Time for recognition
The 34 films submitted for the State film awards prove that the Malayalam film industry has regained its verve and sense of direction.
WINNERS ALL: Mohanlal and Arjun Lal in Blessy's film `Thanmatra'
The dark horse, `Thanmatra,' released at the fag end of the year, came galloping home first. Director Blessy cannot stop smiling, for his film bagged five awards. It was Blessy's second film. This is one of those rare occasions when the Kerala State Film Awards for the best director, best screenplay writer and the best film have gone to the same movie. The best actor for Mohanlal and a special jury mention for Arjun Lal, the teenaged actor, capped it all, apart from the jury's praise for the technical excellence of the film in all areas.
`Ananthabhadram', directed by cinematographer Santhosh Sivan, also won five awards, including cinematography, music direction (M.G. Radhakrishnan), editing (Sreekar Prasad), art direction (Sunil Babu) and make-up (Pattanam Rasheed).
Blessy, the man of the hour, is happier about getting the best script-writer award than the director award, he says, because he is thrilled that his writing got recognition. All the same, Blessy is not averse to directing a movie with script and story by someone else. He says, "I would love to use a script by M.T. or Lohitadas."
He adds, "Some bedroom scenes were cut in some theatres, for fear that family audiences would not come to see the film, but the copy sent to the award committee was without the cuts. Surprisingly, it was in Thiruvananthapuram that the full version of the movie ran for about a month before they were self-censored."
A scene from Sathyan Anthikad's movie `Achuvinte Amma'
Blessy's plan for his next movie has been almost shelved because of this kind of response, which he feels, is hypocrisy.
"I had planned to do a movie with sex education in the backdrop, but I have doubts about it now. So much of money and hope are involved in filmmaking and we can't take that kind of a risk," he says.
Mohanlal came out with a couple of wonderful performances this year. "I want to thank the media for backing a good movie like `Thanmatra.' I want to share this happiness with them. I did not take any special pains for this movie. In fact in `Naran' there was a lot of physical exertion while in `Udayananu Tharam,' there was mental exertion and more make-up," he says.
Navya Nair won the best actress award for `Saira' and `Kanne Madanguka,' though the audience have not been able to see her perform in both, as they are yet to be released. But she is all excited and says they were female-oriented subjects with a lot of scope for acting.
Second State award
This is her second State Award, the first one was for `Nandanam'. "I play a Class X student in `Kanne... ', an innocent girl from a very poor family who is very good in her studies. But circumstances force her into becoming a sex worker," Navya describes her character. This movie, directed by Albert was selected for the Indian Panorama too.
Navya Nair and Neeraja in `Kanne Madanguka.'
Baby Neeraja got the award for the best child artiste, playing Navya's sister in the same movie. The other movie, `Saira', is directed by Biju. Navya plays Saira Ali Hussain, whose father is a ghazal singer (Nedumudi Venu). M. Jayachandran, music composer, has created another record, for having won the best male playback singer award for a song he composed and sang. "I want to dedicate this award to my mother, who took so much pains to make me a singer and the director of `Nottam', Paravoor Shashi. Actually, I sang the track and wanted someone else to sing it, but the track stayed, after the director insisted on it."
Sathyan Anthikad, whose `Achuvinte Amma' got the award for the film with most popular appeal and aesthetic values, says he is delighted.
"I have no complaints. When one sends a movie to a jury, one sends it with full confidence. I am happy because after all, one makes a film hoping it will have popular appeal and aesthetic values. I am indebted to my producer, P.V. Gangadharan who allowed me to make a woman-oriented movie, with no popular hero in it. I hope more producers will come forward to produce such films."
Make-up artiste Pattanam Rasheed got the award for the make-up in `Anandabhadram', his fourth one. He is happy about the award, but he says, "I think I have done better work in `Chandranilekkoru Vazhi', `Udayon' and `Nottam.' In `Nottam', the make-up for the character of a man who has worn `vesham' for years was a great challenge."
That mainstream cinema has taken to the via media path, with good cinematic values, is something that Malayalam cinema can be proud of.
Jury chairman Siby Malayil says of the 34 films submitted for the awards, nine were made by debut directors, who show great promise.
"About six of these movies were notable works, which included `Saira,' `Kanne Madanguka' and `Oraal.' The quality of commercial cinema has improved, especially the technical quality. The divide between art and commercial cinema is blurring," he concluded.
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