The year didn’t start up good for Malayalam movies, the cinema strike which started in December 2016 continued till the 2nd week of January 2017. The Christmas 2016 releases were released in the third week of January. Even though the popular films that released in the months of January and February succeeded in the box office, they didn’t create a big impact with their content. But the beginning of March had a storm along it, Angamaly Diaries (released on 3rd March,2017). Lijo Jose Pellissery’s film was not just the big break for all the debutants of Angamaly Diaries but it was the opening to the brilliant films that came up. The first half of 2017 ended with Dileesh Pothan’s Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (released on 30 June 2017) which is an instant classic! Now we are going to take a look at the Top 6 from the first half of 2017 and surprisingly or not so surprisingly, there isn’t a single Super Star film in the list! So let’s go ahead…
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 was based on a real life incident that happened in 2014. It was basically a rescue mission of our Indian nurses from the hostage of Iraqi terrorists. The audience entered the theaters to watch a film that was made on a well known incident but they got something in bonus, the film was much beyond a rescue mission. It was Sameera’s (Parvathy) life as a nurse, her struggle and emotional turmoil, of course the film didn’t fail to discuss the hardships of nurses who work outside their motherland. On a whole Take Off was an extremely emotional experience, from one point Sameera’s worries and fears become ours. The film had a very strong technical side too. It was directed and edited by Mahesh Narayanan, he co-wrote the film with P.V Sahjikumar. Performance wise Parvathy won hearts as Sameera, Kunchacko Boban and Fahadh Faasil did their parts with amazing ease. Take Off was made in a comparatively low budget but is one of the best films in Indian Cinema that are 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.
Basil Joseph’s Godha is not an entirely new story but the way it got presented deserves a place in this list. When directors try to bring in various cultures and languages into one film, many filmmakers fail but Basil Joseph had beautifully blended Punjabi-Malayali cultures in Godha. Women empowerment is also not a new topic of discussion but Adithi Singh (Wamiqa Gabbi) was a very good example of women power. All the characters had a perfect structure, Renji Panicker and Tovino Thomas scored in their roles as well. Humor is present throughout the film and along with that the director said a powerful story in the most entertaining way. Debutant Wamiqa Gabbi was the show stealer. Vishnu Sarma’s cinematography and Shaan Rahman’s music complimented the film perfectly. Godha is an entertainer with some good content, what better than that a 120 rupees ticket can give you?!
6. C/o Saira Banu & Ramante Edenthottam
So it’s a tie on the 6th spot, C/o Saira Banu and Ramante Edenthottam. C/o Saira Banu had a very interesting court case and an emotional connect to it and also the exuberant Manju Warrier. The only slight drawback I felt with C/o Saira Banu was that the script could have been a little more gripping. Elements like Peter George’s (Mohanlal) and Saira going in search of the Bengali laborer’s mother were fresh and interesting. Manju Warrier carried the entire film on her shoulders and her presence and charm was the biggest boost for the film. C/o Saira Banu had a freshness to it’s theme and the performances, plot twits and the emotional touch of a mother’s selfless love made C/o Saira Banu a worthy film for the list.
Ramante Edenthottam by Ranjith Sanakar discussed relationships and ultimately the freedom of a woman. Malini (Anu Sithara) was the center of the story, the two men in her life Elvis (Joju George) and Ram (Kunchacko Boban) were two pole opposite yet interesting characters as well. When the director and cinematographer allured us with the visuals of Raman’s Eden resort which is a forest, the film presented the importance of self esteem. To watch, Ramante Edenthottam is as beautiful as a poetry. Bijibal’s soulful songs are also a plus point in the film. The movie had some fantastic performances and some serious takes on marital relationships. But above all that Ramante Edenthottam will give a feeling of watching the vintage Malayalam classics.
Special mentions: Adventures of Omanakuttan was a very bold attempt. The young director, Rohith VS deserves to be appreciated for this experimental film. It was a new plot and a fresh script and the audience has given the film the success it deserved.
Sakhavu, the Sidhartha Siva film starring Nivin Pauly stayed true to it’s title and the political content that they wanted to convey. There are a bunch of films in the recent years that discuss communism but Sakhavu got the true essence of the subject. With Nivin Pauly’s brilliant portrayal of Sakhavu Krishnan, the movie gets a special mention.
We hope to see a lot more good films in the second half of the year. There are small and big films lined up for release. 2017 have already proved to be a wonderful year for Malayalam Cinema and we may the good luck continue!
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