Kerala is famous for many things- its cuisine, its natural beauty, and various unique art forms. Another part of Kerala that has been rising to national fame is its film industry.
When you think of Malayalam movies, you would be forgiven for immediately getting the mental image of an overage, overweight hero with a bristling moustache romancing a coy village girl about half his age.
However, this trend has been on the decline of late, and Mollywood has seen some down-to-earth, realistic movies that depict the true picture of Kerala.
Here are 10 Malayalam movies that show you the true colours of Kerala:
Set in the wasteland of Kumbalangi on the outskirts of Kochi, this movie focuses on the lives of 4 orphaned brothers, each grappling with his own work and love life.
With beautiful cinematography and stellar acting, this movie shows the life of the modern fisherman community in Kerala.
This movie follows the love story of George at 3 stages of his life- in school, college, and as a working man. His crush on his beautiful professor, his fun moments with his friends, and his various shenanigans in college are very relatable and portrayed in a down-to-earth manner.
Starring Archana Kavi, this movie is told mostly in the form of flashbacks. It is the story of a lower caste servant girl falling in love with the son of the high caste woman whose house she works in.
However, their love story seems doomed from the start, and shows the caste discrimination that was part of daily domestic life in Kerala.
Sudani From Nigeria
It is no secret that Kerala has a booming football culture. Tiny yet highly competitive football clubs spring up in every lane and colony, with both locals and African immigrants forming their team.
This movie tells the story of the human bonding of one such team that goes out of its way to help and love each other, all mingled with the joy of the game, irrespective of the language barrier.
22 Female Kottayam
A tale of betrayal and redemption, this is the story of a young nurse from Kottayam who gets raped by her boyfriend, and the gutsy manner in which she handles the situation.
It is not a love story, nor does it have starry airs- it is simply the tale of one woman who reacts smartly when faced by a terrible situation that thousands go through.
Ohm Shanthi Oshana
A simple story set in the protagonist’s school days, it follows the love life of the heroine (Nazriya Nazim), who goes through many ups and downs in her pursuit of her one true love.
It is a sweet and relatable movie that brings to mind the bittersweet love stories of our schooldays.
Action Hero Biju
The title is a satirical take on the usual, overly dramatic, action-based cop movies. Action Hero Biju is the story of what actually happens in a policeman’s daily life in Kerala- the humdrum situations, intervening in altercations of various types, and generally showing a far more mundane image than cop movies usually do.
Ennum Ninte Moideen
This is a true story on the love of Moideen and Kanchanamala, lovers from different religions who were forcibly separated for 10 years, but who kept their love alive through letters.
The title means “Always, Your Moideen” – the manner in which Moideen used to sign off his letters to his ladylove. The earthy setting and political atmosphere of the movie reflect the reality of the Kerala of a few decades ago.
Iyobinte Pusthakam or “The Book of Job” is a haunting tale set in pre-Independence India. The 3 main characters- Aloshy, Ivan, and Dimitri are named after characters from the Russian novel The Brothers Karamazov.
The movie follows the story of Aloshy, who returns home after a long time to see that his brothers are involved in the local mafia and are plotting against their own father.
The beautiful settings reflect the true beauty of Munnar, juxtaposed with the dirty underworld politics of power and money.
This movie follows the story of Jacob and his family- wealthy Malayalis settled in the Gulf, running a successful business. However, their so-called dream life comes crashing down, and they have to struggle to return to their former way of life.
The title translates to “Jacob’s Kingdom of Dreams,” showing how Jacob (among several other Malayalis) considers the Gulf to be the land of opportunity.
So if you want a departure from an overdose of action, melodrama, and ridiculous stunts that form the general notion about South Indian cinema, check out these beautiful Malayalam movies that show you what life in God’s own country really is.
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