The current situation due to the ongoing pandemic didn’t seem to improve much for theatrical releases of films since 2020. Due to this, a lot of filmmakers have continued to release their films on Over-the-top (OTT) platforms to make some profit from digital distributions. Such practice has become a necessity rather than a choice for the producers of these films. But even in such a gloomy phase of the Indian film industry, the immense popularity of Malayalam cinema is nothing less than a silver lining.
One cannot deny that the growing popularity of Malayalam has been due to the symbiotic relationship between the niche content and rising of OTT platforms. Malayalam filmmakers have continued to live up to the expectations of the viewers with almost each of their films. But the richness in terms of storytelling in Malayalam films did not happen overnight. To understand why the cinematic canvass of these films are so diverse and engaging at the same time, one has to rummage through the pages of the history of Indian cinema.
By Indian cinema, I do not mean only films made in Bollywood but the films made in various languages across our multi-cultural nation. Malayalam filmmakers from the 70s like Addor Gopalakrishnan, John Abraham, G. Aravindan, Shaji N. Karun and others were responsible for inventing narrative styles that proved their mastery over the cinematic form. Their films had participated at some of the prestigious international films festivals and have also won accolades. Some of the films are available on various platforms and individuals interested can browse through the Internet to enhance their knowledge.
The year 2021 also witnessed the development of Malayalam films as they scaled new heights and creatively dominated the art of telling a tale through the audio-visual medium.
Jeo Baby’s The Great Indian Kitchen studies the evils of patriarchy through the prism of a newlywed wife, Martin Prakkat’s Nayattu is a critique of how the state misuses its power for electoral politics, Dileesh Pothan’S Joji subtly depicts the fate of the titular character getting trapped in the labyrinth of his creation, Jude Anthany Joseph’s Sara’s is a light-hearted comedy that highlights the intricacies of relationship, career-choice and responsibilities of parenthood, Mahesh Narayanan’s Malik is a gangster drama with a watertight script and moving performances, Rojin Thomas’ Home brings a fresh perspective to the genre of family drama. So, these are some of the Malayalam films that need to be applauded for deftly handling the medium of cinema and showcasing superlative artistic texture.
The distinguishing feature of these movies is their unwavering stories that create a world of flawed yet believable characters. It is important to point out that the genre of meaningful cinema has found a renewed energy and it is through the medium of ‘mainstream’ subjects that Malayalam cinema is expanding its accessibility. They have set examples and glorified the fact with a well-crafted screenplay and commitment towards exploring various aspects of filmmaking is the key to achieve excellence in filmmaking. Budding filmmakers from around the country should take note of this optimistic situation and respect the intelligence of the audiences in their creative endeavour.