Thoughtcream

By Tejas Nair

Festival de Cannes is Hiring: Professional Standing Ovation Timer

Last week (May 2017) at our prestigious Cannes Film Festival, Adam Sandler’s new film The Meyerowitz Stories received critical acclaim from both the jury and the audience. The director of the film likes to think the praise was for the whole film, but it was Sandler’s performance which was met with a four-minute standing ovation at the end, making film enthusiasts around the world spiral into a state of delirium.

This job posting is a direct consequence of that event. It is because of an error in calculating the period of that ovation. It was three minutes and fifty seconds, to be exact, and Dave got it wrong. (Dave was an intern from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the same folks responsible for the Oscars Best Picture snafu earlier this year. But, we the French don’t care about those Americans trying to make their country great again.) He will not be with us in 2018, and that’s for sure.

Job Overview – Professional Standing Ovation Timer

If you have always been interested in knowing who times standing ovations at our screenings and how, then this is the job for you. One of the most coveted jobs in the planet and one that does not require much skills, the responsibilities of a standing ovation timer are limited. (And still Dave screwed it up.) Consider it as an entry pass into one of the most important and widely publicised film festivals in the world where you can ogle at celebrities endorsing designers and designers endorsing themselves. If you are someone who prefers a wristwatch over a smartphone to keep track of time and know how many seconds constitute a minute, then you are already half-eligible for this job.

Do a better job than Dave. Do a better job than our former graphic designer who retouched the picture of Claudia Cardinale for our 2017 promo poster so she looked thinner. Do better than Adam Sandler does in most of his films. And you will be hired.

Job Requirements

  • Must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics or related majors
  • Must have answered all CAPTCHA math answers correctly in the first try itself in his/her lifetime
  • Must be a native of France (Cannes a plus)
  • Past experience in ovation timing is a plus, and candidates who have worked with the Academy (AMPAS) will be preferred
  • Interest in films would be a plus, but is not necessary. (Due to limited seats, you may have to stand during the screenings, but you cannot count yourself as one of the audience while tracking standing ovation time)

Job Responsibilities

  • Keep track of film schedules and be present during the allotted film screenings from start to end
  • Accurate standing ovation time tracking based on audience response. At least 10 people have to engage in applauding when you can start and stop the timer. (More details will be given to the selected candidate)
  • Liaise with the press coordinators and brief them about the type of audience response (elated, dull, etc.)
  • Understand who and what the standing ovation is for
  • Declare the exact standing ovation time to the press so that it appears on publications before the critics can even publish the reviews
  • Cross-check the tracked time with CCTV footage
  • Create reports based on the tracked time and associated categories (Palme d’Or, Grand Prix, etc.)

Job Benefits

  • Competitive one-time-project package with full access to the festival events
  • Gift hamper and Festival de Cannes merchandise
  • Free lifetime passes for two for Palme d’Or film screenings
  • Resume building experiences where you can get associated with films and actors
  • A mention on our Wikipedia page
  • A chance to watch films from around the world (Blue is the Warmest Color was watched by two of our former standing ovation timers who brought in their spouses with them.)

We are looking for a dynamic team player who is the creme de la creme of professional standing ovation timers. Come and be a part of Festival de Cannes 2018 and help us understand the importance and accuracy of standing ovations. Help us create experiences so that our films achieve creative and box office success.

To apply, visit our website (http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/contact) and fill the form. Please do not attach a CV, but instead describe why we should hire you. Also mention your favorite Palme d’Or winner. Since this job has to do with tracking time, should you receive a reply from us about your application, your next step would be to calculate the exact time it took for us to reply from the moment you submitted your application. Good luck!

How to Fall to a New Low in Cinema Box Office Business?

We all know that Malayalam cinema is not known for its marketing techniques, and yet they somehow sometimes succeed greatly. Sharing reviews posted by nobodies on social media, posting the BookMyShow seat booking status of a specific show in a popular theatre, and republishing substandard reviews posted by amateur reviewers/publications like FilmiBeat are some common methods employed by the makers. Yet, this past weekend (third week of May 2017), something happened that defined a new low for the Malayalam cinema box office business.

Adventures of Omanakuttan, also known as AOK or AOO, an avant-garde romantic feature film by debutante Rohith VS and starring actors Asif Ali and Bhavana in the lead roles, became the cynosure of the Malayalam film industry for a brief time. After being stalled for months due to a variety of reasons, the film finally released on 19 May 2017 to polarized reviews, hitting all its chances to be counted among the best Malayalam films of 2017. Quoted as “a tedious watch” by Sify, sentiment soon spread across social media that the film is trash, and that it is only suited for people who adore experimental films. Considering that two other big titles – namely Kannan Thamarakkulam’s Achayans and Basil Joseph’s Godha – also released the same day, the film was going to have to beat heavy competition to come out victorious. In addition to the obvious factors (poor trailer and response, lead actors’ last film’s poor box office performance, and other recent related affairs), one another reason why the film failed to perform was because it was distributed in a very few theaters in Kerala, with no presence anywhere else in the country or in the UAE.

So, what do you do to salvage the situation? Use social media non-sparingly and request people to watch the film without making presumptions and without giving in to reviewers’ dumb-downs. Ask the debutante director to cry out loud, literally, by posting a heart-breaking request on his Facebook page urging people to go and spend some money before the film is taken off the listing, so that “Malayalam cinema” can stay above the waters. Ask the cast actors to support the cause. Ask fellow friends in the film fraternity to support the cause. Create hashtags like #SupportAOK and #SupportGoodMalayalamCinema. Mercilessly post updates about the booking statuses of different shows in different theaters and share related photos. Create memes.

And as days pass by, cash registers will start to make more noise, and you have succeeded at it, because people are gullible. The ratio of negative reviews to the positive ones started minimize, and Adventures of Omanakuttan somewhat became a hit. That is how you save a film from tanking at the box office by using the power of social media and compromising a bit on self-esteem. The actual roots of the problem – quality cinema and not distributing widely enough – was unfortunately lost in the wind.

The Thing with Wristwatches

I know what you’re thinking: who wears a wristwatch in 2017? Well, I do, and today, I have something important to tell you. It’s about a small thing that I have observed over the history of my owning wristwatches of different types.

Have you ever noticed that the thing, other than the power system,  that mostly gets messed up is the strap or the chain of the wristwatch and not the actual clock mechanism? No matter how good quality your strap or chain is, it’s bound to start wearing off the moment you wear it. I know the practical reasons behind this deterioration in quality, but don’t you think it’s weird that you have to replace the strap or chain of your wristwatch almost every year than any other part of the watch? Some might say that it’s an entrepreneurial move by companies who manufacture these straps and chains, so that they can stay in business till the end of time. But, I personally disagree, and think that this has never been the subject of a discussion in any boardroom of any wristwatch-making company.

It’s like you are paying the price for taking the time with you wherever you go and still not making it in time.

I think wristwatch companies – those folks in Switzerland and elsewhere – should now start focusing on the strap or the chain, because everyone knows that the mechanism is going to be top-notch. They just need something more durable that does not degrade due to human sweat, and I think Tag Heuer already has Tom Brady in the team.

So, the next time you are out shopping for a wristwatch, why not put more focus on the strap or the chain than the actual wristwatch for a change? Good luck!

Why I Am Always Late to the Movies These Days?

Some people who know me might think it’s because of my perennial habit of being late (to school, college, dates, and now even work). I assure you it’s not.

It’s because of two things, primarily. One, because of that redundant anti-smoking advertisement that takes you through the disadvantages and consequences of smoking. While we are subjected to that pointlessness only once – at the start – in Hindi films, in Malayalam films, they show it even before the start of the second half. You buy a medium-sized bucket of popcorn using the money you got after selling your house and now you start nibbling at it watching some folks crib about making some pretty bad life decisions. I am 100% sure that not one smoker who has watched these ads has kicked the butt because of them. But, then you would claim that such adverts have been appearing since Marco Polo immodestly wrote the description of the world. I agree to that point, but these days, it’s almost like a short feature film. It’s like to watch a 2-hour long movie, you have to watch another movie, and that too, featuring the Wall.

Secondly, and this one is important, the forceful patriotism. Yes, I have stood up countless times for the national anthem before a film, and still do whenever I am at an event and they play it. But, after the Supreme Court verdict, even my body refuses to give in to the newfound practice of forcing patriotism on people. Only a fool would go to a movie these days and not stand up during the national anthem. The better alternative is to just be late. (I’m sorry, fellow cinema-goers who have to shift in their seats to let me in.) Missing few intro scenes of a film is a lot better than having to consume your dose of entertainment with patriotism and righteousness forced into you by conservatives.

An acquaintance of mine has just stopped going to the movies since the SC verdict, but a cinema aficionado like me just cannot do that. Can I?

Best Malayalam Movies of 2017 – Ranked

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 10 best Malayalam movies of 2017:

Rank
Film Title
1 Take Off
2 Angamaly Diaries
3 Godha
4 Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum
5 Rakshadhikari Baiju (Oppu)
6 Kaadu Pookkunna Neram
7 Ezra
8 Ramante Edanthottam
9 C/O Saira Banu
10 Sakhavu

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 been 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.

Top Malayalam Movies of 2017

A still from Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, one of the most anticipated films of the year

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

Best Malayalam Movies of 2017

Sakhavu will be Nivin Pauly’s first film of the year. He plays a communist in the political comedy drama.

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 watchlist. 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.

Top Malayalam Movies of 2017

My Story will see Prithviraj and Parvathy romancing each other after doing it in 2015’s widely popular and successful Ennu Ninte Moideen.

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.

Best Malayalam Movies of 2017

The team behind Thrissivaperoor Kliptham were lauded for this creative poster design.

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.)

Top 10 Malayalam Movies of 2017

Indrajith and Rima in Dr. Biju’s KPN

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 in 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 much hopes in 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-octance 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 streetwise 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.

Best Malayalam Films of 2017

This promo poster for Amal Neerad’s Comrade in America created a lot of buzz in social media in late 2016 when the film was not even titled.

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, it’s title, it’s 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 the 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.

Films Released in January 2017

 

Top Malayalam Movies of 2017

Munthirivallikal Thalirkumbol was 2017’s first box office hit.

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 if it had aped Vineeth Sreenivasan’s 2016 crowd favorite.

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 have loved it, with fans lauding the complete actor for his never-exhausting charm. 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.

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 entertainment level.

Best Malayalam Movies of 2017

Ezra is one of the best Malayalam films of 2017. It ran for over 60 days at the Kerala box office.

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 Sreenviasan’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 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.

Films Released in March 2017

Top Malayalam Movies of 2017

With a tagline – Oru Katta Local Padam – Angamaly Diaries scored high.

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.

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. 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.

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 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. Lal Jr released his much-waited 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.

Best Malayalam Films of 2017

Take Off is another best Malayalam film of 2017, receiving the highest rating so far.

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 best Malayalam movies of 2017, 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.

Top Malayalam Films of 2017

Reviews of The Great Father described the film as a brawny (over brainy) affair.

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. 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.

Films Released in April 2017

Best Malayalam Films of 2017

Mammotty’s Kasargode accent in Puthan Panam didn’t prove enough.

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. 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. 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.

Best Malayalam Movies 2017

Nivin Pauly’s first film of 2017 was Sakhavu.

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. It also stars Althaf, Aishwarya Rajesh, and Gayathri Suresh. 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. 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.

Top Malayalam Film sof 2017

Biju Menon’s electric performance in Rakshadhikari Baiju (Oppu) was appreciated.

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 Malayalam films 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.

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.

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.)

Comrade in America - CIA

Comrade in America enjoyed slight success because it used the “season ingredient”: communism.

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”.

#SupportAOK

Experimental or not, brownie points sure go for this GTA-inspired poster of Adventures of Omanakuttan (OAK).

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.

Godha Malayalam film

Was it Gabbi’s cutie-pie appeal or Thomas’ rambunctious performance? Either way, Godha clicked.

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.

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

Top Malayalam films of 2017

Pasupathy and Janani Iyer in Ma Chu Ka

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.

Best Malayalam Movies 2017

Pothan’s Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum takes a dig at serious social issues like police inefficiency and societal dogma.

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 FukriVishwasapoorvam 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 thaali mala. Everyone called it a masterpiece, and some have even dubbed it the best Malayalam film of 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 15 Malayalam Movies of 2016