• Thursday, June 13, 2024


Magnificent Mollywood: Malayalam cinema has its best year

The first five months of the year have been filled with some of the most commercially successful films ever made by the industry.


By: Asjad Nazir

WITH all the attention being on the constant barrage of catastrophic Bollywood failures, along with big-budget Tamil and Telugu blockbusters, it has gone relatively unnoticed as to how much of a stunning 2024 Malayalam cinema is having.  

The first five months of the year have been filled with some of the most commercially successful films ever made by the industry known as Mollywood. What has made things extra special is the great variety of movies being released, along with the critical acclaim they have received. 

 The year started off strongly with critically acclaimed courtroom drama Aattam, which followed up successful screenings at film festivals with glowing reviews after the movie was released in cinemas. January also saw positively reviewed crime thriller Abraham Ozler being declared a hit. Both movies were powered by strong writing and great performances.

First Lead Aadujeevitham The Goat life1610

That marvellous momentum magnificently rolled into February with Anweshippin Kandethum becoming a critical and commercial success. The police procedural drama would have clocked up much higher box-office numbers had it not been released on the same day (February 9) as sleeper super hit Premalu. 

 Writer/director Girish AD delivered the sixth highest grossing Malayalam movie of all time with the story of young lovers, despite not having a major headline star. In terms of investment versus return, Premalu will be one of this year’s biggest Indian cinema successes and it is no surprise that a sequel is being planned. 

 February also saw folk horror Bramayugam become a box-office hit and powerful drama Family received a glowing response from audiences.  

The stunning second month of 2024 was rounded off with survival thriller Manjummel Boys taking the box office by storm. The surprise super hit about unexpected events happening during a holiday became the highest grossing Malayalam movie of all time. Great reviews and positive word of mouth saw the movie draw in the kind of huge audiences that no one expected. In terms of investment versus return, it will also be one of this year’s biggest success stories and why remakes in other languages will likely be inevitable.

 Meanwhile, Manjummel Boys had a streaming site premiere on Hotstar earlier this month, with dubbed versions being made available in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. 

 March delivered another resounding hit with high-profile movie Aadujeevitham – The Goat Life finally releasing in cinemas. The survival drama based on real events about a migrant labourer forced into slavery in Saudi Arabia making a daring escape across a desert became the third highest grossing Malayalam movie in history, despite being banned in Middle Eastern countries. Prithviraj Sukumaran delivered what will likely be one of this year’s best performances in a movie that had been a long time in the making.  

A golden run in the first three months of this year spilled over into April with three hit films astonishingly being released on the same day. Low budget thriller Jai Ganesh received positive reviews and period comedy drama Varshangalkku Shesham clocked up big box-office figures. 

 Both movies would have perhaps done even better had they not been released on the same day as blockbuster smash Aavesham, which is now the fifth highest grossing Malayalam movie of all time. The action comedy starring Fahadh Faasil received rave reviews and remakes in other languages are already being planned.

First Lead Premalu

The two most notable Malayalam failures in 2024 have been crime thriller Thankamani and epic action drama Malaikottai Vaaliban , but that didn’t dampen a rip-roaring year for Mollywood.  

Audiences have flocked to watch good quality movies, which have also been dubbed into other languages. Even if there isn’t another Malayalam hit in the remaining seven months of this year, the industry would still have had a much better year than Bollywood, which doesn’t look like turning a terrible 2024 around, with dud-looking forthcoming films. 

 Like in previous years, the Malayalam movie makers have shown that they don’t need huge budgets, famous names or star kids to entice audiences into cinemas.  

The many Mollywood hits have shown this year that good writing, intelligent filmmaking and standout performances from a talented cast are enough to make intelligent cinema. They also have a much better financial model with costs being controlled, money being invested in good writing and lead stars not being overpaid. 

 That is why Hindi film producers can learn valuable lessons from a thriving industry that gave Indian cinema its most successfully franchised film of all time, Drishyam in 2013, which has successfully been remade in multiple languages, including the hit 2021 sequel. 

 So, if you are having a difficult time finding something to watch on streaming sites then there are plenty of great Malayalam movie options and likely many more to come in the months ahead. 

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