A huge chunk of Mollywood’s glitterati — actors, directors and technicians — have, in recent years, shifted base from Chennai and different places in Kerala to Kochi.
The list includes stalwarts like Mohanlal, Mammootty, Jayaram, Indrajith, Prithviraj, Jayasoorya, Lal, Kavya Madhavan, Meera Jasmine, Bhama, Samvritha Sunil, and directors Joshiy, Rafi Mecartin, Shafi, Siddique and others.
“I used to feel like a frog in a well when I was in Alappuzha, my hometown. Shifting to Kochi has brought a lot of changes in my life,” says Kunchacko Boban who settled in Kochi five years ago and has an apartment at Kadavanthra.
“It has enabled me to be in touch with new trends and opportunities in the film world,” he says, adding, “Most film people, especially technicians, artists and directors, now live in Kochi. The city has also become a fertile place for business.” Besides being an actor, Boban is a successful businessman.
For art director Salu K. George, Kochi is the ideal place for locations. He moved from Changanassery to Kakkanad, a Kochi suburb, seven years ago.
“Kochi has its own beauty,” he says, adding, “Within a radius of 30 km you can find different landscapes: the sea, paddy fields, lagoons, rubber plantations, high-rises, port, harbour, forests, airport, and railway stations. That is why most films are shot in and around Kochi.”
Actor Indrajith too moved to Kochi from Thiruvananthapuram five years ago. “When I looked at my shooting schedules, I realised that I spent most of my days in Kochi, and very few in Thiruvananthapuram or other places,” he says. “So staying in Kochi was advantageous.”
Most states have their own film cities. Tamil Nadu has Chennai, Andhra Pradesh has Hyderabad, and Maharashtra Mumbai. “Likewise, Kochi is becoming Kerala’s film city,” says Indrajith. His brother, Prithviraj, has a flat at Kadavanthra.
“All technical facilities are available here,” says actor, director, and producer Lal who lives at Padamugal, Kochi. “Till a few years back, we had to depend on Chennai for post-production works,” he says, adding, “With the launching of studios like Lal, Vismaya and DLS in Kochi, we can do the technical work at competitive rates and save a lot of money.”
Editing, dubbing, sound effects, graphic work, song recording, final mixing — Kochi boasts of all facilities these days.
“Travel and transport facilities in Kochi are also good,” says Lal. “Because of good connectivity, artists and technicians from Chennai and other parts of the country can reach Kochi easily and travel back.”
The availability of prime fitness centres like Talwalkars and Biorhythms is another attraction for artists.
Actress Samvritha Sunil is one, who is making use of such centres.
I started learning dance as a child, she says.
"I continued till I moved to Kochi to concentrate on my acting career. But gradually my travelling for shooting became more frequent, which affected my dance classes. Then I decided to join a fitness centre. I benefit a lot by attending the centre. I spend at least one hour in the gym.” Samvritha is from Kannur and she settled in Kochi three years back.
Bhama too settled in Kochi three years back. “Kochi is the main venue for the pujas of all Malayalam films,” she says, adding, “I had great difficulty reaching Kochi from Kottayam for such programmes. But now it is easy.”