Remember last Diwali, the festival season in the last week of October with three big releases ‘Ra. One’, ‘Velayudham’ and ‘Ezham Arivu’? The Malayalam industry looked almost a loser as these three films ruled the screens of Kerala for nearly one month and there were hardly any good cinemas left to screen the ‘homemade’ ones.
The bad season during Christmas and New Year made things worse. But things have changed in last three months if the rush in the theatres is anything to go by. Nearly six films could create ripples in the box office during this time - ‘Ordinary’, ‘Mayamohini’, ‘22 Female Kottayam’, Grandmaster’ ‘Diamond Necklace’ and ‘Mallusingh’.
These films are keeping the cash registers ringing, at last a season for the Malayalam industry to rejoice. There are various reasons for the changed scenario, says Milan Jaleel, Kerala Film Producers’ Association.
\"The first and foremost factor is that good films are running in good theatres,\" says Director Unnikrishnan.
“First of all, there is an increase in the number of films and the nearly successful antipiracy drive has been able to send the viewers back to the big screen,” he says.
Director Unnikrishnan B too has a similar view.
“The first and foremost factor is that good films are running in good theatres. It has been clear that the audience is not identical and as all these hit films are different from each other. When we watch closely it can be seen that the days of usual movies, with run-of-the-mill themes, are numbered.”
Good Malayalam movies in better theatres, strong anti-piracy drive, a calmer industry atmosphere with the various associations having entered into a truce, all this along with the absence major releases from Tamil or Hindi is adding the boom in the industry. Vijay’s ‘Nanpan’ was the last other language film to hit Kerala screens in a big way. But that was in January and the next big one on anvil is Ajith’s ‘Billa 2’ slated for a June release. Many had an opinion earlier that the bad condition of the theatres is driving the viewers away. “But that is not true as only good films can beckon big crowd,” says M C Bobby, secretary, Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation.
However it is an obvious fact that people prefer good ambience too for watching films. People are ready to pay anything for a good movie experience.
“I have collected feedback from many viewers who said they are watching films in theatres after a gap of five to six years,” says Dr Siju V Jose, owner of V Cinemas, Koothattukulam.
He has set up a two-class, 165 seat, single screen with multiplex facilities and is getting awesome response from the public since its opening in mid April, that too in a special grade panchayat.
Siju says his theatre will get good business provided it has release films.
According to him the six seats in the gold class with a ticket rate of Rs 200 are the most sought after! The “hit season” has a flip side too. Many films including ‘Usthad Hotel’, ‘Vadhyar’ and ‘Ivan Megharoopan’ are waiting in the queue for lack of theatres.