Munnariyippu Movie Review: The Best Indian Film of 2014, Period

The best of the year lists will be out soon. It is December and an annual ritual for people who love and crave good cinema worldwide; so that rest of the brigade are abreast with the best that they missed out. Critics and cinema lovers will be divided on their opinions with regards to the best of cinema. Some will have a list constituting the best of cinema which includes world cinema and international films, some with their Indian counterparts and some regional.

And in all this lies the high probability of a film called Munnariyippu which may not find any takers.

Munnariyippu PosterWhy?

Because it is made by a director who is not tech savvy on the internet domain and doesn’t have friends and twitter celebrities who recommend films on #youknowwhere.

Because there is an aging superstar who has got so used to doing such crap of mammoth proportions that even the audience doesn’t care.

And more importantly it is the kind of film where no cinema lover has recommended his other peers to watch and give it a chance.  An opportunity which may make this film have a cult following at the least or may let it fade into oblivion.

Munnariyippu in English means Warning. And a warning it is. For the mediocrity that earns crores in various film industries spread across this country. And a warning to us that even we miss out on such cinema.

The film follows the journey of 2 protagonists; a female journalist and a criminal convicted for 2 murders and how their worlds merge for a mutual agenda. One who is struggling to make a mark in her respective field and the other who even after completing his term is happy to be within the confines of the jail. One who is giving in to the demands of the pragmatic and competitive world and the other who is not able to inscribe his words because inventive and original thoughts cannot be bounded under the deadline of ruthless timeframes. Anjali Arrackal (Aparna Gopinath) and C.K Raghavan (Mammootty) are the respective characters and it is a refreshing relation.

Conveying more about the film will be an absolute disservice to the joy of watching this classic in contemporary times and more of it has to do with the sheer brilliance of writing by Unni R.

Venu, the director of the film and a renowned cinematographer for films like Minasara Kanavu (Sapnay in Hindi), Guna, Manichitrathazhu etc; delivers a knockout of a film which deals with freedom, exploitation and manipulation of creativity against the ruthlessness of the corrupt.  And the layers are so insightful and philosophical that one is left astonished by the time it concludes.

Munnariyippu-Still 2A special mention to Bijibal for the outstanding background score as it maintains an aura of secrecy and reflective of the film’s main theme along with Beena Paul’s sharp and neat editing to sustain a languid pace.

With an endearing cast of Nedumudi Venu, Prathap Pothen, Renji Panicker, Joy Matthew in small but really significant roles along with a lip smacking cameo by Prithviraj, Venu gets it all right in every department. But the film belongs to Aparna Gopinath as the female lead and a character that we identify with in our daily life struggling to make a mark and not letting go of that opportunity which may well turn out a defining moment in her career. She has got a taste of it, but the prospects of making it much bigger and her descent to coerce Raghavan in writing is so delicately nuanced.

And reserve all the applauds to Mr.Mammootty for the year in giving us a performance that will actually amaze you with sheer astonishment as the film unfolds and reaches it’s well deserved climax. HE has been ridiculed in the last few years and agreeably so, HE witnessed what his young contemporaries were doing around and HE shows us what only HE and only HE is capable of.

C.K Raghavan will go down as one of the most important characters ever written and it is only to his credit that we don’t know which path the film will take.

Munnariyippu-Still 1For reasons mostly unknown the film hasn’t been lucky when it comes to distribution. It’s a rare Mammootty film in recent times which has not had a proper release outside Kerala. Even when it comes to film festivals, the track record has been patchy. It was supposed to get screened in the Mumbai Film Festival and the reasons are unclear on why it backed out or didn’t make the cut finally. With respect to the recently concluded International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) also its a somewhat similar tale. Thankfully at IFFI-Goa, the film did make it to the Indian Panorama, thus reaching out to the audience there. Munnariyippu is also part of the line-up at the ongoing Chennai International Film Festival.

We watch cinema world over. We watch cinema which releases nationwide in our country. But there are films which go unrecognised and the reasons must have been aplenty. It will be a huge loss for pure cinema lovers if Munnariyippu doesn’t get the well deserved accolade and appreciation. It’s also a surprise that despite all the critical acclaim the film did not really appeal to a vast majority of the audience in Kerala, as seen by the average performance at the box office, whereas Mammootty’s own Rajadhi Raja a formula masala film, which released just 2 weeks after Munnariyippu went on to become a hit.

Munariyippu is the best Indian film of the year and I am sticking my neck out for it. Are you?

Note- People in & around Chennai,please note that Munnariyippu will be playing at Woodlands Symphony Theatre,Chennai at 2.45 P.M on Wednesday,24h December as part of the ongoing Chennai International Film Festival. For a complete schedule of the festival,check here.





  1. Ajay Nair – Saw the movie after yours and few known people’s recommendation. Just by the gist of your writing, I could get a feeling that you have a good understanding on the happenings in Kerala cinema world. I was looking for a thriller genre of atleast some sorts (as the expectation was given). Maybe too much hype is the cause of problem. Personally to me, this movie was not great to be the best Indian movie of the year, period!


    1. Personal lists are subjective and open for discussion and I am sure you have your good own reasons to not consider this one. I am glad that you gave this film an opportunity though it was unfaiir to label it as a thriller.

      To be very frank I didn’t even know what is the genre of the film before I finished watching it. So that helped matters more.

      Would love to know which one made your cut for 2014, and thanks for spending time here and leaving a comment.


      1. Thanks Ajay for taking it sportively. Here is the list of movies which i cherished in 2014. Hope most of the listed movies make a cut in their list.

        Hindi – Highway, Queen, Ankhon Dekhi, Jal, Lakshmi, Mardaani
        Tamil – Pannaiyarum Padminiyum, Thegidi, Cuckoo, Yaamirukka Bayamey, Jigarthanda, Madras
        Malayalam – 1983, Om Shanti Oshana, 7th Day, Bangalore Days

        If you ask me, I cannot choose just one movie. Because each one i listed above were able to stand on their own because of unique content, good team and better screenplay.


    2. Barring a couple of them, I have watched all and few of them will make a cut in most of the lists.

      Happy viewing in 2015 too… You can try out Fandry(Marathi) and Sapthama Shree Thaskaraha(Malayalam) for it may appeal you..


  2. With all the talk about the ‘climax’ and the performance, many did expect a thriller and was more or less expecting a DRISHYAM of sorts from Mammooty. And I personally know many who were disappointed after having watched the film expecting something on those terms.

    Yes, personal lists are subjective but Munnariyippu should find a position right up there at top of the heap. Even if for nothing, in Mammooty’s performance you certainly have one of the best. Or rather,the best!

    Has there been a better male performance this year?


  3. At the very outset I’m so happy Ajay that you decided to write about Munnariyippu. Sadly this is a film which seems to have gone unnoticed largely,for various reasons. You are right in saying that Mamootty’s C.K.Raghavan is one of the most important characters written in Indian Cinema and I hope it gets its due soon. And yes Aparna Gopinath really pulled off a tough role quite well, admirable considering she was pitted against a veteran who happens to one of India’s finest ever actors.


  4. Ajay its good to see a post written by you after a long time. What a pleasant surprise this film was. Unpredictable till the last minute and leaves you stunned Superb performances by Aparna Gopinath and Mammootty. Great to see Mammootty in a great film and a great role after a long time. Indeed this is one of the finest films of 2014. Pity that it went unnoticed for a large no. of reasons. Was hoping to watch it at MAMI 2014. Even I hope that the film gets its due very soon. Nevertheless glad to have finally seen it.


  5. This would indeed rank very high in my list of best films as well. Mamootty delivers a knock out performance. Loved the background score as well. Thanks for the recco Ajay!


  6. Finally watched this, i enjoyed it, After a long time, enjoyed Mammooty in a film, it reaffirms how he is underutilised by Malayalam film director, though the trailer gave impression of the halfway of the film i was sure the film would not revolve around murder. One of the best title sequence ever seen in recent times in Indian cinema.

    On other note, it is sad lot of mediocre and bad Malayalam films are reviewed on this,but a film such as this which needs to be reviewed and discussed get a raw deal. All said and done better late than never, still best Indian film of 2014 is Fandry and Ankhon Dekhi for me.


  7. Finally saw this last weekend. Loved the film Agree with Ajay on the storyline, Mamootys acting and Back ground score.

    Sad that this film never got the recognition it deserved. Thanks for reccomending this


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