We are back!

4 years looks like an eternity in Malayalam Cinema. While the landscape is almost unrecognizable since then, not all changes are bad. While we are thrilled at the infusion of young actors and cool ideas, we still yearn for the giant talents of the past. They are still slots that will remain vacant for foreseeable future.

We are not mindlessly fawning over Tamil or Telugu movies. Our movies are getting recognition and acceptance across India. We are regularly making 140+ movies a year and with the proliferation of multiplexes success rates are also high.

Our super stars are still around, surviving on marketing gimmicks.Neither of them has acted in a meaningful movie after 2014. While their recent hits won’t stand the test of time, they make sure that their legacies are intact, following the nepotistic trends seen elsewhere in India. Not to take away the talents of their progenies, some of them are talented. It’s heartening to see some of the new actors taking the position on top solely based on their talent and cinematic acumen.

While speaking of superstars, it is also important to mention supporting actors. They are what gave an edge to the superstars. When you share the screen with Thilakan or Nedumudi Venu, your acting goes up a notch. Now there is no one to give that edge.

One of the things we are missing is the raw talents that made malayalam movie music stand out – we are very short on that department. Raveendran and Johnson remain memories.

Talking about decline, we cannot avoid talking about moral decline. Last year, we had one of the darkest chapters in Malayalam movie history. An actress was molested and we have the fans of the perpetrator(of course not guilty until proven)who see things in black and white. They say that the success of a movie vindicates the pronouncements of the perpetrator. Are things that simple? This does not vindicate the 100% literacy we are so proud. We salute the courageous actress(es) who have taken a stand and stood up against misogyny.

We will posting regularly with our usual style. There will be movie reviews and analysis, all done with a critical eye. So for those who missed us, — We are baaaack.

George of the Jungle

According to news, PC George is ranting against Mammootty. According to PC George, people like Mammootty, who is above the age of 60, should give way to youngsters.

“People who are as past 60 should stop acting and give way to younger stars,” said George at the assembly recently. “There are some people who are trying to continue acting even after they turn 90,” he added.

Hmm.. Let’s see. PC George is a politician and Mammootty is an actor. So we have lot of respect for Mammootty and think politicians are below the idiots who run fan clubs. Now that we have that sorted out, lets look at the logic behind the statement. PC George has set an arbitrary age for retirement of actors. If PC George has such a rule, it should apply to everyone and may be even for politicians. So PC George is 62 years old and immediately after he made the statement, he should have resigned to be a role model, after all you would think that governing is a bit more critical than acting. But then PC George has found a balance, he thinks he can combine both these skills. He should have asked his boss, the 80 year old, to quit as well. Following this he should ask for most of the legislature to quit. After that he could ask the Prime Minister also to quit. Once all that is done, PC George could find employment by starting the Poonjar branch of Mammotty fans club and welfare association because there is no age limit and no brain power required. It will also be one level above his current job.

PS: Anyone who says Mammootty is old is blind. He’s like Benjamin Button aging backwards.

Mazhavil AMMA

Recently AMMA had a huge program in Dubai and Kochi. The star power was overwhelming and pretty much every superstar or young actor or rising stars were there. As usual, Malayalees displayed their inferior mentality and spent time singing and dancing to Tamil and Hindi songs. But the rate of other language songs have decreased a lot compared to previous such programs.

As you look at the glamour behind AMMA activities, you see that the tentacles of the organization are everywhere. They make movies, conduct stage programs, offer donations to film actors who are in bad financial state etc. They also provide entertainment by fighting with other organizations and banning actors who won’t toe the AMMA line. All of this sounds fair since actors should have their own organization to have some unity and fight against exploitation by others.

But then we also have to look at the other side of such organizations. Any organization, if you can imagine, is pyramidal in structure, whether they are trade unions or political parties or corporations or NGOs. At the top of the pyramid are leaders, for example, people like Idavela Babu, whose contribution to Malayalam cinema is slightly greater than 0. Then there is pretty much everyone else who has done much to bring entertainment, money and jobs. Now irrespective of your contribution to cinema, the problem with the pyramidal structure is that the people at the top get to control people. If people deviate from the commandments, they get punished.  Just ask Thilakan or Meera Jasmine. In such a situation, the organization which was created to prevent exploitation becomes the exploiter. It is like the Drohkaal situation where the interrogator gets interrogated.

A counter argument is that people who join AMMA are joining the organization voluntarily. So if they voluntarily submit to such abuse, then it is OK. The counter-counter argument to that is this question. If an actor disagrees with AMMA, can he find work?  From Thilakan’s experience we know that life can be hard.  Or look at Meera Jasmine. Or look at Suresh Gopi. He has disagreements with AMMA and they presented a skit in which he was ridiculed. It is this high school ragging mentality which makes us question organizations like AMMA even though it has put out lofty goals as its ideal.

Today, Malayalam film industry is being propelled by the so called New Generation movies. In the last few years there’s is an explosion in number of movies, and there is a huge number of new actors and technicians facilitating  this huge revival. Are these folks getting represented in these organizations? Or are these organizations tools for the old guard to keep their control on the proceedings?

Ranjan Pramod is back

When Photographer sank, so did it’s director Ranjan Pramod. An exceptionally talented screen writer, who had penned scripts for  movies like Naran, Meesa Madhavan,  Achuvinte Amma, we were baffled by his absence. With Rose Guitarinal, he’s resurfaced.  His comeback will be an asset for the resurgent Malayalam cinema. That said, we were surprised by his recent comment, that Photographer is instrumental for the new wave of Malayalam cinema .  But if you think about it, that is true. The movie was so terrible that it became a guideline for film makers on what not to do.

PS:  We started this post before the reviews of  Rose Guitarinal were out, looks like it’s going Photographer way.

VC Quiz – 3 (With Answers)

(A while back, we used to run these quizzes and they stopped. Trying to revive it)

  1. Name the director who has directed the most number of Malayalam films: Sasikumar
    1. Bonus question Who is second?: I V Sasi
  2. The song “Pichaka poongavukalkumappuram” from No 20 Madras Mail was sung by M G Sreekumar and composed by Ousepachan. The programmer for this song is now a famous music director himself. Who is he? A R Rahman. Vidyasagar also assisted with this song.
  3. Few decades back, this famous actor was producing a movie. At that time S Janaki was the most popular singer. This actor then noticed that the Music Director, M G Radhakrishnan was making a young girl called Chitra sing the songs of the movie since S Janaki was not available. At that moment, the actor recollected in a recent interview, “I could have told Radhakrishnan to wait for a few days and get Janaki, but I just let it go”. That film gave a break to Chitra. The actor in the interview vehemently refused to take credit for giving a break to Chitra and insisted that the credit should go to M G Radhakrishnan alone. Who is this actor-producer? Madhu
  4. Before Jayaram became a film actor he was a mimicry artiste. One day Yesdas saw his act and was impressed and took him along with him for his stage shows. When Jayaram recollected this at a recent stage show, another veteran actor came up on stage and said that once upon a time he too was a mimicry artiste along with his friend. Yesudas saw their act and took both of them along with him. This actor is one of the best Malayalam has ever seen. His friend turned out to be a director who created numerous hits including one of the best movies ever created in Malayalam cinema. Who are these duo? – Nedumudi Venu and Fazil
  5. An interesting topic on VC these days is 1986. This 1986 movie gave a break to Geetu Mohandas as an actress, G Venugopal as a singer and Mohan Sithara as a Music Director. Which movie was it? Onnu Muthal Poojyam Vare

Answers will be posted in a week

PS: We are not approving any comments with answers for this Quiz for next week or so.

Precision Casting

(Reader Sebastian left the following comment. We think this is an important point that deserves furthur discussion – Ed)

Casting is not an easy task. It requires great precision and craft. An apt casting is as important as the script since a loose script can be compensated a bit by a perfect casting (only a little bit) while a taut script can b spoiled by senseless casting. For instance ‘Indian rupee’ is a movie of excellnt screenplay.. Renjith showed his talent & boldness by casting Thilakan & Tiny Tom to the roles of Achutha Menon & C.H respectively. Can you imagine Suraj in the role of C.H?. How horrible it would be!.. Probably he would have been the 1st option, if the movie was done by another director especially someone like Saji Surendran.

We have seen some magical feats with casting which made us think that the actor was born only to perform that partcular character….
Which is the most effective, apt & brilliant casting in the history of malayalam cinema? Can you guess?…That’s nothing other than featuring N.N.Pillai in the role of Ajooran in Godfather..

There are several examples for casting precision..

  1. Achan kunju in Lorry
  2. Shobhana in Manichitratazhu
  3. Salim Ghoush in Thazhvaram
  4. Babu Antony in Poovinu Putiya poonthennal
  5. Nassar in Gazal
  6. Prathap Pothan in Thakara.
  7. Saleema in Aranyakam
  8. Rasheed in Oridathoru Fayalavan
  9. Manoj K jayan in Sargam

None of these (except Shobhana) had been established in malayalam cinema when they were choosen to these films. And they were engaged to do these characters by some master craftmen who knew the art of casting..

(I never forget the great roles played by M&M, Thilakan, Jagathi, Bharat Gopi, Nedumudi etc. But the above characters deserve special mention..).