him, and it was all about flying. His desire to fly got him to a bigger need, to build an airplane, inspired by Roger’s (Alencier Ley Lopez) tales about how the first flying airplane was invented. He grew up dreaming about the same, and not being interested in studies much, despite being an excellent student. There is someone who had supported him all the time, and continued to do so; that would be Janaki (Durga Krishna), his childhood friend who plans to join MBBS – they have been in love for longer than they can remember.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: As Venkidi is half-Christian and half-Hindu, the possibility of their love story becoming something that would be approved at Janaki’s home, is very less, despite him following the same Hindu traditions. But their love continues to grow, and causing trouble for the romance is Anand (Saiju Kurup) to whom Janaki’s father hopes to marry her off, as his family is rich and settled in Singapore. Meanwhile, with the help of Janaki, Roger and his favourite uncle (Sudheer Karamana), Venkidi keeps trying to fly his new machines, none of which manage to rise from the floor. The whole village makes fun of his attempts, but he is not the kind of person who would back down. During difficult times, Venkidi and Roger, with the help of Janaki, steals an engine, which does help them to fly, but flying won’t be enough to get the lovers together in a society which looks for more than just that.

The defence of Vimaanam :: The movie tries to be another inspirational movie in Malayalam, and adds to that long list of similar movies which have tried to do the same, a few being Mili, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam, Rani Padmini, Udaharanam Sujatha, My God and Aby. Yes, the inspiration to achieve the dreams which have been there for long, is right there. It achieves the same, and makes one feel the power of dreams, not just with the dream of the protagonist, but with that of a shared dream, which gets its significance by the end – as some people would say, that one’s dream is not his or her alone, as it is shared by all those who are beloved. The love story scores more due to the songs, as this flick undoubtedly has some delightful songs, as do its romantic competitor, Mayaanadhi. Well, this one uses subtitles whether it is English or Hindi, and it is something which people related to Mayaanadhi couldn’t do for Tamil. The visuals are also good, and the setting of this movie is something which is capable of achieving a lot more than what we can see on the big screen.

The claws of flaw :: We can see that a simple tale based on real-life people has been exaggerated a lot rather than keeping the simplicity in place. Vineeth Sreenivasan starrer Aby, which released in February this year also dealt with the same thing, about its protagonist trying to make an airplane and fly, fighting against all odds. A number of people might have felt that this is more of a repetition, with bigger budget, and more familiar cast. But the fact remains that Aby was a much simpler story, and it had some light moments of fun to go with it; this one lacks the same. You remember the Jomonte Suvisheshangal becoming the repetition of Jacobinte Swargarajyam, and the same is the case here, causing Vimaanam not to go that high as it could have. The romantic side of this movie, and the incidents surrounding the same, are also the same old wine in that bottle which was available in the market from February itself. There is absolutely no attempt to make this one special, even there were so many chances in there, and the result is a certain predictability with drag in between.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj Sukumaran comes up with more here, as we see him in another avatar, unlike his recent adventures of the year, Ezra, Tiyaan and Adam Joan. Among the young stars, he has been the one with the most variety in his roles, and with Vimaanam, there is nothing there to compared with his previous roles of 2017. Vimaanam‘s role is rather easy for him, compared to the other three characters which he had played in the year, which included a troubled man tackling a Jewish creature of pure darkness, a former gangster turning into a mystic and a father hoping to find his kidnapped daughter who might be in the hands of Satan worshipers – even the movie before that, Oozham had him seeking vengeance; in comparison, this one brings no challenge to him. As he has played character from real life with charm, significant examples being Celluloid and Ennu Ninte Moideen, you know what to expect when he is out there.

Further performers of the soul :: When we look at Aby and this movie, we keep looking for something new, and that new element is Durga Krishna, the debutante actress who brings cuteness and energy to the flick, in a performance which is certain to bring her more roles in the future. The character might feel single-dimensional, and cent percent predictable in a world itself having no surprises, but her work makes the same work for the audience. Alencier Ley Lopez is certainly the man to look out for in the movie, as this character seems to be so well suited for him. Sudheer Karamana is not far behind in that case either, for he was against flight in Aby, but is with all support for his favourite boy’s flight in this one. Eric Zachariah who plays Prithviraj’s childhood has one delightful performance for us, which would prepare us for what is to follow, a wonderful child actor there. Anarkali Marikar has a smaller role, but it is nice to have her there after Aanandam. Lena and Saiju Kurup are good as usual.

How it finishes :: Vimaanam is a movie which was much talked about for a long time. Even as Aby had overtaken the movie with its own protagonist trying to make an airplane and fly like Jacobinte Swargarajyam did before Jomonte Suvisheshangal, this one was something which kept the audience’s interest alive due to the presence of Prithviraj Sukumaran in a different look. But you will find that even with its cliched characters and melodrama, Vimaanam has managed to fly, and battle Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeevi Aanu 2 which has been the youth favourite even before it had released, and even with Mayaanadhi, Masterpiece and Aana Alaralodalaral there with Tiger Zinda Hai, this flight is also catching our attention. It is more or less a reflection of the noble intentions of a movie which is hoping to inspire more and more dreams in a world of chaos. Vimaanam might be the one right family movie for Christmas, catering to the needs of the full family outing, unlike the rest of the movies which are focusing on selections.

Release date: 22nd December 2017
Running time: 147 minutes
Directed by: Pradeep M Nair
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Durga Krishna, Alencier Ley Lopez, Lena, Sudheer Karamana, Saiju Kurup, P. Balachandran, Anarkali Marikar, Major Ravi, Nandhu, Master Eric Zachariah, Ashokan, Tesni Khan, Liya Anu Varghese, Baby Durga Premjith

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Paippinchuvattile Pranayam

What is the movie about? :: Very close to the city, but still, very far away from the urban setting, there is the small island which is known by the name Pandarathuruthu, and the first half of that name itself is enough to know how that place is considered to be, by not just the people from outside, but also those who live there. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge has said in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the people of the island also faces the same situation – “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink”, surrounded by salt water, and having only a few boats – as all roads lead to Rome, all of those boats get them to the city, and nowhere else. This is the tale of the simple people in that particular place, where everyone spends more time waiting for water in a long queue in front of the common tap at the centre of the island, rather than doing anything else. The rest of the people do simple jobs, including fishing, painting and also a little bit of farming which doesn’t need much of fresh water.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is around that place of local gathering around the tap meant to collect water, that Govindankutty a.k.a Govutty (Neeraj Madhav) and Teena (Reba Monica John) falls in love. While there is the scarcity of water there, one can see no difficulty in getting some love, as far as these two are concerned. Govindankutty leads a happy life with his good friends Ayyappan (Sudhi Koppa) and Bashi (Rishi S Kumar) earning enough through painting work and a few dance performances when opportunities are available. There is not much of a complaint from them about their lives, despite the unavailiability of water bothering them all the time. They know that people have tried to bring better facilities to the island before, but nothing has happened with those politicians who keep making excuses, and life goes on. Any further attempt would be waste of time, according to them.

And what is to follow in this small adventure at the island? :: Babumon (Dharmajan Bolgatty) is the one to suffer the most, as no girl wishes to get married to someone without access to drinking water. Teena’s parents are also not ready to get her married to Govindankutty, and they are also looking for someone who got access to clean water, from anywhere outside the village. Despite his mother (Sethulakshmi) asking for the bride, Teena’s parents (Jaffer Idukki and Thesni Khan) are not ready to accept the proposal. It is more or less the reflection of their realization that nothing good can happen in Pandarathuruthu and the people of the island will never have access to clean water. But when one tragedy strikes, they have to think differently, and understand that it is the time to act. It is upon the youth to make the difference, but are they up to it? One journalist named Shyam Prakash (Aju Varghese) is ready to help them, but will that be enough?

The defence of Paippinchuvattile Pranayam :: There are moments in Paippinchuvattile Pranayam that keep rising like the certainty of tides – we see them coming and going. The humour is present here and there, and the lead has a good chemistry going on in movie’s favour. Some good visuals of the place will have our attention, and we see the huge buildings of the city on one side and this small world on the other. The music is good, even though they are used without care at some places. There are messages in store, and we have social issues being discussed, after the lack of availability of clean water in many areas. There were those islands around Cochin which had problems in getting drinking water, something we have been reading about since childhood. Even though a lot of problems have been solved now, it remains something that is present at one place or the other. Paippinchuvattile Pranayam adds something there.

The claws of flaw :: With a little more than two hours of length, some parts of the movie do make us feel a certain amount of drag. There is also the whole thing not used to its advantage, as this one could have been funnier, as well as having a thrilling end which could be a lot more of a difference maker with its ideas. The final moments could have been polished to bring an effect which would have made this one a social thriller with romance to go with it. The romantic side also makes way for the rest of the things too easily – there is not that much of strength with it if we consider the fact that the title Paippinchuvattile Pranayam as well as the expectations were all related to that only. There is also the need for the ability to relate to the problems of the common man, without which, this movie can go flying far away; this one would be more for the common audience, the everyman who can reflect these elements better as well as the invisible villains.

Performers of the soul :: Neeraj Madhav right out of Lavakusha and Oru Mexican Aparatha this year leads the way, and he is comfortable in being this kind of a hero, as all things are in control here. Reba Monica John seems naturally suited for this role, and is there throughout, winning points with big smiles and enchanting expressions, unlike that small presence which she had in Jacobinte Swargarajyam despite being the leading actress there too. As one might have figured out with the trailer and songs, she fits in, even without that many dialogues. Sudhi Koppa is the one actor who supports so well as he rises to the occasion, and he does a fantastic job with those emotional side, more than that comic side which was there earlier. We already saw him in Alamara, Lakshyam and Udaharanam Sujatha in notable roles this year among the others, and he gets his best here. Dharmajan strengthens the funny side, which would have struggled a lot without him. Aju Varghese has a smaller role which is managed easily. Sarath falls prey to a badly written negative character.

How it finishes :: Among those movies about common people made with what seems to rather lower budget, Paippinchuvattile Pranayam will surely have a good position. It is always nice to see tales being made about common men and not those money laundering bourgeoisie class attached to pubs and parties. It can’t claim to be perfect or close to being perfect in what it deals with, but it is as close to reality that we can get, and it is close to the heart of everyone who feels for those who are in need. But concerning others who have no heart for the sufferings of others, this wouldn’t be the movie. This is the age of superheroes with Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League running in the theatres, and one can go for them without thinking too much, for the big entertainment. But if you care, try giving a chance to the smaller movies about everyman, like Paippinchuvattile Pranayam. In simple words, call it “Love, water & other social issues”.

Release date: 24th November 2017
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Domin D’Silva
Starring: Neeraj Madhav, Reba Monica John, Aju Varghese, Dharmajan Bolgatty, Sarath Appani, Sudhi Koppa, Sruthy Jayan, Jaffer Idukki, Rishi S Kumar, Tesni Khan, Sethulakshmi, Indrans, Anoop Chandran

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Polytechnic

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Vishu’s last comrade :: In the beginning, there were four Malayalam movies for the festival of Vishu, and this is the last one that list, as the least hyped, but I have found this one the second most interesting after 7th Day. But before I get into it, I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Suraj Venjaramoodu on winning the National Award for the Best Actor for his performance in Perariyathavar along with everyone behind the same movie. As everyone considered him to be someone inside a particular genre, there might not be many people from Kerala who expected the same. What makes me most happy is the selection of North 24 Kaatham as the best Malayalam movie, as unlike what some people said about it, I have always thought it was a wonderful movie and needed to gain a lot more attention, even as it did do quite well. Now with the award won, not many can reject the claim of awesomeness about that movie. So there is something from a long time Malayalam movie fan, and back to what I have been doing, and the road diverge into that fourth Vishu Malayalam movie which I watched, Polytechnic.

What is it about? :: Poly (Kunchako Boban) is the son of a soldier and a homemaker. He is a member of the local leftist party and is filled with socialist ideas and a desire to eliminate corruption from his village, thus not doing any job and not contributing to the income of the household in any way other than eating quite a lot. He is usually locked in fights against the Panchayat president and the local leader of the opposite party, Sukumaran Nair (Vijayaraghavan), but is in love with the daughter of the same man, Aswathy (Bhavana) whom he has liked since childhood. As Poly gets more and more involved with the events in the village, he has to face more problems. But the big problem comes when his father dies in a terrorist attack, and is left with the duty to take care of the household. With the money that they get after the death of his father, Poly starts a new business with the help of his friend Backer (Aju Varghese) and the blessings of their local leader. But soon he realizes that it is difficult to run an industry like it is easy to close one. He finds out that one can’t run a business in the right way, but decides to go against all odds and make sure that his venture turns successful.

The defence of Polytechnic :: Sometimes spelled as Pauly Technic at many places, Polytechnic is all about the technic the protagonist Poly uses to get his thing done. May be it is more about the protagonist being Poly or Pauly rather than anything else. The first half is more political and surely the funnier one, as it reminds one more of Oru Indian Pranayakatha‘s first half as it moves on to being somewhat the Punyalan Agarbathis as the first half gets closer to the interval and the whole second half. But the movie does maintain its own identity, thanks to all the funny dialogues and incidents as well as the total village set up. The message to fight corruption runs throughout the movie. There is a heavy dose of corruption incidents in the movie, and it keeps telling the viewers about the need to fight the same, and it is in the hands of the youth to do so. The movie has a lot of funny moments, and never does it cross the border of decency, something which has been difficult for Malayalam movies with the new generation movies all around. It makes sure that the movie is suitable for the families.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t have a wikipedia page. There are not many movies which doesn’t have one, and that is disappointing as such a page is necessary for any average movie which hits the theatre, and often the worst Malayalam movies have one. I would consider such a situation a serious threat to the movie’s promotions, just like not having a facebook page. The movie’s take on politics and corruption is half-baked. The whole thing becomes a fight only in the end, and the climax is rather too ineffective and forced. As this movie is more or less like last year’s Jayasuriya starrer Punyalan Agarbathis, the same trend seems to continue – the protagonist tries to start a business which has almost everything going against it, including the laws, officials, fate and those people who don’t like him. There is also the heroine giving full support as well as a friend who is always with him (both times played by Aju Varghese). The protagonist’s techniques are rather weak and none of them should actually impress the audience as the “great poly technic”. There it goes slow and pretty much predictable.

Performers of the Soul :: Kunchako Boban once again excels in a character with all the qualities necessary for the same. Remember Elsamma Enna Aankutty and Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum, but here he has a character with more heroism, and he performs here with the same ease. He has fit into the role of the simple and ordinary man well. Bhavana seems to have got slimmer, and shines in a role in which most of the other Malayalam actresses haven’t really played to a good effect – a police officer and a lover who struggles to keep both roles afloat, caught between her lover and her father. She successfully portrays and remains true to that character. Vijayaraghavan and Aju Varghese heavily contributes to the funny side, and the latter has a role which is similar to what he did in Punyalan Agarbathis, and has made it better. These two are also seen in the other Vishu movie, Ring Master, the same is the case of Suraj Venjaramood who contributes in his usual manner. Kochu Preman is there to add a little more to the same. Hareesh Peradi remains strong and has yet another powerful role to essay. Innocent has a guest role in the end.

Soul exploration :: The feel-good movies are mostly for the soul, but this is actually less for the same. The message for the youth to fight against corruption is the one thing that stands alone, and the light shades make sure that the situation is enjoyable rather than frowned upon; but there are the moments which make one feel that its not that light a movie, especially when the protagonist’s struggles get too much and lands him in jail as well as ruins his reputation. There was the need for a stronger script and a better twist in the end to make sure that it works better rather than sticking to that feel-good thingy like a glue. It seems to have clinched on the simplicity, but there is still the twist, and the with its occasional drags and predictability, the movie is kind of confused at its soul, and the fact that they have somewhat managed to pull it off is a nice thing. Its attempt is on a message against what may be the biggest social evil in the nation, and that is well done as an attempt. There is also the reminder of Dakshayani Biscuits, the factory from Mohanlal’s old classic movie, Midhunam.

How it finishes :: The two things that would attract the audience should be that Bhavana is back, that too with Kunchako Boban a long time after Doctor Love, for the first time in a police role; and that Kunchako Boban is back in his second most comfortable territory, the family comedy entertainer (the first one being the usual romantic stuff). Polytechnic doesn’t seem to be ready to finish strong during this festival-vacation season. I wonder how much better it would have been if it had released before Punyalan Agarbathis. But this is still a season of big holidays, and as nothing other than 7th Day has successfully attracted enough audience, this might still hold on like Count Dracula to his coffin. To prepare for the same, lets keep the expectations low and take the opportunity, and be prepared for another addition of a feel-good movie to the long list of such movies which never cease coming as far as Malayalam movie industry is concerned.. I might be back only after Maundy Thursday and Good Friday or possibly only after Easter, and I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter Sunday, and may there be blessings in abundance on the day, plus belated Vishu greetings.

Release date: 11th April 2014
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: M. Padmakumar
Starring: Kunchacko Boban, Bhavana, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramood , Tesni Khan, Devi Chandana, Vishnu Prabha, Hareesh Peradi, Kochu Preman, Ambika, Innocent

polytechnic copy

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Punyalan Agarbathis

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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

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@ Cemetery Watch
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