Malayalam movies inspired by books
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Malayalam movies that were inspired by novels

I have always been a movie-over-book kind of person. But once I have read the book first before watching the film (which rarely happens), I always prefer the book. Adapting a book into a full-length feature film is a challenging task. Converting a book into a cinematic experience is something that very few moviemakers have been able to do so far. I have found some Malayalam movies that have taken up this challenge and aced it effortlessly. Here’s a look at the Malayalam movies that are adapted from novels and books.

1. Thanmatra (2005)


Thanmatra is loosely inspired by the short story written by the legendary filmmaker Padmarajan, called Orma. Thanmatra tells the story of Rameshan (played by Mohanlal), a Kerala Government secretariat employee who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The film explores the toll the disease takes on him and his family.

What sets Thanmatra apart is its ability to evoke profound empathy and understanding in the viewer. As we witness Rameshan’s gradual decline, his struggles, and his moments of clarity, we are reminded of the fragility of life and the preciousness of every memory.

The story is so deep and touching that we cannot sit through the entire runtime without weeping.

2. Mathilukal (1990)


Mathilukal starring Mammootty is the adaptation of the autobiographical novel by the same name written by the legendary writer Vaikkom Mohammed Basheer. Mathilukal tells the story of the time when Basheer was imprisoned during British rule and how he finds love across the giant walls of the prison. Narayani, his love interest, is another prison inmate whom Basheer never actually meets. They exchange their feelings for each other by standing across the walls of the prison that separate them.

Mammootty’s portrayal of Basheer adds layers of depth and authenticity to the character, capturing the essence of Basheer’s wit, wisdom, and unwavering spirit in the face of adversity. His performance, coupled with evocative storytelling and poignant imagery, transports audiences into the heart of Basheer’s world. Mathilukal is easily one of the finest Malayalam movies adapted from novels.

Also Read: All-Time Unmatchable Performances by Mammootty

3. Thoovanathumbikal (1987)

Thoovanathumbikal is a movie directed by Padmarajan and partly takes inspiration from his own novel Udakappola. The film and the book both explore themes of lust, prostitution, and love. The film was a huge success and is cited as a cult classic movie. Rain acts as a recurrent theme as if it were a character in the movie.

Through its rich storytelling, impeccable performances, and stunning visuals, Thoovanathumbikal continues to captivate audiences, reminding us of the enduring power of cinema to explore the depths of the human soul.

The movie stars Mohanlal, Sumalatha, and Parvathy in the lead roles.

4. Ivan Megharoopan (2012)

Ivan Megharoopan is a biographical film that is based on the life of renowned poet P. Kunhiraman Nair and uses his autobiography Kaviyude Kalpadukal as inspiration.

Through meticulous attention to detail and heartfelt performances, Ivan Megharoopan captures the essence of P. Kunhiraman Nair’s journey, from his humble beginnings to his ascent as a literary icon. Prakash Bare’s portrayal brings to life the complexities and nuances of the poet’s persona, earning accolades from critics and audiences alike.

The film not only chronicles the external events of Nair’s life but delves deep into the emotional landscapes that shaped his poetry. It explores themes of love, loss, longing, and artistic passion, offering profound insights into the creative process and the inner workings of a poetic mind.

The film was highly appreciated by the critics.

5. Chemmeen (1965)

Sheela in Chemmeen

Chemmeen is a cult classic movie that is an adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Thakazhy Shivasankaran Pillai. The story is based on the myths and beliefs surrounding the coastal community. Chemmeen uses the myth that if a married woman engages in infidelity while her husband is out there in the sea, he will be devoured by the raging waves and die.

As Karuthamma and Pareekutty navigate the tumultuous currents of fate, their story becomes a poignant reflection of the human experience, resonating with audiences far beyond the shores of Kerala.

Chemmeen has Sheela playing Karuthamma, and Madhu plays Pareekutty, the son of a Muslim fish trader. 

6. Akam (2011)

Akam is a thriller drama movie that is a contemporary retelling of the 1967 novel Yakshi, written by Malayattoor Ramakrishnan. The film is about Srini (played by Fahad Faasil), a young architect who begins to suspect that his wife Ragini (played by Anumol) is a yakshi (she-demon). The film expertly navigates the thin line between reality and illusion, blurring the boundaries of perception and sanity as Srini’s paranoia intensifies. Through atmospheric cinematography and a haunting score, Akam immerses viewers in a world where ancient myths and modern anxieties collide, leaving them on the edge of their seats with each twist and turn.

7. Ore Kadal (2007)

Directed by Shyamaprasad, Ore Kadal explores the complex extra-marital relationship between Nathan (Mammootty), an intellectual economist, and Deepthi (Meera Jasmine), a housewife. The film is heavily inspired by the Bengali novel Hirak Deepthi by Sunil Gangopadhyay. At its core, Ore Kadal is an intense drama that intricately examines the tumultuous journey of its central characters. Nathan and Deepthi’s clandestine affair unfolds against a backdrop of societal norms and moral dilemmas, challenging them to confront their own desires and responsibilities.

Image Courtesy: YouTube

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