Thiruvananthapuram: Be it Nivin Pauly-starrer "Premam" or debutante director R S Vimal's "Ennu Ninte Moideen", young actors and filmmakers reigned Malayalam film industry in 2015, while superstars and veteran directors failed to recreate their magic at the box office.
Fresh themes and new narrative styles were well-received even as few movies, set in traditional format, had some relief at cinemas.
The unprecedented history created by Jayaraj-directed "Ottal" (The Trap) at IFFK by sweeping all major awards including the coveted Suvarna Chakoram (Golden Crow Pheasant) infused a fresh confidence into the makers of serious cinema in Malayalam.
"Neram" director Alphonse Puthren's second movie "Premam" (The Love), which revolves around the three phases of the love life of the protagonist George, hit headlines not only in the name of its immense theatre collections and long queues of youngsters before cinemas but also for some wrong reasons.
People from various walks of life including state police chief T P Senkumar and veteran director Kamal criticised the "wrong" influence the movie cast on young generation.
The alleged leak of the Censor copies of the movie on social media, when it was set to cross all collection records, created a row in the industry.
"Ennu Ninte Moideen" (Yours forever, Moideen), a romantic movie based on a real-life story of Moideen and Kanchanamala, a couple from north Kerala, attracted both classes and masses and was hailed by critics as one of the most evergreen romantic films of Malayalam.
The success of the film was such that there were people thronging to visit the real life Kanchanamala, who is 75 now, to catch a glimpse of the woman who had spent her entire life waiting for her love-- Moideen, who died in a tragic boat accident decades ago.
But, the legal battle and war of words between its director Vimal and Kanchanamala, over the script of the movie, reduced the sheen of the historic success of the Prithviraj-Parvathi starrer film to some extent.
Of over 140 films released in Mollywood this year, only a handful of them did well at the box office and could be tagged as hit, super hit or blockbuster.
Besides "Premam" and "Ennu Ninte Moideen", "Oru Vadakan Selfie", "Amar Akbar Antony", "Anarkali" and "Madhuranaranga" also did ring the bells of cash boxes. A number of films like "Su Su Sudhi Valmeekam", "Chandrettan Evideya", "Picket 43", "Life of Josutty" and "Love 24x7" received good reviews and wooed audience.
Lijo Jose Pellissery-directed "Double Barrel" and Anil Radhakrishna Menon's "Lord Livingston 7000 Kandi" were noted for its experimental narrative techniques and striking titles though they were not received well at box office.
Even though superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal had a number of movies in their kitty this year like always, most of them including "Laila O Laila", "Acha Din", "Uttopyayile Rajavu" and "Bhaskar the Rascal" failed to strike a chord with the audience.
But, Mammootty-starrer "Pathemari", directed by National award-winning film maker Salim Ahmed and Renjith's Mohanlal movie "Loham", a suspense thriller, attracted viewers.
Among the veteran filmmakers, Sathyan Anthikkad, known for family dramas and social satires, continued to retain his space in the flood of new generation filmmakers with his Mohanlal-Manju Warrier movie "Ennum Eppozhum".
Aashiq Abu's "Rani Padmini", a road movie noted for the stellar performance of Rima Kallingal and Manju Warrier, and Rajesh Pillai-directed "Mili", which revolves around the life of an introvert woman starred by Amala Paul, gained plaudits as heroine-centric movies.
This year's International Film Festival of Kerala, which featured over 170 films from across the world here during December 4-11, received wide appreciation as one of the best ever editions in the history of the movie gala.
Besides Suvarna Chakorama, "Ottal", an adaptation of Russian writer Anton Chekhov's short story "Vanka", won the Best Film of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) jury, the Best Malayalam film of the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) jury and the Audience Poll awards in IFFK.
"Ottal" earlier won the National Award in the best environment film category and the State Award for the best feature film.
The state film awards, announced by a jury chaired by eminent script writer John Paul, stood out for its difference this year as popular stars and movies bagged prominent awards unlike in previous years.
Nivin Pauly and Sudhev Nair shared honours in the best actor category while Nazriya Nazim won award for the best actress.
The demises of iconic cinematographer-director A Vincent, known for path-breaking movies like "Neelakkuyil" and "Bhargavi Nilayalm", comedians Mala Aravindan and Paravoor Bharathan, music director Yusafali Kechery and singers Radhhika Thilak and Bombay S Kamal created an irreparable vacuum in the industry.