When the Pandemic came and hit us from nowhere in 2020, cinema was possibly one of the most impacted industries in terms to figuring out how to take quality and commercials forward. The entire world came to a standstill and naturally the impact of cinema was widely evident. So much so, that even the Malayalam film industry that has been consistently producing the best cinema in India for a few years now struggled to find its feet. After a terrific 2019 and host of brilliant movies, 2020 was relatively listless for them. But they came back in 2021 and how! 2021 will possibly go down as one of the strongest years of content for the Malayalam film industry and they played the game very smart by ensuring that most of their quality content was available through the leading OTTs of the country and hence they ensured that their consumer base increased far and wide all across India, initiating several cinema lovers to their magic. They played around with genres, periods, storytelling styles but always ensured that the content was always rooted to the local culture, always touched hearts and stirred souls. The plethora of excellent choices they offered also has inspired me to make an exclusive list of my 10 favorite Malayalam films of 2021 for the first time.
As always, this is a very personal list, and is only based on content was more commonly available on OTTs that I have subscription to and I got to watch. Also, the list being subjective, there can be critically acclaimed films that might have missed the boat based on how they spoke to me personally or what the expectations from them were, as all such lists are honestly. Also that I struggled to pick up the top 10 films also shows how good the quality was there at the top, and the hope is that it only gets better by the day. I so wish that there will be a day when I can learn the language and follow such excellent cinema without the help of subtitles. In hope of the same…
Here are some more mentions before we get on to the favorites.
Least Liked Films: Sunny, Bhramam, Aanum Pennum
Forgettable Affairs: Kuruthi, Saajan Bakery since 1962, Madhuram
Missed Opportunities (Could have been but weren’t): Drishyam 2, The Great Indian Kitchen, Kurup, Churuli
Honorable Mentions: Nayattu (Martin Prakkat, Netflix), Minnal Murali (Basil Joseph, Netflix), Sara’s (Jude Anthany Joseph, Amazon Prime Video)
10 Favorite Films of 2021:
10. #Home | Rojin Thomas | Amazon Prime Video
09. Everything is Cinema | Don Palathara | MUBI
08. Kala | Rohith V.S. | Amazon Prime Video
07. Kaanekkaane | Manu Ashokan | SonyLIV
06. Malik | Mahesh Narayanan | Amazon Prime Video
05. Biriyani | Sajin Babu | Cave India
04. Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam | Don Palathara | MUBI, Cave India
03. Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam | Senna Hegde | SonyLIV
02. Joji | Dileesh Pothan | Amazon Prime Video
01. Aarkkariyam | Sanu John Varughese | Amazon Prime Video
What a treat from Malayalam cinema! Naturally a lot of films from this list will find a way in the Best Indian Films of 2021 on the whole when we look at that list next. What were your favorite Malayalam Films of the year? Do share and keep watching great movies from here, there, everywhere!
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