Salute

Vampire Owl: This movie surely had our attention early enough.

Vampire Bat: Yes, we noticed something about this one quite long ago.

Vampire Owl: We have all been fond of such thrillers.

Vampire Bat: This seems to be something on the lines of Meppadiyan.

Vampire Owl: Yes, a thriller which seems to reflect the usual happenings.

Vampire Bat: A thriller that makes us more conscious then!

Vampire Owl: We should be better aware of the human world for sure.

Vampire Bat: We can never be aware enough about human evil.

Vampire Owl: Yes, but it is always better to be prepared.

Vampire Bat: Well, you will know that you can never be enough prepared for anything what the humans can offer.

[Gets a vegetable pizza and three cups of iced tea].

What is the movie about? :: SI Aravind Karunakaran (Dulquer Salmaan) was one of the investigating officers on a murder case which was investigated by him and his brother who is also in the police force, DySP Ajith Karunakaran (Manoj K Jayan) along with a few others. They find the only person who holds a definite grudge against the murder victim and had also spoken against him – the same person had so many motives to commit the murder. The police feels cent percent sure that he was the one who committed the murder, and plants evidence against him, leading to his arrest. It is at the same time that another person seems to be linked to the murder, but the same police officers decide not to investigate on the case any more as it is closed, leaving everything to the court. Aravind is not happy about it though, and wishes to make a difference. But his brother and other senior police officers make sure that he won’t have any access to any clues, and keeps him busy with other work.

So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: Aravind is fed up with the situation and decides to take five years leave without salary. He pursues a course in the North, and in the process meets Dia (Diana Penty) with whom he falls in love. She is the daughter of a military officer, and they start a live-in relationship. Things seem to go on in a usual manner, and then his niece Malavika Ajith (Saniya Iyappan) invites him to her wedding which is to happen soon. Ajith also asks him to come home early and be part of the preparations. He decides to return home, even though he had decided to leave his past behind. When he gets back to his hometown, he takes Dia with him, and the family members except Malavika are not pleased about the same. There, he gets the news that the man who was framed in the murder is now convicted in the case. He decides to cancel his leave and ho after it once again. But can he solve the case better this time, after so many years?

The defence of Salute :: It can be seen that Salute keeps the whole thing procedural, and there is no masala which is often added with the usual police movies which are more categorized to action rather than anything else. Some of the Bollywood movies have brought us shame in the recent years with their depiction of police officers, and I am sure that most of the sensible people wished for a change – mass masala is indeed not a genre, and is the lack of creative imagination and skills. Even for those films without much of action added, this remains very realistic in comparison. The emotional side also remains strong throughout the movie, as not all battles here are meant to hurt the others, and yet requires to serve justice. The way in which the story is told, as it moves from one point to the other, is to be applauded. It also have very less predictability in its working. There is the reflection of the intelligence of the writers and director displayed at regular intervals though the progression of the tale.

Positives and negatives :: The movie talks about impersonation, which happens rather too often than one would think about. It is something which can easily happen in our world, as people tend to believe others rather too easily. Some people have the skills to talk very well, and in the end, the common man will only end up believing the person and as a result, is cheated. The movie is still slow, and it has a little too much of a length than what was needed – maybe it could have been shortened by removing a few moments with the romantic side or family drama. This is also not the movie for everyone, as some people will be looking for a much different thing. You don’t get an invincible hero here, but you do get the faceless villain, and there is a certain amount of beauty related to it. Along with the same, there are many red herrings, and as we move from one clue to the other, we feel that we are so close to finding the person responsible for all of these, but the slip is so nicely orchestrated around here.

The performers of the soul :: This indeed among Dulquer Salmaan’s best movies in some time, and he has given the right controlled performance required for this particular role. There is no beating up the villains or taking the extreme measure to catch one of them – he is a flawed character like the one Prithviraj Sukumaran played in Memories or Joju George played in Joseph, even though much younger and more energetic. Dulquer plays the police officer who is held between the requirements of duty and family really well, and in between all of these, romance was indeed unnecessary. I am not fond of people who remember Dulquer for movies like Bangalore Days – he needs to come the mind for works like this one! On the other side, there is Manoj K Jayan, and the tension between the two brothers are shown very nicely, as the veteran actor also comes in strong as the elder brother and superior police officer. Diana Penty’s Malayalam debut is good to watch, but nothing much is added by the character. Saniya Iyappan plays the happy and cheerful niece well. There are a good number of people who play the police officers well here too.

How it finishes :: Salute is not your conventional police investigation thriller, as it follows a path which is much better, even though not for the taste of the typical fan boys. This is also a good reason for the movie to release on the OTT platform rather than the theatre. Movies like this one will not have that much of an appreciation from the usual crowd of the theatres, but with the release on SonyLIV, it has reached a bigger audience all around India – it is the kind of crowd that would be happy with divergent movies like this. With a fine narrative style, and having no police officer who throws people around, we are into the realistic mode – the cop here is not perfect, and neither is the world around him. We see the reflection of our own universe, for the usual police movies with throwing people around seem to belong to another multiverse, a parallel universe where the protagonists are superheroes with special powers which will bring the DC and Marvel metahumans to shame. We are real, and so is this movie – there is no wrong turn.

Release date: 17th March 2022 (SonyLIV)
Running time: 143 minutes
Directed by: Rosshan Andrrews
Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Diana Penty, Saniya Iyappan, Manoj K Jayan, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Saikumar, Binu Pappu, Alencier Ley Lopez, Sudheer Karamana, Deepak Parambol, Irshad, Rajesh Sharma, Boban Alummoodan, Ganapathi S Poduval, Indrans, Vijilesh Karayad, Maala Parvathi, Nitin Thomas

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Varathan

What is the movie about? :: After spending a long time in love, two IT professionals working in Dubai, Aby (Fahadh Faasil) and Priya (Aishwarya Lekshmi) gets married, and has been expecting their first child. But as the child dies and Aby is forced to give up his job due to his boss feeling that they can’t afford him anymore, the two decides that their time at the big city is over. Priya wishes to go back to her ancestral home, and they settle down in her father’s estate at Pathinettaam Mile, an area that goes a long way into the highranges. They travel to the new place, and stays at her father’s cottage which has a long history going back to the time of the British. There they come up against the locals who are not happy about their existence there in a modern and foreign style, something which they consider to be against local culture and traditions of the small village area.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is Joice (Sharafudheen) and his friends and relatives including his childhood friend Jithin (Vijilesh Karayad) who had studied with Priya in a school in Pathinettaam Mile that creates most of the problems for them. This gang that has a history of being infatuated with Priya from the school days, decides to take things further by spying on the couple. Priya finds people near the house at regular intervals, and suspects that they are up to no good. The only person who seems to be interested in helping them is the Benny (Dileesh Pothan) who had been taking care of the place in their absence. Aby and Priya find out that there is more problems for them to solve than what were seen, but the question remains if it is that easy for them to survive in a strange world which provides not much for the outsiders.

The defence of Varathan :: There is no shortage of style in this movie, and the music is really good, whether it is in the background or being there as part of some wonderful songs. There is a visual treat for store in here too, a quality which has always been there in Amal Neerad movies, and being at the best in his previous movies, Iyobinte Pustakam and CIA: Comrade in America. The thrills are also strong in this one, and the terror here is real. The movie also asks some relevant questions about the attitude of a lazy, booze-loving, jobless new generation, and also the perspective of a judgmental society which categorizes people by the way they live and how they dress. There is a stylish beginning and a thrilling, extra-stylish ending that is seen in this movie. The movie’s transformation into a home invasion flick in the end has a strange beauty which makes it travel right between the genres.

The claws of flaw :: If you have watched the movies like Don’t Breathe, you know how well the home invasion flicks can turn out to be – Varathan is only partially that, and often you wonder if it does have that genre confusion. Between the beginning and the end, there is the middle part which lags, and got its own problems with keeping the movie going without repetition. The struggle is there, and it is as real as the terror itself. The final transformation is also a little too quick for everyone to follow with a willing suspension of disbelief. The movie trailer had also seemed to suggest more – there was scope for having strange mysteries and terrible secrets being revealed, with the psychological side being stronger than ever. But such a diversion never arrives. The tale could have also been more believable if the setting was different, maybe in some of those areas of NH10.

The performers of the soul :: The movie is Fahadh Faasil’s second one in this year, coming after Carbon which released in January. It has been a long time considering the fact that the works of other actors have been releasing quite frequently. You will find this one as a wait which matters a lot, because it is a wonderful performance that he comes up with. There is more than one phase to his work, as there is stoicism that runs through him in the beginning, and as patience keeps running out, the beast is to be unleashed in the end. The transformation that comes across him is brilliantly shown on the screen, and he has those moments in the end which changes the mood of the film all of a sudden. Well, when he is around, he rises above the movie itself, not with his fans as the superstars do, but with the performance – this one has no surprises there, and we know that the expectations are to be met in that particular department every time.

Further performers of the soul :: There is no doubt about what Aishwarya Lekshmi can do either, as she began with Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela and went on to act in Mayaanadhi, a movie which brought her all the appreciation that a new actress in the field could gather. The intensity that she displays in this movie is something that we haven’t seen for a long time. The emotions are strong with her, and we feel the depth all the time. We have had many actresses who came into the industry and disappeared rather soon, but Aishwarya in one actress who is certain to be here – a movie with Fahadh and her around was always going to a work with some fantastic performances, and that was absolutely true. Sharafudheen comes in an avatar which is different, and that kind which is not usually associated with him, and same is the case of Vijilesh who was last seen in Theevandi. Dileesh Pothan has a nice small role, and Unnimaya Prasad of Maheshinte Prathikaaram and Parava fame as well as Chethan who is best known for Guppy leaves some impact.

How it finishes :: The movie becomes special more because of the treatment rather than anything else. The story might seem like something which you know, and wandering through different genres, the transformation is certainly too quick for some of the viewers to like. But just like his other movies, Amal Neerad has surely brought something for us to remember – it could be one element, and something which is coated in so much style, but we have it each and every time. Mangalyam Thanthunanena which has released on the same day with Kunchacko Boban and Nimisha Sajayan has a very deep struggle in there, and therefore, the success of Varathan should come as no surprise. It becomes an example of a stylish thriller with great visuals, music and a wonderful cast. Ranam had the style, but this one thrives on the thrills, especially at the end.

Release date: 20th September 2018
Running time: 131 minutes
Directed by: Amal Neerad
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Dileesh Pothan, Arjun Asokan, Sharafudheen, Vijilesh Karayad, Nisthar Sait, Chethan Jayalal, Jinu Joseph, Kochu Preman, Unnimaya Prasad, Maala Parvathi, Shobhi Thilakan


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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.