Monday, Jan 24, 2022
Outlook.com

Time, Space And The Moral Pandemic: The Void Inside Malayalam Cinema's Viral Success

The old macho hero has been killed—it’s cinematic parricide. But the new Malayalam cinema’s ethical horizon has shrunk, with its temporal frame. Only space looms, menacingly.

Time, Space And The Moral Pandemic: The Void Inside Malayalam Cinema's Viral Success
Time, Space And The Moral Pandemic: The Void Inside Malayalam Cinema's Viral Success -

Even as Covid-19 ravages India, paralysing the economy and public life, it has had strange side-effects in some zones: it has stimulated certain aspects of life and sectors of the economy to new trajectories of imagination, and modes of functioning. With physical isolation becoming the norm, people are forced to relinquish many things they had taken for granted—completely foregoing certain comforts, services, journeys, congregations and products—and look for virtual or other alternatives. When the playing fields are thus brutally and inescapably levelled, it is the heavy, monolithic machineries and systems that are the worst affected: used to the rut and unable to adjust and adapt, they are totally immobilised. Their set norms and institutionalised advantages go for a toss. In contrast, systems and modes of functioning that are light, agile and flexible find it easier to survive—even thrive. Covid-19 came as a crisis that provided one such unexpected but positive break for the Malayalam film industry: it created a clean slate of sorts, even an inversion of order where conditions of immobil­ity and isolation turned into an advantage, and smaller structures became more relevant, viable and attractive. In the last one year, when cinema production facilities and exhibition halls across India came to a standstill, Malayalam cinema witnessed an efflorescence of sorts, with several films being made and many of them making it big on OTT platforms, and attracting nation-wide and even global attention. So much so that even the West is ‘discovering’ Malayalam cinema: as is evident in the adulations of a western media that’s otherwise blind to Indian cinema beyond Bollywood. For instance, The Guardian hails it as “the most dynamic of all India’s multiple regional producers”, while The New Yorker describes Joji as “the first major film of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

ALSO READ: Director’s Special: Brilliant Story-Telling And OTT Reach Herald A New Spring For Malayalam Cinema

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