Friday, September 28, 2007

Sundays, beer and Malayalam movies

It was a couple of years back that I began watching TV for a decent amount of time. Before that college and projects and Internships did not give much time with the idiot box especially since we had to start holiday Internships from second year of college. When I finally got to watch some TV and surf the Malayalam channels, the movie song sequences shocked me! It was as if I was watching a Hindi or a Telugu song sequence!!

I have been bought up on a staple of good Malayalam movies due to the extensive collection of movies in my Dad’s collection. Growing up on this kind of filtered collection makes you rather spoilt. You end up thinking that all Malayalam movies are good. Unlike Malayalees in Kerala, who have watched both good and bad movies and seen the evolution of Malayalam cinema, we the NRK’s have no such luck. We are still stuck in the Golden Era of Malayalam movies as we get only the good movies in CD parlors. Our first brush with modern Malayalam cinema starts with the Malayalam TV channels that air the songs from the latest movies. And the preview of the new Malayalam cinema is not very appetizing.

For us NRK’s Malayalam movies were the only channel to keep in touch with our roots and culture. Malayalam movies were a part of our daily lives. Sundays in Bangalore would see VCDs selling like hot cakes and people would even bribe the VCD delivery boy to keep their favorite movie for them for the weekend. Malayalam movies were a little piece of Kerala in our homes.

The commercialization of Malayalam movies is big loss to the huge NRK population that lives outside Kerala. Our intention of seeing a Malayalam movie is not just for the purpose of entertainment, but to keep the tenuous bonds with our naadu alive and to escape for a few moments to a place we call home. The Bollywood type of Malayalam cinema has little appeal for us.

I guess our numbers are too small and do not justify movies like the ones they made some time ago. Perhaps there is more demand for Bollywood type masala Malayalam movies in Kerala now.

I watched “Classmates” the other day. A really nice movie very rooted in the Kerala realities, yet entertaining and engrossing. “Classmates” may not be the best in its class, but it does give hope that the dying embers of good Malayalam cinema is still flickering.

Presently listening to this song. Thanks to Emmanuel for the link.


~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

The masala scenes and raunchy songs which are so POPULAR now weren't a regular feature till a few years back! In that period i used to go for films with my family. After one particular BIG Star's movie, i've never gone to any movie with my family. Thanks to the COMMERCIALISATION of the Malluwood!

Fleiger said...

Given what I have watched on the "regional" channels, I think Malayalam movie songs are way beyond Hindi in terms of comic (read weird) song situations.

But then, my knowledge of the languages means that I might be talking about a completely different one.

emmanuel said...

the situation is not as pathetic as u observe............this is what it seems to me......when the masala stuff was happening in other languages....our producers and directors too tried to put in those things into malayalam movies and they failed to realise that keralites are a niche audience which would support these for enjoying, may be, a change and the repetition would lead to disastrous results like every other movie, even by experienced directors and producers falling flat at box office.......but as a welcome change whatever u have mentioned as example comes out devoid of superstars or big banners and remind everyone that a well written and reality bound script is the only superstar.................but it's a contrast to see that different themes are now being tested in Tamil and sometimes in Hindi too....because they are so bored with their masala stuff...........and they became hits too.......that means one thing.....the charm of superstars are just media made, and if i'm right, an average fan always look out for a nice movie...and no stars..........stars are all projected as heroes only by TV, nespapers and now Internet...........and also we Indians yearn for leaders who we fell wud do gud for us as our leaders of nation are either gud for nothing or else projected as gud for nothing in the media...........:)

and something which is my intuition..........if a moviegoer is interested in Mohan Bhargav from Swades rather than SRK, Gurukant Desai from Guru rather than Abishek Bachchan..........we will have a lots of Mani Ratnams who make movies, after long thoughts, writing script process, what they enjoy making and watching as the final product......they just don't want to cater to the audience tastes (which is actually non existent!!)or masala stuff......surprisingly or not surprisingly.........that kind of movies are far more better in content and structure and many of them have proved commercially successful too...................and i wud say that it is applicable to any language...........any movie around the world......

try seeing the next one which came recently by the same director....."Arabikkatha"......tells a different story.....the depiction of reality is something to watch out and there too no superstars are present......but the movie is class.....far more better than Classmates.....:)

mathew said...

commercialisation is infact the bigger loss for people staying in kerala..coz movies are apparently the sole medium of mass entertainment for most people in the state..atleast NRK's get to understand and appreciate other language movies..rather than the audience patronising the masala movies it is the film fraternity churning out this fare for lack of ideas...Probably the big 5 as far am concerned..Padmarajan..Sreenivasan..Fazil..Siddique-Lal..Sibi malayil.
we need a new set who can match their creativity..

if u look back for eg..mohanlal in kireedam..kilukkam..or unikkale oru kadhaparyam..were characters one among us..unlike alibhai and some other bhai...

probably we need a whole new generation of actors/screen writers and directors...and also an audience who appreciate new talent.(remember a post by Jiby in which many raised a hullabao over his criticising mohanlal)

Adorable Pancreas said...

The scene is only getting uglier. More and more movies with idiotic themes are being released all the time. Once in a while, we get an average story, and it's hit, because comparatively it's a good one. All those late 80's and early 90's movies are so true to life, whatever cinematic licence the director took.

Am I the only person left on earth who hasn't seen 'classmates' yet? :(

silverine said...

Abhi: Movies that we could watch with the family is now almost extinct :(

fleiger: Actually mallu movie songs are still better compared to some of the other regional movie songs as theya re still in the process of copying them :p

emmanuel: If the situation is not so bad then I am relieved. You will know better! But I dont agree that masala stuff flopped, cos if they were flops then producers will not repeat their mistakes. I am sure some were hits which is why a lot of such movies were made. After all a hit formula is safe formula. 'Arabikatha' is moving like hot cake, so haven't got my hand on it yet :p

Mathew: It is true that we NRK's had other options...which is why we don't appreciate Bollywood style mallu movies. We can always watch a bollywood movie for that :) What I dont understand is why new talents are not coming to the fore? Whats preventing them from unleashing their creativity? Jiby's post was an eye opener, now if I could only get my hands on those movies...

AP: I saw "Thekkera Super Fast" the other day. The movies is the pits!!
Classmates' was awesome!

ap said...

our movies the decade before the mohanlal and mamotty era --70's and before were just as commercialized ...Most of the movies had a item number a.k.a caberra..Dunno how everything changed in between...

Fleiger said...

That's good to know.

Come to think of it, Mallu movies or rather, Mallu actors are not that famous outside Kerala, right? I mean, apart from a few exceptions.

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

I feel it is not commercialization of cinema that is the problem. Dont remember the name of the movie but was "Gafur ka dost" not commercial? It was total slapstick comedy, but it was classic stuff, dont you think?
And unlike other languges, here itr is not even the public that is to be blamed.
We have always been a lot that likes to see unadultrated country life on silverscreen, unlike most other regional languages where almost every movie is either city centric, or way too exagerated.

The problem if you ask me is that good artists are in short supply, especially script writers - I guess they dont dream anymore.

Classmates was a welcome change. You'd love it even more if you grew up in the middle of the early 90's college controversies in Kerala.

Ramesh said...

Hey! where / at which cd/dvd rental shop, do you get good Mallu film CDs in bangalore? 6 months since I have seen a decent mallu flick except for Arabikadha which turned out to be damn good.

So please let me know.

silverine said...

AP: I don't think a cabaret number makes a film commercial. In fact that was the only spot of commercialization in old movies I think. Besides the songs used in these numbers were very catchy and different from other Malayalam movie songs :)

fleiger: Yes, the southern stars save for Sivaji are not famous in other parts of India.

toothless wonder: "if you grew up in the middle of the early 90's college controversies in Kerala."

That is exactly what a cousin bro told me :) And his expert commentary gave a whole new meaning to the movie!

Ramesh: There lots of libraries in Blr. If you live close to Brigade Road you could try the library near Hyd Biryani on Victoria Road. There number is 41126122. But I haven't been to this place, just heard about them from friends living in that area.

nasia said...

the truth is such mallu movies are NOT a hit even in kerala...
Watch notebook.. its awesome.. :)

Praveen said...

i think the best mallu movies were in the period of late 80s and early 90s, each movie albeit without big stars was a there is probably one good film a year.. pretty sad

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

Oh, perfect. Just the person I'm looking for. You see, I've seen some good malayalam movies on TV in the 90s as a kid and little cared for the movie names. I watched them in between all day summer cricket sessions simply because my parents would be watching, and I didn't care what I was seeing. SO, I would very much appreciate it if you could, in one of your more idle moments, make me a list of movies with good stories. You can retain anonymity and all that. Just post it as an anon comment on any post at
(P.S: Is there a more intelligent way to get the information across while retaining anonymity? :-/)
P.P.S: If you need an incentive, remember it is always useful to jot down a list of good movies you like, because you never know when you might just run into someone from the glitz industry looking for a drama queen :p

Thank you in advance! ;-)