The Malayalam movie industry saw a wave of radical change in the beginning of this decade that changed the way movies were made completely. Gone were the movies that were often complained for being over the top, instead came a range of beautifully realistic and perfectly authentic creations that celebrated life, people, relationships and realities in a way that no other regional movie industry of India has been able to. Since I make it a mission to let people know that Indian movies go further than Bollywood, like this previous list where I recommended some Tamil movies, here’s a list of some amazing Malayalam movies released post 2010 which will definitely blow you away.
1. Charlie (2015)
Charlie is for free spirits, or those who yearn to be one. A perfectly bohemian tale of a woman who tries to track down the previous occupant of her room, who intrigues her due to his “legacy”, we travel with Tessa as she tries to find Charlie, sometimes missing him in seconds, while meeting the people whose lives he has touched and changed. It’s an artistic take of emotions, yearnings, selflessness and curiosity, and will create an epiphany in its viewers.
2. Kammattipadam (The tale of blood and fire) (2016)
Kammattipadam is intense, daring, honest, brutal and packed with emotions. A gangster movie packed with stellar acting, it focuses on the modern urbanisation that took place in the expense of the Dalits. The movie beautifully shatters stereotypes, tackles caste and colorism in a way that will open your eyes, and presents a moving tale that in its base is all about human ambitions and desires.
3. Urumi ( Sword) (2011)
An epic historical that traces back to the 16th century, the movie is a harsh criticism on globalization and colonization, focusing on the displacement of indigenous people, and a depiction of the cruel truth of explorers. Drawing parallels to the current era where corporations engage in the same exploitation, it’s a social commentary hidden behind beautiful visuals, battle sequences and a stunning recreation of history.
4. Bangalore Days (2014)
A heartwarming story of the bond between three cousins, and the beautiful balance between their contrasting personalities, Bangalore Days is a case study of relationships. While their individual love stories are all wonderful, whether it’s reckless Arjun’s love for the paraplegic Sarah, or the mature dynamics between Divya and her husband Das, the heartbeat of the story is the unconditional love between the cousins that prevails through all obstacles.
5. 22 Female Kottayam (2012)
A movie that defied notions of a woman’s sexuality and the depiction of sexual harassment, 22 Female Kottayam is a story of how a woman gets betrayed and taken advantage of, causing her to fight back and take a stand. The movie is all about an angry female, and the lengths she goes for her revenge. Tessa becomes the embodiment of femme fetale, and she’s ruthless in her journey for justice, and you keep rooting for her and her cause.
6. Trivandrum Lodge (2015)
Trivandrum Lodge houses some very different and interesting residents, and their lives are explored in this bold movie that tackles love, lust, pain, ambitions, desires and sexaulity. The characters and relationships make this movie, whether it’s the unapologetic and sexually liberal divorcee Dhwani, the broken love story between two senior inmates, the adolescent adoration of a school boy or the sexually frustrated men of different ages and temperaments.
7. Angamaly Diaries (2017)
It all starts with one boy who yearns to become like his role model, a feared thug. A raw case study of how young boys get seduced and fascinated by violence and crime, and the respect and fear it brings them, Angamaly Diaries is a gangster movie that doesn’t care for style as it does for brutal honesty. Also it’s worth a watch just for its legendary 11 minute uncut long shot which will put the Kingsman church fight scene to shame.
8. Drishyam (Visual) (2013)
How far will a man go to protect his family? Drishyam follows a very ordinary man who is thrust into a extraordinary situation when he takes the law into his hands to protect his daughter’s dignity. It goes on to show the lines a father crosses to fight for his daughter. Backing the emotional tale is an intense thriller that will keep you guessing, gripped with fear and anxiety for the family who almost becomes your own as you watch their story unfold.
9. Adaminte Makan Abu ( Abu, Son of Adam) (2011)
An achingly beautiful movie about an old Muslim couple in their 70’s who yearn to go to the pilgrimage to Mecca for Hajj, the story narrates their struggles to achieve their honest wish. While the beautiful relationship between the elderly couple will touch your heart, it’s the selfless determination of the people in their surroundings, who do their best to make the couple’s dream a reality, despite their caste or religion that makes the movie a moving masterpiece.
10. Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyam (Booty and the Witness) (2017)
This movie is brilliant in its unconventionality. A masterpiece in technical terms, whether it’s in the narrative style or the use of visuals and colors, the beauty of the story lies in the multidimensional characters who are so realistic and flirt on the lines of morality. A bold wife and an insecure husband from two different castes, an unnamed thief who will stun you, and a distinct group of police officers make the movie, all of them memorable, amazing and real.
11. Premam (Love) (2015)
There’s so much beauty in simplicity, and that’s what Premam defines. A painstakingly beautiful movie about George, a man who falls in love thrice in his life, the authentic tale tracks his life through his school life to his adulthood. You become George and you feel his emotions, you fall in love with Malar teacher and get your heart broken. The movie is flawless, genuine, profound, real and full of heart.
Whether you know the language or not – you can always catch the subtitles, like yours truly – these movies are a must watch. I call Malayalam movies a case study of life, as they depict real humans and their emotions so well, that you feel as if you are a part of these stories. Do not forget to check out my expert recommendations and fall in love.