Malayalam Films Flashback

Malayalam cinema differs from both Bollywood and Hollywood with its preference for natural beauty as well as its underlying conservatism. These films present the same traditional tropes as Bollywood, such as the importance of marriage and gender roles, yet it shows them through actors that represent the common man and woman. They are made more relatable through their realism and in being script orientated, though of course they are also full of fun dance numbers. Their comedy through sarcasm also sets them apart from other Indian films, with the ability and lines of the actors shining through.

Check out CulturalPulse’s shortlist of the best Malayalam films over the past 70 years below.

60's

Bhargavi Nilayam (1964)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Mystery
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Director: A. Vincent
Stars:  Prem Nazir, Madhu, Vijaya Nirmala, P.J. Anthony
Synopsis: An enthusiastic and talented novelist (Madhu) comes to stay in a desolate mansion named Bhargavi Nilayam. The novelist and his servant Cheriya Pareekkanni (Adoor Bhasi) experience the …  See full summary »

Chemmeen (1965)

Genre: Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 7.8
Director: Ramu Kariat
Stars:  Sathyan, Sheela, Madhu, Kottarakkara Sridharan Nair
Synopsis: Karutthamma, the daughter of a Hindu fisherman, falls in love with a Muslim fish trader. However, social prejudices seem to ruin their love life and invite the wrath of their communities…  See full summary »

70's

Anubhavangal Palichakal (1971)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8
Director: K.S. Sethumadhavan
Stars:  Bahadoor, T.K. Balachandran, Paravoor Bharathan, Adoor Bhasi
Synopsis: An amoral, hypocritical worker with Communist leanings learns the consequences of his callousness and redeems himself … See full summary »

Kodiyettam (1977)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.5
Director: Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Stars:  Bharat Gopy, K.P.A.C. Lalitha, Thikkurisi Sukumaran Nair, Azeez
Synopsis: Sankarankutty, a village simpleton, lives a carefree life, indulges in childish pursuits, lives off the money given to him by his sister (working elsewhere as a servant), and eats quite … See full summary »

80's

Nadodikkattu  (1987)

Genre: Comedy
IMDB Rating: 8.8
Director: Sathyan Anthikad
Stars: Mohanlal, Sreenivasan, Thilakan
Synopsis: After losing their jobs in Kerala, Dasan and Vijayan decide to migrate to the Middle East. But they end up in Tamil Nadu where they are mistaken as two CID officers by a group of smugglers … See full summary »

Thaniyavartanam (1987)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.7
Director: Sibi Malayil
Stars: Mammootty, Thilakan, Mukesh
Synopsis: A school teacher living in a village belongs to a family with a history of lunatic males, and soon he falls prey despite being normal due to society misinterpreting his actions … See full summary »

Thoovanathumbikal (1987)

Genre: Musical, Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 8.7
Director: P. Padmarajan
Stars: Mohanlal, Sumalatha, Parvathi
Synopsis: Jayakrishnan falls in love with two girls, Radha and Clara, and fights his confusion about whom he should marry and spend his life with … See full summary »

Kireedam (1989)

Genre: Action, Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.9
Director: Sibi Malayil
Stars: Mohanlal, Thilakan, Kaviyoor Ponnamma
Synopsis: The life of a young man turns upside down when he intervenes in a dispute in order to rescue his father (a cop) from a ruthless local outlaw… See full summary »

Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha  (1989)

Genre: Action, Drama, History
IMDB Rating: 8.7
Director: T. Hariharan
Stars: Mammootty, Suresh Gopi, Balan K. Nair
Synopsis: The film offers an alternative version of the epic battle between two legendary Chekavars from the villain’s perspective… See full summary »

90's

In Harihar Nagar (1990)

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Mystery
IMDB Rating: 8.6
Director: Lal
Stars: Mukesh, Siddique, Jagadish
Synopsis: Four unemployed men try to impress a new neighbor. Hilarity ensues, until the antagonist puts in an appearance… See full summary »

Sandesham  (1991)

Genre: Comedy, Drama
IMDB Rating: 9
Director: Sathyan Anthikad
Stars: Sreenivasan, Jayaram, Thilakan
Synopsis: A satire on contemporary Kerala politics where brothers turn local leaders of rival parties, leading to distress for their aged and once-proud parents … See full summary »

Kilukkam  (1991)

Genre: Comedy, Family
IMDB Rating: 8.6
Director: Priyadarshan
Stars: Mohanlal, Jagathi Sreekumar, Revathy
Synopsis: Nandini is an illegitimate child who comes to Ooty in search of her father. She meets Joji, a tourist guide, and pretends to be mentally unstable in order to get shelter in his house … See full summary »

Manichitrathazhu  (1993)

Genre: Comedy, Horror, Musical
IMDB Rating: 8.7
Director: Fazil
Stars: Mohanlal, Shobana, Suresh Gopi
Synopsis: When a forbidden room in an old bungalow is unbolted, the spirit of a vengeful dancer is unleashed … See full summary »

Devasuram (1993)

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
IMDB Rating: 8.6
Director: I.V. Sasi
Stars: Mohanlal, Revathy, Nedumudi Venu
Synopsis: The heir to a village elder’s family squanders his inheritance and bullies all and sundry … See full summary »

00's

A Slender Smile (2000)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Director: M.T. Vasudevan Nair
Stars: Oduvil Unnikrishnan, Nirmala Sreenivasan, Jayakrishnan, Aliyar
Synopsis: Oru Cheru Punchiri tells the story of a retired estate manager Krishna Kuruppu (Oduvil Unnikrishnan) in his mid seventies and his wife Ammalukutty (Nirmala Sreenivasan) in her mid sixties … See full summary »

Meesha Madhavan (2002)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical
IMDB Rating: 7.9
Director: Lal Jose
Stars: Dileep, Kavya Madhavan, Jagathi Sreekumar, Indrajith Sukumaran
Synopsis: Although forced into a criminal life from a young age, Madhavan is good at heart. However, as his enmity with Bagheetharan Pillai exacerbates, it forces the entrance of Sub-Inspector Eapan Pappachi. See full summary »

Kaazhcha (2004)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.2
Director: Blessy
Stars: Mammootty, Master Yash, Padmapriya
Synopsis: Pavan is a boy who reached Kerala after he lost everything in the Gujarat earthquake on Republic Day. Operator Madhavan happens to meet the boy among the beggars. Initially he dislikes the … See full summary »

Thanmathra (2005)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.4
Director: Blessy
Stars: Mohanlal, Meera Vasudevan, Arjun Lal
Synopsis: Will an unexpected turn of events change Rameshan’s life forever and prevent him from witnessing his dream where his son becomes a reputable IAS Officer?… See full summary »

Rajamanikyam (2005)

Genre: Action, Comedy
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Director: Anwar Rasheed
Stars: Mammootty, Manoj K. Jayan, Rahman, Ranjith
Synopsis: The story of how a un-educated man Rajamanikyam, abandoned as a child, unites his step-father with the latter’s children who are greedy for his wealth and possessions… See full summary »

Classmates (2006)

Genre: Drama, Mystery ,Romance
IMDB Rating: 8
Director: Lal Jose
Stars: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Indrajith Sukumaran, Kavya Madhavan
Synopsis: College classmates meet for a 10-year reunion, which does not go as smoothly as planned. Love is discovered, friendships are broken and secrets about tragic events in the past are revealed… See full summary »

Kadha Parayumbol… (2007)

Genre: Comedy, Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Director: M. Mohanan
Stars: Mammootty, Sreenivasan, Meena, Innocent
Synopsis: A local barber, due to the immense pressure put by his family and and townspeople, tries to communicate with his old friend, who is a popular cinema actor… See full summary »

Kayyoppu (2007)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 7.9
Director: Renjith
Stars: Mammootty, Kushboo, Mukesh, Nedumudi Venu
Synopsis: The movie tells the story about Balachandran, a person with passion for books and literature. See full summary »

Manjadikuru (2008)

Genre: Drama, Family
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Director: Anjali Menon
Stars: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Thilakan, Jagathi Sreekumar, Rahman
Synopsis: This is story of homecoming from the late 1970s. Ten-year-old Vicky arrives at his grandparents’ home in rural Kerala to attend his grandfather’s funeral. The disjointed family gathers … See full summary »

Paleri Manikyam: Oru Pathirakolapathakathinte Katha (2009)

Genre: Crime, Drama, History
IMDB Rating: 7.7
Director: Renjith
Stars: Mammootty, T. Damodaran, Sasi Kalinga, Suresh Krishna
Synopsis: A woman is found dead in a mysterious circumstances. Several discrepancies arise in the findings, which eventually leads to the closure of the case. Years later, Haridas decides to reopen the case… See full summary »

10's

Pranchiyettan and the Saint  (2010)

Genre: Comedy, Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Renjith
Stars: Mammootty, Jesse Fox Allen, Priyamani
Synopsis: ranchiyettan is a successful businessman who often has talks with an imaginary St. Francis of Assisi. The story deals with how he goes about changing his embarrassing image to making a name for himself using wealth and contacts … See full summary »

Ustad Hotel  (2012)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Anwar Rasheed
Stars: Dulquer Salmaan, Thilakan, Siddique
Synopsis: An urbane chef from a well-to-do family with very high ambitions goes on to find approval from his conservative father, true love and the real purpose of his life … See full summary »

Drishyam  (2013)

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
IMDB Rating: 8.8
Director: Jeethu Joseph
Stars: Mohanlal, Meena, Ansiba
Synopsis: A man goes to extreme lengths to save his family from punishment after the family commits an accidental crime … See full summary »

Left Right Left (2013)

Genre: Crime, Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.1
Director: Arun Kumar
Stars: Murali Gopy, Indrajith Sukumaran, Hareesh Peradi
Synopsis: In this interlinked story, three men (an evil politician, an eccentric cop and a former revolutionist) develop different perspectives on life due to a childhood encounter with death. See full summary »

Bangalore Days  (2014)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 8.4
Director: Anjali Menon
Stars: Nazriya Nazim, Nivin Pauly, Dulquer Salmaan
Synopsis: Three cousins set out to fulfill their Bangalore dreams … See full summary »

Pathemari  (2015)

Genre: Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.4
Director: Alphonse Puthren
Stars: Nivin Pauly, Sai Pallavi, Madonna Sebastian
Synopsis: A young man has three opportunities to find love. Will the third time be the charm? … See full summary »

Premam  (2015)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Alphonse Puthren
Stars: Nivin Pauly, Sai Pallavi, Madonna Sebastian
Synopsis: A young man has three opportunities to find love. Will the third time be the charm … See full summary »

Maheshinte Prathikaaram  (2016)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Dileesh Pothan
Stars: Fahadh Faasil, Aparna Balamurali, Soubin Shahir
Synopsis: Mahesh, a studio photographer and studio owner gets into a fight and loses. He ends up taking revenge which leads to certain realizations in his life … See full summary »

Take Off  (2017)

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Mahesh Narayan
Stars: Parvathy, Fahadh Faasil, Kunchacko Boban
Synopsis: In 2014, a group of Malayali nurses was captured when terrorists took over the city of Tikrit in Iraq. This movie recounts the ordeal suffered by the nurses following their capture … See full summary »

Kumbalangi Nights  (2019)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
IMDB Rating: 8.9
Director: Madhu C. Narayanan
Stars: Shane Nigam, Soubin Shahir, Fahadh Faasil
Synopsis: The film revolves around four brothers who share a love-hate relationship with each other. Their relationship progresses to another level when Saji, Boney, and Franky decide to help Bobby stand by his love … See full summary »