At the dawn of the silent movies in world cinema, the first silent movie in Malayalam ‘Vikathakumaran’ was made with the made in 1928 by J C Daniel . But unfortunately this film ruined him in financially .
After Daniel , his relative Sunderraj took initiative to produce another film ‘MarthandaVarma’ based on Sri C.V. Ramanpilla's famous novel . But this film got involved in legal problems with the copy right, and turned out to be another financial disaster.
'Balan' the first Malayalam "talkies" with sound track, was made in 1938 . T.R Sundaram produced this film for modern theatres, Salem, with S. Nottani was the director. Main actors and actresses were K. K. Aroor, Alleppy Vincent, Smt. M. K. Kamalam etc. Muthukulam Raghavan Pillai wrote the screen play. The theme of this film which was based on a step-mother, has influenced Malayalam cinema stories for a long time. The picture was, of course a superhit.
Inspired from this success , it’s distributors 'Shymala Pictures' produced the fourth Malayalam movie ‘Jnanambika’ . In other Indian languages all the early films were mythologicals, whereas in Malayalam only the fifth one 'Prahalda' (1941) was a mythological.
After 'Prahalada' the Malayalam film industry remains inactive for a long while.
Then, in 1948, another film 'Nirmala' produced by P.J.Charian and directed by P.V.Krishna Iyer. was released This film was a revolution in the field of film technology . the ‘play -back’ system was introduced for the first time in the film . Until then, artists had to act and sing simultaneously . The famous ‘Udaya Studio’ was built in 1949 at Alleppy, and in 1952 ‘Merryland studio’ was set-up in Trivandrum. Both played important roles in the history of Malayalam cinema.
'Jeevitha Nowka' which was made in 1951 broke all the previous box -office records . It was screened continuously for 284 days in Trivandrum city. K. Vembu was the director of this film which was produced by Koshi and Kunchcko under the banner of K & K Productions. Eminent actor 'Thikkurissy' become famous through this film.
In 1952 , Sathyan through 'Athma Sakhi' and Premnazeer through 'Marumakal' came into the lime light.
The fifties witnessed tremendous changes in the field of Indian cinema. The trend of making films based on famous novels, began in 1954 with the film 'Neelakkuyil' by Chandrathara Productions, taken from ‘Uroobe’s famous novel.
'Neelakkuyil' witnessed the rising up of a new group of creative youngsters in this field , including the directors P Bhaskaran and Ramu Karyattu.
The first realistic Malayalam movie 'News Paper Boy' was released 1955. This 'down to earth' film by P.Ramdas, was conspicuous by its simplicity.
In the sixties, the influence of Malayalam literature on cinema was strengthened more. So many films were made upon famous novels and even poems like ‘Karuna’ and ‘Ramanan’ provided themes for films.
P. Bhaskaran went a long way by directing the film 'Rarichan Enna Powran'. His most famous film was 'Iruttinte Aathmavu'.
Sethumadhavan , who came to the field by directing 'Jnanasundary' In 1961, always maintained his identity by choosing themes with social relevance, and presenting them in a simple manner. Most of his films including 'Odayil Ninnu', 'Aranazhika Neram', 'Anubhavangal Palichakal' where based on famous novels . The most celebrated actor Satyan proved his talent through Sethu Madhavan’s films.
It was also the golden era for Malayalam film songs. The Vayalar - Devarajan team have given us numerous unforgettable melodies . Baburaj , Dakshinamurthy , K. Rakhavan etc.. composed enchanting tunes for the lyrics by P. Bhaskaran , Yusaf Ali Kechery, Sreekumaran Thambi etc.
Ever famous Yesudas , S.Janaki , P.Leela, P.Susheela, Jayachandran, Kamukara Purushothaman, A.M.Raja etc... are the gifts of that era.
Mr. Ramu Kariattu brought us the first national level recognition. Rural Kerala were the locations for all his films. He introduced Madhu to Malayalam cinema through his film 'Moodupadam'. His most famous film 'Chemmeen' was honoured by President's gold medal. The film was based on Thakazhi Shivasankara Pillai’s famous novel . Sathyan , Kottarakkara, Sheela, Madhu, S.P. Pillai etc.. presented their remarkable performances in the film.
After 'Chemmeen' Malayalam Cinema has never had to look back . One after another we could make outstanding movies like 'Kanchana Seetha', 'Thambu', 'Elippathayam', 'Vasthuhara', 'Mathilukal', 'Piravi', 'Swam', etc. and could prove our strong presence in Indian Cinema Industry. Our prestigious directors, like Aravindan, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shaji etc.. have claimed national and international awards for many of their films.