A Blog on Cinema

Malayali Inferiority Complex (2)


Tamil film ‘Subramaniapuram’ got the pathbreaking film of the year award and the best film promoting national integration went to director Major Ravi for ‘Kurukshetra.[The Hindu : Friday Review Thiruvananthapuram / Cinema : Celebrating cinema]

This happened at the Idea Mathrubhumi Amrita Film Awards (MAFA) and really tells the story of how pathetic the state of Malayalam cinema is.

At a Malayalam film function we give an award to Subramaniapuram for path breaking film. We have seen Subramaniapuram and it is a path breaking film indeed, but it is a Tamil film. Now what? We have become like Academy of Motion Pictures giving awards to various other language films? Now why stop with Tamil films or Indian films. Let’s give some awards to Danny Boyle, Kate Winslet, and Sean Penn too. This time Sonu Nigam was the main performer. Next time let us try to get Thomas Newman.

What do you think? Before posting your comment read about The Malayali Inferiority Complex and the discussion that followed.


  1. I guess you’ll have to ask those Amrita TV guys…

  2. I agree..You dont see tamil movie channels giving out awards for malayalam movies.

    But, there isnt many malayalam movies to choose from..if you look at just sheer numbers..According to, 28 movies were released in 2008 (although i read 54 somewhere else) as opposed to 62 in opposed to 133 in 1985!

    So, it might be an inferiority complex, or just not enough Malayalam movies to select from..Could be both

    • George, the point you make about the small number of movies is a very valid one. But let us offer a counter argument. Few years back, a small movie called Kanne Madanguka, was made. The movie director sent it to few film festivals and he himself had to paste the posters around. We saw the movie and it was indeed well made. It bought into focus a very relevant issue – traficking of women – in a non boring way. The movie won some awards too, but as usual, was not exhibited much publicly (We posted a review of the movie too).

      Now imagine, if in such an award ceremony, when all the stars, all the imported stars are present, one such labor of love is rewarded publicly, how much would that mean to that film maker. Instead we see the sorry state where we are honoring people from other states – but are not willing to promote good movies from our state, and then lamenting about superstars and what not.

      What do you think?

    • You should tried spkeaing to her in Urdu. I am serious.:)There is a certain dialect of Urdu called Dakhni spoken by the southern Muslim settlers and if I am not mistaken, this woman’s facial features and jewellery style seems like those people who have probably spread out from Mysore to Coorg. How can I say this? For 2 reasons. Firstly, in my childhood in the New Mangalore Port town quarters, there was this lovely Muslim family from Mysore in our neighbourhood, with milky white skin and aristocratic features and they used to speak this sweet-sounding Dakhni Urdu dialect. We are still in touch with them. The old woman of that household used to wear similar jewellery. (The woman in this picture does not look posh though.) The Dakhni dialect is an amalgamation of various southern Indian languauges plus it includes Arabic, Persian and Turkish words. In Konkani, we used to refer to those people as ‘Turk-yanchie’ meaning a reference to people of Turkish origin.Secondly, I like to learn about languages. I can read, write, and speak 7 languages and that excludes Sanskrit that I learned in school. Phew! Long comment Lakshmi, apologies.

  3. Thats absolutely true..They should promote Malayalam movies, and it seems out of place when they give awards to Tamil films instead. Even though the industry is releasing a tiny fraction of what it once produced, there are good movies..But people often turn a cold shoulder to those movies. Subramaniapuram was a well appreciated movie by the tamil audience. However, many good movies made by Malayalam are not watched by the same people who lament about them. As a result directors think that it is more risky to release those movies. But still, i do agree that Malayalam movie channels should definitely promote good Malayalam movies.

    On a side note, I think the Kannada movie industry went down this track as well, where movie releases went down, movies from other industries gained even more prominence. Now, the Kannada movie industry is in shambles. Of course there are movies still being released, but they dont do nearly as well as the tamil (and even Malayalam) movies released in the same place. My greatest fear for Malayalam cinema is that it, too, could go down this path.

  4. vc, as greatbong had pointed out, the reason slumdog won so many oscars was probably that the academy awards were declining in popularity and the concerns regarding profitability resulted in them giving awards to a popular movie. Perhaps this is similar.

  5. I would support awarding ‘path-breaking’ Tamil movies. Provided our own movie makers feel insulted by this and make better movies this year. There is no harm in competing with a neighbouring state which makes better movies than us.

  6. “vc, as greatbong had pointed out, the reason slumdog won so many oscars was probably that the academy awards were declining in popularity and the concerns regarding profitability resulted in them giving awards to a popular movie. Perhaps this is similar.”

    Slumdog has Fox and Warner behind it, that’s the Hollywood connection it has even though the producer is British. I’m pretty sure the HW Studios gave most of the $$ of the budget.

    But if one looks at the BO performance of that film, the reason why it has made more than $200 million (w/ a budget of 15million) is because of its Oscar nominations in January.

  7. I also disagree to the fact that Subramaniapuram was given an award in a ceremony to celebrate excellence for cinema in Kerala.

    Having said that, there is no problem in giving awards to other language films if it is watched and appreciated by the same audiences. However, there should be a criteria for selecting these movies, and should be categorised properly.

  8. It’s not correct to draw comparisons between subramanyapuram and Slum Dog – Slum Dog is an English language movie and Hollywood studios were involved in producing and distributing it. Giving an award to Tamil movie in a Malayalam movie award function is beyond any logical reasoning. It’s not only inferiority complex – it’s a sign of surrender too. Let us adopt Tamil movies rather than trying to make better movies.

  9. Actually film critic Roger Ebert predicted an Oscar nomination way back in November 2008, when he saw it at the Toronto film festival (Sept 08).

    The article is timed at Nov, the film at the time only had a limited release in the US.

  10. Guys, please be a wee bit more careful before recklessly diving in with counter-arguments and cutting capers. My point was not to compare the appropriateness of awarding Subramaniapuram to that of awarding slumdog. I was only saying that economic factors may force organizers of functions to take strange decisions. The slumdog example was merely for the sake of an example – I haven’t seen the movie, and was only trying to paraphrase an argument of greatbong. If that particular example happens to be flawed, that still doesn’t contradict the general argument that the survival instincts of those organizing the award ceremonies could have dictated the turn of events.

  11. this post made me roll on the floor laughing 🙂

  12. Been following this thread for a long time and the way people have reacted to this is very interesting. I live in Hyderabad and also pointed this article to my friends here who are from Kerala (I am a Tamil born and bought up in Trivandrum) and still ONLY watch Big M movies or watch the 90’s movies in these same channels. They didn’t seem concerned at all , one of them even arguing that Malayalam cinema no longer interests him and he prefers watching bollywood movies .

    A case in point is “Thirakatha” is releasing tomorrow here with only 1 show and nobody is ready to accompany me for the movie (I am going nevertheless),some of them have not even “heard” of the movie or others just enquire about the actors and as soon as it’s not M & M they say they are not interested. I was shocked because all of them turned up for “Madambi” and “Roudram” and of course “T:20” and I gave up trying to tell them that this is one of the good movies in Malayalam in recent times.
    The fear that Malayalam cinema will go down the gutter is not true – it has already gone down for people living outside Kerala and once the “Superstars” hang up their boots its curtains .Just remember it has already happened to the Kannada film industry.

    This is where the media both print and visual has to support and also why the above mentioned award ceremony is not in good taste.

    PS : The screen showing “Thirakatha” is only 30 % filled (till today 11 AM) for a mallu movie which in all probability is the only show we would be getting in Hyderabad. 🙁

  13. Pingback: Innocent, AMMA, Kamal Hassan | varnachitram

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