A series of romantic regional movies is incomplete without a mention of some of the most heart-warming Malayalam movies that have explored emotions related to love in most experimental ways. The premise might be regular, but directors like Alphonse Putharen and Aashiq Abu have worked their genius to give us relatable characters and tangible emotions.
Presenting some of my favourite romantic Malayalam films that are perfect for your Valentine’s Week watchlist.
Director Alphonse Putharen’s second film, Premam, is the first name that comes to mind when you say Malayalam romantic film. Sai Pallavi’s performance as teacher Malar won hearts, but it is Nivin Pauly’s hopless romantic character George who you sympathize with. Despite his transformation from an infatuated teenager to a rowdy college-goer to a mature man, his character’s innocence remains intact all through. His heart still flutters at the sight of a girl. It’s hard not to connect with George’s faith in love, despite multiple disappointments. It’s an emotional story peppered with humour. Add to that impressive music and beautiful visuals, and Premam becomes the romantic cinematic experience worth every moment of its slightly long screen time.
Ohm Shanthi Oshana (2014)
It might seem that I am partial to Nivin Pauly's movies, but it’s completely by chance that I came across Ohm Shanthi Oshana, read the reviews and decided to give it a dekko. This is a delightfully feminist romantic comedy. Nazriya Nazim has aced her role as the obsessed teenager with a singular focus. Nivin plays the object of her affection, he did not have to do much other than be the village do-gooder. Nazriya is the driving force of the film. She obsesses over him, stalks him, takes care of his mother and even joins his charity cause – all in order to impress him. In short, she does everything a man would traditionally do to pursue a woman. The innocence with which Nazriya delivers her performance will totally win you over.
Thattathin Marayathu (2012)
This film is about a Hindu boy, Vinod Nair (Nivin Pauly), and a Muslim girl, Aisha (Isha Talwar), and the conflict arising out of this inter-faith relationship. Vinod sees Aisha at a friend’s wedding and falls in love with her. He does everything in his power to meet her thereafter, from attending inter-college youth festivals to visiting her college almost every day. But even if love blooms between them, family acceptance is another matter. Thattathin Marayathu might seems like a boy-meets-girl inter-faith relationship story, but the Nivin and Isha’s chemistry is a big draw. The cute, simple storyline was a hit with critics and the film was a box office success as well.
Annayum Rasoolum (2013)
Annayum Rasoolum is also an inter-faith love story, but with a different treatment, just like most Faahad Faasil films. Set in Vypin islands in Kerala, the plot revolves around a star-crossed romance between Rasool (Fahadh Faasil), a Muslim taxi driver, and Anna (Andrea Jeremiah), a Latin Christian salesgirl, both from conservative working class families. It takes time for Rasool to convince Anna and make her understand his love for her; he always follows her as she travels regularly to her work place. Unlike Thattathin Marayathu, this film is more grounded in reality with the underbelly of Kochi city as its backdrop. Rajeev Ravi’s cinematography does not gloss over the realities of life in an urban jungle. The film won a National Film Award and three Kerala State Film Awards.
Salt N’ Pepper (2011)
Malayalam cinema is known for its slightly experimental treatment of a conventional subject, and Salt N’ Pepper is one such film. The Aashiq Abu directorial tells the story of a middle-aged man and woman, Kalidasan and Maya, who speak to each other over the phone out of pure coincidence, and eventually fall in love with each other through their mutual love for food. The film deals with insecurities related to age and looks, and past heartbreaks that makes on apprehensive about investing their emotions again. All this is presented very simple, with some humour sprinkled like salt and pepper all through. The film offers a satisfactory end for viewers who painfully long for the moment of when they finally meet.