2019 was one of the best years for the Malayalam film industry. With low-budget movies like Thanner Mathan Dinangal breaking box office records and super-star movies like Ittimani-Made in China bombing in the box office, the brilliance of Malayali audiences and the importance of storyline is the talk of the town. 2019 was also the year Malayalam cinema started occupying the national mainstream cinema space again, after the long lost days of Padmarajan and Bharathan. Movies like Virus, Uyare, and Kumbalangi Nights are much loved across the country.
Here are a few people who made this possible
After all the cyber abuse and backlash from the industry in 2018, Parvathy rose like the proverbial phoenix in 2019. With two mega-hits (Uyare and Virus) and razor-sharp comments against misogyny, Parvathy made the entire country take note of her. Uyare and Virus were the two movies of 2019 that brought Malayalam cinema back into the national limelight for its quality, acting, social relevance, and strong storyline.
Very rarely do we witness an actor from South India share space with the ‘elite’ Bollywood actors to discuss cinema and its associated challenges. Nevertheless, we saw Parvathy shining in numerous discussion forums including the one with the famous interviewer Anupama Chopra. The interview saw Parvathy making national headlines by criticizing the misogyny in movies like Arjun Reddy in front of Arjun Reddy (Vijay Deverakonda) himself. You go, girl!
When the Akale actor quit AMMA in 2018, there were voices within AMMA saying that it does not make much of a difference to the association when an inactive actor quits. Nevertheless, Geetu Mohandas owned 2019 like a boss. Her earlier directorial ventures Kelkkunnundo and Liar’s Dice had received several accolades and in 2019, Muthoon repeated history. Muthoon, a brilliant thriller, co-written with Anurag Kahyap won several accolades at the TIFF and is currently running successfully in theatres. We saw actors like Nivin Pauly and Roshan Mathew in avatars we could not have even imagined – which is a testimony to Geethu’s intelligence. Geethu has indeed made a mark in the national film making space with her intelligence, talent and discipline.
Joju George is a testimony to man’s indomitable spirit. He had to toil for more than 20 years before he could land a few meaningful roles in Mollywood. 2019 was the culmination of his years of hard work. With a special mention in the national film awards for his breakthrough film, Joseph and back-to-back hits like Lonappante Mamodeesa, Virus, June, and Porinju Mariam Jose, Joju has become an actor who Malayalis do not want to miss.
It would be a mistake to not say that 2019 was Shane Nigam’s year. With 2 blockbuster hits and a major tiff with the producer’s association, Shane Nigam was always in the limelight. From the rebellious lover in Ishq to the lazy wastrel in Kumbalangi Nights, Shane beautifully adorned the garb of a brilliant actor. Yet, with the latest developments, his discipline as an actor/professional has come under serious questioning. Let us hope that Mollywood does not lose this excellent artist because 2019 would end with another big hit from Shane – Valiyaperunnal.
The growth of Soubin from an ordinary-unnoticed actor to an audience favourite is a case study in itself. 2019 was the year where Soubin’s fan had a yearlong party. Kumbalangi Nights, Vikruthi, Virus, Ambili, Android Kunjappan – all were different from each other and established Soubin as an irreplaceable actor. We have seen established actors like Kunchacko Boban and Aashiq Abu go on record to say that they are stunned by Soubin’s brilliant acting and are in fact jealous of the pace at which he has established himself as one of the best actors in Mollywood. 2019 sealed the fact that Soubin is here to stay for very long.
Lijo Jose Pellissery
LJP is a man of extraordinary intellect and fine artisanship. All his movies had something unique to offer and 2019 was no different. Jallikattu received rave reviews from both audiences and critics. LJP also made history by winning the Silver Peacock at IFFI consecutively in 2018 and 2019. He also received the Best Director award by the Film Critic Circle of India in 2019. Let us await the LJP magic in 2020 – Antichrist.
Vineeth Sreenivasan is a man with the proverbial ‘Midas touch’- the ability to turn everything he touches into gold. In 2019 Vineeth shined as an actor, producer, and singer. His movie Thaneer Mathan Dinangal broke box office records and we saw how much he has evolved as an actor from his first movie Cycle. Ravi Padmanbhan is etched in our minds forever. Manoharam was another beautiful movie from Vineeth this year. However, what deserves special mention in 2019 is the wonderful movie Helen in which Vineeth adorned the garb of a Producer. This survival thriller is a testament to the importance of a strong storyline in movies. After Entammede Jimikki Kammal and Manikya Malaray Povi in 2018 that went on to gain national recognition, Vineeth gave us another peppy number in 2019 – Kudukku in LAD.
Asif Ali is an actor who has matured with time, his filmography in 2019 stands testimony to that fact. With 6 releases (out of which 5 went on to become major hits) and 1 cameo appearance (Unda), Asif Ali has become a force to be reckoned with in Malayalam cinema. From the psycho-inferiority ridden boyfriend in Uyare to the naïve-farmer in Kettyolaanu Ente Malakha, Asif Ali proved his mettle as an actor in 2019. With many more releases announced in 2020, let’s hope that this wonderful actor will continue to surprise us.
Tovino Thomas is currently the busiest actor in Mollywood. With sheer determination and hard work, this wonderful actor has reached where he is now. With 5 hits and back-to-back releases, Tovino was always in the limelight in 2019. Tovino might not have been the protagonist of all, but so strong was his screen presence that we would not forget his character after coming out of the theatres (remember the election speech in Lucifer!). The roles essayed by Tovino in 2019 (like the eccentric Vishal in Uyare and the thanatophobic Luca) was rich with emotions, quirkiness and even shades of negativity. Looking at the steady graph at which Tovino has grown in this industry 2020 looks all the promising!
Back in 2002 when we saw Suraj in Santhanagopalam serial in Asianet, nobody would have guessed his potential as an actor. Today, Suraj stands as one of the most brilliant and dependable actors in Malayalam for any role – be it a loving father or a quirky police officer. In many ways, Suraj has filled the gap that Jagathy Sreekumar left in the Malayalam movie industry. 2019 saw Suraj give some of his best performances – Eldo in Vikrithi, Varghese in Finals and Bhaskara Poduval in Android Kunjappan Ver 5.25. All these characters reaffirmed his credibility as an actor of substance.
That was our list. Do you think we missed out on someone? Let us know in the comments section.