CMS College Kottayam is regarded as the oldest Western-style college in India. Established in 1815 by the Church Missionary Society of England, it is one of the very few institutions that has celebrated its bicentenary. The college is known for its sprawling campus in the heart of Kottayam retaining its historical significance and architectural style. this article does not intend to discuss the college’s history, instead, it provides a picture of the relationship the college has had with Malayalam cinema as a major shooting location throughout the years.
The ‘writer’ in me is proud of CMS College Kottayam where the ‘student’ in me completed his Under Graduation over there. I belonged to the 2018-2021 batch, which can also be regarded as a ‘catastrophic’ batch because we saw the 2018 floods, the Nipah virus, and Covid-19. Though I could hardly be in college for two whole years, I have seen four movies shot on campus – Maarconi Mathaai Thakkol, Ishq, and Meppadiyan. This brings us to the next point of discussion.
Why is CMS College Kottayam a favorite spot for Malayalam Cinema?
The college, in many instances, has been used as a makeshift facility to portray various institutions. For instance, Meppadiyan (starring Unni Mukundan) uses the college as a judicial complex, while Thoppil Joppan (starring Mammootty) uses the college premise to outline a Christian de-addiction center. Thus, picking out definite answers to this question is nearly impossible.
The college certainly stands out for its architectural brilliance and has been able to maintain its rich heritage and history over the course of the years. This provides film technicians to capture the atmosphere and environment of the campus to offer an authentic, rustic feel.
The CMS College Chapel is an iconic shooting location on the campus. No grandeur, no extravaganza but the peace that the chapel serenades can be experienced even through the movie visuals. This is another factor that motivates technicians to shoot at the Chapel to portray Christian services.
CMS College Kottayam is never static. As mentioned earlier, the college is always open for change and can be used multifariously. Due to the college’s vastness and visual richness, the visuals from the college do not offer repetitiveness as technicians can always find newer perspectives to portray.
Finally, the ease of access is plausibly the most convincing reason for most technicians, as one can get different facilities or institutions, all at the heart of Kottayam.
This article won’t be complete without the discussion of the movies shot at CMS College Kottayam.
This 2006 movie directed by Lal Jose had a huge impact on both the genre of ‘college movies’ as well as the college in itself. Ever since the movie’s release, you’d find at least a few students choosing to study at CMS because of the film. Classmates had most of its major portions shot at the college, and what would a youngster want than the college life portrayed in the movie?
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Chamaram can be considered one of the earliest movies to be shot at CMS College, which was released in 1980. The movie starring Prathap Pothen and Zarina Wahab was directed by Bharathan. Any CMSians will be able to clearly identify the various areas of the college used in Chamaram even today. Though newer additions have been made to some of these iconic locations, the college has held strong to its roots.
This might be a little bit of a spoiler. Johnny Antony brilliantly portrayed CMS College Kottayam as a Law College in Chennai. As mentioned earlier, Chennai was brought within the confines of CMS College. Another spoiler, the canteen where Dilieep fights is the same place in which Dulquer Salmaan meets ‘Sara Mary Kurian’ in CIA.
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After Classmates, it was Dulquer Salmaan and Amal Neerad who brought the craze back to CMS College Kottayam. The classroom mentioned earlier is one of the classrooms in the English Department. The scene where Dulquer walks in with mass background music has been replicated by most students who walk through the corridors, including me.
Thoppil Joppan was mostly shot at the college auditorium which is officially called the “Great Hall”. The scenes where Mammootty attends the prayer sessions are the insides of the auditorium. For reference, Naren singing Ente Khalbile is inside the Great Hall.
As a student who has studied at CMS, I’ll take this opportunity to testify that there are no swimming pools in the college to the best of my knowledge. Director Siddique was able to brilliantly incorporate a swimming pool into the campus, which otherwise would have felt out of place. Again camera and editing tricks.
Some of the other Malayalam movies shot at CMS College Kottayam are ‘Ellam Sheriyakum’, ‘Five Fingers’, ‘Kusruthikaattu’, ‘Vellaripattanam’, etc. A number of movies have been shot on the campus over the years. CMS College Kottayam was, is, and will always be a beautiful place to live and capture moments.