There’s a new wave of movies in Malayalam which have now gotten a genre all to themselves – they are being called ‘new generation’. This has as much to do with the new breed of filmmakers/actors/technicians who’ve begun to make their mark as it is to do with the themes that are portrayed in these films and the mindset that a viewer has to probably adopt – this mindset being radically different from the one reserved for the standard potboiler fare that viewers were used to. I stress the last two because it isn’t as though these kind of movies had never been made before. It was just that they were very few in number. Simply put, the maker and viewer generations are now showing a radical shift from even say, 2-3 years back – in terms of approach, outlook, perspectives, perceptions and expectations.
Movies being a medium of expression, I have always been intrigued by the subtexts, though I have not had the liberty of time to actually spend thoughts on the subject. This article, for instance, does a good analysis on Mani Ratnam’s movies and the influence of various narratives. These days, when I watch (malayalam) movies from the 80s and 90s, I try to identify the themes that have been used in/inspired them. Earlier than that would be difficult since I have no primary experience of the era.
I saw Thoovanathumbikal again recently, a fantastic movie which deserves a ‘new generation’ tag even if it were made now, especially because of its sensibilities. It is very much what I call a mood movie – requires the viewer to succumb to the mood to truly enjoy it, especially the current day viewer who expects something to happen every second, and nuances are not counted. (probably why Annayum Rasoolum was not appreciated much – it’s less to do with the theme and its twists and more about the way it’s been dealt with – the sophistication and the aesthetic) Timeless as Thoovanathumbikal might be, I wonder how much one would appreciate it more if one had experienced first hand the societal values, mindset and the ethos of the time. The rain, for example, which plays such an important part, do we view it in that light anymore? At the same time, the maturity of the person is also a factor. I was nine when it released and would have slept through it!
And that’s probably why cinema is indeed magical – not only is it a representation of an era, or a part of it, but at any point in time, there’d be someone who’d be able to relate to it, across the passage of years.
until next time, moving pictures