Moving away from their rural setting, Malayalam movies are increasingly becoming urban in their theme.
Until recently, most Malayalam films had rural themes portraying the essential goodness and unspoilt beauty of villages.
However, this is changing as most of the around 90 movies released last year were set in urban backgrounds.
Some movies that were received well in 2011 included Traffic, Indian Rupee, Salt and Pepper, Seniors, Beautiful and Chappa Kurish. They revolved around situations that happen in cities like the state’s fast-developing commercial hub Kochi.
Though they did not turn out to be big box office hits, films like Arjunan Sakshi, Christian Brothers, China Town, City of God, The Train, Teja Bhai and Family, Doctor Love and Arabiyum Ottakavum Pinne Madhavan Nayarum also had an urban-orientation.
Industry sources say all successful movies released so far this year are city-centric with films like 22 Female Kottayam (22 FK), Diamond Necklace, Ee Adutha Kalath, Mayamohini still running to packed houses.
Popular director Sathyan Anthikkad, known for village-oriented family stories laced with subtle humour like Sandesham, Sanmanasullavarkku Samdhanam and Mazhavilkkavadi, says a new generation trend is reigning in Mollywood these days and such stories are the immediate result of that innovative change.
“Till some time back, the only focus in Mollywood was the actor or hero. Films known by the actors, directors and scriptwriters were largely ignored. But with the arrival of a handful of young film makers, movies have begun to return to the director’s hands in Malayalam,” Anthikkad said.
“Young talents experiment with many things in narration and theme selection. City-centric movies and elite class stories can be seen as part of their experimentations,” he said.
Village-oriented films which reaped average success in 2011-12 were Sathyan Anthikkad-directed Snehaveedu, M Mohanan’s Manikya Kallu, Bobon Samuel’s Janapriyan and T K Rajeev Kumar’s Rathinirvedam.
Perhaps the only exception among them is Sugeeth directed Ordinary, depicting the life of a scenic upland hamlet Gavi. The movie is still running to packed houses and has raked in more than Rs 10 crore so far, according to industry sources.
Citing the resounding success of Ordinary, Anthikkad said rural themes would always have takers in Malayalam if they are narrated with freshness and novelty.
“As the new film makers are quite young,they prefer to tell stories with which they are more familiar. It may be the reason they select urban settings and themes”, he said.
“Not just that, in Kerala’s context the distance between villages and cities is fast disappearing these days,” Anthikkad said.
Whether set in rural or urban backgrounds, films should be the product of directors, he said, adding that the reason for deterioration of values in cinema are movies which concentrate only on the interest of heroes and audience.
Meanwhile, hitmaker Laljose feels changes in the lifestyle and attitude have brought in changes in themes and setting of movies.
“It is true that a parallel movie culture is gaining popularity in Mollywood. But it does not mean Malayalam cinema is becoming urban centric. Though my latest movie Diamond Necklace is mainly set in the backdrop of Dubai, its main story happens in a rural Kerala village,” he said.
Laljose, who has blockbusters like Meeshamadhavan, Classmates and Oru Maravathur Kanavu to his credit, said the scenic villages were still ideal for narration of good stories concerning common people.
Diamond Necklace which tells the story of a spendthrift doctor in Dubai who leads a hi-fi life and the problems he had to face due to the abuse of ‘plastic money’ (credit cards) largely woos youngsters while 22 FK, dealing with the plight of a Malayali nurse working in metro like Bangalore, has won critical acclaim.
Meanwhile, Mayamohini, a hardcore commercial movie in which Dileep plays a full-length woman character, has turned out to be one of the biggest grossers this year.
The movie has collected more than Rs eight crore so far, unconfirmed reports from the industry said.