Monday, June 04, 2007

Malayalam Film Industry

Yet Another Cycle of Crisis

At the moment, Malayalam film industry is enacting yet another crisis of its own making. Each and every player – producers, directors, scenarists, technicians, actors, distributors and exhibitors – is trying to impose on the industry rules and conditions that are favourable only to them. Each one of them wants the largest share of the pie in an industry that has no clue as to where it is heading to. The established actors want to maintain their hold over it and in the process do not want any new talents to enter the fray. Scenarists feel that they have been treated very badly and wants a rightful share in the spoils. The distributors and exhibitors who now have a stranglehold over the industry doesn't want anything to change; they want the industry to run on their deeply status quo-ist terms. Technicians on the other hand, feel that they have never been paid their due, and are exploited by all the others. The net result of all this is a deeply divided industry that is virtually a partnership enterprise between enemies. Only thing all of them agree upon seems to that the industry is about change. Everyone seems to believe that the state of the industry today is the end of the world, as if there are no other alternatives.

Committed and institutional capital that demands professionalism is not entering the field, that is presently ruled by butterfly capitalists. (If we analyse the production pattern of the 50 to 60 odd films that are released and 70 – 80 that are made every year in Malayalam, one will find that majority of the producers are debutants or one-time financiers) This evacuation of the field by professionals and established producers is one major symptom of the malaise.

Another major impediment has been the systematic indifference of the industry to innovation and exploration of new possibilities in all fields of business, like industrial practices, financing, marketing, technical upgradation, and new media extensions. Naturally this aversion to taking business risks gets reflected in the creative area too. Being an industry that is blissfully imprisoned within a limited market and business vision, it doesn't welcome changes, leave alone searching for it. As a result, the practices prevalent in the industry, the relationship between the various players, and the infrastructural edifice – all have remained stagnant and regressive. Even the possibilities opened up by digital technology and the world of creative opportunities it has opened up have not been able to wake up our industry. It is only natural that such a system will not be able to welcome fresh ideas, talents and methodologies. While the players fight each other for their share, only the fast changing tastes and expectations of the viewers go totally unaddressed and ignored. And so, a conservative capital, feudal production norms, decades-old faces and staid themes rule the roost for us.

One doesn't have to look far for solutions. Tamil films, which 'we' used to look condescendingly until recently, have made huge strides in all areas. They welcomed new talents and explored new themes, geared the industry, its technology and practices to suit the new scenario and as a result have conquered new markets and audiences. It will take a long time for the myopic, spending all their creative energies finding fault and fighting each other, to see the obvious.



Blogger Jo said...

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3:21 AM  
Blogger Live Eyes said...

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9:34 PM  

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