A Blog on Cinema

What ails Malayalam cinema – Part 2


(As mentioned in the 1st Anniversary Post, this is a series on “What Ails Malayalam Cinema”. Unni has written a three part article on this topic. Part 1 of his series was published yesterday. – vc)

Sky Rocketing Superstar fees

Its common knowledge that 60% of a superstar movie movie’s cost, is the remuneration for the super star. Mohan Lal is rumored to earn close to 75 lakhs and Mammotty around 60 lakhs. Dileep, the upcoming mimicry star is earning around 50 lakhs.

The superstars always hike their prices in the event of a hit movie. But they never reduce their cut when a movie flops. There are instances where the stars compensate for a flop by doing another movie with the same producer. Ranjith’s Prajapathi flopped and Mammotty helped him do Kaiyoppu, for free. Such instances are however very rare in our dog-eat-dog film industry. Everyone wants to stay on top of the market.

Producers are primarily to be blamed for hiking the stars fees. They agree to pay the desired fee for the superstar at the bat of an eyelid -only to whine later about how a superstar harassed him to no end. An example of this was witnessed when Liberty Basheer spoke of Mammotty’s extravagant tastes in Balram vs Tharadas – from importing Katrina Kaif to shooting extensively in Dubai and with costly Hummers.

Additionally there are the stars’ “incidental expenses” – cost for 7 pairs of Raybans, 35 pair of Jockeys, 32 silk Shirts (ala Hitler) all add to the poor producer’s woes. If it is an actress, there’s the cost involved for the makeup man, ayah or Mom and Dad in 5 star comforts, transport to and from locations etc.

This is best illustrated in Udayanaanu Thaaram, where Pachalam Bhasi reels off a long list of items that Rajappan Thengumoodu needed during shooting – Badam Juice, Kunkuma Poo etc.

Superstar rates like Petrol and Diesel prices need to be regulated.

Video Piracy

Filmmakers often blame video piracy as the major reason for the failure of Malayalam movies. This is only partially true, as movies become hits even if the camera prints are out very soon. The recent events however presented a very bleak picture as even policemen were found to be hand-in-glove with the perpetrators.

Incidentally, to curb video piracy, movies like Baba Kalyani have been released only in Kerala for the first three weeks – the period that generates the maximum revenue.

Foreign Locations

Some of our producers have a fetish for foreign locations and consider it as a must for the success for a movie. Having foreign location does help, as a vast majority of us Malayalees have not been to Europe or Australia or New Zealand. But it is not a must for a sure-fire success.

Joshiey is one of the worst offenders in this category. His movies like Runway (Thailand), Lion (New Zealand), Dubai (Dubai) are examples. Kamal is also not to be left behind with Swapnakoodu (Austria) and Manjupoloru Penkutty (France). The hero and heroine just jet set for a song and dance sequence, testing the patience of the audience.

What the directors and producers should understand is that Foreign Locations only help to a certain extent. It’s the story that is paramount.

Also one doesn’t need to look any further than our Gods Own country to shoot songs – look how beautifully Sathyan Anthikad captured Thodupuzha and Vagamon in Rasathantram and Manasinakkare. Incidentally, more and more directors from Bollywood and Kollywood are looking to Kerala for shooting songs/movies – No less than the Big B for Nishabd in Munnar , Abhishek and Aishwarya for Maniratnam’s Guru (Athirampally/Vazhachaal), Kamal/Jyothika (Vettayadu Vilayudu), SRK/Preity Zinta for Dil Se (Thekkady) are examples.

It’s a classic case of Muttathe Mullakku Manamilla for some of our film-makers who ignore the beauty of our own place and go abroad


  1. Pingback: varnachitram » Blog Archive » What ails Malayalam Cinema - Part 3

  2. Dileep is “upcoming mimicry star” ???? As far as I know he used to perform mimicry a long time back, then he became an assistant director and then an actor. As an actor he has successfully done crude comedies like CID Moosa as well as entertainers like meesha madhavan and chanthu pottu and serious movies like kathavaseshan. so your usage of “upcoming” is misplaced. he has been around for a while. “upcoming” should be used for people like naren/sunil. also your usage of “mimicry star” is also misplaced.

  3. Boss you ar wrong within a week of its release in Kochi, Baba Kalyani was released in Coimbatore, and please do not describe dileep as an upcoming mimicry star

  4. Mahesh – Maybe you are aright. What i wrote was based on the information I read in sify/now running

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