Charlie’s Angels

Vampire Owl: I remember having watched those two older versions.

Vampire Bat: You mean the movies with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu.

Vampire Owl: Yes, during those times, it was a change from the usual action movies which we managed to get locally.

Vampire Bat: Yes, I watched the movie at a time when the CD versions were just getting to be popular, replacing the video cassettes.

Vampire Owl: We have to go, like twenty years backwards. We are really old, aren’t we?

Vampire Bat: It is still a very small number of years in vampire time.

Vampire Owl: That is true, but when we look at the actresses involved here, we know that there is more to it than just vampire time.

Vampire Bat: Unless they come with something like Charlie’s Vampires.

Vampire Owl: I don’t think that they would want vampires doing this job.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see why not, especially if they start running out of the usual options.

[Gets some potato chips and three cups of ginger tea].

What is the movie about? :: John Bosley (Patrick Stewart), a senior operative, plans and executes a mission with his angels perfectly, and soon, enters retirement, with a programme which appreciates what he had done for a long time during his stay in the organization. Meanhile, Elena Houghlin (Naomi Scott), an engineer working under the millionaire Alexander Brok (Sam Claflin), wants to take a secret out regarding their new project Callisto, and their head of development, Peter Fleming (Nat Faxon) who is planning something sinister. She understands that the device which was supposed to be used for clean and cheap energy, has potential to be weaponized, and some people already have eyes on that. She has a meeting with Edgar Dessange (Djimon Hounsou), and the two angels operatives Jane Kano (Ella Balinska) and Sabina Wilson (Kristen Stewart) has an eye on them in case something happens.

So, what happens with the events here? :: But, they are attacked by an assassin known only as Hodak (Jonathan Tucker), and are chased all around the city by him, until they end up in a river, and Edgar is dead. Rebekah Bosley (Elizabeth Banks) who is in charge, gets them together, and their injuries and troubles are taken care of by the person whom they referred to as the Saint (Luis Gerardo Mendez). They decide to sneak into Brok’s corporate headquarters so that they can steal the remaining Calisto prototypes before someone manage to use it, and make copies of it. Along with Elena, the other two angels also gets in using different ids, but despite their best efforts, they fail. Fleming has the only existing Callisto models, and they find him traveling to Istanbul, Turkey – they decide to follow them, with Elena also given the angel equipments, to serve as the electronics and computer expert, or rather the hacker. But can they find out the real villain here?

The defence of Charlie’s Angels :: Elizabeth Banks not only acts in this movie, but is also the director, and she has nicely managed to make this version of the angels a very entertaining one. There are some nicely managed action sequences, as heists, explosions and chases become just part of this movie which also manages to have a certain amount of humour maintained throughout its run, and its two hours of run-time ends quickly enough. Most of the credit for the same goes to Naomi Scott, both directly and indirectly. The visuals are good, with some interesting locations being explored by the camera along with the angels. It has to be said that was high time they had another movie in this franchise, as we always have space for films like these which takes things lightly, along with the serious ones which get all the sequels – Mission Impossible kind of stuff. This one is sure to make you ask for a sequel, not making one waiting too long.

The claws of flaw :: Considering the fact that this is a movie which has arrived years after the earlier version, there was a lot of time to bring some innovation, but there is no such thing being attempted here. The movie focuses more on action thriller cliches to make the best out of its material, but it should have opted for changes. The plot also has its own predictable elements, and the twist that it has is rather minute, and is not there to stay. As usual, there is the new recruit, the rookie who will learn things, and finally join the team, as beating up some evil men becomes a reason for them travel all around the world at a time when there was no COVID-19 – maybe they wouldn’t do that these days. You might also miss the great popularity of Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu, the three leads of the original version, as the actresses who play the same roles in this movie are those whom most of the film lovers of this part of the world might not be familiar with, except for Kristen Stewart.

Performers of the soul :: Elizabeth Banks, the director plays a major role in this movie, and does that well, and most people will always remember her for the role in the dystopian science fiction thriller, The Hunger Games, and its sequels. But the one who catches our attention the most is Naomi Scott, who plays the girl who changes from being clueless to becoming the angel. She was recently seen in Aladdin, and she was there in Power Rangers with Elizabeth Banks, playing one of the protagonists and the antagonist respectively. Ella Balinska is the next one to catch our attention, a relatively new face to most of us, who hasn’t really watched the movies in which she acted, and she makes one fine angel. Kristen Stewart was the one person whom I doubted when playing an angel because I had only seen her in the Twilight series and Snow White and the Huntsman, but she is surprisingly good here, and along with the other angels, she brings a lot of the funny side into action. Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Tucker are the appreciable male members of the cast.

How it finishes :: When we compare this new version of Charlie’s Angels to the old ones, this one seems to have a certain advantage with what seems to be a very energetic young cast and more fun than those which we had watched a long time ago, but we remember that we also loved them, and had that novelty with bigger names related to it. Not many movies which come back after a long time makes an impact, unless you have a Stephen King novel for support like Doctor Sleep. The movie is one light-hearted, quick, smart and humorous adventure which you will remember for long, and even bring a certain amount of nostalgia related to those older versions. There are only a few movies like Jumanji which can effectively use action and comedy, and Charlie’s Angels is a movie which has risen again to try and do that, and even though not as good as that movie on a game, this one is also a lot of fun to watch.

Release date: 15th November 2019
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Naomi Scott, Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo, Nat Faxon, Patrick Stewart

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Kilometers and Kilometers

Vampire Owl: I have been waiting for this movie for a long time.

Vampire Bat: This was the next film which we were supposed to watch before COVID-19 came up in March and theatres closed.

Vampire Owl: Well, one of the many things which one virus had changed.

Vampire Bat: A change which brought the movies home.

Vampire Owl: I was thinking Amazon Prime or Netflix in that case.

Vampire Bat: For a change, we have the first television channel release here.

Vampire Owl: Well, it is good to have such a release.

Vampire Bat: Yes, after all, everyone is not into those online platforms.

Vampire Owl: Finally, a release for the common man.

Vampire Bat: Let us makes sure that we don’t miss this!

[Gets a chocolate cake and three cups of white tea].

What is the movie about? :: In the village of Thalanadu, Josemon (Tovino Thomas) doesn’t have any job, and struggles to keep everything going, including paying fees for his sister’s studies. He only manages to get some small jobs which don’t translate to anything. He finally decides to sell his Royal Enfield which the family valued a lot. It is then that Cathy (India Jarvis) comes to visit India, starting from Kerala, after winning a lottery. As this is her final destination before return to the United States of America, she hopes to spend the rest of her money there, and with the help of Appachan (Joju George), Josemon finds this as an opportunity to make some quick money. They make their journey to different parts of India, and when they are in the North, their bags get stolen. Now, they have to find the documents which they had lost, and return to Kerala, but with no clue of what had happened with the theft, the same might not be easy.

The defence of Kilometers and Kilometers :: Simple fun and feel-good elements are abundant in this movie. The light-hearted fun in this movie is suitable for everyone in the family, without pretensions. There is the presence of the good message, giving importance to values and relationships over money, a message which has always been there, but is something which people these days won’t care about. What can surprise us the most is that even the people from earlier generation are still proud of their sons and daughters earning more, instead of being proud of their education or acts of goodness towards fellow human beings. The message will stay significant for a long time, because people won’t change, and this one is another addition to that particular message. The visuals are very good, and we would love to see how the places are being depicted. The performances are also very good. The emotional moments are working well too.

The claws of flaw :: People might not find many things new with this film, and it does maintain a certain amount of simplicity here. The idea is indeed in the old style mode, as you can see from the beginning stages itself. The predictability factor is high around here, as soon as the first major turning point occurs. Going innovative surely wasn’t the idea at work around here. As the promotion was not that much even for the first Malayalam movie which released on television, some people might have missed this movie at least in parts. The film could have actually done more with a greater number of characters, and more locations added, making this a travel movie too. But the journey actually gets stuck a little bit too early for our liking. There is no mingling with the cultures of different parts of India, and we only see small parts of the lifestyle being scattered here and there. The final moments, even though emotional enough, is a little too much of cliche.

Performers of the soul :: When COVID-19 started its side-effects, the earlier Tovino Thomas movie, Forensic was running in the theatres but reaching an early unexpected end, and his next film is here, this time completely off the theatres from the beginning itself. He has been one actor whose movies kept a certain level on most occasions, except for maybe one film in between which went full masala. His performance here reminds one of Ente Ummante Peru a little bit, and he does that with ease. There were clues about what was to be expected, from the trailer itself. Basil Joseph, the director of two smart movies Kunjiramayanam and Godha also brings some early humour here, and it is the one thing that lifts up the movie in its early stages – Joju George can also be seen contributing well during those stages. Longer final moments would have meant that these characters would have had a chance to add some more feel-good fun.

Further performers of the soul :: It is to be noted that Sidhartha Siva, director of the crowd favourites like Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho and Sakhavu nicely takes over the humour, and manages the same really well in the later stages of the film. His talk about the flashback is done with some fine humour, and he keeps bringing the laughter. The moments in Rajasthan are elevated with his use of the funny side. We have already seen him handling the humour really well, and this one has him around for a long period of time. India Jarvis does the job well, and plays the character as expected. From the performance, one would feel the need to see her in more Malayalam movies with similar characters being in requirement. She is not the random person who plays a European or an American just because there is space for the same, as she does much more. Sudheesh also has a very small, but notable role in the beginning stages of the movie.

How it finishes :: Kilometers and Kilometers has been a movie which had to wait quite some time due to COVID-19. At a time when we were wondering if something was actually going to happen, as theatres are still not opening any time soon, the movie has come to Asianet. During the pandemics, having a feel-good film delivered home can surely help to lighten the mood, especially during Onam. Still one has to wonder if most people did have time to watch this movie during the time of Onam celebrations at home. I would like to wish all of you who are reading this, and everyone from Kerala, a Very Happy Onam. Let us face this Corona Virus pandemic together, and rise together, as we did during the floods in the last two years. I really hope that Asianet shows the movie again, because it is a fun flick which can provide the feel-good factor to the Onam Celebrations. After all, we are having a ten day vacation here instead of the usual COVID-19 forced or flood-forced holidays.

Release date: 31st August 2020
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Jeo Baby
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Joju George, India Jarvis, Sidhartha Siva, Basil Joseph, Sudheesh

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to go to the previous Malayalam drama.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Qarib Qarib Singlle

What is the movie about? :: Jaya Sashidharan (Parvathy), a Keralite based in the city of Mumbai, spends her time alone, both at home and at office, as she has only a few friends, and has been a widow for about ten years. After so many years of lone life, and not listening to anyone who tells her to marry or get a boyfriend, she finally decides to have a look at an online dating website at the age of thirty five. After being bombarded by so many ridiculous comments by so many men, she finally comes across Yogi (Irrfan Khan) who is interested in poetry and has his own special style, making his case very different from the rest. She is careful about him and understands that both of them are different from each other in so many ways, but decides to go with him to meet three of his ex-girlfriends so that he could understand more about him as a person.

And what is to follow in this particular adventure? :: As part of this long adventure, the two has to travel through Haridwar, Bikaner and Gangtok. But there is one particular fact about Yogi, and it is that he is a carefree person who takes no responsibility on his shoulders – he doesn’t work even after passing engineering, but has written poetry in his mother tongue, and also speaks not much of English. This leads to him missing his flight and getting on the wrong train, and creating a few other situations. Meanwhile, Jaya who has identified herself as Jayashree TK, is fluent in English, and needs everything to go as planned. At their first location itself, they do become good friends, but going past that might be a little difficult, but who knows where some paths can lead? Well, strange things do happen, especially in love and war!

The defence of Qarib Qarib Singlle :: You will find the changes in this movie as a lot refreshing, and a fine thing which is away from the usual Bollywood model. The movie feels real with its incidents and emotions, and never really jumps into that fountain of melodrama which has kept the industry buried alive in a coffin from which there was never supposed to a chance of return, and it is a situation that could be termed as a sadistic thing of terrible beauty if we take a look at things as an outsider. Yes, the fans have always enjoyed the same, as it is what they have always been trying to do, but when we are outside that thought process of becoming addicted to a celebrity who has enough strength to become a parasite on the common man, throwing nonsense and grabbing money, we want the change. Qarib Qarib Singlle is surely that divergence from the regular path, and has fun moments in its realistic world having people who come up with no wonders in love, and are good at heart, not in their muscles, clothes or freaky singing and dancing in a party or pub.

The claws of flaw :: Some people can consider Qarib Qarib Singlle to be a little slow for their liking, but thanks to the smaller length, things get better. People who want less simplicity, and go for that colourful jump mode new generation romance in a pub calling for party, can also skip this one, as the movie calls more for the combined audience of family and youth. You can actually agree to the fact that there could be more comic sequences in this flick, and the journeys to different places could have also been more beautiful with the local scenery captured further along with what all are already there. All those characters other than the two protagonists never really get to do much here, and there is no development of the background as one would expect to be there. The reason for the movie’s journey would also seem a little strange for many. More could have been thus developed with the setting itself too.

Performers of the soul :: There is no stopping Irrfan Khan, and it is a proven fact. It was a few months back that I had come across Hindi Medium, and realized that how much this man had elevated it above the Malayalam version with the same theme, Salt Mango Tree. There is something that he brings on the big screen every time, and we cannot keep ourselves away from it. While Bollywood has been bringing nonsense in the name of keeping the audience entertained with masala, he was there with movies like The Lunchbox, Talvaar and Madaari. Here, he delivers two sides of a character with ease, as the funny side as well as another side with a certain depth in his ideology, arrives safely here. With no fake image of a hero being built, he becomes the everyman character, speaking a little too much, and doing a little more than a usual person, but doing all of them with such perfection which you will find difficult to find with any superstar who depends on his or her fans to sing blind praise.

Further performers of the soul :: While Irrfan Khan’s character maintains a certain amount of mystery as we come across him only after Parvathy’s character decides to go on to meet him, the latter gets a clear personality to work with, right from the beginning. She has worked with it with such skill that one can easily understand that she is one step ahead of almost everyone with that “superstar” title on head, which all try to hold on to. Still, the question remains if Bollywood is worthy enough or at least ready to have a heroine like her, who won’t jump into that masala stuff which provides a heroine with so less to work with that she is reduced to an eye candy. Into a world which is full of “actors or actresses who are related to someone in the industry”, she thrives with her performance rather than anything else, as she did this year with the amazing upgrade to Airlift, known as Take Off, and earlier with Charlie and Ennu Ninte Moideen. Here is one Bollywood debut of quality.

How it finishes :: A long way ahead of the usual romantic flick that Bollywood has been providing us, and also racing ahead of many overrated dumb romance from many languages which got only some ridiculous party songs, pub dance and meaningless infatuation for the audience, Qarib Qarib Singlle makes a point. It shows exactly how a fine romantic feel-good movie can be made, without those unnecessary elements appreciated by a certain group of half-witted audience who should be held responsible for Bollywood having so many low quality hundred crore movies with content not worthy of even being made a short-film – such cases are better suited only for an alien world which has no scope for brain development. If you prefer movies with aversion for clothes being at the same high level as the disinclination for making something sensible, do not bother, and go back to your usual world and continue watching what you call “cool”. Sometimes, the audience becomes the villain to an industry.

Release date: 11th November 2017
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Tanuja Chandra
Starring: Irrfan Khan, Parvathy, Bajrangbali Singh, Anud Singh Dhaka, Neha Dhupia, Brijendra Kala, Luke Kenny, Siddharth Menon, Pushtii Shakti, Isha Sharvani

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rani Padmini

ranipadmini (1)

What is it about? :: Rani Padmini tells the story of the journey of two women. Padmini (Manju Warrier) is the wife of Giri (Jinu Joseph) who had settled in North India many years ago. Even though her mother-in-law (Sajitha Madathil) is adamant that she shouldn’t work, her husband tells her to follow her heart, just like he races in mountain rallies against the wishes of his mother. She starts working as a physiotherapist much to the dismay of her mother-in-law who brings up a divorce notice to teach her a lesson when Giri goes for racing. Padmini decides to run away from home and find her husband. Meanwhile, Rani (Rima Kalingal) is facing a financial problem and a gang of criminals is also after her after she revealed their hiding location to the police. She runs away from home with enough problems on her trail.

How it goes on :: Soon, Rani and Padmini will get their roads to converge, as they meet up in a bus, and decide to continue their journey together. Even though they have their differences, they manage to get along well. As her mother-in-law arranges for the police to bring her back, Giri gets into tough competition with a veteran racer who is determined to win it this time. The two ladies get through the problems on the road by using the best of their abilities and also by luck; sometimes being helped by people on the road including journalists, trekkers and even local men and women. With this one interesting journey, there will be the realization of some truths, not only for the two protagonists, but also for the people who are connected to them in one way or the other. A lot of things are sure to change in their lives.

The defence of Rani Padmini :: There is a wonderful working combination in Rani Padmini. It is not just related to the two leading ladies who take this experience to another level, but also about how this movie combines its feel-good factor, messages, funny side and beautiful sceneries together to bring some awesomeness on the screen. The advantage here is that it is applicable to not just a category of people, but for everyone. The humour in this movie is really good, and it makes the presence felt regularly. Unlike what the trailer seemed to suggest, the movie is light-hearted, and there is not much of a dark side to it. The visuals are nothing less than amazing, and it provides the viewer with the desire to travel to those locations far away. The background music adds to the positives, and the songs also have something for the heart and the soul. You will also love the way in which the message takes a path which asserts freedom rather than labels.

Claws of flaw :: Rani Padmini doesn’t bring a lot to the story as the focus is on the idea and what is brought to the viewers on the screen. There could have been many other ways through which this movie had the ability to progress better. Some people might feel slight drag, but it is more dependent on how you see and how you think, that much freedom is provided by Rani Padmini to the viewers. It is also not the usual entertainer, even though it entertains with its moments. The idea could have also been better brought to the audience. It seems that due to the negative opinions from critics and the audience alike for his previous movie that Aashiq Abu decided not to publicize this one like Gangster which almost everyone considers as his worst movie ever. The initial rush might be less for this movie due to the same reason, but it will pick up and is here to stay in the theatres.

Performers of the soul :: The movie is completely dependent on the lady characters who lead the way. The two leading ladies have done an amazing job here, absorbing the soul of the characters into themselves. They are very good together, and makes a perfect team. We have seen Rima Kallingal only once since 2013, with the spoof movie, Chirakodinja Kinavukal this year. This flick is a perfect example of why she needs to be there on screen more. She provides a highly memorable performance as the rebellious young lady who wishes to prove herself to her mother. She excels in the comic side like never before, and got some of the funniest moments in the movie. People can talk about having other actresses in the same role, but not like this, and not in the way Rima has done; for this is special.

Further performers of the soul :: Manju Warrier’s second run is only two movies old, with How Old Are You in 2014 and Ennum Eppozhum in 2015. But here, she has her best performance in her second innings, and this is also the best movie in her second entry. The family audience will love her a lot in this avatar, and others will also love this performance as she has a balanced character providing different levels of experience. She handles both the emotional and comic scenes with fine skill. You should look out for the story which she tells her friend and her interest in a flower and a soap. While Rima excels in showing her anger and frustration in a funny way, she scores with the humour in nostalgia, concerns and affection. Jinu Joseph does a good job even with smaller screen presence, and Sajitha Madathil remains solid as usual.

How it finishes :: Here is a movie which keeps saying that Aashiq Abu is back. He has taken the risk once again, and remembering how the audience reacted to Gangster, this one surely needed the confidence – he scores due to the same, big time. Rani Padmini‘s advantage over other movies is that it doesn’t preach, and what the two leading women characters in the movie manage is to finally become the individuals whom they are and those personalities whom they wish to be. It is a case of embracing the truth and one’s abilities, as they make the others around understand the same. You can ask if Rani Padmini is How Old Are You or Queen, and I will reply that it is better than them both. I actually consider this one Aashiq Abu’s best work ever, the first one which goes directly into the soul rather than towards the brain or the heart.

Release date: 23rd October 2015
Running time: 142 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Manju Warrier, Rima Kallingal, Jinu Joseph, Praveen Jain, Sajitha Madathil, Sreenath Bhasi, Sana Althaf, Srinda Ashab, Soubin Shahir, Kunchan, Ambika Mohan, Dileesh Pothan, Binu Pappu, Rajitha Madhu, Hareesh Khanna

rainpadmini

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Saaradhi

saaradhi (2)

Vampire Owl :: Happy Friday the 13th. May the vampire force bring us all the vampiric awesomeness that we can imagine.

Vampire Bat :: You were waiting for this day to scare some humans, right? But considering the present situation, you should make sure that they don’t scare you with their deeds lacking any humanity.

Vampire Owl :: I shall power myself with a movie today. Choose a movie for me this weekend. I am owlified ready on this special day.

Vampire Bat :: There are no Hollywood movies releasing this weekend here.

Vampire Owl :: What? No! What is horror without Hollywood? After all, it is where all ghosts, vampires, werewolves, demons, zombies and even aliens visit first during their journey from the other world.

Vampire Bat :: I think that Hollywood actually scared the censor board here with their horror for the weekend.

Vampire Owl :: Lets go for some local thriller then. Anything available in that category?

Vampire Bat :: There is the Hindi movie Roy and the Malayalam movie Saaradhi.

Vampire Owl :: No Hindi on a Friday the 13th. They don’t match intellectually. These people release bad movies even for National Holidays and so no Bollywood for now. Lets go for Saaradhi.

Vampire Bat :: Let it be so then. Get the horror popcorn!

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: An ambulance driver named Christy (Sunny Wayne) gets another one of the duties, and he has to deliver a dead body to a place which is not correctly mentioned. Three men and two women accompany the corpse, but strange things happen on the way and things are not as clean as it looks. One man has a gun, and none of them are really as sad as they seemed to be outside the mortuary. Christy had thought that he could visit his lady love on the way back too, but now, the whole thing is so complicated and he has to escape with the dead body. Sathyanathan (Baiju), a corrupt police officer seems to have something planned about this corpse, and a powerful politician known by the nickname JJ (Madhupal) also has some relation to this. There is police chasing him as well as some criminals and it is forest all around him.

The defence of Saaradhi :: Saaradhi comes to the screen working on that genre which has too many risks associated with it considering our audience whose tastes cannot be combined with all kinds of thrillers. But the movie had already managed to catch our attention with the trailer. The script is actually very good in parts as it seems, even if not that much as a whole – there is some intelligence used, but it needed to stay all the way. Coming from a debutante director, this is a fair effort too, and there is sincerity in the way in which the social message is given here, and it is for the common audience that it has been provided – remember Passenger and Arjunan Sakshi with the idea here. The latter part of the second part is actually the best part of the movie, and the thrills reach the right level there. There are some nice shots of the high-ranges to help the viewers too.

The Claws of Flaw :: The first few minutes are nothing less than torture. There is Sreenivasan catching a thief in a sequence which was not needed, and the item song is a mess. The only watchable moments are about the lady wearing the lungi – otherwise the song stays at the deepest area of the abyss. This is also not the final product that this script deserved, as it struggles to thrill all the way, and the interesting moments come too late. It is safe to say that the first half drags, and the characterization also faces a struggle. It is also time people realize that dead people talking in visions or hallucinations is bad, especially when there is some serious stuff going on. The weaker parts of the script needed the polishing, and then one can’t imagine how much better this could have been. This one also needs a Wikipedia page – is it a very difficult thing to attain? See all those movies inferior to this one having that kind of publicity. Ambiguities and slight lack of logic are there too with predictable moments.

Performers of the soul :: I don’t feel anything of high quality here. There are no big stars here either. The best performance was from Sreenivasan and it is something of no doubt. He has done another Passenger kind of character here, but with more power in the role. Sunny Wayne has his highs and lows in this movie – you have to avoid those phone talks and some of the highly emotional scenes, and he has done fine. Nedumudi Venu’s character looked like a ridiculous creation, but even then he seemed to have managed it as much as he could. The female characters make almost no impact in this movie, and those moments which have them at the centre rather makes things dull. Madhupal is very good while Dharmajan has too small a role. The small moments of comedy comes from Sunil Sukhada and up-to an extent from Sreenivasan. Baiju has a role like he played in Angels, just a lot more on the bad guys’ side. Sunil Sukhada surely needed a bigger role.

Soul exploration :: Saaradhi has an ambulance driver who makes its title worthy. He is not just the driver of a random vehicle, but also the one who drives forward a few lives. There is the story of the common man that goes on here. On its background, there is the continuous struggle of the common man to make things happen – it should have been focused more here, but we can think about that as an after-effect. This should have reached that Passenger level with that, but it is not there. But what we can see once again is a decent, average thriller which has managed to rise above its limitations and also score on the social message side. With lesser expectations, this movie can actually manage to be much more. A regular dose of thrillers and those which give the good and interesting message are the ones which we need. Also remember that this also about one man making the difference.

How it finishes :: Saaradhi comes from a debutante director who seems to has dared to come up with some experimentation and due to the same reason, has also taken some risk here. It is the kind of people who tries to think different that we need in our industry, and in that case, this movie needs to be applauded. Another new director would have taken a safer formula, but this one has chosen that difference, a variation which might not work with everyone. This effort in bringing something something that doesn’t follow the usual easy path, even when on his debut is the factor that we need to see here. At the same time, there is also the same at work here. The expectations that I had while watching the trailer had me hoping for a lot more, but I am expecting that the usual movie audience will end up liking this more than I did. I really hope that this movie becomes a success, because only then can more “different” movies can be made in a better way.

Release date: 13th February 2015
Running time: 138 minutes
Directed by: Gopalan Manoj
Starring: Sunny Wayne, Sreenivasan, Nedumudi Venu, Vinutha Lal, Vishnu Raghav, Sruthibala, Baiju, Sunil Sukhada, Madhupal, Thalaivasal Vijay, Dharmajan

saarathi

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Bhaiyya Bhaiyya

bhaiyya bhaiyya!

Vampire Owl :: Do they give subsidy to movies which doesn’t have a Malayalam title?

Vampire Bat :: I haven’t heard about it after that news about the same.

Vampire Owl :: There is one Sanskrit title and one Hindi title for two out of the four movies released during this Onam.

Vampire Bat :: William Shakespeare has said that we can call a rose by any name, and it wouldn’t make any difference.

Vampire Owl :: But you can’t call Uncle Dracula a mosquito just because they have been doing the same thing for so many centuries, right?

Vampire Bat :: No, the title should still be suitable. But any language would be fine; the Malayalam movies with English titles have done great business, like Memories, Philips and the Monkey Pen, Left Right Left, Celluloid and others. May be such names also bring more luck, and is also easier to release them outside Kerala and catch some attention.

Vampire Owl :: So, what language title would be 1983?

Vampire Bat :: I guess that would be like what the director calls it. That is one safe move there.

Vampire Owl :: So, it deserves subsidy?

Vampire Bat :: How can we be sure? Mumbai Police sounds English, and North 24 Kaatham is partially English – we are not qualified enough to understand that completely, I guess.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: The movie tells the story of not just one Babu, but two of them, the first one Babumon (Kunchako Boban) from the highranges of Kerala and Baburam (Biju Menon) who was adopted by Babumon’s father during his stay in Bengal. Both grew up together, and as time progresses, Baburam drops out of school and Babumon falls in love with Angel (Nisha Aggarwal), the daughter of a rich businessman and politician, Varkey (Vijayaraghavan). Baburam falls for Shanthi (Vinutha Lal) from Salem, who is working with them. They come in conflict with Monayi (Shammi Thilakan) who is Angel’s brother and also the one whom Varkey is promoting as the next young MLA and minister. Accompanied by Soman (Suraj Venjaramoodu) who wants to see Kolkata, they travel together to Bengal with the corpse of a worker who died in an accident at their site; the rest of the group has Babumon, and Angel who are eloping and Shanthi who wishes to get down at Salem on the way, with Baburam as the driver.

The defence of Bhaiyya Bhaiyya :: The movie targets the family audience during this Onam vacation and celebration. It seems to try to get into that family and kids pleasing area which is always there to be taken. It does achieve some of that with ease, as there are funny moments which keeps coming, and most of the time, it does work – the trailer had already given that idea for the viewers. The visuals are fine, especially that of the hilly areas of Kerala, and that of the Kolkata city. The narrative with the monologue by the hero is quite good. The movie doesn’t ask for big thinking or hope for logic, and yet keeps its events under control without going out of the boundary. This is the same reason why it is very good in parts, and even when it losses its footing, it shows an ability to come back and keep going. Then there is Nisha Aggarwal, and that is one reason which needs no defence as we watch Kunchako Boban – Biju Menon combo attempting to strike again.

The claws of flaw :: Bhaiyya Bhaiyya is more of a standard procedure, as it goes on predictable lines, and even the surprise that is added doesn’t work in favour of the movie. The whole thing is adjusted to suit the story which has no real innovation in it, and the characters are not really used that well either. There was the need for a stronger bonding in romantic love, and more incident to support the brotherhood. This is supposed to a comedy, but that can’t be used as an excuse because this movie is not entirely that. Even the comic side is rather repetitive, and there are numbers that we are quite familiar with. It needed more seriousness or more comedy, but this takes the middle path, and even then the mixing is not correct. The songs are not at all interesting, and this is the area which could have given a movie like this, a much needed boost, but that wasn’t to be. The climax needed more impact, and it can only be said to work in a funny manner, not that much of a brilliance right there.

Performers of the soul :: It has been a long time since Kunchako Boban and Biju Menon acted together, and even their most dumb and irritating work Romans was a superhit loved by the masses, and therefore a lot was expected from this movie which was supposed to go the way of Ordinary, and also be funny like Mallu Singh, Seniors and 101 Weddings in which they had created some nice fun. There is no doubt here that both of them did give some nice performance in the roles which gave them some lesser challenge as they also had success in such roles without the other. Nisha Aggarwal has a good debut in the Malayalam movie industry, and she has done fine in a role which might have been new to her, but common in the Malayalam movie industry. Vinutha Lal is also fine as the other female lead, even as she has eve lesser to do. Jacob Gregory was nice in his role, but it was short and of lesser significance. Innocent and Salim Kumar are also present to handle the fun, and Suraj Venjaramoodu has more presence with some good numbers. Vijayaraghavan and Shammi Thilakan also play the typical roles.

Soul exploration :: The movie seems to have that message that all Indians are brothers and sisters, even as the relationships are not that effective here. The movie’s main characters are from Kerala, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu showing the strength of India’s unity in diversity, even as it is not that visible from their talks and action. May be the movie could have worked it that way, without losing its fun elements, but I guess there was the chance of some mockery in the same, which would work against the flick. The shots are also from the three states, even as Kerala has more, for the obvious reasons. The value of brotherhood is also implied here, and it is not just the usual relationship between two brothers that work here, as there is no blood relationship involved at all. The romantic side also takes the second place as bromance takes over right from the beginning, and that way, this is Bhaiyya Bhaiyya making the title of the movie true.

How it finishes :: There will be the need to watch Kunchako Boban – Biju Menon partnership yet again on the big screen, and the opportunity to see the beautiful Nisha Aggarwal on the screen in her first Malayalam movie, and one has to admit that she looks a lot like her elder sister, the stunning Kajal Aggarwal. The cast might not attract those extremist fans of the big stars who will abuse you if you say that the movie is bad, but only nicer people who are not the fans for popularity, but for only the good reasons – its good to be there without hardcore fan evil. The movie doesn’t disappoint, and neither does it loss out this Onam, but still it might be one of those movies which will somewhat miss out due to the lack of publicity; this one even lacks a Wikipedia page – how often do you see that? It is the first thing that a movie should have, followed by the Facebook page. The feel-good elements and the comedy keeps it going, along with the fact that this is the vacation time; the wonderful season of Onam.

Release date: 5th September 2014
Running time: 130 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Johny Antony
Starring: Kunchako Boban, Nisha Aggarwal, Biju Menon, Vinutha Lal, Jacob Gregory, Shammi Thilakan, Vijayaraghavan, Innocent, Salim Kumar, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Thesni Khan

bhaiyya bhaiyyaa

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Highway

highwayy

The eternal wait :: The one question that I had to ask myself is “On the second day of October, what did the movie Besharam give to me”? It did take away seventy rupees, but I am not talking about that. The answer is a lack of interest in Hindi movies since that Gandhi Jayanthi had come up with terror which had me watch no Hindi movie at all for almost five months (yes, not even on the television). So, it was a necessity that I wait for sometime so that such disaster won’t happen too soon. But there is no denying the fact that I almost watched Jai Ho, but the show was housefull. There are not many movies that have been as hyped as Highway despite having no big male star right in the middle of the story. I always knew that the best thing would be to watch my next Bollywood movie in the form of Highway rather than any other. There have been so much talks about this movie like “what is it going to be?”, “what story will it tell?”, “Alia Bhatt should be so awesome in it, so its a sure watch?”, “isn’t it about Stockholm syndrome?” and so on. The Vampire Bat had heard so much or rather too much about the movie, and he finally decided to fly to the theatre on a motor-bike.

What is it about? :: Veera Tripathi (Alia Bhatt) is kidnapped just before her wedding as she goes on a night ride with her fiancee trying to keep away the pressures and tension of the big function. She is kidnapped by a group of criminals as they stop at a petrol pump. But as the gang realizes that she is the daughter of a rich and powerful man with links to the government, police and the army, they decide to cancel their plans. But Mahabir Bhati (Randeep Hooda) is not ready to give up as he takes her on a road trip away from the place so that they won’t be tracked. Even as she is initially bound and gagged by them, Veera gets more and more comfortable with her captors, and a bond develops between Mahabir and her. She feels free even as she is a captive, and feels so happy. She even refuses to escape when there is chance and feels that she should be with him for so much longer. She herself says that she doesn’t want the journey to end, as she has no desire to go back or go where the journey ends. But how long till her people finds them and the travel diary is put to a quick end?

The defence of Highway :: Most of the Keralites should remember a pseudo-travel movie with the long name Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi and a big drag which begins with about fifteen minutes into it and ends only when the story finishes. Highway is far ahead of that one in almost all aspects, the most important ones being the acting and the visuals. Highway is a visually superior movie with its awesome locations, especially as it has succeeded in capturing the beauty of the paradise which is Kashmir. The beauty of nature becomes more and more joyful to watch as the movie moves on to the latter part of the second half, and it gets stronger and stronger by the time it reaches the end. Its messages of finding oneself and reaching beyond one’s fear are also stronger than ever. It’s use of the two protagonists, a man and woman, both having traumatic childhood works so well to touch our hearts. There is so much honesty in the way these are portrayed too, as there is no addition of stupid masala which makes worthless movies super-hits.

The claws of flaw :: The movie drags a lot, and shows potential to keep dragging. From the beginning itself, the movie seems to make the viewers feel that there is not much to come, even as it is wrong. The character of the lady protagonist is rather too far-fetched to make one believe. She seems rather crazy at times (loosely reminding us of the semi-kidnapped lady protagonist of the Malayalam movie Kilukkam), and her attachment towards a criminal who keeps threatening her comes rather too soon. Except for one or two songs which are okay, the music fails to get the attention of the viewers, and there are times when they come when not needed. There is also the use of other languages or may be variations of Hindi which was rather difficult to follow. There was the need for subtitles at least in it comes rather South. The movie takes one away from any kind of usual entertainment which is usually looked for in such a flick. It won’t give anyone the exaggeration that they might look for in a love story as this keeps that side plain and simple.

Performers of the soul :: Well, most of us won’t identify the faces in the movie other than that of Randeep Hooda and Alia Bhatt. The former (he is the reason why I lament missing John Day which had only one late night show here – who cares for good thrillers with non-superstars who can act, right?) comes up with a powerful performance of brilliance, even as there are less dialogues for him; we can strongly believe that this portrayal by him will be appreciated. We can surely expect a lot more from him. Alia Bhatt is there as the centre of everything, right from the beginning to the end. Even as there is some struggle, she seems to be custom made for the role, seeming to be in so much ease with her character. There are occasions when one would wonder if she does rather too much or a lot more than needed, but that should have come with the character. It is hard to believe that this is only her second movie, and I had missed her first one, Student of the Year. She remains incredibly cute throughout the movie and makes it impossible for any other actress to come up with a better performance in such a role soon. She is so dynamic and full of energy that just her presence keeps the whole thing working so well.

Soul exploration :: The movie is the story of two people whose lives get connected by just one act of crime, a kidnap. It comes up with a lot of things to think about, and it remains so close to being a movie of the soul even if not there completely. Even as not all of them remain close to the truths about life, it is evident that there is a clear attempt to bring to the scene as much humanity as possible; not without its troubles, not in the absence of the good side, yet not abandoning the darker side which tries to get closer to the human soul with more power than ever before. Stockholm syndrome is explored from one side while it continues to be a travel diary as a whole. There are realizations being made about life, and it changes both the kidnapper and the kidnapped in a journey which goes on for kilometres. As Saint Augustine of Hippo says “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”.

How it finishes :: As the movie for which we have been long waiting for, Highway mostly delivers, thanks to the performances of the leading actors, the visuals and the message that it delivers. Despite the drag and the occasional inability to connect, the movie thrives in simplicity and that humanity which are its own Kraken and Leviathan in the huge ocean of movies this weekend. It’s emptiness is not of the soul, but of the physical world, and that is one void that everyone can afford to avoid. As Robert Frost says, when two roads diverge, you have to choose the one less traveled, and here it is Highway, and even as it might not go as expected, this one makes the difference, and there is no doubt about. But let me tell you, happiness is highly subjective, just like the opinions on this movie seems to be – ask Alia Bhatt’s character in Highway and she reiterates money can’t buy you happiness, or even anything close to that. So, if you are making a choice, think about all these factors mentioned above.

Release date: 21st February 2014
Running time: 133 minutes
Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Starring: Randeep Hooda, Alia Bhatt, Saharsh Kumar Shukla, Pradeep Nagar, Durgesh Kumar, Arjun Malhotra

highway copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

North 24 Kaatham

north24kaatham (1)

This is one of the gifts from Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) as I am concerned. No, they didn’t produce this ticket, but a powercut had me going to the theatres. If you wonder if it was the first time, the answer should be no.  And yes, I liked the movie, and there was no reason not to. If any of you don’t like it, I have to say that I don’t write for you. Yes, I write what I find and what I feel; now that wasn’t really a surprise. Well, unlike the fanboys’ stuff like Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi, North 24 Kaatham has more soul than most of those movies out there, yes this blog itself is about the movies of the soul, and if you do not possess a soul or intellect enough to respect others’ opinions, why bother reading reviews when you know that you shall come up with a different opinion than the reviewer? Except for the fans whose opinions are fixed, I would like to believe that there is hope for Malayalam movies. Well, there is no bigger evil than people who do not respect the opinions of others, and I have to say that some of them don’t even know what an opinion means, and it is disappointing in this world.

You evil ones are lesser in number this time, as the critics as well as each and every one in the theatre liked this movie and clapped. So, I am going to be very clear about this one. I have more reasons to like this one than a leading actor and a leading actress who can act. Before that, let me tell the good people among you and the others motivated by self-interest with willing distrust of human (or bat) sincerity, on what goes on in this movie. It is the story of Hari (Fahadh Faasil), a genius computer programmer who is hated by his colleagues due to his lack of social interaction, over-cleanliness and the seemingly hostile attitude to most of the things. He is that kind of a person who hasn’t even gone outside his city, living with a fear of travel. But he is forced to go on a journey as part of his job, and on a day of harthal, he is caught in the middle of a world which he is not familiar with. He is caught up with two other people (Nedumudi Venu and Swati Reddy) and he joins them on their journey, and on the way, he changes his attitude towards life and by the end of the journey, he is a changed man.

I know what kind of questions the evil world can come up with. It might be about the change in the protagonist, but I would say it is clearly a believable change, if not incredibly perfect to the core, but even that wouldn’t be acceptable to the new generation fans. Our protagonist was never a bad man, and nothing has changed in his soul if we look at him. He surely might have had his share of psychological problems, but as a good person, through a few incidents, he realizes his mistakes. Remember how one major psychological problem was solved by one major incident in Manichitrathazhu? This is actually not that much of a problem, for Hari had the right to live in his world as much as anybody else, which is why I say that change is a change only on the surface, and therefore it is nothing for which you have to push a huge stone to the top of a mountain and jump into water with the same stone tied around your neck. Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi was based on selfishness, just like Annayum Rasoolum. But this movie has a lot of goodness in it, and therefore try to enjoy the little things which give the good people happiness rather than be evil and go on a meaningless trip leaving your family behind, for life is reclaimed by goodness and the joy of art and literature alone, and not by having fun, sorry hedonists.

Fahadh Faasil gives a brilliant performance yet again, and yes I was so disappointed with his Olipporu that I couldn’t watch his critically well-received movie Artist, and D Company again let me down. But even with so much less dialogues, he scores and raises the level of this movie with his co-star from one of the movies of the year Amen. Yes, I am talking about the wonderfully talented, charming lady lead that we have got here, Swati Reddy. She plays a modern social worker, wearing a hood and shortening her name Narayani as Nani. She continues her good run in the Malayalam movie industry even as this is an entirely different role from her earlier debut in Malayalam this year. Even as Fahadh is the centre of attraction in this movie, she is charm, and the way in which both of them contradict each other brightens each other, as much as the black and white compliments each other, like no grey character could have ever did, and please note that this black and white doesn’t stand for evil and good, for that age has disappeared. Like Solomon and Sosanna, here is Hari and Narayani, but I would wonder myself if such a romantic side was forced, still a better love story than Annayum Rasoolum and a better travel story than Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi.

The performance by our own veteran actor Nedumudi Venu is another highlight, for he plays the third person in their gang of lost people on the day of harthal. How can I praise someone who is beyond the same? That leaves us with the factor that lies under what seems to be an ordinary plot. It is the social message which worked just the opposite in Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi. Here, it is perfectly done. It is a powerful message against harthal and labelling people as not belonging to the group. There is the trouble of harthal and the condition of the roads that are alluded in the movie. Well, the question remains if Hari needed to change, for he was always good, hardworking and doing what he felt was right. Who would know the minds of the others who surrounded them? Well, it shows how important it is to display your inner goodness or pretend to be caring like some of those devils with human masks do, or the society shall keep you at a pterosaur’s wings apart. It shows how society doesn’t like people who are different, but Hari’s difference in the end is the kind of change that society likes – there lies the biggest paradox of man as a social animal.

As Fahadh plays a much misunderstood man with no heroic quality in him other than goodness, there is that deconstruction of the hero image which the fans would love to identify with. Swati’s character take over some traits of that heroism, and I would guess that a few wouldn’t like this reversal of roles. As Swati’s character makes it her responsiblity to get the old man home safe, Fahadh’s character take the smaller role of accompanying them. The heroism is attributed to the lady here, and in that case, Swati Reddy plays another Sosanna of Amen who fights for her aim, instead of Solomon. She helps the old man out of the train and Hari into the bus, a moment of visible shock in the faces of both. She leads the journey even when Hari keeps moving on the front. The people they meet on the way are presented with their own shades of grey, some of them closer to white and the others close enough to black. They are all down to earth just like the plot of the movie. This feel good movie doesn’t have that new generation add-ons and neither does it has any action sequence; therefore it is a good movie which reflects the goodness of Onam and the right movie for the season.

In a life which is consistently plagued by death, our celebration of life should come from doing the right thing from within our limitations, and not by the unruly “Carpe diem” behaviour. We have such a short life, that is for sure; but living that with a selfish motive of maximum pleasure being the only intrinsic good is not something to be recommended. North 24 Kaatham nullifies the “travel for pleasure philosophy” of Neelakasham Pacha Kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi and uses the “goodness of a travel philosophy” which is much needed in our age. Why do I talk like this?  Because I have travelled with someone, a stranger who didn’t know the local language and made sure that he got home, not this much of a long and interesting story, but I have done what I could on multiple occasions even as I am becoming more skeptic every day – this is our own story, with its own add-ons.  Well, the movie is funny, innovative and thought provoking all at the same time. What more do you need? What more should a debutant director provide you with? If it still, doesn’t touch our heart enough, we are not human enough, and we have no soul within us. It is not old, but it still glitters like gold, and entertains us with its righteousness and the realization like in the 2007 Hollywood movie Evan Almighty, that “the way to change the world is by doing one Act of Random Kindness”. By the end of the day, we are all heroes, not just someone who is born heroic or rises to heroism due to his nobility; thank you dear director.

Release date: 15th September 2013
Running time: 125 minutes
Directed by: Anil Radhakrishnan Menon
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Swati Reddy, Nedumudi Venu, Sreenath Bhasi, Premgi Amaren, Srinda Ashab, Chemban Vinod Jose, Salaam Bukhari

north24kaatham copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.