The advent of new generation cinema has resulted in the shifting of focus from the star to the director .Salt and Pepper,22 Female Kottayam by Aashiq Abu,Chaappa Kurishu by Samir Thahir, Ordinary by Sugeeth are all successful ventures by debut filmmakers. Especially by Samir Thahir, Ordinary by Sugeeth are all successful ventures by debut filmmakers. Especially the film “Ordinary” reaped a rich harvest at the box office and the gross collection exceeding the magic mark of ten crores. Instead of treading the beaten path the new directors dare to be different and endeavour to find their own path. In the selection of theme and in presentation their world provide a whirl of fresh air. New generation cinema by and large has a novel way of presenting theme meticulous planning and candid narration save the money and the making the world compact. Audience who won fed up with the same old kind of stuff readily accepted the new cinema and offered this whole hearted support.
In fact this new trend of using the commercial treatment and popular narrative texture to make more meaningful and reasonable film started with Sanjeev’s first venture ‘Passenger”. The film received critical acclaim and support from the cinephiles to turn it into a total grosser. This was followed by Rajesh Pillai’s first film “Traffic”, though told in the format of a thriller. These film have stars like Dileep, Jagath, Srinivasan, Rehman et all-they became one with the character they played and never looked larger than life as is the case with the mainstream films. Here the directors used actors and actors to portray the character in a perfect manner.
In “Passanger” Srinivasan play the role of a good samaritan who comes to the rescue of Dileep who gets kidnapped. Jagathy as a reasoned politician and corrupt minister scaled new heights in his acting capacity. Passenger is a serious film told in the format of a thriller. The victory of a serious film like “Passanger” surprised many in the film industry and outside alike. They did not realise that this film was going to be a turning point in Malayalam cinema and the making of movies.
In the beginning and till the nineties things were quite different and directors position was paramount and significant in Malayalam cinema. Even at a time when stalwarts like Satyam and Prem Nazir ruled the roost director. Such as Vincent,Bhaskaran,K.S.Sethumadhavan dominated the film world and called the shots. Stars in the olden days had willingly accepted the superior position of the director and was willingly to carry out their orders.
Despite the presence of Prem Nazir, Madhu,P.J.Anthony and others “Bhargavi” Nilagiri is known by the Director Vincents name. It is the same case with P.Bhaskarmi’s Ivathinte Atmava. Notwithstanding a superlative performance by the hero Prem Nazir these films marks the victory of the director .”Chemmeens” features all the big stars of that period yet it bears the signature of its director Ramu Karyat. There could be many such examples to substantiate the claim of a director.
Things started changing in the nineties and came to a sorry phase in the beginning of the new century. The directors importance is reduced and he was forced to play second fiddle to the super stars. And the basic character of cinema underwent huge change making it star oriented than director oriented.
The untimely demise of stalwarts and veterans like P.Padmarajan and Bhanathan was also a contributing factor to the determination and reduction in the class and the standard of cinema. The vacuum created by their departure could not be filled to this day. They both were successful in bridging the gap between art and commerce and came up with projects to meet the demands and expectations of both.
I.V.Sasi is the first ever director to achieve superstardom in Malayalam cinema. He became more important than any stars who acted in his films. Cinephiles went to the theatre for aid by the name of the director than to watch any stars which was to practise them.Even in remote villages the pre publicity of a film focussed on the director I.V.Sasi instead of any stars. He started a new trend in Malayalam cinema and with the support of master class script writers M.T.Vasudevan Nair created some solid works.I.V.Sasi became the real star behind the screen well before Udayaman Tharan hit the silver screen telling the significance of a director!
Type casting and over utilisation of our talented stars had taken its toll and films started losing money heavily. No single star remained a sure bet to bring back the money. At this critical juncture veteran director Joshi came up with his magnum opus “twenty twenty” which became a marathon hit and gave new oxygen to the ailing film industry. The tumbling success of ‘Twenty Twenty” goes to none other than director Joshi despite the presence of almost all stars in the Malayalam Cinema. For Joshi had done his homework neel and his theme and presentation had credibility. Each star suited the role assigned to him and the fans were also satisfied and did not make much noise about any discrimination or sidelining.
The Malayalam cinema industry received a boost with the success of Twenty Twenty followed by the film ‘Pazhassi Raja” in which Mammootty gives outstanding performance. Theatres became hub of activities again. A new confidence was evident among the people behind the scene and it was like putting the train back on rail after a disaster. There were directors who belong to the art house category of movies and they seldom make any compromise in their pursuit for excellence and they consider cinema as an art form and not as a business proposition. Adoor Gopalakrishnan leads this segment. K.g.george,Shaji Karun,T.V.Chandran and other always stand for good cinema.K.G.George in an record cited the example of super star domination and this omnipotence as a reason of his silence and opting out of the rat race. The situation that prevailed was such that only sycophants of super stars could survive. Directors who valued their own judgement had either to fall in live or opt out.
In a way producers themselves had to take the blame in creating such a pitiable situation. They kept on chanting holiings to the ever increasing and unreasonable demands of superstars and suffered humiliation. They lost their traditional role . It was the turn of the directors. He also became a shadow of the star and pushed to the sideline. In fact the new generation director turned the table on the stars and paved the way for a change in the stagnant situation. New corners giving hit after hit changed the attitude of the producers and they started backing new ventures cutting across generations, success alone matters in the show biz.
Anwar Rasheed’s debut film Rajamanikkan with Mammotty in the lead was a mammoth hit. Mohan’s first directorial venture. Kodha Paragumbol collected money. This was followed by Mohanlal starrer Udayanu Tharam by the new corner, Roshan Andrews. All these hits restored the lost confidence of the industry. Producers began to listen to the new entrant and showed willingness to put in the money in novel projects with lots of enthusiasm. This trend made a big difference to the industry and slowly but steadily the emerging new generation came to a reality. One after another new directors started appearing with good works.
The two recent hits, Ustad Hotel by Anwar Rasheed and Thattathin Marayathu by Vineeth Sreenivasan reaffirms the role of the director. These films categorically and without an iota of doubt mark the return of the director. These two films clicked without any big stars and because of the calibre of the directors only.
Except Thilakan Ustad Hotel does not have any major stars and the Dhulquer Salmaan- Nithya pair appeared on screen for the first time. The director made sure that the chemistry of romance worked between them and audience accepted the choice. Though the theme Ustad Hotel is not at all conventional. It served the purpose and audience enjoying the taste. Thattathin Marayathu also has newcomers. Navin Pauly and Isha as the leading stars. Directors unveiled the story in a novel was depending on flashbacks. The hero narrates his love story sitting behind the bars.
On the whole,the debutant directors have done very well and last year 53 newcomers have appeared as directors. A new era has began in Malayalam Cinema providing the Directors freedom of choice and a chance to experiment.
--M. C. Rajanarayanan