OTTplay Logo
settings icon
profile icon

Kaathal - The Core: 5 Malayalam films with queer stories

The Mammootty and Jyothika starrer that is helmed by director Jeo Baby is slated to be released in theatres on November 23

Kaathal - The Core: 5 Malayalam films with queer stories
Malayalam movies on queer identity

Last Updated: 12.11 PM, Nov 22, 2023


Recently, the synopsis of Mammootty’s upcoming film Kaathal - The Core was leaked online, and it was revealed that the megastar plays a retired cooperative bank official whose sexual orientation apparently comes in the way of his political ambition. Directed by Jeo Baby, the film was recently banned in Gulf countries for its queer content.


Not many films in Malayalam have had representation for the LGBTQIA+ community. Nevertheless, there are signs of a shift, with some projects being made for the community's inclusion. One of the oldest films with a queer angle was director Padmarajan's 1986 film Deshadanakili Karayarilla, which stars Mohanlal. The film was made during an era when conversations about queer people were non-existent. Several Malayalam actors have taken up roles as homosexual characters in Malayalam cinema, such as Nivin Pauly in Geetu Mohandas' Moothon and Prithviraj Sukumaran in Rosshan Andrrews' Mumbai Police. Both films received critical acclaim and the latter also did well at the box office. These changes suggest a positive trend towards more inclusive storytelling in Malayalam cinema.

Before Mammootty and Jyothika's Kaathal - The Core releases in theatres on November 23, here are 5 films that have narrated beautiful tales of the queer community that you can stream now on OTT.

Moothon (2019)

Streaming on: ZEE5

This Geetu Mohandas directorial narrates the tragic story of a transgender teenager from Lakshadweep who sets off to Mumbai in pursuit of Akbar (Nivin Pauly), who left the island due to his sexual orientation. The Nivin Pauly, Roshan Mathew and Sobitha Dhulipala-starrer has outstanding performances. The story is set in Lakshadweep and Mumbai, where Roshan and Sobitha's characters fight their own battle of sexual identity. Moothon has a subplot that explores the romantic connection between Akbar and Amir (Roshan Mathew). The director beautifully portrays the depth of their relationship, serving as a beacon of hope. The film was appreciated for its screenplay, camera work and soundtrack, which all helped the audience empathise with the lead characters’ tragic tale.

Mumbai Police (2013)

Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar

Directed by Rosshan Andrrews, this film follows the story of ACP Antony Moses (Prithiviraj Sukumaran), who tracks down his friend's killer when he meets with an accident that results in partial memory loss. He is then reassigned to investigate the murder and find the culprit. The protagonist of the film is a gay man who is caught in a compromising position by his friend and fellow cop, ACP Aaryan (Jayasurya). He commits the crime, but it isn’t for any wealth or personal gains, but only to escape the wrath of a homophobic society. Although the movie portrays being gay as a ‘sad experience’, the film explores the themes of gay relationships, which became pathbreaking at the time in Malayalam cinema.

Njan Marykutty (2018)

Streaming on: Sun NXT

Ranjith Sankar's 2018 drama, starring Jayasurya in the lead, accomplished what other films struggled to achieve: a genuine portrayal of the LGBTQIA+ community. The movie is about the inspiring journey of Marykutty, a transgender woman who, despite facing numerous obstacles, pushes herself to accomplish her dreams. The story revolves around significant events like Marykutty's sex reassignment surgery and the emotional and mental anguish of receiving rejection from her own family. This beautiful narrative garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success, highlighting Sankar's adept handling of the project with thorough research and sensitivity, which is a quality lacking in many mainstream films made on the theme.

Ardhanari (2012)
Ardhanari (2012)

Ardhanari (2012)

Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar

Ardhanari is a film based on the lives of transgenders. The film revolves around Vinayan (Manoj K Jayan), a transgender man who faces criticism from his family and his own siblings, who incessantly insult him. He must choose between accepting himself the way he is or changing himself to fit into society. Although the film was criticised for its monotonous performances and weak screenplay, it was hailed for shedding light on gender issues in India. Ardhanari's merit lies in its exploration of a subject that is not often brought into the spotlight. Using a conventional emotional drama, director Santhosh Souparnika aims to address both the emotional and social challenges encountered by transgenders. Despite the film remaining true to its intentions, the melodramatic filmmaking style makes it a tedious and predictable viewing experience.


Deshadanakili Karayarilla (1986)

Streaming on: YouTube

A Padmarajan directorial, this Karthik, Shari and Mohanlal film is probably one of the first Malayalam films that brought queer representation to Malayalam cinema. The film revolves around two school students (Karthika and Shari) who run away during a school trip. They are befriended by a stranger (Mohanlal) and one of them falls in love with him, not knowing he has some evil intentions. Although the film was highlighted for its queer angle, it is often discussed for its lesbian angle. Shari passionately loves her friend to the extent of sacrificing anything for her and is intensely jealous of Mohanlal's connection with her, all while Karthika remains unaware of this. The film also highlights the high suicide rates among queer people. 

Get the latest updates in your inbox