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Jan 4, 2012

Top Malayalam Movies of 2011

2011 was a milestone year for the discerning Malayali movie-goer, one who was tortured years on end with too many Dubais, Naatturajavus, Christian and Uppukandam Brothers. It goes without saying that I consider myself belonging to this category. This was the year I finally found some contemporary Malayalam films I can recommend to my film-buff friends (non-Indian and therefore non-Malayali) and did not have to go into hiding after the recommendation for fear of losing their friendship.

2011 was also the year when Malayalam cinema woke up and sniffed a new formula  and started playing with it – integrated multi narrative track, already perfected by Alejandro Inarritu, Wong Kar-wai and David Lynch, so there are plenty of places of draw 'inspiration' from. In the process of learning there were some misfires like The Train and The Metro, but some like Traffic and City of God hit the target.

Another surprise winner of 2011 is the non-superstar, in the line of Times Person of the Year – Protestor,  Malayalam cinema’s star of the year was not Mohanlal, Mammootty , Prithviraj or Dileep, (or not even Suresh Gopi,) it was the dependable second benchers, the reliable middle-of-the-pack actors like Lal, Jayasurya, Shweta Menon, Kunchako Boban, Indrajith, Asif Ali, Salim Kumar, Reema Kallingal, Indrajith, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Remya Nambishan, Fahad Fazil and Samvrutha Sunil who took the cake this last year. Also worth mentioning is the new crop of movie-makers who were instrumental in bringing a paradigm shift in the way we make movies in Kerala – Lijo Jose Pellissery, Samir Thahir, Aashiq Abu, Listin Stephen, Bobby n Sanjay, Rajesh Pillai and the like.

On to movies, my five favorite films of the year in no particular order,

Salt N Pepper (Woohoo! Malayalam has its first real…..Read more)

City of God (The end is the beginning is the end as….Read more)

Chappa Kurish (Chappa Kurish - Kochi speak for heads or tails, whatever the outcome of this coin flip…Read more)

Beautiful has shades of compassion and comraderie and gives Anoop Menon an opportunity to sling a guitar on his back and walk/ride the streets, which movie star has not dreamed of playing such a James Dean-ish character. Jayasurya as a paralysed millionaire with a  love for life gets to emote with his eyes and flirtatious talk. It is an interesting movie and yet another one which pays tribute to Malayali male’s endless fascination with that ageless Padmarajan classic – Thoovanathumbikal.(Read more)
 Indian Rupee has a good story and tight script. Though more laudable is the fact that it is the one and only movie which keeps Prithviraj (barely) in the ship that sailed from Kerala’s movie ocean in the second decade of twenty first century bearing the flag of new promise and hope. Prithvi is on the verge of becoming a latter day Mohanlal (not the Mohanlal of Nadodikkaattu but the Mohanlal of Natturajavu), if not for rare movies like Indian Rupee.

Also rans
Gaddama : (Women in flight (no, not Amelia Earhart), escaping their wretched existence make...  Read more )

Traffic: Probably the most commercially successful multi-narrative movie of 2011, it not only is technically sound but has drama and melodrama to top it off. Read more

Adaminte Makan Abu: A typical festival circuit movie, Malayalam budhi-jeevi(intellectual) directors have been churning out since the fifties and sixties, because third world poverty and desperation sells, tugs the heart strings of movie intelligensia at Cannes and Berlin and Toronto helping to bring home an award or two. Salim Kumar and Zarina Wahab have faithfully executed their roles as an aging couple waiting to go on a pilgrimage to Haj and the rest is textbook award movie stuff.

Pranayam, maybe.