From left to right: Tholpavakoothu. Poster of Balan. Notice of Balan. Notice of Newspaperboy. Warunni Jose. JC Danial

From left to right:Scenes from Neelakkuyil, Chemmeen, Swayamvaram, Peruvazhiambalam,Olavum theeravum, Kanchanaseetha.

From left to right:P.Bhaskaran, Ramu Karyat, Adoor, Aravindan, Padmarajan, Bharathan. Shaji N.Karun, Jayaraj

From left to right:P.J.Antony,Thikkurussi, Gopi, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi,Balachandra menonon,Mammootty,Salim Kumar

(Bharat award winners)

The people of Kerala were very much familiar with the screen images even before the arrival of cinema. They witnessed the performance of Tholppavakoothu, a temple art form that exhibited dancing images of puppet on screen accompanied by dialogues, songs and background music, similar to that of cinema.

Paul Vincent, an employee of Railways, conducted the first film exhibition in South India.using equipments imported from France. He exhibited films using his Edison Bioscope at Thrissur. K W Joseph purchased these equipments from Paul Vincent and established the first cinema theatre with a manually operated film projector in 1907. He also established the first electrically operated film projector in 1913 at Thrissur. The name of the theatre was ‘Jose Electrical Bioscope’.

J.C. Danial, a Dental doctor by profession was the first producer and director of Malayalam film. His film Vigathakumaran was released in 1928. Sunder Raj produced the second film Marthandavarma in 1933. Marthandavarma was based on a novel of C.V. Raman Pillai, but could not be screened due to legal problems.

The first talkie film was Balan, produced by Modern Theatres. This was released in 1938. Jnambika (1940), Prahlada (1941), Nirmala (1948) were the films that followed Balan. The play -back singing system was introduced for the first time in the Malayalam cinema in 1948. Until then, artists themselves had to act and sing simultaneously.

Jeevithanouka marked a turning point for Malayalam cinema. This film could be considered as the first 'super hit’ Malayalam cinema Thikkurishi Sukumaran Nair, an actor from the stage, and the hero of this film became the first 'superstar' of Malayalam film. Neelakuyil (1954) directed by P Bhaskaran and Ramu Karyat announced the presence of Malayalam cinema in Indian film scenerio. This was the first Malayalam film that was shot at outdoors. Newspaper Boy, released in 1955 was considered as a reflection of neo-realism.

After the success of Neelakuyil, films with authentic malayalam stories appeared. Minnaminingu directed Ramu Karyat and Rarichhan Enna Pouran by P Bhaskaran were the noted films during the late 1950s. Takazhi Shivashankara Pillai's famous novel Randidangazhi was also filmed. In 1961 Kandam Bacha Coat, the first full-lengthcolour film in Malayalam was released. Bhargavi Nilayam (1964) Chemmeen, Murapennu, Nagarame Nandi, Asuravithu and Thulabharam. Irutinte Athmavu were some of the best movies in the 1960s. Chemmeen (1965), based on the famous novel of Thakazhy Sivasankara Pillai and directed by Ramu Karyat was the first South Indian film that bagged the President's Golden Lotus Award for the best Indian film.

After Chemmeen, Kerala witnessed a boost in good quality films. Several radical changes took place in the field. A new generation of filmmakers came forward with different class of cinema. Consequently, Malayalam cinema gave birth to two different streams, viz., art films and commercial films. The former gave significance to the artistic qualities and kept away all the accepted formulas of popularity, while the latter considered the possibilities of mass entertainment and commercial aspects.

The growth of film society movement and the screenings of world classics stimulated drastic changes in the sentiment of viewers and thereby emerged a new movement termed as the 'New Wave Malayalam Cinema'. Adoor Gopalakrishnan and G.Aravindan gave leadership to this radical change. Another major stream of Malayalam cinema that appeared during the 1970s was the 'middle-stream cinema'. K G George, Padmarajan, Bharathan were a few gifted directors under this stream. During 1980s Malayalam Cinema achieved technological significance. The first 70 MM film (Padayottam) and the first 3-D film (My Dear Kuttichathan) in Malayalam were produced during the period. During 1990s remarkable and popular films were produced.

Malayalam cinema that was divided into two contrasting groups seems to be coming closer resulting in the making of good films A noteworthy development of present Malayalam film industry is the entry of a number of young and talented filmmakers with their low budget, adventurous, and thematically thoughtful films. Today all the Malayalam films are produced in colour and all of them are based on social themes and present a cross section of contemporary society.

Winners of the National Award for Best Films

Name of Film

Ramu Karyat
Adoor Gopalakrishnan
M.T.Vasuevan Nair
Shaji N.Karun
Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Shaji N.Karun
2006 Pulijanmam Priyanandan
2009 Kuttisrank Shaji N.karun
2010 Adaminte makan Abu Salim Ahammed