The success of Joji might have brought back focus on the master filmmaker’s film Irakal and his entire filmography. But before you take a call on the Dileesh Pothan film (and its similarities), here’s an essential viewing list to help you make an informed opinion.
The director’s first film is a captivating work. Shot by Ramachandra Babu, the dream sequences of the film set in a mortuary remain haunting even today. About a lost man who lands up in Madras without knowing who he is, the film is based on a real account recorded by its writer and psychiatrist ‘Psycho’ Mohammed.
Although the director does not think much of his films shot between his first film and 1979, he seems to have course-corrected with Ulkadal. Among the first campus films in Malayalam, the film’s structure shares a distant resemblance to Alphonse Putharen’s blockbuster Premam. It stars Venu Nagavalli and Sobha, both of whom becoming important fixtures of George’s films after.
Available on: SunNXT, MX Player
The film that started KG George’s long association with Mammootty. Starring Mela Raghu, the film is about a dwarf who plays a clown in a circus and how his life changes once he marries a beautiful woman. Watching Amal Neerad’s short Kullante Bharya (starring Dulquer) right after Mela is highly advised.
This unusual film takes the plot away from cities and idyllic villages to introduce us to people we’ve all met, but never seen in our movies. Set in Central Travancore, in places and among people the director grew up witnessing, the film is based on a story by National Award Winning actor PJ Anthony, who acted in Nirmalyam.
Available on: Hotstar
The director’s first film to be termed a classic is one that takes off from a murder that happens within a drama troupe. With fascinating use of mise en scene, we see actors performing both on stage and for the camera at the same time, adding several layers in the process. It works just as well as a whodunit as a complex drama.
Lekhayude Maranam: Oru Flashback (1983)
Available On: Hostar, Eros Now
The heroine from his film Ulkadal became the unfortunate subject of this film, which traced the death of actor Sobha. Similarities between this film and the real-life affair of Balu Mahendra and Sobha makes the film eerily powerful. It is also among the first films to show us the dirty underbelly of the movie business, especially in Kodambakkam.
Adamine Variyellu (1983)
This feminist drama is also an innovative multi-narrative for the time. It took us into the lives of three women from three different classes but stuck in similar situations. The climax is a highlight and the film’s strong female characters became a signature.
Panchavadi Palam (1984)
KG George’s only comedy is based on a story titled Palam Apakadathil, written by Veloor Krishnankutty. It has several hilarious situations and a fascinating list of actors. In 81/2 Intercuts we get great insights into how the climax was shot using multiple cameras, for the first time in Malayalam cinema. Certain cartoon-like frames remain fresh to this day.
Available On: Sun Nxt, Eros Now, MX Player
Joji has brought fresh focus for this film that remained reasonably underrated before the lockdown. Complex and layered, Irakal too is set within a rubber plantation, that too in a dysfunctional family. It is about three brothers with the youngest one being a little too troublesome, yet it’s very different from Joji. The allegorical film deserves to be celebrated.
With a list of supporting characters played by Mammootty and Urvashi, this family drama takes us right into the lives of an unhappily married older couple played by Karamana Janaradanan Nair and Seema. Highlights like a silent scene of the couple visiting a beach, showing us their different perspectives and priorities, is KG George at his best.
Yathrayude Anthyam (1990)
Here’s a decent print of the director’s teleplay for Doordarshan.
Elavakodu Desam (1996)
The director’s last released film is not even close to being his best. Here’s a just-about-watchable print of the period film starring Mammotty and Kushboo.
Kathakku Pinnil (1987)
Another fascinating film that needs to be watched more. His third film to use characters from theatre and cinema, Kathakku Pinnil follows the life of a female protagonist, her trials and tribulations as narrated to a male playwright. His 1990 film Ee Kanni Koodi is an immediate follow-up watch.