Mathilukal (film)

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Poster designed by Gayathri Ashokan
Directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Produced by Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Written by Adoor Gopalakrishnan
Based on Mathilukal
by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
Starring Mammootty
Music by Vijay Bhaskar
Cinematography Mankada Ravi Varma
Edited by M. Mani
Distributed by Jubilee Productions
Release date
18 May 1990
Running time
120 minutes
Country India
Language Malayalam

Mathilukal (English: Walls) is a 1990 Indian feature film written, directed and produced by Adoor Gopalakrishnan based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer.[1] The film focusses on the prison life of Vaikom Muhammad Basheer and the love between him and Narayani, a female inmate of the prison, who remains unseen throughout the film.[2] Mammootty plays the role of Vaikom Muhammad Basheer while K. P. A. C. Lalitha gives voice to Narayani. The film was well received upon screening at the Venice Film Festival, and won four awards at the National Film Awards in 1990.

On the centenary of Indian cinema in April 2013, Forbes included Mammootty's performance in the film on its list, "25 Greatest Acting Performances of Indian Cinema".[3] About casting Mammootty as Basheer, Adoor says: "To play someone when he is living is no mean challenge, and the Malayalam star rose up to it".[4]


Confined to the narrow space of a prison cell, Bashir falls in love with a woman in the neighbouring prison compound. They are separated by a high wall so that they never see each other and have to devise ingenious ways for communicating. Narayani, Bashir's love is presented as a female voice and never appears in person in the film.[5]



The film has won the following awards since its release:

1990 Venice Film Festival (Italy)
1990 National Film Awards (India)[6][7]
1990 Kerala State Film Awards (India)[8]
1990 Amiens International Film Festival (France)[9]
  • OCIC Award - Adoor Gopalakrishnan
2002 Aubervilliers International Children's Film Festival (France)[10][11]
  • Best Film
  • Grand Prize for Best Director - Adoor Gopalakrishnan


External links[edit]