Malayalam is the language spoken in the South-West region of India, in the state of Kerala. Coming from that culture and background, I was only allowed to watch television and movies of our language, growing up. I wasn't even allowed to speak English at home. When I finally got a cellphone and my friends would call, I would go outside to attend the call. Nowadays, I have my Xbox and Apple TV equipped with Netflix and Hulu, and so on, but growing up it was definitely different. Through watching so many movies and shows of our language, I was influenced in ways I didn't realize till now. Of that culture, I'd say the actors, Mohanlal and Mammootty have had the greatest influences on me.
5. "Chronic Bachelor" (2003)
Out of the five, this is the most recent to have influenced me. This movie revolved around the development of a brother helping his estranged sister in life, and revealing their sibling bond. It also showed a side of staying single and deciding not to marry. This was, however, proven foolish because one of the prominent themes presented showed that no matter how hard we try, there is someone out there for everyone. No matter how long it takes, fate/destiny/universe, they all interject and make sure we meet them.
4. "Thenmavin Kombath" (1994)
Coming in the fourth spot is a classic due to it's soundtrack, "Thenmavin Kombath," which means "at the top of the mango tree." The story shows a love triangle and two lovers trying to make their way through the struggle and become united. This movie is well known for the song, "Karutha Penne," which translates to "dark skinned girl." When I first saw this movie, it just seemed like a forbidden love theme and how we shouldn't yearn for something we shouldn't have. But now I look back, it's more that we need to fight for the ones we love. No matter who stands against us, what forces conspire, we fight. Cause Mohanlal did; he got his karutha penne. Did you get yours?
3. "Kilukkam" (1991)
Kilukkam means jingle. This particular movie's story was about a simple handyman and messenger of retired judge helping a girl with mental instability on her stay in the cold climate of Ooty, a city of Tamil Nadu known for mountains and cold climates in the tropical area of Southern India. The main character eventually starts to fall for the girl and the rest of the movie revolves around how they survive attempts by her family members to have her killed to obtain her wealth. For me after seeing it, I initially thought that all girls were crazy. But as I got older, I realized that the true takeaway should be that it's always the crazy ones you want to fall for, not the simple, boring ones.
2. "Harikrishnans" (1998)
Harikrishnans is the name of the two protagonists together, Hari and Krishnan. One of the greatest works done by both Mohanlal and Mammootty was "Harikrishnans" as they both were the primary protagonists in this movie. The story revolved around a murder of a simple author in which the prestigious lawyers of Harikrishnan Associates take on the case in order to woo the woman who requested they take on the case. This was actually one of the first movies in the Malayalam cinema industry to have an alternate ending because in one ending, the girl ended up with Mohanlal, and in the alternate ending, she ended up with Mammootty. From this movie, love or mystery or crime or moral wasn't the concern or lesson. To me it was that we will always have that one friend in life, not a blood relative, not a long-distant cousin, a friend we met along the way in life and that's stayed with us the longest. A complete opposite of who we are but complements us as a duo.
1. "Narasimham" (2000)
To date, this is the highest grossing movie in the Malayalam cinema industry. This movie was about the return of a wrongly-accused man who comes back to the real world after spending six years in jail and getting revenge on those who framed him. The fight scenes, the comedy, the love affair, it was all I wanted when I saw it. I wanted to wear the exact same clothes and have the same mustache curled up. I'm pretty sure after seeing this, I kept thinking God looked something like Mohanlal in this movie.
Now that I look back, I know exactly what this movie embodied within its story. First and foremost, how to make an entrance and how to make an exit. From the start of the movie, he comes out of water, walking across the sands like a force of nature. And at the end, ends with a proper dialogue like his words will echo forever in everyone's ears. Then secondly, be confident in who you are. No matter if he went to jail or wasn't respected by his family, he never let his confidence slip. That's how we should be, no matter who supports us or what we've done in life.
The Malayalam cinema industry, although small, is a large contributor to cinema industry of India. And within these movies, there are the same themes of good versus bad, love, family, and friendship. As kids, we see these common ones. But it's only when we grow up and see the movies again, understand the hidden motifs and themes that resonate within the actors and their actions. The dialogue start speaking in volumes rather than a superficial understanding. I will forever be indebted to these five movies as they are my top five influences in life, especially growing up in America. And I hope future generations will watch these movies and be influenced by movies such as these coming from our culture.