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Nagamandala poster.jpg
Directed byT. S. Nagabharana
Produced bySrihari L. Khoday
Written byGirish Karnad
StarringPrakash Raj
Mandya Ramesh
B. Jayashree
Music byC. Ashwath
CinematographyG. S. Bhaskar
Release date
  • 1997 (1997)

Nagamandala (lit. 'Nāga Mandala'; transl. Serpent Ritual) is a 1997 Indian Kannada-language drama film, directed by T. S. Nagabharana based on a play of same name by Girish Karnad. [1] It was produced by Srihari L. Khoday and the music was scored by C. Aswath.[2] It is an adaptation of a 1988 play by Karnad with the same name which is based on a local folk tale and ritual.[3] It stars Prakash Raj and Vijayalakshmi in the lead roles. The film depicts a romantic plot between a woman and a snake in the disguise of her uncaring husband.

The film, upon release, went on to win many prestigious awards for its content and screen adaptation. The soundtrack, consisting of 15 tracks, tuned by C. Ashwath became very popular for the folksy touch. Vijayalakshmi won Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Kannada for her performance in this film.[4]

Karnad's play has been compared with Vijaydan Detha's 1970s Rajasthani folkloric short story Duvidha which has a similar plotline.[5] Detha's story was adapted into a 1973 film with the same name, which was later remade into the 2005 film Paheli.[6] Paheli was also reported to have been inspired by this movie.[7]

The movie was selected for Indian Panorama at International Film Festival of India in 1997.[8]


The movie begins with Kurudamma (blind woman) and her son Kappanna visiting her nephew for a Devi festival. There she sees her beautiful daughter Rani. She returns after the festivities, not before her nephew asks her to find a suitable match for Rani. Kurudamma feels Appanna is a right match but Kappanna disapproves saying that Appanna spends most night at the house of the prostitute Cheluvi. Kurudamma however pesters Appanna regularly for consenting to marry Rani. Finally Appanna gives in and marries Rani.

On their first night at Rani's maternal home, a timid Rani is taken aback by lusty & overbearing husband, she sleeps in a corner of the room. They return to Appanna's village where Rani confides her fear to Kurudamma who convinces Rani to win him over by teasing & playfulness. However that night she is again overcome by fear and locks herself in the pooja room. Appanna scolds her and leaves the house, locking the door from outside. He heads to Cheluvi's house.

Next day, Kurudamma comes there and is taken aback to see the door locked. She finally realizes that Rani is locked and with Kappanna's help talks to her over the window in one of the room. She gives Rani a small root & asks her to mix it with milk and give it to Appanna. Next day she does so & Appanna falls unconscious only to regain consciousness after a minute and leaves the house as usual. Again Kurudamma comes there and learns of Rani's failure and gives her a bigger root, saying that a sage gave it to her in return for her service. Kurudamma had tried it on her relative and Kappanna was thus born.

Rani tries to drug the milk, but it catches fire and Appanna arrives home at the same time and goes to bathe as usual. A terrified Rani pours it under a tree. The milk drains into an anthill under the tree. On seeing this Rani is further scared and returns home. Apparently the snake would have consumed the milk and it comes to her bed that night. a scared Rani locks herself up in the pooja room. The snake then assumes the form of Appanna and talks her out and consoles her and sleeps her on his lap and wins over her affection. The next morning the snake is gone & the real Appanna comes in and is surprised to see a cheerful Rani and scolds her. A perplexed Rani prepares food and Appanna leaves as usual (to the farm, followed by a drinking session with friends & Cheluvi's house at night). At night, a melancholic Rani is waiting near the door for Appanna and the snake arrives in Appanna's form behind her and startles her. She runs into her room, but Appanna pacifies her and wins her over with smooth talk. They consummate their union that night. Next morning, the snake is gone as usual & Appanna arrives only to see a half naked Rani lying in bed with all the clothes & flowers lying around, as if after the marriage night. A suspicious Appanna bathes and goes away and talks about it in his gym. His teacher volunteers to keep a watch at Appanna's house that night. Meanwhile Rani tells Kurudamma about her success in consummating her marriage. However, Kurudamma is surprised when Kappanna says that the front door is locked from outside. This continues for a while.

The next night, Appanna's teacher keeps a watch over the door from outside. The snake appears as usual and is playing dice with Rani, when their voice is heard. The teacher bangs the door and shouts calling the man inside to come out. Appanna (snake) sends a scared Rani into the bedroom, while he slips out of the window (in the snake form) and bites the teacher. He comes back to Rani and tells her not to ask questions.

The next day Appanna and his friends are shocked to see their teacher dead. That night they come to the anthill with sticks and chases the snake. Rani sees a tired Appanna (snake) in her bed and nurses him. Meanwhile real Appanna is with Cheluvi, but his mind is puzzled with what's happening at his home. Next morning after the gym session Appanna arrives home and sees Rani lying half naked in bed. This continues for a few days. One night he decides to keep watch of the door himself. That night the snake waits for him to leave. A frustrated Appanna upon waiting too long leaves to Cheluvi's house. Meanwhile, Rani realizes that she is pregnant. The snake comes back to Rani in Appanna's form and learns of her pregnancy and asks her to keep it a secret and not talk about it in the morning.

After a couple of days, Kurudamma and Kappanna learns of the pregnancy and rush to the gym to congratulate Appanna. A furious Appanna beats Kappanna and runs home. He beats Rani asking her who the father is. He pushes her out of the house creating a havoc, denying having slept with Rani. The elders pacify him and decides to call for a panchayat session that evening to investigate. A puzzled Rani locks herself inside the house to escape Appanna's beatings. That evening, the village gathers for the panchayat, when she is about to hold her hands in fire for a test. Some people in the crowd demand a more severe test - 'Naga divya' - holding a snake in the hand and swearing by the truth. Rani agrees to it. They all go to the anthill where Rani bows down and picks up a snake and declares that if she is pure, the snake would not harm her. This snake happens to be the very snake which impregnated Rani. Thus Rani escapes unhurt and the village adores her.

Meanwhile Appanna is frustrated and goes away to Cheluvi. Even she tries to convince him of his wife's innocence but is stopped short. That night the snake appears as Appanna and is confronted by Rani in her house. Meanwhile the real Appanna arrives there unseen by Rani. But the snake realizes that and sends Rani to fetch milk. The snake takes its form and slithers away through the window. Appanna sees this and realizes that the snake had taken his form and was sleeping with Rani all these days. He goes to the anthill where the snake appears in Appanna's form and a fight ensues. When the snake is about to kill Appanna, he realizes that Rani's love has eliminated all the poison in him and spares Appanna. Appanna however beats the snake and throws him into the fire. The snake assumes his real form and dies.

After a few months, Appanna is a changed man who loves his wife. He is shown taking his heavily pregnant wife (who is oblivious to all the story so far) to a festival.



Nagamandala is a movie based on folk tales spread in North Karnataka, India. The movie portrays lifestyle, food habits, and routine habits of medieval period in Karnataka. Snakes are considered sacred and are feared and worshipped. North Karnataka dialect is used for conversation. Supernatural elements play a central part in the film.[citation needed]

The film uses a magical folktale to reveal the complexity of human life. In particular, the film focuses on the folktale in the Indian context to reveal the social and individual relations. Some of the most complex issues dealt in the movie reflect the prevailing social stigmas of those times.

The film deals with intimate relationships between a man and a woman, and an Indian woman's desperation to win the affections of her husband in spite of the husband’s open infidelity. It also touches on the imposition to prove fidelity on married women while their husbands are not questioned about their extramarital affairs, and the village judicial system.


The music of the film was composed by C. Ashwath. All the 16 songs composed for this film have been written by Gopal Yagnik. The songs are rendered by popular Sugama Sangeetha singers.

Track listing
1."Ee Hasiru Siriyali"Gopal YagnikSangeetha Katti 
2."Kambada Myalina Bombeye"Gopal YagnikSangeetha Katti 
3."Hudugi Hoo Hudugi"Gopal YagnikRathnamala Prakash 
4."Intha Cheluvige"Gopal YagnikShivanand Patil 
5."Gediya Beku Magala"Gopal YagnikRathnamala Prakash 
6."Chikkiyanthaki"Gopal YagnikShivanand Patil 
7."Gavvana Devvada"Gopal YagnikC. Ashwath 
8."Maguve Nanna Naguve"Gopal YagnikC. Ashwath 
9."Jodu Haasige"Gopal YagnikC. Ashwath 
10."Odedoda Manasu Koodi"Gopal YagnikC. Ashwath 
11."Koncha Kodari Gamana"Gopal YagnikChorus 
12."Enidu Hosa Hurupu"Gopal YagnikChorus 
13."Mayada Manada Bhara"Gopal YagnikChorus 
14."Danidana Nanna Dori"Gopal YagnikChorus 
15."Ekanthadolu Koothu"Gopal YagnikChorus 
16."Sathyulla Sheelavathige"Gopal YagnikChorus 


Karnataka State Film Awards

Second Best Film
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best Art Direction
Best Photography

Udaya Cine Awards

Best Film
Best Direction (T. S. Nagabharana)
Best Supporting Actor and Actress (Mandya Ramesh and B. Jayashri)
Best Female Singer Awards (Sangeetha Katti)

Other awards

Selected for Indian Panorama at the 1997 International Film Festival of India
Filmfare Award for Best Director – Kannada
Cine Express Best Director Award
Film Fans Association Award


  1. ^
  2. ^ C Ashwath (1997). "Nagamandala (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". Jhankar Music.
  3. ^ The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre. Oxford University Press. 2011.
  4. ^ "45th Filmfare South Best Actresses : Santosh : Free Download & Stream…". 5 February 2017. Archived from the original on 5 February 2017.
  5. ^ Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. University of Kansas. 2014. p. 66.
  6. ^ Martins, Constantino; Damásio, Manuel (15 August 2016). Seduction in Popular Culture, Psychology, and Philosophy. IGI Global. p. 140. ISBN 978-1-5225-0526-6. Detha's ostensibly simple folktale published in of the 1970s, with its multi-layered texture, has become a favorite for film makers: two veteran film directors - Mani Kaul (who made Duvidha in 1973) and T.S. Nagabharana (made Nagamandala in Kannada, in 1997) before Palekar-Gokhale remade it as Paheli in 2005.
  7. ^
  8. ^

External sources[edit]