Year Ender 2021: From Mohanlal’s Drishyam 2 to Tovino Thomas’ Minnal Murali, 11 Best Malayalam Films of 2021 and Where to Watch Them Online (The Hamden Journal Exclusive)

2021’s Malayalam Cinema may not have hit the highs of 2019’s content, but the year had seen the industry produce some fine movies, including a couple of far-reaching masterpieces. From The Great Indian Kitchen to the recent Minnal Murali, there have been Malayalam movies that have seen praises not just among Malayali viewers but also from critics and audiences from other regions in the country as well. From Mohanlal’s Marakkar to Mammootty’s One, 7 Big-Ticket Malayalam Movies of 2021 That Left Us Sorely Disappointed.

In this special year-ender feature, we look at 11 Malayalam movies that left us the most impressed in 2021 and where to watch them online.

The Great Indian Kitchen

A Still From The Great Indian Kitchen

Contrary to the allegation that The Great Indian Kitchen is about male-bashing, I would say that this film, interestingly made by a male (Jis Joy), is about exposing the patriarchy within our households that we often choose to ignore. If the movie leaves you with a sense of discomfort with its depiction of domestic troubles, including about intimacy in the bedroom, and you are doing something to improve yourselves in how you treat the women in your house, then The Great Indian Kitchen has done its job. Also fantastic performances from Nimisha Sajayan and Suraj Venjaramoodu. The Great Indian Kitchen is available on Neestream and Amazon Prime Video. The Great Indian Kitchen Movie Review: Nimisha Sajayan, Suraj Venjaramoodu’s Social Drama, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Is Brilliant!

Drishyam 2

Mohanlal in Drishyam 2

If you had any concerns that Jeethu Joseph might ruin the brilliant ending of Drishyam, then you are totally wrong there. As a film, Drishyam 2 might not be necessary, but it does an exemplary job in continuing the story, serving a twist-filled second half that gets better with every watch, and a poignant afternote about how its protagonist is trapped in his own moral prison. Drishyam 2 is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Drishyam 2 Movie Review: Mohanlal’s Sequel to His Blockbuster Family Thriller Is Loaded With Pulpy Surprises.

Operation Java

A Still From Operation Java

Tharun Moorthy’s highly-engaging thriller on the workings of Kochi’s Cyber Cell department works in an episodic format, showing how two interns help the department in solving three difficult cases. It catches your interest right in the beginning with the Premam piracy racket, that sets the tone and the setting right. It doesn’t lack in humour, and even the in-between scenes as the movie transitions from one case to another has interesting moments. Operation Java is streaming on Zee5. Operation Java Movie Review: Yet Another Dope Thriller From Malayalam Cinema That Deserves Your Attention.

Joji

A Still From Joji

I still believe that Joji is the ‘weakest’ in the trilogy of Dileesh Pothan-Fahadh Faasil cinema, but that only shows how high the quality was of the other two movies. Joji, a reimagination of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, tackles the thriller format of its narrative in a subtle manner, spices it up with black humour and interesting characters, and ends up giving us some very meme-worthy material, but in a good way! Joji is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Joji Movie Review: Fahadh Faasil Brings Another Shade of Grey to Dileesh Pothan’s Macbethian Tale of Greed.

Nayattu

A Still From Nayattu

Another thriller from Malayalam cinema that got enough praise from the critics and the viewers. Martin Prakkat’s Nayattu is about three cops who go on a run after accidentally killing a person. It is a commentary on the haplessness of the police system that serves as puppets for the political and the privileged classes, with a fine acting from Joju George. Kunchacko Boban and Nimisha Sajayan (what a year she had! Save for One, of course) also are great in their roles. Nayattu is streaming on Netflix. Nayattu Movie Review: Kunchacko Boban, Joju George and Nimisha Sajayan Star in One of the Best Cop Thrillers in Recent Times, if Not the BEST!

Chatur Mukham

A Still From Chatur Mukham

Manju Warrier stars in this horror-thriller revolving around a haunted cellphone. While the premise may sound silly, Ranjeeth Kamala Shankar’s film adds enough thrills without much frills  to make an engaging saga that only occasionally relies on cheap scare tactics. Chatur Mukham is streaming on Zee5. Chathur Mukham Movie Review: Logical Flaws Aside, Manju Warrier’s Horror-Thriller Keeps You Hooked Throughout.

Kaanekkaane

A Still From Kaanekkaane

Manu Ashokan’s Kaanekkaane is about its three principal characters dealing with feelings of grief, guilt and regret. One of the best scripts that Sanjay-Bobby have come up with, the movie relies on some strong writing and fantastic performances from Tovino Thomas, Aishwarya Lekshmi and above all, Suraj Venjaramoodu, the latter continues to surprise us with one magnificent act after another. Kaanekkaane is streaming on SonyLIV. Kaanekkaane Movie Review: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Tovino Thomas and Aishwarya Lekshmi’s Film Is a Heartrending Exploration of Grief, Guilt and Absolution.

Malik

A Still From Malik

Malik is yet another fine offering from the deadly combo of Fahadh and Mahesh Narayanan -most ambitious of their collaborations –  uplifted by its relevant political themes, Fahadh, Nimisha’s fiery performances, and some terrifically shot sequences. Malik is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Malik Movie Review: Fahadh Faasil, Nimisha Sajayan’s Powerful Performances Lift Mahesh Narayanan’s Ambitious Political Drama.

Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam

A Still From Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam

Senna Hegde’s award-winning Malayalam film, Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam, is a delightful little indie flick. Featuring a cast filled mostly with newcomers and equipped with a delectable Kanhagand accent, the movie short, sweet, satirical and quite thoughtful in its understanding of relationship dynamics and inherent patriarchy, without losing its subtle humour. Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam is streaming on SonyLIV. Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam Movie Review: Senna Hegde’s Malayalam Film on SonyLIV Is Funny and Relatable, and That’s Its Big Win!

Jan-E-Man

A Still From Jan-E-Man

When Malayalam cinema often gets accused of making serious dramas and thrillers, unfairly at that, Jan-e-Man comes as a refreshing change. A dramedy that parallels a birthday celebration to that of a mourning next door, Jan-e-man is both funny and emotional and has the entire cast enliven the proceedings. Jan-e-Man hasn’t reached OTT yet, as it is still running in theatres.

Minnal Murali

A Still From Minnal Murali

With Minnal Murali, Basil Joseph, who also impressed as an actor in the aforementioned Jan-e-Man, earns his stamp as one of Malayalam Cinema’s most intelligent commercial directors in present times, who loves movies as much any geek does. The film is earnest, polished, funny without going overboard and enjoyable when it allows Tovino’s protagonist to go full superhero mode. Minnal Murali is streaming on Netflix.

(The above story first appeared on The Hamden Journal on Dec 28, 2021 05:55 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website thehamdenjournal.com).

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