5 Incredible Malayalam movies inspired by real-life incidents

Published: Wed 17 May 2023, 12:22 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 May 2023, 9:40 AM

From 'Traffic' to '2018', here are some of the best Malayalam films that borrow heavily from real-life incidents.


Rida Jaleel

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The Malayalam film industry has been known to have made great strides in the form of fantastic cinema within modest budgets and constraints. Each year, Mollywood produces movies that break the boundaries of creativity and storytelling. It has successfully tackled the genres of romance, comedy, thriller, and even horror! But if there’s one genre that the Malayalam film industry and its storytellers continue to knock out of the park, it’s realism.

If you want a sneak-peak into some of the finest contemporary Malayalam movies that are based on real-life incidents, here are a few:

2018 (2023)

Undoubtedly, the latest on this list is the 2023-released blockbuster 2018. Based on the very real devastating floods that the state of Kerala faced in 2018, the movie is an incredibly emotional journey that weaves together multiple smaller storylines of different people who were impacted by the deadly floods – each of them inspired by real incidents! Considering the minor budget of INR 15 crores, it has been acknowledged that the stellar star cast and the beyond-stunning visual effects of 2018 are huge technical and story-telling miracles.

2018 is as heartwarming as it is tragic. For those who've lived through the 2018 Kerala floods, the movie might strike more of a chord, and it's a touching reminder of the inherent goodness and selflessness of the people – especially the fishermen – that ultimately helped the state resurface from the tragedy. It is an immersive theatrical experience.

Director: Jude Anthany Joseph

Cast: Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, Aparna Balamurali, Tanvi Ram, Asif Ali, Lal, Narain, Sudheesh, Kalaiyarasan, Vineeth Srinivasan, Indrans, etc.

Where can you watch ‘2018’?

In theatres | SonyLiv (OTT release date to be announced)

Malayankunju (2022)

Inspired by another ecological crisis, Malayankunju is the story of a young technician Anikkuttan getting stuck under a landslide that hits his hometown. Anikkuttan is portrayed to be a casteist, flawed man mostly owing to his difficult past. And the entire movie takes us through this journey upwards, as he tries to escape the rubble and resurface. The movie is like no other and is also a subtle yet heart-breaking critique of casteism. Fahadh Fasil portrays the terror of his situation with brilliance and the movie's score is elevated by A.R. Rahman’s tracks and background music. Mahesh Narayanan’s script conveys the trapped feeling of the underground well to the viewers.

Director: Sajimon Prabhakar

Cast: Fahadh Fazil, Rajisha Vijayan, Indrans, Jaffar Idukki, etc.

Where can you watch ‘Malayankunju’?

Amazon Prime Video

Virus (2019)

Accepted with open hands, Virus is based on the unknown virus, later named ‘Nipah’, that afflicted the state of Kerala in 2018. It’s a compelling medical drama that, like 2018, ties together individual stories of people impacted by the virus in various ways; doctors, ambulance drivers, collectors, government officials, nurses, etc. Virus is a movie not for the weak of heart, but the incredible, moving performances at the core of the movie and the even pacing make it a movie that emphasises the collective empathy of the people of Kerala, and how that helped them out of the fear and anxiety caused by Nipah. It’s a fitting tribute to the efforts of the medical force and to the lives lost while trying to save others. The movie, adorned with a star cast, is filled to the brim with touching stories of raw humanity and will stay with you for a long time.

Director: Aashiq Abu

Cast: Kunchacko Boban, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Tovino Thomas, Asif Ali, Rima Kallingal, Revathi, Sreenath Bhasi, Indrajith Sukumaran, etc.

Where can you watch ‘Virus’?

Amazon Prime Video

Pada (2022)

Pada is a 2022 political thriller inspired by the real-life incident of the kidnapping and holding hostage of the then-Palakkad collector by a group of 5 tribal activists who wants a resolution for the controversial Adivasi Land Amendment Bill. The dynamic and convincing performances of the cast and the subject matter that continues to be relevant even today make Pada a very important watch. Sameer Tahir’s cinematography and the music supplied by Vishnu Vijay make this movie thrilling, aptly paced, and tonally perfect. Watch Pada for an unforgettable note on the history of the oppressed that will not leave you bored.

Director: Kamal K.M.

Cast: Joju George, Kani Kusruti, Kunchacko Boban, Vinayakan, Prakash Raj, Shine Tom Chacko, etc.

Where can you watch ‘Pada’?

Amazon Prime Video

Traffic (2011)

Perhaps a trendsetter in Malayalam, Traffic is a movie that will leave you on the edge of your seat. It is inspired by a real-life incident that took place in Chennai; One heart patient waiting for a transplant. One family mourning the death of their son willing to donate his heart. But time is of the essence, especially considering the distance and traffic between the two destinations. The movie was critically and commercially acclaimed as a massive hit and successfully managed to intertwine the lives and stories of all the people involved in this critical journey. Traffic was recreated in Hindi, too.

Director: Rajesh Pillai

Cast: Sreenivasan, Kunchacko Boban, Remya Nambeesan, Asif Ali, Lena, Vineeth Srivivasan, Rahman, Anoop Menon, Roma, Sandhya, Namitha Pramod, etc.

Where can you watch 'Traffic'?

Disney+ Hotstar

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