New Wave (Malayalam film movement)
New generation films (also known as new wave films) (2010–present) is a Malayalam film movement developed in the early 2010s, characterized by fresh and unusual themes and new narrative techniques. Films of the new wave differ from conventional themes of the past two decades (1990s and 2000s) and introduced several new trends to the Malayalam industry. While the new generation formats and styles are deeply influenced by global and Indian trends, their thematics are firmly rooted in Malayalee life and mindscapes.
The new generation also helped to revive the Malayalam film industry in the early 2010s.
Characteristics of films
Erosion of the so-called "superstar" system in popular Malayalam films coincided with rise of the new wave where screenplay got rooted-to-reality, closer-to-life and lead characters became ordinary men and women. Influx of new actors, the absence of superstars, rise of metro-centric/urban and middle-class themes and different story-lines were also noted in the wave. Some of the films were entirely shot with DSLR still cameras and heavily used social networking sites for online marketing. Setting of the stories also moved from south Kerala to north. While formats and styles of the new directors are deeply influenced by the global and Indian trends, their thematics were firmly rooted in Malayali life and mind-scape. A recurrent trope in these new narratives is accidents, coincidences, casual encounters and chance meetings that set in motion an unexpected chain of events affecting the lives of the characters drifting in the urban flotsam. The frequent use of Malayalam influenced by English is also noted in the films.
Until recently, most Malayalam films had rural themes portraying the "essential goodness" and "unspoilt beauty" of villages. The focus of the films also moved from the conventional masculine, handsome, virtuous and invincible hero to secondary characters. Actors such as Thilakan (Ustad Hotel) and Prathap Pothen (Ayalum Njanum Thammil) were noted for their hard-hitting performances in the Wave films. The depiction of women has also changed in the New Wave films beyond recognition. A number of female-oriented films such as 22 Female Kottayam, Cocktail, Beautiful and Trivandrum Lodge were also part of the new wave. The leading ladies often flirt openly, drink in public, and make lewd comments. The new wave films are criticized for explicit language and provocative themes, often under the guise of bold or modern.
Impact on superstars
The new wave soon ignited a debate about the era of superstars coming to an end and Malayalam cinema witnessing a radical change. In the 1980s, stars mattered, though not as much as in the 1990s and 2000s, when Malayalam cinema was practically dictated as the so-called superstars. The stranglehold of superstars that was stifling any new experimentation, complemented by the autocratic control of Malayalam film industry organisations over all areas of the industry that led to the ban of talented actors like Thilakan and certain directors, was pushing the industry to the wall.
As per critics, the new wave of activity in Malayalam cinema is reminiscent of the 1980s, regarded as the golden age of Malayalam cinema, when mainstream films bridged the gap between arthouse and commercial movies, led by a team of talented writers and directors. In the 1980s, Malayalam films witnessed some positive changes through directors like Padmarajan and Bharathan, who made path-breaking films. These films too broke the norms which were considered the prerequisite for a commercial entertainer, and traversed a new path between popular and parallel cinema.
Most of the new wave films are modestly budgeted, thus supporting experiments by new directors, between Rs. 2 and 3 crore each (compared to the average Malayalam commercial film budget of Rs. 6 - 8 crore) and have more than recovered their investment.
Characteristics of film-makers
A few young writers and directors successfully brought in the New Wave with films such as Traffic, Salt N' Pepper, Chappa Kurishu, Beautiful and Second Show. Fields such as acting, cinematography, editing, scripting and music also witnessed the emergence of new talent. Still, the conventional patterns have refused to give way and continue to have a strong support base among viewers.
Unlike the general trend in the Malayalam films, most of the New Generation directors are young. Director Aashiq Abu, one of the most promising film-makers in Malayalam, directed several New Wave films to box-office success. Actor-writer Anoop Menon is another emerging personality in the New Generation field. For his experimental roles in films such as Friday and 22 Female Kottayam, actor Fahadh Faasil has been anointed a 'New Generation hero'. Actors like Prathap Pothen and Tini Tom are also earning newfound appeal among the Malayali audiences. Asif Ali, who entered films essaying negative roles, is seen as one of the most promising New Generation actors. Other prominent New Wave actors include Dulquer Salmaan, Thilakan, Murali Gopy, Nivin Pauly, Rima Kallingal, Ann Augustine, Remya Nambeesan, Maithili and Honey Rose. Cinematographers like Jomon T. John, Shyju Khalid, Pradeep Nair, Madhu Neelakantan, Shehnad Jalal and Amal Neerad, and editors like Don Max, Vivek Harshan, Ajitkumar and Mahesh Narayan gave their films a slick contemporariness.
New wave directors
- Rajesh Pillai
- Lijo Jose Pellissery
- Aashiq Abu
- Sameer Thahir
- V. K. Prakash
- Lijin Jose
- Srinath Rajendran
- Anwar Rasheed
- Roopesh Peethambaran
- Lal Jose
- Arun Kumar Aravind
- Amal Neerad
- Shalini Usha Nair
- Sidharth Bharathan
- Shyju Khalid
- Vineeth Sreenivasan
- Rajeev Ravi
- Aji John
- Vinay Govind
- Vipin Vijay
- Salim Ahmed]
- Madhav Ramdas
- Joy Mathew
- K B Venu
- Jayan Cherian
- Arjun M
New wave films
- Traffic - a film that was directed by Rajesh Pillai and now widely regarded as one of the movies that gave New Generation Cinema the green signal.
- City of God
- Salt N' Pepper
- Chappa Kurishu (known as the "first Malayalam movie to feature a kissing scene".)
- 22 Female Kottayam
- Second Show
- Ustad Hotel
- Ayalum Njanum Thammil
- Ee Adutha Kaalathu
- Da Thadiya
- Trivandrum Lodge
- 5 Sundarikal
- Thattathin Marayathu
- Annayum Rasoolum
- Hotel California
- Nee Ko Njaa Cha
- Kili Poyi
- Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi
- Mumbai Police (film)
There is a general consensus that The new wave movies are basically emulating western movies with a hint of its Malayalam roots, most of its success is depending on its shock value on the audience and the rebellious stance it takes to break the conventionalism of Malayalam cinema. There is also a criticism that the new wave movies only cater to the young people.
Many actors and audiences alike, agree that the change is beneficial but, bland plagiarism is not acceptable. Contemporaries such as Bollywood are also surprised by the sudden trends of Malayalam cinema, the Bollywood media has criticised how most the new wave Malayalam films are of English titles.The use of latest technology has added speed to the process of change in the industry.
Malayalam actor Jayaram has talked about his disinterest towards the new wave films publicly, he has heard to be saying the new wave films lacks its appeal towards a family environment as the inappropriateness of mannerisms beyond a PG-13 is very awkward to someone who expects to watch a family film such as most of the conventional malyalam movies were, which did not need a specific rating.
The New Wave received criticism from some conventional film-makers like Dilshad. They accused that plagiarised versions of foreign films are being presented under the guise of New Wave experiments. While admirers of the New Wave of Malayalam films call it the "Jasmine revolution", critics refer it as the "multiplex revolution".
"Some films that are fresh in thought and execution have clicked at the box office," says veteran director Sibi Malayil. "But I am against referring to them as New Wave Cinema. Changes were always there in Malayalam films. But most of these so-called new-generation movies revolve around the themes that deal with life in a metro city. These films are getting a good response in tier-I cities only".
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