Meghna George in Kochi
After looking back at the year end 'balance-sheet', Malayalam filmdom can heave a sigh of relief.
No, we are still not near those glorious times in the past when Malayalam films set fascinating standards. Yet there were some aspects to cheer about.
For example, Pazhassi Raja made the movie world sit up and watch the industry with certain awe. Kerala Cafe was a welcome experiment, especially in an industry which is generally reluctant to tread beyond accepted lines. Bhramaram gave Mohanlal something to cheer about while Adoor's Oru Pennum Randaanum was a nice film. Debutant Ranjith Sankar announced his arrival with Passenger and even though films like Kutty Sranku and Sufi Paranja Kadha haven't hit the theatres yet, their selection to prestigious film festivals are encouraging.
So, here without further ado is a look at the six which rock 2009.
It took some years in the making but it was worth the wait.
Malayalam cinema has not seen a film on this scale for a long time. Easily the costliest Malayalam film ever made, Pazhassi Raja lived up to its lofty expectations. M T Vasudevan Nair's script and Hariharan's direction were the highlights of the film where Mammootty looked perfect as the ruler who fought against the British.Sarath Kumar, as the chief lieutenant Edachena Kunkan was apt for the role. Manoj K Jayan, Padmapriya and Kaniha also performed well in their roles.
Paleri manikyam: Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Kadha
Cast: Mammootty, Swetha Menon
Based on writer T P Rajeevan's novel, Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathira Kolapathakathinte Kadha, is a fascinating tale that has been made quite brilliantly by director Ranjith.
Mammootty, in three avatars, delivers a truly powerful performance, especially as Murikkum Kunnathu Ahmad Haji, a rich and arrogant landlord who lived in a north Malabar village called Paleri.Brilliant cinematography by Manoj Pillai, amazing music by Sarath and Bijibal and awesome performances by fresh faces and experienced actors alike added to the film's appeal.
Cast: Mohanlal, Bhumika Chawla
Mohanlal is known for his versatility as his character in Bhramaram amply showed. The jeep driver in a high range town, who has some deep scars in his mind, goes to his two friends to settle some old scores. He meets them but decides to forgive and forget instead.Blessy teamed up with Mohanlal after Thanmathra and gave the actor a powerful character in Bhramaram. As always, the actor had no problem giving an altogether different meaning to subtle acting.
10 short films by 10 directors, with most of the top actors from Malayalam
This collection of 10 short stories was a fabulous new concept. The best thing about Kerala Cafe was that most of the stories were good. Anwar Rasheed's Bridge and Anjali Menon's Happy Journey stood out from the rest, though.Produced by Ranjith, the ten short films, were linked by a common theme, yatra or journey. It had a mix of directors -- both well known and some new. Lal Jose, Shaji Kailas, Anwar Rasheed, Shyama Prasad, Revathy, B Unnikrishnan, M Padmakumar, Anjali Menon, Uday Ananthan and Shankar Ramakrishnan made Kerala Cafe a rather refreshing experience.
Oru Pennum Randaanum
Director: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Cast: Praveena, Manoj K Jayan
Four stories from legendary writer Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai was made into a film by master filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan. A common theme running through the stories of Kallante Makan, Niyamavum Neethiyum, Oru Koottukaran and Pankiyamma is crime.Adoor has always handled complex emotions with amazing brilliance and this one is no exception. Plus, the superb technical support takes the story to another level. Of the actors, it is Praveena who shines with his fine performance as Pankiyamma.
Director: Ranjith Sankar
Cast: Dileep, Sreenivasan, Mamta Mohandas
He came out of nowhere and unleashed magic on the screen. We are talking about techie-turned-filmmaker Ranjith Sankar whose Passenger had a language that was different from the usual treatment in Malayalam.
Things could have been better. Still, Passenger is a nice attempt. Sreenivasan, Dileep, Mamta, Nedumudi Venu and Jagathy Sreekumar performed really well to make this a memorable experience.