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Monday, April 15 2024
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Malayalam Films Lead: Premalu, Bramayugam, Manjummel Boys Revive Theatres

Malayalam
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With people flocking to the theaters to see Manjummel Boys, Bramayugam, and Premalu, 2024 is truly shaping up to be the year of Malayalam cinema.

About three weeks have passed since Premalu’s box office receipts surpassed ₹70 crore. Since their respective releases on February 15 and February 22, Manjummel Boys and Bramayugam have also brought in over ₹60 crore at the box office.

What is common among these three is that they are Malayalam films and while Bramayugam features Malayalam superstar Mammootty, the other two have a much lesser-known cast. All three also have a very strong – and novel – storyline and some splendid performances. 2024 is really turning out to be the year of Malayalam cinema, once again, with audiences rushing to theatres globally to catch these films.

The narrative styles of the 1980s and 1990s, when content was king, appear to be returning to south Indian cinema in the last ten years. Additionally, Malayalam film has been essential to this new paradigm. In just the first two months of 2024, Malayalam cinema has produced some blockbusters, if 2023 saw movies like Neru, Kannur Squad, 2018, Romancham, Kaathal – The Core, and Iratta. For example, the ₹27 crore film Bramayugan is a monochrome picture that stars Mammootty as an elderly man and a ghost.

“Malayalam cinema allows for creativity and when a movie works, it helps directors push boundaries,” says Rahul Sadasivan, the director of Baramyugam. Even for experimental films, superstars such as Mammootty sign on to work on a variety of projects. I am also appreciative of the producers’ faith in the movie and their commitment to the unique concept of a black-and-white historical drama. Regardless of the film’s format, I think that strong content is essential, and that’s what I aim for first. People became aware of Malayalam cinema during the pandemic, and numerous filmmakers used over-the-top streaming services to make their films available online.

Directly released on OTT platforms, Mollywood films such as Drishyam 2 (starring Mohanlal), Minnal Murali (starring Tovino Thomas), Kala (starring Tovino Thomas), Joji (starring Fahadh Faasil), C U Soon (starring Fahadh Faasil), Nayattu (starring Kunchako Boban and Joju George), and The Great Indian Kitchen were adored by viewers worldwide. The Mollywood film industry chose to take advantage of the pandemic’s opportunity and saw the theater closures as a challenge rather than a tragedy. For example, Minnal Murali became so successful for Tovino Thomas and writer-director Basil Joseph that rumors are circulating today that Basil is composing and directing Shaktimaan for Ranveer Singh. In the meantime, Tovino Thomas rose to fame by playing a local superhero!

Others also echo the thought that strong content will organically bring the audience not just to OTT platforms but to theatres today. Manjummel Boys is based on a real-life story and is about a group of young boys from Kerala who visit Guna Caves in Tamil Nadu. The movie, featuring some unknown names, takes us through how one of them falls through a deep crevice and a rescue mission ensues. This movie has captivated the audiences not just in Kerala but in other states and countries as well. In Tamil Nadu, for example, the film is expected to gross around 10 crore which is huge business for a Malayalam film with no stars.

A Tamil film producer on condition of anonymity says, “Malayalam cinema has always been content-driven and even Tamil cinema was. But commercial mass films have become the order of the day now and stars here won’t do small films. Star salaries also mean that the producer has to make big budget films to recover the cost and this is a challenge. Having said that, recently we have seen some very good small budget Tamil films like Blue Star and Lover do really well at the box office. Malayalam films have very realistic stories and natural performances which connect with the audience emotionally. The audience wants stories they can connect to and if the storyline is new and captivating, they’re more than willing to come to the theatres.”

Malayalam films are interesting because of their stories that are anchored in the local culture. Additionally, the majority of them lack glitz, extravagance, and extravagant acting, and their stars enjoy novelty. The stories and performances in Malayalam cinema are allowed to shine, and the world audience, which has a voracious appetite for top-notch material, truly appreciates this. In 2024, Malayalam cinema seems to be in full swing.

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