Well, that’s a very broad category to say the least. This is so because while any movies may not be exclusively about patriotism, the spirit of being an Indian or fighting for India is interwoven into many stories in many movies, throughout the history of Malayalam cinema.
So we are going to focus on one very specific category – historic movies about the struggle for Independence, and mind you these are not just any movies – they are ones that will make your blood boil and your heads rise up in pride of our country and those who fought valiantly to gain it independence.
Let us start the countdown then shall we?
3. Veluthampi Dalawa (1962)
If you don’t know this one folks, you better go brush up on your history – movies and national. Velu Thampi Dalawa was the Prime Minister of the King of Travancore in the early 1800s and is known for being one of the very first to rebel against the rule of the British East India Company in what is now called Kerala.
Why is the movie so important? Well, it was the first historic period movie in Malayalam cinema history. It was directed by G Viswanathan and starred the amazing Kottarakkara Sridharan Nair as Veluthampi Dalawa, and also actress Ambika and veteran actor NN Pillai in the lead roles.
The film was a commercial success and still remains one of the classic movies in the annals of Mollywood history.
2. Kaala Paani (1996)
This is a more recent one and surely a bit hard for the Malayalam movie goers to forget for the sheer emotional journey it took us through. Brilliantly directed by Faasil, and quite ambitious for its time in production values, narrative and setting, the film remains forever a classic.
The movie, set in the pre independence era of early twentieth century, tells the story of Govardhan played by Mohanlal, who is wrongly convicted of a terrorist act by the British and sentenced to serve time at the infamous cellular jails in Anadaman & Nicobar Islands, also known as Kaala Paani.
The story is moving, inspirational, violent and very realistic in portraying the struggles endured by the forgotten prisoners in the jails there and the brutal oppression they suffered at the hands of their foreign jailors. Though it follows, Govardhan’s own personal perspective and story, you get to see characters like Veer Savarkar and others, and be a witness to the struggle for independence from a very different angle.
The film starred Prabhu, Tabu, Vineeth, Sreenivasan, Nedumudi Venu, Cochin Haneefa and who can forget Amrish Puri as the cruel and iconic Afghan warden?
Definitely a movie worth watching again and one that embodies the spirit of Independence…
1. Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (2009)
By and far, one of the most memorable and ‘epic’ movies made in Mollywood. This movie set records in all spheres of film making in Malayalam when it was made, with the highest production budget till then for any movie in Malayalam no less.
The film also saw the teaming up of the best in the business in all aspects – direction by Hariharan, story and screenplay by MT Vasudevan Nair, music by Ilayaraja, sound editing by Oscar winner Resool Pookkutty and performances by icons – including of course the title role played by Megastar Mammootty.
But the best thing the movie accomplished was bringing to the light for the new generation, the epic tale of a forgotten hero, the first king from Kerala who fought against the British in the late 18th century and gave up his life for it – The Lion of Kerala, Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja.
The movie was spectacularly made and kept the audiences mesmerized with the inspirational story, helped along by the amazing performances of many including, notably, Sharath Kumar as Edachena Kunkan.
The film went on to win three national awards, eight state awards and was a prominent contender in many film festivals around the world.
So that makes Pazhassi Raja, the number one in our list today..
So go now, and see if you can give one of these movies another watch, and get in to the spirit of the day. Jai Hind!