A Blog on Cinema

Interview: Sibi K. Thomas, Uday Krishna – Part 3


Sibi K. Thomas and Uday Krishna need no introduction to Malayalam Film Viewers. The script writer duo who have been in the industry for almost 16 years have been behind box office hits like C.I.D.Moosa, Kochi Rajavu, Vettam, Lion, Runway, Kilukkam Kilukilukkam , Thuruppugulan, and most recently Chess. The editors of talked to both of them about how they entered the film industry, their current work, their general opinion about Malayalam film industry and future work.Part 1 and Part 2 of this interview was published in the last two days, this is the concluding part of this series. Through movies many different stories can be told, only if there are actors to portray those characters. We can count the number of actors and actresses in Malayalam on our fingers. If we have insufficient number of actors, then many stories cannot be told. Isn’t this a loss to Malayalam Industry?

SKT/UK: The producer has to recover his money, right. For some movies there is no one even to take overseas rights. So the returns are diminishing. If the banner is well known or the director is well known then even if the movie has newcomers then people might come to see the movie. If they are willing, then we will see new faces. But even newcomers are not able to stay long in the field. In Tamil people are accepting new actors and new directors.

Even though there are not many script writers or actors, there are lot of new directors like Anwar Rasheed, Johnny Antony, Roshan Andrews, and Raj Babu.

During our childhood, there used to be lot of arts and sports clubs all over the state. People had interest in arts at that time which is not there now. Now a days every one is trying to learn mimicry. Now a days no one is interested in basic arts and spend their time watching TV. What about the trend in comedy movies. Is is the same as few years back. Do peoples taste change?
SKT/UK: If it is a good movie, then it will run any time. Now people prefer more entertainers than dry or tear jerker movies. If you look at Malayalam movies, the stories follow into few categories. There are family stories, light comedies,political-action movies and few other genres while so many other genres remain unexplored. Children in other countries get to watch many movies made for their age group which teach them morals and values, while children in Kerala are forced to watch movies like Kilukkam Kilukilukkam and CID Moosa for entertainment. Why are no good movies made for children like My Dear Kuttichathan or Manu Uncle? Is it because the producers don’t want to make such movies?

SKT/UK: We have this wish to make a good movie for children and even planned one with Jayaram. Even though Jayaram was there in the movie, a kid was to play the major part. This movie which falls into the genre of Kuttichathan has been currently postponed. Currently Vinayan is making a movie called Athisayan which falls into this category. English movies usually have a playing time of 90 – 110 minutes while Malayalam movies are at least 2.5 hours. Do you think there will be a movie in which there are no songs and unnecessary scenes with a short duration ever?

SKT/UK: Lot of changes are happening now. Bharat Chandran IPS is just above two hours and it has no songs. Lot of people are trying to bring the movie down to two hours. Theaters can show the movie more number of times and also the viewer is not willing to sit for long hours now. Even though there are four songs, Chanthupottu is just two hours. Rajamanikyam is also around the same duration. Now lot of family sad stories which were the forte of Malayalam cinema have now moved to TV Serials. Also lot of families are now addicted to those. What can Malayalam film makers do to attract more audience to theaters?

SKT/UK: That is the main reason why there are so many comedy movies. What we offer is not tear jerkers or family stories, since people are fed up seeing this on TV. We did a serial for Surya TV called Sambhavami Yuge Yuge. After 12 episodes we asked them to stop it since we could not do comedy on TV, since comedy requires continuity. Sometimes the comedy will appear after lot of scenes and if it appears in the next episode people may not laugh. Comedy works well in a mass audience. When your neighbor laughs, you will also laugh. The comedy you see in movies can never be done in TV.

We have to fight with Tamil, Hindi and Telugu movies for the audience. We have to work with low budgets and also fight against such big movies. With those constraints we are doing well. At one time Malayalam cinema was synonymous with good cinema, we used to produce the best movies in India and lot of our movies used to win international acclaim. Right now we see that other regional movies like Tamil making giant strides in quality, style and subjects while Malayalam film industry is stagnating. What do you think is the reason for this rot and how do you think Malayalam cinema can overcome this?

SKT/UK: Tamil movies are made with budgets in the range of 15 – 20 crores, while Malayalam movies are made within 2 crores. Still we are making good movies within those financial limitations and actors in other languages also have good opinion of our movies. Malayalam cinema is not behind any other industry. Our serious questions are all over and we have few simple questions before we end this interview. Who do you think is the best comedy artist in current Malayalam industry?

SKT/UK: We like all the comedy artistes in Malayalam and all of them are talented, like Jagathi Sreekumar, Salim Kumar, Harisri Asokan, and Innocent. Sometimes the roles they get may not have humor or the role is bad, that does not mean that the actors are without talent. We remember some comedy characters like Ananthan Nambiar and Pavanai from Nadodikaatu. Who is your favorite comedy character from Malayalm movies?

SKT/UK: The characters which Jagathi Sreekumar has done in our movies. In our first movie Jagathi came as Avvai Shanmughi, in Udayapuram Sultan, he came as a Namboothiri. We like the characters we create. When are you going back to the place where you started – direction?
SKT/UK: Once we took advance for directing a movie, but then got busy as script writers. Some planning went on to direct a movie with Mammotty, but that also did not happen. Our last question. Other than AMMA’s new movie, what are your other projects?
SKT/UK: Shafi’s new film, K. Madhu’s film, Johnny Antony’s film. Thanks a lot for taking time from your busy schedule to talk with us.
UK/SKT: Thank you very much.

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