Were Malayalam movies really ahead of their time? Check out these underrated movies of the past
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Were Malayalam movies really ahead of their time? Check out these underrated movies of the past
Megha Mukundan
Aug 06, 2021

There have been several Malayalam films which weren’t appreciated when they were released, but ended up being the favourite of film enthusiasts later. Interestingly, a few of them were considered indigestible during the time of its theatrical release because of the complex storytelling or unusual portrayal of characters. However, it is heartening to see some of them which turned out to be colossal duds in movie halls, over the years, went on to attain legions of fans. Check out a few Malayalam movies that are considered way ahead of its time, staying relevant even after years of its release.

8.4OTTplay Rating
The psychological thriller made by K G George, released in 1985, is considered as one of the first dark movies of Malayalam. The director’s creation of Baby (played by Ganesh Kumar), an ‘angry young man’, was a realistic portrayal of the then youth which reflected their frustration towards corruption and unemployment existed in Kerala society. The movie deeply explored the complex human psyche, culture, and family lives of the elite class, in a manner which was new to the audience then.
Deshadanakili Karayila
Padmarajan’s 1986 drama is regarded as one of the first attempts which touched upon the lives of queer community in the history of Malayalam cinema. The movie narrates the story of two teenage girls, who elope amid their school trip. The movie’s plot revolves around two girls, who are less understood by people around them, end up killing themselves. The director dared to take up a subject which many wouldn’t attempt even today, despite many people of late having no qualms in flaunting their sexuality. What remains unchanged, however, is the plight of queer community.
7.4OTTplay Rating
The kind of narration this Adoor Gopalakrishnan movie dealt with, was something rare and not digestible for its period. The story is told as a monologue by its central character, Ajayan (played by Ashokan), only to surprise the audience by unveiling what they witnessed was a justification by him who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Though a few incidents and turns in the story appear to lack rational explanations, the manner in which the director engages the viewers deserves special mention.
8.9OTTplay Rating
Yet again, a Padmarajan movie that handled way too progressive ideologies for its period. At a time when patriarchy created alpha male characters and suppressed women, Jayakrishnan (Mohanlal) and Clara (Sumalatha) broke the so-called sexual morality and expressed how human emotions like lust, vulnerability, guilt and romance can’t be moulded according to the way society wants it. When Clara expresses her disinterest in marrying Jayakrishnan, the movie goes on to say that sex is not a promise, three decades before Aashiq Abu’s Maayanadhi stressed the same point.
Njan Gandharvan
7.2OTTplay Rating
Another Padmarajan film that moved away from the regular potboilers and dealt with a rare theme - the romance between a gandharva (a mythical celestial man) and a young woman. The woman stumbled on a wooden doll at a beach, to discover that it was a gandharva. The story then takes us through their poetic and intense romance coupled with appealing music which culminates into a disturbing climax. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t a big success at the box office as many couldn’t digest the unusual romance and uninhibited portrayal of lust.
7.8OTTplay Rating
Malayalam audiences witnessed and failed to recognise a genre which was unfamiliar for them in 2000 - musical mystery horror thriller. The Sibi Malayil directorial revolves around a unique mystery found by a musician (played by Mohanlal) behind his own musical composition as he unfolds a tragic love story related to it. The movie has elements of horror, fairy tale romance and touches on the varied complexities of the human mind. It took several years for movie buffs to appreciate the film’s content and storytelling.

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