Ten movies of the last century, belonging to a Golden Age which is incredibly valuable.
*Qualification: Of 1980s and 90s.
I. Yodha (1992)
Genre: Action Comedy
Director: Sangeeth Sivan
Cast: Mohanlal, Jagathy Sreekumar and Madhoo
This movie is one of those rare flicks of the age which has almost everything in a manner in which the viewers are always satisfied no matter how many times they watch it. As a story of two cousins and the competitions between them and their life getting intertwined with the fate of another person in another country, and are left with destiny to face, the movie can also boast of the best comic dialogues of the time, starting from “kaavile paattu mathsarathinu kaanaam” and to “Akusutan” from Indian to Nepal, and having a light comedy tone throughout it until the last few minutes when it becomes more of an action thriller, even as the possibilities are there right from the beginning. This transformation is still light enough, and is thus one of the favourite movies of all kinds of audience. This is A.R. Rahman’s first and only venture in the Malayalam movie industry, and its songs are still remembered even as there are only a few of them. A second part to the movie is planned according to many sources, but one has to wonder about its ability to stand up to this cult classic.
II. Akkare Akkare Akkare (1990)
Genre: Action Comedy
Cast: Mohanlal, Sreenivasan and Parvathy
The last of the Dasan-Vijayan investigation triology, this movie is undoubtedly the funniest of them all, even as it follows the same path of the previous two movies. This is one of the funniest Malayalam movies of all time, and dialogues including (as a vague translation) “your father is Paul Barber”, “we are C.I.Ds from India”, “do you have the thing with you?”, “we need to wash your clothes”, “something smells bad somewhere” and “I want to kill all the mosquitos in the world” went on to become incredibly popular. The movie puts the two C.I.Ds back in action after a very valuable crown is stolen from a museum in India and our heroes are sent to the United States to find and retreive it. They only have a name Paul Barber and a torn piece of cloth. M.G.Soman, Maniyanpilla Raju, Mukesh and Nedimudi Venu, they all contribute to the fun and we get one of those full-time comedy entertainer which comes to the television every now and then. A strange thing is that it can be shortened to AAA just like the Bollywood fun riot Andaz Apna Apna and is as good as the other.
III. Manichitrathazhu (1993)
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Cast: Mohanlal, Shobana and Suresh Gopi
There has been always something about the action comedy movies of late nineteen eighties and early nineteen nineties. There was a time when we watched it thirteen times in three days, but that still won’t make this one the Malayalam move most watched by me. This movie’s glory is lessened upto an extent by the release of Geethanjali this year, which is almost a sequel this one – the people mostly hated that one even as I could adjust to it, and even as it is not this movie’s fault, it will come back to this one. Still, there is no wonder if this movie is considered as the greatest thriller ever made not only in Malayalam, but also in all languages in India. The movie was seen in five other Indian languages not in the original but in the remade form. Forget the box-office of this age, none of them were as good as the original as ts most prominent remakes Chandramukhi (Tamil) and Bhool Bhulaiyaa (Hindi) as both didn’t have an actress like Shobana there; Jyothika and Vidya Balan never stood a chance. Mohanlal’s Dr. Sunny Joseph remains one of his most popular characters, thanks to this movie.
IV. Nadodikkattu (1987)
Genre: Satirical Comedy
Director: Sathyan Anthikkad
Cast: Mohanlal, Sreenivasan and Shobana
This is the movie which started it all, for the hit duo who were to play C.I.Ds in its two sequels. This one might also be the only movie of the trilogy which can qualify as satirical comedy rather than the action comedy which the other two were. It is the story of the young men who losses their job, and in an attempt to escape poverty tries to sneak into the middle east, but are cheated by the boat owner and they land in Chennai. They are mistaken as C.I.Ds by the underworld don of the city who tries to get them killed. There are lots of comic scenes and dialogues, and its success lead to the two other big sequels, Pattanapravesham and Akkare Akkare Akkare. They used more slapstick than satire, along with making themselves fun, action investigation. The movie is almost a perfect reflection of the situation of the age which had lot of unemployment and a big number of people trying to go to middle east to make money. The most popular dialogues should be “pavanayi savamayi”, “C.I.D escape”, “ellathinum athintethaaya samayamundu”, “hello mr. pereira” and “njan eee B.Com First Class aanallo”.
V. Ekalavyan (1993)
Genre: Action Thriller
Director: Shaji Kailas
Cast: Suresh Gopi, Narendra Prasad and Geetha
Along with Commissioner, this is the movie which marked the rise of Suresh Gopi as the third superstar along with Mohanlal and Mammootty. After its success, there would be other popular movies directed by Shaji Kailas and written by Renji Panicker with the same actor at the helm. The movie also has the brilliant performance by Narendra Prasad as the villain. It deals with the higer post officials in the government, police and a godman working together to run a powerful drug mafia against which a new police officer takes charge after cases of murders and women trafficking are recorded. Siddique, Vijayaraghavan and Ganesh Kumar comes up with powerful supporting performances and with the presence of veteran actors Janardanan, Madhu, Rajan P. Dev and Devan boosts the whole thing. It gave Suresh Gopi a lot of police roles which he would continue to accept including his most popular character Bharath Chandran.
VI. Summer in Bethlahem (1998)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Director: Sibi Malayil
Cast: Suresh Gopi, Manju Warrier and Jayaram
This is one of the more different movies of Suresh Gopi, a clear variation from the police roles and the other action related characters in which we have been seeing him. This tells the story of two friends, one of them a rich orphan and the other an unsuccessful man with a big extended family. Jayaram comes in a role which is as important as the character played by Suresh Gopi, and there are some good moments of fun with Kalabhavan Mani frequently getting involved in the comic moments. Mohanlal also makes a mark in the end with a special appearance. This should also be the best performance of Manju Warrier, and this might be the one for which we remember her more than any other role. She is brilliant throughout the movie like nobody else. As Janardhanan also scores with his style, another important character in the movie is a cat, along with the horses and the cattle in a farm where the action takes place. The song “Ethrayo Janmamay” was an instant hit, still sung and performed in stages frequently, and “Oru Raathri Koodi”, “Marivillin Gopurangal” and “Choolamadichu Karangi Nadakkum” are memorable along with the funny hit “Confusion Theerkaname”.
VII. Dhruvam (1993)
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Cast: Mammootty, Suresh Gopi and Gauthami
If there is any movie which has to be appreciated for its inherent power rather than anything else, it is this movie. Mammootty as the rich village lord Narasimha Mannadiar is a revelation, as he tries to trap a big criminal and bring him to justice to avenge the murder of his brother. But as he keeps on the side of the law, he keeps failing and the criminal keeps finding loopholes with his money and supporters inside the law. It might be his strongest performance ever. He is supported by Suresh Gopi as Jose Nariman, a Christian priest who leaves the seminary to join the police force. It is to be noted that it was Vikram’s first Malayalam film who plays a rather small role, as a character which is of less importance than the heroine at home in an action film. But it is nice to see one of the best actors of the present time right there. Tiger Prabhakar is a villain like nobody else, and his struggle for his life with all his power should have shocked many during that time. Janardhanan and Vijayaraghavan are also there to add more power to this rock solid movie. The movie’s background score and the songs “Karuka Vayal” and “Thumbi Penne Vaa Vaa” strik gold too.
VIII. Guru (1997)
Genre: Fantasy Drama
Director: Rajiv Anchal
Cast: Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi and Sithara
Among the movies of its age, Guru is a class apart. This has no relation to the 2007 Hindi movie of the same name, and it is good, as this movie is very intense as well as brilliant. Yes, Guru is a fantasy movie and it tells the story of another world in relation to ours. It is a highly symbolic movie which takes on the man’s eagerness for evil and his hatred and desire to kill his fellow humans in the name of many selfish things, the most prominent of them being religion. The plot of the movie takes place in between a religious riot, and as Mohanlal’s character also joins the fight, he has a special experience in an asram as he comes to know about the situation of the world through the life of a number of blind people who are lead to believe something which keeps them away from sight, and even believe that there is no such thing as vision. Through his journey among the blind, the hero realizes that he himself has been blind in his world like many others, and leaves his idea of revenge. This movie was also India’s official entry to the Oscar Awards to be considered for nomination in the Best Foreign Film category.
IX. Chamayam (1993)
Genre: Romantic Drama
Cast: Manoj K. Jayan, Murali and Sithara
Chamayam is that movie with a theatre background that can’t be reproduced at all. Yes, there can’t be any remakes; the movies of 2013 with such background, Daivathinte Swantham Cleetus and Nadan doesn’t even come close. Manoj K. Jayan has given his greatest performance of all time, and Murali has performed awesome. Sithara is perfect in the role, and the setting is incredibly perfect for the plot. The story of fishermen who are also stage artists work very well, as they take a new man into their troupe and tries to teach him the art, but he ends up being better than they expected. But, they have to face many troubles from outside including a gunda and also from one of the artists who formerly worked with them. The movie has a powerful climax which seizes the moment. The song “Rajahamsame” is so close to being considered as the greatest song of that decade, and the song “Ragadevanum” is not far behind. “Anthikadappurathu” was a song widely enjoyed at that time too.
X. Aniyathipraavu (1997)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Cast: Kunchako Boban, Shalini and Innocent
Undoubtedly one of the greatest hits of its age, and a trendsetter by its own means, this movie tells the story of a young man and woman from two different religious communities falling in love. Remade into the Tamil as Kadhalukku Mariyadhai (1997) and used for the Hindi film Doli Saja Ke Rakhna (1998), this movie was the favourite movie of not only the youth, but also of families. It has two debutants, Kunchako Boban and Shalini as the leading pair, and this movie raises them to stardom and the same pair is selected for many other movies with romantic themes. The same pair will later do Niram which would go on to become a huge hit and start the college love story trend in another fashion. As far as this movie is considered, it is different, as it asserts the importance of family and the love for one’s parents and siblings as more important or may be the most important thing in life rather than the infatuation for a random person whom you just meet. But yet, this movie glorifies love and manages a wonderful ending which is satisfactory for almost everyone. Never forget its songs “”Ennum Ninne”, “O Priye”, “Oru Raajamalli” and “Aniyathipraavinu” either.
Special Mention: Puthukottyile Puthu Manavalan (1995), Irupatham Noottandu (1987), Gandhinagar Second Street (1986), Vazhunnor (1999), Hello My Dear Wrong Number (1986), Moonnam Mura (1988), Oru Maravathoor Kanavu (1998), Oru Abhibhashakante Case Diary (1995), No.20 Madras Mail (1990), Kottayam Kunjachan (1990), Kalikkalam (1990), Ayalathe Addeham (1992), CID Unnikrishnan B.A., B.Ed. (1994), Pappan Priyappetta Pappan (1986), Mazha Peyyunnu Maddalam Kottunnu (1986), Aniyan Bava Chetan Bava (1995), Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal (1989), Chanakyan (1989), Rajavinte Makan (1986), Kashmeeram (1994), Commissioner (1994), Orkkapurathu (1988), High Way (1995), Rudraksham (1994), Lelam (1997), Ramji Rao Speaking (1989), In Harihar Nagar(1990), Boeing Boeing (1985), Niram (1999), Oru CBI Diary Kurippu (1988), Pidakkozhi Koovunna Noottandu (1994), Jagratha (1989), Pattanapravesham (1988), News (1989)