2021 too has been a great year for Malayalam cinema — whether in terms of themes some of the films dealt with or the discussions those movies initiated. Thanks to subtitles and universality of the themes, the films were able to overcome linguistic and regional borders. From taking on regressive gender roles in homes and the travails of a dysfunctional family to a hard-hitting film on games that politicians and men in uniform play, here are five gems from Malayalam cinema you may have missed watching this year.
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The Great Indian Kitchen
Director: Jeo Baby
Starring Suraj Venjaramoodu and Nimisha Sajayan, the film dealt with conservative patriarchal customs and stigma around menstruation and gender bias in households. The Great Indian Kitchen held a mirror to Indian society and initiated heated discussions on the day-to-day sexism in our homes and kitchens. It touched upon archaic beliefs and traditions as the newly married couple navigate their relationship in the household. The film packed a punch in every scene.
( On Amazon Prime Video)
Director: Dileesh Pothan
A dysfunctional family headed by an autocratic patriarch Kuttappan Panachel (PN Sunny), the film unfolds in the backdrop of the seething discontent in the family. An adaptation of Shakespeare Macbeth , the film, however, has its own arc and characters that have nothing do with the original play.
Set during the pandemic, the scene of action is a sprawling home in the midst of a rubber plantation. It centres around the youngest of three brothers, Joji (Fahadh Faasil) and his gradual transformation from a laid-back person who only dreams big. Joji’s change, subtly aided by his sister-in-law Bincy (Unnimaya), from a snivelling weakling to a scheming, cold-blooded killer is the crux of the plot. The perceptible changes in each of the characters once the domineering Kuttappan is felled by an accident and the sequences that follow have been minutely detailed by the director.
(On Amazon Prime Video)
Director: Martin Prakkat
The film noir trails assistant sub-inspector Maniyan (Joju George), his junior Praveen Michael (Kunchacko Bobban) and Sunitha (Nimisha Sajayan) when they are on the run after they have a fallout with a powerful political lobby. Framed for a murder, they find bereft of friends as caste, money and vote bank politics decide their fate. Morality and ethics take a backseat when ruthless pragmatism and opportunism reign. The thriller’s tight narrative keeps viewers on edge as the film tracks the fortune of the three in khaki.
Director: Rojin Thomas
Who would have thought that a small-budget film on a tech divide within a family would have so many viewers logging in to watch the feel-good movie? Indrans (Oliver Twist) and Manju Pillai (Kuttiyamma) play a couple lagging behind their tech-savvy children. The digital divide creates a gap between the father and sons. Eventually, the brothers Antony Oliver Twist (Sreenath Bhasi) and Charles Oliver Twist (Naslen K Gafoor) discover there is more to their father than the ardent gardener and failed businessman.
(On Amazon Prime Video)
Director: Senna Hegde
Welcome to Kanhangad! The dialogues, the location and many of the actors hail from this small town in Kasaragod district, Kerala. An ensemble of actors, many of whom are newcomers, weaved a delightful satire. The story revolves around Kuwait Vijayan’s (Manoj KU) desperate attempt to get his younger daughter Suja (Anagha Narayanan) married to a man of his choice, since the elder daughter Surabhi (Unnimaya Nalppadam) married against his wishes. Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam is a comedy of errors, as Vijayan’s ambitions are foiled by his children who have a mind of their own.
Perhaps you might also want to check out these films:Aarkkariyam (Amazon, Neestream, Roots Video), Operation Java (Zee5), Malik (Amazon Prime), Drishyam 2 (Amazon Prime), Kaanekkaane (SonyLiv), Sunny (Amazon Prime) and Sara’s (Amazon Prime).