Kho Kho

What is the movie about? :: Maria Francis (Rajisha Vijayan) is appointed as a PT teacher in a girls’ school, in the remote area of a village which is surrounded by backwaters. She is forced to take up the job because her husband Ben (Venkitesh VP) was facing failure in business, and was in requirement of the money. Maria used to be a sprinter, and was very close to representing India at an international level when something terrible happened in her life. At the new school, the two people who is in support of her activities are the peon Shivaprasad (Renjit Shekar Nair) and the accountant Vinod (Rahul Riji Nair), the latter being doubtful about the requirement for a PT teacher in the school, yet being interested in Maria. After some days of doing almost nothing in the school which has historically given no importance to arts and sports, she decides to create a kho-kho team for the first time in school history, a move much appreciated by the headmaster.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: With a confused but hardworking team led by the stubborn Anju (Mamitha Baiju) who has her own mood swings and not missing her chance to pick up a fight, Maria hopes to make history through her students, and achieve greatness which she couldn’t earlier due to circumstances. The parents of the students are against the students choosing sports instead of using that time for studies, and do not appreciate the fact that the girls are going somewhere far away to compete. But as they qualify for the district level competitions, they do manage to gain a certain amount of support. The girls’ problem related to balancing studies and sports, their problem with wearing shorts within a conservative world and Anju’s attraction towards Shivaprasad might be the least of the problems with Maria will have to face here. Can she and Anju lead the team towards seemingly impossible victories and an even more elusive final triumph?

The defence of Kho-Kho :: Depending more on the emotions than anything else, Kho-Kho also has the usual moments of thrill with the games. It is the common motivational story of the underdogs who had no chance, but with hardwork and inspired performance, comes out victorious against all odds. The characters and the setting become interesting in this case, as this goes through life of common people for most of the time. We also have some nice visuals to go with the same. There are many exciting scenes here to remember too. The struggles of the characters involved here are shown well, especially the two main characters played by Rajisha and Mamitha. The feeling which was provided by Finals is somewhat repeated in this movie, and if you had like that movie, this will be on your favourite sports drama list too. The songs are pretty good, and they go on well with the visuals as well as the mood, and so does the background music. Unlike Chak De! India and Dangal, this is the real woman-centric film with empowerment, and without those unnecessary superstar exaggerations, and that feels true to life in many ways.

The claws of flaw :: Kho-Kho is certainly not that big as Finals, the other film with the same actress in the lead. The background story which keeps on moving silently is not that strong when we look at it. The premise feels similar to other movies, and we can predict a lot of things which are going to happen here. A number of training scenes and events are more repetitive rather than trying to do something different or unpredictable. To add to it, some dialogues actually look more artificial, right out of paper, rather than coming with the emotional weight. Venkitesh is also very much underused in another movie after The Priest limited him, and Thattumpurath Achuthan‘s song presence had made us feel that he would be a regular full presence. More of the girls in the cast should have got more attention though, at least half of them. The release of the movie on Asianet was delayed by a week, and it was Drishyam 2 which had its television release then, a disappointing decision from the channel which might have kept some people away.

The performers of the soul :: We have seen Rajisha Vijayan only in a few movies, and among them, we have seen such great skill. We have seen her in the grand performances from Anuraga Karikkin Vellam which brought her the Kerala State Award for Best Actress, through the nostalgia-inducing coming-of-age story of June, to the earlier sports drama of high acclaim, Finals. It is to be noted that in both sports drama, Rajisha plays a character with a tragedy to go with both life and career. With her role beginning as the trainer, the tragic background was established much earlier here. Rajisha once again has the whole thing in control here, and from the beginning to the end, it is a determined as well as emotional performance. Well, Finals was the best movie of the season when it released, but many people missed the work on the big screen, and the same is the case here too due to COVID-19, and it seems that the early television premieres are changing some of the situation here, with everyone getting the needed access not too late.

Further performers of the soul :: Mamitha Baiju who was also seen in Operation Java plays the captain of the team, and plays her role in a very much believable manner, with all the emotions and determination required for the role. She will surely be a talent to look out for, with more of similar roles. There is the rage and a flurry of emotions that she comes up with, which suits very well for her character with a troubled past. Unlike the character she played in the Balu Varghese starrer, the energy here is intense. Venkitesh VP as the protagonist’s husband has only a limited role, and we are still hoping to see him in bigger roles, like we have wanted all those actors and actresses in the Naayika Naayakan reality show to come out with their performances on the big screen. Renjit Shekar Nair and the director himself – Rahul Riji Nair comes up with good supporting performances. Vettukili Prakash’s role might have felt unnecessary. The cast of girls in the team is also nicely done, and at least quarter of them stay with us by the end, even though not more than one or two gets extra attention.

How it finishes :: Kho-Kho is another sports drama which you don’t need to miss, and it is also a film which goes through the base level of the game, without overdoing the same. Just like Finals, it is nice to see another sport with lesser fans getting all the attention, and not the highly fan favourite Indian sport of cricket or football which comes second. Cricket never really required movies as support, but some sports can have films made on them to bring out interest back to them, and this is the same case happening here. The movie is a reminder of a sport which is often left unnoticed among the bigger names. Kho-Kho is a film that can have even a sequel with this content, and there are times when it also reminds us of Godha, which brought back memories of wrestling as a sport. These are indeed the films which needs our support, and not those overrated stuff which has wandered around with a lot of hype and no substance. Kho-Kho needs to come back to television or release on Amazon Prime at some point to expand its horizons.

Release date: 14th April 2021 (Theatre), 28th May 2021 (Asianet)
Running time: 119 minutes
Directed by: Rahul Riji Nair
Starring: Rajisha Vijayan, Mamitha Baiju, Renjit Shekar Nair, Venkitesh VP, Vettukili Prakash, Arjun Ranjan, Sreejith Babu, Jeo Baby, Geethi Sangeetha, Rahul Riji Nair

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Virus

What is the movie about? :: Kozhikode District collector Paul V Abraham (Tovino Thomas) gets an urgent call when he is about to leave home. There are a series of events that lead to the same, and most of it happens in the Kozhikode Medical Centre. A nurse named Akhila (Rima Kallingal), was taking care of a young man named Zachariah (Zakariya Mohammed), who was admitted to her hospital for fever, but is now suffering from the same symptoms. Dr. Abid Rahman (Sreenath Bhasi) is having his normal shift in the hospital as his lover and medical student Sara Yakub (Madonna Sebastian) shows signs of ending their relationship – at the same time, more and more patients are being admitted in the hospital. But the signs that some of these patients show are not natural, as the doctors figure out that something strange and unusual is coming up. It is also not limited to one or two people anymore, and there is panic.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: The samples are sent to Manipal to be tested by the experts led by Dr Suresh Rajan (Kunchacko Boban), and it is confirmed that it is Nipah virus which has affected the patients. With no vaccination or specific treatment available for the epidemic, the only hope for the goverment is quarantine, and hope to find the source, as well as make sure that it didn’t spread to many people. The team lead by Health Minister CK Prameela (Revathi) includes the collector Paul V Abraham with Dr Smrithy (Poornima Indrajith) and Dr Annu (Parvathy) in an attempt to stop the infection from spreading. First identified in 1998 in Malaysia, the disease, in most cases has taken the lives of those who were infected. With people not related to the first patient, like Unnikrishnan (Soubin Shahir) getting infected, there are questions raised how the source could be found. Are the authorities good enough to find it?

The defence of Virus :: The movie nicely deals with a situation that Keralites, especially those from Kozhikode and Malappuram districts in the north of the state had to go through. With the virus showing its signs of return in the central area now, the case has gained further significance. One won’t fail to notice how the movie has kept itself close to reality, and how each character has been given significance, with each actor having a job to do. The movie is never dependent on one person, as there is no main character – there are only people who tries to help others, and a few others who try to survive in a world which is threatened by something new, and something deadly. The movie was a need, as the world needed to know the story, and making it a memorable one was Aashiq Abu’s duty, which he did with ease, as we have three good memories in a row, with Rani Padmini, Mayaanadhi and this one.

Positives and negatives :: The movie might feel slow at some points, but it quickly goes past the same. We are able to place ourselves in the place of the characters, and we go through their emotions with ease. The emotional strength of the movie is high, and it can even be more with different people, and their perspectives. The thrills are also there, and we keep close to the whole thing, each moment. Parts of the movie might be fictionalized, but our director surely knows where to stop that. The location is as nicely captured as the people themselves. The view from the top more or less makes us feel the city. You know what is going to happen in the end, and you want to know how we reach there, and to go through that journey, we are with the characters like never before – in creating that closeness to the characters, the director has succeeded.

The performers of the soul :: The movie has a fantastic cast, and the talent can be seen in each part of it. Parvathy comes up with another great job after Uyare, and this one has one more natural performance from her. Two of the three best movies of the year belongs to her, with the other one without her presence is Kumbalangi Nights. Tovino who was Parvathy’s co-star in Uyare had only memorable performances, with Lucifer, Ente Ummante Peru, Oru Kuprasidha Payyan, Theevandi and Maradona giving him a continuous impressive run in Malayalam movie industry. Here, once again, he owns his role. Kunchacko Boban didn’t have that much of a great run with his previous movies, but he is right there, solid with this role of a doctor. Asif Ali continues his choice of some good movies with another emotional role. Vijay Superum Pournamiyum had provided a great beginning to the year for him. Joju George, after Joseph, continues to strike our emotions in a beautiful way.

Further performers of the soul :: Indrajith Sukumaran and Rahman has smaller, but memorable roles, especially with the former who manages to come up with some nice moments in between. It is also great to see Poornima Indrajith after such a long time, and this is a role to remember for sure – nice to see Remya Nambeeshan there too. Revathi manages to do the job of Health Minister in a believable manner. The similarity in appearance has also been achieved up to an extent. Madonna Sebastian doesn’t have much to do here, and neither does Sharafudheen. Rima Kallingal is quick to come and go, and stays in memories because of the emotional connect with the real-life character being attained. Meanwhile, Sreenath Bhasi gets a different role this time, and he manages to provide complete justice to the same. He had provided some signs of the same in the last movie, but that was a mute character – this time, he raises the bar. The roles of Jinu Joseph and Dileesh Pothan are small, but to be noted. Unnimaya Prasad and Soubin Shahir also catches our attention.

How it finishes :: Virus is already the biggest movie of the weekend, with so almost all shows being booked early. The success here lies in the fact that it shows everything in a realistic manner, never do we see those unreal heroes – we feel that almost every character in there are people like us, and therefore part of us. We can feel the pain and troubles of the characters, as well as reflect the same. As Nipah virus once again becomes a cause of concern, this becomes a thing of focus yet again. Virus is a movie that needs to be watched for how it shows the people showing their fighting spirit and their concern for others, in a battle for survival. It is also a memory of the people who lost their lives in the process, especially the nurse, Lini Puthussery who died while doing her duty. It is the same reason why this movie needs to be watched more than any other.

Release date: 7th June 2019
Running time: 152 minutes
Directed by: Aashiq Abu
Starring: Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Joju George, Jinu Joseph, Rahman, Soubin Shahir, Indrajith Sukumaran, Parvathy, Poornima Indrajith, Remya Nambeeshan, Revathi, Madonna Sebastian, Sreenath Bhasi, Indrans, Rima Kallingal, Dileesh Pothan, Senthil Krishna, Sharafudheen, Shebin Benson, Zakariya Mohammed, Sudheesh, Savithri Sreedharan, Darshana Rajendran, Basil Joseph, Lukman Lukku, Ann Saleem, Haris Saleem, Sajitha Madathil, Leona Lishoy, Nikhil Raveendran, Sreekanth Murali, Vettukili Prakash, Sreedevi Unni, Ambika Rao, Divya Gopinath, Unnimaya Prasad, Sundara Pandyan, Binu Pappu,Vimal Muraleedharan, Nilambur Ayisha

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

What is the movie about? :: Prasad (Suraj Venjaramoodu) and Sreeja (Nimisha Sajayan) are in love after a certain misunderstanding between them. Living near Vaikom at a village where the caste feeling is high, both are at trouble due to Sreeja’s father and relatives being fully against the marriage and threatens them. The result is that both of them runs away from the place after their wedding, and goes to a remote place in Kasargod where they have bought some land and a place to stay, hoping to get into agriculture. But it turns out that there is no water available there, and things once again takes a twist. They decide to get a loan against her gold ornaments, but her necklace ends up being stolen when in the bus, messing up with their plans. This theft was committed by a man known by the same name, Prasad (Fahadh Faasil) whom Sreeja had seen devouring it to escape being caught with it.

So, what happens next? :: So, the KSRTC bus driver, conductor and the travelers join to take the man to the nearby police station. It is more of a remote area, which doesn’t have leaves too many options for the police than to wait, as Sreeja is certain that the man had stolen her necklace and the thief tells the police that he has stolen nothing, and is working at a road-side eatery making porottas. But when the police asks for an id, he has none, and so they decide to keep him at the police station and wait. With no other option left, the couple also has to wait to find a way to find the necklace from him, as nothing could be proven otherwise. The police officer in charge of the case, A.S.I. Chandran (Alencier Ley Lopez) assures them that the thief is a smart one, but he solves such cases all the time, and will get them their necklace. So, who is the smartest of them all – is it the thief, the couple or the police officer?

The defence of Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum :: The question of Dileesh Potham brilliance rises again, and we can see that there is something about it everywhere that fuels this movie. It is a fine narration that takes the story to another level, as we have the perfect example on how to make simplicity so interesting. Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is once again an everyman movie like Maheshinte Prathikaram, and those elite classes will not get their due here – there is almost no person in this movie who can be put into that “rich” category, which brings us the real movie for the people, which has never been the self-proclaimed “local” movies. The humour is also working, and they are also based on simple things of life – still there are twists. Once again, we see that the visuals are nice, as you know who in charge of them with the camera. The music is good, with “Kannile Poika” nicely visualized. There is the message hope and forgiveness, even though they are not readily visible.

The claws of flaw :: The movie might feel a little bit slow and a little bit dull at moments of the first half, as we expect it to be fun-filled entertainer like Maheshinte Prathikaram which had absolutely no moment which will make us doubtful. The emptiness that you feel in between, and the repetition that might seem to occur are also certain to be seen. You do feel at times, that this has a little too much of a remider of Action Hero Biju – so, if you don’t like that movie, there is a chance that Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum will not be that interesting to you too. The story also doesn’t have that much in it to talk about, as things are rather simple, and the whole thing is focused to particular places. If you are looking for the usual kind of a movie, this will not claim to be one, which might be a good thing for a few, and not an interesting thing for some others. There could have been a bigger punch by the end, which is not there.

Performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil has his second movie running in the theatres at the same time, as Role Models is already there, having released for Eid with Avarude Raavukal and Oru Cinemakkaran – his earlier movies were Take Off and Maheshinte Prathikaaram, and it has been a fine run which continues into this movie too. Fahadh’s work, no matter how good or bad a movie is always something to look forward too – after all, this one is really good. There is a certain balance in his work, and even the simplest emotions from him brings the claps from the audience – the thief’s smiles score big. Suraj Venjaramoodu brings a performance which brings him back to the “fortress of seriousness”, with a full role rather than what he had in Action Hero Biju – he even has the romantic side to explore nicely. The National Award Winner for Best Actor in 2013 is the hero in this one, even though the term has less potential in a realistic story having no heroism.

Further performers of the soul :: Nimisha Sajayan makes a good debut with this movie too, as her work is simple as well as memorable. We see her taking it further with some realistic emotional scenes. It will be nice to see her in a different performance in one of the upcoming movies, and I remember having read that she has signed for another movie already. The next memorable character in the movie is played by Alencier Ley Lopez, who plays the police officer again after Njan Steve Lopez, and combines forces with Fahadh Faasil and Dileesh Pothan once again after Maheshinte Prathikaaram. You remember Vinay Forrt becoming the officer in control of things in Kismath where almost everything happens in the police stations – Alencier gets to do the same, but he has another mode on with Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. There is also the presence of some lesser known faces, who all do a fine job – it seems that the right ones are chosen for sure.

How it finishes :: We have all known what Dileesh Pothan is capable of, with his Maheshinte Prathikaaram, the National Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam and also for Best Screenplay. The same combination of him with Fahadh Faasil returned here, and as expected there is something for us to be impressed, as we were waiting with expectations being a lot high. The movie with a realistic side will always have more for us than what any of those big superstar movies possess. It is the same realization that makes a lot of people to arrive at the theatres on a rainy day, defying all odds to get a ticket for this rather simple a movie – even the advance bookings have been even more. When the first movie was a success, the second movie has become a bigger challenge, as he has to match the glory, and here, with his brilliance continuing, Dileesh Pothan has kept Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum working, even though not as much as Maheshinte Prathikaaram.

Release date: 30th June 2017
Running time: 135 minutes
Directed by: Dileesh Pothan
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Alencier Ley Lopez, Nimisha Sajayan, Soubin Shahir, Shince Mathew, Jithin KC, Vettukili Prakash, Sreekanth Murali

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Urumbukal Urangarilla

urumbukalurangarilla.

Vampire Owl :: I see the title about ants not sleeping. I have to say that just like them, neither do we sleep at night.

Vampire Bat :: But I do sleep most of the night.

Vampire Owl :: What? Why do you sleep that much? We, vampires are not supposed to sleep that much at night.

Vampire Bat :: You should actually think about it. Lady Death and her evil twin sister have stopped walking around at night after someone said that it is against our great tradition. After we made a pact with them related to the blood and souls of the dead people, it is useless for us to walk around at night because anything we do could be a violation of that agreement.

Vampire Owl :: Oh! That is very sad. I don’t really read newspapers and listen to news because they are so depressing. I was hoping to go on a blood dinner with Lady Death some time.

Vampire Bat :: You can go for a dinner with her in the morning. Choose to follow the time zone of some other country which has night at that time, and call it a dinner.

Vampire Owl :: This is so complicated! I hope that there are exemptions at the graveyards!

Vampire Bat :: Zombies there got no brains. We should contact a yakshi so that more information can be obtained.

Vampire Owl :: But what bothers me a lot is if the ants really sleep?

Vampire Bat :: We shall send a message to their world to confirm.

[Gets the tickets for the movie].

What is it about? :: A man called Manoj (Vinay Forrt) meets a retired thief and master of the art, Kelu (Sudheer Karamana) who decides to help him in becoming the awesome thief that he could be. As Kelu has retired from the profession, he asks his former disciple and another experienced player in the field, Benny (Chemban Vinod Jose) to guide the new thief on his way to becoming the pride among the thieves. Benny is a man who keeps certain principles related to stealing. On his way to finding the new tricks, Manoj will know more than what he needs to, but it will prove necessary, as there more than one thing to accomplish for him. They will meet other thieves like Rajappan (Sreejith Ravi) specializing in robberies during the rainy season and Karlose (Kalabhavan Shajon) who will do anything for the riches. Sheela (Ananya) will also have an interesting role to play in these situations.

The defence of Urumbukal Urangarilla :: The interest of the audience in this movie should begin with the name of this movie itself, and there is a certain skill in how ants are made related to the main protagonists; I can’t dare to say that the process is complete, but there is a good finish to the “ant world” in the end. The story nicely begins and ends with most of the things that come in between justified. The climax sequence is the strongest point of the movie, and the flick also successfully leaves the audience with some interesting messages about being good as well as how evil gets punished in the end; the cast nicely supports the same with their dialogues. There are moments which give the audience more hope, for sure. The thrills, even though not there through most of its run-time, makes a fine return by the end.

Claws of flaw :: With such a talented cast around, one has to surprised that a lot of comic moments and opportunities to create such situations go missing. The movie is also too long and comes up with many uninteresting sequences which can’t be enjoyed by people who regularly watches movies. There are so many half-baked moments in this movie, which makes it struggle, and even drag. This movie which lasts just a little less than two hours and twenty minutes should have been limited to about one and half hours after removing some of the unnecessary sequences. The songs are not at all interesting, and just elongates this movie further. It is certain that this movie wanted to be Sapthamashree Thaskaraha, but couldn’t be there because of the clueless feeling here and there. The situations to create fun just disappear too quickly!

Performers of the soul :: Even with not that many opportunities to make the audience laugh as in Sapthamashree Thaskaraha, Chemban Vinod Jose manages to do so all by himself; he makes the wonderful thief yet again – still one ends up wishing that the character was used a lot better to evoke laughter as the chance was there. Vinay Forrt comes up in a different role here, and manages things with ease. Aju Varghese has a smaller role even though bigger than what he had in Jamna Pyari, and he does that well. Ananya remains strong even though her presence is limited to the beginning and the end. Innocent has a smaller presence and so does Sreejith Ravi. Kalabhavan Shajon makes a late entry into the movie, but leaves a very nice mark. Sudheer Karamana’s character evokes mixed response. Janaki Krishnan has a small role which she manages with a certain amount of inherent cuteness.

Soul exploration :: Even though the revenge factor does have the biggest role to play in the end, what comes here as the message is that poetic justice will be served in the end. There has to be honour in whatever we do, even if it is not the most appreciated job. The crimes of war seems to say the same thing. The truth is that some people who do lesser jobs and earning less usually has more honour than the rest; at least they are not slaves to the vanity which comes with money and fame. We all listen to those vain men and women as well as their parents who provide us classes on how good they are and how pathetic we are. They should also suffer for their sins, may be a little more because they are surely worse than the people who do something wrong because there is no other choice. We hear about corruption in crores, and the question this movie asks is about who the real thieves are.

How it finishes :: Those who steal our lives are the worst criminals, aren’t they? Those who don’t allow us to do anything with our lives and lock us in a cage of meaninglessness – they are a lot like those involved in corruptions; it is just that they corrupt our lives instead. So, it is not really hard to love the characters in this movie. They required a little more polishing and won’t be like those in Sapthamashree Thaskaraha or Meesa Madhavan, but they can have some appreciation for trying things differently. One thing I am very happy about is that this doesn’t go the way of the Malayalam movie of 2013, called Bicycle Thieves. It was one of the most terrible movies as almost all of my friends have confirmed, and Urumbukal Urangarilla rises to the occasion as it decides to win with the climax and make up for its other troubles. There is Kunjiramayanam still running in full power and the new release Ennu Ninte Moideen to bring the tough competition.

Release date: 19th September 2015
Running time: 139 minutes
Directed by: Jiju Asokan
Starring: Chemban Vinod Jose, Kalabhavan Shajon, Vinay Forrt, Aju Varghese, Innocent, Janaki Krishnan, Ananya, Sudheer Karamana, Sreejith Ravi, Vettukili Prakash, Santhosh Keezhattoor, Vanitha Krishnachandran, Thesni Khan

urumbukalurangarilla

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.