Submit :
News                      Photos                     Just In                     Debate Topic                     Latest News                    Articles                    Local News                    Blog Posts                     Pictures                    Reviews                    Recipes                    
  
The evolution of Malayalam cinema
Malayalam is the mother tongue of more than 3.5 crore people all over the world. Malayalam films hold a special place amongst Indian language films. The article takes a peep into the history of Malayalam cinema and traces its evolution.
MALAYALAM CINEMA too evolved from Chennai, formerly Madras, which served as the base for the entire South Indian film industry once. Then it gradually transited to Kerala as new film studios came into being. Now, Malayalam cinema not only has its own identity but also occupies a place of distinction in the Indian film world.

In 1928, an enterprising Keralite, JC Daniel, wrote the book on Malayalam cinema when he directed and produced a Malayalam movie in which he played the lead role! He also wrote the script for the movie! No wonder, he is called the Father of Malayalam cinema. The film, Vigathakumaran, flopped at the box office. The second Malayalam film to be made was Marthanda Varma based on a novel of same title penned by CV Raman Pillai. The film was completed in 1931, by Sunder Raj.

The first Malayalam talkie Balan was made in 1938. S Notani was the director and TR Sundaram of Moderntimes produced the film. It boasted of 23 songs. Notani directed another film, Gnanambika, in 1940. Then came Prahlada directed by K Subramoniam. It featured Guru Gopinath and Thankamani Gopinath. All the producers were non-Keralites. The first Malayali producer was PJ Cherian, who produced Nirmala in 1949. The first Malayalam film made outside of Madras studios was Vellinakshatram which was made in Udaya studio at Alleppey. Kerala’s first studio was set up by KV Koshi and M Kunchacko. Udaya became a household name with the release of box office hits like Jeevithanauka (1951) and Nallathanka (1952).

The emergence of a better-equipped Merryland studio at Trivandrum (promoted by P. Subramoniam in 1951) was a landmark development. The proprietors of Udaya and Merryland utilised their resources primarily for their own productions. Navalokam (1951), Adarshakala Mandir’s Newspaper Boy (1955), Chandrathara’s Nilakkuyil (1954) and Rarichan Enna Pouan (1956), Neela’s Randidangazhi (1957) were some of the films to hit the screen during the 1950’s. Newspaper Boy is considered the first neo-realistic film in Malayalam. It was a student’s production, directed by P Ramadas. Nilakkuyil acquired nationwide recognition. Poet P Bhaskaran and Ramu Kariat were the directors. The film bagged the silver award for the second best feature film in the country in the year 1954. Thikkurishi Sukumaran Nair, Sathyan, Prem Nasir, SP Pillai, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Miss Kumari, Miss Thankam, BS Saroja, Padmini and Prema were the prominent artistes of the time.

Many literary works were made into films during the 1960’s and that marked the beginning of another chapter in the history of Malayalam cinema. Stories and novels written by Thakazhi Sivashankara Pillai, Mohammad Basheer, Parappuram, MT Vasudevan Nair, etc were made into good films and they succeeded artistically and commercially. The turning point came in 1965. The film Chemmeen directed by Ramu Kariat bagged the gold medal at the national level for the best film in the year 1965. P Bhaskaran’s Iruttinte Athmavu (1967) and A.Vincent’s Thulabharam (1968) also bagged awards at the national level. Mudiyanaya Puthran (1961), Ninamaninja Kalpadukal (1963), Bhargavi Nilayalyan (1964), Murappenu (1965), Kavyamela (1965), Odayil Ninnu (1965) and Adhyapika (1968) were some of the popular films of the decade.

The 1970’s saw the release of some of the best Malayalam films. PN Menon’s Olavum Theeravum (1970) was a memorable piece of cinematic art. In the year 1972, Malayalm cinema ushered in new wave movies. It began with Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Swayamvaram. Then a number of serious films were made. Writer MT Vasudevan Nair debuted as a director with Nirmalyam in 1973. The realistic portrayal of indigenous culture and aesthetic excellence netted the gold medal for Malayalam films in 1973 an 1974. Another critically acclaimed director, Aravindan, made his first film Uttarayanam in 1974. KG George’s Swapnadanam (1975), PA Backer’s Chuvanna Vithukal (1976), Adoor’s Kodiyattam (1977), Aravindan’s Kanchana Sitha (1977) and Thamp (1978), KR Mohanan’s Aswathama (1978), P Padmarajan’s Pruvazhiyambalam (1979) and Bharathan’s Prayanam were the important films made at the time. The evergreen Prem Nazir, Madhu, Jayan, Adoor Bhasi, KP Ummer, Bahadur, Soman, Sheela, Sarada and Jaya Bharathi were the prominent artistes of the time. Prem Nasir set a world record for acting in the most films – a whopping 500 plus films.

Some good films which hit the screen during the first half of the 1980’s were Aravindan’s Chitambaram and Esthappa, Sethumadhavan’s Oppol, Adoor’s Elippayam and Mukhamukham, KG George’s Yavanika, Bharathan’s Chamaram and Mamaram, Mohan’s Vida Parayum Mumbe, Fazil’s Manjil Virinja Pookkal, Padmarajan’s Kudevide and Balu Mahendra’s Yaathra. Elippathayam by Adoor Gopalakrishnan won the coveted British Film Institute Award. Another remarkable film-maker of the era was John Abraham, with his critically acclaimed works like Cheriyachante Krura Krithyangal (1983) and Amma Ariyan (1986). In 1988, once again the national award came Malayalam cinema’s way when Shaji N Karun’s much-appreciated film Piravi was honoured.

Popular cinema also contributed a few socially relevant films. These films combined entertainment with serious reflections on social, political and cultural issues. I.V. Sasi’s Eenaadu, Aalkoottathil Thaniye, Sathyan Anthikad’s T P. Balagopalan MA, Nadodikkattu, Padmarajan’s Namukku Parkan Munthiri Thoppukal, Aparan, Thuvana Thumbikal, Sibi Malayil’s Thaniyavarthanam, Bharathan’ Kattathe Kilikkudu, Kaathodu Kathoram, Vaisali,  Kamal’s Unnikale Oru Katha Parayam, Priyadarshan’s Thalavattan, Chitram,  Fazil’s Ente Mammati Kuttiyammakku and Hariharan’ Panchali, Amrutham Gamaya were some of the successful films of the 1980’s. Malayalam cinema’s biggest technological achievements at the time manifested in Padayottam, the first 70 mm Malayalm film and My Dear Kuttichathan, the first 3-D film to be made in India. Both were produced by Appachan of Navodaya studio. New heroes Mammotty and Mohanlal arrived in the late eighties and continue to reign supreme to this day. By the beginning of the 1990’s, a new breed of artistes like Suresh Gopi, Jayaram, Shobana, Urvasi, Karthika , Menaka and Sree Vidya had arrived. Malayalam cinema flourished, with versatile actors like Thilakan, Nedumudi Venu, Bharath Gopi, Jagathi Sreekumar, Murali, Sreenivasn and Oduvil Unnikrishnan arriving.

During the 1990’s, many remarkable and popular films were made. Some of them won awards both at the state and national levels. Vaasthuhara by Aravindan, Mathilukal, Vidheyan and Kadhapurushan by Adoor, Kadavu by M T. Vasudevan Nair, Innale, Njan Gandharvan  by Padmarajan, Devasuram by I.V. Sasi, Vanaprashtham by Shaji N Karun, Perunthanchan by Ajayan, Manichithrathazu by Fazil, Kilukkam and Kalapaani by Priyadarshan, Sargam and Parinayam by Hariharan, Ponthanmada by TV. Chandran, Aakasadoothu and Summer in Bethleham by Sibi Malayil, Ramji Rao Speaking and God Father by Siddique Lal, Sukrutham Sukrutham Harikumar, Guru by Rajiv Anchal, Sammantharangal by Balachandra Menon, Kazhakam by M P Sukumaran Nair, Boothakkannadi and Kanmadam by Lohithadas, Desadanam and Kaliyaatam by Jayaraj, Daivathinte Vikrithikal by Lenin Rajendran, Chintavishatayaya Shyamala by Sreenivasan, Galileo by James Joseph, Pavithram and Kannezhuthi Pottumthottu by Rajiv Kumar, Thalayana Mantram and Veendum Chila Veetu Karyangal by Sathyan Anthikadu, Sallapam by Sunder Das, Agnisakshi by Shyama Prasad, Eakalavyan, Commissioner, Aaram and Thampuran by Shaji Kailas were prominent amongst them.

The last decade witnessed the arrival of some fine artistes like Biju Menon, Manoj K Jayan, Dileep, Kunchako Boban, Prithviraj, Kalabhavan Mani, Manu Warrier, Samyuktha Varma, Divya Unni,  Kavya Madhavan, Meera Jasmin, Navya Nair, Nayanthara, Bhavana and Padmapriya. Directors like Lal Jose (Meesa Maadhavan, Classmates), Blessy (Kaazhcha, Thanmatra), Major Ravi (Keerthichakra, Kurukshatra) and Roshan Andrews (Udayananu Tharam, Notebook) have turned young film-makers. M.G. Sasi, bagged the award for best direction and best film (the film was Adayaalangal) and Priyanandan bagged the national award for Neythukaran and Pulijanmam. Hopefully they will fulfil the expectations of Malayalam cinema fans.

COMMENTS (2)
Guest
Name
Email Id
Verification Code
Email me on reply to my comment
Email me when other CJs comment on this article
}
Sign in to set your preference
Advertisement
merinews for RTI activists


Advertisement
Not finding what you are looking for? Search here.