From ‘Premalu’ to ‘Manjummel Boys’ Mollywood is on a roll with back-to-back hits

The Malayalam film industry greets the year 2024 with a spectacle of success, having staged a remarkable comeback following a string of lackluster releases in 2023. A cinematic quintet – “Abraham Ozler,” “Anweshippin Kandethum,” “Premalu,” “Bramayugam,” and “Manjummel Boys” – has cemented this resurgence. Since the onset of January, these films have captivated audiences and revitalized box office sales throughout Kerala. According to the Film Exhibitors’ United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK), the combined gross collection of these titles in the region has surpassed ₹200 crore as of March 1.

Despite the challenges posed by the annual exam season and Kerala’s soaring temperatures, moviegoers remain undeterred, thronging theaters to experience the narratives of “Premalu,” “Bramayugam,” and “Manjummel Boys.” February, in particular, marked an exceptional period of prosperity for Mollywood with four successive hits at the box office.

Suresh Shenoy, an exhibitor and executive committee member of FEUOK, shared the performance details of this impressive lineup. He stated, “’Abraham Ozler,’ released in January, will have earned a Kerala gross of around ₹35 crore followed by ‘Anweshippin Kandethum’ (around ₹25 to ₹30 crore); ‘Premalu,’ which is expected to reach the ₹100 crore mark, has earned around ₹70 crore as on March 1. ‘Bramayugam’ has netted a Kerala gross of ₹35 to ₹40 crore and is going strong. ‘Manjummel Boys,’ which completed the first week of its release on March 1, has already earned over ₹30 crore and is marching towards a record gross collection,”

The fervor of the audience has been palpable. Shenoy highlighted that such a vibrant and positive audience response had not been witnessed in some time, indicating a strong appetite for quality Mollywood cinema.

The slate of upcoming releases offers continued promise for the Malayalam film industry. With eager anticipation for “Aadujeevitham,” “Aavesham,” and “Varshangalku Sesham,” producers revel in the robust opening at the box office as 2024 unfolds.

B. Rakesh, secretary of the Kerala Film Producers’ Association, emphasized the importance of content, stating, “Content remains the king going by the huge audience response to these hit movies.” He further expounded that a variety of factors, including pre-release hype, the reputation of the production banner, a compelling cast, and intriguing storylines, play pivotal roles in a film’s destiny at the box office.

This impressive streak of film success also serves as a clarion call to producers, signaling the necessity to invest in movies with distinctive content and storytelling styles. This indicates a shift towards creative innovation and diversity in narratives that resonate with viewers.

However, even amid this celebratory phase, the Malayalam film industry faces critical challenges, most notably the escalating production costs and diminishing returns from the sale of ancillary rights, including those for OTT platforms. G. Suresh Kumar, the president of the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that digital platforms are now carefully evaluating theatrical performances before determining the purchase prices for films. This marks a departure from previous practices when such platforms readily acquired films for substantial sums.

Additionally, Kumar addressed the increasing production expenses, singling out the substantial budgets allocated for actor and technician salaries which represent nearly two-thirds of overall movie budgets.

In essence, the strong performance of the mentioned films not only signifies a rebirth of the Malayalam film industry but also lights up the path ahead for future productions. As the industry stands at the crossroads of potential and challenge, it becomes ever more imperative to sustain the momentum and embrace innovative strategies that balance creative expression with financial prudence, thus securing the future of Mollywood cinema in an ever-evolving entertainment landscape.

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