KOCHI: For a year that cinema took centrestage, thanks to the many controversies, 2017 was a bleak period for the Malayalam film industry, both in terms of revenue and content. The year began on a bad note with theatres going dry owing to the strike by the Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation. When it ended, theatres flourished with four major releases, of which Mohanlal-starrer Munthirivallikal Thalirkumbol and Prithviraj-starrer Ezra went on to become hits. The Dulquer Salmaan-starrer Joemonte Suviseshangal too did decent business.
The great patch continued in March with Angamaly Diaries and Oru Mexican Aparatha doing well. An experimental venture, Angamaly Diaries directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery went on to attain a cult status. Though devoid of high-profile faces, Oru Mexican Aparatha minted money too. The two movies highlighted the new trend among producers eyeing maximum profit at minimum production cost.
But the figures projected by the makers as profit are dubious. The fact the Malayalam industry lacks a credible agency or tracking mechanism to assess box office figures hints the numbers may be mere speculations.
Sources say many banners exaggerate the figures for ulterior motives. Meanwhile, the industry benefitted immensely from Baabubali 2: The Conclusion, with even its Malayalam version attracting crowds. The dubbed version reaped huge profit at the box office.
Crisis erupted in July, when actor Dileep was arrested in connection with the actor assault case. Sources within the industry agree the controversy affected footfalls to theatres. Much to the chagrin of film lovers and the industry, the Onam season, usually the most profitable, ended up a dampener with only the Nivin Pauly-starrer Njandukalude Naatil Oridavela surviving the crisis.
2017 was also when new directors proved their might. Besides Mahesh Narayanan, debutant Arun Gopy made a mark with Ramaleela, amid controversies and uncertainties. The Dileep-starrer became the second top grosser. Soubin Shaheer’s Parava collected over D1 crore from Kochi multiplexes
Star wars: The saga continues
Like every year, Mohanlal and Mammootty had many hyped releases to their credit. Mammootty marked a positive beginning with ‘The Great Father’, while Mohanlal attracted crowd for Villain and Velipadinte Pustakam, though both movies were slammed for their content. Though Mammootty’s Onam release ‘Pullikaran Stara’ tanked, he managed to keep fans happy on Christmas through Masterpiece. However, Mohanlal stole the limelight with his new, slim avatar and the hype surrounding his upcoming projects, including Odiyan and Randamoozham.