Malayalam movies are a staple for all South Indians, especially since the nation of India produces more movies than any other country on Earth. Malayalam movies, however, are not punctuated with just song and dance numbers a la Bollywood’s biggest hits: many of them feature intricate storylines and complex characters rivaling the best of world cinema. The following Malayalam movies are the ones we think deserve your attention.
Moonnamathoral is the first Malayalam film to be made with digital technology. It is a suspense thriller starring Jayaram, Vineeth, Jyothirmai and Harisree Asokan. It is directed by V.K. Prakash and was released in 2006. The plot centers around two young girls who rent a room in an old palace but soon discover it is occupied by a strange feminine presence. The palace manager tries to help them as she also dabbles in black magic. Eventually, the girls come across a married couple who move into the palace and find that the same strange presence is haunting them. In the end, the girls discover a shocking secret about their lives.
A popular film at the time of its release in 1972, Swayamvaram was a breakthrough film for Malayalam cinema. It dealt head on with a number of serious issues, including the process by which families in Kerala were transitioning into modern society. The film tells the story of a young man named Vishwam who elopes with a young woman named Seeta. They move to the big city where they find it difficult to survive, eventually landing in a slum. The couple is mired in poverty as their baby born, leading to tragic complications for the family.
Released in 2002, Nammal was a hugely successful film at the box-office. Directed by Kamal and starring Siddharth, Jishnu, Renuka Menon and Bhavana, it features award winning music by Mohan Sithara. The film is a typical college comedy about all the antics and love trials of young adults on a college campus. The film also has a dramatic twist that threatens to undo everything all the protagonists have worked for up to this point.
Vaasthavam is a 2006 film directed by M. Padmakumar and starring Prithviraj. The film tells the story of a young man who rises beyond poverty and emotional turmoil to a position of power where he can make a positive difference in the lives of his countrymen. Prithviraj also won the Kerala State Award for Best Actor his potent portrayal of the lead character.
Released in 1989, Season is noted for the pitch perfect performance by its lead actor, Mohanlal, who plays the lead with the perfect mix of hope, regret and awareness. Though the film was not a success at the box-office, it changed the way many Malayalam films were made as it introduced a grittier, more realistic style than fans of Malayalam films were used to seeing. The film tells the story of a young man named Jeevan who spends his life in and out of prison, suspected of committing murder but innocent all the while.