Most Important Malayalam Films of the Decade

Fahad Fazil in Iyobinte Pusthakam

The 2000’s was overflowing with innumerable formulaic and generic entertainers. So much films that exaggerated cinematic realism. Veteran filmmakers like Sibi Malayil, Priyadarshan and a handsome of others were running out of fuel. A young crop of writers & directors came with sparklingly sensational vibrant narratives by the end of the shoddy decade. 2011 was the crucial turning point for Malayalam Cinema with unconventional and universally appealing narratives like Salt & Pepper, Traffic, Chappa Kurish, City of God hit screens. Traffic was hugely successful.

Most important films of Malayalam

These are some films from the neo era of Malayalam Cinema which whole together embraced freshness in narratives, treatment styles and are are also landmarks considering the scale of art or economics.

Traffic Malayalam Movie Roma and Anoop Menon


Rajesh Pillai with writers Bobby and Sanjay, introduces an incredible non-linear hyperlink narrative in a survival thriller. The first of its kind in Malayalam Cinema. Traffic is about a risky mission to move a human heart inside of two hours to a dying patient 150kms away during a peak traffic hour. Bobby and Sanjay manages to incorporate multiple plotlines and dissolve it in this testosterone fueled emotional and thrilling ride. Traffic has one of the most memorable interval block and climax sequence of all time.

Ozhivudivasathe Kali Best Malayalam Movies of 2016

Ozhivu Divasathe Kali

Sanal explores the societal psyche and mediocre civility of men through the male gaze of four intoxicated individuals. The climax, captured breathtakingly in a single take lasting around 50-55 minutes, promises to captivate and astonish in every conceivable manner.

Chaappa Kurishu

Chaappa Kurishu

Sameer Thahir’s debut directorial is a pathbreaking narrative on the class divide. The filmmaking too was vibrant new of its kind. The term linked with Realistic Cinema likely gained prominence after Chaappa Kurishu, despite earlier films rooted in realism. This unique impulse, freely capturing slice-of-life moments, marks a novel approach. The finely executed action sequences in Chaappa Kurishu welcomed the digital format, embracing cinematic changes wholeheartedly. Adding, it might also be the first Mainstream Malayalam film to have taken great authenticity in portraying sensuality on screen.

Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum Movie Fahad Fazil

Dileesh Pothan’s duology!

Dileesh has woven organic sensibilities in moviegoers through his films. His Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is a modern day masterpiece, a textbook for on screen craft & screenwriting. Frontined with outstanding performances of Fahad Fazil as a wacky chain snatcher, Suraj Venjaramoodu in a naïve decent man role, Nimishan in her delightfully charming debut and Alancier as the terrifying rogue cop.

Thondimuthal talks pan Indian politics through these characters. The former, Maheshinte Prathikaram is a stupendous butterfly effect with none-gimmicks & a subversion of stereotypes through a heavenly organic slice-of-life tale of a young man who owns a photo studio at Idukki.

Lucifer Review Malayalam Movie

Mohanlal’s box office trinity

Drishyam, Pulimurugan & Lucifer. 3 Films that made a crucial turnaround for Malayalam films in the scale of economics. If Drishyam doubled the previous highest grosser, Pulimurugan within 3 years Tripled the numbers and become the First 100 crore grosser of Mollywood, Lucifer underlined the fact that it was never a one-time-wonder further becoming the Second 100 crore film & first 200 crore total business. Lucifer also revolutionised the overseas market: almost performing on par with Bollywood & Hollywood films at UAE & North America.

Jallikattu title card


Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu established Mollywood’s spot in world cinema & international audience. Underlining the fact that Indian Cinema is more than Bollywood. I haven’t seen the kind of buzz which Jallikattu had with respect to any other Indian film that make it big in the festival circuits. The movie premiered at two renowned film festivals: the Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema category and the BFI London Film Festival. It even catch sight of Ari Aster,who’s known for films like Hereditary & Midsommar. He happened to tweet about Jallikattu saying it was something he hasn’t seen before.

Amen Movie


A groundbreaking genre attempt by Lijo Jose Pellissery. Amen will surely down the line raved as a classic textbook for filmmaking. For it’s attempt in Magical Realism, musical folklore & artistic history. The film is basically a Romeo-Juliet romance happening in a wacky imaginative utopian – Kumarangini. A rural community comprising Latin Christians deeply immersed in a cultural tradition centered around band music.

Iyobinte Pusthakam

Iyobinte Pusthakam

One of the most stylish films of the century. Amal Neerad’s Iyobinte Pusthakam is a must watch never seen before period drama. Right from the firstlook character posters to the stylish western flourishes in storytelling and making. Gopi Chidambaram’s screenplay (Dialogues by Syam Pushkaran) does a brilliant job in the recreation of vernaculars of 1900’s era, as well as it does in adapting Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s final novel The Brothers Karamazov. Amal Neerad’s action set pieces are sumptuous.

Moothon Movie poster


The most recent addition to the list. Moothon, directed by Geethu Mohandas addresses benchmark setting gender politics. It is the closest a filmmaker from the contemporary scenario has come in lines of veteran Padmarajan in that regard. Mohandas doesn’t make a big deal out of this, all what she wants to show is unconditional Love, which is why the gay romance track between Nivin Pauly and Roshan Mathew is so attesting despite of its retro mode. But above this tender Lakshadweep portions, Geethu has written an audaciously grim narrative of Mulla. The character arc of Mulla will be reckoned as a classic in the long run.

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About the Author

Arjun Anand
CA Student who's enthusiastic about films.

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