July 22, 2024

Malayalam cinema, part of the Indian film industry, has a rich history of producing compelling narratives, innovative storytelling, and remarkable performances. With a legacy spanning over a century, Malayalam movies have carved a niche for themselves in the world of cinema. Here, we embark on a journey through 123 Malayalam movies that have left an indelible mark on audiences and critics alike.

1. Chemmeen (1965)

  • Directed by Ramu Kariat, “Chemmeen” is a classic love story set against the backdrop of the fishing community in Kerala. It won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film, a first for Malayalam cinema.

2. Bhargavi Nilayam (1964)

  • This horror classic directed by A. Vincent and written by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer is one of the earliest and most successful horror films in Malayalam.

3. Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (1989)

  • Directed by Hariharan and written by M.T. Vasudevan Nair, this film reimagines the legend of Chandu Chekavar. Mammootty’s performance as Chandu earned him the National Film Award for Best Actor.

4. Manichitrathazhu (1993)

  • A psychological thriller directed by Fazil, “Manichitrathazhu” has gained cult status over the years. Shobana’s performance as Ganga/Nagavalli won her the National Film Award for Best Actress.

5. Drishyam (2013)

  • Directed by Jeethu Joseph, this suspense thriller starring Mohanlal became a massive hit and was remade in multiple languages due to its gripping storyline.

6. Kireedam (1989)

  • Sibi Malayil’s “Kireedam,” featuring Mohanlal, is a poignant tale of a young man’s unintended descent into crime. The film’s emotional depth and powerful performances make it a timeless classic.

7. Pather Panchali (1955)

  • Although a Bengali film by Satyajit Ray, its influence on Malayalam cinema and Indian cinema, in general, cannot be overstated. Its realist narrative and humanistic approach have inspired many Malayalam filmmakers.

8. Piravi (1989)

  • Directed by Shaji N. Karun, “Piravi” tells the heart-wrenching story of a father’s search for his missing son. It won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

9. Utharayanam (1975)

  • Directed by G. Aravindan, this film is a poignant commentary on the socio-political landscape of Kerala. It won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film.

10. Perumthachan (1990)

  • Directed by Ajayan and written by M.T. Vasudevan Nair, “Perumthachan” explores the life of a master carpenter and the conflicts with his son. The film is a rich tapestry of Kerala’s cultural heritage.

11. Sandesham (1991)

  • This satirical comedy directed by Sathyan Anthikad is a biting critique of political parties in Kerala. Its humor and relevance make it a must-watch even today.

12. Thanmathra (2005)

  • Directed by Blessy, “Thanmathra” is a moving portrayal of a man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Mohanlal’s heart-wrenching performance is a highlight of the film.

13. Pazhassi Raja (2009)

  • Directed by Hariharan and written by M.T. Vasudevan Nair, this historical epic chronicles the life of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, a freedom fighter. Mammootty’s portrayal of the titular character is unforgettable.

14. Chidambaram (1985)

  • Directed by G. Aravindan, this film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film. It delves into complex human relationships and moral dilemmas.

15. Anantharam (1987)

  • Directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan, this film is an exploration of memory and identity. It is considered one of Adoor’s finest works.

These are just a few examples of the rich tapestry of Malayalam cinema. Each film mentioned above has contributed significantly to the industry, pushing the boundaries of storytelling, performance, and technical excellence.

The Evolution of Malayalam Cinema

Malayalam cinema has evolved significantly over the decades. The early years were marked by mythological and historical dramas, with a focus on narratives rooted in Kerala’s culture and traditions. The 1960s and 70s saw the emergence of parallel cinema, with filmmakers like Adoor Gopalakrishnan and G. Aravindan bringing a new sensibility to Malayalam films, focusing on social issues and human psychology.

The 1980s and 90s were the golden years of Malayalam cinema, with directors like K.G. George, Bharathan, and Padmarajan creating some of the most memorable films in Indian cinema. This period also saw the rise of superstar actors like Mohanlal and Mammootty, who have become synonymous with Malayalam cinema.

In recent years, Malayalam cinema has continued to innovate, with filmmakers like Lijo Jose Pellissery, Dileesh Pothan, and Jeethu Joseph bringing fresh perspectives and narratives. The industry has also embraced new technologies and platforms, with many films finding success on streaming services.


The 123 Malayalam movies listed above are just a glimpse into the vast and diverse world of Malayalam cinema. Each film represents a unique voice and vision, contributing to the rich tapestry of stories that have defined and continue to define this industry. As Malayalam cinema evolves, it remains rooted in its cultural heritage while pushing the boundaries of storytelling, making it a vibrant and essential part of the global film landscape.

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