The sad state of contemporary Malayalam Cinema becomes more evident while viewing them as part of our International Film Festival. Among the cinematic gems of World Cinema that provoke our senses, our cinema, in its near dead state, resembles mere ugly stones. The superficiality that has become the very face of our cinema is indeed very repulsive. But, when our cinema pundits theorise that this very superficiality makes our cinema extraordinary, the downfall of our cinema completes.
Cinema is often considered as the youngest of all art forms. But no other art form could have been defined and re-defined so many times within such a short period as cinema. Each new definition of the form, the language and the very purpose of cinema contradicted the earlier one. But one would be compelled to accept that most of the greatest works of cinema that survived the test of time, were creations that surpassed and even rejected all such theories and definitions. It can also be noticed that most of these films instead of dwelling upon the exterior of the social issues of the time of its creation, probed deep into the core of these issues, making them relevant for all times. The act of defining good cinema, good art and placing them in narrow compartments would be nothing more than mere absurdity. Only a free minded individual can create a good work of art and the art thus created would definitely break-free from these compartments.
Slow Paced Cinema, Fast Paced Cinema….
Contemporary World Cinema
Gus van Sant’s Elephant, based on a contemporary social issue, which adapted an innovative form had won the coveted ‘Palme d’Or’ at the Cannes. Even while having all these qualities the film fails to communicate anything beyond the skin depth of the issue it handled. Indeed, such films might have some relevance for a short period, but would be forgotten within a short time. But the films from Iran and South Asia, which took the centre stage of World Cinema becomes different probably due to the depth in which they handled their topics. This may be the reason why the film from directors like Abbas Kiarostami (Iran), Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Iran), Tsai ming Liang (Taiwan), Kim ki Duk (S.Korea) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand) stands out in the crowd of contemporary World Cinema. Their films reiterates that the art of cinema which survives the test of time is born out of deep probes and meditation into the core of human and social issues but not from creating superficial images of the world we live in. The fact that the outcome of ‘Dogme 95’ was limited to some great films from a single director, Lars von Trier, once again establishes that any kind of cinematic trends and formulas becomes irrelevant in the process of an artist’s journey in search of the truth beyond the mundane.
The Problems of Contemporary Malayalam Cinema
The new trend in Malayalam Parallel Cinema seems to have no relevance beyond replacing with a new formula for content, form etc. in place of the failed old formula. If we closely observe contemporary World Cinema it would become clear that it is not the pace of the film but the strength and depth of the content supported by an appropriate form that makes a good film. Such films come out as result of explorations of an artist deep into the core of social and human issues. This may come as a result of cultural vibrancy of a society. Perhaps the lack of this may be one of the reasons for the poor state of contemporary Malayalam Cinema.
The real problem with our cinema is that the present day filmmakers are unable to take forward our cinema, which had shown its presence in the World Cinema arena in the past. The crisis of Malayalam Cinema is that the new age directors are getting more and more engulfed in superficial narrations of social issues.
The sad condition of contemporary Malayalam Cinema may not be solely due to the low standards of our film viewer as normally claimed by our filmmakers, but it may be also due to the inability of our filmmakers to reach the standards of our film viewers. To substantiate this viewpoint the superior level of readership of Malayalam literature can be pointed out. It can be seen that readers from both old and new generation still exist in plenty for our literature, which had undergone drastic changes by abandoning the superficiality of social dramas to adapt innovative forms and contents. Probably a good amount of these readers may form the quality viewers of our Parallel Cinema!