God's own country and its films have impressed many
Despite an avowedly different film watching experience one gets while watching Malayalam cinema, it has not prevented it from making a national impact with its productions over the years.
Despite an avowedly different film watching experience one gets while watching Malayalam cinema, it has not prevented it from making a national impact with its productions over the years. Even though being part of the Dravidian States, Kerala has had a unique combo of films made over the years which have a high dose of contemporariness and commercial requirements taken care of in its ambience overall. Not given to too much hero worship (though Fans Associations for the modern crop of stars are visible prominently in recent times) and high-voltage masala mix in what they wish to see, the Keralites have been partial to Tamil hits and dubbed Telugu remakes of stars like Allu Arjun and NTR Jr over the recent years to sate their over-the-top cravings.
So how did this brand of film making appeal to the upcountry viewers, even if selectively over the years? A close look establishes the indisputable fact that southern cine remakes have cemented star statuses of many Hindi film heroes over decades, even stabilizing their tenures when they slipped consecutively with flops and lukewarm hits.
Matinee idols like Ajay Devgn owe it to Malayalam cinema for a fabulous launch pad and also for time and again remaking action films from the distant backwaters of Kerala to resize it to the tastes of the Hindi walas. Three decades ago, Devgn's debut – Phool aur Kaante - was a remake of a Malayalam film starring Mammooty titled ' Parampara' which was reprised as ' Varasudu' in Telugu.
As this column is all about the remakes of films originally made in the first two decades of this millennium, the list is not very exhaustive but significant. From Shah Rukh Khan to Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn and Arjun Rampal many heroes have acted in Malayalam remakes. Notably, with Tamil and Telugu film directors better known in Mumbai for their entertaining formats of film making, it must have been a challenge for Kerala film director Priyadarshan to base himself as a remake specialist of his own hits and appeal to the upcountry audience, which he did rather well. The 'Hera Pheri' franchise which lent a different dimension to heroes like Sunil Shetty and Akshay Kumar, not to speak of the versatile character artiste Paresh Rawal is an apt illustration. We will see more as we focus on the reprised Malayalam films and their performances at the box-office at the national level when they spoke Hindi, in the forthcoming weeks.