Category: Lists

Best of Malayalam Cinema in 2018 (Critics’ Choice)

Although over 150 Malayalam films released in 2018, only a handful of those were deemed watchable by industry critics at large. Out of this handful, 15 titles were selected based on their cinematic brilliance and without considering their box office success.

Ee Ma Yau poster
Ee. Ma. Yau is the best Malayalam film of 2018

This is a list of the 15 best Malayalam movies of 2018, as selected by eminent critics of the Kerala film industry.

  1. Ee. Ma. Yau (dir. Lijo Jose Pellissery)
  2. Sudani from Nigeria (dir. Zakariya)
  3. Sexy Durga (dir. Sanal Kumar Sasidharan)
  4. Varathan (dir. Amal Neerad)
  5. Kayamkulam Kochunni (dir. Rosshan Andrrews)
  6. Koode (dir. Anjali Menon)
  7. Carbon (dir. Venu)
  8. Eeda (dir. Ajithkumar)
  9. Aami (dir. Kamal)
  10. Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil (dir. Tinu Pappachan)
  11. Njan Marykutty (dir. Ranjith Sankar)
  12. Aalorukkam (dir. V C Abhilash)
  13. Padayottam (dir. Rafeek Ibrahim)
  14. Poomaram (dir. Abrid Shine)
  15. Maradona (dir. Vishnu Narayn)
Varathan Malayalam film poster
Varathan has polarizing reviews but still came in at #4

The method of selection as well as other details about individual titles can be found over at my IMDb list here. My annual tradition of creating best-of lists/video was not possible because I could not catch all the films in 2018. (A punishment for not living in Kerala.)

Carbon film poster
Carbon stars Fahadh Faasil and Mamata Mohandas in the lead

Most of these are available on DVD or VOD. If none of these interest you or if you have already seen them, consider my personal favourites:

  • Ente Mezhuthiri Athazhangal (dir. Sooraj Thomas)
  • Uncle (dir. Gireesh Damodar)
  • Theevandi (dir. Fellini T P)
  • Kuttanpillayude Sivarathri (dir. Jean Markose)

Or, go for some of the underdogs of 2018:

  • Bhayaanakam (dir. Jayaraj)
  • Kaly (dir. Najeem Koya)
  • Joseph (dir. M Padmakumar)
  • Lilli (dir. Prasobh Vijayan)
  • Kammara Sambhavam (dir. Rathish Ambat)
  • Njan Prakashan (dir. Sathyan Anthikkad)

While you decide which film to catch this holiday season, also check out my list of the best posters of Malayalam cinema in 2018. A few of my other similar lists related to Malayalam films can be found here (best of 2017), here (best of 2016), and here (best of 2015). TN.

Best Posters of Malayalam Cinema in 2018

I am a sucker for posters. They are one of my favourite design objects to look at. As an Engineering student, I used to design posters for my college’s annual cultural events and would spend a good time working on them. Because I used to heavily depend on stock images while grabbing ideas off the internet, I understand how difficult it is to design them. And when it comes to films, it is often out of just an idea. First-look posters have to attract a film’s target audience while depending on that tiny idea sitting only in the director’s head. That is why talking about their beauty and appreciating the best ones as well as their creators are important.

Here is a list of posters that were created for Malayalam films that released in 2018. In no specific order; and images sourced from IMP Awards, IMDb, or the film’s respective Facebook pages, with proper credits attributed wherever expected.


These are the best Malayalam posters of 2018:

Carbon film poster
Produced by Poetry Film House

Designed by Oldmonks, the posters for Venu’s adventure drama film Carbon perfectly encapsulates the hidden meaning behind the title as well as the central character’s selfish odyssey. Note the elongated hexagonal outline of the poster as well as the geometrical shapes in the title font and then read the tagline.


Ee Ma Yau poster
Produced by RGK Cinema

I am not a fan of posters that are not vertical (portrait) in shape, yet I cannot resist raving about this poster designed by Oldmonks for Lijo Jose Pellissery’s sombre drama Ee.Ma.Yau. In the film, the titular character dreams of being sent to the Gods on a gigantic coffin with pomp and circumstance. And with this striking first-look poster, we exactly know how big (“breaching a coastline” big), while giving you a bad taste of death and horror along the way.


Dakini Malayalam film poster
Produced by Universal Cinema and Urvasi Theatres

Rahul Riji Nair’s zany crime comedy drama Dakini certainly switched ON the hype through its series of vibrant posters designed by digital artist Prathool N T. I love the title font so much that I just cannot decide between it and the poster’s magnificent colour scheme. Nowhere has a team of four grandmas looked old, lovable, and wicked at the same time. But I don’t think I can forgive the makers for the missing Oxford comma. (Just kidding!)

Trivia – What is surprising to me is that the artist also developed the publicity designs for Rosshan Andrrews’s period crime drama Kayamkulam Kochunni. Which are better than the ones designed by Thought Station that went live.


Lilli Malayalam film poster
Produced by E4 Entertainment

Prasobh Vijayan’s crime drama Lilli ran a pretty successful campaign before its release, thanks to ample help from Oldmonks who only raised the bar if we compare this with their first two designs on this list. Giving the central and titular character a bouquet of lilies to hold, a crown of thorns to wear, and an aura, and then framing her as a character in a High Renaissance painting makes me want to print it (frescoed, if possible) and gift it to a friend so that he can expand his own Sistine Chapel collection of movie posters.


Varathan Malayalam film poster
Produced by Fahadh Faasil and Friends

The neon colour scheme, especially in the title font, made me spit out my coffee the first time I saw the Oldmonks-designed first poster of Amal Neerad’s uppity crime drama Varathan. And then I stopped having coffee for some time because with each poster coming out (even the character ones), I was getting this strange, negative vibe – something bad is going to happen to the lead characters that will unshape their relationship. That is exactly what the film wanted to convey. And it is.


Padayottam Malayalam movie poster
Produced by Weekend Blockbusters

Another poster designed by Prathool N T, the rusty, neon-induced shades added more fun and expectations to Rafeek Ibrahim’s gritty crime comedy Padayottam. It is when you realize that the character (played by Biju Menon) you see in the poster is not as terrifying as he seems to be in the film is what makes this more interesting. (Like an anti-promotion stunt, if you will.) Posters so colourful like these for films like these make me secure my faith in Malayalam cinema.


Ranam Malayalam film poster
Produced by Yes Cinema

With Nirmal Sahadev’s crime drama Ranam (also known as Detroit Crossing), Oldmonks add some Western touch to their design (and rightly so), which makes this poster featuring the ensemble cast look like that of a potential Hollywood blockbuster. Do note the neonized font for the title in Malayalam text.


Iblis Malayalam film poster
Produced by Ichais Productions

Designed by nologomedia, this charming poster for Rohith V S’s fantasy love story Iblis has not only a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL title font but also fantastical factors etched into each and every one of its pixels, which gives you every bit of a hint about what to expect. Iblis is also the third film on this list so far to feature its actors’ names on the posters, which surely is a welcome move by Malayalam cinema at large if you ask me.


Neerali Malayalam film poster
Produced by Moonshot Entertainments

Oldmonks give Ajoy Varma’s slipshod survival drama Neerali (or Nieraali) a more direct reference to its title (which means Octopus) than the director himself gave to the film. The immensely likable designs with a heavy dose of honey yellow scattered across the posters, and an intelligent hue spectrum on specifically the one above, made me go gaga.


Thobama Malayalam film poster
Produced by Radical Cinemas and Thekkepat Films

Designed by 24AM, the poster design for Mohsin Kassim’s ode to romance Thobama gives out a peculiarly oldies vibe (of a time) when you used to hang out with your colleagues on the madhil and whistle at the beauties of your college (which, at the moment, is a type of eve-teasing). It’s supposed to be nonchalant and nostalgic and it very well is, with some amazing use of the watercolour effect.

Trivia – 24AM rose to instant popularity when their butterfly logo on the posters for Alphonse Putharen’s Premam went viral.


Aabhaasam Malayalam film poster
Produced by Spire Productions and Collective Phase One

Designed by artist Pavi Sankar, the posters for Jubith Namradath’s social satire Aabhaasam are as raunchy and vivid as the film’s characters and the central theme. There would be no one person who will look at this piece of art and not want to consider consuming the full content. I remember the publicity team had also released a slightly risque-y poster on social media once the film was certified by the CBFC after much controversy. And it was equally awe-inspiring. Just bravo!


Eeda Malayalam film poster
Produced by Delta Studio and Collective Phase One

One of the best Malayalam movies of 2018, B Ajithkumar’s powerful romance story narrated against a political backdrop Eeda really took the rawness and realism of its theme to a higher level with this poster. Not only does it adopt the “put the ensemble” route – like Dakini, Ranam, and Aabhaasam – but also takes its title font so seriously that it evokes memories of a certain political theory popular in Kannur (and Kerala, in general) where the film is set. It is designed by Oldmonks.


Aami Malayalam film poster
Produced by Reel and Real Cinema

Last on this list is – for the eighth time – an Oldmonks design where they give a subtle nod to the film’s primary subject (legendary writer Kamala Surayya) and her ink-y writings that not only wreaked havoc in her own life but also kicked up a furore in the sensitive literary, political, and religious spheres. What better use of the smudge tool than on a poster for a film that talks about how a person is oppressed by the society because of their outspoken writing. This is for Kamal’s hard-hitting biopic Aami.


These are the 13 best posters that helped Malayalam cinema go the extra mile in its promotions in 2018. I wanted to list more posters (considering around a hundred fifty films released this year) and write about their designers to give them more exposure but I feel doing that would take the focus off from these pieces of remarkable creative art. TN.


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Rethinking Movie Disclaimers

I was watching V A Shrikumar Menon’s Malayalam-language thriller Odiyan (2018) last day and I couldn’t help but think about the disclaimers that flashed on the screen. While I have noticed the disclaimer “Violence against women is punishable under law” in plenty of other recent films, it is only now that I thought about it in length.

I understand why there is a need to add that particular disclaimer (added to a scene where Prakash Raj’s character is forcibly holding Sreejaya Nair’s character’s jaw by his hand) – especially in today’s sensitive landscape where violence against women has shot up unnaturally – and how it satisfies and suggests the country’s various art control and regulation boards into believing that their job is done, but what stumps me is the singularity of it all. Why do we restrict the disclaimers to only certain elements? Why only women, cigarette smoking, and animals?

Why do we append these less-than-useless disclaimers in movies when we know that there are other bigger reasons that cause these very things that we are trying to eradicate? Why do we think that these disclaimers will have a considerable impact when no one even takes them seriously other than those who mandate it who, by the way, I’m told, often look at these disclaimers when they don’t have access to porn? 

Plus, we all know that not a single smoker has kicked the butt after watching that horrendously produced anti-smoking disclaimer, now starring Indian cricketer Rahul “The Wall” Dravid in the performance of his lifetime.

So, here’s a list of common disclaimers that we all have seen and got irritated by when at the movies and how they should be if we were living in an ideal world.

Movie Disclaimers in an Ideal World

If there is a need to add disclaimers in movies (restricted to Indian movies), I would love to see these versions over the current ones:

  • Not all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is not purely coincidental.
  • No one was harmed during the making of this film.
  • Culpable violence against all genders is punishable under law.
  • Smoking, much like living in a polluted city and other 87 acts, is injurious to health.
  • Intoxication is injurious to health.
  • Not following the rules underlined in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is punishable under law.

I know for a fact that as long as we are sensitive about art, this new edition of movie disclaimer texts will never be accepted. My future son already knows this. But I’m still hopeful.

What are some other disclaimers that takes the fun out of your movie-watching experience? Let me know and we will edit it a bit. TN.

List: Types of People You Meet in an Elevator

The elevator is the most awkward place on Earth. Your intention might be to just transport yourself vertically but the people you meet in there make it a gauche affair. Whether it is an elevator at your housing society’s high-rise or your workplace or any other lift capsule, these people are omnipresent.

Outside the Elevator

  • Crashers – They crowd the entrance of the lift and hope to enter the elevator before people inside have even begun to walk out. They wake up in the morning with only one purpose in life: finding a place inside a lift
  • Sprint Runners – They are a variation of Crashers. They are always in a hurry, have a slightly swifter gait, and use their elbows as weapons to clear off the crowd. One moment they will be outside and the other they are in front of you turning into a Crasher
  • Delayers – They call the lift, see everyone else get in, and then stand outside waiting for their friends to join. They repeatedly press the call button and delay the lift’s movement. They often are the opposite in bed
  • Anxiety Folks – They tend to press the call button again and again till their ego and insecurity have filled themselves to the brim

types of elevator people

It sucks when all of them enter together. © Photo by Vale Zmeykov on Unsplash

Inside the Elevator

  • Network Seekers – Always the ones talking on the phone just when the lift starts moving. They know that network connectivity tends to get weaker when you are moving at a high speed on a vertical plane but boy they talk. And a few seconds later they begin to shout
  • Gangbangers – Typically a group of two or more people whose primary purpose is to measure the sound proofing of an elevator capsule. From cackling to roaring to snickering – with loud and intense sound waves – they are also often the people who crack the worst jokes
  • Leaners – Physically incapable or not, they just lean on the wall of the elevator. They enter, choose any of the three sides, and lean their entire body on the elevator wall panel. These are mostly people who are fed up with their life (housing society) or work (office building)
    • Ultra Leaners – They lean on the doors (fourth wall) of the elevator. They are so fed up, they have suicide in their subconscious mind
  • Watchers – They enter the capsule and stand without turning. While everybody is facing the door of the elevator, these guys look at you. And smile
  • Oglers – Probably the most common type of elevator people. They usually have a phone in hand that they give the remaining 30% attention to when they are not looking at you, your attire, and the visible body beneath your attire. Their only regret in life is that they don’t have see-through glasses
  • Hitpeople – They walk in, stand facing the door/s, look at the changing numbers on the display panel, and get out when it’s their floor. In their free time, they kill people and bury their bodies in the hull of the lift structure
  • Noobs – They enter the lift and later realize that it does not stop at their floor. These are the ones who empty an entire bucket of ice cream later that day when such a thing happens
  • Helpers – They usually stand by the control panel of the lift and give in to requests of pressing floor numbers by other travelers. They often end up with partners who abuse them mentally for the rest of their lives

There is never a good way to travel in an elevator which increases your chances of being one of these people. Happy elevation!

List: Why People Don’t Wear Helmets

Every day while traveling to my workplace I see people riding motorcycles without wearing a helmet. And every day I wonder what makes them skip the one essential safety element that can save their head from breaking in case of an accident.

So, one day, I sat and thought deep about it. I also asked a few friends what they think. Friends who wear, even have an extra for the pillion rider, do not wear, and do not even own one. And this is what I found.

riders don't wear helmets

Most people own a helmet, but they keep it at home. / Jon Tyson

17 Reasons Why People Don’t Wear Helmets

  • It screws up their hairstyle
  • It’s uncomfortable and borderline suffocates them
  • “The stock unit that I got with my Honda Unicorn would anyway not save my head so why should I bother”
  • It’s an unneeded expense and petrol prices are only rising
  • “I don’t like to hold it in my hand when I am not riding”
  • “I couldn’t find a large one”
  • Good quality helmets are expensive
  • “I know how to talk to the traffic police”
  • “I only ride short distances”
  • “I would pay the 500-rupee fine once than buy a helmet worth 5ooo rupees”
  • “My helmet was stolen twice”
  • “I ride safely and am confident that I will not meet with an accident”
  • It’s heavy
  • It stinks
  • “I started losing hair because of it”
  • “I have never been stopped by the traffic police”
  • They don’t like to follow rules

There are even dumber reasons that people give when asked about their habit of not wearing a helmet. It just baffles me that people are ready to put their lives in danger because a helmet will distort their hairstyle (#1 reason) and they always want to look presentable.

I have tried describing to them the problems associated with helmet-less riding, and so far, I have changed the mind of not a single person. Which is why people don’t come to me when they want to convince someone.

One day I will write about why people don’t wear seat belts but for now read what I have observed in today’s taxi-cabs.

What are your thoughts on helmet-less riding or unsafe riding/driving in general? What dumb/weird reasons have you come across? Let me know in the comments below. Check the conversation at Reddit. TN.