Best Malayalam Films 2021: Ode to a woman rebel, a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

Between The Great Indian Kitchen and Minnal Murali flowed a stream of quality Malayalam releases so unrelenting, that I have struggled to restrict my Best Malayalam Films 2021 compilation to just 10.

Anna MM Vetticad December 29, 2021 11:38:04 IST
Best Malayalam Films 2021: Ode to a woman rebel, a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

Suraj Venjaramoodu and Nimisha Sajayan in The Great Indian Kitchen

2021 began with a Malayalam film becoming a pan-India rage despite being released on a then brand new, completely unknown OTT platform, Neestream, after rejections by Netflix and Amazon (the latter subsequently changed its mind). The year ended with another Malayalam film breaking new ground for Indian cinema. Between The Great Indian Kitchen and Minnal Murali flowed a stream of quality Malayalam releases so unrelenting, that I have struggled to restrict my Best Malayalam Films 2021 compilation to just 10. Hence, a large collection of Special Mentions. 

Each film on this list was either released in theatres during the brief respite from pandemic-related lockdowns or on an OTT platform at some point in 2021. It is a measure of our changing times that a lovely documentary I watched this year fulfills this criterion. 

Binge watchers, fasten your seat belts. Here is my list:

Best Film: The Great Indian Kitchen (Mahaththaya Bharatiya Adukkala)

Director: Jeo Baby

Click here for the review of The Great Indian Kitchen

Best Malayalam Films 2021 Ode to a woman rebel a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

Minnal Murali 

Director: Basil Joseph

Click here for the review of Minnal Murali 

Best Malayalam Films 2021 Ode to a woman rebel a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

Malik

Director: Mahesh Narayanan

Click here for the review of Malik

Best Malayalam Films 2021 Ode to a woman rebel a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

8-1/2 Intercuts 

Director: Lijin Jose

Click here for the review of 8-1/2 Intercuts 

Best Malayalam Films 2021 Ode to a woman rebel a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

Nayattu

Director: Martin Prakkat 

Click here for the review of Nayattu

Best Malayalam Films 2021 Ode to a woman rebel a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

Biriyaani

Director: Sajin Baabu 

Click here for the review of Biriyaani

Best Malayalam Films 2021 Ode to a woman rebel a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

Joji

Director: Dileesh Pothan

Click here for the review of Joji 

Best Malayalam Films 2021 Ode to a woman rebel a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam

Director: Senna Hegde

Click here for the review of Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam 

Best Malayalam Films 2021 Ode to a woman rebel a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

Drishyam 2

Director: Jeethu Joseph

Click here for the review of Drishyam 2 

Best Malayalam Films 2021 Ode to a woman rebel a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

Jan-E-Man 

Director: Chidambaram

Click here for the review of Jan-E-Man 

Best Malayalam Films 2021 Ode to a woman rebel a male superhero and unrelenting experimentation

SPECIAL MENTIONS: 

Musical Chair 

Director: Vipin Atley

1956, Central Travancore 

Director: Don Palathara

Bhramam 

Director: Ravi K Chandran

Kaanekkaane

Director: Manu Ashokan

Sara’s

Director: Jude Anthany Joseph 

Chathur Mukham 

Directors: Ranjeet Kamala Sankar and Salil V

#Home 

Director: Rojin Thomas 

Operation Java 

Director: Tharun Moorthy 

Sunny 

Director: Ranjith Sankar 

Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam 

Director: Don Palathara 

Anna M.M. Vetticad is an award-winning journalist and author of The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic. She specialises in the intersection of cinema with feminist and other socio-political concerns. Twitter: @annavetticad, Instagram: @annammvetticad, Facebook: AnnaMMVetticadOfficial

RELATED LINKS:

Jeo Baby Director’s Cut: On The Great Indian Kitchen, piracy, censorship, Sabarimala and a fear of right-wingers among TV channels

Mahesh Narayanan Director’s Cut: On being labelled Islamophobic, Malik, Take Off and his Hindi debut

Sajin Baabu Director’s Cut: On Biriyaani, Kani Kusruti, Islamophobia and his scrutiny of the Muslim community 

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