Since the OTT platforms came of age during the pandemic when people were confined to their homes, Malayalam movies have been the flavour. Thanks to the subtitles in English, even those who don’t understand Malayalam can now dip into those movies, which come with a unique feel and fervour. Many Malayalam flicks have underlying humour and wit. There is an element of hope and sunny optimism imbued in those stories.
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Here we have hand-picked the 10 best Malayalam movies on Netflix that carry some feel-good elements. Except for Love and Iratta, the films here end with a happy sunset, as it were. We have chosen Iratta and Love for the stunning suspense at the climax.
The usual disclaimer of this being an individual’s choice and not a definitive list holds true. Also, we have avoided big star movies and obvious popular choices like Angamaly Diaries, Irul, and Uyare, which you will find elsewhere.
Best Malayalam movies on Netflix
Njan Prakashan (2018)
Any feel-good Malayalam movie list has to willy-nilly have Santhyan Anthikad’s work. This film, written by Sreenivasan, has a wistful quality despite being about flawed humans. Starring Fahadh Faasil, Nikhila Vimal, and Sreenivasan in lead roles, the story is about a typical Kerala man’s desperation to go to a foreign country. But the film eventually becomes a coming-of-age story with Sathyan’s usual stamp of poignancy and fun. You’ll watch the film with a goofy grin.
Varane Avashyamundu (2020)
This is another Anthikad assembly line product. This is from his son Anoop Sathyan — his debut as a director. The way he has shot Chennai, which is where the film story is set, is beautifully soft-focused. The different (and almost quixotic) lives of a bunch of Mallus living in Chennai are told tenderly. With a cast involving Dulquer Salmaan, Suresh Gopi, Shobana, and Kalyani Priyadarshan, the film is quietly emotional, and its humour is droll. The music and songs of Alphons Joseph is another plus.
Kilometres and Kilometers (2020)
Jeo Baby, who got a name for himself with his subsequent release, The Great Indian Kitchen, wasn’t exactly known for subtle comedy. But Kilometers and Kilometers is one, and the film’s title is a hat-tip to the 1986 film Mazha Peyyunnu Maddalam Kottunnu, starring Mohanlal and directed by Priyadarshan. The film, with Tovino Thomas, Joju George, India Jarvis, Sidhartha Siva and Basil Joseph in pivotal roles, is a road film. It is about the experience of an American woman along with a man from Kottayam. It is funny. But in a typical nuanced sort of way.
Sudani From Nigeria (2018)
The film draws heavily from the love of the Malayalis for the sport of football and how Kerala has got its own soccer culture involving foreign players. The story is about a financially-tight team manager of a local football club. He manages to hire what he believes is a player from Nigeria. He however gets injured. And despite his financial strain, the manager, his family and the entire neighborhood shower love and affection on the lonely player. It is an affecting story of affection and friendship in Malappuram. It stars Soubin Shahir and Samuel Abiola Robinson, and is directed by Zakariya Mohammed.
Minnal Murali (2021)
With Minnal Murali, the Malayalam flick starring Tovino Thomas, the Indian superhero movie has well and truly arrived. Minnal Murali is a story of an ordinary man-turned-superhero, thanks to a bolt of lightning that bestows him with special powers. As a genre, it is not all that popular among Malayalam filmmakers. But Tovino Thomas’s comedic acting and yen for action sequences made it work big time. Minnal Murali kindled the imagination of the fans who had been longing for an Indian superhero. Guru Somasundaram, as the antagonist, is also a standout in this movie, which Basil Joseph directs. Superhero movies have never been more fun than this one.
The perils of social media knee-jerky outrage and reaction have been brought out effectively and affectingly in this Emcy Joseph film. Starring Suraj Venjarammoodu and Soubin Shahir in the leads, the story is based on true events that occurred on a Kochi Metro train, where a picture of a sleeping, hearing and speech-impaired person was taken and shared online by a passenger assuming he was drunk. It upsets the man and his family after it goes viral. The director kept the fun element alive even if the story was poignant.
Oru Thekkan Thallu Case (2022)
Directed by debutant Sreejith N, the film, which is set in the late 80s, is based on GR Indugopan’s short story Amminipilla Vettu Case. What is remarkable about this film about two alpha males going after each other is that the two female characters are brilliantly strong and exhibit a refreshing mind. It is rare to see such writing, especially in a film that drips with machismo and action set-pieces. The cast of Biju Menon, Padmapriya, Roshan Mathew, and Nimisha Sajayan are in great form. The film is directed by Sreeejith N. The comedy is also equally agreeable.
Outward looks need not be true is an old truism. Taking that one film, this film spins a story filled with romance, comedy and a lot of suspense. Written and directed by debutant Muhammad Musthafa, it stars Anna Ben, Sreenath Bhasi, and Roshan Mathew. The plot follows a chance phone call between an auto-rickshaw driver and a village girl who haven’t met. Love blossoms on the phone. But plenty of what follows is unexpected.
If a film can stand just for that knock in the solar plexus in the climax, then this is the one. It is the story of two brothers — twins, actually — both are cops who have no great equation between themselves. One of them dies under suspicious circumstances at his police station. The other brother has to crack the case. And he does under an emotionally stunning turn of events. Joju George as the two cops is stunning. Directed by Rohit M G Krishnan, the film also has Anjali, Arya Salim and Srikant Murali in the cast. The climax will stay with you long after you have stopped watching the film.
A violent love film, if ever there was one. Shot during the lockdown, the film, directed by Khalid Rahman, conveys a feeling of something lurking below, which in itself is a metaphor for what the film is really about – the darkest depths of the human mind. The taut thriller has many characters cropping up, saying and doing bizarre things that won’t make sense. But everything clicks beautifully and sorrowfully in the climactic twist nobody would have seen coming. The acting, led by Rajisha Vijayan, and Shine Tom Chacko is top-notch. A psychological thriller that doesn’t make you scratch your head in puzzlement.
An engineer-turned-journalist, K Balakumar’s career began in print publications as a sports writer. That also opened doors for other journalistic avenues like films, music, finance, technology and politics, which nobody can escape in India. After 30 yrs in mainstream journalism, now a freelancer for various digital publications.