'Dhrishyam 2' to 'Churuli': Top contenders for the best film award this year

Stills and posters
Stills and posters from 'Joji', 'Churuli', 'Home', 'Dhrishyam'. Photos: IMDB

Despite the pandemic, the year 2021 saw a new wave in Malayalam cinema. Undeterred by the restrictions on theatres, many filmmakers showed courage to stream their movies through OTT platforms. Some of these movies even went on to become huge commercial hits with their newfound pan-Indian audience reach. Quite a few theatre releases also managed to leave an indelible mark on the audience.

Now, competing in this year's Kerala State Film Awards are a total of 142 movies, of which nearly 50 have been shortlisted. These include films that are yet to premiere in theatres or OTT platforms. Thara Ramanujan’s ‘Nishidho’, Sidhartha Siva’s ‘Aanu’, Manoj Kana’s ‘Khedda’, ‘Avinovilona’ by Sherry Govindan–T Deepesh, Dr Biju’s ‘The Portraits’ and three movies directed by Jayaraj are also expected to give a tough fight to the top-billed names. Onmanorama takes a look at some of the movies that are vying for the awards.


Jeethu Joseph's 'Dhrishyam 2'

After the landslide success of 'Dhrishyam 1,' Jeethu Joseph announced a sequel to the movie 'Dhrishyam 2' with the same cast. The movie, just like its predecessor, managed to win hearts, establishing Jeethu Joseph as a master in the thriller genre. Padmakumar K of Onmanorama writes that 'Dhrishyam 2' is colossal and it is 'only when you watch it you realise there remained a lot that was yet to be answered'. Tap to read the full review.



The movie, starring veteran actor Indrans, Manju Pillai, Naslen and Sreenath Bhasi, revolved around a family-- father, mother, two grownup sons and an ailing grandfather. It premiered on OTT as an Onam release in 2021 and soon became an audience favourite, capturing people's hearts with its humour, warmth and twists. The movie was directed by Rojin Thomas, who shot to fame through 'Philips and the Monkey Pen' which he co-directed with Shanil Muhammed. Our reviewer Padmakumar K writes that 'Home' is a tale packed with loads of warmth and sails smoothly leaving enough room to feel, think, fret and rejoice. Tap to read the full review.



Touted as a coming-of-age movie in Malayalam, Hridayam was released in theatres in January 2022 going on to gross over Rs 50 crore at the box office. Helmed by Vineeth Sreenivasan, the movie brilliantly captured the nostalgia of college life, its romance and youthful charm. Tony of Manoramaonline writes 'Hridayam', the movie is a memorable watch and describes it as a 'gift during these trying times.' Tap here to read full review.



The movie, directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery, was caught in a controversy after the uncensored version of the movie was released on OTT platforms. The Censor Board had said it had only approved the censored version for release. The Kerala High Court had also rapped the makers for the use of cuss words and foul language in the movie. Despite these issues, the movie was critically acclaimed for its making and theme. Our reviewer Sajesh Mohan urges the viewer to enter the maze at their own risk as 'even the most adamant of visitors eventually will be forced to unpeel their covers and embrace their darkness.' Tap here to read full review.



The movie starring Fahadh Faasil was directed by Dileesh Pothan who has helmed two superhits 'Maheshinte Prathikaram' and 'Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum'. The cast, especially Fahadh, were praised for their performances in the cinema which is a gripping tale of a man and his three sons.

Our reviewer Padmakumar K writes that the fast-paced narrative is so gripping that as events unfold in their rhythm, all you need to do is just watch. Tap here to read full review.


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