I am obsessed with Malayalam cinema. Much like how Alphonse Puthren enthralled me through Nivin Pauly with Premam in 2015, I was taken aback by the sheer simplicity of Dileesh Pothan’s fantastic directorial debut, Maheshinte Prathikaaram, in 2016. I have been creating Malayalam film lists since 2012, two years after I formally began diving into the never-ending pool of films, mostly Malayalam and Hindi. It has been well over six years now and I am still swimming in the pool with the water still fresh with new-wave and experimental films.
Keeping up with the habit, here’s the monthly-updated list of the top ten Malayalam movies of 2017:
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Upcoming Malayalam Films of 2017 – An Overview
As we enter 2017, the year which has already been under stress due to the nasty theatre strike in Kerala, there are plenty of films which we are excited about. Fahadh Faasil is joining hands with Pothan, the 2016 hitmaker whose aforementioned film was on the top for the whole eleven months it stayed on the charts last year. Although he made only two Malayalam films in 2016 – one hit, one flop – Faasil will be acting in a handful this year – Raffi’s family drama, Role Models; Pothan’s comedy, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum; and Mahesh Narayanan’s refugee drama, Take Off.
Prithviraj Sukumaran is supposedly going to direct Mohanlal who will be seen in March in his cliched avatar of a soldier in Major Ravi’s next feature. While Dulquer Salmaan is ignoring the eyebrows that were raised when people started questioning if his recent film directed by out-of-ideas Sathyan Anthikkad had sampled Vineeth Sreenivasan’s Jacobinte Swargarajyam, Asif Ali gears up for a film based on the frenzied mayhem of Thrissurpuram. Salmaan’s father, Mammootty, will be seen in a couple of films, starting with Haneef Adeni’s much-anticipated gangster drama. He did a lot of films last year, compared to his immediate counterpart, Mohanlal, but the latter came out victorious, although the one he made with Priyadarshan was the biggest cinematic disappointment of last year. Sukumaran is also gearing up for his long-finished Jayakrishnan directorial, Ezra, Tiyaan, Vimaanam, and My Story.
Nivin Pauly will be a communist in Siddhartha Siva’s Sakhavu, with his other films being Shyamprasad’s Hey Jude and Premam co-star’s directorial debut, Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela. Jayasurya has shed his cheeky avatar and has entered the character role bandwagon, with Ranjith Sankar’s Su… Su… Sudhi Vaathmeekam in 2015 and Pretham in 2016. Jean Paul Lal will hopefully stop making films after releasing the sequel to his 2013 filthy comedy, Honey Bee. And Jayaram will be again embarrassing himself with Kannan Thamarakullam’s Achayans.
Midhun Manuel Thomas will be directing Sunny Wayne in Alamaara, while Sreenivasan comes back as a hero in Sajin Baabu’s Ayal Sasi. Tovino Thomas is going to be on a roll
after his 2016 film Guppy became a sleeper hit post DVD release. His Oru Mexican Aparatha, Chengazhi Nambiar, Godha, and Tick Tock are all on every Malayalam film fanatic’s watch list. So much that my cousin recently uploaded the first look poster of Tom Emmatty’s film as his Facebook cover photo. Funnyman Soubin Shahir is the helmsman this year with his debut Parava, while Sanal Sasidharan hopes to get another National Award with Sexy Durga, but the title tells me he won’t. The eleven months ahead will show us what the industry has in store.
Industry sweetheart Parvathy will be leading Narayanan’s Take Off, and by the looks of the trailer, she looks immensely in character of that of a nurse. She will also be the lead in Roshni Dinaker’s My Story, and it makes me proud to say that Parvathy is the only actress right now who is holding up in Mollywood and who refuses to do instrumental roles. Although we know that Bollywood two-film actor Priya Anand will be a puppet in Jayakrishnan’s horror feature, it is Prayaga Martin who will be in contention to be the most prolific actress in 2017. She acted in at least four films that I can remember of in 2016, and this year she will start her bout with Siddique’s Fukri.
Namitha Pramod will be back with Role Models, Bhavana with Honey Bee 2 and Adventures of Omanakuttan, Sneha with The Great Father, and Meera Jasmine with Poomaram, with the latter being a launchpad for Jayaram’s son, Kalidas. Aparna Balamurali is on a roll with two hit films of 2016 already in her kitty. Also a singer, she will be seen in Ratheish Kumar’s Thrissivaperoor Kliptham opposite Asif Ali. Rajisha Vijayan, who was criticized for her over-emotional role in Khalid Rahman’s Anuraga Karikkin Vellam (2016) will be seen with Dileep in K Biju’s Georgettan’s Pooram.
It’s sure that we will be seeing a lot of new faces this year, too, making us forget the ones that we saw last year in many films such as Abrid Shine’s Action hero Biju (Anu Emmanuel), Sreenivasan’s Jacobinte Swargarajyam (Reba John), Vipin Das’s Muthugauv (Arthana Vijayakumar), and Abi Varghese’s Monsoon Mangoes (Iswarya Menon). Let’s not forget about the forceful Manju Warrier who will resume playing protestant, stereotype-breaking roles, starting with Antony Sebastian’s C/O Saira Banu with forgotten actress, Amala Akkineni.
Coming to directors, Major Ravi will again try to showcase his armchair activism with 1971: Beyond Borders starring the go-to-guy for such films, Mohanlal. Sathyan Anthikad has already testified that he’s run out of ideas, and will hopefully be not making any movies in future. Dr Biju started off the year with his award-worthy crime drama and will be seen helming another film called Sound of Silence. (For people who do not know, he was accused recently of creating and editing his own page on Wikipedia, which is highly frowned upon on the English encyclopedia.)
While Renjith will be back with Puthan Panam, Shyamaprasad hopes to bring the charm of The Beatles into Mollywood with Hey Jude. Blessy is going to adapt Benyamin’s Aadu Jeevitham, but I think we will have to wait till 2018. Ottaal fame Jayaraj has already won accolades for his epic drama, Veeram, starring Kunal Kapoor. A song from the film was sent to Oscars and obviously did not make it to the shortlist. John Varghese has announced that there would be a sequel to 2015’s comedy horror film, Adi Kapyare Kootamani, but I am yet to read any reports surrounding its photography commencement.
Jeethu Joseph is going to launch Mohanlal’s son, Pranav, but I do not have many hopes for him because of his recent turkeys – 2015’s Life of Josutty and 2016’s Oozham. If Pranav has only watched Drishyam, I would suggest him to have a look at these two as well. Lijo Jose Pellissery’s 2015 high-octane action film, Doube Barrel, failed to load and lock, but that doesn’t mean he won’t deliver this time. According to Angamaly Diaries‘ trailer, the film, written by actor Chemban Vinod Jose, talks about the story of street-wise men who are involved in petty crimes, and it looks very interesting. If you are looking for creativity in Malayalam cinema, Pellissery is one of few guys you consider.
Lal Jose intends to make some money by casting Dulquer Salmaan in Oru Bhayangara Kamukan, although I think 2018 is the release year. Similarly, Amal Neerad is betting big on the actor with his highly-anticipated Comrade in America. Basil Joseph of Kunjiramayanam (2015) fame is back with Godha and has cast newcomer Wamiqa Gabbi in it. That’s about it as of now.
There are surely some great films that are coming out this year, but the scope of this article does not warrant more analysis and speculation about them. So, let’s focus on the films that have released so far. Following is a detailed analysis of the Malayalam films that are out in the open for us to enjoy.
2017 – Ratings, Reviews, Rankings
Without further ado, here we go with our ratings, rankings, and reviews of all Malayalam films released in 2017, updated at the end of every month. Rankings are based on the aggregate ratings of Mollywood’s greatest film critics like Veeyen (NowRunning), Sify, and Lensmen Reviews. I have also added my personal rating so that there is no bias. I have often observed people accusing critics of being fans of certain actors. Well, that’s not the case with me.
Best Malayalam Movies of 2017
In the tables below, the attributes are the film’s rank, its title, its ratings each out of 10 (of Sify, Now Running (NR), my personal (ME), and Lensmen Reviews (LR), and the average. The rank only depends on this weighted average and nothing else. Every month-end, a new table will be created with a description so that we can analyse the change as more ratings come in. Comments are most welcome, but please be civil.
Top Malayalam Films Released in January 2017
Only four films released in the month of January 2017. While Dr Biju defied the theatre strike and released his festival favorite, also known as When the Woods Bloom, in the first week of January, another indie drama, God Say, locked horns with it. While the former, starring Rima Kallingal and Indrajith Sukumaran in the lead roles, was lauded for its raw take on Naxalites in Kerala, the latter was panned for lack of depth even though it dealt with the politically charged topic of Mahatma Gandhi and his assassin. Even Vinay Forrt and Joy Mathew couldn’t save the film from tanking at the box office. However, it is ranked above Sathyan Anthikkad’s Jomonte Suvisheshangal as both audience and critics grilled the makers for it had aped Vineeth Sreenivasan’s 2016 crowd favorite. It personally struggled through the film.
The biggest winner was probably Jibu Jacob’s Munthirivallikal Thalirkumbol, in which Mohanlal and Meena come back together as husband and wife to convey a story about the Indian middle-class and the idea of matrimony. Critics loved it, with fans lauding the complete actor for his never-exhausting charm. I personally though it was just average. We were supposed to see Ezra, Kamboji, The Great Father, Fukri, and Aby this month, but let’s all thank Liberty Basheer (and Dileep, too) and wait for the next month.
Top Malayalam Films released in February 2017
Giving a mild stroke to Jibu Jacob and toppling his family entertainer from the #2 position is the surprise hit, Ezra, starring Prithviraj Sukumaran, Priya Anand, Tovino Thomas, Sujith Sankar, and Vijaraghavan in the lead roles. A well-made horror film that samples an old Jewish myth, Ezra was also a hit at the box office, giving Sukumaran a much-needed success after a meek 2016. Another surprise was Anand’s substantial role in the film, which in Malayalam standards is a laudable achievement. It was nice to see Sankar in a new avatar after he impressed us with his acting and fighting chops in Maheshinte Prathikaaram. Both critics and audience have dubbed Ezra a clever thriller that is high on the entertainment level.
Although Jayaraj’s Macbeth adaptation, Veeram, received mixed reviews for being hollow and lacking character depth, it is ranked at #3 on our list of best Malayalam films of 2017 so far. It stars Bollywood actor Kunal Kapoor as Chandu Chekavar. While Siddique’s Fukri starring Jayasurya, Siddique, Prayaga Martin, and Lal was dismissed as a lazy attempt at creating humor, Srikant Murali’s Aby received much love from the audiences. Critics’ reviews were mixed, with some appreciating Vineeth Sreenivasan’s performance and others panning the humdrum execution. It narrates the story of a child prodigy who uses crude science to create wonders in his small Kerala village. The top flop film of the year, in my opinion.
The clear winner here is Ezra, with Kaadu Pookunna Neram still holding up safely at #1. We have a lot of interesting movies lined up for release in March and are specifically interested in Tom Emmatty’s Oru Mexican Aparatha, Lijo Jose Pallissery’s Angamaly Diaries, Midhun Manuel Thomas’s Alamaara, and Haneef Adeni’s The Great Father.
Top Malayalam Films Released in March 2017
More than 15 Malayalam films released in the month of March 2017, and we already have some of the best films of the year so far. Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Angamaly Diaries opened to rave reviews. Lauded by both critics and audiences using adjectives the director last saw them using in 2013, it was on top of our list for that week. Gritty, electric, and gory – the film written by actor Chemban Vinod Jose is about a group of young streetwise men and their life in the infamous town. It will probably be best known years from now for its casting of newbies in lead roles and the 11-minute uncut single-take climax. On a personal level, I loved its music, screenplay, and cast performance. It’s a very raw film and one that requires rapt attention.
Tom Emmatty’s politically charged drama, Oru Mexican Aparatha, tried to compete with it but sustained injuries. Starring Tovino Thomas, Roopesh Peethambaran, and Neeraj Madhav in the lead roles, it talks about a rivalry between two college-level political parties. Sify reviewed it positively, but the audience thought it was an average affair. I gave it a scathing review with a rating of 2 out of 10. Midhun Manuel Thomas tried to tickle some bones with his family comedy, Alamara, but was let down by a weak script. Sunny Wayne continued to showcase his charm, but newcomer Aditi Ravi may need to take some acting classes, looks like. Although it had an interesting concept wherein the bride’s family gifts the newly married couple an almirah (cupboard) as dowry, it failed to impress the audience. I rated it 3 out of 10.
Manju Warrier’s first film of the year was Antony Sony Sebastian’s C/O Saira Banu where fans were also treated with the comeback of the 90s’ South Indian actress Amala Akkineni. Supported by Shane Nigam, it explores a relevant social cause and is basically a pleasing courtroom drama. Critics appreciated Sony’s efforts, but the audience thought it was rehashed content. It was an average film for me. Lal Jr released his much-awaited sequel to the 2013 film, Honey Bee. Titled Honey Bee 2: Celebrations, it was heavily panned by everyone who watched it. Some say that a real life issue concerning one of the lead cast during the time of the release played with the film’s success, but trust me, the film is so bad I am yet to read a positive review of it. Both Asif Ali and Bhavana’s first film of the year, this one was an instant flop, and also tanked at the box office. Let’s hope Lal Jr makes way for more talented young filmmakers.
While Angamaly Diaries was enjoying the top position for more than two weeks, there comes Mahesh Narayan’s Take Off, starring Parvathy, Kunchacko Boban, and Fahadh Faasil, toppling it off the best film position. Currently ranked #1 on our list of the Malayalam Movies 2017 hits, Take Off narrates the gripping story of 19 nurses from Kerala who are stranded in the war-torn Tikrit area of Iraq. Based on the real-life incident that took place in 2014, it is a well-executed drama that gives you an inside view into the hell that is ISIS-driven war. Parvathy shines and instantly qualifies to be considered for the honour of 2017 Kerala State Award’s Best Actress. It was pleasant to watch Faasil after a long time, now that he has a National Award winning film in his kitty. I personally rated the film a high 7 out of 10, the same rating I gave to Jay K’s Ezra.
Haneef Adeni’s The Great Father, starring superstar Mammootty, released with much fanfare and deals with a social issue concerning harassment against women. Reviews were mixed, but fans loved it (no wonder). Critics were not happy with Adeni’s style but gave brownie points to the actor for giving a good performance. Also starring Sneha and Arya, it broke a few box office records, but this article does not really care about those numbers. I was particularly impressed by the film’s social media team for carrying out a great pre-release marketing campaign. But, as a film, it fails in so many levels. K. Biju’s Dileep-starrer Georgettan’s Pooram, Vinod Mankara’s Vineeth-starrer Kamboji, and Vysakan K P’s Ayal Jeevichirippundu were other major releases of March 2017. None of these impressed anyone save for the respective cast and crew.
All in all, the clear winners this month were Take Off and Angamaly Diaries. Negative reviews eluded both of them, and pushing them down is going to be tough for future releases. Thanks to the Vishu season, we have a lot of great films coming up: we are particularly interested in Ranjith’s Puthan Panam, Shanil Muhammed’s multi-starrer Avarude Raavukal, Rohith V S’s Adventures of Omanakuttan, and Sidhartha Siva’s Sakhavu. Bahubali – The Conclusion will also be releasing in dubbed Malayalam version, but we will not be considering it for our rankings. Here’s to a better month for Malayalam cinema.
Top Malayalam Films Released in April 2017
Despite the Vishu month, only seven films released in April 2017. I don’t know what the reason is but we couldn’t catch many of the films we were supposed to catch. For example, neither Adventures of Omanakuttan nor Avarude Raavukal released in April; both were postponed indefinitely without a release date in place. We were, however, treated (or mistreated) with some turkeys like Ranjith’s Puthan Panam and Diphan’s Sathya. The former was high on style and glamour, thanks to its lead actor Mammootty, but eventually gave us all the reasons to believe that the acclaimed director has lost his touch. His last few films (Leela (2016), Loham (2015), Njan (2013)) were all half-baked affairs that only helped in denting their lead actors’ filmography. Puthan Panam, which talks about the 2016 demonetisation of the 1000- and 500-rupee notes, is ranked two places below Aby, arguably one of the worst films of 2017. To be honest, when I watched Puthan Panam later on DVD, it seemed better than Mammootty’s previous film, The Great Father. Although we respect Diphan for his brilliant debut venture, Puthiya Mugham, in 2009 with Prithviraj, we are not quite sure of his latest film. Starring Jayaram, Parvathy Nambiar, and Roma, Sathya was a snoozefest which talks about nothing in particular. We tried to understand what the film is about from its crew, but it looks like even they have no idea. Jayaram has conveniently moved on from the debacle and is gearing up for his next release, Kannan Thamarakkulam’s Achayans. Sathya is ranked at the bottom of our list, confirming yet again that Roma’s acting career is over, also thanks to the disastrous 2015 film, Namasthe Bali Island.
The first release of the month was Major Ravi’s 1971: Beyond Borders. Anyone who expected great things from this film can stop reading this article right now. (We don’t want that sort of negativity here at Thoughtcream.) As we predicted, the Mohanlal-starrer war epic was a below average affair with critics remarking that the director has spun content from his previous feature films (except his 1999 debut Oru Avadhikaalam which released in 2010) and made the blunder that is this film. We still don’t know why they had to make it a multilingual film; so much to rake in some moolah with stale content. We were sure that director Ravi’s worst film was the 2007 Mammootty-starrer Mission 90 Days, but after reading the reviews of this film, we think we may have to update our list. It is easily one of the worst war films ever made. I even called it a mockery in my review. P K Baburaj’s Gemini, starring Renji Panicker and Esther Anil, made a silent entry into the theatres and will probably make a more silent exit this week. Why the film was not promoted even at a time of social media is beyond us.
Sidhartha Siva’s Sakhavu was Nivin Pauly’s first film of 2017, and the stakes were high. However, the reactions and reviews were rather polarised. While the determined fans lauded Pauly’s performance as the fierce and jovial comrade, the critics were critical of the director’s filmmaking approach with NowRunning writing “…the problem lies in the protracted drama that is predictable owing to the trite story of exploitation and revolution.” Sify and Lensmen both gave it a fat 6 out of 10, making it rank amongst the top 10 films of 2017 so far. Also starring Althaf, Aishwarya Rajesh, and Gayathri Suresh, I thought it was a preachy tutorial on the subject of communism. Ranjan Pramod’s Rakshadhikari Baiju (Oppu) released towards the end of the month and became what we can call a sleeper hit. No one expected mountains from the film, as is common with those starring Biju Menon, but both viewers and audience were thrilled to get oodles of entertainment and wisdom from it. Starring Menon, Hannah Reji Koshy, and Aju Varghese, Sify called it a “feel good entertainer,” and is presently ranked at #3 on our list. Personally, I am not a fan of this film mostly because of the haphazard filmmaking (everything’s all over the place). That is the problem with people; they don’t know that Menon is a genius and is capable of doing wonderful things. He will be next seen with Indrajith in Anzar Khan’s Lakshyam.
The Malayalam dubbed version of the second part of Bahubali was also released, but as noted before, we won’t be considering it for our list of the best Mollywood movies of 2017.
The month of May seems to be packed with some great films. We are excited about Amal Neerad’s CIA: Comrade in America, Lakshyam, Rohith V S’s Adventures of Omanakuttan, Ranjith Sankar’s Ramante Edenthottam, Sajin Baabu’s Ayaal Sasi, and Basil Joseph’s Godha.
Top Malayalam Films Released in May 2017
In order to dodge the effect of Bahubali 2, a lot of films were postponed from May to subsequent months. While Ayaal Sassi and Avarude Raavukal were postponed to June, we saw seven big releases this month. With Sakhavu and Rakshadhikari Baiju going strong, the first film of May 2017 was Amal Neerad’s Comrade in America (CIA). Adding to the communist buzz in Mollywood, this Dulquer Salmaan-starrer hoped to thrash some records but ended up being an average affair. Critics were not so receptive of Neerad’s style and were instead scathing about both the paradigm shift in the storyline and the newbie actresses’ performance. Salmaan, of course, made many hearts skip a beat with his performance as a communist character who goes on an international trip looking for his girlfriend. I am particularly smitten by Gopi Sunder’s rendition Kannil Kannil, sung beautifully by Haricharan and Sayanora. Although I gave the film a 2-star rating.
Anzar Khan’s Lakshyam had an inventive concept about two convicts who run away from a prison to find a way to restart their lives but was let down by a dreary execution. Expectations were high because of the Biju Menon-Indrajith pair and Jeethu Joseph’s production, but the film appealed to only a niche group. Sshivada appears in a supporting role, playing the love interest of Indrajith’s character. (See Kattu Vannuvo song from the film for a pleasant experience.) It is one of those films that has many flaws but is still enjoyable along with some afternoon pazham pori (banana fry).
Ranjith Sankar’s Ramante Edanthottam was met with mixed reviews, with most critics and users praising the nature-kissed production setup. Starring Kunchacko Boban and Anu Sithara in lead roles, it tries to explore the importance of residing close to nature in an age where city life is taking a toll on human life. Interesting material, as always by Sankar, but critics were not too receptive of the “feel-good entertainer”. I watched it when it released on DVD, and boy, it was a disaster for me. 2 out of 10.
Kannan Thamarukkalam’s Achayans, with an ensemble cast, released the following week, along with Rohit V S’s Adventures of Omanakuttan and Basil Joseph’s Godha. Much brouhaha erupted when Rohit V S took to social media to comment about his debut film’s box office status, driving a section of the film fraternity to shower support to him and his experimental film. In the battle between the three big films, the clear winner was Godha, a comedy film about wrestling and human values. Starring Tovino Thomas, Wamiqa Gabbi, and Renji Panicker, Godha held strong box office numbers even at the end of its second week. Many users even compared the sports film with Bollywood biggies and yesteryear blockbusters like Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal and Ali Zaffar’s Sultan. It was so highly rated by the critics that it currently sits at #3 on our list of the best Malayalam movies of 2017, way below Take Off (2017) and Angamaly Diaries, in terms of total score.
While Achayans was bound to tank, given its trailer’s quality and the abilities of the man at the helm, Adventures of Omanakuttan was termed “a good effort.” V K Prakash’s lowbrow thriller Careful released towards the end of May, and no one noticed.
June is the month of Ramzan and the line-up of films is as mouthwatering as the biriyani that is served to end the fast. While we don’t know if Ayaal Sassi will release anytime soon (the trailer said May 19), looks like Jiyen Krishnakumar’s period drama Tiyaan, Avarude Raavukal and Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum are the only confirmed titles. We could also see underdogs like Pramod Gopal’s Gold Coins, Omar’s Chunkzz, Abhiram Unnithan’s Himalayathile Kashmalan, and Third World Boys.
Top Malayalam Films Released in June 2017
Around 10 titles released in the month of June 2017, taking the total number in the year so far to 56. Along with
Pramod Gopal’s children’s film, Gold Coins, which used Sunny Wayne as a bait to attract more viewers, debut director Jayan Vannery released his long-delayed, and personally much-anticipated, experimental drama film, Ma Chu Ka (short for Manja, Chumapu, Karuppu). While the former was tagged “average at best”, the Pasupathy-Janani Iyer starrer failed to gather moss not because it is a poor film, but because it played in only a handful of theatres. Only NowRunning reviewed, and gave it 3 out of 5 stars.
After a lot of dilly-dallying, the three big films – Avarude Raavukal, Oru Cinemakkaran, and Role Models – which were all talk of the town since at least late 2016, released during the Ramzan weekend. In the first film, Shanil Muhammed directs Asif Ali, Unni Mukundan, Vinay Forrt, and others in a comic setting that talks about three cliched characters. Nedumudi Venu also stars, but the film’s marketing team chose not to highlight his role, and the film was eventually rated way below Gold Coins. Asif Ali has been on a roll this year with three movies already released, and at least two – Thrissivaperoor Kliptham and Sunday Holiday – scheduled to release in the following months. I could say the same about Unni Mukundan, but both of his films that released this year have enjoyed utter failure.
Next, in Oru Cinemakkaran, another debut director, Leo Thadeus, tries to narrate a story about a budding filmmaker’s hardships, with help from Vineeth Sreenivasan and Rajisha Vijayan. Critics were not too impressed, but out of the four films that released during Ramzan, this one takes the cherry. Rafi’s Role Models received so many negative reviews that even the members of the actors’ fan associations were venting their ire on social media. Lensmen thought it to be a low-quality rehash of the 2012 hit Bollywood film, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, and gave it 2 stars out of 5. Fahadh Faasil soon had an alibi to move on from the film’s flop, but things were comparatively bad for Namitha Pramod, who has been sharing “excellent reports all over” posts on Facebook since the release of her first film of 2017. Sify thought that jokes in the film – especially the one that involved Vinayakan and his skin colour – were all in bad taste, eventually placing it among this year’s flop films like Sathya, Puthan Panam, and Fukri. Vishwasapoorvam Mansoor, starring Roshan Mathew and Prayaga Martin in the lead, failed to garner any praise. Both NowRunning and Lensmen were kind enough to call it average, whereas Sify chose to not review it at all.
Perhaps, the highlight of the month was going to be a competition between the over-hyped period drama, Tiyaan, and Dileesh Pothan’s second feature film, Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum. But, the former got pushed to July, and the month ended with praises and nothing else for the thrilling drama about a determined small-time thief and a couple who accuse him of stealing their single mark of marriage – the taali mala. Everyone called it a masterpiece, and some have even dubbed it the Malayalam best movie 2017. Critics were generally appreciative of Pothan and Syam Pushkaran’s direction, the writing by Sajeev Pazhoor, and the cast performance. Suraj Venjaramoodu shows how talented he is, with enough support from newcomer Nimisha Sajayan and the phenomenal Fahadh Faasil. Personally, I am not a fan of the film. Either way, it has found its way on our list of the top 10 Malayalam movies of 2017 (so far).
One other film starring Shine Tom Chacko also released on June 30, but I am not going to talk about it much here.
June was a dry month because, again a lot of films that were supposed to release did not. Plus, the Ramzan weekend was a disappointment, and movie-watchers had to quench their thirst with Hindi potboilers and Hollywood superhero flicks. Jiyen Krishnakumar’s Tiyaan is going to be the first release of July, and one that could have given a tough competition to Arun Gopy’s Ramaleela, starring janapriya nayakan Dileep. But, the latter was pushed due to obvious issues. Other films to watch out for are Sarvopari Palakkaran, Basheerinte Premalekhanam, Omar’s Chunkzz, and Sunday Holiday. There’s still no news about Ayaal Sassi or Third World Boys, but here’s to a classier second half of 2017!
Top Malayalam Films Released in July 2017
Oh boy! What a dull month July was. If I created a list of the top flop Malayalam movies of 2017, films released in July 2017 would make an appearance there. Although more than 10 films released this month, only a handful saw any interest from the audience.
Jiyen Krishnakumar released his debut, big-budget venture, Tiyaan, on the first week of June and immediately faced harsh criticism. Negative reviews poured in from everyone who watched it, with even POFFACTIO (the lead actor’s fan association) failing to salvage the situation. Starring Prithviraj Sukumaran, Indrajith Sukumaran, and Murali Gopy, Tiyaan is supposed to be a bold film that takes a dig at the current state of religion, society, and politics of India. The social media marketing was fantastic, but it all fell down when the film hit the theatres. Critics were largely disappointed with Gopy’s shoddy writing, a lacklustre narrative, and overall disarray. If Tiyaan was a mess, then Sajin Babu’s Ayaal Sassi was an experiment. Starring veteran actor Sreenivasan in a physically transformative role of a self-righteous armchair activist, it is a social satire that reminds us of our narcissistic interests. Lensmen reviewed it favourably, but overall the film failed to register and silently moved on. It should be noted that Ayaal Sassi was delayed for close to two months, with initial reports suggesting it would release on May 18.
Jis Joy tried his hand at another comedy with Sunday Holiday, starring Asif Ali and Aparna Balamurali. It was an average effort that involved the lives of two people as they live their hard-knock life as salespersons. It can be conveniently placed between Ayaal Sassi and Tiyaan – neither a hit nor a flop. Aneesh Anwar’s Basheerinte Premelkhanam was another anticipated film which looked like a substandard remake of the 2015 hit film, R S Vimal’s Ennu Ninte Moideen. Farhaan Fasil and Sana Althaf play lovers in this romantic comedy that is so poorly made that it is placed on our list even below this year’s biggest turkey, Achayans.
Many low-budget, unheard-of films also released this month, but let’s focus on only two: Anil Thomas’s Minnaminungu and Senthil Rajan’s Kadam Kadha. While the former, starring Surabhi Lakshmi in the lead, won quite a few hearts (both NowRunning and Lensmen rated it a fat 6 out of 10) but was largely dismissed by the general audience as was expected. Indie films don’t make money and they never will unless we the audience are ready to receive them with open hands. Either way, Minnaminungo (aka The Firefly) currently stands at #9 on our Malayalam movies 2017 hit list. Kadam Kadha looked interesting but fails to impress. Both critics and users were disappointed with the story but gave plus points to Vinay Forrt and Joju George.
Other films that can be easily considered for a flop Malayalam movies list of 2017 are Hadiyya, Team 5 (starring cricketer Sreesanth, which was delayed by more than six months), Himalayathile Kashmalan, and Theeram. These films were so bad we hear some of the crew members skipped it.
Overall, apart from The Firefly, not a single title made it to our Malayalam movies 2017 hit list. And it is highly likely that it will soon move out as we still have a lot of great movies lined up for rest of the year. August is hopefully going to be eventful with quite a movies scheduled for release. We will see Siddharth Bharathan’s Varnyathil Aashanka, Venugopan’s Sarvopari Palakkaran, and Omar Lulu’s Chunkzz in the first week. Other major releases (without confirmed dates) are B Unnikrishnan’s Villain, Jinu Abraham’s Adam Joan, Ratheish Kumar’s Thrissivaperoor Kliptham, and Arun Kumar’s Kaattu. There could also be a chance that majority of these will be postponed for Onam, which falls on the first week of September this year.
A Note on Dileep’s Ramaleela
A lot of people seem to be asking “What will happen to Dileep’s upcoming film, Ramaleela?” Well, we think it will be released sometime soon because production has already been completed. They were supposed to release it in July, but due to the current circumstances, are waiting for the right time. Considering the fury of the general public against the actor, it would be wise for the makers to give it a breathing period. It is unsettling to see that people would push their wrath on a film based on the lead actor’s real life issues. So much money has been already spent in the making, and the producer is definitely going to bear the brunt. Disregarding this fact, just because Tommichan Mulakupadam made crores with his previous venture does not mean that he can bear this loss. The idea itself is so appalling. Anyway, our thoughts are with the cast and crew of the film. We cannot wait to see it.
Top Malayalam Films Released in August 2017
If you look at all the Malayalam flicks that released in August 2017, you will realise that there is no hope for Malayalam cinema. Out of the 16 odd films that were made available to the public, none of them have managed to be on our top 10 Malayalam movies 2017 hit list except Siddharth Bharathan’s Varnyathil Aashanka. But even that failed to garner positive response from the junta.
While the reports on 2017 Onam release movies are heartbreaking, let’s first go over the debacle that was the month of August 2017. Venugopan opened with Sarvopari Palakkaran, starring example of bad luck Anoop Menon, Aparna Balamurali, and Anu Sithara. With a plot that does not make sense and actors who were probably made to improvise, this social drama was not received with open hands, and soon left the theatres. Next came Bharathan’s heist drama starring Kunchacko Boban, Suraj Venjaramoodu, and Chemban Vinod Jose. Narrating the lives of petty thieves who plan a bigger robbery, Bharathan succeeds in bringing out the best in his actors, as observed by both Lensmen and Sify. Boban’s raw, street-smart look raised few heads but apparently fell short. The audience were clearly not impressed as the buzz around the film started fading even before it released in the first week of August. It is still ranked #8 on our list based on good critic reviews.
Clint, an experimental film based on the real-life story of child prodigy Edmund Thomas Clint who drew thousands of paintings at an age when other kids enjoy YouTube videos, was released next. Supported by Unni Mukundan and Rima Kallingal, the drama sure brought tears to the eyes of critics and audience, but was criticised for poor filmmaking. Mukundan is another example of bad luck because whichever film he does, it tanks at the box office. Sify even chose not to review it at all. The same week, Thrissivaperoor Kliptham, Asif Ali’s sixth film this year, released with much fanfare. As I have mentioned before, the promotional poster artwork was highly praised, but the same sentiment did not translate to the film per se. Also starring Aparna Balamurali (boy, she’s on a roll) and Chemban Vinod Jose (this guy too), the film narrates the story of three different characters leading “common man” lives in the ever-interesting city of Thrissur. The trailer promised fireworks but all the film managed to deliver was a wet capsule bomb.
A series of low-budget and low-quality films like Bobby, Kuku Surendran’s E, Honey Bee 2.5, Oru Visheshapetta Biriyani Kissa, Lechmi, and Karutha Joothan also released, all of which managed to drown in their own vomit. Salim Kumar’s award-winning film was praised but let’s assume that no one watched it.
Towards the end of the month, Lal Jose released Velipadinte Pusthakam, a highly anticipated film starring Mohanlal in the lead role. Much reservations were made about the film, being Jose and Mohanlal’s first collaboration, Jose coming out of a brief hiatus, and Mohanlal’s different looks. Everything went for a toss when it released during the Onam season. Mixed reviews started pouring in from all directions, eventually making us term it as an average affair. The audience panned it for a variety of reasons: lack of novelty, aimless screenplay, and a muddle narrative. Even fans of the complete actor evinced their wrath on social media. It pitted against other three Onam movies 2017, which we will analyse next month. For now, here’s a brief prelude.
Who Won Among the 2017 Onam Release Movies?
This is a question that everyone’s been asking in the past few hours. Out of the four big films, Lal Jose’s Velipadinte Pusthakam released first, did what it could, and failed.
Next came Debutante Jinu Abraham’s Adam Joan, a thriller with Prithviraj Sukumaran as a man who is out to avenge the death of his loved one. It is one of those films that is high on action and drama but low on story. The word is already out that Adam Joan is for those who enjoy engaging thriller flicks with predictable endings.
Shyam Dhar’s Pullikkaran Staraa is arguably the worst film to come out during the Onam season. Critics tell us that it is not just a badly-made preachy film about a singleton teacher but also one that is offensive, misogynistic, and purely distressing. People raised their eyebrows after watching the film, wondering what made Mammootty take it up, indicating it to be a clear loser in this race.
Debutante Althaf Salim’s Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela has an ensemble cast with Nivin Pauly in the lead. A family comedy drama that tugs at your heart and also makes you laugh, everyone who watched it gave it a positive review. As per our analysis, this one is clearly the winner and can be easily regarded as the best Onam release film of 2017.
Films Scheduled for September 2017
Although we have lost hope, we still have four months to decide if 2017 was an all-together failure. Genius actor and comedy man Soubin Shahir releases his debut directorial feature, Parava, starring Dulquer Salmaan and Shane Nigaam, in September. Other interesting films are Abhiyude Katha Anuvinteyum, Pokkiri Simon, Arun Kumar’s Kaattu, Samuthirakani’s Aakasha Mittayee, Shafi’s Sherlock Toms, and LavaKusha. Still no word on Third World Boys. Other films that could release are Kamal’s Aami, Tharangam, and Udhaharanam Sujatha. Let’s wait and watch.
Top Malayalam Films Released in September 2017
We already told you which film fared best among the Onam releases of 2017, but it should be noted that September 2017 was one of the most crowded months with about 10 big releases. We have already covered the Onam releases above, if you’re interested.
Two weeks after the Onam 2017 season, we were exposed with two low-brow films – Naushad’s Cappuccino and Sivaram Mony’s Matchbox – none of which succeeded in making any waves. Although the latter had a slightly more known cast of Vishak Nair (last seen in Chunkzz) and Roshan Mathew (last seen in Vishwasapoorvam Mansoor), it still did not find many takers.
Our own talented Soubin Shahir released his debut feature film, Parava, with an eclectic cast of both newcomers and thespians. It instantly received critical acclaim from both critics and audience, who loved the visual presentation, the setting of Mattancherry, and the interesting theme of pigeon racing. I personally enjoyed the film, and would like to highlight the phenomenal performances by the two lead child artistes. It is surprising to learn that it was their first job at acting. Truly wonderful! It is well-made, has all the ingredients for an entertainer, has a sweet little extended cameo by Dulquer Salmaan, and makes you feel good overall. Littil Swayamp’s camera work was unanimously considered the best part of the film which I rated a fat 7 out of 10. Overall, Parava is not to be missed.
Sunny Wayne starred in his third film this year titled Pokkiri Simon, which deals with fandom. I am personally not a fan of the topic, and looks like a lot of people agree with me. It didn’t do well despite being faithful to what it promised.
All the brouhaha about Arun Gopy’s Ramaleela and its lead actor’s arrest came to a pleasing fade when the film finally released (after a delay of more than two months) at the end of the September during the Pooja season. Also starring Prayaga Martin and Raadhika Sarathkumar, the film fought with other three big releases, and emerged victorious for narrating a sharp story about new-age politics. I’m happy that movie-goers didn’t blanket their wrath for Dileep on the film.
Phantom Praveen remade one of the hit 2016 Bollywood films, Nil Battey Sannata with Manju Warrier, and was immediately called out for being preachy. Despite a story with a heart, most critics felt Udhaharanam Sujatha tried too hard to send its point across, and that Warrier’s performance felt short at salvaging it. Comedy man Shafi released Sherlock Toms, starring Biju Menon and Miya in the lead, which was met with average reviews. Poor writing, presence of cliched comedy, and an effortless concoction were the major negatives. Dominic Arun came up with Tharangam as an ode to the classic old character of Kallan Pavithran from the 1981 film of the same name by P Padmarajan. Lauded for its experiment, the problem is that it is too experimental and does not work as a mainstream film. Tovino Thomas may want to cut down on the number of films he signs in a year if he wants to go the superstar route.
Overall, it is Njandukalude Naatil Pridavela, Parava and Ramaleela which are worth watching if you plan to get yourself up to speed on new Malayalam films. We expected a lot more new Malayalam releases this month, but most were postponed due to unknown reasons.
October will start with Bejoy Nambiar’s anthology film, Solo, followed by Gireesh Mano’s Lavakusha, Arun Kumar’s Kaattu, Madhupal’s Crossroad, Samuthirakani’s Aakasha Mittayee, and B Unnikrishnan’s much-anticipated Villain. Here’s hoping for a brighter final three months of 2017.
Top Malayalam Films Released in October 2017
Less than 10 films released in the month of October 2017 and we are not too ecstatic to talk about them. Bejoy Nambiar’s much-anticipated anthology film, Solo, kicked off the month and soon got into a controversy. Starring Dulquer Salmaan in the lead playing not one, not two, but four characters in a mythologically-pumped pretentious romantic drama, Solo is haphazard at best. The controversy was about the climax being arbitrarily edited by the producers (without the director knowing about it). The film even had a re-release, but nothing could save the film from being a total washout at the box office. Critic reviews were mixed, and except the fan clubs, the audience did not have good things to say either. Since the controversy was at the forefront, Salmaan took charge and wrote an emotional Facebook post, discussing which is out of the scope of this article. Bottom line is that despite being a well-crafted film, Solo fails to keep you attracted.
Next up, Gireesh Mano directed Neeraj Madhav and Aju Varghese in a story written by the former. Titled Lavakusha, the film was quickly dismissed as a lowbrow comedy which didn’t have much life to it. Critics were not too enthusiastic to give it anything above “average” rating (pun unintended).
Another anthology film called Crossroad was released mid-October and left the theatres almost the same week. It had a few notable faces like Mamta Mohandas and Srinda, but the general consensus was that only 2-3 shorts (out of the 10) were worth watching.
Arun Kumar Aravind, who gave us the phenomenal Ee Adutha Kalathu (2012), released Kaattu, starring Murali Gopy and Asif Ali in the lead. Also starring few new and soon to be forgotten faces, it was critically acclaimed but failed to fill the halls. As is common with films that look raw and powerful but not entirely entertaining, Kaattu was dismissed by the audience. Nonetheless, it is regarded as one of the best Malayalam films of 2017.
B Unnikrishnan’s Villain, starring Mohanlal as a rough and tough cop, was possibly the most anticipated film of 2017. However, when it was finally released, negative reviews swayed in and around the web like the plague. Villain was panned by both critics and audience, who underlined Unnikrishnan’s shoddy writing and lukewarm execution. The ensemble cast couldn’t help either.
Underdogs like Melle, Aakashamittayi, and Vishwa Vikyatharaya Payyanmar came and went without disrupting anything. Overall, October 2017 was not a pleasant month because a lot of films which were supposed to release were postponed. And the ones which did are clearly low quality.
Come November, we will see a handful of interesting titles. Thomas Sebastian brings Goodalochana written by Dhyan Sreenivasan; and Ranjith Sankar will be back with Punyalan Private Limited, the sequel to his hit 2013 comedy. We could also see Pyppin Chuvattile Pranayam, Savaari, and Aabhaasam. A lot of filmmakers have pushed their films for Christmas release hoping to rake in as much as they can. So, we are more excited for the last month than the next.
Top Malayalam Films Released in November 2017
More than a dozen films released in November 2017 but none made it to the top ten list. The month started with some bang as three films – Thomas Sebastian’s Goodalochana, John Joseph’s Overtake, and Zacharia Pothen Jeevichirippundu – released in the first week. Each one of these were more disappointing than the other as the audience found out the hard way because even critics resisted from reviewing them the same week they released.
Dhyan Sreenivasan tried his luck at writing with Goodalochana but was let down by Sebastian’s direction, it seems. We love Mamta Mohandas and a plot that talks about coups, but the film which had Sreenivasan also acting in it just failed to ignite. Critics were not too easy on the film. The other two titles were dismissed by the world.
Poor man’s Hrithik Roshan, Adil Ibrahim, starred in Hello Dubaikkaran which did not see more than 10 theaters in Kerala. Same or worse happened with pretty much most of the releases following that until Ranjith Sankar came along with the much-anticipated sequel to his 2013 hit film Punyalan Agarbattis.
Punyalan Private Limited received mixed response where critics noted the redundancy of the film per se. Most critics gave it an average pat with 5/10 rating. Jayasurya was lauded for his performance, but what good is a film if it tries to extend the limited validity of a fledgling idea?
We also got some thriller dose with Sunil Ibrahim’s Y, the only film to release in November 2017 that received much love from the critics. Lensmen gave it a fat 6 out of 10 and lauded the storyline. The lack of known faces might have helped it become a better film, if you look at the state of Malayalam cinema at the moment.
Chembarathipoo, History of Joy, and Pyppin Chuvattile Pranayam were the final three releases, of which the third one made some mark here and there. Neeraj Madhav stars in the romantic drama that also has a social issue to tackle. Boy, if you look at the movies that released this year, social issues have been sampled in most of them.
That’s it for a dull November as we gird our loins for the festive month before new year 2018. Lot of interesting titles scheduled for release. But, since this is Malayalam cinema we are talking about, chances of most of them shifting to 2018 is too damn high. Either way, we have Aashiq Abu’s Mayaanadhi, Dileep Menon’s Aana Alaralodalaral, Midhun Manuel Thomas’s Aadu 2, Pradeep Nair’s Vimaanam, Ajai Vasudev’s Masterpiece, Sugeeth’s Shikkari Shambhu, Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Ee. Ma. Yau, and Shyamaprasad’s Hey Jude. If at least 4 of these films release in December, I’ll have a good Christmas. Here’s hoping. Always!