From Maathan to Natasha, Malayalam cinema characters whose deaths we're still mourning

The past decade in the Malayalam film industry saw some remarkable storylines, characters and well, their deaths.
From Maathan to Natasha, Malayalam cinema characters whose deaths we're still mourning
From Maathan to Natasha, Malayalam cinema characters whose deaths we're still mourning
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It doesn’t happen too often that a character dies on screen and you are left lamenting for the next couple of weeks. But what’s worse is having to hide your tears, cough your way out of sobs and constantly assure your friends that everything’s all right in response to their “What’s the matter? You look like somebody has died!”

Well, if only that weren’t true! The past decade in the Malayalam film industry saw some remarkable storylines, characters and well, their deaths. If Snape bled our hearts with, “Always,” (and still continues to do so), the Malayalam industry isn’t any short of characters who have left similar gashes.

Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (2009): It all began with Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (Mammootty), a long and heart-wrenching tale of valour, sacrifice and honour of the south Indian King. When the East India Company comes and pushes the Raja into the forests of Wayanad, he refuses to relent.

The strength, the sheer morality of his character and the epic dialogue, “Adhithi devo bhava” that was extended even to his enemies, captured not only the age-old essence of Indian culture but also the hearts of the audience wholly. Despite his defeat being apparent, he fights on and leads the army till his demise. 

Bangalore Days (2014): Three cousins have the time of their lives in Bengaluru where they learn about love and life. The laughs and dark curls of Natasha (one of the supporting characters, played by Nithya Menen) are still unforgettable.

With the innocence of her large eyes and the sincerity of her tight hugs, it seemed that it was not just Shiva she is pulling into a warm embrace, but the audience as well. The tragedy of her death is simply the fact that naive and zealous people such as herself do not deserve to die - much less in a bloody accident (if only she had worn a helmet!).

Munnariyippu (2014): A journalist embarks on a mission to document the life of a criminal serving his period for double murder. Piqued by his obvious innocence and the pressure to finish the work, she puts herself in the path of danger.

Perhaps what makes it hard for us to recover from the death of Anjali Arakkal (Aparna Gopinath), the journalist, is the unanticipated chilly climax of the movie. It is the shock of the blow to her head, a bolt from the blue that left us flabbergasted - from which we still haven’t recovered.

Ennu Ninte Moideen (2015): It wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the term ‘heart-wrenching’ came into being just to do justice to describing this movie. When Moideen (Prithviraj) and Kanchanamala (Parvathy Thiruvothu), a Muslim and a Hindu, come together in love, the gods rejoice and seem to be reiterating that love is the purest religion.

Well, if only the self-proclaimed mortal gods would step aside and not interfere. Why the gods themselves don’t descend to save the drowning boat with Moideen in it, right when the couple is on the brink of freedom can only be described as a twist of fate.

Kismath (2016): A few years later came the characters of Irfan (Shane Nigam) and Anita (Shruthy Menon). A pair of star-crossed lovers. When they seek to register their marriage, it’s the police, religion, caste and age in the middle.

At a point, rather than a struggle to be together, it turns into a scuffle to stay alive - one which Irfan doesn’t survive. His death is not only painful (given he was killed by his own father), it shed light on the vicious social evils that stand in the way of two people uniting in love.

Parava (2017): Parava tells the story of the pigeon-flying community and an incident that changed a few things in the neighbourhood. For the young lads of Mattanchery, the name Imran (Dulquer Salmaan) meant brother, good advice and cricket. He goes after his lost lambs to bring them back home to safety. When the boys get into a feud with the infamous lot of the town, things go out of hand.

Imran, who was nowhere in the picture, is dragged into it to save their skins and ends up paying the price. The echoes of his cries asking the boys to run while he’s wrestling the bad guys, is one that comes with a searing pain still.

Mayaanadhi (2017): The story of a man’s plight after an accident lands him on the wrong side of the law. But before he leaves, he needs to convince his ex-lover to go with him. Maathan (Tovino Thomas) is perhaps the most distinct and unique lovers of all time. Orphaned of everything except his only real truth - his love for Aparna (Aishwarya Lekshmi). Obliging. Yielding. Excusing his face for only a second to register hurt before putting his smile back on.

With shoulders wide and strong enough to bear it, no matter how heavy the fall. Consistent. Persistent. A kite floating aimlessly in the sky tethered to the ground just by the hand tugging at the end of the string. Paying a price for a mistake he was only a little late to rectify with his lover, on the run from the police and his heart full of dreams, the bullet that pierced Maathan’s heart went through each of ours too.

Joseph (2018): This movie gives a shocking account of organised crimes that can happen in hospitals. Joseph (Joju George) reduced everyone who watched the film in a puddle of tears. The tragedy of his life, his slow but skillful hands and the despondence of his unkempt beard all beckoned us into the life of an investigative police officer who had everything taken away from him.

We stood by him as he made one shocking discovery after another. When he declared, “I am giving my own body as proof [for the case],” our blood drained and tears flooded our eyes.

Koode (2018): An emotional tale of a brother who is coming to terms with his sister’s death and his life. This was one death you knew of from the start - you buried her even before you knew her. But Jenny’s (Nazriya Nazim) chirpy, childish face and the zest she had for living (if being hungry all the time doesn’t count for that, I don’t know what does) despite being dead made you want to go back to that blue van as much as Joshua did.

When Joshua slides that door open towards the end and finds it empty, our breath caught and we took our time to accept that “Jenny’s gone,” ourselves too.

Kumbalangi Nights (2019): Amidst the flurry of the fishing nets and the coconut groves, unfolds the story of four brothers, each caught up in the pit of their own lives. It was a beautiful detour to the land of Kumbalangi.

We all remember Murugan (RJ Ramesh Thilak) the only friend of one of the brothers' - his kind face and his kind words. When he was stopping Saji from taking his own life, little did we imagine that it would be him plunging to his own death.

Luca (2019): Luca paints the story of an artist and his girlfriend through a diary that the police gets hold of to find out the reason behind their deaths. Luca (Tovino Thomas) comes into our lives in vibrant colours of pink and blue. Although a notch above our typical real-life scenarios, Luca still found a place in our list of favourite characters with his dialogues, his art and his ways with the world.

More than the others, it was his death that we rued a little less and came to peace with a little faster - well, only because we wanted what was best for him. But it is for Niharika (Ahaana Krishna) that one feels badly. These losses don’t give one proper closure. You watch the movies again, knowing exactly what is in store for you. Not that this time you are any better prepared, because you aren’t.

And that’s why I have settled for what Appu in Mayaanadhi did: “When I feel happy, I think about Maathan. When I am walking like this, sometimes, I feel that suddenly he will come running towards me from somewhere.”

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