(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 Lalâ€™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 doesnâ€™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 â€˜Vasthavamâ€™ 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 â€˜Indiavisionâ€™ 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 rivalâ€™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.