Malayalam Cinema: Top 6 Films Of The First Half Of 2017!

The initial months of 2017 posed a challenge for Malayalam cinema with a prolonged strike that spilled over from the previous year, delaying the release of Christmas 2016 films until the third week of January. While the early releases of the year achieved success at the box office, the true turning point came in March with the release of “Angamaly Diaries” on the 3rd. Lijo Jose Pellissery’s film not only served as a significant breakthrough for its debutants but also set the stage for a series of exceptional films that followed.

Malayalam Cinema in 2017: A Tale of Resilience and Artistic Brilliance

The cinematic storm continued into the first half of the year, culminating in Dileesh Pothan’s “Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum,” released on June 30, 2017, which quickly earned the status of an instant classic. As we delve into the top films of the first half of 2017, it’s noteworthy that the list is devoid of any superstar-dominated releases, emphasizing the industry’s commitment to artistic brilliance and narrative substance. Let’s explore the noteworthy films that defined Malayalam cinema during this resilient and artistically vibrant period.

1. Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

Of course, this one has to be on the top of the list. The film comes from the makers of Maheshinte Prathikaram and that one reason was enough for the audience to hit the theaters on the first day. But Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum was an entirely different experience from Maheshinte Prathikaram. The movie was raw, captivating and filled with extraordinary performances. The film follows the classic rule “Show, don’t tell”. It gives the viewers lot to think and understand by themeselves and at the same time it is entertaining and extremely interesting. The film is directed by Dileesh Pothan, written by Sajeev Pazhoor. The cinematography was by Rajeev Ravi and music by Bijibal, the film stars Fahadh Faasil, Suraaj Venjaramood, Nimisha Sajayan and Alencier in the lead. And I’m sure when I make a list of the year’s best films, then also Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is likely to top the list.

2. Angamaly Diaries

Lijo Jose Pellissery is an extremely gutsy guy. The filmmaker decided to make a film on the pork business and the gang fights involved with it in Angamaly, the story and screenplay was by actor/screenwriter Chemban Vinod Jose, he also decided that the cast will not include a single known face! Angamaly Diaries happened, almost 90 new actors debuted in the film and the rest is history. When Gireesh Gangadharan’s cinematography (actually dangerously amazing cinematography) and Prashanth Pillai’s music accompanied a fantastic script and the perfect direction for it, Angamaly Diaries became a filmmaking textbook by itself! The 11 minutes long single shot climax got discussed not just nationally but internationally. Without any doubt Angamaly Diaries will have it’s own place in the history of Malayalam Cinema.

3. Take Off

“Take Off” draws inspiration from a real-life incident in 2014 – a rescue mission of Indian nurses from Iraqi terrorists. Initially expected as a portrayal of this well-known event, the film exceeds expectations. It delves into Sameera’s (Parvathy) life as a nurse, exploring her struggles and emotional turmoil. The narrative also sheds light on the hardships faced by nurses working away from their homeland.

“Take Off” evolves into an emotionally charged experience, transcending the boundaries of a mere rescue mission story. Sameera’s worries and fears resonate deeply with the audience. The film boasts a robust technical foundation, with Mahesh Narayanan directing and editing, co-writing alongside P.V Sahjikumar. Parvathy’s performance as Sameera is heartwarming, complemented by the seamless acting of Kunchacko Boban and Fahadh Faasil. Despite its modest budget, “Take Off” stands out as one of the finest films in Indian Cinema based on real-life incidents.

4. Rakshadhikari Baiju, Oppu

Unlike the other films, Rakshadhikari Baiju, Oppu doesn’t have an eventful story or exciting plot twists, it is a sweet simple film. The film opens up this small world of Baiju, his family and friends, it takes us through their lives and their activities on the near by ground, it has a very important message but that too is said in a lovely manner and is not hammered into the head of the audience. So what makes this Ranjan Pramod movie enter this list? The answer is, it’s simplicity! The movie could easily transmit a positive vibe, it was completely rooted to the rural side of Kerala and the film showed what real happiness is. Biju Menon shined as Baiju and all ensemble cast lived as their parts too. Among all the rush and complexities, Rakshadhikari Baiju, Oppu was 2 hours of peace and bliss.

5. Godha

Basil Joseph’s “Godha” doesn’t present a completely original story. Its unique narrative style secures its position on this list. Joseph skillfully intertwines Punjabi-Malayali cultures, showcasing his directorial prowess. He seamlessly blends diverse elements.

While women empowerment is a common theme, Adithi Singh (Wamiqa Gabbi) stands out. She becomes a compelling example of female strength. The well-structured characters, including notable performances from Renji Panicker and Tovino Thomas, significantly contribute.

The film maintains a consistent sense of humor. Joseph adeptly conveys a powerful story in an entertaining manner. Debutant Wamiqa Gabbi steals the spotlight. The film benefits from the cinematography of Vishnu Sarma and the music by Shaan Rahman.

“Godha” proves to be an entertaining and substantive film. It delivers a satisfying cinematic experience. All this for the cost of a 120-rupee ticket.

6. C/o Saira Banu & Ramante Edenthottam

Tying for the 6th spot are “C/o Saira Banu” and “Ramante Edenthottam.” “C/o Saira Banu” featured an intriguing court case and emotional depth, with the dynamic presence of Manju Warrier. However, the script could have been more gripping. Elements like Peter George’s (Mohanlal) and Saira’s search for the Bengali laborer’s mother were fresh and interesting. Manju Warrier’s exceptional performance and charm were the film’s biggest strengths. The movie’s theme, performances, plot twists, and the emotional portrayal of a mother’s selfless love made “C/o Saira Banu” a worthy addition to the list.

A Riveting Tale of Diverse Narratives

In 2017, Malayalam cinema’s storytelling was diverse, exploring human relationships and societal dynamics. “Ramante Edenthottam,” directed by Ranjith Shankar, stands out as a poignant exploration, particularly focusing on women’s freedom. The film revolves around Malini (Anu Sithara), with Joju George and Kunchacko Boban portraying contrasting characters, Elvis and Ram. Raman’s Eden resort, set against a forest backdrop, metaphorically symbolizes the film’s theme of self-esteem. “Ramante Edenthottam” unfolds like a beautiful poem, with Bijibal’s soulful songs enhancing the enchanting cinematic experience, reminiscent of vintage Malayalam classics.

Adventures of Omanakuttan

Another notable mention is “Adventures of Omanakuttan,” a bold and experimental film by the young director Rohith VS. The movie received well-deserved success, showcasing a new plot and fresh script, earning appreciation for its innovative approach.

“Sakhavu,” directed by Sidhartha Siva and starring Nivin Pauly, lived up to its title by delving into political content with sincerity and depth. Amidst the plethora of films discussing communism, “Sakhavu” stood out for capturing the true essence of the subject, supported by Nivin Pauly’s brilliant portrayal of Sakhavu Krishnan.

As the industry looks forward to the second half of the year, the anticipation is high with a lineup of both small and big films. The success of 2017 has already marked a remarkable year for Malayalam cinema, and audiences eagerly await more cinematic gems in the months to come.

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About the Author

Mahima Nandakumar
Hardcore Film Lover and Ardent Movie Goer, Aspiring Film Maker.

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