9

What is the movie about? :: Dr Albert Lewis (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a very successful astrophysicist who have had a love for science since his childhood. He didn’t have that family life that he wanted though, as his wife Annie (Mamta Mohandas) died with childbirth, and his son Adam (Master Alok) is a known menace in the neighbourhood as well as school, leading to multiple change of educational institutions. As Adam was involved in another incident which left his cousin on a wheel chair, even the relatives are hostile to the boy. With Adam being expelled from his school in the middle of the term for another fight with a student, he gets an assignment from his mentor, a world famous scientist, Dr Inayat Khan (Prakash Raj). The idea is to watch, analyze and record the scene of a huge comet from the Himalayas, where it would bring a different scene altogether. With his team mates and Adam, he reaches the place, and stays at a remote guest house owned by his mentor.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It turns out that this comet is not your usual one. It produces an Electro Magnetic Pulse which would disrupt the modern day life – there would be no electricity, internet or mobile phone; modern day vehicles wouldn’t be able to provide transportation. It would be more or less like going back to nature, without having those facilities which people hold dear. There is panic all around, and Albert who reaches the seemingly Victorian-styled huest house makes sure that there are enough candles and lanterns. He also makes some adjustments to an older vehicle and makes sure that it works even though the usual transportation shuts down. As the shut down occurs, the sky turns red. Albert who is watching the amazing sight comes up again a stranger, Ava (Wamiqa Gabbi) who is lost in the woods. He takes her to the guest house, but there seems to be something special about her. She seems to be holding on to some secrets – what would they be?

The defence of 9 :: There are so many things being dealt with, in this movie which is a combination of genres. The horror in this movie is nicely done, and we have the same with a seemingly Victorian Gothic setting which has everything for a horror thriller. The supernatural, death and decay, ancient beliefs, unsolved mysteries, nightmares, hallucinations, large old building with only a few people, darkness, loneliness, fear – they are all there, and at the same time we wonder if some alien terror is going to be unleashed or if the world is going to end. The mystery element is also nicely made up, and it goes right through the movie. The darkness is the most beautiful thing in the movie, and you fall in love with night here. There is quality in how the setting has been used, with the beautiful as well as creepy visuals; the sound effects are also lovely. There are many Hollywood movies that comes to your mind, and also that same quality.

The claws of flaw :: The story here is not that easy to digest for everyman. It just puts too many things in here and also has an ending which is left open as well as unclear. It is also too long and has too many scenes with the apparition of one dead wife appearing, a case of terrible repetition which could have been avoided. The ending could have also been more direct – even though having multiple interpretations is not that bad, the horror feeling that was established earlier should have been allowed to continue to make an impact and leave the theatre with the audience. After all, the audience have gone through all these, and one of those interpretations just nullify the same. It is the supernatural of the movie that rises above everything else here, and the same should have taken full control and came to a conclusion in the end – well, when there is a chance to go full Gothic in a setting like this, I would take it.

The performers of the soul :: Prithviraj takes another divergence and another risk with this movie, but this doesn’t trouble him that much because he has been to such a situation before. He has played the protagonist looking for answers, who would be wandering through mystery and horror in different films. We have seen him in the dark flicks like Memories, Adam Joan7th Day and Ezra, making nice impact. The Hollywoodish feeling that he maintained even in last year’s Ranam and Koode are also to be remembered. Prakash Raj is just there for some time, and there is just him going through the long talk and no action. Mamta Mohandas is just there for the song with very short flashbacks and to keep coming back as apparitions in stylish clothing – there could have been more. Mamta is not someone who is to be restricted to that, as we feel that the flashback is more relevant than ever in this movie.

Further performers of the soul :: At the same time, Master Alok brings a fine performance as the child in trouble, and we see something that makes him right for the genre. Back after the much appreciated Godha, Wamiqa Gabbi is fantastic as the mysterious girl who turns out to be more than just a damsel in distress troubled by a piece of comet. There are fine moments which reflects the creepy side is a beautiful way, as she walks through the huge building as lights are turned off, staring outside from a bath-tub and coming up with a mysterious, creepy smile on more than one occasion. She seems to blend into the Gothic horror so well, and I will be glad to see her in a full-horror movie. You look here, and feel that she could be in something like Crimson Peak. Rahul Madhav and Adil Ibrahim are there in smaller roles, and we also see some unknown actors who are there for a short period of time leaving something nice behind.

How it finishes :: It can be seen that 9 goes through different genres at the same time. There is science fiction and the supernatural, as the movie is a psychological horror thriller with a scientific background. It is the first big movie to combine all these well, and one of the first movies to deal with some science fiction of such grand scale. There are questions that go unanswered with the same, and there are moments when we feel that the grip is lost – it could have surely been better, but as it is now, makes an interesting watch. 9 is surely an effort in the right direction, and we can hope to have more movies of the same kind after this. If a combination like this can have everything in the right quantity and quality, there is no limit to how good it can be. Until such a movie is made, we can go to the theatres and enjoy 9 this week.

Release date: 7th February 2019
Running time: 149 minutes
Directed by: Jenuse Mohamed
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Prakash Raj, Wamiqa Gabbi, Mamta Mohandas, Master Alok, Tony Luke, Vishal Krishna, Rahul Madhav, Adil Ibrahim

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Rakshadhikari Baiju

Vampire Owl: This character reminds me of myself during my early days.

Vampire Bat: You mean the days before you became a vampire.

Vampire Owl: No, my early days as a vampire apprentice.

Vampire Bat: I have heard that you performed really bad during those days.

Vampire Owl: No, I had balance in all aspects of life just like this man in the trailer.

Vampire Bat: I don’t see how this can be termed as balance.

Vampire Owl: Well, my case was all about balancing everything in life with so much skill that I managed to develop just from the inside.

Vampire Bat: There is no balance in life; one thing goes the right way, and something else losses the way.

Vampire Owl: I am actually writing a book on it, with special thanks to you.

Vampire Bat: That is an action completely against balance.

[Gets the tickets with cardamom tea and cheese popcorn].

What is the movie about? :: Baiju (Biju Menon) is everything for a group of people at Kumbalam, a region which is commonly considered as a part of an extended Kochi, but still retains its simple, village-like life. Surrounded by the Vembanad Lake, the place is connected at both sides by bridges, which is slowly and steadily transforming the lives of the people there. Here, this man leads a group of youngsters who are part of a cricket team which has been trying to win local tournaments, but not with that much success – it hasn’t stopped them from trying though. The team’s members include Manoj (Deepak Parambol) and Unni (Aju Varghese) among the others. Manoj has fallen for a girl in the neighbourhood named Rose (Anagha L K Maruthora) who also seems to have some interest in him, while a co-worker, Sreekala (Krishna Padmakumar) has fallen for Unni who is not interested in her and is looking for a girl to marry all around the state.

So, what happens next? :: His lack of interest in his job despite being in government service doesn’t make his wife Ajitha (Hannah Reji Koshy) happy, and the same is the case with his parents. He also spends money from his pocket to help his friends in need, and is the major force behind leading a boy in his team to Ranji trophy and later into an IPL team. Despite avoiding all the responsibilities at home as well as office, he is still a loved man everywhere. Being an irrigation department official and also a patron of the Kumbalam Brothers Club will keep him going through a journey which started when he was just a kid, along with George (Dileesh Pothan) and other friends of him, who have all settled outside India or at least outside Kerala. But he remains in his hometown, doing the same things as if it is to go on for eternity – but how long can these continue during a time when modernisation comes up, and who all will be with him?

The defence of Rakshadhikari Baiju :: There is an abundance of humour in Rakshadhikari Baiju, and it is no surprise with the cast that we see here. With the simple things that could happen in anyone’s life, the tale progresses nicely, even as there is nothing like Chinthavishtayaaya Shyamala unlike expected at one point. With the performances and events, things just seem natural here, with nothing artificial added. The message that the movie provides is also something for this age, when children try to replace the outdoor sports for computer games and more and more of mobile gaming – the movie asks its viewers to encourage outdoor sporting events which will improve the health of an upcoming generation, and also to save those free spaces, the green open grounds with trees in villages and towns. There is also that feeling of nostalgia that will come back to us seeing all these happenings. A realistic tale about common people is always better than a fake story claiming to be realistic, whether it is about a slow love story that will take an eternity to finish doing something or related to a tale filling a town with criminals who love pork.

The claws of flaw :: What surprises one the most is that there are villains in the movie, and along with one coming right out of a modern world which has no real face, there is another one played by Padmaraj Ratheesh, which goes absolutely nowhere – there never seems to be any need except for one funny sequence or two which works due to Biju Menon’s comic timing. There is also the love angle added with the character named Rose, which is also pretty much wasted just as our protagonist’s own love story flashback that comes into the present. Without these, the movie would have saved a lot of time, and the extra length of the movie could have been cut down to make this a very good entertainer with no dull moments; but here we see those sequences which are not really needed. The simplicity of the movie also needed more of the touch of feel-good and nostalgia to power it to the next level, and the same is also not there.

Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon once again becomes what the character needs him to be, and this role is no surprise for sure. Just like he did in Vellimoonga and Swarna Kaduva, he uses the simple incidents in life to evoke laughter, and he is well supported here. Aju Varghese keeps doing what he does the best, and provides the fun-filled support. Deepak Parambol does the role that could be of the second hero fine enough, despite his character losing way by the end. It is Hareesh Perumanna who has some of the funniest moments in the movie though, and his character has the comic side strong and written all over. Dileesh Pothan has only his presence for only a few minutes though, and still there is a lot of fun with his sequences starting with the dialogue about having changed by being rich. Hannah Reji Koshy whom we had seen for the last time in Darwinte Parinamam has a nice stay here as the leading actress too.

How it finishes :: This is one of those lesser hyped movies which can stay long just by being the movie that everyone can watch and enjoy, somewhat close to what Vellimoonga did even if not being that much of a force, considering the fact that families only have Sakhavu as the newer movie that is left to go for, Puthan Panam being pretty much a clear terrible movie, and also having an ‘Adult certificate’. The Great Father and 1971: Beyond Borders should also be there along with the undisputed best Malayalam movie of the year so far which is Take Off, but our movie starts a new innings here with not much of a challenge for a week which is in the safe zone. If you liked the Biju Menon starrers Vellimoonga and Swarna Kaduva, there is no doubt that you will like this one too, and so this one is a safe bet; there is a little bit of Anuraga Karikkin Vellam feeling in this one too. Simple, and without complicating things, the movie here stays close to life, and also allows the viewers to take the messages home.

Release date: 21st April 2017
Running time: 162 minutes
Directed by: Ranjan Pramod
Starring: Biju Menon, Hannah Reji Koshy, Aju Varghese, Deepak Parambol, Hareesh Perumanna, Dileesh Pothan, Padmaraj Ratheesh, Alencier Ley Lopez, Janardhanan, Indrans, Vijayaraghavan, Chethan Jayalal, Vishal Krishna, Aabid Nassar, Ambika Mohan, Nebish Benson, Krishna Padmakumar, Anjali Aneesh, Anagha L K Maruthora, Sankar Induchoodan, Sasi Kalinga

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.