Imagine a scene in a Malayalam film where five brothers speak different dialects of same tongue. Sounds weird? Never, as umpteen number of instances, including in super hits, in which people living in the same place or same house speak different kinds of slang as if they have met the other day only! But the trend is showing a positive change if one goes by the recent movies.
Thus we hear Biju Menon with a Palakkadan slang('Ordinary'), Indrajith with a Thiruvananthapuram slang ('Eee Adutha Kaalathu') and Nivin Pauly with a Thalassery slang ('Thattathin Marayath').
Though a few of the earlier films such as ‘Chemeen’, ‘Kodiyettam’ or ‘Kolangal’ treat dialect in a serious manner, most of the other films had characters sounding the same.
“In those days there were only two types of dialects in Malayalam cinema, one is the standard Malayalam and other, the Valluvanadan. The regional dialects were used by comedians to evoke laughter. Hence characters like ‘Thacholi Othenan’ or ‘Pazhassi Raja’ never appeared rolled out slang,” says Kalppatta Narayanan, noted writer and an ardent film viewer.
Thus, irrespective of the milieu, the characters in Malayalam films loved, laughed and cried in the same standard dialect, a left over of the drama and went almost unnoticed by the viewers who wept and laughed with them.
“I am one of the victims of using regional slang in films. In 2004, I had to change the Thiruvananthapuram dialect in my first script Rasikan as the lead actor was against it saying ‘people north of Varkkala will not accept it’. Hence I diluted the dialect to a great extent,” says Murali Gopi who scripted ‘Rasikan’ and ‘Eee Adutha Kalathu’.
Though ‘Rasikan’ released in December bombed at box office, a film which released after a few months which used the rejected slang for the lead character became one of the top grossers in the history of Malayalam cinema. It was ‘Rajamanickyam’ which saw a complete makeover for Mammootty. Mammootty has created ripples with dialects of different flavour.
Though it was legendary M T Vasudeavan Nair who introduced the Valluvanadan slang into films in a convincing manner, it became a hot favourite with the arrival of Lohithadas as many of his films centred around the dialect spoken in the milieu. Padmarajan’s films portrayed a variety of dialects from Onattukara (Mavelikkara Harippad area) to Thrissur.
“Using slang is a great challenge to the writer. It needs a great effort for a good result as the actors also need rehearsal before the sound is recorded at the location. However, using the regional flavour in dialogue increases the intimacy between the characters and the viewers,” says Santhosh Aechikkanam who is scripting ‘Annayum Resulum’ in Fort Kochi slang which is filming in sync sound.
“There is nothing comical about any dialect. Every dialect and slang should be treated with respect. Earlier too serious film makers were specific in the use of dialects. The present trend shows the number of serious filmmakers has increased,” says Murali Gopi.