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Friday, October 17

The Celluloid & Behind- PART II

The Silverscreen woes...

We've discussed about the dogfights in the backyard of Malayalam film industry in Part I. Now back to what really matters here: the movie itself...

A fortnight back I read a review about a Tamil movie "Subramaniyapuram", claiming to be finest among the new age Tamil films. The review claimed that Malayalam film makers would have to wait at least 50 more years to make a film of such class.

Well, the fact that Tamil film industry is yet to churn out something of the class of "Moonam Pakkam", "Thoovanathumbikal", "Mathilukal", "Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha" or "Sargam", altercate that statement. True, movie makers like Bharatiraja and Mani Ratnam have carved a niche for themselves in the Tamil scenario, but the 1980-1990 Malayalam movies were a class apart, IMHO.

Mohanlal and Sumalatha in Thoovanathumbikal

Biased, you may feel, but I'm confident about arguing the point.

Now I'm not an art-film quirk to go blah blah about the Adoor Gopalakrishnan or Satyajith Ray movies; on the contrary I prefer the mainstream movies, or the so-called commercial ones. I'd still watch Chithram, Sholay or An Officer and a Gentleman, even if it is the 100th time, but I may fall asleep over Piravi...No offense meant. But the trouble seems to be that I feel like a rat-in-a-trap watching the contemporary Malayalam movies...

So what has gone terribly wrong with our movie makers in such a short span of time? Movies, as a major medium of communication and entertainment are so closely knit to the culture of a nation, and a deterioration of this sorts are a matter of worry. Malayalam movie industry is still revolving around the two stars of the century; the Big Ms...When the amount of fresh talents thrown up in the Tamil or Hindi movie scenario, both in front and behind the camera is just mind boggling, Keralites are still reluctant to part with Mammootty and Mohanlal. To make things worse, they both fail to mature on the screen with age. Both of them are trying hard to do things they cant...Mammootty in dancing and Mohanlal in those super-hero roles..Oh, and I'm all mixed up with the Suresh Gopi films because he is on a never-ending chase after murderers, with a gun in his hand.

The gifted scriptwriters and imaginative directors are gone for good, and we sorely miss the magical frames of Padmarajan, bold and colourful life portrayed by Bharathan, the straight-from-the-life scripts of Lohitadas, M.T. Vasudevan Nair or even the themed 'translations' of Priyadarshan. Now-a-days, except for the occasional lone brilliance from the likes of Lal Jose or Syamaprasad the future looks bleak and blank...and bore.


Those out there are creating a generation cursed to watch, applaud and enjoy mediocrity. Some of the blockbuster flicks, especially from the dawning superstar Dileep, wouldn't have created even a ripple in the Golden 80s. Some of the stars we managed to 'find', found their oasis across the border. Vikram is an example, and going by the history, Prithviraj may soon become out of reach for our movie industry.

The dearth of talents is only one part of our miseries; lack of fresh ideas and innovations, escalating costs, frigidity in improvising and piracy are strangulating the industry. The turbulent relationships between the various associations drain the sand under their own feet. The industry hit a new low early this decade when the thunder thighs of Shakkeela ruled the celluloid with her soft porn...To crown it all, now the theater owners have jumped in to further escalate the crisis.

Our new-gen movie makers desperately need to recognize the standards of the viewing public. The reason why Keralites prefer the physics-challenging antics of Rajanikanth and the laid-down formula movies in Tamil to the Malayalam movies is because the same local movies question the appreciating and understanding qualities of the public. Ever seen Ocean's Eleven, a pucca commercial venture from the Hollywood? The simplicity and ease in which a very complex plot was filmed must be an eye opener to our movie makers. Director Stephen Soderberg didn't have to spell out each letter and syllable of the script to the audience to understand what it was all about.

There is no point in elaborating about films by Kim ki-duk, Sergio Leone or Hayayo Miyazaki who are just master craftsmen at work. I'm too inadequate myself to brief you on their movies. Adoor and Shaji.N. Karun lifted up our spirits for a while, but far in between. As of now, the party seems over, and there are no signs of a rejuvenation.

Once upon a time in the West, a Sergio Leone classic

This may just mean another couple of decades with Mammooty and Lal! Oh, in 2025 they'd still be romancing Dileep's daughter on the screen...Wonder if there'd be anyone in the Talkies to see'em..:)

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