The 50 Best Malayalam Movies (Non-commercial)

A list of the 50 best (or my favorite) Malayalam movies from the late 70s until 2011. Some of the films may be classified as slightly commercial - example :Kaalapani. Most of the films are post-1975. I have little awareness of the Malayalam cinema before the 70s. Some of these movies really had some interesting story lines. But what I really like about the movies mentioned in the list are that they have little or no Hollywood or European influences. They are distinctly Malayali in their haphazardness.
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1.
Peruvazhiyampalam (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
(118 mins.)
Director: P. Padmarajan
“ A young man kills the village goon who was bothering the women in his family. While he is being hunted by the police, the villagers who secretly admire the young man, send him from one place to another. The part where he is taken care of by a motherly and bovine prostitute (KPAC Lalita) is amusing and heart warming. I remember the film particularly for the ensemble cast and the introduction scene of the village goon played by Azeez to very edgy and minimalistic use of music. ” - BudStamperOK
 
2.
Kodiyettam (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Sankarankutty, a village simpleton, lives a carefree life, indulges in childish pursuits, lives off... (137 mins.)
“ A slothful young man lives an irresponsible life much to the chagrin of his wife and sister. ” - BudStamperOK
 
3.
Irakal (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Irakal (English: The Victims) is a 1985 Malayalam psychological thriller film written and directed by K... (142 mins.)
Director: K.G. George
“ A young man returns home after being suspended for violently bullying his junior during a ragging incident. But the situation in his dysfunctional family pushes him to the edge of insanity. Pretty sensational debut by Ganesh in this K.G.George movie. ” - BudStamperOK
 
4.
Oridathu (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The movie narrates the story of a remote village and the incidents pertaining to the electrification during the post-independence period of India. (112 mins.)
“ The advent of electricity throws life into disarray in a remote village in Kerala. It is interesting that many years later, Ashutosh Gowariker made SWADESH where electricity lighting up the village is viewed as a sign of development. ” - BudStamperOK
 
5.
Idavela (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Director: Mohan
“ Sexual jealousy leads to violence when four young men go away on an excursion and two of them fall in love with the same girl at a resort. Another great performance by Ashokan who was in Peruvazhiyambalam. ” - BudStamperOK
 
6.
Ulsavapittennu (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Director: Gopi
“ A tragedy about the prince in a declining royal family who finds it tough to deal with the outside world after his elder brother's wayward ways leaves the family in debt . The final scene is heartbreaking. This film was directed by Bharat Gopi. ” - BudStamperOK
 
7.
Thakara (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Director: Bharathan
“ The debut movie of Nedumudi Venu, one of the great character actors of Malayalam cinema. A slightly retarded young man has a physical relationship with the village beauty. There is trouble between him and her violent father. Surekha was sensuous as the village beauty. ” - BudStamperOK
 
8.
Sadayam (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Sadayam follows the final days of a condemned prisoner, for murdering two little girls. (147 mins.)
Director: Sibi Malayil
“ A disturbed painter (played by Mohanlal) murders two teenaged prostitutes because he believes they have no future. The film is about his life in jail before he is to be hanged. ” - BudStamperOK
 
9.
Akkare (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
(118 mins.)
Director: K.N. Sasidharan
“ I dont really understand the world this film is set in. I was a little kid when this film came out. a lot of the characters motivations and actions can be related to the Kerala of today. The constant need for self improvement to recover from the state of sloth that the characters find themselves in. Pretty messed up ideas of modernity and success.
But there were problems with the sound recording and the film lacked finesse. But this was a problem with many of the films made by the "great" Malayalam filmakers of the 70s and 80s. None of them were technically proficient. But they were good writers and knew their people well. ” - BudStamperOK
 
10.
Aalkkoottathil Thaniye (1984)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The impending death of an ailing schoolteacher forces a set of uncomfortable reunions between mourners. (139 mins.)
Director: I.V. Sasi
 
11.
Kallan Pavithran (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Pavithran, a thief who was trying to sell stolen items meets a crooked merchant in the town. But an incident occurs afterward changing his entire life.
Director: P. Padmarajan
 
12.
Oppol (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
6 year old Appu is jealous when his mother Malu, whom he knows as his elder sister, marries Govindan. (143 mins.)
 
13.
Kadavu (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
(104 mins.)
 
14.
Rathinirvedam (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
(124 mins.)
Director: Bharathan
 
15.
Ponthan Mada (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Set in 1940s, the film is about the irrational bonding of the low-caste Ponthan Mada with his colonial landlord Sheema Thampuran, who was expelled to British India from England during his youth for supporting the Irish Republican Army. Crossing the class boundaries, the two communicate through Thampuran's window, with Mada hanging from a palm tree. (119 mins.)
Director: T.V. Chandran
 
16.
Vidheyan (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Thommy is a loyal and obedient slave of his aggressive and tyrannical master Bhaskara. He serves his master so faithfully that he goes to the extent of killing Bhaskara's wife on his orders. (112 mins.)
 
17.
Kaliyattam (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
An adaptation of "Othello" set in the south Indian state of Kerala. (130 mins.)
 
18.
Mathilukal (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Confined to the narrow space of a prison cell, Bashir falls in love with a woman in the neighbouring prison compound... (120 mins.)
 
19.
Anantaram (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The film develops through a commentary by Ajayan (Ashokan) about himself in the first person. Later... (125 mins.)
 
20.
Kanmadam (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Responsible for the accidental death of a man he met on the streets of Mumbai, Vishwam returns to Kerala to give the news to the latter's debt- ridden family, but instead falls in love with his sister. (162 mins.)
 
21.
Padam Onnu Oru Vilapam (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Shahina is studying in school but she can't go to school because she is pregnant. And she conceived from her divorced husband.. (105 mins.)
Director: T.V. Chandran
 
22.
Dany (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
Director: T.V. Chandran
 
23.
Kadhavaseshan (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A person commits suicide inorder to get away from the society.
Director: T.V. Chandran
 
24.
Kerala Cafe (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Ten stories meet at Kerala Cafe. (140 mins.)
 
25.
Pooram (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The movie progress and narrates the incidents in a drama set for a month in a village in Kerala. (124 mins.)
Director: Nedumudi Venu
 
26.
Mela (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Director: K.G. George
 
27.
Ee Kannikoodi (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Investigation story of a prostitutes murder and path leading to it. (138 mins.)
Director: K.G. George
 
28.
Lekhayude Maranam: Oru Flashback (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The movie narrates the story of a poor Malayalee family reaches Madras to try luck for their daughter Shantamma in the film industry. (172 mins.)
Director: K.G. George
 
29.
Thaniyavartanam (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
A school teacher living in a village belongs to a family with a history of lunatic males, and soon he falls prey despite being normal due to society misinterpreting his actions.
Director: Sibi Malayil
 
30.
Piravi (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Raghu, the only son of Raghava Chakyar was born late for him. So he poured his entire love and affection on him... (110 mins.)
Director: Shaji N. Karun
 
31.
Paithrukam (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The story says about a conflict between the beliefs of a Brahmin family and atheism within the family.
Director: Jayaraaj
 
32.
Parinayam (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The film is set in the pre-Independence orthodox 'Namboodiri' Brahmin community. Widowed at 17, only three months after being married to an old man... (163 mins.)
Director: T. Hariharan
 
33.
Nakhashathangal (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
The story is about Ramu (Vineeth), a 16-year-old boy who is staying with his annoying uncle, who gets angry and often treats Ramu like a slave... (140 mins.)
Director: T. Hariharan
 
34.
Utharam (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
One fine morning, not any different from every other day, a promising poet shoots herself. Leaving no trace of motive, her husband's best friend and journalist, Balu embarks on a journey to find the truth.
Director: V.K. Pavithran
 
35.
Panchagni (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
(141 mins.)
Director: T. Hariharan
 
36.
Kanathaya Penkutty (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Film that opens with a missing of a girl who later identified to be killed by someone who is close to her. The film is in a format of investigation thriller giving importance to the plot rather to the characters. (105 mins.)
Director: K.N. Sasidharan
 
37.
 
38.
Anu Bandham (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A young widow has a hard time making ends meet in a small village in Kerala.
Director: I.V. Sasi
 
39.
Kaiyum Thalayum Purathidaruthu (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Director: P. Sreekumar
 
40.
Rangam (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Director: I.V. Sasi
 
41.
Sukrutham (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
(148 mins.)
Director: Harikumar
 
42.
Kariyila Kattu Pole (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Deputy Superintendent of Police Achuthankutty tries to solve the mystery of film director Harikrishnan's death. Three women are the main suspects.
Director: P. Padmarajan
 
43.
Aranyakam (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
When feudal lords try to exploit the tribal people, a group of naxals put up resistance. The feudal lords decide to suppress the resistance. Who will emerge triumphant in the fight for justice?
Director: T. Hariharan
 
44.
Chaappa Kurish (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A lost cellphone connects two men from the two extremes of the society and affects their life beyond which they could have imagined.
Director: Sameer Thahir
 
45.
Yaathra (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The story unfolds as Unnikrishnan (Mammootty), a convict, now free from the jail tells his tragic love story to his fellow passengers in a school bus... (124 mins.)
Director: Balu Mahendra
 
46.
Adaminte Variyellu (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
(142 mins.)
Director: K.G. George
 
47.
Kadhavaseshan (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A person commits suicide inorder to get away from the society.
Director: T.V. Chandran
 
48.
Ee Thanutha Veluppan Kalathu (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
(140 mins.)
Director: Joshi
 
49.
Mattoral (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Hardworks done by Balan (Mammootty) to reunite his friend (Karamana) and his wife (Seema), who eloped with another man, after feeling an unsatisfied relationship.
Director: K.G. George
 
50.
Thazhvaram (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A man comes to an isolated valley to take revenge on his friend who murdered his wife. (130 mins.)
Director: Bharathan