10 Best Malayalam Movies of All Time

By Louie Fecou
Published: February 9, 2023 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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We discuss the 10 Best Malayalam Movies of All Time. Keep this list handy and add these well-recommended Malayalam films to your watch list.

Malayalam movies are part of the Indian film industry and are Malayalam language films based in Kerala. With stunning cinematography, plenty of songs, lots of humor, and usually with story and character-driven plots, the films began to really find their feet in the 1940s. With a rich history, and years of ups and downs, there is an extensive catalog of Malayalam motion pictures, so if you are interested in diving in, we thought we would have a shot at compiling the 10 best Malayalam Movies of all time.

10 Best Malayalam Movies of All Time

10. Kayyoppu (2007)

Balachandran is our protagonist here, a writer close to being published, that has a deep love for all things books and literature. Thematically rich, and with an interesting cast of characters, this is a great film to start your journey, and the semi-documentary style enhances the narrative.

9. Vanaprastham (1999)

When a Kathakali dancer and a young woman from an upper-caste family start a forbidden relationship it results in an illegitimate child. Events start to escalate for our dancer when she refuses to let him see their child. The film is set in the 1950s and has an almost dream-like quality to the production. Nuanced and subtle, this is film as art and will leave you feeling haunted.

8. Bangalore Days (2014)

Pretty much filmed as a coming-of-age style story, we follow three young cousins who arrive in Bangalore in search of their dreams, and discover details about their hopes, dreams, and ambitions. A lively and elevating watch, with moments of pure joy, and plenty of music, this is a light-hearted affair that will pass an afternoon.

7. Ramji Rao Speaking (1989)

Three unemployed men are down on their luck and looking for a break. However, when they become aware of an opportunity to make money through a kidnapping, things start to spin out of control. Clever characters, and a mix of humor and suspense mark this down as a classic in the genre, and another fantastic addition to our list.

6. In Harihar Nagar (1990)

The girl next door is the focus of the attention of four young men that are infatuated with her beauty. However, her presence there has little to do with romance. Maya is there to look into the mysterious circumstances that surround the death of her brother. Lots of comedy and songs along the way lead into a darker second half of this Malayalam classic.

5. Kilukkam (1991)

Tourist guide Joji meets Nandini who seems to be quite affluent and the pair spend some time together. However, Nandini seems to have some mental health issues and Joji feels he has to look after her. Joji’s friend Nischal reveals that Nandini is actually a missing person and there is a huge reward to find her. He encourages Joji to hide her till the reward is increased, but Nandini soon starts to discover there is more to the story than first meets the eye. A great storyline puts this one at the midpoint in our list.

4. A Northern Story of Valour (1989)

This is a period drama set in 16th-century Northern Kerala. The story starts at Puthooram, the house of great Kannappan Chekavar. When young Chandu loses both his parents he is adopted by his uncle and brought to live with him. Chandu is bright and smart and soon becomes a favorite of his uncle however, his cousin Aromal Chekavar does not have the same view, and grows to hate Chandu. Based on folklore, and filmed with stunning cinematography, sets, and costumes, this is a classic and well-loved entry on our list.

3. Manichitrathazhu (1993)

When he gets a rather desperate call from a friend, well-respected psychiatrist Dr. Sunny Joseph, who stays in America, has to make his way to a small town in India. Upon arriving, he finds a disturbing situation and has to try to help a young girl that is exhibiting strange.

Dr. Sunny does his best but is not privy to the whole story. It seems that a dangerous spirit has been released from a hidden room in the house, and is not too happy with the doctor’s arrival. This suspense drama uses excellent direction and sound design to create mood and atmosphere, and this unusual entry is so highly regarded, it makes our top three.

2. Kireedam (1989)

When a policeman becomes the victim of a ruthless local outlaw, his son must try and intervene to save his father, but is he in over his head? Heart-wrenching, often poignant and melancholic, this is a fascinating depiction of a father and son relationship that questions the nature of morality. The film would prove popular enough to span two sequels and despite being part of the golden age of Malayalam movies, it still has much to offer.

1. Sandesham (1991)

When two brothers become local leaders of rival political parties, it leads to anxiety and problems for their aged and once-proud parents. A satire on contemporary Kerala politics, this film works on many levels and is a beloved entry in the Malayalam genre. Plenty of humor, and yet still some touching moments, add to this stylish and biting commentary on politics, and the effects that all that spin can have on those caught in the headlights.

So that’s our 10 Best Malayalam Movies of All Time, and we have no doubt that we may have missed your favorite, but that’s what the comment section below is for, so feel free to add yours to our list.

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