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  • Writer's pictureVenki

Baar Baar Dekha Dus (10) Baar Deka

Updated: Jan 12, 2020

This is one of the longest post i have written. Here is the list Ten Malayalam films i have watched at least ten times. Like how wine tastes better with age, these everlasting movies too left a lasting impression on me. Thanks to TV channels and my old CD collection from Saina Video vision and Moserbaer the re-viewing was not an issue. You may find some of the classics like Thaniyavartanam , Sadayam etc missing but those are extremely grim and a second watching itself was tough. Even now, when i browse TV channels and one of the films listed is running then i take control of the remote. Such is the power of these cinemas. Films like Kumbalangi Nights, Maheshinte Prathikaram, Sudani from Nigeria etc will enter the list soon in couple of years.

Honorable Mentions

1. Kilukkam - Jagathy at his best.

2. Nadodikattu - The winning combo of Dasan and Vijayan

3. Pavithram - Another award worthy Performance from Lal.

1. Manichitrathazhu - 1993

Director: Fazil

Writer: Madhu Muttam

Stars: Mohanlal, Shobana, Suresh Gopi

Even though its remade in many languages, nothing beats the original. Winner of 2 National Awards, this is a cult classic from the Veteran Director Fazil. A terrific physiological plot, balancing age old beliefs and modern science to perfection. Shobana performance as Nagavalli is her career best. The blend of original comedy , drama and suspense makes this a compelling watch. The haunting and scaring BGM is one of a kind during that time. The forbidden room of Madampalli still haunts me. And a terrific climax is icing on the top of a cake.

2. Kireedam - 1989

Director: Sibi Malayil

Writer: A.K. Lohithadas

Stars: Mohanlal, Thilakan

Sethumadavan's character played by Mohanlal is a top notch and an unparalleled performance which no Mallus can ever forget. Its a shame that he did not get the National award for the best actor that year. A power packed script by Lohi executed to perfection by Sibi. The father son scenes are heart breaking and nerve touching ones. The story is about how a simple incident turns the life of young man upside down which had far reaching consequences. The Sequel to Kireedam (Chenkol) was also good one, but not that effective. The final on screen message Kireedavum, Chenkolum vachu Sethumathan ivide keezhadungu still lingers in my mind.

3. Thoovanathumbikal - 1987

Director: P. Padmarajan

Writer: P. Padmarajan

Stars: Mohanlal, Sumalatha, Parvathi

It would be sin if i dont talk about the director here first. He was a shimmering light and some call him the celestial story teller and some call him gatekeeper of losses. To me, every movie by Padmarajan is worth a watch dozen times. Thats the power of this legendary director's story telling capabilities. Some of his novels are considered as among the best in Malayalam literature. His attention to details in the screenplay is unmatched in the Industry so far. He continues to inspire lot of filmmakers. His stories can be sane and insane at the same time. I have never watched any of his films in theater and I was told, most of his films were a box office flops. If i have to pick one Indian director which i passionately followed then its him. I have a huge collection of his books and CD's. Love , Lust, Revenge , Loss you name anything, the master handles it brilliantly.

Thoovanathumbikal is one such great work and its a story that's was way ahead of its time and it took lot of viewers to understand the power of that cinema quiet lately. The entire episode starting from Clara's entry scene to how she falls in love with Jayakrishnan is simple and yet so powerful. The BGM (was my ring tone for a quiet a lot time). The film questions society’s moral codes and shows the real value of love and compassion in a totally different way. A strange and unique take on a love triangle story.

4. Nombarathi Poovu - 1987

Director: P. Padmarajan

Writer: P. Padmarajan

Stars: Madhavi, Sonia, Mammootty

Yet another film from PP. Its story about a deep relationship between an orphaned gal Gigi (Baby Sonia) and Padmini (Madhavi) who is coming in terms with her loss. Its a delicate subject dealing with motherhood, childhood, marriage and its complexities. The key theme here is how simple behavior and gesture we make every day can impact little minds. The hide and seek game in the end is a devastating and heartbreaking one. Here the motherhood is taken to a different level. Madhavi was rock solid. Her second best performance after Akashadoothu.

5. Sandesham - 1991

Director: Sathyan Anthikad

Writer: Sreenivasan

Stars: Sreenivasan, Jayaram, Thilakan

I was watching this again last week on TV. This is one of the most relevant film in this political turmoil age. An unbelievable satire on Kerala politics with plenty of loud laugh out moments and a terrific messaging towards the end. Thilakan's yet another scintillating performance. Sankaradi as a political leader and his ideology and his comic timing was a treat to watch. And this is one of the best films from Sathyan Anthikad. And what an apt tile for the movie. Sreenivasan screenplay rocked big time in 1990's.

6. In Harihar Nagar - 1990

Directors: Siddique Lal

Writers: Siddique Lal

Stars: Mukesh, Siddique, Jagadish

The credit of bringing back some genuine and realistic comedy goes to Siddique Lal. All his stories were wafer thin and lighter ones and he showed us how to make comedy films. Majority of their films have been copied by Priyadarshan in Hindi (the one most people remembers would be Hera Pheri). The sequence involving from Thomas Kutty vittoda to Excuse Me Kaka Thurinna Thonunne scenes were just execution brilliance. Its a hilarious take on the the life of four young men living in Harihar Nagar Colony who has nothing else to do in life. Comedy never felt so sweet and their simple story telling style did win our hearts in the end.

7. Midhunam - 1993

Director: Priyadarshan

Writer: Sreenivasan

Stars: Mohanlal, Sreenivasan, Urvashi

Its a terrific dysfunctional family drama and my favorite film by Priyan. The love story of Urvashi (The treasure keeper) who likes to live in the past dreamy world and how that conflicts with the Mohanlal (who lives in the present) is told in sublime way. The family set up involving Innocent as his big brother and Jagathy as his brother in law and their Thenga udakku swami pooja sequence is one of the most memorable comedy scene ever done by Priyan. A perfect slice of a life film.

8. Utharam (1989)

Director: V.K. Pavithran

Writers: M.T. Vasudevan Nair

Stars: Mammootty, Sukumaran, Parvathi

One of those rare offbeat films in the list. This is unique investigative thriller movie which surprises you completely towards the end. The hero is the script itself. MT weaves magic in his writing. In the end the the journey to find the truth of a why a suicide was committed is a bitter one but its narrated so realistically that it leaves you in shock.

9. Ustad Hotel (2012)

Director: Anwar Rasheed

Writer: Anjali Menon

Stars: Dulquer Salmaan, Thilakan, Siddique

Another noted talent enters Malayalam film Industry and its Anjali Menon. This is a fascinating story of Faisi (played beautifully by Dulquer Salmaan) and his journey of self discovery. The film is extremely well executed, with some fantastic songs and the love story blossoming with Nithya Menon is pitch perfect. With some consistently likable characters and actors the generation conflict story is worth many watches. As usual Thilakan delivered yet another mind blowing character.

10. Drishyam (2013)

Director: Jeethu Joseph

Writers: Saeid Shahi, Jeethu Joseph

Stars: Mohanlal, Meena, Asha Sharath

This is the first Malayalam film to cross 50 crore mark at the box office. Like Manichitrathazhu this one too remade in many languages and Malayalam one stands tall in the list. This now has got an international fame where this is now remade in Chinese too (Sheep Without a Shepherd). I hear they changed the climax in the Chinese version. Jeethu is known for making thrillers and this one is a top notch thriller with significant twists and turns and its an original concept. There are few resemblance to the Japanese novel (the devotion of suspect X) but having read that novel, i can tell you that the film is totally deviated from the main concept of the novel. The magic of Drishyam is tough to replicate any time soon. To what extent a man can go to cover up an accidental crime form crux of the story. The tag line says it all. Visuals indeed can be deceiving.

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