Mollywood underwent some sweeping changes in 2022. With a host of good directors, actors and back-end technical crew in experimental mode, the Malayalam film industry, known for churning out quality content, made some significant contributions this year. Be it content, or style of making, it was a year of experimentation.
Onmanorama takes a look at some of the most innovative films released via OTT and theatres this year.
This Mammootty-starrer revived the Covid-affected industry by setting the cash registers ringing, while also redefining the veteran actor’s space in Mollywood. Though it was Mammootty’s larger-than-life ultra-glamorous avatar and superb songs that fuelled the success of Amal Neerad’s film, the ‘bolt camera’ technology used in the fight sequence was also a game-changer.
The behind-the-scenes videos released by the filmmakers too generated a lot of discussion on social media.
The film’s indirect link to the Mahabharatha also enthused viewers. The name ‘Bheeshma Parvam’ was derived from Bheeshma Parvath, the sixth mountain mentioned in the book.
Screenplay writer Devadath Shaji also revealed he had borrowed some references from the Mahabharatha in the story. You can try finishing me off, but it’s up to me to decide, Michael Anjooti’s (Mammootty) dialogue, seems to be derived from a quote during the Kurukshetra battle which says: “Except when I am ready for death and have withdrawn myself from weapons and my senses, no warrior can kill me in battle."
Nadiya Moidyu's character 'Fatima' also bears a slight resemblance to Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas, as she loses her husband at a young age. The animosity between the siblings of the Anjooti family to Fatima’s sons can be likened to the animosity which existed between the Kauravas and the Pandavas.
Debutant director Sajimon Prabhakar's‘ Malayankunju’ is a survival thriller that made plenty of noise before it hit theatres. Though the film received mixed reviews, the movie’s sound design and making style received praise. The performances of the actors, including Fahadh Faasil, won accolades.
Apart from these, it was the film’s setting that was the talk of the town. The film’s art director Jothish Shankar said the crew took months to create the sets of ‘Malayankunju’. Since the movie revolved around a man who was trapped in a landslide, the challenge was to make the set as realistic as possible. The makers converted an entire movie studio to meet the expectations. Fahadh also had quite a difficult time shooting for the film since he was required to crawl a lot.
The soundscapes, including the downpour heard under the soil, were also captured beautifully by state award-winning sound designer Vishnu Govind.
The movie was inspired by the Biblical tale of Christ and his 12 disciples. The storyline is impressive and different as it focuses on two brothers played by Shine Tom Chacko and Vinayakan and their gang of 11 goons whose lives change by a chance meeting with a mysterious man. The film director has to be credited for trying to narrate a Christ-like story differently, using characteristics and characters who belong to Kerala. The attempt to address contemporary issues in a story that has a biblical touch also makes the movie stand apart. The cinematography, especially the scenes shot in the sea, is also appreciable.
This coming-of-age, experimental film featuring Tovino Thomas and Lukman drew extreme reactions from the audience. While some loved it, others found the film unbearable. That said and done, everything about the movie directed by ‘Unda’ director Khalid Rahman was different. The movie revolves around a bunch of youngsters, who thrive on brawls and fistfights.
The use of a non-linear narrative in a fully-fledged entertainer was a novel experience since most Malayalam movies have used this style of narrative only in serious films.
The rap and melody numbers, the attitude of the characters and the storyline gave a colourful vibe to the movie. The costumes were also in tune with the trend of the times.
For the Malayali audience whose idea of fun movies usually involves slap-stick humour, this was refreshing. ‘Thallumala’ kind of redefined the fun element, proving to audiences that it was also possible to enjoy a movie differently.
‘Mahaveeryar’ may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but its director Abrid Shine should be lauded for attempting a fantasy fiction movie, which borders on the absurd. The movie is set in two time periods and features two issues, which are relevant in today’s times, though they don’t have much connection to each other. A court trial, which takes place in the second half of the film, is satirical to the core. The film features Nivin Pauly who had previously worked with Abrid in films like ‘Action Hero Biju’ and ‘1983’.
‘Nna Thaan Case Kodu’
You have had plenty of films revolving around court battles in Mollywood, but most toe the same line. Some may be loud, others dramatic and some too much to put up with. Of course, you can’t blame filmmakers for exploiting that narrative, especially if your primary focus is to keep the audience engaged. However, this is how ‘Nna Thaan Case Kodu’ became an exception. With hardly any melodrama and the use of only subtle humour, film director Ratheesh Pothuval successfully created a legal story that kept the audience engaged throughout. Right from the judge to the petty thief (played by Kunchacko Boban) who is fighting against a powerful politician, all the characters were unconventional and yet overly realistic.
The film went on to become a huge hit at the box office and is easily one of the best performances by Kunchacko Boban yet.
Mammootty, who is known for experimenting with his characters, got to play a revenge-seeking, strange man who disrupts the peace of a village with his arrival. The film has been receiving positive and negative feedback, but not even the fiercest critic can deny the film lacked novelty. Most of the aspects of the film were handled differently as if the film director Nissam Basheer wanted the Malayali audience to get a taste of something they were unfamiliar with. The cinematography and background music were instrumental in raising the bar of the film. The unusual title of the film also triggered a huge response from the public.
'Mukundan Unni Associates'
‘Mukundan Unni Associates’ followed an unconventional path before its release. Its post-production promotions were also unique. The mind-narration by the protagonist is the highlight of the movie, which revolves around an advocate, a sly character. The level of his deception is unthinkable. The highly unapologetic storyline also makes the film unique, especially since it can shake at least a few of our sensibilities.We also get to see an altogether different Vineeth Sreenivasan in this movie directed by Abhinav Sundar.