It may not be possible, but here are some ideas that must leave the face of Malayalam cinema so we can experience something truly meaningful on screen. Our list…don’t forget to add your own:
Alpha male “upper-caste” heroes
The larger-than-life Induchoodans, Jagannathans, Madhavanunnis, Pallarmadam Devanarayanans or Sreeharis who rise out of rivers like sea mammals, stroll primarily in slow motion, swat a dozen villains in all directions, enjoy a line-up of sidekicks, twirl their thick moustaches, win over their already enamoured lady lovers with sexist overtures and emerge victorious in a standard good-versus-evil narrative. No longer do we want to watch films that single-handedly celebrate only their folklore, with all the other characters ending up as mere props.
Bombastic WTF monologues
The Renji Panicker school of dialogue delivery, where every dialogue of the hero has a minimum of 200 words and includes not just rhetoric in Malayalam but also in English, sometimes helpfully (and agonisingly) translated into either language. If politics is the backdrop, rest assured the speeches will be even more thorny and pretentious. While at it, we would also like to be free of the writer clones of Ranjith—Anoop Menon, for instance.
The one-note mean cop
The sneering, immoral and corrupt policeman who always sides with bad men. The kind of characters, done to death by Bheeman Raghu and Spadikam George, with not a single sympathetic bone in their body, who also gets mercilessly thrashed by the hero. We saw him in the recent Lucifer as well.
Exalting dumped boyfriends or the ‘theppu’ scene
It’s almost a trope in Jis Joy films and he makes sure his hero’s narrative typically begins with a girlfriend (theppu kari) who ditched him. As his arc progresses, he finds his ideal woman and the narrative has to end up with a routine scene of him getting back at that ex-girlfriend. It’s boring to watch these heroes behave like overgrown children. Move on, right?
Rom-coms opening with heroes and heroines in their diapers
It was fine in Ustad Hotel and Ohm Shanthi Oshana but it seems like rom-coms have this uneasy fascination with this baby-to-adult narrative with a voice-over and it’s getting too boring and predictable. No more bell bottoms, please!
Kunchako Boban as the perennially handsome do-gooder and the mind -bogglingly hilarious titles
He is one actor who continues to have an Aniyathipravu hangover and his recent films seems to be fenced in a picturesque village, with terribly unoriginal villagers, a priest, a cutesy girl, some songs, a boring backstory with titles like Johny Johny Yes Papa, Thattumpurathe Thampuran, Kuttanadan Marpappa to name a few. He urgently needs to step out of that comfort zone.
The Dileep variety of double-meaning comedy
From rape jokes, to giving a woman the same name as a canine. From having several crass adult sexist comedy and then marketing the film as a “family entertainer”, the self-anointed ‘Janapriya Nayagan’ was having a field day for a while at the box office, till the audience got smarter. No more of this please!
The middle-aged Sathyan Anthikad hero who needs to come of age
The same old pattern that began with Nadodikattu continues to be recycled in newer milieus and newer actors. The ordinary hero who finds himself with the help of a heroine; we badly need a break from this.
The Peter Hein brand of action choreography
It was all fresh and exciting in Pulimurugan—the high-octane slo-mo kicks, the flying saucer cuts but then he started reprocessing it in the films that followed resulting in a kind of action choreography that was soon dubbed as Pulimurugan stunts. We know it is time to change his bag of tricks. From leopards, to rabid dogs to humans playing animals, spare the beasts.
The super-long, ultra-boring thank you list in the opening credits
From Thanking God to everyone from Mammootty, Mohanlal to the local Jewellery owner, the opening credits before the title credits roll has become as tedious as the National anthem before the film begins. Not to forget how never-ending they are.
Prithviraj re-packaging Hollywood films to revive Malayalam cinema
Ezra, Adam Joan, Nine, Ranam—while the last was different in storytelling, it essentially followed a few of the Prithviraj cinematic tropes—ambitious themes, stylish packaging, shallow execution, superficial dialogues, paranormal activities, single dad, brooding hero, predictable ending, lonely child and even long slow mo walking.
What tropes would you like to add to this list?