Made from Vaikom Muhammad Basheer's autobiographical novel of the same title, Mathilukal was directed by
Adoor Gopalakrishnan and had Mammootty playing Basheer. The story revolves around Basheer's time as a political prisoner and his falling in love with a female prisoner from across the wall separating the men's and women's section of the prison. It beautifully portrays the love story of two souls who never see but only listens to each other. The director uses the wall as a metaphor for separation and in fact, the heroine-voiced by K.P.A.C Lalitha, is never shown in the film. Mammootty won a National Award for his role.
Another Adoor-Mammootty combo, Vidheyan was made on Zacharia's 'Bhaskara pattelarum ente jeevithavum'. It explored the modern slavery that existed in the hill top plantations, with the much underrated M.R Gopakumar playing Thommy, an obedient servant to the tyrannical Pattelar, played by Mammootty. The movie was a study of human nature and the erasure of humanity with fear and won Mammootty his 2nd National Award in three years.
Chemmeen is considered one of a kind in Indian cinema. A Hindu-Muslim love drama set in the coastal Alappuzha, the movie was adapted from Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai's novel of the same title and was directed by
Ramu Kariat. It circled the tales, myths and beliefs of the fisher folk and their relation with the sea. In this tale of love, greed and deceit, Sheela played Karuthamma, a woman torn between her husband and her lover. The film won awards at the Cannes and the Chicago film festivals and also the National Award.
4. Ozhivudivasathe Kali(2015)
Sanal Kumar Sasidharan's experimental political movie was an adaptation of Unni.R's short story of the same title and won the State Award for Best Picture. A tale of five friends coming together for a drinks party and playing a game from their childhood, the movie urged the viewers to look into their hypocrisies and dirtiness. It was a direct take on the communal and patriarchal mindset that people hide under a secular mask. The film has been made without a screenplay and the five major characters were played by untrained actors.
5. Oru Vadakkan Veeragadha(1989)
M.T Vasudevan Nair gave a twist to the folk tale from Northern Kerala by telling Chandu's side of the story. Directed by Hariharan, this classic had Mammootty and
Suresh Gopi playing the rival cousins. How Chandu came to be portrayed wrongfully as a cheat who killed his cousin out of jealousy, forms the crux of the movie. It won M.T the National Award for Best Screenplay and Mammootty, the Best Actor(also for Mathilukal).
6. Daivathinte VikrIthikal(1992)
Based on M.Mukundan's novel of the same name, the movie was co-written and directed by Lenin Rajendran. The film has been made based on the life of the people of Mahe, immediately after independence. Raghuvaran plays Alphonso, a magician who refuses to leave the place despite the request of his wife, even after the political change and the ensuing poverty. Alphonso represents the human attachment to the place where one is born and brought up and one's refusal to leave it. The movie discussed issues of migration, ethnicity and post-colonial life in Mahe.
This Blessed movie was based on P.Padmarajan's short story, 'Orma' and told the story of a middle-class man diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and how his family copes with the disease. Mohanlal played the lead and delivered one of his best performances as a traumatized man who slowly loses his memory and consciousness. The film also showcases deep familial ties and strong father-son relationships. The movie won multiple state awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.
Ottal was based on Anton Chekov's short story, 'Vanka' and told the story of a young boy from the fisherman community and his relationship with his grandfather. A story of innocence and pain, director Jayaraj considers Ottal his best work ever. The movie was noted for its realistic portrayal of family ties. It won the 'Cristal Bear' at the Berlin International Festival and swept home all the major awards at the I.F.F.K, becoming the first ever Malayalam movie to do so. It also won a state award for Best Picture.
Based on 'Moongil Pookkal' a Tamil novel by Vasanthi, Padmarajan's Koodevide?, marked the debut of actor Rahman, who won the State Award for Best Second Actor for his portrayal of a trouble-making yet charming schoolboy. The story, set in a boarding school in the Nilgiris revolves around a school teacher's fondness for a student and her boyfriend's jealousy towards her. The film is a brilliant take on obsessive love and its repercussions. Suhasini played a friendly school teacher while Mammootty, her obsessive boyfriend.
10. Namukku Paarkaan Munthirithoppukal(1986)
Considered as the best romantic film in Malayalam, Namukku Paarkaan Munthirithoppukal has been based on K.K Sudhakaran's novel, 'Namukku graamangalil chennu raapaarkkaam'. The film has many references to the biblical 'Song of Songs' and is noted for its music and the screenplay. The mature lovers, rounded sub-characters and the shady villain made the movie immensely realistic, which was totally new to the Malayalam romantic genre. Shari, paired opposite Mohanlal, won the State Award for Best Actress.