Athiran

What is the movie about? :: The year is 1967, and a worried Lakshmi (Shanthi Krishna) finds their family murdered while Nithya (Sai Pallavi) is seen playing with a thread. The situation seems to points to her as dangerously abnormal and a murderer. Five years later in 1972, Dr. MK Nair (Fahadh Faasil), a psychiatrist from Trivandrum Medical College is sent to check out the activities in a mental asylum situated far away from civilization, between the trees in the wilderness. This grand mansion which was built by the British has limited access to other places. Dr Benjamin Diaz (Atul Kulkarni) who served in the 1972 India-China War and a master hypnotist is the resident doctor as well as the owner of the asylum. He is very strict in his methods and doesn’t like anyone from outside making a visit. Renuka (Lena) is in control of things there, and Avarachan (Nandhu) provides further help from outside.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: There are strange incidents happening in the asylum. The inmates include Anna Maria (Leona Lishoy), a religious person, P Subrahmanya Iyer (Vijay Menon), an English professor, Vadakkedath Kamala Lakshmi (Surabhi Lakshmi), a person of too much concern for everyone around her, Jeevan Thomas (Sudev Nair), and a happy and strange romantic person. But it turns out that there is one more patient, and she is hidden and locked away in a cell, considered to be extremely dangerous and uncontrollable – the person is none other than Nithya who lives a restrained life, hostile to those who very rarely come to visit her. The newly arrived doctor realizes that there is something strange about her as well as the working of the hospital – he even has some dream visions and hallucinations when he is there, but some of them might be close to reality.

The defence of Athiran :: We have had a good number of psychological thriller, but after the 1990s, not many movies could rise above a certain level, and Athiran comes as a breath of fresh air – we always needed our own Shutter Island, and this one becomes the same, but with its own different twists. A Cure for Wellness is another movie we are reminded of. There is a similar beautiful setting here just like that island in Shutter Island and the mountain ranges in A Cure for Wellness, as the camera nicely brings all of the same to perfection. There is a Gothic building out there, and has a similar setting as one would have seen in movies like Crimson Peak, even though in the absence of the ghostly presence, is not used to the maximum – we had already seen 9 using a similar setting. The songs and the picturization also prove to be really attractive, and the suspense is maintained until the end as we remain thrilled.

The claws of flaw :: The similarities to A Cure for Wellness and Shutter Island can’t be ignored. There is another movie called The Ward which deals with a similar situation. All these are set in places dealing with “wellness” of the patients, and has similar moments of horror related to treatment procedure, along with secrets there that should be revealed. There is clear influence in bringing a certain Hollywood style, also resembling the Victorian Gothic Model, but the success of the movie is that it has done the same really well, and local elements have been mixed with some skill behind the same. We still have the feeling that something missing in there, and the other patients’ characters could have been better developed. With a setting like this, there was hope for bringing some intensely terrifying moments, but it is not there. Nights in a mental asylum far away from civilization can always bring more, and so can a mentally unstable murderer of family members.

The performers of the soul :: Fahadh Faasil is one actor who has come up with minimum guarantee in the last few months, and we look at his previous movie to make sure about that. His last three ventures in Malayalam movie industry were Kumbalangi Nights, Njan Prakashan and Varathan, all three gaining both critical and commercial success. These movies also had less hype in comparison to the others, and Athiran actually came up with no real boost in marketing – I came to know about this movie very late, and even then I didn’t know that this was a Malayalam movie; the film survived with people’s opinions. It is to be noted that there is a certain change that comes across the character he plays in each of the four movies including this one. One can also note that Fahadh has done a fantastic job here as the main character in a psychological thriller – playing a character in a mental asylum wouldn’t come easy, whether the role is of a mental patient or not.

Further performers of the soul :: Sai Pallavi has returned to Malayalam movie industry once again, and it called for a change, a welcome one, as there is no dance performance around here. She is the kind of actress who can do this role so well, as she showed such signs in Kali itself, even though it was not needed then. Well, here she excels in portraying the character with autism and more. This one is her best performance in the industry so far, clearly better than Premam, and surely better than that which didn’t really matter in the miserable Kali. Atul Kulkarni who has come up with some memorable performances in Malayalam movies before, brings a strong antagonist. Leona Lishoy, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon and Sudev Nair who have their moments as the patients never really get going though, with no real mention about their tales of the past. Lena and Nandhu gets limited in their roles, Shanthi Krishna is there for a few minutes. Renji Panicker is impressive when he is there.

How it finishes :: Athiran is one movie which has been running for so long despite releasing without making much of a noise. One month later, it can be seen that the movie is still going strong, despite Avengers: Endgame taking the most number of viewers, creating the collection record like never before, overtaking Titanic and closing in on Avatar, the effect being seen here too. Athiran, one month later, is challenging the bigger movies like the crowd puller Oru Yamandan Prema Katha and the critics favourite Uyare. It is nice to see a psychological thriller doing such a job, as it has been the genre, with a fee exceptions not bringing the major part of audience to the theatres, especially the family audience. But things have changed now, and Athiran has stood tall when the opportunity came, and it does so in Hollywood style, in a grand environment.

Release date: 12th April 2019
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Vivek
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Sai Pallavi, Lena, Sudev Nair, Leon Lishoy, Prakash Raj, Renji Panicker, Atul Kulkarni, Shanthi Krishna, Nandhu, Surabhi Lakshmi, Vijay Menon

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Hey Jude

What is the movie about? :: Dominique Rodriguez (Siddique) and Mariya Rodriguez (Neena Kurup), are living a pretty good life with their children Jude Rodriguez (Nivin Pauly) and Andrea Rodriguez (Apoorva Bose) at Fort Cochin. They trace their lineage a long way back, as one of the most respectable Anglo-Indian families at the place. Dominique runs an antique shop nearby, and his skills in doing business depends on his ability to lie so well that he makes a usual thing a symbol of Dravidian world or the last piece of a part of Indian heritage that is not found anywhere else in the country – he sells them at high prices to unsuspecting foreigners who have a strange fascination for the orient, the fine pearls of the East, especially of India. But his son Jude is just the opposite, never able to lie, but more intelligent than anyone else around; at the same time, he completely lacks in any kind of social skill.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Jude has no friends in the city, and his co-workers make sure that he gets fired from his job at a hardware company. He spends his time collecting pictures of different aquatic animals – he has all the information about ocean’s creatures, and loves clown fish, jelly fish and gold fish and his dream is about owning a big aquarium one day. While his parents are worried about his future, his sister finds no hope in him, as he wishes to have food at the exact same time every day, and eats only the same food items all the time. He has a list for almost everything in his life, and talks to his video camera about each day about his thoughts. Twenty eight years old and being different from everyone around him, he has a tough time going through each and every day of his life. But he is not ready to accompany his father with the work.

And what follows next in the adventure? :: When Dominique has to travel to Goa to attend a funeral, things change. He has to take Jude and Mariya with him on the journey, leaving Andrea in charge of the antique shop. There, it turns out that Dominique and Jude have inherited everything which was owned by the dead person who had special love for the distant relatives. Now, the problem that Domique faces in selling the newly acquired property and traveling back to Cochin is Sebastian Chakraparambu (Vijay Menon) who lives with his daughter Crystal Ann Chakraparambu (Trisha Krishnan) in the outhouse which cannot be cleared as the building was rented for a period of five years. Dominique comes up with some plans to get rid of the new neighbours, but nothing works. At the same time, Jude and Crystal become good friends, but both have their own troubles in facing life.

The defence of Hey Jude :: From the first moments itself, you are sure that this is that kind of a light-hearted entertainer with messages for life, which will be developing slowly and steadily as the movie progresses. Hey Jude can be considered as the simplest and the most entertaining movie from the director who has known to provide us with strong philosophical side to ponder about. The humour is a clear winner in this movie, as it keeps dropping in all the time. All the characters in this movie are funny in one way or the other, and things never go out of control to bring a possible dark side. The funny side has us more and more interested in the proceedings, and with the grand visuals of Goa, all becomes good for this movie. The music is pretty good, and as it has been talked about, this is a lovely tale of love, self-discovery, healing and transformation. It gets into the list of inspirational movies which have made the big impact in the industry – we see the support for people to be who they want to be.

The claws of flaw :: The movie is kind of longer than one would have wanted it to be. Then, those who wanted Shyamaprasad to go into those deeper human emotions and situations are going to feel the need for more. One can feel that there has been the effort to make things a little too simple – it was surely not needed considering how far our audience could evolve from the time the first movie of the same director released. The movie could have also ended smarter and without a quick full stop. If you don’t like movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, and are unable to connect to the protagonists of those movie, you would have the same trouble here – well, some so called perfect people will always have problems with these kinds of characters, as they jump right out of the firmament with stored thunder in mouth; this one is not for that kind of people born with silver spoons and even golden forks in their mouths.

The performers of the soul :: Nivin Pauly surely has the most divergent as well as different character that he has had to play in his whole career, and he could manage the same with great skill. Meanwhile, Trisha makes her Malayalam debut here, and she does that with ease – it is surely surprising that it took her such a long time to be here, but as she is here, it is all good. Well, she has played a Malayali girl in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, making this not the first instance of being part of such a character. Siddique plays the father figure again, as we see him at his best just after watching him in Aadhi in the role of a responsible father – this one is actually more challenging, and his work is light-hearted as well as interesting. Neena Kurup is there throughout as the mother figure, and it is nice to see Apoorva Bose back in action; she was being missed. Vijay Menon plays a funny as well as powerful character present throughout the flick. Aju Varghese has a nice, funny cameo to his credit.

How it finishes :: Shyamaprasad is the one director whom we know the most for adapting the American classic expressionist play, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams for the Malayalam audience, and doing that with such skill, that Mahatma Gandhi University has included it in the paper, Comparative Literature for the final semester BA English students. Arike, which signified the exact opposite meaning to Akale, was another beautiful flick with its quest for love. Ivide with its quest for identity and reflecting rootlessness, was also with philosophical undercurrents. But Hey Jude is rather direct in all that it reflects on the screen, and it can be considered as the most light-hearted as well as the funniest movie from the director with messages to go with it. If you liked movies like North 24 Kaatham and Mili, I don’t see why you won’t watch this one with family.

Release date: 2nd February 2018
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Shyamaprasad
Starring: Nivin Pauly, Trisha Krishnan, Siddique, Neena Kurup, Vijay Menon, Apoorva Bose, Aju Varghese (cameo), Shyamaprasad (cameo)

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Pokkiri Simon

What is the movie about? :: Simon (Sunny Wayne), known more as “Pokkiri” Simon after the name of the Vijay movie is the leader of the Vijay fans association of the locality. His two best friends, and members of the association are “Hanuman” Biju (Jacob Gregory) who spends most of his life’s time trying to become Vijay’s bodyguard, and “Love Today” Ganesh (Sarath Kumar) who has the nickname after one of Vijay’s earlier movies. They spend almost all of their time, talking about Vijay’s movies and celebrating whenever one of his movies get a release in Trivandrum. On the other side, there are Surya fans including “Singam” Suni (Sajid Yahiya) who continue celebrating the latest sequel to Singam. There is also some compeition between them, and the gang of Vijay fans lead by Beemapally Noushad (Saiju Kurup) who has his own fan association based around the mosque. Both of them tries to make the best out of ten year celebration of Pokkiri, and lands in the police station.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: Landing in the police station is nothing new for them, as SI Sathyan (Baiju) finds it easy to catch them for making nuisance all around the theatre in the name of fan club based activities. The one to save them each and every time is CI Alex John (Dileesh Pothan), a police officer from a rich family having an eye on politics. Simon’s father Yesudas (Ashokan) is also a police man, but just like his mother and sister, has not much of an opinion about him. Simon and his friends who do no job, and wanders all around the locality as considered to be nuisance rather than anything else. The only thing Simon manages to do outside the friends circle in the fans association, is to write random PSC examinations, including the police tests to satisfy his father. The only thing they wait for is to watch another Vijay movie – without the same, there is no life for them.

And what else is to follow with the fan adventures? :: The parents of Simon have lost hope in him getting a job, and they wish to get him married. But the problem is that he wants to marry only the girl whom he saw whistling during a Vijay movie. Simon soon finds her again while playing cricket on the beach. Deepa (Prayaga Martin), who is the daughter of a rich sea captain, is the girl whom he wish to marry. Using the plans from a former scientist of ISRO, Seetha Raman (Nedumudi Venu) who turns out to be a Vijay fan too, Simon tries to get her attention, and finally manages to win her love. But things are not that smooth, as there are people like Arjunan Pillai (Shammi Thilakan) and Indran Pillai (Marshal Tito Wilson) who are running all kinds of criminal activities in the city. The young blood of the fans association manages to make both of these brothers angry, and it is no more about sweet love.

The defence of Pokkiri Simon :: There are some funny scenes here which will work, thanks to the long line of interesting cast managing to keep things strong. There is also the reference to Vijay movies, along with something for Pulimurugan. One can be sure that those who follow Vijay movies will find this one more entertaining, and so will those who watch Tamil movies very often. Yes, the fan stuff scores. There is also that part of the story that goes on like the common man’s life, and you will find one final twist waiting for you. If you like Amar Akbar Anthony, I am sure that you will have no problems in finding this one good enough. This movie also follows the same pattern, with the life of the common people with some comedy in the first half, and the second half having a twist, when the unexpected person becomes the villain; from being one of the best among good people in the flick, as he joins the other villains who have been there – in this case too, it is related to a missing girl.

The claws of flaw :: The movie’s weakest point is the romantic angle, and the same never really gets going. One can safely say that it even stumbles on many occasions even without starting to get better. The songs also suffers the same fate. There was the feeling that this movie would also focus on the good deeds done by fans in the name of their favourite stars, but that is not there – instead, they do the comparison of stars to gods as a justification which might be the strangest that you would ever get. It is rather bizarre during these days when superstar godmen who reflect gods get convicted. There are also many characters who don’t get what they deserve, as they exist and go on without making the desired impact. The people who don’t follow many movies, and don’t watch much of Tamil cinema will have less to take home. Also, you will find that the movie could have managed all its elements, bringing them together in a better way. It could have been a better movie to become a better tribute to Vijay.

Performers of the soul :: The friendship of the three characters played by Sunny Wayne, Jacob Gregory and Sarath Kumar is undoubtedly better than the same shown in Amar Akbar Anthony. The latter two takes it more on the funny side, while Sunny Wayne is very good playing the main character. He has provided us some good work with Annmariya Kalippilaanu and Alamara, but for some reason, they don’t go on to stay at the theatres like some of those overrated movies with no content do. Marshal Tito Wilson from Angamaly Diaries is also there, playing one of the two antagonists, and he is surely a strong point here, joining Shammi Thilakan who scores on the evil side. Dileesh Pothan is a perfect addition as the police character who impresses with his different side, and Baiju and Ashokan plays two different cops in support well. Prayaga Martin only has a character existing there to be part of that bad romantic side, and she never gets in form – in the end, she disappears like Namitha Pramod in Amar Akbar Anthony. Before that, there are some terrible moments for her, including one song.

How it finishes :: Pokkiri Simon should be a must watch for Vijay fans, and for the rest, it could provide some time-pass. Following the pattern of Amar Akbar Anthony more than any other, we can also see a little bit of Kattappanayile Rithwick Roshan mode in here. There are those jokes, and also the dialogues which are from Vijay’s popular movies. The director’s previous movie, Darwinte Parinamam was also an underrated movie, and this one also has elements of silver lining even when the clouds are dark, but it isn’t lifted high enough from there. If you are a fan and you can relate to this, that would be great, for there seems to be an attempt to make this one a colourful and quick entertainer. One thing is for sure, and it is that unlike those movies which have claimed to do great with similar cast, this one surely manages to do better – Pokkiri Simon does that for the fans.

Release date: 22nd September 2017
Running time: 146 minutes
Directed by: Jijo Antony
Starring: Sunny Wayne, Jacob Gregory, Prayaga Martin, Sarath Kumar, Dileesh Pothan, Nedumudi Venu, Ashoka, Baiju, Shammi Thilakan, Marshal Tito Wilson, Bitto, Thara Kalyan, Saiju Kurup, Pradeep Kottayam, Sajid Yahiya, Rohni, Vijay Menon, Tanuja Karthik, Sinoj Varghese, Anjali Aneesh, Jude Anthany Joseph, Hena, Sudeep Kopa, Govindan Kutty

PS: Velipadinte Pusthakam, Adam Joan and Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela seems to stay on… 🙂

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.