Thilakan and “The Gangs of New Kerala”

What goes on in the Malayalam movie industry these days make the movie lovers quite sad. The current state of the Malayalam movies is quite pathetic. We have only a couple of hits each year and rest of them bombs in the box office. The state of the cinema theaters is also pathetic that one wouldn’t take the pain of going to a theater to watch a movie and would rather watch it at his own home. With the arrival of big LCD screens, Dolby home theater sound systems and DVD/Blue-Ray discs, watching a movie at home is much much more comfortable than watching it in a theater. As a result, many theaters are closing down rapidly.

But who cares? There is absolutely no effective discussions going on about a rescue plan. The people in the industry are busy making crappy movies and the competition is so high in this field that we get crappy, crappier and crappiest movies – one after one. Then there are these organizations (AMMA, MACTA, FEFKA and all those funny names) which functions like gangs and we see their gang wars quite often. And it is cinema that dies in this war.

The whole incident of Thilakan being an outcast from Malayalam cinema has proved that there is no hope for any improvement in the near future. Thilakan had accused AMMA (Association of Malayalam Movie Artists) of not allowing him to work in the movies and he pointed fingers at the superstars (Mammootty and Mohan Lal) in particular. What followed was a series of cheap stunts.

Director B Unnikrishnan, general secretary of Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA), said that the actor in Thilakan has died. But Thilakan has some great performing moments of Malayalam cinema (or rather Indian or world cinema) to his credit and we all know what kind of movies B Unnikrishnan has directed. Unnikrishnan also said that he would resign from his general secretary position if Thilakan could prove that FEFKA banned Thilakan from acting in films. Incidentally, the same FEFKA has threatened to pull out all technicians from the movie “Dam 999” if Thilakan was cast and the producers threw Thilakan out of the project. And as far as we know B Unnikrishnan still holds on to his position.

The above incident proves that there is some truth in what Thilakan says. He also lashed out at the Super Star fans and I whole heartedly agree with him on the fan-hood. The fan associations work like thugs, threatening people if they boo in cinema halls (and they themselves send booing teams when their enemy star’s cinema is released) and they also threaten people who leave after intervals when they are fed up of watching crap movies, and now the fans of Mohan Lal and Mammootty have united against Thilakan. Kerala now see that the rivals joining hands to fight a lone, old man.

Thilakan undeniably is a great actor. The truth is that if there is Thilakan acting in a super-star movie, he outshines the super stars with his acting prowess; however small his role is in the movie. So there are good reasons to believe what Thilakan says about the popularity-hungry, fan-fed Superstars working on denying him chances. Take a couple of superstar movies for example. “Kireedam“, an award winning movie where Mohan Lal and Thilakan played father and son, had both Mohan Lal and Thilakan in an equal performance and for the movie lovers, it was a treat (remember the scene where Thilakan says “kathi thaazheyideraa…“?). Or take Mohan Lal’s commercial hit “Sphadikam“. Thilakan’s Chacko maash was the most powerful character in that movie than Mohan Lal’s Aadu Thoma. Or take Mammootty’s “Kauravar“. It was an outright Thilakan movie, though Mammootty was in the lead role. Or take movies like “Perumthachan“, “Moonnaam Pakkam” etc. I can draw a lot more examples.

But he had very little support from industry, probably because nobody wants to question the “kings” and destroy their own career. Sukumar Azheekode came in support of Thilakan but he only added more garbage to the already stinking mess. Thilakan had claimed that he is a staunch Communist, but the party kept mum on the whole matter. It is understandable particularly when Mammootty is the chairman of party-owned Kairali TV. So the party did not back the ‘lesser Communist’ when they have ‘elite Communists’ in their fold. But renowned director Shaji N Karun came in support of Thilakan. He said, “The organizations have nothing to lose if they ban Thilakan. But the it is the cinema viewers who are going to lose.” He is so right. It is not AMMA, FEFKA or any other organization who is going to lose, but us, the Malayalam movie viewers. And the members of these organizations are busy looting our money and give us crappy movies.