From ‘Take Off’ to ‘2018’, here’s a quick rewind of best survival thrillers in Malayalam

"2018" is the latest flick that helped Malayalam cinema, which is still reeling under the impact of Covid-19, survive.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published Jun 07, 2023 | 12:29 PM Updated Aug 10, 2023 | 2:55 PM

survival thrillers of Malayalam

Survival thrillers have always won the hearts of audiences. People easily connect to them as they’re mostly based on true events.

Foreign films have always inspired aspiring Indian filmmakers to do survival thrillers.

NH 10 (Hindi, 2015), Trapped (2016), and Mili (Hindi, 2022) — a remake of the Malayalam movie Helen — are some survival thrillers that won good reviews in Bollywood.

Meanwhile, 2018 (2023) is the latest survival thriller that helped the Malayalam film industry survive. Mollywood is still reeling under the impact of Covid-19 and has not seen many blockbusters this calendar year.

Let’s take a quick look at the survival thrillers that made a mark in Malayalam in recent times:

2018 (running in theatres)

2018 doesn’t need any introduction. The movie has become the talk of the town. It is based on the devastating floods that shook the Kerala state.

2018 on sony liv

‘2018’ will be streamed on Sony LIV from 7 June. (Twitter)

Though this survival thriller was released without any promotion, it connected well with the audience since it reminded them of the real-life events they faced in 2018.

Directed by Jude Anthany Joseph, 2018 is a perfect mix of human emotions and technical brilliance.

The underwater scenes were shot really well and Tovino Thomas’ performance in these scenes drew applause.

2018 also received criticism for not showcasing the efforts taken by the government during the difficult situation. Reacting to this, Jude Anthany said everything that happened could not be shot in a two-hour-thirty-minute movie.

The movie also has commendable performances by Lal, Tovino Thomas, Asif Ali, Narein, and Tanvi Ram.

2018 will be streamed on Sony Liv from 7 June. The movie is a tribute to the fishermen who were at the forefront of the rescue operations taken up during the floods.

The film collected a whopping ₹160 crore in 25 days and received appreciation from other industries, too.

Telugu actor Naga Chaitanya described 2018 as a “hard-hitting and emotional” film.

Actor Anand Deverakonda, brother of Vijay Deverakonda, said he was astounded by the technical brilliance of the film.

Related: Malayalam survival thriller ‘2018’ enters the elite ₹100-crore

Virus (2019)

Virus is a survival thriller based on deadly Nipah Virus

‘Virus’ is a survival thriller based on deadly Nipah Virus. (Supplied)

Directed by Aashiq Abu, Virus is a real-life account of the deadly Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala’s Kozhikode. It’s about the courageous fight put up by several individuals that helped contain the epidemic.

The film is written by Muhsin Parari and Suhas-Sharfu.

It is based on Nipah outbreaks, some of which have been traced to fruit bats.

The National Institute of Virology, Pune confirmed the first case of the Nipah virus in Kerala in May 2018. The movie showcases real people affected by Nipah and how they overcame the situation.

It deals with the real-life experiences of people who are aware of the conditions. It also has a backstory for each affected patient and generates an interest in the narration.

A team of medical practitioners, healthcare professionals, and government authorities camped in Kozhikode to tackle the crisis. The movie also dismantles the false narrative that the virus outbreak is a bio-weapon used by any country or organisation.

It has an ensemble of cast, including Revathi, Kunchacko Boban, Indrajith Sukumaran, Asif Ali, Tovino Thomas, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Rahman, Indrans, Jinu Joseph, Sreenath Bhasi, Dileesh Pothan, Rima Kallingal, Madonna Sebastian, Ramya Nambeeshan, Joju George, and Soubin Shahir.

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Take Off (2017)

Take Off was a successful venture

‘Take Off’ was a successful venture. (Supplied)

Take Off is a survival thriller film based on the ordeal of Indian nurses in the city of Tikrit, Iraq in 2014. Mahesh Narayanan directed it. The movie was appreciated for its making and technical brilliance.

It features Parvathy Thiruvothu as Sameera and Kunchako Boban as her husband. Their travel to Iraq and how they tackle the war-torn nation form the crux of the movie. It also has Fahadh Faasil in a major role.

It’s written by Mahesh Narayan and PV Shajikumar. Even though the movie is based on the war in Iraq, Take Off was shot in various parts of Dubai and Kerala.

The film is inspired by the real events that occurred in 2014, during the early days of the ISIS crisis in Iraq. Just before the interval, real-life incidents are depicted.

In Take Off, the group consists of 19 nurses. However, in reality, the group had 46 members.

Parvathy’s character Sameera is loosely based on Marina Jose who played an instrumental role in the rescue operation.

Take Off won the Silver Peacock Special Jury Award (Mahesh Narayan), and Silver Peacock for Best Actress (Parvathy) at the 48th IFFI.

Parvathy also won her first Special Jury Mention at the 65th National Film Awards, her second Kerala State Film Award for Best Actress, and a second Filmfare Award for Best Actress in Malayalam.

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Helen (2019)

Helen was a sleeper hit at box office

‘Helen’ was a sleeper hit at box office. (Supplied)

Helen is a survival thriller directed by Mathukutty Xavier.

It deals with the events that follow when Helen (played by Anna Ben) gets trapped inside the freezer of a multinational restaurant joint in a shopping mall.

Her survival attempts and her father’s efforts to find her form the crux of the film.

In the movie, Helen gets locked inside the freezer of the restaurant where she works. Her manager Jayashankar unknowingly locks her in the freezer room. She survives in the freezing cold by trying everything to keep herself alive at 18 degree Celsius. In the end, she is rescued.

Helen was appreciated for the novel subject and performance by young actress Anna Ben.

It was officially remade in Hindi as Mili (2022) — featuring Jhanvi Kapoor in the titular role — and in Tamil as Anbirkiniyal (2021).

Lal, Noble Babu Thomas, Aju Varghese, Rony David and Binu Pappu appear in supporting roles in Helen. It is written by Alfred Kurian Joseph, Noble Babu Thomas and Mathukutty Xavier.

The film won two National Film Awards — Best Debut Film of a Director and Best Make-up Artist (Ranjith Ambady) — and Ben won the Kerala State Film Award (Special Jury Award).

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Malayankunju (2022)

Malayankunju has Fahadh Faasil as Anikuttan

‘Malayankunju’ has Fahadh Faasil as Anikuttan. (Supplied)

Malayankunju tells the story of Anikuttan (played by Fahadh Faasil).

Anikuttan is an ill-tempered electronics technician who leads a quiet life with his mother. His daily routines are disrupted when his next-door neighbour’s newborn baby stirs up undesirable memories from his past.

Anikuttan once faced natural calamities as his house is situated in Idukki, a place where people fear incessant rains and natural calamities.

Most importantly, Anikuttan is a casteist and is not happy with his mom keeping company with their neighbours who are from the backward caste.

One rainy night, a landslide happens while Anikuttan is asleep and he gets trapped under the soil. He becomes unconscious and is underwater in the next scene. In his dream, Anikuttan’s father tells him that people are only divided by caste until death.

Anikuttan manages to find the newborn baby (Ponni) and hold her close before the rescuers find them and rush them to the hospital. All others, including his mom, die in the landslide.

In the end, Anikuttan happily accepts Ponni as his daughter, as she is the only one left for him.

During the shooting of a stunt scene, Fahadh fell from a height, suffered a nose injury and underwent surgery the next day.

This survival thriller is directed by Sajimon Prabhakar and written by Mahesh Narayanan. Mahesh also handled the cinematography.

Rajisha Vijayan, Indrans, Jaffar Idukki and Deepak Parambol appear in key roles. AR Rahman composed the music for Malayankunju after a long time.

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