1) Sthalathe Pradaana Payans (1993)
Director: Shaji Kailas
The plot of a common man ending up taking the mantle of a major political position was made popular through Director Shankar’s Mudhalvan. But this 1993 political thriller directed by Shaji Kailas and written by Renji Panicker can be seen as one of the first to foray into the ‘political fantasy’ genre. The film broke the odds, from casting Jagadish as the lead back when he was primarily the comic sidekick to catering to a bold theme for its time. The plot revolves around Gopalakrishnan (Jagadish) who due to a certain turn of events takes up the position of Home minister. What follows is a gripping political drama that addressed issues such as political factions and communal violence.
2) Patram (1999)
Though not a political drama, Patram showcases the role of media houses in the political scenario. From hard-hitting dialogues written by Renji Paniker to an award-winning performance by actress Manju Warrier, Patram was a blockbuster during its release. The film also had its fair share of controversies when leading dailies ended up boycotting the film. Starring Suresh Gopi, Murali, Biju Menon, and an ensemble cast of supporting actors. Patram was helmed by director Joshy with cinematography by Sanjeev Sankar.
3) Lal Salaam (1990)
Director: Venu Nagavalli
A political drama from acclaimed director Venu Nagavalli has an omnipotent presence in the list of political films. Starring Mohanlal, Murali, and Geetha as principle leads. The film takes inspiration from the true lives of prominent political leaders from the Communist Party of India. The character Stephen Nettooran essayed by Mohanlal remains one of his iconic roles. The film showcases the evolution of the communist uprising in Kerala through the lives of its three main characters.
4) Sandhesam (1991)
Director: Sathyan Anthikad
A political satire/black comedy that explored polarized political ideologies through a light-hearted family drama. The story revolves around two brothers who belong to two different political factions and the struggles faced by the family members over the feud. Written by Sreenivasan who also starred as one of the brothers, and directed by Sathyan Anthikad, the film contains iconic scenes which involve a heated discussion about secularism and communism during family lunch to one liners such as ‘Oru Thathvikha Avalokanam’ during a party discussion. The cast also included Jayaram, Thilakan, and Sankaradi.
5) Eeda (2018)
Director: B. Ajith Kumar
A masterful adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet into the political scenario of northern Kerala. Eeda tells the tale of consequences faced by lovers who find themselves stuck between two warring political factions in the Kannur belt. Eeda is directed by B. Ajith Kumar, the National award-winning editor for Naalu Penngal who also edited Rajeev Ravi’s Annayum Rasoolum, and Kammatipaadam. With brilliant performances by Shane Nigam, Nimisha Sajayan, and Manikandan the cast also included Surabhi Lakshmi, Alancier Ley Lopez, and Sujith Sankar.
6) 41: Naalpathyonnu (2019)
Director: Lal Jose
Director Lal Jose’s 25th film starring Biju Menon was a socio-political satire. The plot revolves around Ullas (Biju Menon) a staunch communist who sets out on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala along with his accomplice. What follows is the ideological clashes that are unraveled through hilarious incidents. Though the film did not gain theatrical success upon its release, few moments in it make this a passable watch. The cast also includes Nimisha Sajayan, Suresh Krishna, and Indrans in predominant roles. Naalpathyonnu was written by P.G. Prageesh with music by Bijibal and cinematography by S.Kumar.
7) Rakthasakshikal Sindabad(1998)
Director: Venu Nagavalli
A follow-up to the director’s previous hit Lal Salaam sees director Venu Nagavalli collaborating again with writer Cheriyan Kalpakavadi. The story is set during the post-independence era where two friends from different social backgrounds face challenges when they revolt against social evils such as slavery, capitalism, and the caste system. The film went on to be an average grosser during its release but has gained cult status over time. Starring Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Sukanya, and Nassar. The revolt sequences were shot by ace director Priyadarshan.
8) Ramaleela (2017)
Director: Arun Gopy
This Dileep starrer was released right around when the star was rattled in between a real-life controversy. A political thriller that tells the story of Ramanunni, an MLA who is expelled from the party due to an assault and he later joins the rival secularist party against the will of his family. The plot thickens when Ramanunni is accused on the charges of murder and is on the run to prove his innocence. Written by the late director Sachy of Driving License and Ayyappanum Koshyumm fame and directed by debutante Arun Gopy. The film became a huge success at the box office.9) Oru Indian Pranayakadha (2013)
Director: Sathyan Anthikad
Actor Fahad Fasil and Director Sathyan Anthikad’s first collaboration before Nyan Prakashan was a satire based on political influence over the youth. Aymanam Sidharthan (Fahad Fasil) is an aspiring politician and heads the local youth wing. The story revolves when Sidharthan meets Irene Gardner (Amala Paul) a Canadian origin with Indian roots who visits the country to shoot a documentary. What follows is a tale of self-realisation. Released alongside Mohanlal’s monstrous hit Drishyam, the film was Fahad’s foray into Sathyan Anthikad’s comedic flavor.
10) Ozhivudivasathe Kali (2015)
Director: Sanal Kumar Sasidharan
A film that disrupted the genre of political drama with its crude and visceral style of filmmaking alongside the eerie musical score by Basil Joseph. The story revolves around five middle-aged men taking a vacation for a booze party during an election holiday, and what follows is a gripping thriller that builds up to a startling end. Directed by the critically acclaimed Sanal Kumar Sasidharan with the story by Unni. R, Ozhivudivasathe Kali went on to win Kerala State Film Award for best film.
Special Mentions include
Left Right Left, Oru Mexican Aparatha, Adimakal Udamakal, Lucifer, Vellimoonga, Sakhavu, Lion, Vellanakalude Nadu, Varavelpu.