I am sure that I would have included director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s S Durga in the list of top 10 films that released in Malayalam in 2017 if I only have had the opportunity to watch it. The film had garnered an unanimous thumbs up from critics and won several laurels at the festival circuit, including the coveted Hivos Tiger Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. In spite of adding colours to thriving indie film scene in the country, the film has only been met with objections and sheer contempt from those in power.
The censor board cleared it with a U/A certificate for its theatrical release after making a lot of fuss. But, not before Sanal agreed to change the name of the movie to S Durga from Sexy Druga. The Central government was, even more, unkind to the filmmaker. The Information & Broadcasting Ministry used its discretionary powers to remove S Druga and Marathi film Nude from the jury’s list for Indian Panorama category at the International Film Festival of India, for some unexplained reasons.
As Sanal was fighting a lone battle against his powerful detractors, he received little or no help from the colleagues in the film industry. While there were a few sporadic statements from members of the Malayalam film fraternity, the bigwigs largely kept their lips sealed. 2017 was marked by systematic attacks on the fundamental rights of the freedom of expression and the creative freedom was its popular victim.
On the brighter side, between all the controversies and scandals, the Malayalam film industry also managed to produce some gems. Here are my favourite 10 films that released in 2017. If you haven’t watched them already, do it now.
The film was based on real-life incidents involving a group of Malayali nurses, who were captured by an extremist group in Iraq in 2014. Actor Parvathy’s performance in this editor Mahesh Narayan’s directorial debut was top class. Kunchacko Boban, Fahadh Faasil and everyone in the cast was also impressive.
The undersized casket is unable to contain the protruding arms of a dead body. And it is preventing people from finishing the funeral. Two characters, who are part of the narration, rushes to help. They break the arms of the dead person and rearrange it to fit the casket to everyone’s shock. Enough said. Watch it now, if you haven’t already. It is directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery and written by Chemban Vinod Jose.
This entire film is a brilliant piece of writing by Sajeev Pazhoor. And it is another gem from director Dileesh Pothan, who made his impressive debut with Maheshinte Prathikaaram last year. In the end, I felt this story was a fairytale, where a thief brings hope and strengthens the love between newlywed, who have been outcast by their families and struggling to make a living.
This anthology film can be touted as a milestone in the careers of director Bejoy Nambiar and actor Dulquer Salmaan. It narrates four different stories, which are connected by a thread called tragedy.
Aashiq Abu’s directorial venture celebrates the true spirit of love in all its glory with naturalistic style. The writing by Syam Pushkaran and Dileesh Nair will make you fall in love with Mathan and Aparna (Tovino Thomas and Aishwarya Lekshmi)
It is the only film that stands out in Mohanlal’s films that released this year. It follows the life of a middle-aged couple, whose marriage in trouble and how they rediscover the romance in their life that was lost in mundane. It is fun and charming and aesthetically deals with the subject of infidelity.
Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela
The family drama is directed by Althaf Salim, who also co-wrote it with George Kora. The film introduced to us a brilliant actor Aishwarya Lekshmi, who we absolutely loved in Mayanadhi. It is a heart-warming film that revolves around a family, which is coming to terms with a shocking personal news.
The first 30 minutes of the film is a riot until it goes into the flashback tracing the life of a popular communist party leader in Kerala. Nivin Pauly and Althaf Salim make sure they keep us laughing whenever they come together on the screen. The film based on the core principles of communist ideology try to explain what a comrade truly means. It is written and directed by Sidhartha Siva.
The political thriller is directed by Arun Gopy and is written by Sachy. The film bore an eerie resemblance to actor Dileep’s real life. It has its moments and some good performances by the cast, coupled with good music provided by Gopi Sunder.
The socio-political thriller is a tiresome watch in parts. But, it does engage the audience with its intent to make every frame of the film as intense as possible (even when the scenes did not need it). It is directed by Jiyen Krishnakumar and written by Murali Gopy, who can make a popular go-to villain of Malayalam commercial films.