A terrible misfortune for Mollywood that beats even ‘star’gazers’ forecast

A total of 47 films were released in the year, of which there were two blockbusters in the first two months.

Published: 28th December 2020 04:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th December 2020 04:12 AM   |  A+A-

Malayalam cinema

The representatives of Kerala Film Chamber, have written to the CM urging certain relaxations for exhibitors and producers to tide over the Covid-19 fallout.

Express News Service

KOCHI: For an industry which banks as much on talent as fortune, 2020 will go down as the annus horribilis for the Malayalam film world – the  stuttering start and anticlimactic end which beat the forecast of even those with the most fertile imagination in the industry.

In a state where over 100 cinemas had been hitting the screens consistently over the last several years, the number plummeted to a measly 40-odd this year when closed theatres turned out to be the lone redeeming sight about tinsel town. Though the unlock process saw more and more places limping to normalcy, movie houses continued to remain shuttered.

But like their counterparts in other sectors, film crew are slowly springing back to life as  the industry hopefully looks forward to that one big ‘release’ –  that of a vaccine to battle the virus – with a level of anticipation that not even the release of the biggest multi-starrer ever evoked.  And the industry, like its larger audience, is keeping its fingers crossed in the hope that the vaccine will turn out to be a ‘box-office hit’ bringing back the normalcy everyone desperately craves for. For the industry that sells dreams, being able to release movies in theatres remains its biggest dream now. It has been that kind of a year and none can wait to see the back of it.

A total of 47 films were released in the year, of which there were two blockbusters in the first two months. Mollywood, which was all set to witness more movie wonders in the coming months of 2020, was hit hard by the Covid pandemic. Theatres had been closed down by March 10, two weeks before the nationwide lockdown kicked in. The final decision on when to reopen the cinema halls will be taken by the government on the New Year’s eve. However, industry experts believe that it will take some time for Mollywood to overcome the impact of the pandemic.

Earlier this year, ‘Anchaam Paathira’,  released on January 10, became one of the biggest grossers in Mollywood. Helmed by Mudhun Manuel Thomas,  the psycho-thriller had Kunchakko Boban, Sharafudheen and Unnimaya Prasad playing lead roles. 

On February 7, Prithviraj-Biju Menon starrer ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’ which had Attappadi as the backdrop,  hit the screens. An instant hit, the movie was going strong in release centres when the pandemic hit the state. But by that time, it had recovered the production cost and the online streaming rights of the movie were also sold for a huge price, according to an industry source. But Mollywood became crestfallen in June when writer /director Sachy, who was basking in the success of ‘Ayyappanum Koshiyum’, died. Another tragedy in connection with the movie occurred in December when Anil Nedumangad, who became popular by portraying the character of Satheesh in the movie, met with a watery grave.  

Box office and OTT
Among the 47 movies released this year, seven were screened online after the lockdown. Of the theatre releases, Mammootty’s ‘Shylock’ and Suresh Gopi-Shobhana-Dulquer Salman-starrer ‘Varane Avashyamundu’ also turned out to be hits. Meanwhile, the first popular OTT release in Malayalam was ‘Sufiyum Sujathayum’, which was released on Amazon Prime in July. The movie with Jayasurya, Aditi Rao and Dev Mohan in  lead roles was well received. However, the demise of Naranippuzha Shanavas, its director, in December was another blow to the industry. The real wonder of the year was Mahesh Narayanan’s ‘C U Soon’ with Fahadh Fazil, Roshan Mathew and Darshana Rajendran which was a super duper ‘OTT’ hit.

Chamber for sops to reopen theatres
The representatives of Kerala Film Chamber, the apex film body in Mollywood,  have written to the chief minister urging certain relaxations for exhibitors and producers to tide over the Covid-19 fallout. “The demands, include slashing entertainment tax, relaxation in power tariff for the period when the theatres remained closed, restructuring of GST and subsidy for films which are scheduled for release post Covid,” said the letter sent by the Chamber. The state is likely to take a call on reopening of theatres soon. However, representatives of film bodies said their demands have to be met before the theatres will resume screenings. 

Hopes for  New Year
After halting movie shootings,  Mollywood had restarted filming by August.  Among the movies which were completed, include the much-hyped sequel to box office hit ‘Drishyam’ with superstar Mohanlal in the lead, Fahadh Fazil’s ‘Irul’, Tovino Thomas’ ‘Kala’, Nivin Pauly’s ‘Kanakam, Kamini, Kalaham’ and Kunchakko Boban’s ‘Nizhal’.  Mohanlal movie directed by Unnikrishnan B - ‘Aarattu’- is progressing at Palakkad. Scripted by Udayakrishna, has sparked considerable interest. A section of theatre owners wants to resume screening in January 2021, with ‘Master’ featuring Tamil superstar Vijay. If theatres are reopened by then, an array of Malayalam movies including Mohanlal’s ‘Marakkar-Arabikkadalinte Simham’, ‘One and The Priest’ of Mammootty,  Fahadh Fazil-starrer ‘Malik’ slated for 2021 Eid release, ‘Kurupp’ featuring Dulquer Salmaan and Nivin Pauly’s ‘Thuramukham’ will hit the screens.


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