Anthology of romance

Anthology of romance

Breaking away from established stereotypes has become the hallmark of new generation filmmakers in Malayalam.

 They have no formulas to follow, no trends to identify with. The content of a movie has become ever so important and suddenly there are no complaints about the audience not wanting to go to the theatres. Stories, it seems, are crucial to this success, and the film 5 Sundarikal is offering five different ones.

5 Sundarikal, scheduled to be released soon, is special in many ways. On the one hand, it is a tribute to Indian cinema’s glorious 100 years, and on the other hand, it brings together Amal Neerad, Anwar Rasheed, Sameer Thahir, Ashiq Abu and Shyju Kahlid, a group of filmmakers who have been friends since their college days. All of them are today leading directors in the Malayalam film industry.

Five-in-one

Another aspect worth mentioning here is that the movie belongs to the anthology or portmanteau genre. These films might be made up of either independent stories that stand separately or with stories that interconnect at some point of time in the movie. However, there will be a central theme that connects all the stories. Paris, Je t’aime (French) and 7 Days in Havana (Spanish) are some of the recent foreign language films made in this category. Sirikkathe (1939) is considered to be the first anthology film made in India. Other Indian films in this genre include Darna Mana Hain (2003), Dus Kahaniyaan (2007), LSD (2010) and the recently released Bombay Talkies. 

5 Sundarikal is composed of five 30-minute-long films directed by Amal Neerad, Anwar Rasheed, Sameer Thahir, Ashiq Abu and Shyju Khalid. All the five segments are named after its leading female characters, even though the filmmakers have denied that all of them have strictly women-oriented themes.

The core idea behind the project was Amal Neerad’s, and he has produced the movie under his banner, Amal Neerad Productions. The movie also marks the debut for Shyju Khalid with his segment Sethulakshmi. It will also be the first time that Rimy Tomy, Isha Sharwani and Asmita Sood have starred in a Malayalam movie.

Amal, who has a cult status among movie buffs for his ultra stylish action flicks, is keeping his fingers crossed, as this will be his first romantic film. His segment in 5 Sundarikal is titled Kullante Bharya and will star Dulquer Salman and Reenu Mathews (of Immanuel fame) playing the lead.

“Amal came up with the idea of 5 Sundarikal. He had assisted Ram Gopal Varma in movies like Darna Mana Hain, which was an anthology film made in Hindi,” says Shyju. The excitement of making his first movie reflects in his words. “I enjoyed working with my friends for the first movie,” he said.

The immediate parallel for 5 Sundarikal in Malayalam seems to be Kerala Café, another anthology film released in 2009. However, Production Controller of the movie, Harris Desom, has said that “unlike Kerala Café, there are no interconnected stories in 5 Sundarikal. All five films are independent,” he says. 

The history of anthology films in Malayalam dates back to 1967, when Chithramela, directed by T S Muthaiah, became the first film to tell three different stories. Even though directors in the industry are yet to explore its possibilities, Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Naalu Pennungal, Ranjit’s Kerala Café and Major Ravi’s Oru Yathrayil belong to this genre.

The films in 5 Sundarikal include Ashiq Abu’s Gowri, featuring Kavya Madhavan and Biju Menon; Anwar Rasheed’s Aami, featuring Fahad Fazil and Honey Rose; Sameer Thahir’s Esha, featuring Nivil Pauly and Isha Sharwani, and Shyju Khalid’s Sethulakshmi, featuring Anika and Chethan along with Amal Neerad’s short.

The film also boasts of an ensemble cast that includes Jayasurya, Vinayakan, Chembn Vinod Jose, Shine Tom Chako, Tini Tom, Muthumani and Jinu Ben. 

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