2001 - Another disastrous year for filmdom



The magic of cinema did not work wonders for the Malayalam film industry in the first year of the new millennium, when the sagging fortunes of filmmakers were further eroded with the box office recording the highest number of flops. It was a disastrous year with barely a handful of the 99 movies released managing to set the cash registers jingling. There was a massive increase in the number of films from 70 in 2000 to around 99 in 2001. But of these, about 49 films belong to the genre of soft porn. The spiralling cost of star studded films and their subsequent batttering at the box office pushed the industry into adult movies. As many as, 24 Malayalam sex films were dubbed in to Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.

Among the actors Mohanlal and Dileep had the biggest box office draw. While Mohanlal's 'Ravanaprabhu,' the directorial debut of Renjith broke all records this year in collection. Dileep, the new mantra of success in a flop ridden industry continued to hog the limelight throughout the year with almost all of his films doing fairly well at the box office. Kakkakkuyil which appeared to be a combination of several successful films put together, has done a fabulous business. Mohanlal has made cameo appearances in two films - Achaneyanenikkishtam and Unnathangalil. The scenes in which Mohanlal makes a cameo appearance happen to be the most pathetic scenes in the recent history of Malayalam cinema. The versatile actor makes a fool of himself by imitating the role of the protagonist in Narasimham. Why should a multi-faceted actor like Mohanlal spoil his career sticking on to the image, which has already become a burden for him?

The eagerly awaited film 'Dubai', a six crore venture, which bombed at the box office was the biggest let down for filmbuffs. Rakshasarajavu, another Mammootty starrer was lapped up by audiences across the state. Dileep's Parakkum Thalika, Thaha's rib tickler was a runway hit. Despite the lack of Sibi touch, 'Ishtam' worked cause the high voltage play off between Nedumudi Venu and Dileep. Suresh Gopi's Saiver Thirumeni and Randam Bhavam sank without a trace while Meghasandesam and Sundarapurushan notched up average collections.

Jayaram who has essayed the role of Karunan Master in 'Theerthathadanam' the cinematic adaptation of M T Vasudevan Nair's celebrated short story 'Vanaprastham' continued to protect his own slot as a crowd puller with the success of Vakkalath Narayanankutty, Naranath Thamburan, Sharjah to Sharjah and Uthaman. However, the fate of his latest release, 'One Man Show' is yet to be seen. Kalabhavan Mani has one super hit to his credi t- Karumadikkuttan. Narendran Makan Jayakanthan Vaka, directed by Sathyan Anthikkad helped Kunjakko Boban to make an image switch over.

A morass of mediocrity looms over Malayalam cinema as it has distanced itself from down-to-earth themes and visuals closely associated with our life and culture. Much repeated storyline, flawed scripts, and unprecedentedly exaggerated acting mar Malayalam cinema in recent times. Whatever quantitative success is being achieved today is completely negated by the quality of what is being churned out. It is pathetic and unimaginative stuff tailored for a plebian audience. Films like Kakkakkuyil and Sharjah to Sharjah prompt us to think that our mainstream cinema is unable to survive film plots based on masquerades, mixed identities and impersonation.The dreadful fascination of viewers towards 'hi-tech' horror movies is yet another example for the deterioration of sensibility. The special effects remain on the level of mythological serials being aired by Doordarshan. Meghasandesam, Aram Indriyam and Bhadra belong to this genre of films. However, a glimmer of hope was provided with the appreciation of 'Theerthadanam' Meghamalhar and Neythukaran.

Caught in the vortex of acute financial crisis, the film industry seized the opportunity to exploit the visually titillating potential of nudity, unredeemed by anything artistic. A.T Joy the soft porn stuff. It is disheartening to note that Kerala State Film Development Corporation has provided financial assistance to some movies of this kind. There was a sizable adult market in the B & C centres in the state whose needs were met adequately because the censors displayed a degree of leniency. Most often, seperate reels were shot with the steamy sequences which were not submitted for censorship. Instead, it found its way into the rural interiors, into the hands of distributors and exhibitors who have to supply their audiences with unadulterated sleaze. The presence of Shakeela, the heart throb of soft porn crazy filmbuffs, accompanied by Maria, Sindhu, Sajini and Reshma was the selling point of these C-grade films. The parodic revival of Jayan does not seem to be just a passing fad. Three films belong to this genre Aparanmar Nagarathil, Dupe Dupe Dupe and Jagapoga were released during 2001.