1. Kummatty (1979)
Arguably the best Indian children’s movie after ‘Pather Panchali’, G. Aravindan’s ‘Kummatty’ is a gem in Malayalam cinema. Exploring the myths and tales of Northern Kerala, the film is the perfect mixture of fantasy and reality, one that has been compared to Guillermo Del Torro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. It narrates the tale of Chindan, a native boy and his realization of the value of freedom, following a magical transformation.
2. Unnikale Oru Kadha Parayam (1978)
With Mohanlal and Karthika in the lead, along with a bunch of talented young actors, this Kamal directorial was a tear-jerking, yet heart-warming tale of love. Mohanlal played Abi, an orphan who decides to give shelter to the children of the streets while fighting a terminal heart disease. The beautiful portrayal of his relationship with the kids, and their love for him made this movie memorable.
3. Pookkaalam Varavaayi (1991)
Another Kamal directorial, this movie had Jayaram playing a friendly school bus driver, and Shamili played Geethu, a young girl fed up with the turbulent relationship of her parents. The story narrates the incidents when Geethu decides to travel with the driver to his village, and the wonders that awaited her there.
4. Malootty (1992)
A Jayaram-Shamili combo again, but this time, directed by Bharathan. Shamili played Malootty, a young girl who gets trapped in a bore-well. Jayaram and Parvathy played her bereaved parents, who try to rescue her with the help of the police and the authorities. Her performance won Shamili the State Award for the best child actress.
5. Kaakkothikaavile Appooppan Thaadikal (1988)
Kamal again. Starring Revathi and Ambika, the film narrated the story of two estranged sisters. A feminist drama, the story follows the life of the separated sisters and shows how fate brings them together, in the strangest of conditions.
6. Manchaadikkuru (2012)
Anjali Menon, this is one of the best Malayalam movies of the 2000s. The wonders of the village life and its culture as seen through the eyes of a city boy, drives the story forward. The subtly discuss the family tensions and sibling rivalries yet celebrate the underlying bond of love between them. The film won Anjali Menon the State Award for best debut director.
7. 101 Chodyangal (2013)
Sidhartha Siva, the film revolves around Anil’s homework of making 101 questions, given to him by his teacher, played by Indrajith. How Anil teaches a lot about life through these questions, form the crux of the tale. The movie also discussed the issues faced by the factory labourers in Kerala.
8. Keshu (2009)
Directed by Sivan, Keshu had Navneeth Krishnan in the lead, and told the tale of a deaf and dumb orphan who lives with his uncle and aunt. It narrates how the naughty, unruly kid develops a friendship with an art teacher, which leads to him finding his true potential in painting.It was selected as the best Children’s film at the National Awards.
9. Kaazcha (2004)
Kaazcha marked Blessy’s debut as a director, and starred Mammootty along with Sanusha and Yash. The movie narrated the story of the young Yash who ends up in Kerala, after a devastating earthquake in his native Gujarath renders him homeless. Mammootty plays a middle-class man who develops a fondness for the boy and decides to reunite him with his parents, if not adopt him. Blessy won the state award for best debutant director with this heart-warming tale of love and family bonds.
10. Ente Maamaatti kuttiyammakku (1983)
Directed by Fazil, and starring
Bharath Gopi, Mohanlal, and Shamili in the lead, this movie discussed the pain of parents who lose their child. It narrated the tale of a couple who come to terms with the death of their child by adopting another kid, only to lose her too. The movie won the then 3-year old Shamili a state award for the best child actress.