The most-discussed Malayalam films in 2022: From ‘Bheeshma Parvam’ to ‘Thallumaala’

A bitter-sweet year for Malayalam cinema with its bonanza of super hits and critically-acclaimed films offset by several films that bit the dust at the box office

Updated - December 24, 2022 06:32 pm IST

Published - December 21, 2022 02:52 pm IST

Mammootty in ‘Bheeshma Parvam’

Mammootty in ‘Bheeshma Parvam’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

2022 proved to be a mixed bag for Malayalam cinema. Box office hits, critical acclaim and awards helped the pandemic-hit film industry make a spirited comeback by the second half of the year. Hridayam and Bheeshma Parvam got viewers rushing to theatres after an initial lull. OTT played a crucial role in many movies, including those led by superstars, seeing the light of day.

There were also films that disappointed, movies that nosedived in spite of being backed by big money and star power. Many films could not recover even production costs. Nevertheless, that has not stopped the film industry from announcing several new productions.

After a dull phase, Mammootty was back in the thick of action with some carefully chosen roles, topped by his superb role in Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam. Mohanlal, the star, continued to flex his muscles at the box office but the actor was conspicuously missing in all his films.

The youth league led by Kunchacko Boban, Fahadh Faasil, Nivin Pauly, Tovino Thomas, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Shane Nigam and Basil Joseph took Malayalam cinema to a new high with directors who were not afraid to experiment.

The Hindu MetroPlus takes a look at 12 movies that became the talk of the town.


Revathy and Shane Nigam in Bhoothakalam

Revathy and Shane Nigam in Bhoothakalam | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A psychological thriller starring Revathy and Shane Nigam in the lead as mother and son, this OTT release directed by Rahul Sadasivan, is about emotional trauma fuelling a fear psychosis. Revathy’s superb act in Bhoothakalam won her the Kerala State Film award for best actress, the first in her long career. The slow narrative of the film builds up into a tense narrative that sends chills down the spine.


Kalyani Priyadarsan and Pranav Mohanlal

Kalyani Priyadarsan and Pranav Mohanlal | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A breezy romantic, coming-of-age movie with Pranav Mohanlal, Kalyani Priyadarshan and Darshana Rajendran won the heart of the audience. Directed by Vineeth Sreenivasan, it has 15 songs composed by Hesham Abdul Wahab. First love, heartbreak, true love, commitment and friendship get a fresh take. Vineeth certainly knows the pulse of his audience.

Bheeshma Parvam

A still from Bheeshma Parvam

A still from Bheeshma Parvam | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Mammootty came back with a bang as Michael appan, the head of the wealthy Anjooti family with underworld connections. Amal Neerad’s movie, one of the top grossers of the year, had everything going for it – a terrific cast, good music, choreography and a storyline that touched upon several current events. Happily, it brought viewers streaming to theatres. Bheeshma Parvam may be Mammootty’s film, but Soubin Shahir, Shine Tom Chacko, Sreenath Bhasi, Dileesh Pothan and Mala Parvathy not only manage to hold their ground but also make their characters stand out with stellar performances.


Mammootty in Puzhu

Mammootty in Puzhu | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Ratheena PT’s debut directorial venture Puzhu has an unhurried narrative that peels away the layers of each character to lay bare their souls and, finally, builds up into a violent upheaval. Mammootty appears as the casteist, patriarchal Kuttan who cannot forgive his sister for marrying outside their caste. Not a perfect script or narrative, but the theme and the director’s confidence won appreciation.


Fahadh Faasil in a still from Malayankunju

Fahadh Faasil in a still from Malayankunju | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Built around a landslip in Kerala that had claimed several lives, the design of the sets of the film Malayankunju and the difficult cinematography that was undertaken by versatile Mahesh Narayanan was as much discussed as the film directed by Sajimon Prabhakar. Fahadh Faasil plays Anikkuttan, a complex character with a chip on his shoulder, who after the ground beneath his feet is literally swept away in the landslip, becomes humane.


 Nithya Menen and Vijay Sethupathi in   19(1)(a)

Nithya Menen and Vijay Sethupathi in 19(1)(a) | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Debutant Indhu VS’ movie 19(1)a is brilliantly helmed by Vijay Sethupathi and Nithya Menen. Without melodrama, high-decibel dialogues or muscle pumping, the film focuses on the silence that is sought to be imposed by fundamentalists and authoritarian governments, thus curtailing the freedom of speech and expression that is guaranteed to every Indian under Article (19)(a) of the Constitution. Subtle references to climate change, patriarchy and women’s right are blended into the story. The film won the FIPRESI award for the best Malayalam film in the 27th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala.


Rahul Rajagopal in Aaavasavyuham 

Rahul Rajagopal in Aaavasavyuham  | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Aavasavyuham is a brilliant mockumentary on climate change directed by Krishand RK. Supported by a superb cast led by Rahul Rajagopal, the movie’s narrative combines several genres but the underlying issues of environment and pollution are seamlessly woven into the experimental film. Winner of several awards, the OTT release came as a breath of fresh air. Mammootty praised it as one of the must-watch films.

Nna Thaan Case Kodu

A still from Nna Than Case Kodu

A still from Nna Than Case Kodu | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The delightful movie located in Kasaragod revolves around contemporary issues but director Ratheesh Poduval coated it with layers of humour. Kunchacko Boban lived it up as a small-time thief in Nna Thaan Case Kodu who threatens to topple a State government when he takes a Minister to court for the pathetic condition of the roads. The cast, narrative, visualisation and dialogue delivery made it one of the most-loved films of the year.


Tovino Thomas in Thallumaala

Tovino Thomas in Thallumaala | Photo Credit: Bhuvan

Thallumaala has Khalid Rahman’s loud, non-linear narrative of Wazim’s (Tovino Thomas) string of brawls and his romance with vlogger Beepathu (Kalyani Priyadarshan) clicked with the youth. Slick editing, loud colours and over-the-top takes helped the fight-a-minute movie with a wafer-thin storyline make a mark.

Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey

Basil Joseph and Darshana Rajendran in Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey

Basil Joseph and Darshana Rajendran in Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey | Photo Credit: Saina Movies/YouTube

Basil Joseph and Darshana Rajendran go all out in this hilarious movie Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey directed by Vipin Das. The comedy examines patriarchy and violence, emotional and physical, within a marriage but with a light touch that strikes a chord with viewers.

Saudi Vellakka

Director Tharun Moorthy with actor Devi Varma on the sets of Saudi Vellakka

Director Tharun Moorthy with actor Devi Varma on the sets of Saudi Vellakka | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Tharun Moorthy’s second film Saudi Vellakka is a heart-warming bitter-sweet tale of a senior citizen’s trials and tribulations on account of the long delays in the justice system. Newcomer Devi Varma shines in the lead role of octogenarian Aisha.


Kunchacko Boban and Divya Prabha in Ariyippu

Kunchacko Boban and Divya Prabha in Ariyippu | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Mahesh Narayanan’s celebrated film Ariyippu made a mark at several prestigious film fetes before releasing on OTT. Set during the pandemic, Ariyippu, with Kunchacko Boban (Hareesh) and Divya Prabha (Reshmi) in the lead roles, focus on a couple dreaming of migrating abroad. However, their plans are put on hold due to the pandemic. Differences arise between the two when a video with sexual content surfaces from a glove factory where Hareesh and Reshmiwork. Can trust, ethics and relationships survive when the going gets tough? At the recently-concluded IFFK, the film won the NETPAC award for the best Malayalam film.

In addition, here are ten films that were noticed for different reasons. Kamal KM’s Pada, Dijo Jose Antony’s Jana Gana Mana, Sreejith’s Oru Thekkan Thallu Case, Abrid Shine’s Mahaveeryar, Vinayan’s Pathonpatham Noottandu, Abhinav Sundar Nayak’s dark comedy Mukundan Unni Associates, Nissam Basheer’s Rorschach, Jeo Baby’s Sree Dhanya Catering Service, Vishnu G Raghav’s Vaashi and Maju’s Appan.

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