A Blog on Cinema

What ails Malayalam Cinema – Part 4


(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, 2 and 3 were published earlier. Today’s contributor is Jo – Editor)

Two days back I was in a movie hall in Trivandrum, to watch Yes Your Honor with my friends. I heard good reviews about the movie and there is Srinivasan in the lead role and so I had high expectations. There was a family sitting besides us with their kid. As the movie began to show the title credits, the kid started to cry. Not that she was hungry or wanted to go home, but the opening scenes throughout the end of the beginning credits were so violent. The parents were trying to cover the kid’s eyes. That one incident made me realize what ails Malayalam cinema. It’s the urge to copy the ways of other language movies and the lack of originality. We are not what we were. We lost the identity because we are not original anymore.

What do we see now in the Malayalam cinema these days? Gory and violent scenes that you see in the movies like Yes Your Honor, overload of obscene dialogues like we hear in the superstar movies, larger-than-life characters coming again and again like the oldest wine in the old bottle, sizzling young girls dancing and running around with the 50+ superstars – All of these were usually seen only in the other movie industries in South India like Tamil, Telugu or Kannada. But now we have all of it in Malayalam and the day is not so far when we will not be able to differentiate Malayalam cinema from the rest anymore.

Who is to blame? I will blame it mostly on the directors who make such crappy movies even though most of them blame the superstars for it. I can guess the superstars are ruling the lot in the Malayalam cinema and they might even be interfering upto a level in the script and all, but can you blame it ALL on them? Mammootty still proves his acting talents with his latest Karuttha Pakshikal, or Mohan Lal excels in one of the best roles he had like Major Mahadevan in Keerthichakra. Even the young guns like Prithviraj cannot say they cannot grow because of the superstars, because these two M’s are the gems of Malayalam cinema (I know they do more bad movies than worthy movies though) and if they are surviving, that’s because of the talents they have.

I think a director like Lal Jose is going to save Malayalam cinema. His recent movies like Chaandupottu, Achanurangaathe Veedu Classmates were commercial and critical successes. One can see a responsible, cinema-loving director in him. Or take Blessy, or Shyama Prasad or Roshan Andrews. We have a number of young and up-coming directors who have that flair in them for cinema and they have shown it. On the other hand we saw that even a crisp movie like Keerthichakra couldn’t do without a song sequence that has camera goes all the way to show Lakshmi Gopalaswamy’s tummy in the full screen, more than once. Who decides that it is needed to pull junta into theatres?

Where are the good old tie-ups like Hariharan-MT, I.V. Sasi-MT, Padmarajan-Bharathan or Sibi Malayil-Lohitadas? The major problem is we have so many good stories and story writers, but still our directors do not look around to dig some good stories from good story writers and find some good script-writers and make a good cinema. They just try to copy movies from Tamil or Hindi. They fly abroad to shoot the song sequences. They import sizzlers from Bollywood. When such a team like the above mentioned comes up, we will be saved. Recent example is Classmates.

Author: Jo

For bloggers, Jo needs no introduction. He is a wonderful singer, composer, website designer and the creator of the first Malayalam podcast on Internet.


  1. Jo – Interesting observations

    * I agree with you that its not fair to blame them for each and everything. The directors – who dare to experiment – barring lal Jose, Blessy (I know you are pretty harsh on him at himes but he brings a refreshing change to the “setup”) – but unfortunately the good movies are bombing all the time. Achan urangatha veedu was critically very well acclaimed but was not accepted by the audience. But a Thuruppugulan which had the worst comedies seen in recent times (scenes like Mammotty stamping on a 6 year old’s foot while taking dancing lessons an example) – becoming a hit. I think our audience tastes have changed a lot – they used to appreciate good cinema once upon a time – but now chances are about 2/10 that a good movie would succeed.

    * Credit to Lal Jose for not being formulaic by making another campus film and instead going for a totally different change of subject – labour problems in dubai which is a very relevant subject. However one Lal Jose alone dont constitute malayalam cinema. I feel its our veterans like Joshiey and IV Sasi who are making the same formula movies ad nauseum. They should be given VRS.

    * About Keerthichakra, even I “noticed” your observation. Initially I thought it was just an aberration but when the camera again zoomed in I realised it did not. Pity our directors have to use such cheap gimmicks for making the people flock to the theatres

    * As regards Yes your honour I read the reviews that it was a good movie. Maybe they are wrong

  2. The reason that I’m harsh on Blessy is because I like him and I have high hopes on him. 🙂 I think he just needs to be more focused and we will have an excellent film maker out of him.

    Regarding Yes Your Honor, it is funny to see that the movie being discussed in the programs like Nammal Thammil in Asianet, just because Sreenivasan is in the lead role. I think the time has come for Srinivasan to retire. The ‘comedy’ scenes in this movie by Srinivasan and Innocent would make you cry. Srini is kind of lost his flexibility in doing comedy. Perhaps the only saviour of that movie is Padma Priya. She is a real gift.

    Didn’t know about Lal Jose’s next project. That guy keeps surprising me with a variety of subjects.

  3. Sreenivasan was OK in Udayanaanu Thaaram. But in BharagvaCharitham he looked very old and jaded and he was romancing Nikhita!!!

    Time he started writing more rather than acting.

    Lal Jose’s next project is on the labour problems faced by malayali labourers in Dubai. Hero is Sreenivasan

  4. Pingback: varnachitram » Blog Archive » What ails Malayalam Cinema - Part 6

  5. British Magazine names Navya Nair ”Indian Portait of Beauty”

    British Magazine ‘Popsicle’ studied faces of 300 actresses and models late this summer, before homing in on Malyali actress Navya Nair. She will now be conferred the Indian Portait Award for 2008 by the Magazine’s Editors in London. the pageant apparently comes with a citation and $ 2.5 million cash award.

    The actress expressed surprise at winning the pageant, saying she is “dumb struck.” She is considered one of Keral’s most talented actresses, finding favour with the masses and critics. Her mass appeal rivaled only by Shobhana.

    Navya shot to fame with her massive hit, Nandanam and has amassed awards from all corners since her debut. Born Dhanya Nair in 1984 sheis noted for her portrayal of the typical Malyali girl in various movies. She debuted in the Malayalam film Ishtam (2001). She bagged the Kerala State Award for the Best Actress in 2002 for the film Nandanam and again in 2005 for her performance in films Kanne Madanguka and Saira.

  6. Anjum, Good info. But Iam curious to know, why you posted it under “What ails Malayalam cinema”

  7. Does Lakshmi Gopalaswamy have that gorgeous a tummy to make people flock to the cinemas? LoL

  8. “Keerthichakra couldn’t do without a song sequence that has camera goes all the way to show Lakshmi Gopalaswamy’s tummy in the full screen, more than once”

    That is one of Malayalam cinema’s main faults.
    The stupid compromises Keralite filmmakers take to
    make their films a financial success.
    Even Blessy has done it.

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