In 2017, Malayalam cinema saw the rise of several young, talented filmmakers. There were huge hits at the box-office, novel scripts, memorable performances and big strides in the technical department.
Here is a look at 12 things from the year that made the most impact and stayed with us.
Fahadh Faasil’s portrayal of a thief without a name in Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum
Arguably the finest performance by a male actor in Malayalam this year, Fahadh Faasil showed us how your screen-time in a movie never matters if you can transform to the character you play like he does.
When the police beat and torture him, we can feel his pain. When he tells a policeman – “Don’t laugh sir, I know what it is be hungry at this age”, we can learn about his past from his face. When he gives a crooked smile to Sreeja (Nimisha) at the interval point, we smile with him. When he drops the stone and decides to not hurt Prasad (Suraj Venjaramoodu), we are once again left wondering what his real character is.
Angamaly Diaries’ rawness
To make a good movie with 86 debutant actors in itself is not a small feat. Lijo Jose Pellissery went a few steps ahead and made Angamaly Diaries, a near classic. The movie reminded one of the likes of Gangs of Wasseypur in its presentation of gang wars in their raw form.
Two other factors also helped. One, the cinematography by Girish Gangadharan whose camera walked and ran behind the gangs without a glitch. Second, the background score by Prashant Pillai which added real thrill to many scenes.
Aashiq Abu’s expert handling of romance in Mayaanadhi
“Normally we see only half of what we write on paper get translated to screen. In Mayaanadhi, we were happy to see it captured completely” said Dileesh Nair, one of the movie’s writers in an interview.
Tovino Thomas and Aishwarya Lekshmi are lovely as Mathan and Aparana. But Mayaanadhi is ultimately a director’s movie. It’s not an easy job to depict romance on screen without being even slightly cheesy. But Aashiq Abu brings in a delicate balance that matches the veteran filmmakers in this genre. The gazes the lead pair share, the pause between their words, the vibe that keeps changing – every detail is precise. The result is a poem on screen.
Parvathy’s bravura performance in Take Off
Sameera (Parvathy) breaks down when she explains to Manoj (Fahadh Faasil) the reason why she didn’t leave Iraq despite the situation in the country. She tells him how the wages a nurse gets in her country is so meagre to make her ends meet. It is an act so good that it makes you forget it is an actor in front of you and takes you right into the plight of her character’s profession.
Take Off is a neatly crafted thriller and Parvathy’s performance was its USP. Having already won Best Actress in the recent IFFI awards, Parvathy should add more such films in her kitty in coming days.
Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela’s new spin to depiction of life threatening diseases
The interval block of Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela is hilarious. Sheela Chacko (Shanthi Krishna) and her family get themselves locked in the doctor’s room and the attender goes and informs the doctor.
In contrast, the movie ends on an emotional note. We are shown how Sheela’s husband and kids used to cry far from her but still wiped their tears and ran to her when they were called. This exactly is the achievement of writers Althaf Salim and George Kora. They could find a chink in the wall to produce humor out of a disease like cancer, also not forgetting to lend the sensitivity that such a subject needed.
When Ichappi (Amal Shah) after his long jump lands in front of the girl on whom he has a crush and locks eyes with her, his face glows. Haseeb (Govind V Pai) is first shocked to see his friend break the rules, but then looks at them one after the other and nods his head in happiness.
Facing the camera for the first time, these kids amazed the audience with their spontaneity throughout. In a movie where everything, from Rex Vijayan’s music to Shane Nigam’s acting, was impressive, the boys still stood tall.
Aadu 2’s success story
If the first few days are any indication, Aadu 2 is all set to become a huge blockbuster. The roar and applause to Shaji Pappan’s intro in cinema halls is something usually witnessed only for the biggest superstars.
What is riveting about this success is that this is a sequel to a movie that flopped at the box-office. It only goes to proves that a film can find acceptance and a cult following after its DVD release and this is something filmmakers can capitalize on.
The nostalgic trip that Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu took us on
How the ball you hit falls in a neighbour’s courtyard, how you gather and chat after a match, how there is a group leader who resolves issue – for many, Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu was less a movie and more a nostalgic trip to a village where they spent their childhood.
The movie’s most poignant moment was when George (Dileesh Pothan) and Baiju (Biju Menon) sit under a tree and share their memories. When George calls Baiju a lucky man and sets off to return to America with a heavy heart, it would have passed on the same emotions to any viewer who is far from their roots.
Jimikki Kammal song
To call Jimikki Kammal viral would be an understatement. This song composed by Shaan Rahman for Velipadinte Pusthakam was a movement not only in Kerala, but even in Tamil Nadu and beyond.
If the original song was viewed 56 million times on Youtube, the one featuring Sheril had 15 million views. People across the country danced to the song and recorded their versions too. American host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted saying he loved it.
The huge popularity meant that Mohanlal himself, who didn’t feature initially in the song in movie, danced to the tune.
Sunday Holiday’s feel good factor
After the night Amal (Asif Ali) and Benny (Sudheer Karamana) have had a fight, Benny’s mother (KPAC Lalitha) comes to Amal’s house, hands him a bag of snacks and requests him to not fight again. Amal on his way to work meets Benny and apologises. Benny smiles and pats Amal’s shoulder.
Cinema is such a powerful medium that a small reconciliation on screen can bring such positive energy in you. Sunday Holiday doesn’t have a solid story but it has such sweet moments that stay with you .
Suraj Venjaramoodu’s transition to a fine character actor
2017 was the year where Suraj Venjaramoodu completed his transition from a loud comedian to a fine character actor. In Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum, his restraint was amazing when portraying a naive guy.
In Varnyathil Aashanka, in contrast, his character was shrewd and opportunistic. The control with which he acts the hilarious drunk scene in the latter, tells us that he is all set to fill the void left by many legendary actors.
Ramante Edanthottam’s climax
Ramante Edanthottam is far from being a perfect movie but its ending struck a chord. Ranjith Shankar wrote some fine lines for the final meeting between Malini (Anu Sithara) and Elvis (Joju George) before she walks out of a marriage where she is not respected.
Anu Sithara stole the show when she sums up Malaini’s state of mind as she returns to her dance class, Also impressive was the tail end which shows Malini’s life after a year, how she is happy and how there is no friction with her ex-husband. Here is a filmmaker who had clarity on the message he wanted to convey.
Dulquer Salmaan’s growth in stature as an actor, switching with extreme ease between 4 diverse roles in Solo. Manju Warrier’s fine return to form through C/O Saira Banu and Udhaharanam Sujatha after a couple of mundane years. Basil Joseph’s knack to squeeze out maximum laughs in Godha. Arun Gopy’s slick execution while revealing the climactic twist in Ramaleela. Genuine attempts by Dominic Arun and Rohit VS to revive crime comedy genre in Malayalam through Tharangam and Adventues of Omanakkuttan.