Mollywood stars had another golden run this year, with most of the content from the industry being in the must-watch list of critics and the actors benefitted the most from this
If 2020 was the year the rest of the country discovered the talent powerhouse, Fahadh Faasil, through his various films on OTTs, 2021 had viewers eagerly consuming Malayalam content and in the process finding exceptional talents in the industry. With movies such as Joji, Drishyam 2, #Home, The Great Indian Kitchen and Minnal Murali featuring among the best OTT releases across languages, viewers were spurred on to watch these films, be spellbound by the riveting performances in them and further stream movies featuring the lead actors.
As part of our year-end wrap, OTTplay takes a look at 10 actors who expanded their fanbase, thanks to their stellar performances in OTT films.
For fans of Malayalam cinema, Indrans has been a perennial presence in the industry. But this year, the actor showed a totally different side of him through the moving, feel-good movie #Home that had played a technologically-challenged father. Stars from other industries including Sidharth from Kollywood hailed the actor’s performance in the movie.
There’s no stopping Joju George these days. The actor, who has been going from strength to strength with each film, left the audience spellbound with each of his ventures this year – be it the troubled cop in Nayattu, the gangster with a moral code in Jagame Thanthiram, the refined collector in Malik or an optimistic romantic in his most recent release, Madhuram.
Kunchacko Boban didn’t have a single direct-to-OTT release this year, but when his theatrical release landed on the streaming platforms, the actor’s fanbase expanded multi-fold. Those who had watched his Anjaam Pathiraa were thrilled by his turn as an intense cop caught in a turmoil in Nayattu. Safe to say, that he managed to shrug off his romantic-hero image and break new grounds as a hero who can pull off any role with ease and relatability.
It’s been a year of pushing boundaries for Tovino, who essayed three totally different characters in Kala, Kaanekkaane and Minnal Murali. While Kala showcased his raw talent and his ability to play characters with grey shades, Kaanekkaane proves he is an actor who could keep you in tenterhooks with his performances. Minnal Murali, however, is the feather in his crown and has already got people across industries to take notice of the talent that Tovino is.
Probably no other actor in Mollywood would have gained national attention as Nimisha Sajayan did this year with her brilliant performance in The Great Indian Kitchen. As the wife, who is caught between the mundane chores in a patriarchal household, Nimisha’s portrayal opened the eyes of many who go through the grind as well as those who assume that’s the norm. The actress followed this up with another layered performance in Fahadh Faasil-starrer Malik.
Suraj was already a notable name for those outside Kerala last year with his role in Driving License. He started off 2021 playing an everyday husband who isn’t free from the patriarchal thoughts and is oblivious to see the torture of routine his wife goes through. But it’s his performance as a father, who isn’t willing to let go off his daughter’s memories, that truly moved the audience and won him fans.
Her debut film Kumbalangi Nights had already catapulted her to national fame. But it takes a special talent to maintain that momentum and keep surprising fans with every role she does. Anna, who had Helen and Kappela, took up another varied role this year in Sara’s as an assistant director who choses to be childfree.
Those who have always associated Bhasi to urban roles were in for a surprise in #Home as the actor played a matured son, whose outburst against his father goes viral. The role also solidified Bhasi’s efforts to stay away from being stereotyped and even converted his staunchest critics.
Aishwarya made her OTT debut this year with Dhanush’s Jagame Thandhiram and proved that she’s not here to play stereotypical roles. As Attilla in the Netflix release, the actress had enough space to perform despite it being an all-out Dhanush film. Aishwarya also starred in the family drama-thriller Kaanekkaane, in which she once again played a character that not many would be brave enough to pick.
His performance as Ayyappan Nair in Ayyappanum Koshiyum last year won him several fans with the actor putting on a riveting display. In 2021, he played a 70-year-old father, who carries the burden of a secret, in Sanu John Varghese’s Aarkkariyam, in one of this year’s most-underrated performances. While during his career, Biju Menon has shown that he could essay any character, this was a surprise even for those who have followed him for decades.