Mohanlal‘s upcoming Malayalam film, Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, has opted for a digital release and will premiere on Amazon Prime Video. K Vijayakumar, President of the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK), told Silverscreen India that this was “the producer, actor, and director’s decision.”
“We [the association] are not with Marakkar now. They already collected the advance from the theatres and returned it. They did not keep their word. And it’s okay,” he said.
Written and directed by Priyadarshan, Marakkar narrates the story of Kunjali Marakkar, the fourth and the last of the Malayali naval leaders deployed by the Samoothiri of Calicut to fight in the war against the Portuguese in the 16th century.
Marakkar‘s producer, Antony Perambavoor, who was serving as the FEUOK’s Vice President, recently quit the association following a fallout with several exhibitors regarding the film’s release. Shortly thereafter, Onmanorama confirmed the film’s digital release.
“Being the Vice President of the exhibitors’ association, if he makes a film and gives it to OTT platforms, it’s not fair. Maybe he realised this and that’s why he resigned,” said Vijayakumar. “But we have not yet taken his letter up for discussion. A committee meeting will be held later to decide what is to be done about his resignation.”
Silverscreen India tried reaching the producer for a response but to no avail.
While Marakkar is a big banner film featuring a superstar of Malayalam cinema, Vijayakumar feels the makers’ decision to forgo a big screen release will not really affect theatres in Kerala. “There are other superstars as well in Malayalam,” he noted. “We are getting their films. So cinemas will not face a problem. In cinema, stars are not paramount. Content is the base of a film. If one or two superstars opt to go away from theatres, we don’t care about it.”
One of the other star films headed for cinemas is Dulquer Salmaan‘s Kurup. The film was initially set for a digital release, on Amazon Prime Video on November 12, but will now release in theatres instead. “The film was already slated for an OTT release. But, based on our request, he [Salmaan] returned [to cinemas],” said Vijayakumar.
Kurup will be the first big star film in Malayalam to release in theatres in Kerala amidst the Covid-19 pandemic post the reopening of the cinemas there on October 25.
“In addition to this, Mammootty‘s film, Bheeshma Parvam, will release on December 20,” the FEUOK President added.
Marakkar will be Mohanlal’s second film after Drishyam 2 to go for a digital release. Drishyam 2, which also released on Amazon Prime Video, was again produced by Perumbavoor.
“We will not take any action against Mohanlal, but he should remember what gained him stardom. I think he will realise and come back to theatres as he cannot survive on OTT platforms. Not only him but others as well. They will definitely all come back to cinemas,” Vijayakumar said.