• Thursday, July 25, 2024

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Top Malayalam survival films

Marvellous Mollywood thrillers that kept audiences hooked


By: Asjad Nazir

MALAYALAM cinema making great survival thrillers has been illustrated by Manjummel Boys breaking box office records earlier this year and becoming the highest grossing movie the industry has ever produced.

It is one of many powerful dramas produced by an industry that very much relies on clever writing and interesting settings to propel a plot forward.

Eastern Eye decided to launch a rescue mission to find the best 10 survival thrillers made in Mollywood that deserve to be on any watchlist, listed in chronological order.

Top Malayalam survival films

Malootty (1990): The smash hit survival thriller influenced subsequent Malayalam movies that followed in the genre. The 1980s set story revolves around a five-year-old girl, who falls down a deep drill hole during a vacation. Her desperate father races against time to save his baby daughter before it’s too late. The chaos that ensues was perfectly captured in a drama about a parent’s love. Child star Baby Shamili won the Kerala State Film Award for best child artist for the title role.

Take off (2017): The survival thriller became popular with audiences, despite having some accusations of Islamophobia levelled against it. The story based on some apparent real events that occurred revolved around Indian nurses, who get stuck in Iraq during rising tensions and influx of dark terrorist forces during a bloody civil war. The female

Top Malayalam survival films
Take off

protagonist caught in the crossfire must survive and rescue her family in all the chaos. The movie won several awards including for the lead actress Parvathy Thiruvothu, who later admitted to the movie having some questionable elements. 



Neerali (2018): A movie that received mixed reviews perhaps didn’t get the credit it deserved and had plenty to offer audiences. Legendary actor Mohanlal played the lead role in the unique story of two friends rushing to hospital, who get involved in a car crash. The vehicle they are in slides off the road and hangs precariously off the edge of a cliff. As the night progresses, the lead protagonist tries to survive and reflects on his life. Although the movie about a man stuck on the edge of a cliff took creative liberties, it combined tension with an exploration of death and rebirth.

Top Malayalam survival films

Varathan (2018): The home invasion thriller starring Fahadh Faasil and Aishwarya Lekshmi had multiple layers. They portrayed a couple, who return to Kerala from Dubai, but soon realise their dream home has turned out to be a nightmare after mysterious happenings. The nerve-shredding drama revolves around the couple and some people who they are protecting having to survive the night in a house when the villains attack. The film inspired by Hollywood psychological thriller Straw Dogs (1971) had a slow build up, which rolls towards a strong finale.Top Malayalam survival films

Virus (2019): This medical thriller about a mysterious virus was interestingly made and released shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic brought the whole world to a standstill. The story revolved around the spread of a deadly virus, and those battling to survive it, including a medical team trying to tackle the crisis. The multi-starrer took audiences on an emotional rollercoaster. With so many perishing and trying to survive the coronavirus outbreak, this Malayalam drama became even more timely, and had many eery similarities.

Top Malayalam survival films

Helen (2019): The chilling drama revolves around a young woman who is accidentally locked in a storage freezer at the end of a working day at a restaurant. The trapped girl contends with bitterly cold temperatures, as frostbite and hypothermia set in. Meanwhile, her worried father is frantically trying to find his missing daughter outside. Anna Ben delivers a standout performance as the determined protagonist, who does whatever is needed to survive. Helen also has a great sub-text of a father-daughter story. The movie was later remade in Bollywood as Mili (2022), with Jahnvi Kapoor in the lead role.

Top Malayalam survival films

Malayankunju (2022): A mentally disturbed individual battling past demons finds himself in a deadly situation after a fierce monsoon landslide buries him. When all hope seems lost, he finds an inner power from an unexpected place in his mind. Fahadh Faasil played the multi-layered role perfectly in this drama of survival and ultimately redemption. Apart from human emotions and a race against time thriller element, the movie also delt with different kinds of psychological trauma affecting an individual.

Top Malayalam survival films

2018 (2023): India’s official entry for best international feature film at the 96th Academy Awards clocked up huge box-office numbers. The survival drama based on the severe 2018 Kerala floods became the most successful Malayalam movie in history when it was released and is currently the second-highest grossing of all time. A great cast was assembled for the inspiring story of unconnected individuals, battling their own respective challenges, who step up to help others during a devastating flood. There were plenty of stirring moments in a gripping drama described as a tribute to ordinary people who became extraordinary because of their willingness to risk their lives, to help total strangers.

Top Malayalam survival films
Manjummel Boys

Manjummel Boys (2024): This blockbuster hit became the highest grossing Malayalam movie of all time after it was released in cinemas earlier this year. The surprise survival super hit based on real life events revolves around a group of friends, who venture into restricted caves. When one of them falls into a deep hole, the group of men race against time to rescue him and face hurdles along the way, including authorities who are convinced their friend has died. The story of surviving against the odds and the enduring power of friendship was powered by great performances. There was also plenty of tension and innovative touches that had audiences hooked.

Aadujeevitham – The Goat Life (2024): The story based on real life events became the third highest grossing Malayalam movie in history when it was released in cinemas earlier this year. Prithviraj Sukumaran delivered a stunning performance in the story of an Indian migrant labourer forced into slavery in Saudi Arabia, making a daring escape across a desert. He battles harsh conditions of an unforgiving desert on his quest to get back home. The ambitious movie with music by AR Rahman told a survival story on a big canvas and explored the harsh treatment of those who go abroad for a better life. It also showed the immense power of not giving up.

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