Out of the box and box office

Though there are many fans for experimental films, new-gen filmmakers say that the audience still prefers films with the usual formula

M: I am calling from Perinthalmanna. I am a hard fan of Aadu movie and Shaji Pappan. Will you be able to re-release the movie this Onam for us? It is a wish of all Aadu fans.
S: When we released the film, you guys all critical and now after six months, why this request?

This is one among the phone conversations the producers of the movie Aadu Oru Bheegara Jeevi Aanu had after its DVD release. When Friday Film House took up the project, all they were sure about it was that the film that would break the conventionalism of M-town.

But on release, the movie was criticised and not many watched it in theatres. Similarly, Dileesh Nair’s Tamaar Padaar, which vanished from the theatres in the first week of release, garnered a set of admirers after it became available online and DVDs were released.

The latest in the list is Lijo Jose Pellissery’s big budget film Double Barrel. All these films belong to the category of experimental cinema — a hard concept to get one’s head around, since everyone defines it differently.

Though Malayalis boast of being the most intelligent and film-literate in India, naturalism is still in the dominant mode.

Their hesitation to accept the radical alternative films, often experimented in expressionism, symbolism, absurdism and other styles, is said to be preventing the industry and its makers from taking risky, adventurous and experimental steps.

They say though sometimes the films are critically praised and welcomed into temples of high art, most often, it is doomed. So what exactly is challenging for them, are they breaking some barriers down and where is it going?

“The biggest challenge is to break the boundaries that have been set since years. We are never ready to watch a movie which goes beyond what is expected. We should open ourselves to see stories that not just start with ‘once upon a time’ and end with ‘and they lived happily ever after’. Both the audience and filmmakers of Mollywood should make themselves accept diversified films which throw away all the usual formula,” says Lijo Jose Pellissery.

The director of the gangster comedy Double Barrel reveals that it was heart-wrenching for him to see his film being criticised and killed by the ‘movie-buffs of Kerala’ in the first three days. “They were attacking the film on social media and in Whatsapp, as if some unpardonable crime has happened. I do not find this audience culture as a healthy one,” he says.

According to Dileesh Nair, Malayalis lack in film literacy when compared to the 70s. “All what our audience expect now is popcorn-masti. They do not want to know what socio-political concept the film reflects. The film society movement that was so active in the state during the time of veteran filmmakers like Adoor Gopalakrishnan has actually gone down now. We need more film clubs and discussion to expose our viewers to films that belong to different genres and widen their film appreciation skills.”

He adds that focusing the target audience and pooling it in the right format might help the film to reach the audience. “Only 10 per cent of our audience is highly film-educated and the rest goes for commercial flicks. I made Tamaar Padaar for that 10 per cent who wanted a movie that is out of the box.”

However, Dileesh also admits that pseudo critics use Facebook as public wall to post their comments on films. “We cannot blame the audience but the citizen film critics, Facebook buffs and the mediators who demotivate them to watch a film by posting their reviews without even understanding the language, aim and concept of the films. This has to be consciously controlled,” he says.

Sandra Thomas, who is one of the pioneers in promoting experimental films, says that people will eventually accept such films.

“When Lijo made City of God, people were very skeptical about it as they knew nothing about non-linear films. But it was followed by a series of such films. The same way, I feel when we serve them with more films like Aadu, which belongs to nonsensical comedy genre, they will get tuned to watching it rather than expecting films that evoke nostalgia of early 80s and 90s,” she says.

Though, from 2010, there were so many films which were categorised under new- gen films that offered some fresh air to M-town, Vijay Babu says, people have now once again started expecting the conventional style films.“When Chirakodinja Kinavukal was released, many did not understand that it is a spoof and those who understood, did not accept it. The same happened with Double Barrel and Aadu. People want films that will follow the typical clichéd formula with a little alteration in its narrative style or making. Such films will always survive. But there is nothing exciting in it! Hence we will keep on experimenting till people become ready to break the barriers and be open,” he says with a smile.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
Next Story