Considered to be more realistic in presentation and most often delivering a social message unlike typical Bollywood films, Malayalam cinema refers to films made down south in the Indian state of Kerala. It’s one of the main components of Indian cinema and is highly appreciated for its entertainment value by the people of Kerala. In 1928, the first Malayalam film ‘Vigathakumaran’ which happened to be a silent film was released while in 1938, Balan was the first Malayalam spoken film. Starting off as exclusive productions of Tamil producers, with the coming of the first major film studio Udaya in Kerala, more interest was generated regarding Malayalam films.
Malayalam cinema has been deeply interwoven with different fields such as literature, art and politics. Jeevithanauka in 1951 is considered to be the first so called ‘Super Hit’ in Malayalam Cinema. Following the success of this film many started producing films based on this success formula. Neelakkuyil in 1954 won the honorary President’s silver medal. Other films which have left a mark on Malayalam cinema include Newspaper Boy (1955) and Chemmeen (1965). Kandam Becha Coat is said to be the first film shot in colour in Malayalam.
The 1970’s brought about a change in Malayalam cinema. Malayali film enthusiasts began to promote works of French and Italian New Wave directors. This same period saw many youth taking an avid interest in Malayalam cinema as they viewed it as a means of expression and to bring about structural changes in society. Many who were not from the field of cinema began taking an active interest and began producing and directing films in Malayalam. Some of those who should be noted include John Abraham, Aravindan, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, and G. S. Panikkar.
The years 1986 to 1990 are considered by critics to be the golden age of Malayalam cinema. These movies helped bridge the gap existing at that time between art and commercial cinema in the film industry in Kerala. Detailed screenplays, brilliant cinematography, warm and soothing background music, added to the glory of this period. Some of the most sought after actors of today earned accolades during this era like Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi and Mammootty. Shaji N.Karun’s 1994 film, Swaham was the first Malayalam film to make it to the Cannes International Film Festival. With satellite, digital television and piracy having a large foothold in every film industry, the Malayalam film industry hasn’t been spared either and has suffered many losses as well.
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