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 that are available on various streaming platforms.
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 the crux which is the kidnapping of 19 Indian nurses in Iraq . The super-talented Fahadh 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 Fahadh 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. Ustad 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 r(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.