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8 Malayalam Films To Watch On Onam



Malayalam Films on Onam

If you don’t know this then  you don’t know  Indian cinema.  Some of  the  best  films in India are  being made in  Kerala. Don’t believe me?  Watch these  5 modern masterpieces in Malayalam.

1.     Sudani  From  Nigeria(Netflix): Released  in 2018, this absolute heartwarmer  set in  the small idyllic  town  of  Malapurram delineates   the  relationship between  a  local  football coach Majeed(played with  rare  empathy by Soubin Shahir) and a Nigerian  footballer Samuel Abiola  Robinson(playing  himself) when the latter is  forced  to shift into the former’s home  after a  leg injury. The obvious cultural discrepancies are soon  swept aside  as  the two men bond in ways  that  are at  once  moving and  inspiring. Majeed’s mother played  by  Savithri Sreedharan is  a special treat as she  gives her ‘Sudanese’  house guests  home food and  universal  gyan on how  to  feel a  sense  of belonging  in  the  most alien of surroundings.Zakariya  Mohammed directs this exquisite tapestry  of  cultural culmination.

2.     Take Off(Hotstar):   Untrue to its title, Take  Off ,  the  highly acclaimed 2017   film, takes  too long to  take off.  Too many  ifs and buts  are  brought  into play before  we arrive at thw  crux which  is  the  kidnapping of  19 Indian nurses  in Iraq .  The  super-talented Fawad  Faasil  is  wasted  in  a secondary role. Parvathy  Thruvothu in  the central role is  dazzling in her  immersion into  the  nurse’s character. She  is  the film’s  pivot and she knows it.Despite the many liberties with truth this  2017  drama directed by debutant Mahesh Naraynan is worth seeing  for Parvathy’s  powerful  performance.

3.     Kumbalangi Nights(Amazon Prime): This undisputed  masterpiece directed  by  Madhu C Narayanan  tells the  ups and downs in the life of  four brothers in  rural Kerala  who are largely  at loggerheads  but like  all great Indian families,  care deeply for one another  during times of  crises. The crises  here are all to do with the women  who storm  into  the brothers’ lives, in most unexpected ways.  Don’t wait for me to  give away more of the  plot. But I will  reveal one more thing. The  great Fawad Faasil who has co-produced this  film  has cast himself as the craziest  product of  patriarchal entitlement  seen in our cinema. His  masculine  arrogance is  not only terrifying but also very funny. Like all great cinema this one leaves  you laughing and crying,sometimes at the same time.

4.     Ushtad Hotel(Hotstar):  Dulquer Salman  shines  in this 2012 gem  about a young man following his culinary  dreams into a  quicksand  of  fragmented  commitment and  disfigured  aspirations. How Dulquer  rises  out of  the morass  of disenchantment with the help of his aging grandfather(played  by the brilliant  Thilakan) is  the  theme of this  dreamy  cinema. The  theme of cooking gives  this Anwar Rasheed  directed  beauty  plenty  of  food  for thought.The film is  more than cinema. It is a lesson on how  food in the belly  and love in the heart can solve every  problem.

5.     Oppam(Amazon):The prolific  director  Priyadarshan and Mohanlal  have done  so many films together, most of them  admirable. But none  as deeply satisfying as  this where Mohanlal  plays a blind  watchman (you  heard the oxymoron right) who deals with a serial killer’s  presence in the building. Gripping from  the word go, this  suspense  thriller is unique  because we all can see the killer, but the hero  can’t. I haven’t seen any actor  look so believably blind since Naseeruddin Shah  in Sparsh.

6.Moothon(Malayalam):  In her sophomore film the  Malayalam masterpiece Moothon  which should be on everyone’s must-see list, director Geetu Mohandas(whose debut film Liars Dice is an undiscovered  gem) has actually yoked two  films together into a work of  stunning  impact.On the surface  Moothon is a  travel tale  of a  15-year child’s  search for his missing elder  brother .  Amir  has gone  missing in the bustle   of Mumbai.

The  male  child , played by a female  actor  Sanjana Dipu, travels  to Mumbai alone and gets sucked into the city’s brutal  underbelly with  barely space for  anyone to breathe. Let me  say this right here. Nivin Pauly is  a revelation. With this one  performance—actually it’s two  performances so seamlessly fused  together that  they become  completely  unified—Pauly  joins the elitist  circle  of the  most accomplished  actors of our country.His Akbar is  force  of Nature. Thundering against  the humanity that he has buried under the rubble of roughness,  his  performance epitomizes that musk of  machismo that men are supposed to flaunt to be  considered  “man enough”.Miraculously, and  with a fascinating  fluency, Geetu Mohandas  flips the coin,and takes us into a ravishing  romance captured  by the splashing seawaves  of Laskshadweep  in a flashback between  Akbar and his  mute soul-mate Amir(Roshan Matthew).This is a love story so  freed  of gender restrictions that I  wanted to stand up and applaud not just the supreme  sensitivity   of  the  director  but also the  indomitable bravery  of  the two actors.In scenes  that are reminiscent  of  Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, the two actors  portray love with spellbinding  immersive intensity. When  Nivin Paul  amd Roshan Matthew  look at  each other they see neither man nor woman.They see only love.

7.     Kappela(Malayalam):  After  the  outstanding Mothoon    another whammy  from the  land of  gorgeous greenery. Kappela  captures  the Kerala countryside with a caressing glance  that  we get only  in their  homespun  films. The film is set in rural Kerala, though  luckily there are no  coconut trees and football players .This  nutty  anti-romcom takes  us  on an   unexpected   rollercoaster  ride…Rather , a  bumpy busride  where the film’s achingly  young inexperienced  rustic heroine  Jessy(Anna Ben) almost loses everything, only to have  her soul redeemed just in  time.This is a kickass morality tale  . I am afraid to give away  the plot.

Suffice it to say that  for all my movie-viewing  experience  I could have  never guessed what  the  writer-direcror Musthafa(believe  it  or not, this is  the actor-turned-director’s directorial  debut)  was  leading into.Nope, I never  saw the  twist coming. Life’s  life that.(I  can bet  it will be lapped up for  a Bollywood remake in  no time at all.) For  about  20 minutes  of the second-half when the  film’s loutish   shamelessly  parasitical  hero  Roy(Sreenath Bhasi) is introduced, I thought I  was watching  another  film altogether.   But then the director, fully conscious of  where he  is going and with a grip on the moral graph of  the three main  protgaonists’ destiny,  manoeuvres  the story through the stormy  incidents with expertise.There is  not  one idle moment in Kappela. The director’s eye  for detail is one of the  film’s  many virtues. In one sequence when Jessy gets into the window seat  of a bus in the pouring rain I actually saw raindrops on her seat. The  pace  through always in a race, never lacks in grace.By the time the  films  screeches  to a halt three lives  are changed   irreversibly. And we  breathe a sigh  of relief .All is well in the world, at least this time.

8.     C U Soon:  Thank God for happy endings. Well, almost. This thriller about an online dating plan gone horribly wrong, has a whole lot of balls, plus a steadily beating heart. And it ends on a bright note. We need that.The important detail that we must remember is that the whole 98-minute film has been shot on IPhones. So now we finally know why they are called smartphones. This is as smart a thriller as they come with some of Malayalam cinema’s finest young talent pitching in with a conviction born out of isolation.Not surprisingly the well thought-out thriller simulates a taut tempo at a slow burn temperature. Since the world is under a lockdown none of the characters is in a hurry to go anywhere. The plot, done up entirely in a virtual format, takes its time to whip up a frenetic anxiety.

By the time we reach the devastating climax, there is no escaping from the film’s vice-like grip on our senses.A piano-based deceptively calm and soothing background score by Gopi Sunder goes a long way in getting our undivided attention as love-stuck Jimmy (Roshan Mathew) befriends the troubled Anu (Darshana Rajendran) in Dubai on the digital platform.Remarkably the entire romance and the horrific aftermath unfolds through images on computers and phones. This is an ingenious invention born out of necessity as the film is shot in quarantine. At the same time that sense of virtual disengagement gives a muscular immediacy to the narrative. The actors get into the mysterious, melancholic mood effortlessly. I could almost feel Roshan Mathew and Darshana Rajendran’s growing fondness. Mathew, so brilliant recently in MoothonKappela and Choked, is growing into one of the most interesting actors in the country.But here it is the redoubtably Fahadh Faasil who holds this robust thriller together.

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