Thiruvananthapuram: The waning charisma of superstars, a drought at the box office and dearth of new faces...it was another bad year for the Malayalam film industry.
Despite several releases, the three ageing Malayalam superstars - Mammootty, 60, Suresh Gopi, 54, and Mohanlal, 51, - seen as the saviours of the filmdom, failed to bail out the industry that was reeling under flops.
Looking back on their hugely successful three decades, 2011 has not been a pleasant year for the trio.
Mammootty had five releases - August 15, Doubles, The Train, Bombay March 12 and Venicile Vyapari; Mohanlal had Christian Brothers, China Town, Pranayam, Snehaveedu and Arabiyum Ottakom P Madhavan Nairum; and Suresh Gopi had four releases - Christian Brothers, Melvilasam, Collector and Ven Shanku Pol.
Although their films kept landing at the box office and even created a flutter ahead of their releases, there were no fireworks at the ticket windows.
For Gopi, it was the worst year as his three films went unnoticed and if not for "Christian Brothers", in which he teamed up with Mohanlal and Dileep, it would have been a complete washout for the once angry young man of the Malayalam film industry. On the other hand Mammootty's and Mohanlal's latest releases - Venicile Vyapari and"Arabiyum Ottakom P Madhavan Nairum respectively - made some noise.
And making a film with these biggies is a costly affair. Award- winning director Majid Gulistan says an average Malayalam film with no superstars costs around Rs 1 crore, but when the superstars' names get attached to a project, the budgets shoots up to Rs 3 crore.
If these biggies failed, other stars such as Jayaram, Dileep and Prithviraj couldn't set the cash registers ringing either.
While Jayaram had six releases, Dileep had just three, including "Christian Brothers", Prithviraj had five, of which "Indian Rupee" managed to keep his flag flying high, but it was director Renjith who earned plaudits for the film's success.
"In all, it could be assumed that not less than Rs.150 crore has been spent on film production in 2011," said Gulistan who is readying for his next venture in the New Year.
In 2001, over 87 films hit the screens and it is difficult to pick and choose box office successes from among them.
According to an industry source, less than a dozen films can be described as commercial success, including Traffic and Salt N' Pepper, while Adaminte Makan Abu brought some sunshine by winning several National Awards.
Another drawback was no new face was launched on the marquee or in other creative fields.
The year also bid adieu to notable personalities like actress Aranmula Ponamma, grandmother of Gopi's wife; National Award winning composer Johnson; cinematographer-turned-director Vipin Das; director Chintha Ravi; and character artist Machan Varghese.