Malayalam Movie Tropes From The 90s – Part 2

Malayalam cinema goes through a transformation every decade or so. Hence, with every decade that brings in the transformation, we bid adieu to many movie tropes that are products of the previous decade. Let’s look at some more movie tropes from the 90s and 2000s that we hope to never see in Malayalam cinema again. 

This is part 2 of this series, so check out part 1 here if you haven’t already!

Paalam Kandal Chaadum Kuttavaali

Our hero or villain is arrested or is being chased by the police. Suddenly, they come by a bridge. You already know they’re going to jump from that bridge. The police would keep looking into the water as if expecting them to jump back up. We’d then cut to a scene where they’ve seemingly swum for miles and have actually evaded the police.

Full Nekked

One of the time-honoured trope that Malayalam cinema has tried and perfected to ensure the lead characters fall in love is by forcing the hero to see the heroine naked. Usually while hiding under her bed. Now, this is extremely pervy behaviour if done by anyone else. But this is our hero, who does not have a single pervy bone in his body. And since our culture dictates that only married people are allowed to see each other naked, they’d have to end up getting married. Kudos to team “Ee Puzhayum Kadannu” for slightly subverting this trope.


Thattum Muttum Premam

There is a time-honoured tradition of meet-cutes in Malayalam cinema – ram into your soulmate and hopefully fall in love. And the trope has stretched its way from the 90s to even as recent as 2019 (in a movie that is spiritually from the 90s). But it’s about time we buried it.

That Pura Niranj Nikkunna Pengal

Movies that depicted stories closer to home, which had the lead characters struggling financially, would always have a kettu prayam kazhinj nikkunna pengal. Getting them married off is the Everest that our hero had to conquer. They may also be abused or molested by the villains for plot purposes. To mix things up, you can always add an older sister into the mix. But please note, the older sister will always be selfish, spiteful and even slightly evil at times, while the younger sister is always caring and considerate of the lead character.

The Virginity Hex

The female lead gets married to the wrong guy and has to eventually get married to the right guy (usually the male lead). But our culture dictates that men can only marry virgins. So what do our writers do? They either kill off or paralyse the wrong guy who married the female lead. This is such an overused trope in Malayalam cinema that even talking about it is considered redundant at this point. And thankfully, the new filmmakers have begun to notice.

But if you want to read about how overused this trope actually is, read: MALAYALAM CINEMA’S LOVE FOR VIRGINITY

Sensory Deprivation

“Enikk onnum kekkanda! Enikk ninne ineem kaanem venda!”
Conflicts that could be solved with two people patiently talking to each other are stretched out to create more drama with just two lines. It is always aimed at the hero by a character he cares for and respects; usually a parental figure or romantic interest.

Titillating Karanavar

Imagine having an ammavan who claims to be the epitome of moral integrity, and you later realise he has a whole other list of leelavilasangal that you’ve never heard of? This trope is quite like that. These ‘karanavars’ in Malayalam cinema are introduced as people who have the perfect track record as a family man or self-proclaimed ‘brahmachari’. We find out later on that the family man has a second family unbeknownst to his first, or the brahmachari has one or multiple illegitimate kids.

The Chenda Sidekick

Being a hero’s friend/sidekick meant supporting them throughout the movie’s crisis, helping them out of difficult situations and putting up with the enormous ass of a person that our hero is. The 90s and even 2000s films gave little to no agency to these side characters and they served as the punchline/punching bag for the hero. And abusing them physically was meant to evoke laughter among the audience. It’s funny because it hurts. #JusticeForMonai

Explosive Endings

Lead characters from action thrillers of the 90s and 2000s were mostly macho men, in a macho world, with macho jobs, doing the most macho things ever. And Suresh Gopi movies out-macho’ed the rest by quite a stretch. So it’s only fitting that all movies end with him walking or running towards the camera with everything behind him going up in flames. At times when they could not find the scope for an explosion in the climax, they just had a body getting cremated or random stuff burning, just so the ending was ‘lit’.


So that was our list of movie tropes. What are some movie tropes that you can think of?

Shahbaz M
I see movies, I talk about it.


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