A Blog on Cinema

Oscar for Best Fiction


Recently reader Abhilash sent a link to this article which talks about the sad state of Malayalam cinema and blames it on the superstars. The article says:

The sad thing is that once they were prophets of good movies and were
part of them but now they are not promoting such movies. In fact, they
are not ready to do movies with award winning directors! They are not
promoting newcomers either.

We would have believed this word, for word – if we were living in Mars! Even politicians don’t make up this much. So instead of explaining this, lets have a short quiz. Please name the director of the following movies and check if they have won any awards before?

  • Ore Kadal
  • Akasha Gopuram
  • Paradesi

Also please tell us if the following people – people who directed Mammotty and Mohanlal – can be called newcomers?

  • Roshan Andrews
  • Amal Neerad
  • Major Ravi
  • Blessy
  • Anwar Rasheed

What about “good movies” like Katha Parayumbol, Kayyoppu, Palunku or Rajamanickyam?  Do you know who co-produced Kaiyoppu?

This brings us a question: why doesn’t Mammootty and Mohanlal act only in “good movies” as defined by the author. Since Pradeep Thomas has not produced a movie neither have we,  it is better to listen to someone who has produced a “good movie” like Ananthabhadram. Do you know why people make movies like Chotta Mumbai and C.I.D Moosa? Also do you know what happened to the producers who produced good movies like Kanne Madanguka or Adayalangal?

Another point. Even if Mammotty and Mohanlal act in “good movies” it can flop. Ask the producer of   Paradesi or Akasha Gopuram.

See the point is before you make blanket statements like they don’t do movies with award winning directors or don’t promote newcomers in a literate state like Kerala, you are displaying your ignorance.

Amma and Macta are the prominent unions of Malayalam movie artistes.
Recently, film director Vinayam charged Mammootty of evicting members
of a particular union from sets. The caucus is so strong that they can
even remove a senior artiste like Thilakan from movies. Now he is
acting in sidelined movies

Then why is Thilakan acting with Mohanlal in Red Chillies? It is not so simple isn’t it? Do you know what Mammotty and Mohanlal said about Thilkan when he bought all those caste issues into focus?

Mammootty and Mohanlal are like trees in a giant forest where they will not allow other trees to grow.

Then please explain to us how Suresh Gopi, Jayaram, Dileep, and Prithviraj acted in super hit films in the past decade. Forget about them, do you remember a movie called Oru Arabikatha? After a bunch of drivel, the article becomes comical.

If an aspiring director approaches these stars, they will fix all the
technicians and even actors according to their desire. They will
rewrite the script and will change the concept of the movie. They even
fix the budget and the locations (where they can easily reach in their
own vehicles). If the newcomer does not agree with it the project fails
to take off. Ultimately, good films are not produced.

Both Mammotty and Mohanlal live in Chennai. If they wanted locations where they can easily reach, most of their films would be filmed in Chennai. Was Kargil so easily accessible that Mohanlal agreed to shoot Kurukshetra there? Was the forests of Wynad nearby that Mammotty agreed to film Pazhassi Raja there.

Pradeep Thomas hates superstars, which is fine but has made wild generalizations without any basis. It shows that high literacy does not imply high in logical thinking. Finally he comes up with this prediction.

In such a situation, you cannot see a film like ‘Paruthiveeran’ or
‘Subrahmanniyapuram’ being produced in Kerala. You will be forced to
watch below average films at your expense! The superstars are spoiling
Malayalam film industry in all sense.

This exact question was asked to Kamal Hassan by Johnny Lukose. We will let you hear his answer .

Finally the article fails to suggest a way around. Let’s say, both Mohanlal and Mammotty stop acting tomorrow. Will there be proliferation of “good movies” which are shot in locations preferred by the director than the actor which will bring box office success? Who is going to write those movies? Who is going to direct them? It’s easy to complain, we accept it as a part of growing up. Grownups try to find solutions.


  1. The bare truth is that we don’t have enough scripts that can both entertain and make people think.

    There have been the occasional ‘art’ movies, but what elements did those movie had which one wanted to go to the theatres and watch? For example, Ore Kadal was a movie taken with a good intention, but isn’t it true that the movie lacked any interest element in it? The dialogues were much like in our old dramas.

    Adultery and other ‘taboo’ subjects were crafted so beautifully by Padmarajan-Bharathan era. Their success was in making the movie enjoyable to watch. Till the time some bright new scriptwriters enter, we will need to be satisfied with the mindless crap we are currently being fed! 🙂

  2. I guess that guy can’t see the big picture.

  3. Ramesh made a good point there. The art films of today tackle complex subjects. However, they are presented terribly; some of them, including Ore Kadal, dragged on too much As a result,the average person wouldnt pay to go to the theater to go and watch it. How many Adoor Gopalakrishnan movies became hits? These directors tackle very complex subjects, but, if they also made an effort to entertain, they would be reaching out to more people.

    In the past, many of the directors, such as Padmarajan, Bharathan, and Sibi Malayil blended art with enertainment, and many of their movies still remain in our memories today. Movies like Amaram, Thaniyavarthanam and Thoovana Thumbikal are examples. In my opinion, Arabikatha was one example of such a movie in recent years. Hopefully, directors and scriptwriters will start making more of such movies.

  4. I believe Blessy is one of the few current directors that comes close with producing both entertaining but also thoughtful movies.

  5. I guess you guys miss the so called “middle-stream” films…

  6. I would also include Madhupal’s Thalappavu in the “example of such a movie in recent years” list. It was grt! awesome! Madhupal should make more films. I still remember the Vertigo shots in the movie and interesting with the non-linear narrative .

    Though I wonder, how did it do at the BO? it doesn’t seem to be getting much attention…

  7. The point is Malayalam industry is still fully dominated and controlled by these 2 aging super stars. If no new blood is given a chance, the industry will die once their time is over.

    But look at Tamil. Rajni and Kamal do only 2 or 3 movies a year. And there are lots of young actors getting ample chances.

  8. @KK

    At the end it all depends on you and me- the audience.
    Its the audience that makes some one a star.
    Both the M and M don’t have any sort of control over this.
    Since they are in demand, naturally, they will get more offers
    towards their way.

    If more new blood needs to enter, the audience will have to
    watch more such films and make it a financial success.
    Then only will more producers go after such films since they
    know such films could become a commercial success.

    The thing with Tamil cinema is that, those films
    starring the so called “youth” do well at the BO.

  9. “… I don’t think literacy is the reason we produce award-winning films. It is not the film going public that give the awards. Nor are these films commercially successful. Besides people are interested in watching commercial films. So I don’t think our efforts to make good films have anything to do with literacy or the high aesthetic value of the people of Kerala.

    We have a few very committed and enthusiastic people who love film as a creative medium, and who have the burning drive to make good films.

    They are our strength. And it is our duty to appreciate their efforts.”


  10. The problem isnt with Mammootty and Mohanlal. Tamil has “youth” stars, but what good are most of their movies? Of course, there are a handful, like Subramaniapuram for example, but a good portion of it is commercial crap.. What i mean by that is movies with wafer thin script and heavy on the item dances, etc. Of course commercial movies are not all terrible. But when the same stuff happens over and over again, then it becomes a different story, whether its 60 year old Rajnikanth or a relatively young actor like Vijay.

    Of course its good to have new actors, and Mohanlal and Mammootty should start playing their age..But that doesnt mean that they should go away. Prem Nazir was in his fifties in the late 70s, when he released a record number of films. And in the early eighties, he had several superhits..Karyam Nissaram, for example. He played his age in the film. Yet, it became a superhit..It was a good film with a good script.

    The problem is with scriptwriters and directors. A good solid movie, with good script, should do well. Its not a matter of who is in the movie. When script and direction gain prominence, then new actors will get their chance.

    Basically, its not Mohanlal and Mammootty, but its their superstar image that is the problem. They are among the best actors in the country, if not the world. But once their superstar image comes into play, then the movie is geared more towards that image instead of script, or direction. That’s why nowadays, Mammootty and Mohanlal always fight fifteen people at once without getting scratched.

    And when there is a little bit of that element, then people will watch the movie to see Mohanlal or Mammootty, not as much to see a good movie. So, directors and producers work with that, and as a result, there’s not as much incentive or chance for new actors.

    Not to mention that none of them seem to show Mammootty or Mohanlal’s ability. Even Prithviraj, cannot match what Mohanlal and Mammootty did at the same stage of his career (about 7-8 years into acting; Prithviraj started around 2002, so that makes him 7 years into acting). Movies like Thalavattam and Thaniyavarthanam came when M & M were at this staage in their career.

    Perhaps the problem is more complex..A mixture of superstardom, lack of good scripts. So even if there is talent, there are few to exploit that talent.

  11. I made a lot of generalizations in that post, but this is what I think are some of the problems in the cinema field in Malayalam, and especially in Tamil and Telugu. Except in Tamil and Telugu, superstardom and lack of good script are even bigger problems. Aside from the occassional film.

  12. correction: “Except THAT in tamil and telugu, superstardom and lack of good script are bigger problems.”

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