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Abstract

The recent Malayalam cinema, especially the new generation cinema, seems to embrace differences which otherwise do not find apt representation/presentation in commercial Malayalam cinema industry. The paper tries to chronologically map the changes that happen to the hegemonic dialects in Malayalam cinema along with their respective “others.”  While addressing the question of language as well as dialects in Malayalam cinema, I would touch upon the question of region, religion, caste, and gender as these are inextricably related to dialects. For the sake of analysis, I would like to divide the history of Malayalam cinema into three phases. The first during 1950s, when the Malayalam cinema industry was established based on linguistic identity by othering the “Tamil”. The second phase witnessed M T's entry into the field during the 1960s by the introduction of the Valluvanadan dialect; something which can be considered as a breakthrough as far as the history of language in Malayalam cinema is concerned. The third phase is that of ‘new generation cinema’ in the beginning of 2010 which brought different dialects into Malayalam cinema. An attempt is made to see how the dialects/language of the dominant section becomes normative in Kerala in the process of othering and what a dialect refers to in Malayalam cinema at different historical junctures. The paper argues that the hegemonic dialects makes its presence legitimate by othering/ridiculing other dialects spoken by marginalized communities. The recent Malayalam cinema has brought in various dialects spoken by different communities and regions in a positive light and it seems to represent change in the perception regarding what should be the standard language. However, these attempts to bring in many dialects hitherto unrepresented are done in a careful manner.

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