It’s been eight months since the lockdown, and like many others, if you’ve discovered Malalayam cinema and love it, you could also check out the Malayalam web series space. Discovering and watching them during this incredibly distressing time has been a source of joy for many.
Some of these web series feature a group of people wanting to shoot a film during the pandemic, conversations between a man and his alter ego and a chill ghost unaware of his past.
Karikku, one of the most popular channels on YouTube started in 2018, and now has 6.02 million subscribers. Thera Para is its most popular series. Other Malayalam channels such as Ponmutta, Kokku and The Premier Padminii are also gaining popularity and audience with their eccentric content.
A recently-killed Divakaran wakes up as a ghost in a couple’s house and strikes a friendship with the man in the house. The humour and philosophy of death and ghosts are executed skillfully with a well constructed storyline. The series is presented by Ponmutta channel that has more than 5 lakh subscribers, with each episode having more than 4 or 5 lakh viewers. The first episode gained more views than the rest, with 1 million views. Here is the first episode.
Rock Paper Scissors
Three roommates in Kochi try to figure out their lives while juggling work, an annoying landlord and a mysterious blogger. The series is backed by Karikku Fliq, one of Karikku’s sub-channels solely dedicated to web series. There is also a crossover featuring a favourite character from Thera Para. Since the series ended in a cliffhanger, viewers will want a Season 2.
The title, which translates into ‘An islet of Othalanga’ (a poisonous plant) revolves around three friends Nathu, Utthaman and Pappan, who invite trouble at every turn. The humour lies in their silliness and idiosyncrasies — small-framed Nathu struggles to ride a friend’s Bullet, later revealing that he was in a hurry to use the restroom; Utthaman and Nathu accidentally shoot an old man and give the gun to Pappan (the gun’s owner) who gets chased by men who assume he’s the shooter. Othalanga Thuruthu is presented by Kokku Entertainment, which currently has almost 8 lakh subscribers, and gets between 2 million and 4 million views for each episode. As the story doesn’t follow a linear narration style, you can start anywhere. Here’s episode three, a fan favourite.
I Promise R.I.A
The series, backed by Saina productions, explores relationships between three teenagers — Ria,Ishan and Aman that moves from school and college to early adulthood. In the second episode of the series, Ria gets the introduction of a ‘hero’ — she charges at Ishan in slow motion as he bad-mouths her favourite actor Vijay. The background score only adds to this image. The first five episodes are on YouTube and reached almost a million views, the rest are streaming on Saina Play.
Exploring an age-old relationship between siblings Amrita (Archana Kavi) and Arun (Arun Kurien), Meenaviyal begins with Amrita and Arun fighting. The series has more than 7 lakh views. Another web series starring Archana Kavi — Toofan Mail, which chronicles the relationship between a daughter and her father, is also gaining traction.
This mini webseries of two episodes explores Manu’s marriage to his Christian girlfriend that irks his odd family, especially his angry mother who goes phhaaa at anything anyone says. This series is one of Ponmutta’s creations. Shyam Mohan, who plays the titular role, brings out the humour in Manu’s innocence with ease, standing on the same line as Lolan from Thera Para.
Presented by We Are a Sambhavam, Singappooram is one of the earliest web series in Malayalam and released in 2015. Sooraj and Ann are founders of the production house, and also play a Malayali couple living in Singapore in this series. Their relationship is dull-witted in most parts, but maturing in some bits.
Set in the distressing Covid era, this comical series follows a group of five who aspires to make a good film in Vattavada. The series has so far released two episodes, and is steadily gaining popularity.
Christopher and Philucifer
Aired on Kerala Vision in 2018, Christopher and Philucifer is a seven- episode, two-minute series, that focusses on the conversations between Christopher and his alter ego Lucifer. Christopher believes in karma, whereas Lucifer’s practical views dumbfounds Christopher — each episode ends with Christopher looking at himself after a revelation. Although the series hasn’t gained as much traction as other popular shows, it’s highly recommended for its simplicity and wit.
Vyjatha has no religion, but has several Gods. Created by Sachi Pathmajan, Vyjatha Tales narrates the changing environment in Vyjatha — a fictional region with forests and water bodies where animals and humans live in harmony, and the changes that take place when an intelligent man rises from the Northern ocean. The animation in Vyjatha Tales by Sreenath Mundakkal is minimal and evocative, staying true to the story’s ideals. Sometimes, one can just listen to this series with one’s eyes closed, as the descriptive narration can take one to Vyjatha.
Vyjatha Tales has English subtitles for non-Malayali audiences.
Karikku’s Scoot has a group of actors actively involved in working behind the camera — lead actors Jeevan Stephen and Arjun Ratan are associate director and director of this well-written series. Scoot explores the daily life of two IT professionals Antony and Sanju, who try to start a turf business in Kochi. This series also has English subtitles.
Ugly Things – Janaki
Ugly Things is an anthology of short flicks in the black humour genre, and is backed by 11th Hour Productions. Janaki has three episodes, and is unassuming. But, the performance and storyline will keep you disturbed and curious till the end. The series also has English subtitles.