Legendary Vehicles in Malayalam Cinema

Man, oh, man! The variety of vehicles portrayed in the Malayalam cinema is wide, fascinating, random, and legendary. Some vehicles are so etched into our hearts that we admire them knowingly or unknowingly. If you don’t believe me, I can prove this to you.

Following are a few statements from Malayalam movies. Retain the first image that comes into your mind while reading it. Also, you may do it as a rapid-fire!

  • “Oru kaadu elaki varunundalo.”
  • “Ente vidhi ente thirumanangal.”
  • “Vandi thallan vere oru thendiyudeyum sahayam venda.”
  • “Oru rajamalli vidarunne pole…”
  • “Parapichu vidu Paapa!”

You would have been able to picture the characters with a particular vehicle associated with them. Directors and writers of these movies incorporated vehicles as characters too. A brilliant strategy! It is something to immortalize characters, instances, dialogues, etc., but it is altogether a different ballpark to iconize vehicles. Kudos to the makers!

Several Malayalam movies have effectively placed vehicles in their narratives over the years. As this piece is purely subjective, I would like to mention a few personal choices of vehicles that have gained legendary status in Malayalam cinema.

‘Thamarakshan Pillai’ – The OG Caravan

Unni and Sundaran drove the ‘Thamarakshan Pillai’ bus into our hearts in the movie, Ee Parakkum Thalika“, directed by Thaha. This private bus had everything from a kitchen, bed, and running water to even a gun, but no passengers. It could be used literally for anything and everything, IYKYK.

The character arc of the bus is quite commendable. The entire movie revolves around the life of Unni and ‘Thamarakshan Pillai’ bus and how his life changes from the incidents associated with the bus. If you look at it, the bus is responsible for his dejected state, transforming his life for the best. There is a gradual growth in the journey of the bus from a trouble-seeker to a life changer.

Chackochante chuvannu Splendor

Aniyathipraavu“, directed by Fazil, and released in 1997, provided the best marketing for Hero Honda Splendor. Gen-Z kids associating Splendor with ‘Anniyathipraavu’ is a great testimony to the bike’s impact across generations. The ever-handsome ‘chullan’ Chackochan happily singing, “Oru rajamalli vidarune pole…”, riding the red Hero Honda Splendor, is still a sight to behold.

James Bondinu polum illathe vandi

You very well know what we are talking about here. Moosa’s car is nothing short of a wonder or marvel. The convertible could be sent even for war. Johny Antony’s directorial “C.I.D. Moosa” effectively utilised the ‘Dodge Kingsway’ as Chekov’s gun, as it was the life-saver for Moosa and the Chief Minister.

Imagine the impact of a car if it could leave you in splits, just in its sight.

Bullet – The long-distance Nanban

Several Malayalam films have employed the majestic ‘Royal Enfield’. But the one that has remained with most of us would probably be from the film “Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi”, directed by Sameer Thahir. The duo, Dulquer Salmaan and Sunny Wayne, travel across India on their favourite travel partner – The Royal Enfield.

Also Read: Malayalam Movies That Inspired Us To Travel

‘Ente Vidhi ente thirumanangal’ and their bullet journey have greatly influenced travel enthusiasts and will certainly live on.

Shaji Paapante Team Bus

In the driver’s seat sat Shaji Paapan with Arackal Abu by his side while the rest of the team occupied the van. The movie “Aadu” and “Aadu 2”, directed by Midhun Manuel Thomas, featured this vintage Bajaj Tempo Matador as Paapan’s team’s vehicle. Many scenes revolved around the van, including accidents, fun moments, and chases, making it a delightful treat for Malayalis.

This van must also be credited for its presence in other movies. Matador’s screen presence is just beyond comparison. Ustad Hotel, Idukki Gold, Koode, etc., are other movies that have used similar vans.

Manikyan’s Kaala Vandi

(Please note that this is not glorifying animal abuse or anything. The movie employs a bullock cart as a major vehicle throughout the movie.)

The evergreen “Thenmavin Kombathu”, directed by Priyadarshan, has a legendary vehicle quite different from the preceding ones, ‘a kaala vandi’. Lalettan graciously rides this kaala vandi, which paved the way for the entry of Karthumbi, gradually changing the narrative. Who can forget the classic “Nee arannenu ninaku ariyillel…” – all for a ride on this kaala vandi? This vehicle, too, should be conferred with the legendary status without which we would have missed out on all those amazing comedic dialogues and Lalettan’s funny expressions.

Benz Raja

Mercedes Benz has always been highly sought after, but who could have predicted that a red Benz would be associated with Rajamanikyam’s car? In the classic film directed by Sameer Thahir, Mammookka impressively portrays the character with the red Benz. The car’s grand entrance and the comedic scenes surrounding it make for a memorable viewing experience. The Benz even seems to have a screen presence of its own.

“The Car”

“The Car”, directed by Rajasenan, entirely revolved around the mishaps caused by two identical vehicles. The red Maruti Esteem (do correct me if I’m wrong) might not be a popular vehicle among Gen-Z, but for the millennials, it is nostalgia. The movie is a beautiful memory for many, so it is quite imaginable to think of this car’s influence on the generation of the time.


I don’t have to elaborate on this. Bhadran’s directorial Spadikamis a classic with a huge following. Thomas Chacko’s ‘Chekuthaan’ Tata lorry is a vehicle that has become a fashion symbol over the years. Imagine its influence over the years.

By this time, you yourself would have thought of other legendary vehicles in Malayalam cinema. As mentioned, this list is not exhaustive, so feel free to add yours!

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