India is a land of diverse languages, cuisines, and religions. Just travel 100-200 km from your place and you will find something new and diverse. With 22 official languages, we also have 22 different film industries like Bollywood. In India, they are called regional film industries with their own setup often producing far better movies than hugely popular Bollywood. The popularity of such regional movies has grown immensely in recent years after dubbing into other Indian languages.
This pandemic induced lock-down and work from home scenario enabled me to experience diversity in the entertainment industry. In past, I watched movies in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Bengali, but hardly anything in Malayalam. Despite a limited audience, they were able to create a niche for themselves. Translations and dubbing made it a comfortable watch. This all started as soon as the pandemic began. We watched the movie “Contaigon” when pandemic began to unravel in our world.
Coincidentally, while searching for movies based on pandemic, I found a movie with the title ‘Virus’ in the Malayalam language. I watched it a couple of times and became a fan of the Malayalam actor Tovino Thomas. I also watched his other movies ‘Uyare’, ‘Kilometer & Kilometers’. I also watched legendary Malayalam actor Mamooty’s movie ‘Unda’. Considering the population of Kerala and overall Malayalam-speaking population is lesser than bollywood, the depth in the Malayalam movies is hard to miss. There are many things I liked in some of the movies, I watched.
The level of experimentation in stories was amazing. Traveling is not a new genre but the movie ‘Kilometers & Kilometers has tweaked it completely. A foreigner, renting a bike to travel to India, only to become a pillion rider was an altogether different concept. The movie did have typical bollywood style moments but it was highly engaging till the end.
The movie ‘Unda’ touched on the menace of Naxalites in India and the challenges in conducting free & fair elections in Naxalite-affected areas. Movies like ‘Newton’, ‘And Chakravyuh’ did portray Naxal issues from an ethical point of view but ‘Unda’ shared the angle of law & enforcement officials.
Many of the Malayalam movies I watched did not contain a song or dance sequence, a must for many Indian movies. It was neither needed nor required in some of the serious movies. Background music was more than sufficient. This is different in comparison to Hindi (or Bollywood) movies.
I am not a binge movie watcher to give any opinions of movies as a whole. However Malayalam movies were able to go through the social issues in very simple ways. They moved away from fictionalized portrayals to realistic scenarios. One of them was the condition of an individual police personal life as depicted in “Unda”. Movies made are either fictionalized to demonstrate the heroism of police or highlight the shortcomings. Rarely do they touch the personal life of the overburdend police force. Giving them a human touch with respect was a classic key to loving Malayalam movies.
Throwing acid on a woman’s face has been a common practice for decades by disgruntled men. A very few movies came out telling stories of such women. ‘Uyare’ was one such movie telling the plight, social trauma, and struggle for acceptance of these women. Although fictional, this movie did open the eyes of every viewer.
With the limited time I had, it was good to watch some of these movies. I hope to watch more Malayalam movies in the future. Till that time, I asked all of you to give thee movies a try.