Monday, September 27, 2010

Malayalam cinema: Signs of revival?

Last month Anjali published a post titled Ritu. It is about a Malayalam cinema by that name. The writer is annoyed and angry about the movie mainly because the story is an old tale and the script writer has not bothered study the subject and background well enough. I haven’t seen the picture but can understand why Anjali is upset. Many of the new Malayalam cinemas are like that.

Some years ago when I visited Chennai a friend asked me to join him and the scriptwriter of the Malayalam cinema he was producing for ‘working drinks’ at their hotel. I found him and the writer with a collection of English movie cassettes. This was before the CDs and DVDs. They were shamelessly copying from the Western cinemas for the Malayalam picture. I never saw that movie.

The story and script form the heart of a movie. The director, cameraman and actors work to transfer what is written to the celluloid. A good director would work only with a credible and well written screenplay. He and the writer would discuss and finalize the script.

Scriptwriting is a tough job. It requires understanding the place where the story takes place and the people who live there. The visuals and dialogues should give the impression that the story is actually happening there. This requires great concentration and even visualizing the camera angles. Sometimes research is needed. Attention to details is so important.

This is where Malayalam cinema fails. Most of the script writers just rush through the job. Some introduce theatrical dialogues. The producers go ahead with something that should be thrown into the waste basket. There are enough directors who do not bother as long as they get paid. As a result, 90% of the Malayalam movies fail at the box office.

Some time back I had written a post Malayalam Cinema: Going, going, gone? The same situation continues though Malayalam won 13 National awards recently for the year 2009. Imagine, for discovering a good story, Shaji N. Karun, the director of the best film, Kutty Srank waited 10 years. It is a pity that Mammootty lost out to Amitab Bachan for the Best Actor Award in spite of his good performances in three movies, Kutty Srank, Paleri Manikyam and Pazhassi Raja.

Actually, 2009 had six or seven good Malayalam movies. One of them was Blessy’s Bhramaram. I was quite impressed by the film. It had a good story and script. The final portion of the tension filled movie was shot in the rough terrain of the High Ranges. Blessy, and Mohan Lal, the hero are near perfect.

Both Mammootty and Mohan Lal continue to dazzle. Their latest releases, Pranchiyettan and the Saint (Direction by Renjit) and Shikkar (M.Padmakumar) are reportedly doing very well.

One problem is that the younger set of actors do not get really good chances. They are mostly wasted in quickly assembled, fight and dance oriented movies.

Unless new stories are found and the script writers and the directors put in hard work, Malayalam cinema will continue to be of low standard. The recent National Awards should inspire the industry to come out with better products.

Also see

Malayalam cinema: Random thoughts


Anonymous said...

Dear AT Sir;

The recent controversies indicate that, the malayalam film field is held in tight grips by various vested interests.

I wonder when we would find movies in the calibre of the ones from Bharathan, Padmarajan, Lohithadas etc eventhough Blessy and Sreenivasan stands apart.

The culture of creating storylines and scripts according to the preference of the stars has become the norm (Udayananu Tharam mocks such a situation).

Nevertheless there is an occasional occurrence of a gem-of-a-movie coming out every now and then.

Still the infighting and enmity in the film fraternity is definitely costing the producers and the film connoisseurs alike.


Very incisive. It is true that most of the new movies in Malayalam are a pain to watch. Everyone just wants to make a quick pile, it would seem.

However, Brahmaram and Pazhassi Raja, both of which I saw only on television, impressed greatly.

Happy Kitten said...

Even I have started loving Malayalam movies again.. Pranchiyetan was too good..

Maddy said...

hi Abe..

The problem I guess is mainly due to the heavy dependence on the so called super OLD stars and stories created to weave around their abilities & disabilities.

Just as we were giving up hope a few interesting movies cropped up. You should see Loudspeaker and TD Dasan Std VI B. There are a few others, but I am sure you would have seen at least the former.

Unknown said...

You are quite right Kariyachan.

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

Thanks, Maddy. I just saw loudspeaker and liked it. A bit slow moving, but good. Must get hold of CD Dasan.