From Jallikattu, Kumbalangi Nights to Uyare, Virus, ten recent Malayalam films to watch on OTT platforms
Two films directed by Liso Jose Pellisery, Jallikattu and Ee Ma Yau, make it to our list of top 10 recent Malayalam films worth streaming.
Thanks to OTT platforms, regional cinema has found a more pan-Indian audience. The sheer range of stories set in milieus that are not very familiar but offer charming, multi-layered narratives played out by brilliant actors have piqued their intrigue.
It all started with Baahubali, which became the highest-grossing film in India, the third highest-grossing Indian film worldwide, and the highest-grossing South Indian film, at the time of its release. And its sequel, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, was an even bigger hit.
If Bangalore Days and Premam were the icebreakers for Malayalam cinema, Angamaly Diaries and Kumbalangi Nights this year helped in creating a wider audience. This year, Lucifer, a stylishly tweaked political action thriller directed by Prithviraj, starring Mohanlal and Manju Warrier, remains one of the highest grossing Malayalam films of all time, and has been dubbed in Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi, and released on Amazon Prime Video India.
While there is quite an impressive line-up of Malayalam films on various streaming platforms, we are picking some of the ones released during 2018 and this year, to make it easier for you. Here is the best of romance, drama, satire, thriller, and action films available online.
Jallikattu (Amazon Prime Video India)
Directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery, Jallikattu is placed in a little village in Central Kerala that dissolves into a state of panic when a buffalo, taken for slaughter, escapes. Under 95 minutes, the film based on S Hareesh’s short story Maoist keeps you on the edge with its scintillating wild hunt between man and the beast, and how the boundaries eventually get blurred in the process, making one empathise with the beast. With an ensemble cast of actors, headed by Antony Varghese and Chemban Vinod, the film, with music by Prashant Pillai and framed by Gireesh Gangadharan, is ideal for a theatre experience.
Kumbalangi Nights (Amazon Prime Video India)
Framed in the backdrop of an island village, Kumbalangi in Central Kerala, the film, directed by Madhu C Narayanan and written by Syam Pushkaran, is about a family of four dysfunctional brothers (Soubin Shahir, Sreenath Bhasi, Shane Nigam) who eventually find the rhythm, security, and love between themselves with the help of men and women they befriend. There is an interesting parallel track with a man (Fahad Faasil) who considers himself as the “complete man” and his so-called “normal” family consisting of wife, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law. With sterling performances, cinematography, and brilliant writing, the film is easily one of the best releases this year.
Pallavi Raveendran is an aspiring pilot whose dreams come crashing down after an acid attack. Scripted by Bobby-Sanjay, directed by debutant Manu Asokan, headlining Parvathy, and supported by Asif Ali and Tovino Thomas, the narrative keeps us involved in Pallavi’s tumultuous life. It covers her teenage years, her passion to fly airplanes, her toxic boyfriend, and how despite a setback, she manages to get a grip on her ambitions. With powerful performances and smart writing, Uyare is an empowering watch.
Ee Ma Yau (Amazon Prime Video India)
A satire on death, Lijo’s most critically acclaimed work is set in a fisherman’s village in South Kerala, where the death of Vavachan Maestri sets the tone of the film. He has instructed his son Eeshi (Chemban Vinod) to give him a fitting funeral. The narrative walks us through his efforts to make it happen. Superbly executed, brilliantly framed by Shyju Khalid, and with fabulous performances, the film is raw, witty, and multi-layered.
Virus (Amazon Prime Video India)
Inspired from events that led to the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, Virus, directed by Aashiq Abu, meticulously and thoroughly researched and scripted by Muhsin Parari, Suhas and Sharfu, is perhaps the first-ever medical thriller in Malayalam cinema. With a great ensemble cast, music, and cinematography, the film is a riveting watch.
Unda (Amazon Prime Video India)
Khalid Rahman places his second film in the maoist lands of Chhattisgarh, where a group of Kerala cops, led by CI Manikandan (Mammootty), have been assigned election duty. With distinct sketches for each of the 10 cops, and a narrative laced with humour and emotions, topped by Mammootty’s subtle brilliance, Unda is an essential watch.
Ishq (Amazon Prime Video India)
A young couple’s secret rendezvous at night turns out to be nightmarish as they get accosted by two creepy strangers, who harass them in the guise of moral policing. But the young man refuses to take things lying down, and decides to pay one of them back in the same coin. Directed by debutant Anuraj Manohar, Ishq is an interesting watch, powered by its performances (Shine Tom Chacko, Shane Nigam).
The coming-of-age tale of a girl, June, directed by debutant Ahammed Khabber, has a very nostalgic, fun, and relatable narrative as well as characters. Rajisha Vijayan puts in an effective performance, going through the two different stages of her life with conviction. She is ably supported by a bunch of debutant and veteran actors.
Directed by Amal Neerad, scripted by Suhas-Sharfu, the film begins in Dubai where Abin and Priya live. They decide to shift to Munnar when the former loses his job. At the decadent estate, the couple are made uncomfortable by the prying eyes of the villagers (addressing voyeurism). When Priya gets assaulted by her former classmates, the mild-mannered Abin decides to take his revenge. With fine performances (Fahadh Faasil, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sharfuddin), and a brilliantly executed climax, Varathan is a surprise from the director known for his stylishly turned action thrillers.
Sudani from Nigeria (Netflix)
Zakariya debuts with a cracker of a film set in the backdrop of Malappuram, about a Nigerian sevens football player who, after an injury, finds himself at the home of his manager, lovingly tended to by the mother, and ends up forming a lifelong bond with the family. With terrific performances, great music, and a heart-warming milieu, the film is a must-watch.
All images from Twitter.
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