10 Malayalam films to watch before you die



This 1987 romantic movie was written and directed by P. Padmarajan. The movie was

based on his owN 
novel Udakappola. Thoovanathumbikal is considered to be one of the greatest and unforgettable Malayalam films of all time and enjoys a cult status even decades after its release. It is considered, by many, to be the most romantic movie ever made in Malayalam cinema history. The film deals with the most intense human emotions of love and lust. The film has turned into a cult film with a large following and still has an amazing viewership today. The film revolves around Jayakrishnan (Mohanlal) who falls in love with two women; Radha (Parvathy) a distant relative of his and Clara (Sumalatha) an escort in town. Rain is a recurring theme and is portrayed almost as a character in the film. The film is about a dual life, one of a village other of big town.




This 1991 released blockbuster Kilukkam directed by Priyadarshan became a cult and is still enjoyed by the viewers during the telecast of the movie. The movie was a huge success at the box office and highest grosser in 1991. Now the film is quite widely regarded as one of the greatest comedy films made in Malayalam and is considered as a classic movie. It won five Kerala State Film Awards – Mohanlal for Best Actor, Jagathy Sreekumar for Best Supporting Actor, N. Gopalakrishnan for Best Editor and S. Kumar for Best Cinematographer.



The story of Rameshan, who loses his love and life due to his craze for cricket, and his final try to realize his big dream. Nivin Pauly, with this film, proved to be one of the most versatile actors of the Malayalam film industry. Cricket is one of the main element of this movie. It was critically acclaimed and won several awards. Fashion photographer turned director Abrid Shine was highly appreciated for his directorial debut. Gopi Sunder won the National Film Awards for Best Background Score. The film received three Kerala State Film Awards including Best Debut Director for Abride Shine, Best Actor for Nivin Pauly and Second Best Actor for Anoop Menon.

Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja

Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja is a 2009 Malayalam historical drama based on the life of Pazhassi Raja, a Hindu king who fought against the British in the 18th century. This was another outcome of the beautiful combination of director T. Hariharan and writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair. The vibrant sets and ensemble cast gave this film a cult status. Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja stole the night at awards show and was hugely appreciated. It won several National Film Awards – Best Feature Film in Malayalam, Padmapriya was awarded Special Jury Award, Ilaiyaraaja won the award for Best Background Score and Resul Pookutty won award for Best Audiography. It was even highly appreciated at Kerala State Film Awards – Hariharan won for Best Director, M. T. Vasudevan Nair won for Best Screenplay, Manoj K. Jayan won for Second Best Actor, Padmapriya won for Second Best Actress, A. Sreekar Prasad for Best Film Editor, Muthuraj for Best Art Director, Natarajan for Best Costume Designer and Shoby Thilakan for Best Dubbing Artist. It won several awards at Filmfare Awards South – Best Film, Hariharan for Best Director, Manoj K. Jayan for Best Supporting Actor, Padmapriya for Best Supporting Actress, O. N. V. Kurup for Best Lyricist, K. J. Yesudas won for Best Male Playback for the song Aadiushassandhya Poothathivide and K.S. Chithra won for Best Female Playback for the song Kunnathe Konnaykum.

Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha

The film is based on a legend about the Chekavar warriors. The combo of director T. Hariharan and writer M.T. Vasudevan Nair has given some of the best films in Malayalam. This 1989 epic film gave the viewers a glimpse of who the real Chandu was. Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha won many accolades. It won four National Film Awards – M. T. Vasudevan Nair won award for Best Screenplay, Mammootty won for Best Actor, P. Krishna Moorthy won awards for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha won Filmfare Award for Best Film (South). It even won several Kerala State Film Awards for Best Popular Film. M.T. Vasudevan Nair won award for Best Screenplay, Mammootty won for Best Actor, Geetha won for Best Actress, K. Ramachandra Babu for Best Cinematography and K. S. Chithra won Best Female Playback Singer Award.



A satire of contemporary Kerala politics where brothers turn local leaders of rival parties, causing distraught for their aged and once proud parents. This 1991 release directed by Sathyan Anthikad was released at the perfect time when youth were entering politics in a huge way. Actor-writer Sreenivasan wrote the script of the film. Fantastic acting by Jayaram and Sreenivasan and the comedy blended with emotional and serious scenes made this movie one of the cult classics ever made in Malayalam cinema.


Usthad Hotel

An urbane chef from a well-to-do family with very high ambitions goes on to find approval from his conservative father, true love and the real purpose of his life. Dulquer Salmaan’s first blockbuster film Usthad Hotel just made the viewers go wow. Dulquer became an overnight star. This youth-oriented movie shows how being with your closed ones can fulfil your dreams. Anwar Rasheed’s Usthad Hotel won many accolades at several awards. It won three National Awards – Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment, Anjali Menon won award for Best Dialogues and Thilakan gained a special mention. At the 60th Filmfare Awards South (2013), Dulquer Salmaan won Filmfare Award for Best Male Debut – South.


Bangalore Days

Bangalore Days is the story of three cousins who set out to fulfil their Bangalore dreams. This simple but aesthetically shot movie is blessed with brilliant performances by all the lead actors. The relationship between three cousins acted by Dulquer Salmaan, Nivin Pauly and Nazriya Nazim and how Bangalore changes their lives drastically touched audience. Director Anjali Menon gave this film a youthful, colourful and peppy feel.Bangalore Days won several awards at 62nd Filmfare Awards South. Anjali Menon won Best Director Award, Parvathy won Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Female), Gopi Sunder won Best Music and Haricharan won Best Playback Singer (Male) for the songEthu Kari Ravilum. It even received accolades at Kerala State Film Awards – Nivin Pauly won the Best Actor Award, Nazriya Nazim won the Best Actress Award and Anjali Menon won the Best Screenplay Award.



IMDb summarises the movie as “Desperate measures are taken by a man who tries to save his family from the dark side of the law, after they commit an unexpected crime.” The whole movie is surrounded by a cable operator and his family. This suspense thriller kept the viewers at the edge of their seat. The film was also remade in several other languages including Tamil and Hindi. Drishyam won Kerala State Film Awards for Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value and Special Jury Award was given to Kalabhavan Shajon. It even won Idea Filmfare Awards South for Best Film and Asha Sarath won Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Female).

Over the years, thousands of films have released in the Malayalam film industry. There are easily more than 100 movies which have attained a cult status and are a must-watch. To pick the ten best films from this list is a herculean task. But we have compiled a list of ten Malayalam films any movie-lover must watch at least once in their lifetime.

ManichithrathazhuA young couple move into an ancient mansion that is believed to be haunted and soon after sinister things begin to happen. A simple synopsis, but the way Fazil executed this 1993 cult classic psychological thriller is definitely “the” movie to watch before you die. Real cinema lovers should definitely watch Manichitratazhu even though its remade in all possible languages. Manichitratazhu has its true essence which cannot be found in any other language versions. This movie won two National Awards including Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment and Best Actress Award which went to Shobana. It even won the Kerala State Film Awards for Best Film with Popular Appeal and Aesthetic Value. Shobana even won the Best Actress State Award and P.N. Mani won the Best Makeup Artist Award.


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