What a fantastic first half!
Anyone who’s been following Malayalam cinema would be quick to delve into the potluck of amazing films the industry produced during the first half of the year. Movies that kept pushing the envelope, redefining masculinity, flipping the bird at harmful notions of patriarchy and toxicity. Kumbalangi Nights opened the month of February on a very fulfilling note. It was the first of a bunch of progressive films that were released in the last six months.
Uyare, Ishq, Virus, Thamasha, Unda, Kakshi Ammini Pilla followed. Asif Ali, Tovino Thomas, Soubin Shahir, Sreenath Bhasi and Vinay Fort saw a definite rise in their career graphs this year. 2019 was also the first time we had movies that completely broke all preconceived notions of what a heroine should be, with Chinnu in Thamasha and Fara Shibla as Kanthi in Kakshi Ammini Pilla.
Of course, no film was talked about more than Mohanlal and Prithviraj’s mass redefining entertainer, “Lucifer“. I still have a friend who has a room filled with Illuminati articles and red threads running all around the place. We also had Mammootty’s big take on genre/language-bending innings. But along with a Tamil and Telugu movie, he gave us Madhura Raja and Unda; two films that stand at complete opposite ends of the spectrum.
We also had fantastic female centric movies this year, such as June and Uyare. And not to mention, movies that actually gave female actors scope to perform.
We also had visually exquisite mind-benders such as Nine and Athiran.
I don’t know about you guys, but this is the kind of list one would expect at the end of the year rather than just within the first 6 months. Kinda makes you curious about what’s in store for the rest of the year, doesn’t it?
Let’s dive right in:
Lijo Jose Pellissery is a director that refused to be tied down with the conventional notions and trailblazes through genres with ease. From criminally under-rated debut film, Nayakan to his latest, acclaimed Ee. Ma. Yau, he’s only gotten better. Which is all the more reason to look forward to Jellikettu.
The movie is based on S Hareesh’s story named ‘Maoist‘, and will apparently feature Antony Varghese, Chemban Vinod Jose and Sabumon in pivotal roles. The movie is reportedly shot adventurously in high range regions. Movie lovers can expect another unseen cinematic experience from Lijo, after the critical and commercial success of his last movie ‘Ee Ma Yau‘ which also had Chemban Vinod as the lead.
Girish Gangadharan and Prasanth Pillai join LJP after Angamaly Diaries as the DOP and Music Director respectively.
Tentative Release Date: October 2019
The movie that takes the cake when it comes to the tag for the most awaited. Just the names involved in front and behind the camera is enough to pump up any Malayalam movie lover. Even though it has Fahadh Faasil as lead, people seem to be eager for its release because it is the first full-length feature of Anwar Rasheed since Ustad Hotel, a movie that was released in 2012. Even though he directed a part of the Anthology “5 Sundarikal”, Anwar Rasheed pretty much stuck with production and distribution for the past 7 years; giving us gigantic hits such as Bangalore Days and Premam.
Having Amal Neerad as DOP, Resul Pookkutty for Sound also factored in for the hype for Trance. The movie was announced almost 2 years back, and it’s officially been in production for nearly a year. Locations for the movie include Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Mumbai and Amsterdam. Gautham Vasudev Menon, Vinayakan, Nazriya, Soubin and Sreenath Bhasi are set to appear along with Fahadh.
Tentative Release Date: Christmas 2019
Marakkar: Arabikkadalinte Simham
This 100 crore budget behemoth of a movie helmed by Priyadarshan is currently in Post Production stage. Mohanlal is set to appear as the titular character, along with Tamil Actor Arjun, Manju Warrier, Pranav Mohanlal, Keerthi Suresh, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Siddique and director Fazil.
The movie is said to have a wide-release along the heels of Lucifer and will definitely be aiming to cash in on the brand value of Mohanlal. The film will be simultaneously be released in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi as well. Sabu Cyril’s production design is certainly a factor to watch out for.
Tentative Release Date: Christmas 2019
The film is based on the protests against the ‘chappa’ system that was practised in the Cochin harbour during the 1950s. The despicable Chappa system involved throwing copper coins to waiting workers, and whoever manages to get one will be guaranteed work.
Thuramukham will be the fourth movie by the acclaimed director/cinematographer Rajeev Ravi and is in production as of now.
Nivin Pauly leads the pack in this multi-star movie, along with Biju Menon, Indrajith Sukumaran, Nimisha Sajayan, Poornima Indrajith, Manikandan and Arjun Ashokan.
The director’s last film Kammattipaadam had won many honours, including best actor award for Vinayakan and best character award for Manikandan.
Tentative Release Date: End of 2019
Made on a budget of Rs 50 crore, Mamangam is a historical drama based on medieval Mamankam festival celebrated during the 18th century on the banks of the Bharathappuzha, where warriors known as “chaaverukal” plotted against the Zamorin rulers to overthrow them. The movie had a problematic production and has been in the news consistently as it began its production with debut director Sajeev Pillai wielding the megaphone. However, due to creative differences with the producer, noted filmmaker Padma Kumar has now replaced Sajeev.
Along with Mammootty in the lead, Neeraj Madhav, Siddique, Tarun Arora, Sudev Nair, Manikandan, Suresh Krishna and Master Achyuthan with Anu Sitara, Prachi Tehlan, Abhirami Iyer, Kaniha and Malavika Menon are set to appear.
M Jayachandran’s music and Shyam Kaushal’s Action choreography are also factors contributing to the hype.
Tentative Release Date: Second half of 2019
With each project, Soubin Shahir keeps reaching new heights, and now we have a new movie that would challenge him as an actor. ‘Ambili‘ directed movie directed by John will have actor Soubin Shahir leading cast.
According to reports, the actor is supposed to be doing the titular role. John Paul George made his debut with the under-rated ‘Guppy.’ He was an associate before making an independent movie. The story and script are carried out by the director himself. Sharan Velayudhan has cranked in as the cinematographer, and Kiran Das is the editor. Vishnu Vijay will be seen handling the music department. According to reports, the movie has Tanvi Ram and Naveen Nazim as the co-stars.
Tentative Release Date: Onam Release, 2019
Love Action Drama
Love Action Drama marks the directorial debut of actor Dhyan Sreenivasan, as well as Aju Varghese’s first project as a producer. The film was announced in July 2017, during the fifth anniversary of Thattathin Marayathu.
Nivin Pauly and Nayan Thara are essaying the roles of the lead characters, Dineshan and Shobha; named after the iconic characters from “Vadakkunokkiyanthram“.
Tentative Release Date: Onam Release, 2019
Tovino Thomas seems to be on a roll. Already having appeared in 5 films this year, he’s set to appear in at least 2 more, and Kalki is one of them.
From the teaser, it seems like Malayalam Industry is finally getting an out and out mass movie after a while. And who else should essay such a role other than the King of Hearts? Kalki is the debut movie of Praveen Prabharam. If the pulsating score in the teaser is anything to go by, we can expect OST by Jakes Bejoy to be one of the USPs.
Tentative Release Date: August 2019
Other than the ones mentioned above, we will also be seeing Mohanlal once again this year in a Comedy avatar; a role that he has not essayed well for over a decade in Ittimani: Made in China. Here’s hoping it would be more “Chotta Mumbai“, “Halo” kind of funny and not “Peruchazhi“, “Chinatown” kind of “funny”. Tovino’s Edakkad Battalion, helmed by Swapnesh, is also set to release later this year. Dulquer Salmaan seems to be having a mellow run in Mollywood for a while now, with his last “Solo” outing not faring well at the box office and the utterly unmemorable Yamandan Pranayakadha not turning up on anybody’s best-of list. But later this year, he’ll be seen in Kurupp directed by Srinath Rajendran, who also directed Second Show, DQ’s debut movie.
Thanneermaththan Dhinangal, directed by AD Girish, is also set to release this year. The trailer for the movie, starring Vineeth Sreenivasan along with Mathew Thomas (from Kumbalangi Nights) and Anaswara Rajan (from Udhaaharanam Sujaatha) was released a couple of days back, and it looked absolute bonkers. Definitely piqued my interest. And if nothing else, know that this movie is produced by Jomon T John.
Mammootty will also be seen later this year, joining hands with Ramesh Pisharody in Gaanagandharvan, a movie about a stage singer. This will be Pisharody’s second movie after the delightful Panchavarnathatha and first time directing Mammootty on screen.
Dileep – Arjun (The Tamil actor, not your favourite character from CID Moosa) combo’s Jack Daniels; Kalabhavan Shajon’s Brother’s Day starring Prithviraj; Santosh Sivan’s Jack and Jill starring Manju Warrier and Kalidasan; Shane Nigam starrer Valiya Perunnaal; Arun Kumar Aravind’s Underworld starring Asif Ali, Lal Jr and Farhaan Faasil; Geetu Mohandas’s Moothon starring Nivin Pauly, which also boasts the involvement of Bollywood heavyweights such as Anurag Kashyap and Nawazuddin Siddiqui; and Nitya Menen starrer Kolambi are also set to release later this year.
If I haven’t said it already, I’ll say it now. This is probably one of the best years Malayalam Cinema has had in a very long time. And here’s hoping that it only gets better from here.
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