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What ails Malayalam Cinema – Part 5

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(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 Raphel Lazar – Editor)

In the last 3-4 years we were witnessing a highly disturbing trend in the Malayalam Film Industry. Initially it was the wave of soft porn movies, which constituted over 50% of the annual film production. Prominent directors secretly supported or were involved in these projects with some pet names – a secret known to everyone.

During these years, we witnessed the collapse of super star system of the two M’s, which ended up with a lone film for Mammootty in the year 2002. The impeding danger was handled in a rather whimsical fashion, which ended up with a fight between the bosses of Actors Association and Film Chamber. This helped to consolidate the individual group, barring a slight dissent note by the then emerging young star Prithviraj and supported by some prominent Directors and Producers like Lal, Kamal, Sibi, Vinayan, Siyad Kokker etc.

This led to the final consolidation of Super Stars and the Senior Directors and eventual isolation of the younger generation. The media, whole heartedly supported these move with many one sided articles, which highlighted the uselessness of investing in younger generation movies and the Super Stars along with some other stars tried all their might to prevent public from seeing such movies, which slowly made the general viewers to avoid going for them. Remember the wild celebration of the 25th year of Mohan Lal’s carrier, unearthing some portion of an unfinished movie, which he acted in 1978. His first movie was Manjil Virinja Poovu. To make his sagging carrier a boost with huge media support, this move was well planned by his coterie, which ended up as a resounding success as far as the public support is concerned.

The result, we can see from the sudden collapse of certain promising movies of other actors especially younger generation, which opened very well. Slowly with the support of media, especially some film weeklies, public started avoiding movies other than 2Ms and Dileep to some extend. The re-emergence of Suresh Gopi was only a temporary relief, since he doesn’t have any further variety to offer.

Though 2005 witnessed success of most of Super Star movies of any type, whether it a bad or good the year 2006 finally counted as the year in which everyone started getting the seeds of their yield. Except Classmates, which was only a phenomena all other movies bit the dust. Few other movies also successful in bringing family audience in to theaters like Rasathandram (it was an average movie and nothing special in it than the combo of Lal, Satyan and Meera) and Keerti Chakra primarily due to different treatment. All other movies attracted only the strong fan base of 2Ms. Dileep become an exhausted star, with regular failures and Suresh become a low budget action star who can survive with his brand of films only and that too a limited extend.

This is evident from the rejection of all the movies since Onam, except Classmates. Pothen Vava become an average success due to wild support by Mammootty fans, which struggling to finish 50 days in more than a single theater is of the fact that family audience fed up with repeat masala and avoid seeing these type of stuffs. The fate of Karuthapakshikal, which inspite of steller performance from Mammootty and wild media support along with whimsical canvassing by Kamal, is quite an eye opener. Similarly the movie ‘Vasthavam’ was one such type whose success would have been a sure bet, but went down rather meekly in spite of getting excellent reviews, spectacular acting and good word of mouth publicity.

This means the number of cine goers, which is normally very low in Kerala, become an all time low since the last two years, who came out only for two movies in the post Rajamanikyam era. For Classmates and Rasathandram. How media and film word worked towards the basic success of Thanmatra, which was struggling all through.

When ‘Indiavision’ conducted a polling in the Kalamassery (Ernakulam) Business School for Star of the week in the last week of November, 90 % of the respondents said that the last they saw was Classmates (they selected Prithvi as the star for the 5th time since the release of the movie), which shows the frequency of their visit to theaters.

Now, the strong fan base of 2Ms will bring some collection to all Mammotty and Lal movies initially, if they are of the genre Pothen, Samudram, Bhargavan (unbearable, but collected some 4 cr), Gulan, Balram etc. The serious younger Generation like students who constitute majority of the moviegoers, (it is based on their opinion their family come out and watch movies) moved towards Hindi and Tamil movies as a solace. This disturbing trend is the reason for rejection of some outstanding Youngsters like Naren, Prithvi. In any other state they would have been super stars, but not in Kerala. They have the looks, ability, but still public reject them. Still I believe any of the younger generation, will find it very difficult to make a movie run without the support of established directors, who are running after senior actors due to lack of confidence in themselves and in the younger generation. They believe the poor script and contents, which they provide will get override by the star effect, which is partially true. But this will end up in getting fewer family viewers, as they have other options in the name of entertainment.

If this trend continues the viewers will further shrink and the future of Malayalam Industry will be in Danger. Only the senior actors can save the Industry, by promoting youngsters and advising senior directors to support them. If this is not happening, and if they work only for their benefits, the Mallu Industry will eventually die down sooner than any one anticipated. This will definitely happen by the end of this decade. Just watch. The public apathy should change, by active participation of all. Now, an uncertainty and insecurity caught up with all the Super Stars, which force them to finish off rival’s movies.

In other language good movies will run irrespective of star, though stars will get some initial but not in Kerala by sheer word of mouth. Films like Kathal, Parijatham, Kanda Naal Mudal, Pattiyal, etc. to name a few. Only Classmates was an exception here, and couple of years back it was Achuvinte Amma, that too the total collection was not that great. It is high time all films world should rise above their petty selfishness and support the system to have a good future. Otherwise it is quite sure things will come to a stand still since public do not have anything to offer. The rush at the theaters, which run Hindi and Tamil movies and new found fan base for these stars, is an indication, which just cannot be ignored.

The problem is not with younger generation, but with the system the senior directors and actors brought in. Why the leading younger actors get good rating from other states, when our own system tries to find fault with them always. Why they cannot be compared with that age of the senior actors.

5 Comments

  1. Pingback: Bollywoodblog » Was Malayalam Kino ausmacht

  2. Raphel i totally agree with you. This is not it, this is just not it…in no point in the history of malayalam cinema has the fate of a film been so dependent on the fans-drawing power of a superstar more than the film’s script like in the past few years. never again in the history of malayalam films will movies like adaminte variyelle, yavanika, panchagni, nakhashtanghal, etc, etc which didnt have any of the superstars of those times starring and which had off-beat themes and yet became box office hits.

    i am particularly saddened by the failure of movies like vasthavam, karuthapakshikal, pakal which had a contemperory message to tell the audience. this year and last year saw some really talented young directors either make their debut or make an identity for themselves, like lal jose, padmakumar, roshan andrews, kukku surendran, vinu anand, anwar rasheed besides blessy and i think it is a positive change that will help replace the old guard of joshi, sibi malayil, fazil, rajasenan, shaji kailas, vinayan, etc, etc who refuse to go away unless they are kicked out!

    it is not a coincidence…everyone plz not that the most refreshingly different films in 2006 namely vasthavam, keerthichakra, palunku, pakal, oruvan, achanurangaatha veedu, classmates, etc had comparitively newcomers at the helm, either behind or in front of the camera. the sooner we malayalis switch our “fanatic” loyalties to the younger generation, the better!

  3. Raphel, very good post, it reminded me what Fazil said about Superstar trend; that it will turn Malayalam film industry into a “Shavaparambu”, I fear that it has already started happening.

    The other thing I find about younger actors is that the directors always try to give them roles in the superstar mould for e.g Vinayan’s ‘Sathayam’, Lohi ‘Chakaram’ etc. In recent years one can only find a ‘Classmates’, where the actors were not moulded into an image but played natural parts in a story.

  4. The down ride of Youngsetrs continue by media if we look at the latest Vellinakshtram weekly. What they are going to achive, is the patronage of the so called Super Stars. Even though almost all the movies of Suresh Gopi and Mammotty were flops (they simply said Turuppu Gulan account is not available whene they are given every details of other movie’s account, just to make a super hit in the name of Mammootty, we have personally seen Ernakulam (thirce in the second week)the poor performance of TG whene public were firing the theater (sarita Complex)owners of keeping it in a big theater whene they were returning home without getting ticket for Rasathandram, not bothered to watch TG though the theater was totally empty)they preferred to shower praise on them and repeatedly telling the youngsters are of no use. How the things will improve? What is the problem is giving some breathing space to youngsters? It will not eat in to the other senior actors.How long this Weeklys will survive. The time and water will always flow as long as the nature exists. Such selfishness of media and some filmwalas destroying the Industry. Every day huge promotion is being given to ‘Palunku’ to make it a sucess. Even Vellinakshatram went one step futher to make a huge one week share when the theaters were half empty even in Trivandrum.Do they need it when the director is Blessy and actor is Mammotty? On Sunday three morning programs in Chennels were based on it. On Monday again two programs. This shows the real panic in getting a success. We have reached that stage unfortunately, not confident of getting hit out of a man like Blessy directed Super star having a super quality movie. It seems the Super Star domination, the phenomenon of which will never see anywhere in the world will make sure the Mallu Industry will be over in a few years time. That is guranteed.

  5. Mammooty’s “weakest” year was ’03, where he only had “Pattalam”
    and “Chronic Bachelor”

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