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From Thanmathra to Spadikam: The best family dramas in Malayalam cinema
Ryan Gomez
Sep 01, 2021
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The new Amazon Prime film #Home starring Indrans, Sreenath Bhasi, and Manju Pillai has been praised by audiences and critics alike. The light-hearted family drama is a change of pace with regards to the overwhelming number of serious drama films released by the Malayalam industry in recent years. The following is a list of Malayalam family dramas that have enthralled audiences.

1
Ustad Hotel
8.3OTTplay Rating
Anwar Rasheed’s Ustad Hotel is one of the most heartwarming tales from the Malayalam film industry in the last decade. The film also propelled Dulquer Salmaan to stardom, in a role that was just the right fit for him at the time. The film is a critique of materialism and superficial lifestyles. It features an excellent ensemble of Nitya Menen, Thilakan, Siddique, Mammukoya, and Sreenath Bhasi.
2
Sandesham
9.3OTTplay Rating
Arguably one of the greatest political satires ever made in Malayalam cinema. Written by Sreenivasan and directed by Sathyan Anthikad, the film dissects the flaws in idolising political parties. The narrative uses humour through the lives of two brothers, Prabhakaran (Sreenivasan) and Prakashan (Jayaram), who work for fictionalised versions of the Communist Party and the Congress Party respectively. The film also stars Thilakan, Siddique, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, and Oduvil Unnikrishnan in starring roles.
3
Kumbalangi Nights
8.8OTTplay Rating
If Sandesham is the greatest political satire, then Kumbalangi Nights is one of the best films ever made in Malayalam — a satire on society and the film industry itself through a family of four brothers. The film directed by Madhu C Narayanan and written by Syam Pushkaran features an ensemble of Soubin Shahir, Shane Nigam, Fahadh Faasil, Anna Ben, and Sreenath Bhasi. The family drama was a critical and commercial success.
4
Pathemari
8.5OTTplay Rating
Malayalam legend Mammotty plays an expat who travels by boat to the UAE in the hopes of finding a better life for himself and his family. The film deep dives into the evolution of the socio-economic fabric of Kerala through Mammootty and his family. This slow-burner may not have set the box-office alight but it earned rave reviews from critics.
5
Godfather
8.7OTTplay Rating
When it comes to iconic family dramas, the film Godfather is often held in high regard. The comedy-drama is Kerala’s version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The film directed by the duo of Siddique and Lal, or popularly credited as Siddique Lal, pits two rival families against each other. Mukesh and Kanaka star in the lead roles with the supporting roles played by N N Pillai, Philomina, Innocent, Jagadish, Siddique, and Thilakan.
6
Spadikam
8.8OTTplay Rating
Adu Thoma, played by Mohanlal, has become a pop culture icon over the years. Upon release, the film was one of the biggest hits and was universally acclaimed. The plot revolves around the complex relationship between the strict father (Thilakan) and the rebellious Thoma. Certain scenes and dialogues from the movie have been immortalised, and the film played a significant role in establishing Mohanlal as a legend of the industry.
7
Thanmathra
8.4OTTplay Rating
The film won four Kerala State Awards, including Best Actor (Mohanlal) and Best Director (Blessy), and is often regarded as one of Mohanlal’s best performances. The family drama is about Rameshan (Mohanlal) who gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s as his son prepares for IAS exams. The film was director Blessy’s second directorial credit after the success of Kaazcha starring Mammootty.
8
Vadakkunokkiyantram
8.7OTTplay Rating
An underrated classic from the late ’80s, the film was written and directed by Sreenivasan. He also played the lead role alongside Parvathi. He plays a man who has several insecurities as well as an inferiority complex that affects his marriage after he becomes paranoid that his wife is unfaithful. His paranoia is the central focus in this dark comedy/ family drama.

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