Mallu goes down movie memory lane

Mallu goes down movie memory lane
‘Watching movies’ is pretty much the most commonly seen update on Facebook nowadays. Most of the time, it will be followed by a review. In effect, we all have written reviews at some point in time, at least a one-liner. But not many people will venture to write about old movies -- that too yesteryear 'classics' starring megastars!   
 
Arya Prakash is a freelancer who started to deconstruct an old Malayalam hit ‘Niram’ on a fine sleepless morning (or so she says). And now, she runs a website: Silma.reviews (Silma is a colloquial use of cinema in Malayalam) with tens of thousands of hits each month.





On the blog, Arya describes herself as a “quintessential mellu [Mallu] trying to make sense of the movies she grew up with". In the autopsies of the ‘evergreen hits' of Malayalam, she acquaints the readers with some obvious facts and new perspectives with clever wordplay and punning.
 
“Initially, it was an analysis for the sake of fun alone,” says Arya. But she soon realised that it’s a serious affair to “lay bare its problematic features.”
 
She doesn’t forget to make it contemporary. She pokes fun at political developments by associating them with some odd scene of a movie that doesn’t make you feel awkward or want to ask yourself how it even relates to the movie.


The main attraction in the online platform are the GIFs she makes, seeing which you don’t really need to understand the movie to appreciate her creativity.




Her review debut was for ‘Niram’, a campus movie from the late 90's. “When Niram released (1999), I was in the 3rd or 4th standard and was completely taken away by the fun-only college life that Niram offered onscreen,” Arya told DH. She wrote: ‘Niram is Kerala’s own Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.’ "Revisiting the movie after finishing my college life surely gave me a new perspective," she says.

When asked about why she reviews old movies, Arya told DH, “I grew up watching these movies. "Truth be told, these movies had their roles in conditioning my thoughts about love, marriage, sex, sexuality, the role of women in society, femininity, toxic masculinity, and patriarchy as the rule of the land. The movies that I review were my favourites,” she says. And now, she consciously deconstructs each movie on its merits, with perspectives from the first time she watched them.
 
Many can apparently guess the likely names on her list, be it 'Harikrishnans' or 'Aram Thampuran'. Also surprisingly on her list are ‘Minnaram’ and ‘Kilukkam’. Both are comedy hits of Mohanlal during his ‘golden times.’ She delves into the logic of each story with passion. Except the latest in the series which was published bilingually, all reviews are in English. 



Expanding the scope of her oeuvre, she has now begun to also consider  film songs separately. A song from a Jayaram movie was the first ‘victim’, she admits.  She plans to expand the website into more sections because of the response she has received.

Buzzfeed writer Imaan Sheikh’s "Honest and Accurate Summaries" of Bollywood movies and Kanan Gill and Biswa Kalyan Rath’s roles in "Pretentious movie reviews", a YouTube series, are her inspirations to start this pursuit in which she “found the endless possibilities in these movies for socio-political commentary” as well.
 
Like any movie industry, Mollywood is also known for its fan culture. Ribbing on old blockbusters of stars like Mohanlal and Mammootty may invite trouble. “I do receive angry messages for ‘portraying Malayalam classics in bad light in front of non-Malayalis’ or asking me to ‘make a short film at least, prove my talent, and then criticise,’” says Arya, but nothing downright abusive so far.


An interesting attitude that she noticed is that when she writes humour, “that too, irreverent humour” is men “cribbing that "she has a me-so-edgy attitude" or that she's a "feminist killjoy" or a "wannabe"- "things you wouldn't hear had it been a man making these jokes," she says.


(GIFs by Arya Prakash)
Share your thoughts: jishnu.en@deccanherald.co.in or Twitter/jishnulen

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