Malayalam cinema, which scaled heights of glory ahead of its South Indian cousins, has been down in the dumps for some time, leading to animated discussions on ways to overcome the crisis that has gripped it. Against this background, the appearance of C.S. Venkiteswaran's writings, which appeared in various periodicals in the recent past, in book form, is timely.
Malayalam films made an early impact with realistic handling of social issues and popular resistance. Venkiteswaran, a perspective observer and critic, attributes the change in the character of cinema, which began in the 1970s, to factors such as breakup of the joint family and introduction of land reforms. The problems of the individual, especially conflicts within, now came to the fore. Commercial aspects of the cinema also gained prominence at this stage.
Later television arrived and cinema retreated to sex and comedy. Now, he says, instead of facing the challenge squarely and moving to a new phase, it is seeking shelter behind fading stars and trotting out excuses like lack of good scripts.
He warns the industry that if it does not address the problem of lack of professionalism, it will be relegated to a ghetto in this age of globalisation.
Besides informative articles on subjects like parallel cinema, Third World cinema, the film society movement and the state of film criticism, the volume includes assessments of noted film makers John Abraham and P. N. Menon and landmark films ‘Neelakkuyil' and ‘Nirmalyam.'
The book is profusely illustrated but the pictures are poorly reproduced.
MALAYALA CINEMA PADANANGAL: By C. S. Venkiteswaran, DC Books, Kottayam 686001, Rs. 125.