Saturday, January 17, 2009

Malayalam Cinema: Going, going, gone?

What is Malayali about Malayalam cinema except the language? Hardly anything. Almost gone are the days of stories with soul in them, themes that deal with people of the land, their lives, the situations they face, their dialogues and music. In the process, Malayalam cinema has lost its identity.

What we have today is a concoction of fighting where the hero vanquishing a group of baddies with incredible ease, bomb blasts, AK 47 firing away, taking law into own hands, spiting the police, theatrical dialogues, dances that are choreographed almost identically. I am told that the thugs who fly off the hero’s fist are paid by the number of turns they take in the air before biting dust.

Is this the formula that the audience wants? Not if the figures are to be believed. Out of the sixty odd Malayalam movies released in 2008, only about five were commercially successful. There were movies which ran for only three days. Why do the producers persist with the beaten (!) path?

It seems that an emerging trend is for some of the actors to come up with story lines where they are depicted as larger than life heroes. The thread is then developed into a script. Who now cares whether the producer loses money or not. There will be always another one who is ready to sell his ancestral house or beg or borrow to produce a movie.

Where is the scope for good stories, enchanting music and soul stirring lyrics in this scenario? In the rush for knocking together a movie, creativity and histrionic talents have no place. Pulling the trigger does not require great acting capabilities. And, there are enough English action movies to borrow from.

Songs are sometimes finalized in a few minutes. The director explains the situation to the music director and the lyricist. An instant tune is hummed and the poet fills in the words. Presto, the song is ready. There is no chance for the music director and the song writer to apply heart and soul. It is almost like a factory production line.

Amazingly, in the crumbling Malayalam celluloid world, two figures stand tall – Mammootty and Mohanlal. There is still no one to challenge them. Among the heroine, in my opinion, the pride of place goes to Meera Jasmine and Gopika.

Do you agree with me on the current state of Malayalam cinema?

Also see

Malayalam cinema: Random thoughts


harimohan said...

i do
a good thilakan movie seems to have been released recently

Anonymous said...

Hi AT Sir;

Recently my Bro-in-law brought me a set of Padmarajan's movies during the festive season.

Namukku Paarkan Munthiri Thopukal, Ennale,
Thoo Vaana Thumbikal
Moonnam Pakkam
Season ,to name a few.

The genuis in story telling is quite evident , and let us hope there would be some more movies like these in future.

Nebu said...

The bane of Mollywood film industry is the two ageing super and mega heroes and another two more not mentioned by you. Stories are written around these mega and super stars instead of casting the suitable actor for the story/role. Lack of good stories and Malayali’s famous pseudo Puritanism also plays a part in the downfall.

Among the heroines you left out Bhavana (Mollywood’s “Kajol”). Beautiful Asin Thottumkal is Mollywood’s loss and Kollywood’s and Bollywood’s gain. Incidentally Gopika got married and seem to have left the scene.

Imagine these pretty young things paired opposite the above mentioned super and mega. So young heroes have to be weaved into the story but the young upcoming guys a reluctant to play second fiddle. All-in- all its a bleak future for Malayalam cinema.

Unknown said...

harimohan, in the Tilakan movie you have in mind 'Yes Your Honour'? He is a versatile actor.

Unknown said...

Kariyachan, Padmarajan was truly a genius. I still watch some of his old movies.

Unknown said...

Nebu, when themes are developed based on the preference of actors, it is only natural that there would be a dearth of good stories. It should be the other way around. Write good stories and cast appropriately. That I feel is the answer to the decline of Malayalam movies.

Asin has got a real break with Ghajini (I have not seen it). Obviously it is because of her good performance in the original Tamil version that Director AR Murugadoss retained her in the Hindi remake. Will she return to Malayalam cinema?

Sreejith Sreedaran said...

I believe the fall have some combination of reasons.I have referred to your post on one of my blogs.
And you can find it here: