The loud, jovial Kottayam/Idukki-based Roman Catholic men have unintentionally become a trope in Malayalam movies, whom we innocuously like to call “achayans”. The character usually has to tick off certain checkboxes to qualify as a celluloid achayan. Some of these checkboxes are; outgoing persona, occupation usually as a planter, if not that then a spoilt rich brat. The achayan trope gained so much popularity over the years that they made an entire movie with that title (Achayans)! Here’s a look at some of the on-screen fete achayans from Malayalam movies that have left an impression on us.
Kunjachan from Kottayam Kunjachan
Kottayam Kunjachan is the poster boy of a celluloid achayan, meeting all the features of the character. He is loud, outgoing, temperamental, and enjoys a good chug of booze. He is not just one of the oldest memorable achayan characters in Malayalam movies but also a pioneer who paved the way for many versions of achayan characters in Mollywood. Without Mammootty’s fantastic portrayal, Kottayam Kunjachan would have never become such an iconic character in Malayalam cinema. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Mammootty redefined the achayan arch type in Malayalam.
Tony Kurushingal from No. 20 Madras Mail
If Kunjachan was a humble plantation worker, Tony Kurushingal falls in the other spectrum of achayan, the spoilt rich brat who thrives on his ancestral money. Tony is yet another entertaining achayan character who is loud, carefree, full of life, and devours liquor till his heart is content. In all honesty, Mohanlal’s version of Achayan is nowhere close to Mammootty’s masterpiece act.
Koshy Kurian from Ayyapanum Koshiyum
Ayyappanum Koshiyum by the late Sachy is a movie about the ego clash between two men from two polar opposite backgrounds. Koshy Kurien, one of the men involved in this ego clash, is an archaic achayan gleaming with pride in his heritage and wealth that his father has left for him. This is also the main source of his arrogance that sparks his feud with Sub Inspector Ayyappan.
Kunjoonu from Swapnakoodu
Prithviraj’s Kunjoon from Swapnakoodu may be one of the most annoying achayan characters ever in Malayalam cinema. A chest-thumping alpha male, Kunjoon is just another rich young achayan who takes immense pride in his ancestral wealth and thinks he can get away with his swooning over women. On the good side, he does get real in the end and that is the only point I really liked him.
Sleevachan from Kettiyollaanu Ente Maalakha
Though there is a template as to how achayan characters are portrayed on screen, Asif Ali as Sleevachan gives a very raw and realistic display of the character. The way he ties up his “mundu”, and the perfection in his slang, everything adds up to give an achayan that though ticks off most of the checkboxes still stand out from the crowd with the surreal portrayal. Yes, there have been debates about how innocent Sleevachan is, given what he did to his wife. But strictly speaking of the character and its representation by Asif Ali, Sleevachan is one of the sweetest and most loveable achayan characters of all time.
So, which achayans from Malayalam movies do you find interesting or entertaining? Let me know in the comments!