Best Sequels of Malayalam Cinema, Ranked: From Kireedam To Oru CBI Diary Kurippu

When did the sequel tradition start in Malayalam cinema? And which are the films that have proved worthy successors? Saumya Varier and Satvik Kumar dig deep to come up with a list of 10 films, and some special mentions.
Best Sequels of Malayalam Cinema, Ranked: From Kireedam To Oru CBI Diary Kurippu

A film's timeline ends when the end credits play. We don't know what happens to our characters and their lives after that period, and often wonder about the possibilities…unless there's a sequel. Sequels in the 50s, 60s, 70s and a small part of the 80s traced the lives of the protagonist's children. 

The first-recorded Malayalam film to have a sequel is Aana Valarthiya Vanampady (1959), a Tamil-Malayalam bilingual directed by P Subramaniam, and starring Prem Nawas and Ambika Sukumaran. It revolves around Valli's life in a forest and her falling in love with a man from the city. Its sequel Aana Valarthiya Vanampadiyude Makan (1971) traces her son's life. He narrates his mother's life to his friend, played by Sridevi. 

PA Thomas's Kayamkulam Kochunni (1966) starring Sathyan, Adoor Bhasi and Manavalan Joseph, had a sequel a decade later — Kayamkulam Kochunniyude Makan (1976), directed by Sasikumar and starring Prem Nazir, Jayabharathi, MG Somar and KP Ummar.

Other films  in that era with sequels were CID Nazir (1971) and Taxi Car (1972), starring Prem Nazir and directed by P Venu—inspired by the James Bond series—and horror flick Lisa (1978) and Veendum Lisa (1987), directed by Baby. 

As Malayalam cinema began changing from the 80s, the core idea behind sequels too changed. They introduced spin-offs of characters that became popular in the original version. As Drishyam 2 gears up for an OTT release this Friday, we rank 10 films franchises which have either worked or not with the audience.

10. Four The People trilogy (2004)

Directed by Jayaraj, Four The People traces the lives of four engineering students who form a secret vigilante group to take down powerful and corrupt officials. The film stars Narain as a police officer, Bharath, Arun, Arjun and Padma Kumar as the struggling students, besides Gopika. Lajjavathiye is one of the most popular songs that came out of this film, and it introduced Jassie Gift as a music composer in Malayalam cinema.

By the people (2005)

A new group is formed after Four The People. Director Jayaraj shows a group of four students who decide to fight corruption in the education system after their college mate tries to end his life. Narain plays a convincing IPS officer with ethics again.

Of the people (2008)

After being in prison for fighting authority, the vigilante group is forced to live a regular life. When they go back to taking the law in their own hands, they invite more trouble for the group as well as the police officers. This film is the last of the series, and it dealt with the frustration of students and underprivileged people. However, among the three, only Four the People struck a chord with the audience.

  9. Honey Bee (2013)

Seban (Asif Ali) realises he loves his childhood friend Angel (Bhavana) the day before her wedding and tries to elope with her and their friends. What unfolds is a journey of misadventures with crass humour and tension thrown in. Baburaj, Balu Varghese and Sreenath Bhasi as their friends are charming and funny. The film is directed by Lal Jr and also stars Lal, Suresh Krishna and Vijay Babu. The film also presented statutory warnings in a funny yet creative manner with Asif Ali and Balu Varghese.

Honey Bee 2 (2017)

The film picks up Seban and Angel's love life after an unsuccessful elopement. Angel's family and  Seban's friends plan their marriage based on a lie, which frustrates Seban. Unlike the  first part, Baburaj, Balu Varghese and Sreenath Bhasi's characters are sidelined, and Angel and Seban's difficulties were exaggerated. Replacing the three female actors from the original — Archana Kavi, Melba Babu and Praveena —was a mistake as they have an important role in the men's lives. 

8. Commissioner (1994)

Actor Suresh Gopi's career can be easily described as before and after Commissioner. Though Thalastaanam, Ekalavyan and Mafia established the actor as a successful lead, Commissioner made him a star.

The story revolves around Bharat Chandran IPS (Suresh Gopi) who is assigned as Thiruvananthapuram city commissioner to investigate the murder of justice Mahendran (Karamana Janardanan Nair) who was heading a high-profile investigative commission against an influential businessman Mohan Thomas (Ratheesh) and his allies. The plot thickens when Bharat Chandran locks horns with Mohan Thomas in the process of solving the case. The film was known for its  profanity-filled, power-packed dialogues and punch phrases such as Just remember that, written by Renji Panicker. The action sequences were executed by Mafia Sasi and a piece of impressive theme music composed by Rajamani still remains a ringtone for many. The cast also includes Shobana, Vijayaraghavan, KB Ganesh Kumar, MG Soman, and Rajan P Dev.

Bharat Chandran IPS (2005)

This is a part-sequel part-spinoff of the original film. Why this deja vu, you'd ask? Well, this has to do with a rather confusing casting choice. A few cast members who played certain characters in the first were recast to play different roles in the sequel. But if you can choose to ignore this, Bharat Chandran IPS makes for a passable sequel to Commissioner. The film worked at the box office since it was Suresh Gopi's return to cop dramas, for which he is still admired. It helped that he reprised the iconic character that brought him stardom. The film was written and also directed by Renji Panicker. The cast includes Lalu Alex, Sai Kumar, Vijayaraghavan, Shreya Reddy, Madhu Warrier and Rajan P Dev.

7. Devasuram (1993)

Released in 1993, Devasuram was helmed by legendary director IV Sasi. The film falls under the list of the director's best works. Written by Ranjith, the story revolves around a long animosity between two feudal families in Palakkad district. Mohanlal plays Neelakandan, a gentleman of leisure and a spoilt heir to the Mangalassery family, who picks up a feud with Shekaran of the Mundakkal family, played by Napoleon. Parallel to this feud, Neelakandan disrespects an aspiring Bharatanatyam dancer Bhanumathi, wonderfully performed by Revathi. What follows is Neelakandan's journey to redemption. Ranjith was inspired to write this after hearing about a real person, Mullasserry Rajagopal.

Devasuram went on to become one of the most successful films of the 1990s. Complementing the screenplay was music by MG Radhakrishnan and background score by SP Venkatesh. 

Ravanaprabhu (2001)

A direct sequel to the original, this film was released during Onam. It has Mohanlal portraying the dual roles of father and son. This is Ranjith's debut film as a director after a long-standing career as a writer. 

Though released eight years after Devasuram, the timeline in Ravanaprabhu is set many decades later. We are introduced to Neelakandan's son MN Karthikeyan, played by Mohanlal, who is now an established businessman with a counter-intuitive sense of humour. The story begins when the ancestral house of Neelakandan is placed for auction and it is up to Karthikeyan to retrieve it.

Though the screenplay of this sequel was handled differently when compared to Devasuram, the film went on to become the highest-grossing film of the year. The film also had a one-liner "Savari Giri Giri", uttered by its lead, which was a follow-up to a trend created in the actor's previous outing Narasimham. The musical score by Suresh Peter also became everyone's favorite, with hits like 'Ariyathe Ariyathe' and 'Thakilu Pukilu'. The cast included Vasundhara Das, Revathi, Innocent, Napoleon and Siddique.

6. In Harihar Nagar (1990)

Though the central theme of the film might be questionable in the current era, director Duo Siddique-Lal's In Harihar Nagar was the most celebrated comedy thriller of the 1990s. The story of four youngsters who stalk and try to woo the girl next door, only to be led down a rabbit hole, tickled everyone's funny bone. The characters Mahadevan, Appukuttan, Thomas Kutty and Govindan Kutty, portrayed by Mukesh, Jagadish, Ashokan and Siddique are still considered iconic. A famous one-liner "ThomasKutty…Vittoda!" has stood the test of time and is used by youngsters even today. The film has two chartbusters to its credit — Ekantha Chandrike and Unnam Marannu, composed by S Balakrishnan. 

2 Harihar Nagar (2009)

The sequel released 19 years after the original sees the return of the four leads who are in their 40s, with established careers and families. They reunite in Harihar Nagar for Thomas Kutty's wedding and plan to rekindle their old memories. In this process, they are introduced to Maya, who happens to stay in the opposite villa, and what follows is a well-etched entertainer with an unpredictable twist. Directed by Lal, the sequel was well-received commercially and critically with most of the humour working out well. The leads were repeated from the original, and the rest of the cast includes Lakshmi Rai, Lena, Sudipto Balav and Rohini. Alex Paul composed the music while Venu handled cinematography.

In Ghost House Inn (2010)

The third installment in the Harihar Nagar franchise starts where the sequel ends. After coming into money, Thomas Kutty buys a bungalow in Ooty with plans to start a resort. He invites his friends and their families to spend some time in the bungalow. Things take a dark turn when a priest named Father Dominic warns them that the bungalow is haunted and will cause the buyer dear. 

The story pattern, though different from the previous outings, chooses the horror-comedy trope, reminding us of a Scooby Doo episode. In Ghost House Inn managed to strike a hit at the box office, but is the weakest among the trilogy. The new faces in the cast are Nedumudi Venu, Harisree Ashokan, Kalabhavan Shajon and Radhika.

5. Ramji Rao Speaking (1989)

Director duo Siddique & Lal's debut directorial was a comedy caper starring Mukesh, Innocent and Sai Kumar. Two unemployed youths Balakrishnan (Sai Kumar) and Gopalakrishnan (Mukesh) residing in a PG of sorts owned by Mannar Mathai (Innocent) end up answering a cross-connection call, which puts them in the front end of a ransom deal involving a child's kidnap. The comic banter between its three leads work wonderfully throughout the film. Among the three, Innocent scores brownie points as the gullible house owner. It was remade in Tamil by Fazil as Arangetra Velai  and in Hindi by Priyadarshan as Hera Pheri.

Mannar Mathai Speaking (1995)

The sequel picks up a few years later from the original, with the trio now running a successful drama troupe. Complications occur when an artist walks out of the troupe putting the team in a fix leading to the introduction of Meera played by Vani Vishwanath. The trio begin to suspect her strange behaviour leading to further confusion. The story is inspired from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and was remade in Hindi as Bhagam Bhag by Priyadarshan. If a name can trigger laughter then it has to be Garvasees Aasan (Janardhanan).

Mannar Mathai Speaking 2 or Ramji Rao Speaking 3? (2014)

The third installment in the series was a flaccid attempt in rejuvenating the franchise which misfired from the opening title itself. In an attempt to link the plot to the previous two films the film ends up as a convoluted mess which involves a 25th year celebration of the drama group and the return of Ramji Rao along with Biju Menon's character called Mahendra Varma. Statutory Warning — stick to the first two films. 

4. Aadu (2015)

Jayasurya can carry any character with ease, and this film is proof. Directed by Midhun Manuel Thomas, who went on to make Anjaam Pathira, Aadu is about an unlucky man Shaji Pappan with a backache that makes his wife leave him for someone else. After winning a tug of war tournament, he and his team are presented with a goat (aadu) leading to a hilarious turn of events. Saiju Kurup as Abu Bheekaran, Vijay Babu as clumsy police officer Sarbath Shameer and Vinayakan as Dude are some of the funny highlights of the film. Though it had a limited theatrical run, the movie charmed audiences through repeated re-runs on TV, which led to the greenlighting of its sequel.

Aadu 2 (2017)

Nothing in Shaji Pappan's life works out, but he manages to keep us laughing even during his difficulties. His team is asked to pay Rs five lakh to enter a tug-of-war tournament, for which he sells his house. The team loses the trophy and Shaji's mother is taken to hospital while Dude and his gang and Sarbath Sameer (Vijay Babu) try to return to their former selves. Aadu 2 was a theatrical success and is a convincing sequel to the first part. The makers announced another sequel last year, that too in 3D, with Jayasurya, Sunny Wayne, Saiju Kurup and Vijay Babu reprising their roles, but reports say it has been put on hold or shelved, due to the pandemic.

3. Nadodikattu (1987) — The One Where It All Began

If you ask any avid fan of Malayalam cinema which film franchise deserves another part, one out of three would mention Nadodikattu. The characters Ramdas and Vijayan, portrayed by Mohanlal and Sreenivasan, have been etched in the minds of every Malayalee from the 1980s and 1990s, and even today people seem to yearn for these characters to return for another adventure.

Released in the year 1987, Nadodikattu is a social satire that highlights issues of unemployment and people choosing various ways to make ends meet. The plot (for those three people who still haven't seen the film) revolves around two youths who lose their jobs and plan to illegally sail across to Dubai foreseeing a better future, but land in Chennai and are mistaken for CID officers. What follows is a hilarious tale of mistaken identity involving a group of smugglers, a local politician, and a hitman named Pavanayi. Dialogues like "Gafoor Ka dosth" and "Aishwaryatinde siren muzhangunnu" are still taken as references in many Dubsmash videos and memes. The film also has two everlasting songs composed by Shyam — Karakanna and Vaishakha Sandye. Nadodikattu was also remade in Tamil as Katha Nayagan, starring S Ve. Shekher and Pandiarajan. 

Pattanapravesham(1988)- Twice the charm

The sequel to Nadodikattu is possibly the quickest one to release — it took just seven months. The story begins with the murder of a police officer in Kerala, which puts pressure on the ruling government to solve the case quickly. Dasan and Vijayan, now bonafide CID officers in Tamil Nadu, are called to solve the case. While the first film was majorly set in Chennai, the second one brings the duo to their home ground Kerala. Pattanapravesham is that rare sequel that almost matches up to its predecessor. The film also brings back characters from the first such as Puthenpurackal Balan and Ananthan Nambiar, played by Innocent and Legendary actor Thilakan. Apart from being a little campier than the first, the film was a huge hit and a well-deserved sequel.

Akkare Akkare Akkare (1990) – Three is a crowd?

The third installment in the franchise takes the adventure way out of the country. Director Priyadarshan takes over from Sathyan Anthikad, and there's music by Ouseppachan. When a prized crown jewel is stolen from India to the US, Dasan is given the opportunity to investigate and retrieve the crown. After pondering over the fact that only Dasan has been called for the mission, Vijayan pleads to be taken along. What follows is something similar to the previous films, but set in a different location. Though not a commercial success during its initial release, over time, the film has garnered praise and remains a cult favorite. Written by Sreenivasan, phrases from the film such as Sadhanam Kayyilundo have grown up to gain iconic status, and are also a pop culture reference.

2. CBI investigation series 

Oru CBI Diary Kurippu (1988)

Directed by K Madhu and starring Mammootty, Jagathy Sreekumar, Suresh Gopi and Urvasi, Oru CBI Diary Kurippu is the first film of the series that follows Sethurama Iyer's investigations. Sethurama Iyer arrives much later in the film and has a magnetic presence. There's also Jagathy Sreekumar's subtle humour. The famous dummy drop sequence has been subjected to many parody events and has been referred to in a scene in Pattanapravesham. 

Jagratha (1989)

Director K Madhu retains some of the main characters from the 1988 flick and has Sethurama Iyer investigating the murder of  actress Ashwathy (played by Parvathy). The film builds its characters and subplots strongly and makes it a gripping thriller. 

The makers added a disclaimer requesting viewers not to reveal the climax, similar to what the Russo Brothers did with Avengers End Game. Initially, the character etched for Mammootty was that of a shrewd cop named Ali Ibrahim, but this was later changed to the more timid Sethurama Iyer. 

Sethurama Iyer CBI (2004)

The third film in the CBI investigation franchise takes place 15 years later. Sethurama Iyer is called upon by a convicted serial killer Isow Alex (Kalabhavan Mani) who claims he has committed only six of the seven murders for which he is in prison. How Sethurama Iyer solves the case and reveals the true killer forms the rest of the story. The film brought original collaborators K Madhu and SN Swamy back to this franchise. 

Nerariyan CBI (2005)

After the success of the third installment, the makers collaborated once again for this fourth outing in the CBI franchise. After a mysterious death of a college student who visits her friend's ancestral house, which is claimed to be cursed, Sethurama Iyer steps in to solve the mystery. Though the film had a fair run in theaters, it is considered inferior compared to its prequels, mainly due to few unnecessary sub-plots that deviate from the central storyline. It's passable, although not a patch on its predecessors.  

1. Kireedam (1989) 

1989 was the year for writer Lohithadas and director Sibi Malayil, who created two of the most influential movies in Malayalam cinema that also showcased actor Mohanlal's range — Dasharatham, which dwelled upon surrogacy, and Kireedam, a hard hitting drama of shattered aspirations. 

Kireedam tells the story of Sethumadhavan (Mohanlal), son of police constable Achuthan Nair (Thilakan), who aspires to become a police inspector and is in the process of preparing for it. Fate takes a turn when Sethumadhavan ends up beating a local thug to save his father. Sethumadhavan is branded an anti-social element. This affects his career and takes him on a downward spiral. The last 10 minutes of the film leading up to the climax showcases gold-standard performances from Thilakan and Mohanlal, capable of breaking the coldest of hearts. The film won Mohanlal his first National award in the special mention category and MG Sreekumar won the state award for best playback singer. The film was remade in Hindi by Priyadarshan as Gardish, starring Jackie Shroff. 

Chenkol (1993) 

A sequel to Kireedam is no easy job. Lohitadas and Sibi Malayil team up to explore the after effects in Sethumadhavan's life. The film begins with Sethumadhavan being released after seven years of imprisonment. The hurdles he faces while trying to become a reformed man becomes the central plot. Chenkol was an average grosser during its theatrical run since it was overshadowed by the release of Manichitrathazhu, which came out a week later. The film is an underrated classic with some worthy performances by its leads. Watch out for the scene where Mohanlal's character stands in front of a mirror and reflects upon what he has become.

Spin offs and Special Mentions

Kilukkam (1991) 

The next best comedy film to Chitram starred Mohanlal as the happy-go-lucky tour guide Joji and Jagathy Sreekumar as still photographer Nischal. Their lives turn upside down with the arrival of rich tourist Nandini, played by Revathi. From 'Angamaliyile Pradhanamanthri' to 'American dollars'', the list of witty dialogues in this film are endless. SP Venkatesh's lilting musical score included evergreen tracks such as Kilukil Pambaram and Meena Venalil.

Kilukkam Kilukilukkam (2006) 

An abomination of a sequel to the classic original starred Kuchako Boban, Jayasuriya and Kavya Madhavan, along with Innocent and Jagathy Sreekumar reprising their roles from the original. Even a cameo by Mohanlal as Joji couldn't save the film.

The Balram trilogy

Aavanazhi (1987)

Mammootty plays the Dirty Harry equivalent as Circle Inspector Balram in this film directed by IV Sasi. The film gave Mammootty his angry young cop image and reflected upon social and political issues, which can be seen in the star's later films.

Inspector Balram (1991)

A follow-up to Aavanazhi saw Mammootty reprise the role of Inspector Balram. The events take place four years later . How Balram seeks revenge after his wife is killed becomes the main plot.

Balram vs Tharadas (2006)

A spin-off of sorts that brought together Aavanazhi's Balram and Athirathram's Tharadas, with Mammootty playing both roles. This film marked Katrina Kaif's Malayalam debut. Directed by IV Sasi, this crossover can be a passable watch for ardent fans of the franchise.

August 1st 

Director Sibi Malayil's political thriller takes inspiration from the 1973 cult classic The Day of the Jackal. Mammootty plays a staunch cop Perumal who attempts to foil an assassination attempt on the chief minister played by Sukumaran.

August 15th

This sequel directed by Shaji Kailas has Mammootty reprise the role of Perumal, who is assigned to investigate a poisoning attempt on the chief Minister. For those who haven't seen the original, this might just make the cut.

A few Special mentions also include Aakasha Ganga (1999) and  Aakasha Ganga 2 (2019); Major Mahadevan Series — Keerthi Chakra (2006), Kurukshetra (2008) Kandahar (2010) 1971: Beyond Borders (2017);  Irupatham Noottandu (1987) and Sagar Alias Jacky Reloaded (2009); The King (1995), The King and The Commissioner (2015) and Manichitrathazu (1993) and Geethaanjali (2013).

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