Lijo Jose Pellissery is an Indian film director and producer who predominantly works in the Malayalam film industry. He has directed 7 films and produced 3 films so far which includes some of his highly acclaimed works like Angamaly diaries Ea.Ma.Yau and his recent 2019 film Jalikattu which won many international accolades and praises worldwide and are also some of the best Lijo Jose Pellissery movies to watch.
Known his unconventional storylines and dynamic direction, Lijo Jose Pellissery is certainly a new force to be reckoned with in international cinematic artistry. Pellissery with his captivating stories and direction has slowly made his name on the international platform. He is amongst those very few emerging directors whose movies incite the same excitement as for an Ari Aster or Jordan Peele movie.
Here’s a list of 9 Best Lijo Jose Pellissery movies
Nayakan released in 2010 was the first directorial and acting debut film by Lijo Jose Pellissery. It’s a revenge story set in the backdrop of the underworld in Kochi. The main protagonist Varadanunni played by Indrajith who is a Kathakali artist is seeking revenge against big kingpins with the help of an ageing Don Vincent Karanavar (Thilakan) and his daughter Maria (Dhanya Mary).
The film answers the questions on why does he seek revenge and how does he go about it, told creatively with the use of Kathakali to narrate the story. The narration style was quite new to the Malayalam cinema then. The acting performances by Indrajith and veteran actor Thilalakan are one of the best highlights of cinema along with Pellissery amazing directing style.
Nayakan though not up to the mark compared to his other films but is definitely a film that is different in the way it’s presented and the sincerity that has gone in making this film is evident in every frame of the movie.
City of God
City of God, Pellissery’s second directorial venture tells the story of incidents involving many characters whose paths cross each other due to some unforeseen events which unfold due to their wrong decisions. The story is told from the perspective of each main characters involved which makes the storyline more dynamic and unpredictable as the film moves forward.
Jyothilal (Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a goon working for real estate businessman Sony Vadayattil (Rajeev Pillai) who does the dirty work for his boss. Then there is Swarnavel (Indrajith), a Tamilian labourer who works on a construction site who is smitten by Marathakam (Parvathi Menon) staying in the same colony. Other main characters include Suryaprabha (Rima Kallingal), a starlet and Viji Punnose (Swetha Menon) who is seeking revenge against Sony and Jyothilal with the help of a partner-in-crime who she has seduced.
The narrative of the movie keeps going back and forth and revolves around these characters. The movie really takes the audience with slow pace and repetitive scenes in the first half but manages to pull itself back in the second half of the film.
The title of the movie ‘City of God‘ is same as the 2003 Brazilian film set in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, and it does have some striking resemblance to the port city of Kochi. Though the film suffers from a loose script, it is still a better movie than you’d expect and definitely worth watching.
Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil roughly translates to ‘Freedom at midnight’ is a 2018 prison escape thriller flick. Though the movie is not directed by Pellissery himself but he has produced the film alongside Chemban Vinod Jose whom he worked with in previous 2 films. Pellisery’s influence can be seen throughout the film from direction and sound to cinematography.
The movie tells the story of Jacob (Anthony Varghese) who gets a lifetime imprisonment on the charges of murdering somebody and his struggle to break out of the prison along with other inmates whom he befriends. Pulling out a good prison escape movie is as complex as attempting a prison break. The movie at times does remind you of the character of Andy from ‘Shawshank Redemption’.
Unlike Hollywood, this is a genre which hasn’t been explored much in India except for a few films which are not up to the mark. The debutant director Tinu Pappachan does a great job in creating characters that you can root for and actors do a fantastic job in portraying their characters. You can sense a feeling of fear and tension but also a hope to set themselves free when they take on this task.
Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil is definitely not up to the benchmark set by Hollywood movies but it is still a very good movie which surprisingly went underlooked by the audience. Though not directed by Pellisery himself, this is still amongst the best Lijo Jose Pellissery movies as it has got a great influence of his style and an impeccable performances by it’s cast.
Double Barrel released in 2015 was Pellissery’s first attempt at making a fully commercial film packed with action and comedy. The movie is filled with all the elements of a commercial cinema but it has a tinge of Pellissery’s quirkiness to it. A multi-star cast project with actors like Prithviraj Sukumaran, Indrajith, Swathi Reddy and Sunny Waye make double barrel an entertaining and a watchable film.
Set in extremely bizarre circumstances in an imaginary place which looks like Goa, Double Barrel is an extremely weird action comedy with a Guy Ritchie movie feel to it. Movies like this are new to India and there’s nothing wrong in adding an element of madness, bizarre and sometimes over the top action sequences as long as it brings in the laughs. But the movie falls short to deliver on this aspect. Many scenes which are meant to be funny feel repetitive and sometimes boring to watch. There’s first half drags on a bit too much but the second half is where the movie manages to pull back.
Double Barrel is definitely not something that you would enjoy for its storyline but then Lijo just doesn’t make a film which leaves nothing to offer to the audience. The camerawork by Abhinandan Ramanujan, Prashanth Pillai’s heavy Mexican styled music, editing, stunt choreography and Lijo’s direction make the audience glued to their seats. Double Barrel though not as well received by critics and audiences is definitely amongst the best Lijo Jose Pellissery movies if you have the patience for quirky comedies.
Sreenivasan (Vinay Forrt) is a 30-year-old college lecturer with plain looks and thinning hairline. His balding head and unassertive personality is a topic of ridicule amongst his family and society which is also a hindrance to get a suitable girl to get married. Thamaasha is an eye-opener, an emotional roller coaster ride and a simple yet captivating story of Sreenivasan who is struggling hard to land himself a bride. Stories like Thamaasha have been talked on before many times but still, the movie manages to hit the audience hard with its realistic portrayal of characters and situations.
The efforts of Sreenivasan to find a bride seem real and the struggles he and his family are going through due to body shaming are sometimes heart wrenching to watch. Vinay Forrt has done an impeccable job of playing Sreenivasan and it never feels like a cliched character that you have seen many times before. Produced by Lijo Jose Pellissery, along with Shyju Khalid, Chemban Vinod Jose and Samir Tahir , Thamaasha is a must watch films that talks about body shaming in a realistic way and also drives its message with more impact than any other movies based on this subject.
Amen – ‘a divine comedy’ staying true to its tag line is a humorous film which blends many elements like religion, love, culture and courage together. It’s stars the amazing actor Fahadh Faasil as Solomon, a shy young clarinet player who is in love with Shoshanna daughter of a rich contractor. Another pivotal part is played by Indrajith as Fr. Vincent Vattoli, a priest who lands up in Kanyakumari to serve a church that is in bad shape and Solomon has a job to assist the sexton in the church.
Amen can be interpreted in many ways as a simple love story, a coming of age of a dim-witted youngster, or a movie that drives the message that God is always with the righteous underdog. The movie has other characters which serve as a comical and also form an important thread to drive the narrative ahead. Each characters are deeply layered having their own subplots with a message to convey. Amen is a brilliant film that has an intelligent story, multi-layered plot excellent cinematography and impactful performances from the cast.
Ea. Ma. Yau
Ea. Ma. Yau which simply translates to ‘Rest in Peace’ (R.I.P) is a dark comedy that narrates the story of a Christian family in a small village located in the state of Kerala. The story revolves around the death of headman of the house played by Kainakary Thankaraj and the efforts of the family to give him the grandest funeral the village has ever seen. What follows afterwards is the struggle of his son Eesi played by Chemban Vinod Jose and his family members to fulfil his father’s last wish.
You realize this really going to be a mammoth task for Eesi when you wonder how is he going to achieve this feat when he himself struggles to make ends meet. Like the moment where he is completely shell shocked as his father dies and realizes he probably promised something that he might not be able to deliver. The movie has many characters with multiple subplots smartly woven together to the death of the old man. Eesi’s best friend Ayappan played by Vinayakan is another important character who is helping Eesi to make this funeral happen.
Prashant Pillai’s minimalistic music again plays an important role in amplifying the sad and dark atmosphere along with beautiful cinematography by Shyju Khalid. Ee. Ma. Yau definitely reminds you of Francis Ford Coppola movie in the way it’s shot. The staging of the funeral, the subplots, and Lijo’s way of directing scenes involving large crowds is impeccable.
By now we can certainly say that Pellissery is a ‘Master of chaos’ and it has become his trademark in many of his recent films. Ea. Ma. Yau is not just among the best Lijo Lose Pellissery movies but also one of the best movies based on situations involving the death of a person.
Angamaly Diaries released in March of 2017 is the 6th directorial movie by Lijo Jose Pellissery. If you look at the Wikipedia page under the synopsis you get this ‘The story of local people and their life at Angamaly’ that’s it and in a sense that is really all that is here. It’s about the colourful people of Angamaly and their daily life.
The main protagonist Vincent Pepe played by debutant actor Anthony Varghese along with with other 86 debutant actors give amazing performances that make Angamaly diaries a power-packed film with action, comedy and drama. Vincent Pepe and his friends are amongst the many groups in the small but dynamic town of Angamaly who are complete hooligans but are trying to make their way into the pork trade.
The characters are so unpredictable that you never know what’s going to unfold next. The fast editing and quirky local music add to the flavour of the movie. There are more than 100 cuts in just the first 10 minutes of the movie. Shameer Muhammed’s fast editing and Pellissery’s direction makes the scenes more tense and breathtaking to watch, especially scenes involving lots of people within the frame. This all finally builds up to an amazing and chilling final few minutes of the movie which is entirely shot in a breathtaking 11 minutes long take involving almost a thousand extras within the scene.
Angamaly Diaries as per many people is amongst the best Lijo Jose Pellissery movies one should definitely watch and is a creative treat by Pellissery which dares to push the boundaries of gangster genre movies.
Released in October 2019, film Jalikattu is based on a very simple premise. A bull that’s about to be slaughtered somehow manages to escape and run wild in the remote village of Idukki located in a mountainous region with forests in the state of Kerala. The entire movie then revolves around this wild buffalo who escaped and has spread havoc in the village and destroying farmlands in between, along with thousands of villagers who are trying to catch the buffalo. Now the idea of a will buffalo running amok causing havoc doesn’t even sound very dangerous in the first place.
This very absurdity is very integral to the premise which is adapted from the short story ‘Maoist’ written by S Harish. A film with actors like Anthony Varghese and Chemban Vinod Jose is a textbook example of how to make an experimental movie that is also very entertaining to watch. The absurdness is everywhere, beginning with the in you face haunting and elaborate acapella background score by Prashant Pillai. The music just amplifies the visuals and the tension building up among the villagers to catch the buffalo. If you hear the music album alone you would think its a soundtrack for some kind of Vanguard dance performance.
With Girish Gangadharan’s breathtaking cinematography and Deepu Joseph’s propulsive editing which is also sometimes distancing and you have one hell of a sound and light snow. Right from the clock ticking sound in the beginning to the amplifying loud acapella music build-up to the end, the music complements the visuals so beautifully that it increases the intensity further. The tension finally builds up to the most breathtaking and chilling end which finally reveals the message the movie wants to convey.
Jalikattu is definitely among the best Lijo Jose Pellissery movies everyone should watch at least once in their lifetime. Ari Aster, the highly acclaimed director of movies like Hereditary and Midsommar said Jalikattu is one of the best movies he has ever seen and filmmakers like Pellissery are rare in the world.
Pellisery’s upcoming movie ‘Churuli‘ for which the trailer was released recently was shot in just 19 days. The film is his second collaboration with the writer S Harish who wrote the screenplay for Jalikattu.
The trailer has already driven excitement from his fans and movie geeks from around the world. The movie is set in a similar environment like Jalikattu, where a group of people are in search of a man named Mayiladanparambil Joy in the forest. This is Pellissery’s 8th directorial movie and his style and madness is already apparent from the trailer with dark eerie visuals which are beautifully shot. The cast includes Chemban Vinod Jose, Joju George, Vinay Forrt and Jaffer Idukki in key roles. Let’s hope this releases soon as this is definitely going to be crazy, chaotic and captivating.
Not much is known about the project but it’s definitely going to be a big-budget film. Antichrist will star some of the big names of the Malayalam industry like Prithviraj and Indrajith Sukumaran and Fahadh Faasil in the lead roles. The movie is written by national award-winning writer P.F Mathews and cinematography will be done by Abhinandan Ramanujam with Prashanth Pillai’s score.
The shooting of the movie will start at the beginning of the next year and may release in the month of June or July. Considering the star cast and the amazing crew, the fans are already quite excited about the movie to get released.