From Vijay‘s hit Master to the recently-released Jayasurya-starrer Vellam in Malayalam, heroes have, of late, been shedding the image of on-screen messiahs and playing characters who are real, such as people with drinking problems. Here’s a list of seven Malayalam films that portrayed well an alcoholic character or showcased with empathy the effect of alcoholism.
This Prithviraj-starrer directed by G Marthandan can be termed as two movies for the price of one. While the first half deals with addiction to alcohol, the story switches to a courtroom drama in the latter half, involving the re-release of a film spliced with “bits” added without consent.
Though the story arc explored alcohol addiction and the consequences of such splicing, the switch did not seem organic. Yet, Paavada is enjoyable, and it’s a treat to watch Prithviraj as the friendly tippler Pambu Joy. The film also includes an ensemble cast including Miya, Anoop Menon, Asha Sarath, Sharaf U Dheen, Nedumudi Venu and Maniyanpilla Raju, who also produced the film.
The term ‘way ahead of its time’ fits this Mohanlal-starrer like a glove. Released in 1989, the story explores surrogacy, a seldom-known subject those days. Mohanlal plays Rajiv Menon, alcoholic heir to an estate who seeks to nurture a child and opts for surrogacy. This cult classic was directed by Sibi Malayil, to a script written by legendary director Lohitadas. Music was by Johnson.
Director Ranjit, whose credits include creating iconic characters such as Kanimangalam Jagannadhan, Mangalassery Neelakandan and Poovalli Induchoodan, showcases actor Mohanlal in a very different role in this film. Though the star has played an alcoholic in many films, none seems repetitive.
Spirit tells the story of Raghunandan, an alcoholic TV host who realises the consequences caused by his alcoholic lifestyle, and goes on to analyse how alcoholism has affected various social strata. Produced by Antony Perumbavoor, the film’s cast includes Nandhu, Kaniha, Shankar Ramakrishnan, Kalpana and Madhu.
Director duo Rafi Mecartin’s first collaboration with Mohanlal set the expectation high even before the film’s release. The actor starred as advocate Sivaraman Nambiar, who after a personal loss, seeks refuge in alcohol, leading to animosity towards his family members. Mohanlal’s witty humour along with Jagathy Sreekumar’s one liners makes the film an entertaining watch. The rest of the cast includes Siddique, Parvati Melton, Jagathy Sreekumar, Madhu, and KB Ganesh Kumar.
The year 1989 can be touted as the year of Mammootty. The actor showcased his acting prowess in iconic hits such as Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha, Artham, Adikkurippu, and cult classics such as Utharam and Charithram.
The same year, we saw the actor play the iconic character Varunni, a hunter with serious drinking problems, in director IV Sasi’s Mrugaya. This won him and director Sasi the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor and Best Director, respectively.
The cast includes Sunitha, Thilakan, Urvashi, Jagathy Sreekumar and Lalu Alex.
Why should boys have all the fun? Mamta Mohandas’s portrayal of Laya Ullas, an NRI with a craving for booze is a cracker of a role. The comic timing between Mamta and Dileep works very well for most parts of the film. We also get gold standard humour sequences from the supporting cast, which includes Mukesh, Aju Varghese, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Rafi. Look out for a scene between the leads during a flight journey, where Dileep’s character gets motivated by a scene from Mohanlal-starrer Narasimham, and its repercussions.
Directed by Shafi and produced by M Renjith, the film’s music was by Gopi Sunder.
Before Jeethu Joseph made the super successful Drishyam, his previous outing was Memories, which starred Prithviraj as alcoholic cop Sam Alex, who is on a downward spiral after the death of his daughter and wife. He is called back to solve a series of murders. The film went on to win for best cinematography and in the popular film category at the Kerala State Film Awards.
Director Joshiy’s Lelam and Naran, Sibi Malayil’s Kamaladalam and M Padmakumar’s Joseph.