Manichitrathazhu

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Manichitrathazhu
Manichitrathazhu.jpg
The DVD Cover
Directed by Fazil
II-unit directors:
Priyadarshan
Siddique-Lal
Sibi Malayil
Produced by Swargachitra Appachan
Written by Madhu Muttam
Starring Mohanlal
Shobana
Suresh Gopi
Nedumudi Venu
Vinaya Prasad
Innocent
Kuthiravattom Pappu
Sudheesh
Thilakan
Music by Songs:
M. G. Radhakrishnan
Film score:
Johnson
Cinematography Venu
II-unit cinematographers:
Anandakuttan
Sunny Joseph
Edited by T. R. Shekar
Production
company
Swargachitra
Distributed by Swargachitra
Release dates
  • December 25, 1993 (1993-12-25)
Running time 169 minutes
Country India
Language Malayalam
Box office INR5 crores
(distributor's share)[1]

Manichitrathazhu (Malayalam: മണിച്ചിത്രത്താഴ്, English: The Ornate Lock) is an epic 1993 Indian Malayalam psychological thriller film written by Madhu Muttam, directed by Fazil, and produced by Swargachitra Appachan. The film dealt with an unusual theme which was not common in Indian cinema but proceeded to become a high grosser at the box-office. Several other prominent directors such as Siddique-Lal, Priyadarshan, and Sibi Malayil served as second-unit directors.

The story is based on a tragedy that happened in Alummoottil Tharavadu, a famous central Travancore family, in the 19th century.[2] The film won the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment and Shobhana was awarded the National Film Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of the central character Ganga & the alter ego Nagavalli. The film stars Mohanlal, Shobhana, Suresh Gopi, Nedumudi Venu, Innocent, Vinaya Prasad, K. P. A. C. Lalitha, Ganesh Kumar, and Thilakan in the main roles. The music for the songs were composed by M. G. Radhakrishnan, and the background score was done by Johnson.

Apart from being the highest grossing Malayalam film of the year 1993,[3] Manichitrathazhu is considered as one of the best thrillers ever made in India as well as one of the best Malayalam films ever made.[4] Manichitrathazhu was remade after nearly 10 years in various languages, including Kannada (Apthamitra), Tamil and Telugu (dubbed) (Chandramukhi), Bengali (Rajmohol), and Hindi (Bhool Bhulaiyaa), all being commercially successful.

Geethaanjali, a spin-off directed by Priyadarshan and Mohanlal reprising the role of Dr. Sunny Joseph, was released on November 14, 2013.

Plot[edit]

A young couple, Ganga (Shobana) and Nakulan (Suresh Gopi), arrives at the Nakulan's ancestral home tharavadu called Madampalli. Hailing from a family that follows tradition and superstitions, Nakulan's uncle Thampi (Nedumudi Venu) objects to the couple's idea of moving into the allegedly haunted mansion, which Nakulan ignores. The couple moves in anyway following which seemingly supernatural events begin to happen.

The mansion that Nakulan and Ganga are living in was occupied in ancient times by Sankaran Thampi, a cruel ancestor and karanavar (head) of the tharavadu. In his heydays, he had brought in a famous Bharatnatyam dancer Nagavalli, from Tamil Nadu as his concubine. But she was already in love with a man named Ramanathan, a dancer. Learning of their affair and their plan to elope, Sanakaran Thampi murders Nagavalli in her room at the mansion. Legend has it that on the eighth day of the Durgashtami (an annual Hindu celebration), Nagavalli returned as a blood-thirsty spirit, intent on killing the chieftain and to drink his blood, but he was saved by chanting some mantras. With the aid of some sorcerers Thampi somehow escaped from wrath of Nagavalli and her spirit was locked up in a section at the mansion (Thekkini) by putting the talisman over the lock. Later Sankaran Thampi also committed suicide and his spirit is also locked up in the same Thekkini. Both spirits are believed to be haunting the Thekkini where they are locked up by means of an ornate enchanted lock called Manichitrathazhu (hence the title of the movie).

After moving in, and mostly out of curiosity, Ganga manages to unlock the Thekkini, only to find ancient valuables such as jewellery, musical instruments etc. Upon learning about the unlocking of the Thekkini, fearing the spirits are on the loose, Nakulan's uncle Thampi and family move in to the mansion to try and re-seal the Thekkini lock, while also looking out for Nakulan and Ganga. However, various unclear sightings of a woman are witnessed around the mansion, along with attempted attacks on various people at the mansion, including Nakulan's cousin Alli and Ganga. While most of the family including Thampi believe that Nagavalli's ghost roams the mansion, Nakulan, disapproving of supernatural theories, suspects Sreedevi of being mentally ill, hence orchestrating the incidents at the mansion. Hearing of this, Thampi and the family fear that Sreedevi might be possessed by Nagavalli's spirit.

Sreedevi (Vinaya Prasad), Nakulan's cousin and Thampi's daughter, according to tradition, was to be married to Nakulan; however, after finding that Sreedevi had an ominous horoscope, Nakulan's mother withdrew from this proposal, and got Nakulan married to Ganga; later, Sreedevi entered a marriage which was short-lived. Sreedevi's tragic history, along with her perceived gloominess, and her being the only person present during an attack on Ganga, lays cause for suspicion of her.

Dr. Sunny Joseph (Mohanlal), a brilliant yet frolicsome Psychiatrist and Nakulan's close friend is called in to investigate. Soon enough Dr. Sunny finds out that Nakulan's conclusions are not as obvious and he uncovers a plan to commit a murder during the upcoming Durgashtami Festival. Sunny's trained psychiatric mind begins to suspect that Ganga could well be the mental patient of Madampilly. He investigates Ganga's chidhood and past. Ganga grew up in a highly superstitious family and had partaken in various religious rituals as a child. Her parents had left her to her grandmother as a 3 year old and never bothered about her due to their busy lifestyle. This made her sensitive as an individual; so when she came to know that her parents were moving her to Calcutta she was unable to come to grips with it. She had become very close to her grandmother and didn't wanted to leave her village and her ancestral home. It was a period of great emotional and psychological turmoil for her, and she became afflicted with multiple personality disorder. Madampilly with its share of superstitions and dark tales evokes memories of the childhood days in her, and she slowly develops the personality of Nagavalli after having sympathised with her.

Meanwhile, Nakulan's uncle, Thampi, having lost faith in Dr.Sunny, calls in a renowned tantric expert Pullattuparambil Brahmadattan Namboothiripad (Thilakan) to rid his family of the supernatural menace. As fate has it, both the Namboothirippad and Dr.Sunny are old acquaintances and mutually admire each others' expertise in their respective fields. At his own risk, Sunny reveals the secret to Nakulan and Mahadevan. In one of the more memorable scenes of the movie, Ganga also gets to know about her illness during a manifestation of her hidden personality, that of Nagavalli. Sunny, with help of the Namboothirippad, plans an elaborate Tantric ceremony to invoke Ganga's Nagavalli persona and make it believe that it will finally be able to kill Sankaran Thampi. The plan is put into action and in a fiery climax, the blood thirsty Nagavalli exacts revenge on the cruel Karanavar, Sankaran Thampi.

Ganga wakes up from her hypnotic sleep and learns that she is completely cured of the illness. Sunny expresses his intent to marry Sridevi, and they all drive off happily.

Cast[edit]

Dubbing artists[edit]

Locations[edit]

A major part of the film and the climax scenes were filmed in Padmanabhapuram Palace.

Soundtrack[edit]

Main Article: Manichitrathazhu (Soundtrack)

Manichitrathazhu
Soundtrack album by M. G. Radhakrishnan
Released December 23, 1993
Length 64:50
Producer M. G. Radhakrishnan
M. G. Radhakrishnan chronology
Advaitham
(1992)
Manichitrathazhu
(1993)
Devaasuram
(1993)

The soundtrack for the film was composed by M. G. Radhakrishnan which went on to become one of the most popular film album in Malayalam. The lyrics sung are in Malayalam and Tamil written by Bichu Thirumala and Madhu Muttam for Malayalam and Vaali for Tamil.

Song Title Singer(s) Lyrics
"Oru Murai Vandhu" K. J. Yesudas, K. S. Chitra Vaali, Bichu Thirumala
"Pazham Tamil" K. J. Yesudas Bichu Thirumala
"Palavattam Pookkaalam" K. J. Yesudas Madhu Muttam
"Varuvaanillarumee" K. S. Chithra Madhu Muttam
"Akkuthikkuthanakkombil" G. Venugopal, K. S. Chithra, Sujatha Mohan, M G Radhakrishnan Bichu Thirumala
"Kumbham Kulathil Ariyathe" K. J. Yesudas Bichu Thirumala
"Uthunga Sailangalkkum" Sujatha Mohan Bichu Thirumala
"Oru Murai" (Bit) Sujatha Mohan Vaali
"Oru Murai" (Tamil Version) Sujatha Mohan Vaali

Reception[edit]

Contemporary reviews[edit]

Rating the film 3/5 stars, film website Shvoong.com wrote that "Manichitrathazhu is probably one of the best psycho-thrillers [sic] produced in India. Fazil has done a great job in creating a fantastic movie which keeps the readers glued to their seats."[5]

Film blog Varnachitram.com, in its review, wrote, "In this movie, the script by Madhu Mattom is the hero and Shobhana is the heroine. For a movie which is a psycho-thriller, it has excellent comedy provided by Innocent, Lalitha and Mohanlal. There are no unnecessary scenes in this movie and each scene in the screenplay sustains the interest in the story. M.G.Radhakrishnan has provided some memorable music for this movie."[6]

Indian entertainment website Oneindia.in gives the film a full scale rating of 5/5 stars.[7]

Box office[edit]

Manichitrathazhu was the highest grossing Malayalam film of the year 1993.[3] It ran for more than 300 days in 3 center Ernakulam Savitha & Thiruvanathapuram Sreekumar & idukki kattappana sagara. The film grossed a distributor's share of more than INR165 crore (US$27 million), a large sum then.[1]

Awards[edit]

National Film Awards
Kerala State Film Awards[8]

Legacy[edit]

Manichitrathazhu is hailed as one of the best movies ever made in Malayalam.[4] The film has consistently fetched maximum ratings for its television screenings.[4] Twenty years after its release it has been screened more than 12 times a year on average on Kerala's leading TV channel, Asianet.[4] This film has received the maximum TRP rating on every screening; TRP ratings have increased every year. This is a rare record for a movie produced in Kerala.[4]

In a 2013 online poll by IBN Live, Manichitrathazhu was listed as the No:2 greatest Indian film of all time. The poll was conducted as part of the celebrations of Indian cinema completing 100 years. The poll constituted a list of 100 films from different Indian languages.[3]

Remakes[edit]

  • Manichithrathazhu later inspired remakes and sequels in other languages, such as Apthamitra and its sequel Aptharakshaka in Kannada starring Vishnuvardhan, Chandramukhi in Tamil and Telugu starring Rajinikanth and its sequel in Telugu titled Nagavalli starring Venkatesh, and Bhool Bhulaiyaa in Hindi.
  • The central character played by Shobhana is named Ganga in the all the remakes except Bhool Bhulaiya. In that film, the character is named Avni, played by Vidya Balan.
  • All three South Indian versions (Malayalam, Kannada and Tamil) earned the actresses playing the central character (Shobhana, Soundarya, Jyothika, respectively) the state awards for best actress of the respective states (Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu).
  • In Apthamitra (the Kannada version) the character of psychiatrist, played by Vishnuvardhan, is given more screen time. The Tamil version, Chandramukhi, followed the same pattern. Both films were directed by P. Vasu. However, the Hindi version (Bhool Bhulaiyaa, directed by Priyadarshan) stuck to the original script.
  • The story was not credited to Madhu Muttam in Apthamitra and Chandramukhi, in which the story was credited to the director P. Vasu himself. However, in Bhool Bhulaiyaa the story was credited to Madhu Muttam, following a Kerala High Court verdict in a case filed by him.
  • Long before Telugu version Chandramukhi was made, Manichithrathazhu was dubbed into Telugu as Aathmaragam.
  • Apthamitra's sequel, Aptharakshaka starring Vishnuvardhan was written and directed by P. Vasu and went on to become a huge success in Kannada.
  • P. Vasu also planned to remake it in Tamil as Chandramukhi 2. But as Rajnikanth wasn't available, he approached Ajith Kumar for the film. But the Tamil version could never make it to the sets and finally Telugu producer Bellankonda Suresh bought the movie rights and the movie was released as Nagavalli in Telugu starring Daggubati Venkatesh.

Character map of Manichitrathazhu and its remakes[edit]

Characters in Manichitrathazhu and its adaptations
Manichitrathazhu (1993) Apthamitra (2004) Chandramukhi (2005) Rajmohol (2005) Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2008)
Malayalam
Kannada
Tamil
Telugu (Dubbed)
Bengali
Hindi
Dr. Sunny Joseph
(Mohanlal)
Dr. Vijay
(Vishnuvardhan)
Dr. Saravanan
(Rajinikanth)
Dr. Eeswar
(Rajinikanth)
Dr. Agni
(Prosenjit Chatterjee)
Dr. Aditya Shrivastav
(Akshay Kumar)
Nakulan
(Suresh Gopi)
Ramesh
(Ramesh Aravind)
Senthilnathan
(Prabhu Ganesan)
Kailash
(Prabhu Ganesan)
Sumit
(Abhishek Chatterjee)
Siddharth Chaturvedi
(Shiney Ahuja)
Ganga
(Shobana)
Ganga
(Soundarya)
Ganga Senthilnathan
(Jyothika)
Ganga Kailash
(Jyothika)
Deboshree
(Anu Choudhury)
Avni
(Vidya Balan)
Sreedevi
(Vinaya Prasad)
Soumya
(Prema)
Durga
(Nayantara)
Durga
(Nayantara)
Malini
(Rachana Banerjee)
Radha
(Ameesha Patel)
Thampy
(Nedumudi Venu)

(Satyajit)
Kandaswamy
(Nassar)

(Nassar)

(Biplab Chatterjee)
Badrinarayan Chaturvedi
(Manoj Joshi)
Unnithan
(Innocent Vincent)
Mukunda
(Dwarakish)
Murugesan
(Vadivelu)
Basavaiah
(Vadivelu)
Manik
(Subhasish Mukherjee)
Batukshankar Upadhyay
(Paresh Rawal)

Spin-off[edit]

A spin-off titled Geethanjali was released on 14 November 2013.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]