- Dipankar Sarkar
At present, the creative scenario of Malayalam cinema is such that it has set a league of its own in the contemporary trend of filmmaking practices in India. Churning out one intriguing, exciting and original endeavour after the other is proof of how this particular film industry has honed its cinematic skills over the years to the acme of excellence. This year too their contribution to Indian cinema remains a victorious effort.
Here are the top five Malayalam films of 2021 in ascending order
The ninety minutes long film narrates the plight of the titular character of Sunny, played by Jayasurya, who is back from Dubai and goes into quarantine at a plush hotel in Kerala, India. As the story of the film unfolds we discover that our protagonist is in distress and the film reveals the conflict of a lost human soul struck between life and his turmoil. The film also portrays the desperation of human urge to be in the social world amid isolation and social seclusion is now as old as the pandemic itself, yet, the movie gives it a fresh approach. Directed by Ranjith Sankar the film is streaming on Prime Video.
Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Churuli (2021), currently streaming on SonyLIV, introduces the viewer to a surreal world filled up with spiteful and outlandish individuals, where behaving politely with one another is an aberration and a moral code of conduct is considered taboo. Pellissery has an eye for imagination. He adorns the narrative with little details and lots of symbolic overtones. Performance-wise, Vinay Forrt as a distressed police officer brings much conviction to his role. Chemban Vinod also gets the viewers to empathize with his existential conflict as he, too, finds himself trapped in an untoward situation. Joju George and Soubin Sahir in their brief appearances bring authenticity to their roles while the rest of the supporting cast performs evenly to add to the creepiness and bizarreness of the milieu.
Set in the fictional town of Ramadapally, Kerala, Mahesh Narayanan’s Malik (2021), currently streaming on Prime Video, is an emotionally charged rural crime saga made with control and clarity. The sprawling structure of the film, spanning over decades, is a well-knitted tale of power, manipulation, and misapprehensions. It is an emotionally charged rural crime saga made with control and clarity. The sprawling structure of the film, spanning over decades, is a well-knitted tale of power, manipulation, and misapprehensions.
The Malayalam investigative police drama, Nayattu (2021), directed by Martin Prakkat, is a gripping tale of survival by three city police officers. Their lives take a drastic turn when they get mutually involved in an accident killing an individual from the minority community. The magnitude of the events escalated in an extremely unpredictable and uncontrollable manner. Every character in the film is a walking pressure cooker. And the pressure is applied from the uppermost ranks of power, trickling down slowly to each layer of the lower rung causing havoc. The extreme cynicism of Nayattu brings to our mind the futility of fighting injustices and darkness in a corrupt world. The film is streaming on Netflix.
1. The Great Indian Kitchen
The hundred-minute-long narrative brings into play the living role of a newly married woman (Nimisha Sajayan), whose selfless service to her in-laws makes her a game for emotional and psychological exploitation by the dogmatic members of the household ruled by patriarchy. It is a drama immaculately constructed featuring the complex and impeccable rendition of a fragmented family extended to a defined space and time. The men of the house raise neither their voice nor their hand on women. The husband (Suraj Venjaramoodu) speaks politely to her and always nods his head gently in affirmation. As the film reaches to climax, the husband instead of being sorry for losing his wife has married a new woman, who is busy in an identical routine, and in this process, she too enters the same circle of thankless labour. The film is streaming on Prime Video.