Malayalam cinema is riding on a heady high, following some big successes in the first five months of the year and the clear winners are Prithviraj and Fahadh Fazil, writes Deepa Gauri
THIS YEAR, WITH more than 64 films released, in addition to five films dubbed from Telugu, the Malayalam film industry is squarely on revival mode led by the so-called new generation wave.
The year started off with a bang with Fahadh Fazil’s Annayum Rasoolum not only winning over the critics but also generating solid box office results, cementing Fahadh’s status as a bankable star. Also gaining attention was the Sunny Wayne starrer Nee Ko Njaa Cha, directed by Gireesh, which had all the trappings of the newly acquired tastes in the industry with a profusion of expletives and the works.
Now available on DVDs in the Gulf region, Nee Ko Njaa Cha features the story of three bachelors, one heart-broken, the other a playboy and the third, an aspiring filmmaker out on a trip to Goa. While the story takes viewers through convoluted scenarios, despite all its failings, it highlights the frivolousness of modern-day relationships. The film also takes on HIV infection in one of the most regressive fashions that could only set to reinforce the myths that campaigners have been trying to wipe out for years now.
Romans, a typical potboiler featuring the lucky pair of Kunchacko Boban and Biju Menon, re-energised the box office after a number of smaller, offbeat films such as Ente and Maad Dad failed to excite audiences.
The Mammootty-Dileep starrer, Kammath & Kammath, with all its stereotypes and clichéd narrative style, whipped up strong initials at the box office, while Lokpal, the Mohanlal starrer, after a heady start, was cold-shouldered.
Fahadh’s second outing this year, Natholi Cheriya Meenalla directed by VK Prakash, however, didn’t generate the buzz expected, while Prithviraj, who was going through a rather rough patch in Malayalam cinema, underlined his presence with the breathtaking film, Celluloid, directed by Kamal. The film went on to become a superhit and also clutched a series of awards.
Experimentation met mainstream narration throughout the past months. Red Wine, a Mohanlal-Fahadh Fazil, starrer emerged as a popular winner, with some creative twists to its narration; while Anoop Menon continued to disappoint and go down the hill with his now monopolised brand of humour with both David & Goliath and the recent Hotel California.
Jayaram redeemed himself with Lucky Star but faltered with last week’s Bharya Athra Pora, while the comeback vehicle of writer-director Ranjan Pramod, Rose Guitarinaal, was panned by audiences and critics.
The industry got an adrenaline rush with the success of debutant director and actor Joy Mathew’s Shutter, Fahadh’s Amen, Dileep’s Sound Thoma, Mammootty’s Immanuel, Kunchacko Boban-Biju Menon team’s 3 Dots, and last fortnight with Prithviraj’s Mumbai Police. Falling by the wayside was Mohanlal’s Ladies & Gentlemen, and a number of smaller films including Fahadh’s Akam, which had premiered about two years ago at the Dubai International Film Festival.
Most recently, the Nivin Pauly-Nazriya Nazim starrer Neram hit the jackpot in the very first week of release. Directed by debutant Alphonse Putharen, and distributed by Lal Jose’s LJ Films, has raked in bumper collections, primarily led by the teenybopper audience.
Although critical reviews have been mixed, the mass verdict is that the film is time-pass fun, catering to a youthful audience. While the performance of the lead pair has been appreciated, it is Manoj K Jayan and Shammi Thilakan, who have walked away with the honours, their small roles casting a powerful impact on the overall mood of the film.
The industry has an exciting roster of films lined up, and with the profusion of television channels and almost every other film getting a modest to exciting satellite right, the industry is taking wings, again. And this time, the complaint is that the new generation is going too fast.
Perhaps, a reflection of the time we live in.
DIRECTOR LIJO JOSE, following the mass and critical acclaim for his film Amen, will direct Disco, with his favourite team including Fahadh Fazil and Indrajith (pictured), and music composer Prashant Pillai. Reported to have been inspired by the film The Hangover, the film is set in Goa, and also has Shankar Ramakrishnan and Rajeev Pillai in the cast.
Amen has been hailed as one of the new generation classics, and has come as the lucky break for Lijo, after having directed Nayakan and City of God. Both the films found favour with critics but didn’t get a box office boost.
WITH MALAYALAM CINEMA continuing to push its boundaries, more women-oriented films too are being made, the latest being Aaru Sundarimarude Katha, about six women.
Directed by debutant Rajesh K Abraham the film stars Lakshmi Rai, Lena (pictured), Umank Jain, Shamna Kasim, Nadia Moithu and Zareena Wahab.
The shooting has been completed and the film is readying for release. The protagonists of the film come from different backgrounds, each with a compelling story that is set to give all six heroines sufficient room to prove their mettle.