The Malayalam film industry, colloquially known as Mollywood, is a jewel of Indian cinema, rooted in the lush landscapes of Kerala. It’s renowned for its remarkable storytelling, profound scripts, and technical finesse. Unlike its more flamboyant counterparts in Indian cinema, Mollywood captivates audiences with its understated yet powerful narratives, often reflecting the social, cultural, and political tapestry of Kerala. Characterized by its commitment to realism, Malayalam cinema often delves into the intricacies of human relationships and societal issues, setting it apart from the more commercial and escapist tendencies of mainstream Indian cinema. The industry is also known for its meticulous scriptwriting and strong character development, with a notable emphasis on naturalistic performances. In recent years, Mollywood has experienced a renaissance of sorts, with a new generation of filmmakers and actors bringing fresh perspectives and innovative storytelling. Films like ‘Drishyam’ and ‘Kumbalangi Nights’ have not only been commercial successes but have also resonated with international audiences, showcasing the industry’s ability to blend universal themes with local flavors. Despite its smaller scale, the Malayalam film industry is a powerhouse of talent and creativity, consistently producing films that are both artistically rich and socially relevant. It remains a vital and vibrant part of Indian cinema, continually pushing the boundaries of storytelling and filmmaking.

List of top 60 Must Watch Malayalam Movies of All Time

  1. Drishyam (2013): A gripping thriller directed by Jeethu Joseph, ‘Drishyam’ stars Mohanlal as Georgekutty, a cable TV operator. The film revolves around Georgekutty’s efforts to protect his family after they accidentally commit a crime. The movie’s masterful storytelling, suspense, and Mohanlal’s performance make it a standout in Malayalam cinema.
  2. Manichitrathazhu (1993): Directed by Fazil, this psychological thriller features Shobana, Mohanlal, and Suresh Gopi. The story, set in an old mansion, deals with the concept of dissociative identity disorder. Shobana’s performance as Ganga, who gets possessed by a vengeful spirit, is particularly acclaimed.
  3. Kireedam (1989): A poignant drama by Sibi Malayil, ‘Kireedam’ stars Mohanlal as Sethumadhavan, who dreams of becoming a police officer. However, circumstances force him into a path of violence. The film explores themes of fate and societal pressure, showcasing a powerful performance by Mohanlal.
  4. Bangalore Days (2014): Directed by Anjali Menon, this feel-good movie tells the story of three cousins who move to Bangalore, each with their own dreams and challenges. The film, starring Dulquer Salmaan, Nivin Pauly, and Nazriya Nazim, is celebrated for its portrayal of youth, aspirations, and relationships.
  5. Premam (2015): Alphonse Puthren’s ‘Premam’ is a romantic journey of George (Nivin Pauly) through various stages of his life and his encounters with love. The film is known for its humor, music, and realistic portrayal of romance and heartbreak.
  6. Ee.Ma.Yau (2018): Lijo Jose Pellissery’s ‘Ee.Ma.Yau’ is a satirical comedy set in a coastal village, focusing on the death of Vavachan and his son’s efforts to arrange a grand funeral. The film is lauded for its dark humor, social commentary, and brilliant cinematography.
  7. Ustad Hotel (2012): Directed by Anwar Rasheed, ‘Ustad Hotel’ stars Dulquer Salmaan as Faizi, an aspiring chef who works in his grandfather’s modest hotel. The film is a heartwarming tale of family, food, and finding one’s purpose.
  8. Pather Panchali (1955): Though a Bengali film by Satyajit Ray, it’s a must-watch for its influence on Indian cinema. It’s a poignant narrative of a poor family’s struggles and the bittersweet experiences of childhood.
  9. Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (2017): Directed by Dileesh Pothan, this film tells the story of a complex theft and the subsequent investigation. It’s known for its realistic portrayal of characters and situations, blending humor and drama effectively.
  10. Mahanati (2018): Directed by Nag Ashwin, ‘Mahanati’ is a biographical film about the legendary South Indian actress Savitri. Keerthy Suresh’s portrayal of Savitri is widely praised, and the film is a beautiful tribute to the golden era of South Indian cinema.
  11. Kumbalangi Nights (2019): Directed by Madhu C. Narayanan, this film is a beautifully crafted story about the complex lives of four brothers in a fishing village. It’s celebrated for its portrayal of family dynamics, gender roles, and societal expectations, with stunning visuals and compelling performances.
  12. Amen (2013): Directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery, ‘Amen’ is a whimsical and musical tale set in a quaint village, revolving around the lives of people around a church and a mythical musical band. The film is known for its unique narrative style, humor, and magical realism.
  13. Charlie (2015): Directed by Martin Prakkat, ‘Charlie’ is a romantic drama starring Dulquer Salmaan and Parvathy. The film is a whimsical adventure of a young woman who embarks on a journey to find a mysterious man who has been appearing in her dreams.
  14. Traffic (2011): Directed by Rajesh Pillai, this thriller is based on a real-life incident and is credited with introducing the hyperlink cinema format to Malayalam cinema. It interweaves multiple stories around a road accident and is known for its fast-paced narrative and ensemble cast.
  15. 22 Female Kottayam (2012): Directed by Aashiq Abu, this film is a revenge thriller featuring Rima Kallingal in the lead role. It’s a gripping tale of a nurse who seeks vengeance after facing betrayal and assault, standing out for its bold theme and strong female lead.
  16. Ozhivudivasathe Kali (2015): Directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, this film is an offbeat drama that unfolds over a single day during an alcohol-fueled picnic of five friends. The film is an intense social commentary on the underlying caste and gender prejudices in society.
  17. Take Off (2017): Directed by Mahesh Narayanan, this film is based on the real-life ordeal of Indian nurses in the city of Tikrit, Iraq, in 2014. It’s a gripping and emotional drama that showcases the resilience and courage of its characters.
  18. Anjali Menon’s Koode (2018): A heartwarming tale of relationships and personal healing. The story revolves around Joshua, played by Prithviraj, who returns home to his estranged family and forms a deep bond with his sister Jenny, portrayed by Nazriya Nazim.
  19. Varathan (2018): Directed by Amal Neerad, this thriller depicts the story of a couple who move from Dubai to a rural village in Kerala, and the unsettling events that unfold around them. The film is known for its suspenseful narrative and commentary on societal issues.
  20. Sudani from Nigeria (2018): Directed by Zakariya Mohammed, this heartwarming film tells the story of a Nigerian football player who joins a club in Malappuram, Kerala. The movie is a delightful blend of humor and emotion, highlighting themes of friendship and cultural understanding.
  21. Nadodikkattu (1987): Directed by Sathyan Anthikad, this film is a satirical comedy-drama starring Mohanlal and Sreenivasan. It tells the story of two friends who dream of making it big but end up in Chennai with no money. The film is known for its witty script and social commentary.
  22. Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha (1989): Directed by Hariharan, this epic historical drama stars Mammootty in the lead role. It reinterprets the story of Chandu, a legendary warrior from the Vadakkan Pattukal of North Malabar. The film is praised for its screenplay, performances, and direction
  23. Thoovanathumbikal (1987): Directed by Padmarajan, this romantic drama film stars Mohanlal, Sumalatha, and Parvathy. The film, noted for its rich storytelling and atmospheric cinematography, tells the story of a man caught between his love for a woman and his loyalty to another.
  24. Namukku Parkkan Munthiri Thoppukal (1986): Another Padmarajan classic, this romantic drama stars Mohanlal and Shari. It’s a beautiful tale of love that blossoms amidst family issues and societal norms, known for its poetic narrative and memorable dialogues.
  25. Chithram (1988): Directed by Priyadarshan, this comedy-drama stars Mohanlal and Ranjini. It’s a light-hearted yet touching story about a man hired to pretend to be the husband of a woman as part of a complex ruse.
  26. Aakasha Doothu (1988): Directed by Sibi Malayil, this film is a heart-wrenching drama about the emotional journey of a family dealing with terminal illness. The performances and the touching storyline left a lasting impact on audiences.
  27. Varavelpu (1989): This film, directed by Sathyan Anthikad and starring Mohanlal, is a social satire that addresses the struggles faced by Gulf returnees in Kerala. It’s known for its humor, as well as its critique of societal attitudes.
  28. New Delhi (1987): Directed by Joshiy, this thriller stars Mammootty as a journalist who seeks revenge against those who falsely implicated him in a murder case. The film is known for its gripping narrative and strong performances.
  29. Bharatham (1991): Directed by Sibi Malayil and starring Mohanlal, this musical-drama is a modern take on the Mahabharata, focusing on the story of two brothers. The film is celebrated for its music, emotional depth, and Mohanlal’s performance.
  30. Devasuram (1993): Directed by I.V. Sasi, this film stars Mohanlal as Mangalassery Neelakantan, a proud and powerful feudal lord. The film is known for its strong characterizations, memorable dialogues, and a gripping storyline.
  31. Spadikam (1995): Directed by Bhadran, this action drama stars Mohanlal as Thomas “Aadu Thoma” Chacko, a rebellious son of a strict father. The film is celebrated for its portrayal of a strained father-son relationship and Mohanlal’s iconic performance.
  32. Bharatham (1991): Directed by Sibi Malayil, this film is a reinterpretation of the Mahabharata, focusing on the story of two brothers (played by Mohanlal and Nedumudi Venu). The film is acclaimed for its music and Mohanlal’s performance as a troubled but talented Carnatic singer.
  33. Kaalapani (1996): Directed by Priyadarshan, this epic historical drama stars Mohanlal, Prabhu, Tabu, and Amrish Puri. Set in the pre-independence era, it portrays the lives of Indian freedom fighters incarcerated in the notorious Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  34. Aaram Thampuran (1997): Directed by Shaji Kailas, this film features Mohanlal as an enigmatic stranger who becomes involved in the affairs of a feudal village. The film is known for its blend of action, drama, and mystique.
  35. Punjabi House (1998): Directed by Rafi Mecartin, this comedy film stars Dileep and Mohini. The story revolves around a young man who fakes being mute and takes refuge in a Punjabi house. The film is celebrated for its humor and entertaining narrative.
  36. Oru CBI Diary Kurippu (1990): Directed by K. Madhu, this investigative thriller stars Mammootty as CBI officer Sethurama Iyer. The film is the first in a series of CBI-themed films and is known for its suspenseful plot and Mammootty’s performance.
  37. Ramji Rao Speaking (1989): Directed by Siddique-Lal, this comedy film stars Mukesh, Sai Kumar, and Innocent. It’s about a series of misunderstandings and comedic situations when a wrong number connects the lives of several quirky characters. The film was a trendsetter for comedy in Malayalam cinema.
  38. In Harihar Nagar (1990): Another gem from the director duo Siddique-Lal, this film revolves around four friends and their misadventures in Harihar Nagar. The film is known for its humor, memorable characters, and catchy dialogues.
  39. Godfather (1991): Directed by Siddique-Lal, this film is a comedy-drama that revolves around the conflicts within a joint family. The film is known for its witty script and the performances of its ensemble cast.
  40. Kilukkam (1991): Directed by Priyadarshan, this comedy film stars Mohanlal, Jagathy Sreekumar, and Revathi. The story revolves around a tourist guide and the mysterious girl he meets. The film is famous for its humor, scenic locations, and musical score.
  41. Meesa Madhavan (2002): Directed by Lal Jose, this film stars Dileep and Kavya Madhavan. It’s about a village thief who becomes involved in a comedic tangle of events. The film is known for its humor, songs, and Dileep’s performance.
  42. Mukundetta Sumithra Vilikkunnu (1988): Directed by Priyadarshan, this film stars Mohanlal, Sreenivasan, and Ranjini. It’s a comedy about a man who gets involved in a series of humorous situations while trying to earn quick money.
  43. Varathan (2018): Directed by Amal Neerad, this film stars Fahadh Faasil and Aishwarya Lekshmi. It’s a home invasion thriller that deals with the theme of voyeurism and societal evils in a rural setting.
  44. Anjaam Pathiraa (2020): Directed by Midhun Manuel Thomas, this film is a psychological thriller that revolves around a series of police officer murders. The movie is known for its suspenseful plot and engaging narrative.
  45. C U Soon (2020): Directed by Mahesh Narayanan, this film is a computer screen-based thriller starring Fahadh Faasil, Roshan Mathew, and Darshana Rajendran. The story unfolds entirely on a computer screen and smartphones, a novel approach in Malayalam cinema.
  46. Memories (2013): Directed by Jeethu Joseph, this thriller features Prithviraj Sukumaran as a police officer who battles personal demons while investigating a series of murders. The film is known for its dark tone and intense narrative.
  47. Mumbai Police (2013): Directed by Rosshan Andrrews, this film stars Prithviraj Sukumaran, Rahman, and Jayasurya. It’s a gripping tale of a police officer who loses his memory and has to rediscover his identity and the truth about a high-profile case.
  48. Chemmeen (1965): Directed by Ramu Kariat, this classic is based on Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai’s novel. It tells a tragic love story set in a fishing village, backed by phenomenal performances and a memorable soundtrack.
  49. Thattathin Marayathu (2012): Directed by Vineeth Sreenivasan, this film stars Nivin Pauly and Isha Talwar. It’s a charming tale of interfaith love, celebrated for its music, dialogues, and refreshing storytelling.
  50. Ennu Ninte Moideen (2015): Directed by R.S. Vimal, this film is based on the real-life story of Moideen and Kanchanamala. Starring Prithviraj and Parvathy, it’s a poignant tale of undying love against all odds.
  51. Aniyathipraavu (1997): Directed by Fazil, this film stars Kunchacko Boban and Shalini. It’s a heartwarming story of young love and the challenges it faces, known for its melodious music and performances.
  52. Mayaanadhi (2017): Directed by Aashiq Abu, starring Tovino Thomas and Aishwarya Lekshmi, this film is a modern, intense love story that explores complex emotions and relationships in a realistic manner.
  53. Arike (2012): Directed by Shyamaprasad, this film is a light-hearted romantic tale about the nuances of love and relationships. Starring Dileep, Samvrutha Sunil, and Mamta Mohandas, it’s known for its subtle storytelling.
  54. Niram (1999): Directed by Kamal, this film stars Kunchacko Boban and Shalini. It’s a sweet and engaging story of college love, cherished for its youthful charm and memorable songs.
  55. Vinodayathra (2007): Directed by Sathyan Anthikad, this film stars Dileep and Meera Jasmine. It’s a delightful romantic comedy that explores the journey of self-discovery and love in a light-hearted manner.
  56. These films, with their unique narratives, memorable characters, and emotional depth, have left a lasting impact on audiences and continue to be cherished in the realm of Malayalam cinema.
  57. Pulimurugan (2016): Directed by Vysakh, this film stars Mohanlal in the lead role. It’s an action-adventure film that revolves around Murugan, a man who battles a man-eating tiger and the illegal activities of a poaching syndicate in his village. The film is known for its high-octane action sequences, stunning visuals, and Mohanlal’s dynamic performance. It was a major commercial success and became the first Malayalam film to gross over ₹150 crore at the box office.
  58. Big B (2007): Directed by Amal Neerad, this film stars Mammootty as Bilal, a gangster with a heart of gold. The film is known for its stylish making, slick action sequences, and a gripping storyline. Mammootty’s portrayal of Bilal received widespread acclaim, and the film has achieved a cult status among fans of Malayalam cinema.
  59. Lucifer (2019): Directed by actor Prithviraj Sukumaran, this film marks his directorial debut and stars Mohanlal in the lead role. The film is a political action thriller that delves into the power struggles within a political family and the underworld. It’s known for its intense action sequences, compelling storyline, and strong performances, especially by Mohanlal.
  60. Aadu 2 (2017): Directed by Midhun Manuel Thomas, this film is a sequel to the 2015 film Aadu. It’s an action-comedy that follows the adventures of Shaji Pappan and his team of misfits. The film is known for its unique blend of action, humor, and quirky characters, making it a fun and entertaining watch.

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