Malayalam cinema is known for creating path-breaking content by showcasing stories which are a slice of life and simplistic in nature. While there have been multiple praises for the storylines, scripts, direction and acting, there are other aspects to a film which deserve attention too. These aspects play an important role in enhancing the quality of the film. In this article, I shall list out a few aspects of Malayalam movies that many of us failed to notice and appreciate.
Cinematography in Sufiyum Sujathayum
Sufiyum Sujathayum was one of the first commercial Malayalam films to have a direct OTT release during the COVID pandemic. A striking aspect of the film is the cinematography. The film’s cinematography is handled by Anu Moothedath. Anu does such a beautiful job of capturing the beauty between Sujatha and Sufi’s relationship. The nature’s beauty, the close-ups of the leads, the picturization of the budding romance, the expansive shots which showcase tension and grief as well as the scenes where Sujatha is trapped in an unhappy wedlock are all so effortlessly portrayed by Anu with some exquisite camera work.
The low light shots and few track shots in the film were absolute gold. It’s sad that the film was received well by the viewers and critics alike but the praise for the film’s stunning cinematography was very minimal.
Music in Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham
The most expensive film in the history of Malayalam cinema, Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham was a film which everyone had their eyes on. With the film winning three State Awards and three National Awards before its theatrical release, the expectations for the film increased gigantically. However, the final product was panned by critics and viewers alike because they couldn’t resonate with the content. However, this doesn’t give us the right to discard the product entirely.
The film indeed had a grand visual treatment with lavish sets and costumes and some intricate work done on the visual effects. However, one aspect which many didn’t really appreciate as much as it deserved was the film’s music.
The music album of the film is composed by Ronnie Raphael. By using large ensembles and orchestras, the film’s music had grandeur to it. Several songs had a grand feel and the usage of local folk instruments and tunes made it even better. The songs were pleasing to the ears and they definitely elevated the quality of the film.
Production Design and Art Direction of #Home
We all remember the naive and innocent Oliver Twist from #Home. We had heaped praises about the wonderful acting of the cast, its script, music as well as cinematography. But, one aspect that really stood out for me is the detailing by the art department and the production design team of the film.
The production designer for #Home is Banglan, who is quite famous for his impeccable work in making a film look artistically brilliant. The beautiful house of Oliver Twist and its surroundings is something that, through the course of the film, becomes an integral part of the storyline. Banglan and his team of able artists were successful in designing and creating this beautiful house of Oliver Twist. The detailing given, right from the photos to the wall paint, everything was carefully looked after and crafted brilliantly.
Set design of Malik
Malik is a film that has created history. Be it the magnificent acting of the cast led by Fahadh Faasil, the grandeur in the making by Mahesh Narayanan, the exquisite single-shot opening scene of the film or the controversies that followed the release of the film, everything associated with Malik will always be memorable. However, amidst the praise the film received, many forgot to credit the set designers and artists of the film.
The art directors for Malik were Santhosh Raman and Appuni Sajan. It is their skills and vision which gave life to the world of Ramadapally and Sulaiman Malik. They toiled day in and day out to build magnificent sets, which looked as good as realistic locations. Supported with some excellent VFX work, Malik’s production design and set work are of its noteworthy aspects. The detailing in each house or shop that had been put up is outstanding.
Sound design of Churuli
Churuli is a film that had itself embroiled in a lot of controversy for its strong language. Yet, that hadn’t stopped the Malayalis from watching the movie and celebrating it. Though Lijo had crafted a convoluted world that only a few viewers could decipher, the film was praised by critics and audiences alike for its brilliant making and storyline. Amidst this, the sound department of the film failed to get the required credit.
The sound design and sound editing by Renganaath Ravee can essentially be called the heart and soul of the film. He, along with his able team of sound engineers has done a brilliant job in recreating the sounds of nature, the jeep sounds, the eerie and mystic noises of the hilly terrains and much more. The intricacies in the design of the sound transport the viewers to the setting of the film and give you an immersive experience.
Cinematography in Kaduva
One of Prithviraj’s recent releases, Kaduva is a movie that received mixed reviews. While some praised the film for Shaji Kailas’s brilliant direction and comeback, several viewers criticized the lack of detailing in the storyline. However, one aspect which stands out is its cinematography.
Abinandhan Ramanujam is the cinematographer for the film and his work in this film is absolutely fantastic. He has proved himself as one of the top-class cinematographers in Malayalam with his previous works in several films such as Kuruthi, 9, Chathurmukham etc. However, the style and approach for Kaduva are different.
Being a mass masala entertainer, the cinematography had to be slick and stylish. Abinandhan does exactly that and showcases Prithviraj to be this charming and charismatic man, who is an embodiment of machismo. Several sequences, especially the fight scenes in the film, are brilliantly captured by Abinandhan. The expansive shots of the village, the close-up shots of the lead actors, the quick movement of the camera in the fight scenes and his keen eye for detailing in the visuals are top-notch.
Colour grading in Bro Daddy
We all may have our reservations regarding the Prithviraj Sukumaran directorial venture Bro Daddy. While some found the messaging and theme of the film problematic, others felt that the movie did not live up to the “standards” of Prithviraj, the director. However, he had clearly mentioned that the film would be a relaxing one with more colours to show a happy tone. And that aspect of the film is what many failed to praise and give recognition to, the colour grading.
The entire film was lit up with bright frames and colours popping out, almost to an extent that it blinds you. But is that a drawback? definitely not. This is because the film is a light-hearted entertainer which requires it to be attractive and captivating.
The team of colour graders have done a great job in giving life to each scene. The colours are so bright that it almost makes you feel like you are watching a happening advertisement. But that doesn’t necessarily make the overall experience of the film. It keeps the viewers happy and bright, which is exactly what the makers intended with the film.
Do you think there are some other aspects of prominent Malayalam movies that I missed out on the list? Do drop them in the comments below.