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6 Underrated Malayalam Movies Worth Rediscovering

Malayalam cinema has always been full of rich stories and unique perspectives, but some great films don’t get the attention they deserve. In this post, I want to highlight a few of these underrated Malayalam movies. These movies, whether they’re fresh takes on classic stories or original tales that dive deep into human emotions, showcase the incredible talent and creativity in Malayalam cinema. If you’re looking for something different and memorable, these films are definitely worth a watch.

1. Oru Kuprasidha Payyan (2018)

Our Kuprasidha Payyan

Actor Tovino Thomas has garnered a massive star value in the Malayalam film industry, but what truly sets him apart is his refusal to conform to the typical mold of mainstream cinema. Instead of sticking to formulaic roles, he consistently seeks out unconventional projects that challenge his versatility as an actor. One such film that exemplifies this is Oru Kuprasidha Payyan. In Oru Kuprasidha Payyan, Tovino takes on the role of an innocent man wrongfully accused of murder. The narrative revolves around the quest for truth, unraveling through intense courtroom proceedings. This film stands out as one of the most gripping courtroom dramas, weaving a suspenseful tale that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

Thomas’s portrayal of the protagonist is both poignant and powerful, showcasing his ability to delve deep into complex characters. The film’s strength lies not just in its thrilling plot, but also in its exploration of justice and truth, themes that resonate deeply with viewers.

2. Melvilasom

Melvilasom  Underrated Malayalam Movie

Some films start deceptively simple, drawing you in with an unassuming narrative before delivering a powerful, unexpected punch toward the end. Melvilasom, a movie I first watched back in 9th grade, is a prime example of this storytelling technique. While many hail Jana Gana Mana as one of the finest courtroom dramas in Malayalam cinema, I firmly believe that Melvilasom surpasses it, not just within the realm of Malayalam films but across Indian cinema as a whole.

Melvilasom presents a straightforward premise: an army man (played by Parthiban) stands trial for assaulting a superior officer, and the courtroom proceedings aim to uncover the truth behind his actions. The film’s simplicity belies its depth, as it masterfully unravels the mystery and motives of the protagonist through intense legal discourse. Melvilasom is easily one of the most underrated Malayalam movies of all time.

3. Arike

Mamta Mohandas Arike

Among the myriad of romantic comedies in Malayalam cinema, Arike stands out as an underrated gem. Directed by Shyamaprasad, a filmmaker who often flies under the radar, this film is a delightful blend of sweetness, wit, and nuanced storytelling. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Arike showcases a level of writing and execution that makes it one of the finest romantic comedy dramas in Malayalam cinema.

Arike weaves a charming love story that is both simple and intelligent. The narrative centers around the lives of Shantanu, Anuradha, and Kalpana, played by Dileep, Samvrutha Sunil, and Mamta Mohandas respectively. The film explores the complexities of love and relationships with a refreshing subtlety, eschewing the often exaggerated antics of mainstream romantic comedies.

4. Nayakan

Indajith Nayakan
Image Courtesy – Republic

Lijo Jose Pellissery, renowned for his masterful direction and chaotic yet compelling narratives, delivers a striking neo-noir revenge drama in Nayakan. This film, while perhaps not receiving the attention it deserved upon release, showcases Pellissery’s distinctive style and features Indrajith in one of his finest performances.

Nayakan tells the gripping story of a Kathakali artist turned Bangalore techie whose life is tragically upended when his family is brutally murdered by the underworld. Indrajith’s portrayal of the protagonist is both powerful and nuanced, capturing the descent of a man driven by grief and vengeance. His performance stands as one of the highlights of the film, bringing depth and intensity to the character’s journey.

Pellissery’s signature style is evident throughout Nayakan, blending chaos and artistry to create a visceral cinematic experience. The film’s neo-noir aesthetic, marked by its dark tones and morally ambiguous characters, is executed with precision, drawing the audience into its gritty and unforgiving world.

5. Manjadikuru

Manjadikuru underrated Malayalam movies
Image Courtesy – Filmibeat

Anjali Menon has become a household name with her critically acclaimed films like Ustad Hotel and Bangalore Days, both of which have left an indelible mark on Malayali and non-Malayali audiences alike. However, before these blockbuster hits, Menon crafted a sweet and simple movie called Manjadikuru. This film, though less known, is a poignant exploration of homecoming, self-discovery, and cultural roots.

Set in the 1980s, a 10-year-old boy named Vicky returns to his ancestral home in Kerala to attend his grandfather’s funeral. Through the eyes of young Vicky, and narrated by an older Vicky played by Prithviraj, the film beautifully captures the essence of revisiting one’s roots and reconnecting with family and tradition.

6. Eeda

eeda malayalam movie

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has been reimagined countless times. However, the Malayalam film “Eeda,” directed by B. Ajithkumar, marks the first time this classic tale has been adapted into Malayalam cinema.

Also Read: Movies Adapted from Shakespeare Novels

Romeo and Juliet tells the story of two star-crossed lovers whose relationship is doomed by the enmity between their families. In Eeda, this narrative is transposed into the turbulent political environment of Kannur, a region known for its intense political rivalries. Here, the lovers come from opposing political families, and their relationship becomes a casualty of the violent political landscape.

The highlight of Eeda lies in its adept adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless tale. B. Ajithkumar skillfully retains the essence of the original while seamlessly integrating it into a contemporary and culturally specific context. The political backdrop of Kannur adds a new dimension to the story, providing a fresh and relevant take on the age-old conflict between love and familial loyalty.

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