Panthukali Fever: Football in Malayalam Movies

Goal.com

Kerala's love affair for football started long before I-League or Indian Super League (ISL) came into existence.

They had FC kochin, the famous Kerala Police team before Viva Kerala came into existence. The state may not have had much luck in terms of long-term top-tier representation due to financial issues suffered by various clubs over the years. But in recent years, Kerala Blasters and Gokulam Kerala have managed to bring back the notion that the people still want to be involved in all things football.

Naturally, the people have supported movies that involve football as well. Mollywood isn't an industry that can be compared the rest of India in terms of its budget but it has been able to consistently produce good quality films - and a few of them have revolved around football - and those are the ones we will be taking a look at in this article. 

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Starting with an old classic, Football Champion is a movie from 1973, starring Prem Nazir and Adoor Bhasi in the lead roles. It narrates the story of the rivalry between two football teams. When the credits roll, you can see the names of the Kerala Football Association and the Tamil Nadu Football Association. The film is available on Disney+ Hotstar here

 

Soubin Shahir-starrer Sudani From Nigeria (2018) is a very good watch for those who prefer an emotionally well-driven sports drama. It depicts the relationship between a Sevens (a 7-a-side football game popular in the Malabar region of Kerala) team manager and a Sudani (a term used to refer to foreign players specifically from African countries who are brought to local clubs to play football). It was declared as the Best Feature Film in Malayalam at the 66th National Film Awards and is available on Netflix. 

2018 was a good year for sports movie aficionados - they were treated to the Captain, a biopic of former Indian footballer VP Sathyan with Jayasurya in the lead role. You can watch it on Hotstar.  Interestingly, Jayasurya, who played Sathyan, shared the Kerala State Film Award for Best Actor with Soubin, who played the team manager in Sudani From Nigeria. 

If you are already overloaded with a lot of biopics on your watchlist, Goal (2007) (Not Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal) tells the fictional tale of a college canteen worker who aspires to become a footballer. An interesting reveal towards the end of the movie has a shoutout to the football scene in Kolkata. If you feel like picking that up, the film is available to stream on Hotstar. 

Sevenes (2011), a movie based on a group of footballers who turn into criminals to help a friend in need, Mahasamudram (2011), the Mohanlal-starrer which guest stars part-time actor and full-time Indian football legend IM Vijayan (and available on Hotstar), etc are worthy mentions if you want to pass time watching Malayalam films that involve football. The latter features tekkers by Vijayan on a football field and also a very artificial-looking scissor-kick by the lead actor that has stood the test of time to become a troll meme in recent years. 

There are more football-based Malayalam films in the pipeline, most notably one based on the life of retired India international striker IM Vijayan.

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