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Cinema of Kerala (or Malayalam cinema) refers to films made in the Indian state of Keralamarker in the Malayalam language. Malayalam movies typically portray social or familial issues and as a result are considered more realistic (and highbrow) than Bollywood movies. The first 3D film produced in India, My Dear Kuttichathan, was made in Malayalam. The first Cinemascope film produced in Malayalam was Thacholi Ambu.

History of Malayalam Cinema

Early era

The first cinema hall in Keralamarker was established in Trichur by K.W.Joseph in 1907 and it had a manually operated film projector. The first electrically operated film projector too was established in Trichur by Jose Kattukkaran in 1913 and was called the 'Jose Electrical Bioscope'. Soon such cinema halls were established in other major cities of Kerala. At the initial stage only Tamil, Hindi and English films were exhibited in these theatres; it was, however, Tamil cinema, which dominated Kerala. The Malayalee audience welcomed Tamil films because of the cultural similarities between the two states.

List of Malayalam films from 1928 to 1950
The first Malayalam film, titled Vigathakumaran, was released in 1928. It was a silent film, produced and directed by a businessman with no prior film experience, J. C. Daniel. The second film, Marthanda Varma, based on a novel by C. V. Raman Pillai, was produced in 1933. However, its release was limited due to legal disputes surrounding use of Pillai's material.

Balan, released in 1938, was the first "talkie" in Malayalam. Its screenplay and songs were written by Muthukulam Raghavan Pillai and directed by S. Nottani. It was produced at Chennaimarker (then Madras) in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadumarker. Malayalam films continued to be made almost exclusively by Tamil producers till 1947, when the first major film studio, Udaya, was established in Kerala.

List of Malayalam films from 1951 to 1960

Malayalam Cinema has always taken its themes from very relevant social issues and has been interwoven with the material from literature, drama, and politics from the very beginning. One such film, Jeevithanauka, (1951) was a musical drama which spoke about the ego clashes in a joint family, the norm of the day. This movie was widely accepted and popular and can be mentioned as the first "Super Hit" seen by Malayalam Cinema. However, this movie's success was bittersweet. Although its success accelerated Malayalam movie making, films that were produced after Jeevithanouka closely mimicked its structure hoping to find some sort of "success formula", thus hampering true creativity for a very long time.Nevertheless, this time was hailed as "the period of giants" in Malayalam film industry, due to the work of film stars Sathyan and Prem Nazir.
In 1954, the film Neelakkuyil captured national interest by winning the President's silver medal. Scripted by the well-known Malayalam novelist, Uroob, and directed by P. Bhaskaran and Ramu Kariat, it is often considered as the first authentic Malayali film. Another notable production was Newspaper Boy (1955) which contained elements of Italian neorealism. This film is notable as the product of a group of amateur college filmmakers. It told the story of a printing press employee and his family being stricken with extreme poverty.


List of Malayalam films from 1961 to 1970

Ramu Karyat, the director of Neelakkuyil went on to become a celebrated director in the 1960s and 1970s. P. Bhaskaran also directed a few acclaimed films in the 1960s. The cameraman of Neelakkuyil, A. Vincent also became a noted director of the 1960s and 1970s. Notable films of this decade include Odeyil Ninnu, Bhargavi Nilayam (1964), Chemmeen (1965), Murappennu (1965) and Iruttinte Atmavu (1966). The era of colour films came to Malayalam cinema with its first colour film Kandam Bacha Coat (1961). Chemmeen (1965), directed by Ramu Kariat and based on a story by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, went on to become immensely popular, and became the first Malayalam film to win the National Film Award for Best Film.

Malayalam Parallel films of the 1970s

List of Malayalam films from 1971 to 1975
The 70s saw the emergence of a new wave of cinema in Malayalam. The growth of film society movement in Kerala introduced the works of the French and Italian New Wave directors to the discerning Malayali film enthusiasts. Adoor Gopalakrishnan's first film Swayamvaram (1972) brought Malayalam cinema to the international film arena. In 1973 M. T. Vasudevan Nair who was by then recognized as an important author in Malayalam, directed his first film Nirmalyam, which won the President's Gold Medal for the best film. G. Aravindan followed Adoor's lead with his Uttarayanam in 1974. K. P. Kumaran's 'Adhithi' (1974) was another film which was acclaimed by the critics. John Abraham, K. R. Mohanan, K. G. George, and G. S. Panikkar were products of the Pune Film Institute who made significant contributions.

List of Malayalam films from 1976 to 1980

During the late 70s, a good proportion of the youth started seeing Malayalam Cinema as a medium of expression and thought of it as a tool to revitalize the society. A noted director, Aravindan was famous in Kerala as a cartoonist before he started making films. His important movies include Kanchana Seeta (1977), Thampu (1978), Kummatty (1979), Chidambaram (1985), Oridathu (1986), and Vasthuhara (1990).

Malayalam Art Cinema of the early 1980s

List of Malayalam films from 1981 to 1985
Adoor Gopalakrishnan made Elipathayam in 1981. This movie was widely acclaimed and won the British Film Institute award. His other movies include Mukhamukham (1984), Anantharam (1987) Mathilukal (1989), Vidheyan (1994), Kathapurushan (1995), and Nizhalkkuthu (2003). Padmarajan made his early works in this period including the movie Koodevide? (1983)

P. A. Backer and Bharathan are other names worth mentioning.

'Golden Age' of Malayalam cinema

Most critics and audiences consider this period as the golden age of Malayalam cinema. The Malayalam cinema of this period was characterised by detailed screenplays dealing with everyday life with a lucid narration of plot intermingling with humour and melancholy. This was aided by brilliant cinematography and lighting as in motion pictures like Perumthachan (1990), directed by Ajayan with Santosh Sivan as the cinematographer. These films are also remembered for their warm background music by composers like Johnson, as in the motion picture Namukku parkkan munthiri thoppukal (1986) by Padmarajan.

Many of the movies released during this time narrowed the gap between art cinemas and commercial cinemas in the Malayalam film industry, as in Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (1989). These were paralleled with movies like Kireedam (1989) directed by Sibi Malayil and written by Lohitadas, Mathilukal directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan (1989), 'Amaram'(1991) directed by Bharathan, Kaakothikaavile Appoopan Thadikal(1988) directed by Kamal and 'Sargam'(1992) directed by Hariharan.

The period had an abundance of movies rich in creative humour from directors like Priyadarshan, Sathyan Anthikkad and Kamal. The era also saw well crafted comedy by the Duo Siddique-Lal, (Ramji Rao speaking (1989) and In Harihar Nagar (1990). The internationally acclaimed Piravi (1989) by Shaji N. Karun was the first Malayalam film to win the Caméra d'Or-Mention at the Cannes Film Festivalmarker. Other notable contributions of this period include His Highness Abdullah (1990) directed by Sibi Malayil, Abhayam (1991) directed by Sivan, and the motion picture Daisy (1988) an expressive depiction of separation and longing set in a boarding school, directed by Prathap K Pothan.and highest box office hit like new delhi rajavintamakan ekalaviyan oru cbi diary kurup etc.director joshi had given the half of hit in malayalam film

Malayalam cinema through early-mid 1990s

List of Malayalam films from 1991 to 1995
The examples are Mathilukal(1990) and Vidheyan(1993) by director Adoor Gopalakrishnan. and 'Bharatham' (1991) by Sibi Malayil, Ulladakkam(1991) directed by kamal and Manichitrathazhu (1993) by Fazil.Ponthan mada(1993) by T.V.Chandran and Desadanam (1997) by Jayaraaj. Swaham (1994) directed by Shaji N.Karun, the second Malayalam film entry into the Cannes International Film Festivalmarker, where it was a nominee for the Palme d'Or. Murali Nair's Marana Simhasanam later won the Caméra d'Or at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.

Malayalam cinema through early-mid 2000s

The Malayalam film industry in recent times has been affected by the spread of satellite digital television and film piracy. Slapstick comedy is the predominant theme in the films of this era. CID Moosa (2003) by Johny Antony ,Meesamadhavan (2002) by Lal Jose and Kunjikkoonan directed by Sasi Shankar (2002) are examples.Sequels have been made of a number of successful films. These include Ravanaprabhu (Devasuram) and the sequels made to one of the late 80's mega hit movie (Oru CBI Diarykurippu) named Sethurama Iyer CBI(2004) and "Nerariyan CBI"(2005) are well received by masses.Generally movies at the period of early 2000 of low quality. Aiding to this crisis a parallel culture of adult content movies named "Shakeela films" emerged to be the best grosser for more than a year. Malayalam cinema has seen a rare dearth of talent. At the same time, Tamil movies had seen a surge of new talent in script writers, directors and actors alike . This resulted in increased popularity of Tamil and Hindi movies in Kerala. Several film theatres were closed in rural Kerala and were converted to Marriage Halls.But by the last of year 2003,it was a happy season for the industry.
List of Malayalam films from 1996 to 2000
List of Malayalam films from 2001 to 2005


Malayalam cinema through mid-late 2000s

Malayalam movies have seen a real comeback in 2005. New directors such as Lal Jose, Roshan Andrews, Blessy and Anwar Rasheed brought back original scripts to Malayalam movie. Notable movies of this era are Udayananu Tharam, Note Book, Classmates, Kazhcha, Keerthi Chakra, Vinoda Yatra, Rajamanikyam, Arabi Kadha, Kadha Paryumbol, and about 50 percentage of Malayalam movies are remade into other languages.This era has seen new promising actors like Dileep Prithviraj, Narain, Jayasurya, Indrajith, along with stalwarts Mammooty and Mohanlal.

Pioneered film-making aspects

Malayalam films caters to people living in the South Indian state of Kerala and emigrants from it. The total population of Malayalees, as they are called is around 40 million, out of which about 60% can be estimated as filmgoing. Most of the Malayalam films are made with a budget ranging from Rs. 1 crore to 10 crores (USD 0.2 million to 1 million approx.). By 2007 onwards Malayalam Cinema has seen big budget movies like Big B, Sagar Elias Jackie, Red Chilles, Love in Singapore, Aakasha Gopuram, Twenty:20 and Pazhassi Raja. Pazhassiraja is the highest budget Malayalam film, which is made at a budget of Rs. 35 crore ($ 6.5 Million Approx.). Malayalam cinema could pioneer various technical, thematic and production aspects of films in India or South India. Some of such films are:

Notable personalities


Malayalam cinema is having many brilliant film directors to boast of, and that line starts with J. C. Daniel, the director and producer of the first Malayalam film Vigathakumaran (1928). Unlike other Indian films at that time, most of which were films based on the puranas, he chose to base his film on a social theme. Though the film failed commercially, he paved way for the Malayalam film industry and is widely considered as the Father of Malayalam Cinema. Till 1950's Malayalam film didn't see too much talented film directors. The milestone film Neelakkuyil (1954), directed by Ramu Karyat and P. Bhaskaran shed a lot of limelight over its directors. Ramu Karyat went on to become a celebrated director in the 1960s and 1970s. P. Bhaskaran also directed a few acclaimed films in the 1960s. The cameraman of Neelakkuyil, A. Vincent also became a noted director of the 1960s and 1970s. Another noted director of the 1950s was P. Ramadas, the director of Newspaper Boy (1955), a neorealistic film.

In the 1970s Malayalam film industry saw the rise of film societies. It triggered a new genre of films known as "parallel cinema". The main driving forces of the movement, who gave priority to serious cinema, were Adoor Gopalakrishnan and G. Aravindan. People like John Abraham and P.A.Becker gave a new dimension to Malayalam cinema through their political themes.The later 1970s witnessed the emergence of another stream of Malayalam films, known as "middle-stream cinema", which seamlessly integrated the seriousness of the parallel cinema and the popularity of the mainstream cinema. Most of the films belonging to this stream were directed by K. G. George, Bharathan and Padmarajan.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a period quite widely regarded as the Golden Age of Malayalam Cinema, a new array of directors joined the stalwarts who already made a mark in the industry. The Golden Age saw the narrowing of the gap between the different streams of the industry. New directors like Fazil, I. V. Sasi, Joshy, Kamal, Sibi Malayil, Hariharan, Priyadarshan, Sathyan Anthikkad, K. Madhu and Siddique-Lal contributed heavily in the Golden Age. Then there were maverick filmmakers like John Abraham, Balachandra Menon and Sreenivasan who contributed their part as well.

The 2000s witnessed the decline of quality of Malayalam films. Many directors who excelled in the Golden Age struggled as many of their films continuously failed critically and commercially. As a result the gap between parallel cinema, now known as art cinema and mainstream cinema, now known as commercial cinema widened. The 2000s also saw a commercial film formula being created in line with Tamil and Bollywood films. Directors like Shaji Kailas, Rafi-Mecartin and Anwar Rasheed directed blockbusters which had few artistic merits to boast of. Despite the overall decline, some directors stood apart and made quality cinema. Shaji N. Karun, T. V. Chandran, Lenin Rajendran, T. K. Rajeev Kumar, Shyama Prasad and Jayaraj made films that won laurels. Notable directors who debuted in this time include Blessy, Lal Jose, R. Sharath and Roshan Andrews.

Malayalam film directors have made their mark in the national level as well. Out of the 40 National Film Awards for Best Director given away till 2007, Malayalam directors have pocketed 12, trailed only by Bengali (14 awards). The directors who won the prestigious award are Adoor Gopalakrishnan (1973,1985,1988,1990,2007), G. Aravindan (1978,1979,1987), Shaji N. Karun (1989), T.V. Chandran (1994), Jayaraj (1998) and Rajivnath (1999). There are several recipients of the Special Jury Award as well: Mankada Ravi Varma (1984), John Abraham (1987), Shaji N. Karun (1995) and Pradeep Nair (2005).


Lead actors

A lead actor is called as a superstar when that person has become a driving force at the box-office. Just like other Indian film industries, there are no clear-cut guidelines for decorating an actor as superstar, and this designation is almost always bestowed by the media after an actor proves to be a champion at the box-office.

Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair was the first person in Malayalam film history to be called as a superstar. That was following the tremendous success of his second film Jeevithanauka(1951), which is touted as the First Superhit of Malayalam Cinema. Later Prem Nazir, Sathyan, Madhu, Jayan, M. G. Soman, and Sukumaran came to be called as superstars. Prem Nazir and Sathyan formed a bipolar industry in which a considerable number of films made in Malayalam in the later 1960s and the whole of 1970's were starring either of them. Curiously, the trend was continued in the next era as well with Mammootty and Mohanlal being established as superstars in later 1980s. Suresh Gopi, Jayaram, Shankar and Rahman were also come to be called as superstars in the later 1980s and early 1990s. However, Shankar and Rahman lost their sheen in later 1990s and they now play supporting roles. Mammootty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Jayaram, Dileep and Prithvi Raj are considered as the reigning superstars of Malayalam Cinema.

Very much like most of the other Indian film scenarios, Malayalam film industry is driven by male actors. None of the female actors who were part of the industry were came to be known as superstars though there were immensely popular stars like Miss Kumari, Sharada, Sheela, Shobhana, Urvashi, Manju Warrier, Samyuktha Varma, Kavya Madhavan, Meera Jasmine and Priyamani.

Many actors have brought laurels to Malayalam films with their performances. As of 2007, Malayalam film actors have won 11 out of the 42 National Film Awards for Best Actor ever given away, including two occasions of double awardees. 11 is the second highest number of award wins by a film industry trailed only by Hindi (17 awards). The Malayalam film actors who have won the award are P. J. Antony (1974), Gopi (1978), Balan K. Nair (1981), Premji (1989), Mammootty (1990, 1994, 1999), Mohanlal (1992, 2000), Suresh Gopi (1998), Balachandra Menon (1998) and Murali (2002). Additionally, Malayalam film actors have won several Special Jury Awards as well: Mohanlal (1990), Kalabhavan Mani (2000), Nedumudi Venu (2004) and Thilakan (2007). Mammootty won the award in 1999 also for the English film Dr. Ambedkar and he is the only actor apart Kamal Haasan to win the national award in best actor category for three times which is another golden feather on malayalam industry's hat.

Malayalam female actors are not far behind. As of 2007, they have won the National Film Award for Best Actress 5 times. The winners are Sharada (1969, 1973, 1979), Monisha (1987), Shobana (1994, 2002), Meera Jasmine (2004) and Priyamani (2007). The actresses to win the Special Jury Award are Jomol (1998), Manju Warrier (1999) and Jyothirmayi (2003). Sharada did win another award in 1979 for the Telugu film Nimajjan; so did Shobana in 2002 for the English film Mitr, My Friend.

Supporting actors

In the early times of Malayalam cinema, supporting roles, though mostly donned by established theatre artits, didn't have any noted supporting actors. In 1960's and 1970s several supporting actors like Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Adoor Bhasi, Bahadoor, Balan K. Nair, Adoor Bhavani and Aranmula Ponnamma came into the scene. Most of them went on to have a life long career. In 1980's and 1990s many more joined them, notably Thilakan, Nedumudi Venu, Jagathy Sreekumar, biju Menon, Innocent, Siddique, Jagadish, Kuthiravattam Pappu, Manoj K. Jayan, Rajan P. Dev, Sukumari, K.P.A.C. Lalitha and Bindu Panicker. Some of them did have short career with title roles as well.

Despite the presence of a number of talented actors, Malayalam films have only won 2 out of the 24 National Film Awards for Best Supporting Actor given away, as of 2007. Thilakan (1988) and Nedumudi Venu (1991) are the only actors to win the award. The same is not the case with female actors. They have won 6 out the 24 National Film Awards for Best Supporting Actress given away, trailed only by Hindi (10 awards). The winners are K.P.A.C. Lalitha (1991, 2001), Santha Devi (1992), Aranmula Ponnamma (1996), Sheela (2005) and Urvashi (2006).

Film music

Film music, which refers to playback singing in the context of Indian music, forms the most important canon of popular music in India. Film music of Kerala in particular is the most popular form of music in the state. Before Malayalam cinema and Malayalam film music developed, the Keralitesmarker eagerly followed Tamil and Hindi film songs, and that habit stays with them till now. The history of Malayalam film songs begin with the 1948 film Nirmala. The film's music director was P. S. Divakar, and the songs were sung by P. Leela, T. K. Govinda Rao, Vasudeva Kurup, C. K. Raghavan, Sarojini Menon and Vimala B. Varma, who is credited as the first playback singer of Malayalam cinema.

The main trend in the early years was to use the tune of hit Hindi or Tamil songs in Malayalam songs. This trend changed in the early 1950s with the arrival of a number of poets and musicians to the Malayalam music scene. People who stormed into the Malayalam film music industry in the 1950s include musicians like V. Dakshinamurthy (1950), K. Raghavan (1954), G. Devarajan (1955) and M.S. Babu Raj (1957) and lyricists like P. Bhaskaran (1950), O. N. V. Kurup (1955) and Vayalar Rama Varma (1956). They are attributed with shaping Malayalam film music stream and giving it its own identity. Major playback singers of that time were Kamukara Purushothaman, K. P. Udayabhanu, A. M. Raja, P. Leela, Santha P. Nair, P. Susheela and S. Janaki. Many of this singers like A. M. Raja, P. Susheela and Janaki were not Malayalis and their pronunciation was not perfect. Despite that, these singers got high popularity throughout Kerala. In the later years many non-Malayalis like Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and S. P. Balasubrahmanyam sang for Malayalam films. This trend was also found among music directors to an extent, with outside musicians like Naushad, Usha Khanna, Bombay Ravi, Ilaya Raja and A. R. Rahman. This can be attributed to the fact that film music in South India had a parallel growth pattern with so many instances of cross-industry contributions.

K. J. Yesudas, who debuted in 1961, virtually revolutionised the Malayalam film music industry and became the most popular Malayalam singer ever. He became equally popular with classical music audience and people who patronised film music. He along with P. Jayachandran gave a major facelift to Malayalam playback singing in the 1960s and 1970s. Malayalam film music also received heavy contributions from musicians like Johnson, M. G. Radhakrishnan, Raveendran, S. P. Venkitesh and Ouseppachan, lyricists like Sreekumaran Thampi, Yusuf Ali Kechery, and Kaithaprom Damodaran Namboodiri, and singers like M. G. Sreekumar, G. Venugopal, K. S. Chitra and Sujatha Mohan. A notable aspect in the later years was the extensive of classical carnatic music in many film songs of the later 1980s and early 1990s. Interestingly, that particular period is also considered as the peak time for Malayalam cinema itself and is quite widely known as the Golden Age of Malayalam cinema, a period in which the difference between art films and popular films was least felt. Similarly, classical carnatic music was heavily used in several popular film songs, most notably those in films like Chithram (1988), His Highness Abdullah (1990), Bharatham (1991), Sargam (1992) and Sopanam (1993). Vidyasagar was the leading music composer in Malayalam films, from the late nineties to the early 2000s.

At present, the major players in the scene are young telents like musicians Rahul Raj, Deepak Dev, Alphonse, Jassie Gift and Biji Pal, lyricists Gireesh Puthanchery, Vayalar Sarath and Anil Panachooran, and singers Madhu Balakrishnan, Afsal, Manjari and Jyotsna, along with stalwarts in the field.

Young composers like Rahul Raj and Gopi Sundar are not only known for their catchy tunes, but also known for bringing in a lot of electronics, digital sound and a variety of genres in Malayalam film songs.

The national award winning music directors of Malayalam cinema are Johnson (1994, 1995), Bombay Ravi (1995) and Ouseppachan {2008}. The 1995 National Award that Johnson received for film score of Sukrutham (1994) was the only instance in the history of the award in which the awardee composed film soundtrack rather than songs. He shared that award with Bombay Ravi who received the award for composing songs for the same film. Additionally Ravindran have received a Special Jury Award in 1992 for composing songs for the film Bharatham. The lyricists who have won the national award are Vayalar Ramavarma (1973), O. N. V. Kurup (1989) and Yusuf Ali Kechery (2001). The male singers who got national award are K. J. Yesudas (1973, 1974, 1988, 1992, 1994), P. Jayachandran (1986) and M. G. Sreekumar (1991, 2000). Yesudas has won two more national awards for singing in Hindi (1977) and Telugu (1983) films, which makes him the person who has won the largest number of National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer with 7 awards, closely followed by S. P. Balasubrahmanyam with six awards. The female singers who have won the award are S. Janaki (1981) and K. S. Chitra (1987, 1989). Chitra had also won the award for Tamil (1986, 1997, 2005) and Hindi (1998) film songs, which makes her the person with the largest number of National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer wins with 6 awards, closely followed by P. Susheela with 5 awards.

Landmark films

The films in this list are those which have influenced the growth, trends, fame and acclaim of Malayalam cinema through its 80-year-long history. Quality is not a criterion for inclusion of films to this list.

Year Film Director Major Cast
1928 Vigathakumaran J. C. Daniel J. C. Daniel, Rosy First film. The first Indian film was produced in 1912.
1933 Marthanda Varma P. V. Rao Jaidev, Devaki, Padmini Second and last silent film. First historical drama film and novel to film adaptation.
1938 Balan S. Nottani Kamalan, Laxmikutty First talkie.
1948 Nirmala P. J. Cherian Joseph Cherian , Baby Joseph First film produced by a Malayali. Also the first film with songs. Lyrics were by noted poet G. Shankara Kurup.
1951 Jeevithanauka K. Vembu Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair First superhit. Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair becomes the first superstar.
1954 Neelakkuyil Ramu Karyat, P. Bhaskaran Sathyan, Miss Kumari Considered as the first mature film in Malayalam. The film in excelled in direction, screenplay, acting and music.
1955 Newspaper Boy P. Ramadas Master Moni Considered as the first neorealistic film.
1961 Kandam Bacha Coat T. R. Sundaram Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair, Prem Nawaz, Ambika First colour film.
1964 Bhargavi Nilayam A. Vincent Madhu, Prem Nazir, Vijaya Nirmala, P.J. Antony First horror film. Story snd screenplay was by renowned writer Vaikom Muhammed Bashir.
1965 Chemmeen Ramu Karyat Madhu, Sathyan, Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair, Sheela First South Indian film to win the National Film Award for Best Film.
1965 Murappennu A. Vincent Prem Nazir, P.J. Antony, Adoor Bhasi, Sharada First film to shoot extensively outdoors. It was the first film venture of writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair.
1966 Iruttinte Atmavu P. Bhaskaran Prem Nazir, Santha Devi Noted for being the first serious attempt at sensitive story telling. Considered as the masterpiece work of P. Bhaskaran and Prem Nazir.
1972 Swayamvaram Adoor Gopalakrishnan Madhu, Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair, Sharada First film to participate in an International film festival. It was the debut film of the director and it is also the first Malayalam film to win National Film Award for Best Directing.
1975 Prayanam Bharathan Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair Considered as the starting point of middle-stream cinema, a mix of serious themes and mass appeal. It was the debut of director Bharathan and screenwriter Padmarajan.
1978 Thacholi Ambu Appachan Prem Nazir, Jayan South India's first CinemaScope film.
1982 Padayottam Jijo Punnoose Prem Nazir, Madhu, Mammootty, Mohanlal, Lakshmi India's first indigenously produced 70 mm film.
1984 My Dear Kuttichathan Jijo Punnoose Arvind, Sonia India's first 3D film.
1986 New Delhi Joshi Mammootty, Sumalatha, Urvashi This film creates most number of remakes to other languages by same director with same title. The film was remade to Kannada, Bengali, Tamil, Hindi and Marathi although criticism were that the film was only a low class commercial movie.
1988 Piravi Shaji N Karun Premji This film bags the most number of international awards in the history of Malayalam cinema.
1988 Chithram Priyadarshan Mohanlal This film is a 1988 screwball comedy film directed and written by Priyadarshan. The film ran for 300 days in regular shows
1989 Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha Hariharan Mammootty, Suresh Gopi Wonderful classic film scripted by M.T.Vasudevan Nair
1989 Mathilukal Adoor Gopalakrishnan Mammootty This film was shown in (42) most number of international film festivals in the history of Malayalam cinema.
1991 God Father Siddique-Lal N N Pillai, Thilakan, Mukesh, Kanaka The film to that got the longest theatrical run.
2000 Kinnarathumbikal R. J. Prasad Shakeela This superhit low-budget theatrical softporn film inspired a series of similar productions in the next few years, which adversely affected the core industry's quality and reputation.
2008 Twenty:20 Joshy Mammootty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi First film to star almost all actors in the industry since serious film-making started. The film was produced for raising funds for the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes.
2009 Pazhassi Raja Hariharan Mammootty, Sharath Kumar, Suman Pazhassi Raja is touted to be the grandest movie of Malayalam cinema in terms of star cast and production cost. Scripted by M.T. Vasudevan Nair. An expensive movie with star studed crew and over 27 core rupees of budget.

Kerala State Film Awards

The Kerala State Film Awards are the most prestigious film awards for a motion picture made in the Malayalam language. The awards have been bestowed by Kerala State Chalachitra Academy since 1998 on behalf of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala. The awards were started in the year 1969. The awardees are decided by an independent jury formed by the academy and the Department of Cultural Affairs, Govt. of Kerala. The jury usually consists of eminent personalities from the film field. For the awards for literature on cinema a fanny separate jury is formed. The academy annually invites films for the award and the jury analyses the films that are submitted before deciding the winners. The awards intends to promote films with artistic values and encourage artistes and technicians.

International Film Festival of Kerala

The International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) is a film festival held annually in Thiruvananthapurammarker, the capital city of Keralamarker. This film festival was started in 1996 and is organised by Kerala State Chalachitra Academy on behalf of the Department of Cultural Affairs of the State Government. The festival is held in November/December every year and is acknowledged as one of the leading film festivals in India.



The major actors and actresses of the Malayalam cinema have recently formed an organization to safeguard their interests and to fight against piracy. The Association of Malayalam Movie Artists better known as AMMA (literal meaning: Mother) aims to act against piracy, safeguard the interests of member actors and actresses and act as a common forum to raise concerns and address issues. The organization is generally regarded as successful. The activities of "AMMA" include endowments, insurance schemes, and committees on wages and benefits on revision, fund for research, pensions, education loans for their children etc for the members. The organization has recently entered into film production to raise funds for its activities.

Other organisations

  • Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA)
  • Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce
  • Malayalam Film Chamber of Commerce
  • Kerala Film Producers' Association
  • Kerala Film Distributors Association
  • Kerala Cine Exhibitors Federation
  • Kerala Film Exhibitors Association
  • Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA)

The Film Industry Crisis of 2004

Since its formation the AMMA was involved in a number of controversies, the major one being with the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce, which represents producers, exhibitors and distributors in Kerala. The rift started as early as April 2002 when the Chamber came out with an instruction to the film artistes against appearing in TV programmes or stage shows; the cited reason being diversion of energy of the artistes from films and loss of star value by frequent public appearance. In January 2004, the AMMA decided to participate in an award night conducted by Asianet, a private TV channel to be held on 7 March 2004. The Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce objected the move claiming that it is a breach of an agreement between the two parties which had provisions against the AMMA's members appearing in stage and television shows. Further, the Chamber president, Siyad Kokker warned that all the production work will be halted from 8 March 2004 unless the AMMA refrain from the show. The Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA), which first took a stand in favour of the Film Chamber, later decided to maintain a neutral stand in the issue. AMMA was put under pressure by some comments made by senior actors Thilakan and Lalu Alex against AMMA. Lalu Alex particularly accused that "the AMMA had betrayed the Film Chamber after signing an agreement". On 16 April 2004, the AMMA called a press meet in which they demanded changes in agreement with film chamber. They claimed that certain points in the agreement were equivalent to the denial of freedom and rights of the artistes and also detrimental to the growth of the Malayalam film industry, and sought removal of them from the agreement.

The AMMA's concerns regarding the clauses of the agreement:
  1. In the case of remuneration to be paid by the producer to the artiste, there was no guarantee that was assured in the agreement.
  2. The agreement will be in force till the film is released and would in effect prevent an artiste from associating with any other project.
  3. The ban prohibiting an artiste from taking part in star nites or stage shows in India and abroad for a period of 12 months from the date of agreement.
  4. The ban for an artiste to associate themselves with any programmes, including those for the television channels, which were likely to be telecast without the written consent of the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce.

While the Film Chamber was adamant on modifying the agreement, the AMMA went forward with the stage programme on 7 March 2004, which further deepened the crisis. The production works in Malayalam film industry halted as both sides remained firm on their stands; the AMMA kept its members from working for any film till the stand-off gets over and the Chamber halted the production works of films. A series of dramatic events followed, which gave new dimensions to the crisis. The first of them was the formation of Malayalam Film Chamber of Commerce vis-à-vis Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce on 10 March 2004. The former consisted of a number of film producers, artistes and other workers. The body set its objective as to keep unity among members of the film industry and to work for their economic, social and professional growth. The officials also claimed that it was not a parallel body to the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce. However, the formation of the Malayalam Film Chamber of Commerce had little effect on the crisis. The Government of Kerala got involved in the controversy after an AMMA delegation met the then-Chief Minister A. K. Antony and requested the Government's help in solving the crisis. Antony directed the Kerala Information and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, M.M. Hassan and the Minister for Food and Culture, G. Karthikeyan to hold talks with the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce. The mediatory efforts by the State Government ended soon on 25 March 2004 as the Chamber refused to involve the AMMA in the talks citing the reason that it does not recognise AMMA. The Chamber representatives also informed the Government that there is no crisis in the industry. Meanwhile, a number of AMMA members conducted a star night programme in Dubaimarker on 26 April 2004, further deepening the crisis. The AMMA's stand was worsened on 28 April 2004, when young actor Prithviraj openly challenged the AMMA and joined a film directed by Vinayan, titled Sathyam after signing the controversial agreement. He insisted that he did not want to disobey the AMMA, but he could not let his career suffer as well. He claimed that he did not find any of the 21 clauses in the agreement as harmful to the interests of the artistes. Parallelly works on another film titled Manju Poloru Penkutty started; the film being directed by Kamal with Lalu Alex and Suresh Krishna in the major cast. Suresh Krishna was another actor who challenged the AMMA's stand. Other cast in both films were either from outside Kerala or were not members of the AMMA. The crisis went through many ups and downs when the MACTA accused the AMMA general secretary Mohanlal of playing dirty (28 March), directors Priyadarshan and T. K. Rajeev Kumar participated in the AMMA star nite on 6 March, the AMMA pulled out of the non-cooperation (18 March), the Chamber drafted new agreement (20 March) and the AMMA's first approval(4 April) and then disapproval(17 April)) of the new agreement (which was signed by Prithviraj, Thilakan and Lalu Alex). The crisis came to an end on 3 June 2004 when the AMMA and the Chamber came in terms with the new agreement. The Chamber obliged to alter 2 clauses in the agreement. The changes were:

1. Clause 17
Original Clause: Artistes should get permission from the Chamber for taking part in stage programmes.
Changed to: Artistes need to inform the Chamber about taking part in stage programmes.
2. Clause 21
Original Clause: The Chamber is the body which will take decisions in case of disputes.
Changed to: A combined forum consisting of selected members of the Chamber, the AMMA and the MACTA will be the arbitration body in case of disputes.

The AMMA's decision to abide by the new agreement put an end to the crisis that lasted about 4 months. The artistes who defied the AMMA during the crisis, namely Prithviraj, Suresh Krishna Lalu Alex, Bheeman Raghu, Captain Raju, Meera Jasmine and Kaviyoor Renuka expressed their apology at an AMMA meeting on 13 June 2004 in response to a show-cause notice from the AMMA, further loosening the situation. However a fresh crisis surfaced with the Chamber's decision to go ahead with an indefinite Cinema Bandh starting on 15 June 2004 seeking reduction of electricity rate slash for supply to cinema halls and reduction in entertainment tax. The bandh was called off on 2 July 2004 after the State Government assured to take positive stand on the demands of the Chamber.

See also


  2. Business Line: No show: Cinema bandh total in Kerala
  3. Thats Malayalam: Foolishness, your name is film chamber
  4. The Hindu: Film chamber threatens to halt production
  5. The Hindu: MACTA to take a neutral stand
  6. The Hindu: Lalu Alex reiterates charge
  7. The Hindu: AMMA seeks changes in agreement with film chamber
  8. Business Line: New Malayalam film chamber constituted
  9. Business Line: Kerala Govt withdraws from talks with film industry
  10. The Hindu: Prithviraj defies AMMA, to act in film
  11. The Times of India: AMMA surrenders to producers
  12. Thats Malayalam: AMMA-Film Chamber rift
  13. Thats Malayalam: Crisis in Malayalam film industry solved
  14. Thats Malayalam: Stars made apology in AMMA meeting
  15. Thats Malayalam: Film industry headed for another crisis
  16. Thats Malayalam: Cinema bandh withdrawn

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