Screens and Circuses


The Kerala film industry is well known as Mollywood (named after the Malayalam language spoken in Kerala). It grosses about $120m per year at the box office and 2014 saw the creation of about 150 Mollywood feature films. Major Mollywood studios, locations, production and post-production facilities are located in  Kochi and the capital, Trivandrum. The first 3D film produced in India was from Mollywood:  My Dear Kuttichathan (1984). Two Mollywood films have been sent to Hollywood as India’s official entries for Academy Awards: Guru (1997) and Adaminte Mayan Abu (2011). (Neither was selected).

One of the biggest Mollywood stars is Indrajith Sukumaran. Another big name is his younger brother, Prithiviraj Sukumaran, the heartthrob in Kerala. Their parents, Mallika and Sukumaran, are also major Mollywood names. We were lucky to meet Indrajith’s wife, Poornima, herself an actor, when we were out for dinner this week. She seemed to be quite taken with the girls.


She mentioned her husband has just come out with a new film: Amar, Akbar, Anthony. Posters promoting the movie are all over the city.

Undaunted by our limited Malayali language skills, (we know one Malayalam word: ‘nanni’ which means thank you) we spent the afternoon at the pictures today.


What a movie! We understood 60% of the plot and less than 1% of the words. Anthony delivers pizza. Akbar drives kids around at the local mall in a large toy car. Amar operates a lift at a hospital. The three friends are trying to scrape together enough money for some hedonism in Thailand together but life keeps getting in the way. One of the friends’ father is hospitalized, Amar is assaulted by a goon. A psychopath chases after small children. They all fall for the same girl. There are dance scenes. A huge fight. Spoiler alert- everything works out in the end.

It was a real treat to be at the cinema. Aside from the movie itself, we got to enjoy spicy chai during intermission. Moviegoers taking phone calls during the movie. Explaining to our neighbor that no, we don’t speak Malayalam but that the film transcends language.


We mentioned in an earlier post how we’ve met a nice group of creative professionals here in Ernakulam. Our neighbor is an artist that keeps his studio next door. His current project explores India’s colonial past using old found photographs that he converts into negatives. He then makes beautiful images using a wetlab. (Not light proof but close to a darkroom). He has invited us to take a look at his production process and will show the girls the basics of photography (negatives and photo paper). He has a sound room where his band plays. He showed the girls his DJ kit (vinyl). And he lent us a unicycle. Saga will likely be the first of us to master it.




5 thoughts on “Screens and Circuses

  1. Love your description of Mollywood and the movie outing! Interesting plot!
    We had a similar experience many moons ago in Switzerland seeing a movie called Once Upon in the West in French. At intermission, we went out for a beer and a quick synopsis from our Swiss friend of the first half of the movie. Years later we saw the movie in English and realized how much we missed!

    Tell Saga we are impressed with her unicycling skills! Maybe she will make an appearance in a Mollywood film!


  2. How the heck did you ever meet a famous star’s wife??? You must hang out at classy restaurants. And introduce yourself to everyone??? 🙂 She is pretty cute……..maybe that is it. 🙂 Tomorrow we have friends coming to stay (in FL) for a couple of days. They are from Connecticut and have a place near Naples. We met on our honeymoon ( 48 yrs ago – yikes!) and spent the whole honeymoon doing stuff with them (Bermuda). We see them off and on but haven’t seen them now for probably at least 5 years. Fun! Mp

    Mary Pat Armstrong 95A Roxborough St. E. Toronto, ON, M4W 1V9 416-922-4812


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