Malayalam Movies Crisis and Clicks- a Producer’s Perspective

I have heard recently a renowned director telling that the present crisis in Malayalam film industry is because the producers enter the industry with intentions not contusive to the well being of the industry, or who are interested only taking pictures with actresses and not bothered about the quality of the movie being made and vanish from the industry. His version is correct to a certain extent and to some producers, but is it the real problem?

There are many opinions why this crisis has come into being; pirated CDs, dearth of audience, condition or ambience of the theatre. Let us see the persisting problems in a producer’s perspective.The problems start soon after giving an advance payment to the director. Most of the directors have their own team to execute the process. That is a click.

His team knows his intelligence, weaknesses and interests. He is at liberty to choose the story, script writer, production manager, lyricist, music director, singers, cameraman, art director, production unit and artists without even consulting the producer. Even if a producer approaches a director with a story in his mind, the director approves it before accepting the advance and later on changes it telling that the given story will not go good with the audience.

After spending a considerable amount in the initial stages of the process, the producer is compelled to proceed in line with the aspirations of the Director.Till the beginning of 80’s there were not much problems surrounding the directors. The regular producers were respected by directors. The directors respected the producers. They had the awareness that the producers are the back bone and the investor. The producer respected the directors too. There was harmony among the entire team. Producers were also very few. Only those who had sufficient money in their coffers entered the field. They could command on anyone including the director.

Then came the Gulf money. Certain people who were having an ardent desire to make movies came with their own money. They had the aptitude and appetite for making esthetic and commercially viable projects. Those films were hit too. However, with the entry of Gulf money, some insensitive producers also entered looking for fame and enjoyment more than their business profit. In the process, the genuine producers lost respect.

There were producers to spoil the whole channels of production. It is not that the clicks were not there prior to the entry of these sorts of producers. Once the production starts, due to soft corner of the director, the production manager and his team starts playing (not the case with all). There will be extra payment for everything. I have noticed that bills for packets of 555 cigarettes were entered daily on the name of a hero who never smoked in his life .

The Director feign ignorant on this issue since these are the production boys utilized for the household jobs of the director.
In some cases, the hero or the villain in the movie joins the location with an injury occurred during the shooting of the climax scene in his previous movie. The combination scenes using the injured actor in his sitting or laying positions are taken and in some cases the producer is trapped to schedule a second schedule if the injury is not cured in time. In certain cases, when the injury is cured and the second schedule is planned, the opposite actor or actress may be engaged in another movie. Re-organizing the entire process results in huge loss of money, time and energy.

If the producer is taking a part of the funding from a loan shark the extent of damage is irreparable. Some actresses fix their marriage during the call-sheet days and leaves acting after the marriage forgetting the call sheets. If a producer is lucky, she will tell the producer in sufficient advance that she is to be avoided from the movie, but there are some who keep it as a secret till the end, putting the producer in an embarrassing position. If he gets the money advanced to her, again he is lucky!

Even in this age of modern technologies, some directors insist for a particular location for shooting a song scene. A Malayalam movie is still in the process for more than two years due to the demand of the director to shoot the song scene in a foreign location. The movie is yet to be completed since the experienced producer not heeding to that demand. I also heard a movie directed by a newcomer, where school going students where to be shown, thousands of expensive uniforms were made for the entire students and thus wasting the hard-earned money of the producer. By using suitable techniques of shooting, this could have been avoided by the director instead of adamantly insisting the producer to cater to his whims and fancies. Certain directors want hundreds of original policemen in uniform and rifles to arrest a single character on the name of richness of the scene.

Overcoming all these hurdles, finally the film is ready to be released, and then comes a general bandh or cinema bandh! Or the publicity problem. Some distributors take double bill from the advertising agency to be billed to producers. The problems are plenty in the industry in modern times. Few are lucky to overcome all these. Those who overcome these hurdles succeed. The percentage of success is less than 10%.

Due to these difficulties and ill treatment meted out to the producers, there is a steady decline of the regular producers willing produce movies. It has come to such a level that directors have to pull producers in by cheating telling them that they need to invest only a meager amount and once the movie started, washes their hands off saying, now it is the producer’s responsibility to complete the shooting of the film so that the film sees light.
The last and the least is the paucity of ideas among most of the new generation directors. The ideas may be there, perhaps the wisdom of selecting the right theme is lacking.

Creativity is lacking in many directors. There are two types of directors, one who adopts or adds a scene suiting to the location and one who goes as per the script and story board alone. Some are good technicians but not a God-gifted creative artist. Some are creative artists. They can perform well. Bharathan, Padmarajan, G. Aravindan, Ramu Karyat, Vincent master etc. can be included in this category.

My article is not to hurt anybody. It is not necessary to be a film producer to earn fame or money. But while selecting a director or a theme, make sure that the deserving are selected.“Chirikkumpol koode chirikkaan aayiram per varum, karayumpol koode karayaan vinnikal maathram varum”

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