Mamangam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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✠ The Vampire Bat.

Action Hero Biju

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Vampire Owl :: I have read and heard mixed reviews about this one.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, and I have even heard that the other flick at the theatres is a better movie than this.

Vampire Owl :: Do you know what that means?

Vampire Bat :: Yes, it means that we should watch this movie before going for any other.

Vampire Owl :: If someone says that the other movie is better and keeps telling us that we should watch that particular movie, we should watch this movie only.

Vampire Bat :: Exactly; we know that our tastes are different as individuals, unless we blindly follow a trend.

Vampire Owl :: I remember us liking Lord Livingstone 7000 Kandi more than Amar Akbar Anthony.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, they told us that the former was not a movie at all. Strange people.

Vampire Owl :: And they declared a repetitive comedy movie as one of the best entertainers of all-time.

Vampire Bat :: Which is why we should watch them all, and what they don’t like, we should surely try.

[Gets the tickets with cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Sub Inspector Biju Paulose (Nivin Pauly) is a teacher turned police officer who is determined to serve the people and has dedicated his life to his duty. He intends to keep the law and order in the city of Cochin, and for the same, he intends to keep himself close to work all the time. The movie goes through his daily life as a police officer, and deals with the cases that he comes up against everyday, as he gets ready for his marriage with Benitta Dominic (Anu Emmanuvel). There will be enough trouble to keep him busy. And yes, you get all of these without slow-motion sequences, beating up twenty five people at a time, and not catching dangerous serial killers, international criminals or extreme terrorists. Do you know about realistic movies with messages, but having no real dull moment in between? Yes, this works in that way!

The defence of Action Hero Biju :: The one thing which you can be sure about this movie is that it is realistic to the core. The protagonist doesn’t go on fighting the big villains beating them up on the roads or defeating his minions by fighting them all over the city. There is no villain here, but the crimes. There are no heavy dialogues around there either. You shall find no Bharathchandran, Balram, Mohammed Sarkar, Madhavan, Easo Panicker, Baba Kalyani, Chandrasekharan, Sharafuddin Tharamasi and the rest who are part of that long list of heroes from the past, or even those divergent ones of the later times like Sam Alex, Solomon Joseph, Hameem Hyder and Anthony Moses. The movie has no complications, and things are simple, as one would expect to happen as part of the usual life. The comedy as well as the emotional side are very much working; the visuals are really good and the songs are just okay. This one also works as a tribute to the police force.

Claws of flaw :: The movie’s realistic approach won’t appeal to all. It is not that kind of a realistic approach which is forced upon us like in the case of Annayum Rasoolum which declared the same to be just drag and more drag. It was a case of exaggerated realistic world which seemed to work with a section of people, but Action Hero Biju chooses not to use that, but go for what can be believed by the common man. That should still disappoint the fans as they might have been looking for something else, with action, thrills, twists and turns, punch dialogues and everything else; even otherwise, they might look for the exaggerated heroism or a heavy dose of cheap comedy – none of these happens to be here. It is the substantial problem with expectations, as that becomes a flaw in the eyes of the fans. The movie might also be a little bit too long for the kind of subject it deals with and the way of treatment. There could have been a better focused ending too.

Performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly returns with one of his most anticipated titles in a long time as he joins forces with Abrid Shine yet again, after the much appreciated 1983 as the director comes up with his second movie. He has managed the role of the rather human police officer without that much trouble. There are moments which are not that good, but there are some in which he looks very well in form. Anu Emmanuel looks good, but this is the debut in which she has not much to do, and it is only the smile and the name of the character that stays with this one – she needs a movie with more screen presence. The comic side is at its best with Joju George, and Suraj Venjaramoodu comes up with a huge performance in one of the best, emotional moments in the movie – there is another one with Meghanathan and Rohini, and the girl who plays her daughter has some nice moments. Major Ravi and Saiju Kurup plays protagonist’s superior officers well. There are a few lesser known faces who provides some interesting performances too.

Soul exploration :: As we go further into this, we feel that what we have seen on the screen has no part in being unrealistic. It is a ride through the life of a police officer as expected under the normal circumstances, and there are multiple incidents and cases which the protagonist has to deal with, among which none of them is related to solving a mystery which only the hero can bring out to light. Instead, the police officer deals with the usual cases that comes up in life – yes, no serial killers, no big gangster lord, no catching international criminals, no standing face to face with powerful politicians, no reaching at scenes of crime at the exact time, no chance of becoming the only man in the whole world who can catch a fiery terrorist, no beating up twenty people just because he can in a movie and surely no unlimited dose of dialogues. Last year, there was the realistic Pathemari, and in Hindi, there was the realistic Airlift; this one also follows the more realistic model, but with fun.

How it finishes :: The one problem which has undoubtedly worked against this movie is its title itself. The movie is not what the title suggests, as it seems to make us feel that this will either be masala action entertainer or a full comedy movie, but as it ended up becoming a realistic movie, it is sure to make one wonder what kind of audience the makers were looking to target. If people feel that the pathetic eternal drag like Annayum Rasoolum was good and Action Hero Biju is not, I will ask for a change of the meaning of the word. Another fact about Action Hero Biju is that it is cent percent better than the overrated flick which was 1983. But these days, people rarely look for a realistic movie which is closer to life, except for those pseudo-realistic movies like Annayum Rasoolum, the bloody movie in which nothing happens and we have more and more tea to the end. And is it just Premam that we always need? It was clear that people in the theatre enjoyed in this case too.

Release date: 4th February 2016
Running time: 145 minutes
Directed by: Abrid Shine
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Anu Emmanuel, Jude Anthany Joseph, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Major Ravi, Rony Davis, Joju George, Prajod Kalabhavan, Saiju Kurup, Kochu Preman, Valsala Menon, Azeez, Rohini, Meghanathan, Sajan Palluruthy, Balachandran Chullikad, Abhija Sivakala, Madhu Mohan, Bobby Mohan, Devi Ajith, Manju Vani

actionherobiju

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.