Malayalam cinema’s graph varied from golden peak to darker troughs. The highs and lows happened from era to era. Despite being overwhelmed by cash rich and well marketed neighbors, namely Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, Malayalam had been able to carve a niche for itself and found it rubbing shoulder to shoulder with international cinema. The reason could very well be the richly talented artistes we had been able to produce all these years. Recently, I read a blogger raging in PFC on not considering ’Dor’ as an official Oscar entry. Sadly he forgot the fact that the original work was done in Malayalam.
The overwhelming of a talented generation can cause stagnation at the highest level after a time. Malayalam Cinema had been exactly suffering from that syndrome for some years. Then the entrance of a bunch of specialized and talented technicians set about a change. They had little experience of life but had attractive degrees in some of the best Movie schools. Soon people too yearned for a change and a new set of handsome, youthful actors came in. A variety of themes were brought on screen. They might not have been necessarily an original idea. But people had become desperate enough to accept a change on the screen.
‘Traffic’ is a trend-setter in many aspects. It was released with no publicity or marketing. The opening week was lean, but then it picked itself by word-mouth and went on to become a hit movie. There is only a single song in the movie; the protagonists are young, handsome and very affluent.
The performance from the cast was worth mentioning. There was no exhibition of exaggerated emotions or lectures or advice. A few even went on to do a very restrained acting, which is very unusual in Indian scenario. In spite of a flood of young faces, the older ones like Rahman and Sai held their own forte.
‘Traffic’ is a movie which went on to the ‘people’s favorite’ list, thanks to the slick editing and fast paced script. Tight editing can be tricky at times. The reason being, in modern commercial cinema editing and screenplay are separated by a thin line; it would be difficult to differentiate between the two. The first half concluded in all the glory. But in the second, absence of a tight script showed through, as the scenes became predictable and pace slightly dragged. If not for the first half the entire movie would have fallen apart.
Rajesh Pillai has to be appreciated for committing himself to a suicidal project and doing it very well. The movie might not be a change but then the change is not far away too.
I happened to get a chance to talk to a member of the cast. The film was not destined to see the light of the day, as distributors ended up in financial mess just before the release. So then the last releasing was finalized only in the last minute, hence publicity factor didn’t work out. The absence of publicity worked for the good of the film. ‘Expectation’ can be a dangerous factor in the success of a film.
The work was started 2.5 years ago. Imagine a director nursing a dream for years not knowing if it will see the light of the day. Anyway all is well that ends well.