Movies

Ten Malayalam movies to look out for this year

Poster of Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Mammootty-starrer ‘Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam’ with the illustration by noted illustrator K.P. Muraleedharan

Poster of Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Mammootty-starrer ‘Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam’ with the illustration by noted illustrator K.P. Muraleedharan

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Malayalam movies had a niche following outside the State with just the most enthusiastic viewers keeping an eye on what was coming out of Kerala. However, the pandemic forced Malayalam filmmakers to take the OTT route and a huge audience outside the Malayalam-speaking world discovered the hidden gems of this small industry. It helped that this was one of the only movie industries to actively produce films even during the height of the pandemic, with Dileesh Pothan’s Joji, starring Fahadh Faasil getting declared by the New Yorker as the ‘first major film of the COVID-19 pandemic.’

Now, the Malayalam movie industry is back on its feet and starting to stretch its wings again. Halfway through 2022, the industry has already churned out blockbusters like Bheeshma Parvam, Jana Gana Mana, and Hridayamthat have earned much love from other-language viewers, while bringing out a number of critically acclaimed and well-received films — Bhoothakalam, Puzhu, Pada, Freedom Fight, Oruthee and Kuttavum Shikshayum.

Here is a list of movies to watch out for the rest of the year:

(Likely release dates, where available, have been given in brackets next to movie subheads)

Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam

A screenshot of Mammootty from the teaser of Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam

A screenshot of Mammootty from the teaser of Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam

Nanpakal nerathu mayakkam (meaning ‘siesta’ or ‘afternoon nap’) is arguably the most anticipated Malayalam movie of 2022 with high hopes on what can happen when the maverick filmmaker Lijo Jose Pellissery collaborates with Mammootty for the first time. Lijo, whose last outing Churuli is already a cult classic, has established himself as one of new-wave Malayalam cinema’s pioneers. Meanwhile, Mammootty is on a roll this year scoring two hits with Bheeshmaparvam and CBI 5: The Brain , and delivering a powerful performance in debutant Ratheena’s Puzhu.

The renowned writer S. Hareesh is penning the script for Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam, in which Mammootty’s character is rumoured to be leading a double life in a village near Palani. Although yet to get a release date, two teasers are already out and they both suggest a fascinating setting. In the first teaser, an entire village is shown to be taking an afternoon nap, including Mammootty who is in a rustic getup, wearing a check shirt and a lungi. Meanwhile, in the second teaser, the thespian is shown to be drunk in a bar, role-playing the characters of both the father and the son played by Sivaji Ganesan in his 1973 movie Gauravam. The movie is also the first venture of Mammootty Kampany, the actor’s new production house.

Thuramukham

Nivin Pauly in ‘Thuramukham,’ directed by Rajeev Ravi

Nivin Pauly in ‘Thuramukham,’ directed by Rajeev Ravi | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

In this historical drama covering the period from early 1920s to late 1950s, ace cinematographer-turned-filmmaker Rajiv Ravi explores the evolution of labour struggle at the Cochin port, where labour allocation was carried out using the inhumane Chappa system, in which labourers were forced to fight each other for earning the right to a specific amount of work (and pay). Starring a rough-looking Nivin Pauly as Mattancherry Moidu, Thuramukham assembles an ensemble of talent including Sudev Nair, Nimisha Sajayan, Joju George, Indrajith, Poornima Indrajith, Darshana Rajendran and Arjun Ashokan to name a few.

It is scripted by Gopan Chidambaram who also scripted the magnum opus Iyobinte Pusthakam in 2016. Gopan’s father P. Chidambaram was a port worker during 1950s and later became a noted playwright. Thuramukham is mostly an adaptation of one of his plays. The teaser and the trailer suggests a moving and deeply humane, yet action-packed, period movie that will be a treat to watch.

Thallumaala (August 12)

Tovino Thomas doing a handstand in the song ‘Kannil Pettole’ from the movie ‘Thallumaala’

Tovino Thomas doing a handstand in the song ‘Kannil Pettole’ from the movie ‘Thallumaala’

Scripted by Muhsin Paraari, who co-wrote Virus and Sudani From Nigeria, Thallumaala (translates to ‘chain of fights’) directed by Khalid Rahman is an action comedy starring Tovino Thomas and Kalyani Priyadarshan. Nothing much is known about the movie other than the fact that Tovino plays a character named Manavalan Wazim and Kalyani plays Beevi. However, the two songs that were released suggests a colourful movie with quirky characters. ‘Kannil Pettole’, specifically, has been trending for its peppy lyrics and composition, and vibrant hip-hop choreography. Vishnu Vijay is the composer.

The movie also has Shine Tom Chacko and Sharafudheen in prominent roles.

Nna Thaan Case Kodu (August 12)

Kunchacko Boban in a quirky poster of Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval's 'Nna thaan case kodu'

Kunchacko Boban in a quirky poster of Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval's 'Nna thaan case kodu' | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval is back with another unique story, and title (roughly translates to ‘sue me’), starring Kunchacko Boban, who seems to be making all the right moves since his comeback in Traffic (2011). Nna Thaan Case Kodu is a courtroom satire and the teaser suggests a black comedy set in Kasaragod.

Ratheesh had a dream directorial debut with Android Kunjappan Version 2.5, a science fiction comedy drama that addressed the issues of old-age care and gadget addiction with an award-winning turn by Suraj Venjaramoodu as the octogenarian Bhaskara Poduval. However, his next outing Kanakam Kamini Kalaham, an experimental social satire starring Nivin Pauly, Grace Antony and Vinay Fort, had mixed reviews and could not reach the high standards he himself had set with his first movie. Here is hoping he can hit the sweet spot again with his latest outing.

Ariyippu

From one of the best editors in the industry to a brilliant filmmaker, it has been smooth sailing for Mahesh Narayanan whose first first three films — Take off, C U Soon and Malik — proved that he is a formidable talent who can handle movies of different genres and scales. With Ariyippu (declaration), he seems to be continuing that streak as the movie has been selected to the prestigious Locarno Film Festival’s competition section. The last Indian film to feature in this competition was Rituparno Ghosh’s Bengali film Antarmahal (2005), and it is the first Malayalam movie after Shaji N Karun’s  Piravi in 1989 to feature in Locarno’s competition section.

Kunchacko Boban and Divya Prabha in 'Ariyippu'

Kunchacko Boban and Divya Prabha in 'Ariyippu' | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Ariyippu, starring Kunchacko Boban and Divya Prabha, narrates the story of a couple from Kerala working in a glove manufacturing factory in Noida, and hoping to eventually migrate abroad. However, a manipulated video clip creates unrest among the workers in the factory and problems between the couple. Kunchacko Boban also produced the movie under his family’s 75-year-old banner Udaya Pictures.

1744 White Alto

After the resounding OTT success of Thinkalazhcha Nischayam, a hilarious and incisive take on a marriage engagement party that won multiple Kerala State Film Awards, Senna Hedge is back. This time he is trying his hand at a Spaghetti Western, titled 1744 Alto, and appropriately set in the arid table-land of his home district, Kasaragod, on the western coast of the country.

The teaser suggests a satirical crime comedy with an in-form Sharafudheen leading a rag-tag team of cops hot on the tail of two small-time crooks who seems to have accidentally swapped their white Alto with that of another person. Other prominent names in the cast are Vincy Aloshious, Rajesh Madhavan and Arun Kurian. The hopes are high for those who were wowed by Thinkalazhcha Nischayam, also set in Kanhangad, Senna’s home town in Kasaragod, which he unabashedly promotes through his movies with the declaration ‘Made in Kanhangad.’

Neelavelicham (December 2022)

If all goes well, the magic of Vaikom Muhammed Basheer’s irrepressible words and character will leave an unforgettable mark on the viewers this December as Aashiq Abu and Tovino Thomas has teamed up again for Neelavelicham (meaning ‘blue light,’ and based on Basheer’s famous short story of the same name) to see if they can rework the screen magic of their stunning first outing Maayanadhi.

Poster of Aashiq Abu’s movie ‘Neelavelicham,’ based on Vaikom Muhammed Basheer’s short story of the same name, starring Tovino Thomas

Poster of Aashiq Abu’s movie ‘Neelavelicham,’ based on Vaikom Muhammed Basheer’s short story of the same name, starring Tovino Thomas | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Basheer’s short story is semi-autobiographical like many of his other stories and explores a supernatural experience he had while living alone in a haunted house. Tovino plays Basheer and Rima Kallingal will be Bhargavi, the ghostly being that Basheer encountered in the house. Neelavelicham also features Shine Tom Chacko and Roshan Mathew in prominent roles. As usual, Aashiq has assembled a stellar crew with Gireesh Gangadharan cranking the camera, Bijibal and Rex Vijayan composing the music, Saiju Sreedharan making the cuts and Sameera Saneesh handling the costumes.

Gold

Poster of Alphonse Puthren's 'Gold' starring Nayanthara and Prithviraj Sukumaran

Poster of Alphonse Puthren's 'Gold' starring Nayanthara and Prithviraj Sukumaran | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Seven years after the humungous success of his second film Premam, Alphonse Puthren is back with Gold, an action comedy starring Nayanthara and Prithviraj Sukumaran for, what would hopefully be, a golden box office ride. Premam was a trendsetter on its release due to its unique episodic narrative structure, Nivin Pauly’s charm and swag, Vinaay Fort’s comic timing, and Sai Pallavi’s endearing performance. It has since become a cult-classic, and it has been a long wait for Alphonse’s next outing.

Alphonse has not revealed anything about the story and a teaser that released a few months ago gave very little away other than Prithviraj and Nayanthara’s character names: Joshi S. and Sumangali Unnikrishnan.

Mahaveeryar (July 21)

A screenshot of Nivin Pauly, as a saint, from the trailer of Abrid Shine’s ‘Mahaveeryar’

A screenshot of Nivin Pauly, as a saint, from the trailer of Abrid Shine’s ‘Mahaveeryar’ | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Malayalam cinema is no stranger to out-of-the-box themes and subjects, and Abrid Shine is out to test how far he can push that envelope with Mahaveeryar, which is rumoured to be a combination of fantasy, social satire and time-travel. The teaser and the trailer have truly intrigued the viewers with hints of a story that is taking place in a world that has a modern legal system and court procedures yet seems to be referring to kings, saints and battles between kingdoms. Nivin Pauly is in full saintly gear with a supernatural aura.

The movie also stars Asif Ali, Shanvi Srivastava and Lal along with a number of other talents like Siddique, Lalu Alex, and Mallika Sukumaran. Abrid would be hoping to recreate the success of 1983, his first collaboration with Nivin that told an endearing tale of a man’s passion for cricket. However, this time he seems to have taken the risky route with a unique brew that seems to be a courtroom drama, time-travel and fantasy all at once.

Pathonpatham Noottandu

A screenshot of Siju Wilson, as Arattupuzha Velayudha Chekavar, from the trailer of Vinayan’s ‘Pathonpatham Noottandu’

A screenshot of Siju Wilson, as Arattupuzha Velayudha Chekavar, from the trailer of Vinayan’s ‘Pathonpatham Noottandu’ | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

While Bollywood and Tollywood seem to be churning out historical commercial dramas, albeit with different levels of success, one after another, Malayalam cinema has been more than content with it’s small-scale experiments, mostly because this industry does not have the resources that Rajamoulis and Bhansalis have. However, occasionally someone tries their hand at something larger-than-usual with a historical bend, and usually gets it right.

This year it is veteran filmmaker Vinayan’s turn to awe the audience with his Pathonpatham Noottandu. Vinayan is no stranger to larger-than-life stories, having tried his hand at fantasy, superhero, and horror genres in the past. However, this would be his first period movie. Pathonpatham Noottandu narrates the little-known history of the rebellion of oppressed castes against the oppressive tax regime and caste hegemony in the erstwhile Travancore kingdom. Starring Siju Wilson as the real-life Ezhava chieftain and social reformer Arattupuzha Velayudha Chekavar, the trailer hints at an intense and visually impressive movie. The movie will be dubbed in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. The movie has a wealth of talent behind scenes as well with Santosh Narayanan composing the score and national award winner Vivek Harshan handling the edit.


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Printable version | Jul 18, 2022 11:20:39 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/ten-malayalam-movies-to-look-out-for-this-year/article65630916.ece