Malayalam Cinema: Great movies killed by the audience

Jallikattu title card

Literature and art have become more tolerant to diversity, and we can see representation of all the communities, today. Earlier the scenario in cinema was different. The Transgender community was portrayed in a negative shade and the lesbian-gay relationship was considered as anti social. As a matter of fact, scenes of physical intimacy and passion, sex, nudity were all censored out of literature.

D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s lover is a wonderful work which was banned when it was published, only because it had scenes of sex and nudity. The fact that such scenes actively contributed to the plot was easily ignored. From such intolerance, we have advanced quickly into a culture which is tolerant to visuals that are active catalysts in character and plot development. Today, our filmmakers are comfortable in visualising stories of extra marital affairs, lesbian love stories, transgender warriors, living together relations and everything outside of the existing social institutions. This is why we can see passionate lovemaking scenes in films today. At the very beginning of this decade, this paradigm shift in cinema was referred to as ‘new generation’, in a derogatory sense.

Cult Films

The past five years saw cinema being influenced by many -isms. This shift is not necessarily great. Many films were imitations of its predecessors. The fear of falling down, made the filmmakers and producers to follow a certain success formula, which worked for some. However, when the same story became the base for all movies, the audience became obsessed with anything that was different. This tendency marked the birth of the ‘cult’ film. Films which were major flops, became the face of great art. Any new treatment of cinema became desirable, without any consideration for its artistic quality. Filmmakers were on a hunt for extraordinary ideas and concepts, which were far away from logic.

Today, our films have grown out of this tendency. We have cinema which is raw in its visuals and emotions. The most recent example of such a shift is Lijo Jose Pellissery’s film Jallikkettu. Audience, however, fails this. From a group which celebrated cinema as a coming-together of art and artists, our minds have been poisoned by social media cinema groups and negative reviews. We have lost our ability to appreciate creativity. We have become the child who is hungry but refuses to be fed. We shout out loud for more films. When a film gets released, we find every way to negate the effort, refusing to take our lazy bums to theatre.

Jallikattu

When the torrent print gets released, finally, we get to watch it for free. Right after the last credits, we post our review on Facebook, lamenting the low quality of cinema that is getting released. There is no second thought about the effort of the makers to get their film on screen. Award winning films like Ottaal, Vaanaprastham, Sadayam, Artist, Guppy, and even Jallikattu did not have enough audience at the theatres. The attitude of the audience who make it to the theatre for such serious movies is another social issue, altogether.

It was yesterday that I finally got to see the much awaited film, Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu. The theatrical experience was extraordinary. The visuals were very faithful to the politics the makers intended to put forward. The anti social hooligans sitting in the row behind, and their “jokes”, were an additional entertainment. The man sitting next to me was extremely busy on his phone throughout the film. Jallikattu is a film, wherein moments of silence play a great role. There are inherent meanings for such silences. It is a matter of shame that an industry which produces great art and artists, have such hooligans as its audience!

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About the Author

Anjali Chakkoth
A traveller at heart, writing is my art. Love is my God and this world is my home. Music is the drug and Cinema is the flame.

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